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1 thought on “TULIP or not TULIP, that is [not] the question…

  1. John B

    Excellent discussion there in the comment thread at the bluefish!

    TULIP is a great answer, but, like on Jeopardy, what's the question? If we say, "What's the gospel?", then Alex will shoot us down with an "Oooh no". TULIP answers the question, "How can a believer of the gospel have assurance of *his* salvation?" I think that TULIP provides a great scriptural answer to *this* question. (I resist most of the explanations of the "L" that I hear nowadays, but the Canons of Dort *themselves* are very persuasive and compelling on this question, and quite nuanced.) Tulips are perennials, and likewise TULIP has always been the scriptural answer as to the application and extent of Christ's redeeming work. I don't see any need to dig up the tulip beds or to move away from continuing to cultivate them!

    Upon receiving the gospel, the next question is almost inevitably the same as that of the jailer in Philippi, "what must I do to be saved?” Some branches of the church dismiss this question as just inappropriate. Others say that there is assurance in being a member of the church, or in receiving the sacraments. Still others say to be assured because you've chosen Christ in faith. And some say that perhaps you might find a degree of assurance in works of charity. And there are those who are optimistic because they see in themselves progress in sanctification. While others experience an interior illumination that seems to be quite assuring. Some find that speaking in tongues affords them certitude.

    In contrast to all of these ideas about finding assurance in ourselves and others, TULIP teaches us to draw our hope and assurance only from Christ's death and intercession for us in heaven, because God alone is sovereign in the salvation of individuals. Others in church history have said as much, but I don't know of any who have said it as well as Dort.

    "All our controversies concerning doctrine relate either to the legitimate worship of God, or to the ground of salvation." ~John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church

    “I believe; help my unbelief!”

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