How many of the 5 points of Calvinism do you affirm?

The Five Points of Calvinism were never listed by John Calvin, but by his followers.  Still, they have come to define the Calvinistic viewpoint regarding salvation.

Many of us (myself included) would say that we do not follow any particular post-apostolic church leader, but we will admit to being influenced or at least impressed with the Biblical accuracy of some on some points. What impresses us is their ability to accurately summarize or organize Biblical teaching.

It is, therefore, understood that no SI participants blindly follow one person (at least this is hopefully true) beyond, of course, our Lord and His holy Word.  It is also understood that sometimes we might modify a point of the five. For example, eternal security is not the exact equivalent of perseverance of the saints, but has the same end result. Good enough for this survey.

So how many of these points do you recognize as being an accurate summary of the Bible's teaching?

We are asking you to choose how many out of five.  You can comment about which, if any, you reject, if you wish.

a. Total depravity, the idea that we are spiritually bankrupt, we have no merit to offer God. We find the true God unappealing and, while we might seek some god, we will not be drawn to the true God without His intervention. It is therefore unnatural to come to saving faith in Jesus.

b. Unconditional election -- God chooses us by His grace, not because He foresees that we would believe.  No one would believe were it not for election.  Anyone who wants to come to Jesus can do so, but no one will want to come (in a genuinely saving way) unless they are elect (chosen beforehand/presdestined).

c. Limited atonement, the idea that God had in mind only the redemption of the elect when He sent His Son to die (how people claim to know what was in God's mind perplexes me, personally!).

d. Irresistible grace, the idea that an elect person will come to saving faith, no ifs, ands, or buts.

e. Perseverance of the saints -- the idea that true believers will continue to believe until the end.  It is this perseverance that distinguishes the true elect from pretenders.

Anyhow, you can vote for how many of the 5 you agree with (if any).  If you are 4 nd 1/2, it will be an exercise in decisiveness for you to choose either 4 or 5.  So consider rounding off!  If you can't, I have added an "other" category.

Feel free to comment on this important topic.

Also, please make the distinction, when you comment, between human logic (which can be fallible) and the Word (whicih is infallible but may be interpreted in a fallible fashion!).

6% (2 votes)
0% (0 votes)
3% (1 vote)
18% (6 votes)
32% (11 votes)
35% (12 votes)
6% (2 votes)
Total votes: 34
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Bert Perry's picture

....a bunch of convergents!

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry Nelson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Obviously....a bunch of convergents!


......since the FBFI's Statement of Faith is 4-Point, at most:

"We believe the Lord Jesus Christ died as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all men according to the Scriptures, and all who receive Him are justified on the grounds of His shed blood (2 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 2:9; 1 Jn. 2:2)." - 

Bert Perry's picture

More or less, just being a smart aleck, brother.  :^)  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

JohnBrian's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:
.....since the FBFI's Statement of Faith is 4-Point, at most:

"We believe the Lord Jesus Christ died as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all men according to the Scriptures, and all who receive Him are justified on the grounds of His shed blood (2 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 2:9; 1 Jn. 2:2)." - 

...since they use 1 Jn 2:2 as a reference for their "sins of all men" 

I would disagree if they insist that "all men" is equivalent to "every individual that has ever lived" and that those ALL have had their sins propitiated by Christ. In Genesis 6, God's covenant with Noah was for only 8 people (plus animals) to enter the ark. There was no provision made for the rest of mankind. Similarly the provision of Christ was only for those who believe.

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Karl S's picture

I chose the 5-point option, although many calvinists would disagree with me. When understood and described properly, I agree with all the points except the stricter (common) view of Limited Atonement (Particular Redemption). 

I affirm that the salvation of the elect was a particular intention of the atonement, and that Christ fully accomplished all that He intended to do in going to the cross. In particular, He accomplished (made it a certain reality) the actual salvation of all those whom the Father gave Him. I deny the concept that Jesus has done "all He could" and now the "choice is ours". However, I do think that, as a part of the atonement it is most naturally understood from Scripture that Jesus suffered for the sins of all men, and that this also was a particular intent of the atonement. Most 5-point calvinists would label this "Amyraldianism", but from what I understand of it, I reject that label.

I'm largely in agreement with the position laid out in this work:


josh p's picture

Karl, that is my position as well. I am still considered a four point by most fivers that I know.

Aaron Blumer's picture


... 2 of the five are articulated in such a wide variety of ways, it's hard to say...  Probably most modern (vs. classical) Arminians would say I'm a five, but most Presbyterians would say I'm a 3 or 4 at best.

I wouldn't say the whole debate over Lim. Atonmt. is "just semantics" but the vast majority of debates I've followed consisted nearly 33% each of (a) genuine semi-pelagians, (b) people with various non-cohering/self-contradictory soteriologies, and (c) people saying the essentially same thing as eachother but reacting vehemently to each other's terminology.

Everyone in group C agrees that Christ's atonement is not actually applied to everyone; nearly all of them also agree that God knew from before the foundation of the world, everyone it would be applied to. So that means most of the conflict is over the seeming conflict between something logically obvious (He didn't plan the cross with the actual believing group as a kind of peripheral coincidence) vs. Scripture passages that seem to say Jesus died for everyone. The two have to be harmonized in some way, and among those who make a serious effort to do so... they end up saying pretty similar things using different language and different emphasis.

