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TULIP is an acronym used to remember the "Five Points of Calvinism," which is specifically related to soteriology, or the doctrine of salvation. While the theological school of Calvinism is broader than the points of TULIP, it is commonly associated with its distinctives. The five points of TULIP are often referred to as the Calvinistic "Doctrines of Grace."


The Five Points of Calvinism in acrostic form

T - Total depravity
U - Unconditional election
L - Limited atonement
I - Irresistible grace
P - Perseverance of the saints


The historic Five Points of Calvinism are customarily viewed as a summary of the Canons of Dort which were the judgment of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), wherein the Reformed churches rejected the teaching of Arminianism.

There is no certainty regarding the origin of the acronym TULIP. However, the five points of Calvinism were discussed as such before the popular rise of this acronym, for example in R. L. Dabney's work The Five Points of Calvinism, circa 1878. Dabney's five headings were total depravity, effectual calling, election, particular redemption, and perseverance of the saints.[1]

The earliest use of TULIP in this regard appears to be in 1905 by Rev. Cleland Boyd McAfee, in a lecture before the Presbyterian Union, Newark, NJ, as recorded by William H. Vail, writing in The New Outlook (1913).[2]

The popular use of TULIP as a teaching device was stimulated by Loraine Boettner in The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination first published in 1932.[3]


Various ways of expressing the same Five Points may be found in a number of books dealing with the Calvinistic understanding of salvation. Some novel conceptions by notable authors are indicated below:

James Boice and Philip Ryken

  • Radical Depravity
  • Unconditional Election
  • Particular Redemption
  • Efficacious Grace
  • Persevering Grace

From "The Doctrines of Grace"

R.C. Sproul

  • Radical Corruption
  • Sovereign Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Effectual Grace
  • Preservation of the Saints

From "Chosen By God"

Michael Horton

  • Rebels Without A Cause
  • Grace Before Time
  • Mission Accomplished
  • Intoxicating Grace
  • No Lost Causes

From "Putting Amazing Back Into Grace"

Timothy George

  • Radical depravity
  • Overcoming grace
  • Sovereign election
  • Eternal life
  • Singular redemption


Roger Nicole

  • Grace
  • Obligatory grace
  • Sovereign grace
  • Provision-making grace
  • Effectual grace
  • Lasting grace


  1. R. L. Dabney, The Five Points of Calvinism at
  2. William H. Vail, The Five Points of Calvinism Historically Considered, The New Outlook, Vol. 104 (1913), p. 394.
  3. "Ever since the appearance of Loraine Boettner's magisterial The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, it has been customary to refer to the five points according to the acrostic TULIP." Steele, David N., Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented, 2nd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing) 2004, p. xiv.

See also

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