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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.


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