Calvinistic Mnemonics

Growing up during a time when my daddy was attending Bible school, I absorbed theological concepts from an early age. Attending Bible school for a year right after high school (and after that a Christian college), I digested even more theology. Eventually, I married my Beloved who entered seminary before we’d been married a year. It’s accurate to say I’ve had lots of opportunities to consider and personalize theological principles.theologian1

That being said, I am not a theologian! Even “armchair theologian” is far too lofty and official a term; I’m simply a lifelong student of the Bible. To my shame, I’ve not always been a devout student. Some theological concepts have stuck in my mind over the years while others seemingly evaporated. This being the time of year for tulips, most people call up an image of colorful flowers, but mention tulip and my brain swerves over to theology!

When my friend and fellow poet at Connect / Hook posted the image of a tulip on his blog earlier in the month, I didn’t even have to read the poem (I did) to imagine the subject about which his Tulips For The Fire poem might center. Of course, El Desdichado’s poetry (he uses a pseudonym) is much deeper than my expectations, as this particular poem illustrates, and his poetry blog always teaches me and stretches me to think about things … and to become a better poet myself!

Please be sure to check out his exceptional poetry blog, screenshot below!

Screenshot 2015-04-22 20.37.44As often happens, reading El Desdichado’s poem stirred my imagination. Within a short few minutes, a simple poem formed in my head, not entirely complete but nearly so! His image of a tulip didn’t cause me to think spring flowers.

T-U-L-I-P is an acronym used as a memory device to summarize the five points of Calvinism (referring to theologian John Calvin, 1509-1564, who was a key figure in the Protestant Reformation). The letters stand for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints, five principles that help to explain the Christian faith.

The five points of Calvinism have been vigorously debated, especially over the last century. Not being a theologian myself, I’m rarely inclined to engage such debates … and I’m much less likely to hold a definitive opinion about how the Calvin-inspired Tulip gets sliced and diced – four points or five? Currently, as I continue my studies in Job, I’m reminded day after day how foolish mankind is to think he has even a scintilla of knowledge and understanding about the Almighty!

Still, the poem below is a quick and simple explanation of the five points and I’m grateful to Connect / Hook for providing the inspiration!


3 thoughts on “Calvinistic Mnemonics

  1. WB – what is your take on Reformed Theology? I love the poem. The last lines put everything into place.
    Emanuel Swedenborg claims he saw in a vsion(?) that Calvin was not even in Heaven !

    1. LOL! Recall the disclaimer in my post (I’m not a theologian), which made me laugh at your question. In general, dispensationalism is my ancestral home (so to speak), but being firm in my faith, I’m less inclined to care about shades of hair-splitting.

      As to Swedenborg’s vision, I shrug. My guess is we’ll see as many people in Heaven whose presence surprises us and note the absence of others who we were certain would be there. Only by God’s grace!

      1. I am similar in my outlook . I consider anyone who knows that Christ died for their sin a brother or sister. The Calvinist/Arminian controversy is an in-house hair-splitting affair (as you aptly point out).

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