Some genuinely have material differences on the point, but so many are just tripping over each other's way of putting it.

Similar confusion on "irresistible grace"... and to a lesser degree, "total depravity."

There's just so much baggage at this point, listening is almost impossible. Few are actually looking for ways to agree... which, even just as experiment, they really ought to try. Among those seriously trying to get it right, and properly valuing the sacred Text, that shared commitment means--like it or not--they are really on the same team.


DHarry's picture

I put zero.  I know I am in the minority here but still enjoy the brotherly fellowship around the Word.  


Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Jim's picture

Not my view but interesting

a careful student will find that again and again they go beyond Scripture, and that Calvinism is a philosophy developed by man and depending on fallible logic and frail, human reasoning, with the perversion of some Scriptures, the misuse of others, and the total ignoring of many clear Scriptures. Calvin did teach many wonderful, true doctrines of the Scripture. It is true that God foreknows everything that will happen in the world. It is true that God definitely ordained and determined some events ahead of time and selected some individuals for His purposes. It is certain that people are saved by grace, and are kept by the power of God. That far Calvinists may well their doctrines by the Scriptures. But beyond that, Calvinism goes into the realm of human philosophy. It is not a Bible doctrine, but a system of human philosophy, especially appealing to the scholarly intellect, the self-sufficient and proud mind. Brilliant, philosophical, scholarly preachers are apt to be misled on this matter more than the humblehearted, Bible-believing Christian.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jim, appreciated that quotation.  A lot of truth in that, IMO.  Although I consider myself a 4 pointer, I think it is going beyond Scripture to say God's "intent" or God had "in mind" when there are no such statements in Scripture.

To claim to read God's mind when He has not spoken is not something I can agree with.

What we do have are His revelations of His mind.  He revealed that His Son is the propitiation for the sins of the world (I John 2:2), including the false teachers who reject HIm (2 Peter 2:1).

Whereas the 4 points have direct Scripture to argue from, limited atonement does not.  No Scripture says Christ died for the church ONLY.  Obviously, if He died for all,  He died for the church -- and the false teachers!

At the same time, it is not big deal to me -- and nothing to separate over.  The bitter pill is unconditional election and irresistible grace.   Once you swallow that (and I have), limited atonement is more of a technicality.   My only ax to grind is that the Scriptures seem to clearly teach an unlimited atonement, in my reading. John says He propitiated for the sins of the world, Peter for even the false teachers. Why, then, do we not let it rest with the Word and resist the temptation to create a 'consistent' system apart from divine revelation?



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Aaron Blumer's picture


Ed, part of what you're saying resonates with me... but I think making inferences from Scripture and systematizing is not the problem. We wouldn't even have the doctrine of the Trinity if we didn't make inferences from what's written. And since God doesn't contradict Himself, and Scripture is inerrant, we'd be missing out a whole lot if we didn't systematize by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

On the other hand, I've often seen an unwarranted certainty from those who are talking about inferences from inferences from inferences, and with it an unwarranted level of attention/focus. When people are putting too much faith in their systems--especially the weakest parts of them--that's a problem. And part of me says "down with systems!" But the other part says, no, that's an overreaction. And being systemless is ultimately neither possible nor desirable. Undesirable because it's often comparing revelation on a topic through the whole book that keeps us away from serious error.

As for particular/limited atonement, the "all" and "whole world" passages are somewhat difficult for all views on this topic. The universalist position has the advantage of taking these passages to mean exactly what they seem to say. But it's systematic theology that makes that view untenable. So the remaining solutions put these passages in the context of other NT teaching on related topics, and these non-universalists solutions all qualify these passages in one way or another as a result.

So when we're comparing a prevenient grace type of position to a particular atonement type of position--or various explanations in between--we're really talking about limiting atonement in one sense or another and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of one approach or another.

I think the controversy is mostly not a rational thing.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Aaron,  I appreciate your thoughts.  I believe in systematic theology and sometimes direct inference.  Your thoughtful comments are good ones.  But I would suggest a few other considerations.

The Universalist position is defective in that it ONLY deals with atonement.  What is limited is unconditional election and irresistible grace.  And that limitation eliminates prevenient grace.  Of course,  total depravity actually does, too.

Systems that harmonize Scripture, like the Trinity, are composites of Scriptural truths made to fit in harmony with the sum total of Biblical revelation (the Oneness and Three Personhood are truths that are accumulated from Scripture, and the Trinity is a way to harmonize and retain both truths). The Trinity was determined via induction and can be checked deductively (no Scripture contradicts the idea).

Limited atonement, however, is nowhere clearly taught and is seemingly refuted in at least the two cited passages (and probably a whole lot more, when you consider verses like John 3:16, if you understand "cosmos" in its normal, broad meaning).

