What does the acronym TULIP stand for?


By BibleAsk Team

The Acronym Tulip

The five fundamental beliefs of Calvinism can be summarized by the acronym TULIP. Here is what the letters stand for:


The first belief is “Total depravity” which teaches that all people are born sinners.


The second belief is “Unconditional election” which teaches that God Himself has chosen who will be saved and who will be lost.


The third belief is “Limited atonement” which teaches that Jesus died to redeem only those who were pre-chosen or the elect, rather than everyone.


The fourth belief is the “Irresistible grace” which teaches that humans are saved only by God’s will, with no choice on their part.


The fifth belief is the “Perseverance of the saints” which teaches that those who are predestined to be saved can’t be lost, even if they wanted to by their own choice.

Does Calvinism’s TULIP Measure Up to the Bible?

Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” While we are all indeed born into sin, we can all be saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12; John 3:15-18, 36).

  1. God’s election is based only on His foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2; Romans 8:29). God foreknows because He is omniscient, that is, He knows all things. The past, present, and future are all equally known to Him. He knows who will choose Him and who will reject Him. God simply sees what man will choose but it is up to man to decide his own destiny. God’s foreknowledge does not interfere with man’s freedom of choice. The Scriptures teach that “whosoever will” may come to Christ (John 3:15,16; 4:14; 12:46; Acts 2:21, 10:43; Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17). The word whosoever means “all, any, every, the whole.”
  2. Atonement is not limited. The Scriptures plainly state that the death of Christ was offered for every man. 1 John 2:2 says that His death was a propitiation (satisfaction) not only for our sins, but for the sins of “the whole world.” In Hebrews 2:9, it says that Christ tasted death for “every man.” 1 Timothy 2:6 says that He gave Himself a ransom for “all.” John the Baptist declared in John 1:29 that Jesus was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the “world.” In Isaiah 53:6, the Word of God states that “all” have gone astray and that the Lord laid on Jesus the iniquity of us “all.” Since the gospel is for “whosoever will” and it consists of the good news that Christ died for all sinners, it can be concluded that the atonement of Christ is not limited. Also, the Holy Spirit is presently working to convict the world (all men) of sin. God is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9) but wants “all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).
  3. Grace can be resisted. The Word of God teaches that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Since God has provided salvation for all men and yet obviously all do not come, this is proof enough that men can resist the grace of God. The Bible gives clear instances of men resisting the grace of God. Jesus stood over Jerusalem and said that He wanted to gather them unto Himself, but they “would not” (Matthew 23:37). When Stephen preached to the Jews, he said that regarding their attitude toward God’s Word, they were stiff-necked and that they were resisting the Holy Spirit who was calling them (Acts 7:51). The writer of Hebrews, when describing those “who draw back unto perdition” (Hebrews 10:39), said that though they were sanctified by the blood of Christ, yet they had “done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
  4. The eternal security of the believer is dependent on his abiding in Christ (John 15:1-6; Matthew 24:13; 1 Corinthians 9:27). If a person chooses to disconnect himself from Christ, he will be cut off like a branch cut off from the tree (2 Peter 2:20, 21; 1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 2:4, 5).


We can see that the last four beliefs of Calvinism’s TULIP are not Bible based. This confirms the importance of objectively studying the Bible and comparing verses “line upon line” and “here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10) to establish any doctrine. “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there[a] is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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