Summary: What is the TULIP of Reformed Theology and where did it come from?
Church History: Examining the Creeds and Confessions of the Church Through the Ages and Why They Matter.
Lesson 11: The Canons of Dort
QUESTION: How many of you have ever heard of the theological acronym TULIP?
Typically the TULIP is known as the Doctrines of Grace.
Sometimes it is referred to as the Five Points of Calvinism.
Well, the foundations for what would later become TULIP were established during the Synod of Dordrecht.
Tonight, we are going to examine the purpose of this Synod and the conclusions which were drawn from it.
Through the lesson, we will see that this Synod had a profound impact on church history and solidified the foundations of Reformed Theology for generations to come.
The Background of the Synod
The Synod was held from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619 in Dordrecht, Holland.
It arose because of a controversy regarding the doctrines of a man by the name of Jakobus Arminius (also known as James Hermanson).
Though Arminius had been dead for some time, the students of Arminius had taken up his doctrines and were promoting them within the church.
Arminius had been the student of Theodore Beza.
Beza was the successor of John Calvin in Geneva.
Often you will hear people talk about the debate between Calvin and Arminius, but such a thing never occurred.
At the time of Calvin’s death, Arminius would have been a young boy, and there was no interaction between the two.
Yet, Arminius did rebel against Calvin’s teachings, and the teachings of Beza.
Arminius had become influenced by Dirik Volckaerts zoon Koornhert who, himself had been influenced by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus.
Erasmus is an important name in biblical history, as he was the one who produced the Greek manuscript which would later give rise to the Textus Receptus, the foundational text for the King James Bible.
Erasmus was also famous for his debate with Luther over the freedom of the human will, which can be seen in the book entitled “The Bondage of the Will”.
It is interesting that the debate between Eramus and Luther was similar to the debate between Pelagius and Augustine which occurred more than 1,000 years prior.
The issue of Arminianism was a revival, of sorts, or this age-old controversy.
Having given up his Reformed Theology, Arminius set out to develop and teach his theology, and garnered a significant following.
Arminius died in 1609, but his theology would live on in his students.
Following his death, his students published a “Remonstrance Against the Reformed Churches”.
A Remonstrance was a “protest”, and the supporters became known as the Remonstrants, or the protesters.
In 1610, the Remonstrants proposed five points of theology.
1 - Human Ability: Man has the ability by his own free will to choose or not choose to cooperate with God’s free gift of grace.
2 - Conditional Election: God chooses based on the condition of foreseen faith.
3 - Universal Atonement: The death of Christ made atonement for all people, but that it was not effective unless a person exercised faith.
4 - Resistible Grace: God’s grace can be ultimately resisted and rejected.
5 - Falling from Grace: A person who comes to faith can be saved and yet later reject faith and fall away and be lost.
NOTE: It is only faith to note that Arminius himself did not hold to a certain view of the first and fifth of these points.
He taught a position of “Prevenient Grace” which means that he did not deny that man was unable to come to God by his own free will, but that God had given enough grace to make all men able to come.
QUOTE: "God decreed to save and damn certain particular persons. This decree has its foundation in the foreknowledge of God, by which he knew from all eternity those individuals who would, through his preventing [going before] grace, believe, and, through his subsequent grace would persevere . . . by which foreknowledge, he likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere." The Works of James Arminius, Vol 1, p. 248
He also did not teach that men could necessarily fall from grace. This is one point which has always been contended among Arminians. The fifth article of the Remonstrants reads ambiguously on this issues:
“But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginning of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our mind.” (http://www.theopedia.com/Five_articles_of_Remonstrance)
It was these five teachings which the Synod conveyed to deal with.