TULIP and Protestants

(This is the second part of my series on TULIP. The first part, based on the writings of the Church Fathers, is available here.)

Many of the great historical Protestant leaders have opposed some or all of  “T.U.L.I.P.” — an acronym that summarizes the core beliefs of Calvinists. Here are some quotes about their conclusions. This list is not comprehensive.

Total Depravity – “..as a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and is, apart from the grace of God, utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to turn to Christ in faith for salvation.”

(NOTE: Catholics believe in this, to an extent — after all, our faith and our works only have meaning because of God’s grace — but the concept of Total Depravity is often taken to an extreme.)

“That which makes him [Man] a human being is not his body but his spirit, in which the image of God originally lay. … From man’s standpoint the most tragic loss suffered in the Fall was the vacating of this inner sanctum by the Spirit of God. Man by his sin forfeited this indescribable wonderful privilege. Christ will enter only by the invitation of faith.” – A.W. Tozer [1]

“Human beings are endowed by nature with both selfish and unselfish impulses. … Man is the only creature which is fully self-conscious. His reason endows him with a capacity for self-transcendence.” – Reinhold Niebuhr [2]

Unconditional Election – “God chose some individuals from the mass of fallen humanity unto salvation without regard to any merit or foreseen faith in them, but solely based on His sovereign intentions.”

“Whether therefore we can account for it or not (which indeed we cannot in a thousand cases), we must absolutely maintain that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. But He cannot reward the sun shining because the sun is not a free agent. Neither could He reward us for letting our light shine before men if we acted from necessity as the sun does. All reward, as well as all punishment, presupposes free-agency; and whatever creature is incapable of choice is incapable of either one or the other. Whenever, therefore, God acts as a Governor, as a rewarder or punisher, He no longer acts as mere Sovereign by His own sole will and pleasure, but as [sic] a impartial Judge guided in all things by invariable justice.” – John Wesley [3]

Limited Atonement – “..God’s design and intent in sending Christ to die on the cross was to pay for the sins and secure the redemption of those whom God has predetermined to save, namely the elect. Therefore, the primary benefits of his death were designed for and accrue only to believers.”

“For by his [Christ’s] own oblation he satisfied his Father for all men’s sins, and reconciled mankind unto his grace and favour.” – Thomas Cranmer [4]

“‘I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who suffered, was crucified, and died for us.’ This is the most joyous of all doctrines and the one that contains the most comfort. It teaches that we have the indescribable and inestimable mercy and love of God. ..He sent His Son into the world, heaped all the sins of all men upon Him, and said to Him: ‘Be Peter the denier; Paul the persecutor, blasphemer, and assaulter; David the adulterer; the sinner who ate the apple in Paradise; the thief on the cross. In short, be the person of all men. And see to it that You pay and make satisfaction for them.’ … And so it [the Law] attacks Him and kills Him. By this deed the whole world is purged and expiated from all sins, and thus it is set free from death and from every evil.” – Martin Luther [5]

Irresistible Grace – “..the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save, whereby in God’s timing, he overcomes their resistance to the call of the gospel and irresistibly brings them to a saving faith in Christ.”

“It may be allowed that God acts as Sovereign in convincing some souls of sin, arresting them in their mid career, by His resistless power. It seems also that, at the moment of our conversion, He acts irresistibly. There may likewise be many irresistible touches during the course of Christian warfare, with regard to which every believer may say, ‘In the time of my distress, Thou hast my succor been, In my utter helplessness, Restraining me from sin.’ But still, as St. Paul might have been either obedient or disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19), so every individual may, after all that God has done, either improve His grace or make it of none effect (Gal. 2:21).” – John Wesley [3]

“God has made it a rule for Himself that He won’t alter people’s character by force. He can and will alter them — but only if the people will let Him. In that way He has really and truly limited His power. Sometimes we wonder why He has done so, or even wish that He hadn’t. But apparently He thinks it worth doing. He would rather have a world of free beings, with all its risks, than a world of people who did right like machines because they couldn’t do anything else. The more we succeed in imagining what a world of perfect automatic beings would be like, the more, I think, we shall see His wisdom.” – C.S. Lewis [6]

Perseverance of the saints – “..those who are truly saved [those who truly believe] will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation.”

“For God both within and without does impress very aweful fears upon our souls; in the history of the Bible and in those around us, and on our own consciences, in His sudden visitations or enduring chastisements of sin; in the aweful change in the soul following upon a single sin, the sudden falls of those who once seemed faithful, the strange mystery that some who began to live in that ‘faith which worketh by love,’ and lived for a while faithfully and righteously, were not removed before they fell into the sin in which they died.” – E.B. Pusey [7]

“When men weary of a good course which long they have holden, for a little ease or wealth, or I wot not what other secular respect, fall away in the end; so losing the praise and fruit of their former perseverance, and relapsing into the danger and destruction, from which they had so near escaped.” – Lancelot Andrewes [8]





1. from Man: The Dwelling Place of God [link]

2. from Moral Man and Immoral Society [link]

3. John Wesley, Thoughts Upon God’s Sovereignty (taken from The Essential Works of John Wesley, p. 1167-1169)

4. Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) on Death of Christ: Unlimited Expiation, Redemption and Universal Reconciliation [link]

5. Concordia Theological Quarterly, Volume 61:Number 4, October 1997, p. 251 (taken from Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, 1535) [link]

6. from “The Trouble with ‘X’,” God in the Dock [link 1] [link 2]

7. The Blasphemy Against the Holy Ghost. A sermon preached at Margaret Chapel, on the Feast of S. Peter, 1845. [link]

8. A sermon preached before Queen Elizabeth, at Hampton Court. 6 March 1594. [link]


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About Matthew Olson

Matthew Olson is a student in the Diocese of Little Rock.

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  1. TULIP and the Church Fathers | Answering Protestants - September 22, 2016

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