IMO, Christ paid an infinite penalty on the cross, and any number times infinity is infinity, so, in that sense (for me), the point is moot. Some 5 pointers have expressed the idea that Christ's death is SUFFICIENT for the sins of the whole world. That sits well with me. But the concept that the death of Christ SECURES the believers salvation is a little questionable too.  I think God's good Name secures the believer's salvation, and the atonement is the only way consistent with that Name to offer adequate propitiation. Part of Romans 3:24-27 addresses God forgiving people before the atonement and then "clearing His Name" by the atonement.

As for who God had in mind at the cross (the elect or the world), that seems to me to be an instance to invoke Deuteronomy 29:29.

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Jay's picture

I voted for four points, and flatly disagree with the definition of limited atonement as presented in the OP.  I believe that the atoning work of Christ is sufficient for all and any, and that God alone knows the totality of those who are elect.  What that actually looks like and how it all works is something I leave to Him.  :)

I also utterly reject the idea of 'double predestination', which I find to be the logical conclusion of the position that Christ died only for the elect.  I believe that the 'predestination' of Judas, Pharaoh, the Final Antichrist and False Prophet are cases of God's special and unique working, and are the exceptions that prove a rule.

The thing that scares me the most about these debates is how some people lock into their preferred 'system' and then refuse to consider any verses that may disprove or challenge the logical system, no matter how plain or obvious.  That kind of behavior frightens me.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture


"Limited atonement, the idea that God had in mind only the redemption of the elect when He sent His Son to die"

With this as a definition of LA, it's not hard to see why proponents defend it. What would the alternatives be? Who else's redemption would have had in mind? Now I'm not saying I'm on board with LA... maybe, maybe not. But the idea is more difficult to avoid than many 4 pointers seem to realize. What are the alternatives to God carrying out His plan to redeem a group of sinners for the praise of the glory of His grace?

a. He had no plan
b. He planned to save everyone, but the plan failed
c. He planned to die to save some and to accomplish something else in reference to the rest? (This would make "propitiation" equivocal in 1 John 2:2, meaning "actually propitiate" in reference to those who believe and "some other sort of propitiating" in reference to everyone else.)
d. Other options I'm not seeing?

We should be able to agree, from Ephesians 1 alone, that the entire enterprise is intentional in every detail. We know from other passages this plan included even who would betray Jesus and who would have Him killed. There is no "let's see what will happen" anywhere in the whole thing. That eliminates a. and b.

I've heard variations of c. that have some merit, but they do all have difficulty with 1 John 2:2, just as the limited antonement folks do. There is no easy solution to 1 John 2:2, short of universalism... which, as we've noted has other more serious problems.

In fairness to LA opponents, there logical problems with LA also. If we focus on the love of God rather than the plan of God, for example. In what sense could God love the entire world (John 3:16) and express this by deciding to save a relative few? But this is just as much a problem for any view short of universalism... and confronts those who hold to unconditional election and irresistible grace as much as to those who hold to LA.

In short, I can see plenty of reasonable objections to LA. What's harder to see is why anyone who has already accepted the other four points would have substantial difficulty with it.

Ron Bean's picture

Some of the supporters of LA I've met came to that position because they had difficulty hearing that "hell was full of people for whom Christ died".


"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jay's picture

God had in mind -only- the redemption of the elect...

Is there any argument is the Bible that God's only intent was to save the elect?  Because I don't recall any passages that this is the case off the top of my head, and the Bible does clearly mention that there are vessels designed for wrath.  No more, no less.

There are lots of passages that talk about the elect as a corporate whole, but I don't think the Bible goes down this path that you describe, hence the disagreement.

We talk about the "doxological purpose of God", but then we talk about the elect and salvation like that is actually all God is concerned with.  We need to be careful about that.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ed Vasicek's picture

Jay said:


We talk about the "doxological purpose of God", but then we talk about the elect and salvation like that is actually all God is concerned with.  We need to be careful about that.

So true!

The Bible does not say who or what God had in mind when Christ died.

God obviously had the elect in mind when He chose them (we assume volition requires a mental aspect), but that is not necessarily true that He had ONLY the elect in mind when Jesus died.  

The logical fallacy of substituting a part for the whole catches us all  -- even the best minds and the best theologians.  We all have a narrowness of mind to fight.  The atonement has many purposes, including providing an additional basis (not that it is needed) to condemn the lost: 


and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  2 Tess. 2:10 ESV

The truth they reject is the Gospel -- Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose so that we could be saved.  If Christ did not die for their sins, then perhaps they ARE believing the truth.


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Richard Brunt's picture

Most of my Arminian friends call me a Calvinist and my Calvinist friends call me an Arminian (especially when I was in college). The way they are explained here I guess I am a 2 pointer, holding to 1 & 5.

Richard E Brunt

Ed Vasicek's picture

Richard, I think you hold a very common and popular viewpoint,  You share elements of both camps. As a four-pointer, I, too, share an element of the Arminian camp.  But you would lean more toward synergism -- man and God cooperate in salvation (free will), but I embrace monergism -- the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin from which God saves us.

So I would call someone with your viewpoint a Calminian.  I don't think there is an actual recognized term, however.

We are what we are, whether words have been devised to describe us or not.


"The Midrash Detective"