Muller’s Rebuttal of the “Calvinism” Paradigm

Muller notes, “It is really quite odd and a-historical to associate a particular document written in the Netherlands in 1618-19 with the whole of Calvinism and then to reduce its meaning to TULIP. Many of you here know that the word is actually “tulp.” “Tulip” isn’t Dutch — sometimes I wonder whether Arminius was just trying to correct someone’s spelling when he was accused of omitting that “i” for irresistible grace. More seriously, there is no historical association between the acrostic TULIP and the Canons of Dort. As far as we know, both the acrostic and the associated usage of  “five points of Calvinism” are of Anglo-American origin and do not date back before  the nineteenth century (Muller 8)


5 comments on “Muller’s Rebuttal of the “Calvinism” Paradigm

  1. Christian says:

    The last time I looked into it, TULIP hasn’t been documented past the very early 20th Century. (The author’s name escapes me at the moment.) Does Muller give any documentation of it in the 19th Century or is this just a general statement?

    • He did document it. I have it floating around somewhere.

    • Here you go:

      For documentation Muller lists See Ken Stewart, “The Points of Calvinism: Retrospect and Prospect,” in Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology , 26/2 (2008), pp. 187-203. There are, of course, many early references to the “five points” or “five articles” in controversy between Reformed and Arminian: e.g., Peter Heylin, Historia quinqu-articularis: or, A declaration of the judgement of the Western Churches, and more particularly of the Church of England, in the five controverted points, reproched in these last times by the name of Arminianism (London: E.C. for Thomas Johnson, 1660); and Daniel Whitby, A Discourse concerning I. The true Import of the Words Election and Reprobation … II. The Extent of Christ’s Redemption. III. The Grace of God … IV. The Liberty of the Will … V. The Perseverance or Defectibility of the Saints . London, 1710; second edition, corrected, London: Aaron Ward, 1735), often referenced as “Whitby on the Five Points” or “Five Arminian Points”: note George Hill, Heads of Lectures in Divinity (St. Andrews: at the University Press, 1796), p. 78. Occurrences of phrases like “five distinguishing points of Calvinism” also occur earlier, referencing the Canons of Dort without, however, specification of the points themselves: see, e.g. Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans and Non-conformists … with an account of their principles (London: for J. Buckland, et al., 1754), I, p. 502; Ferdinando Warner, The Ecclesiastical History of England, to the Eighteenth Century (London: s.n., 1756-57), II, p. 509; note also that the editor of Daniel Waterland’s sermons identified justification by faith alone as one of the “five points of Calvinism”: see Waterland, Sermons on Several Important Subjects of Religion and Morality, preface by Joseph Clarke, 2 vols. (London: for W. Innys, 1742), p. xviii. 16.

  2. Christian says:

    References to the “Five Points” go way back, but I was referring to the TULIP acrostic specifically, which was popularized by L. Boettner among others. For example, I’ve seen Dabney and Spurgeon reference the five points but it wasn’t formulated in the way that we often see it today. I think Ken Stewart may have traced it back to its origin in his “Ten Myths” book or elsewhere and my recollection is that it is not much more than 100 years old.

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