Doctrines of Grace

Many thanks to my friend Bill for the ideal image for this series of posts!

After Tom suggested in the previous comments that I was leaning toward Calvinism (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I looked up the five “doctrines of grace.”

  • Total Depravity
  • Unconditional Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Irresistible Grace
  • Perseverance of the Saints

I am leaving town for the weekend, and don’t have time to flesh these out now, but in comparison to TULIP, my five doctrines of “grace” are…

  • Broken Eikons
  • Eternal Purpose
  • Extravagant Atonement
  • Response to Grace
  • Shalom

Discuss amongst yourselves if you would like, and maybe we can talk more about each of these next week.


32 thoughts on “Doctrines of Grace

  1. Jonathan,
    Being in such a diverse group, with dispensationalists and others who believe in election, predestination, and lack of free will is challenging for me.

  2. so you prefer Belgium (land of great beers) over holland (land of tulips)? Glad to hear that….

    Your doctrine of grace sounds more graceful anyway… Like them more than calvinist ones, which btw date from some time after JC, -eh, cofusing initials- Calvin.

    I must say that Extravagant atonement sound more like ‘for he so loved the world’ than limited atonement…



    1. Actually, as a Dutch girl, I should say tulips. I’ve heard that JC wouldn’t recognize what passes as Calvinism today.

  3. While I don’t agree with all of either TULIP or BEERS, I just had to say you crack me up , woman! I’ll have to come up with an acronym of my own when I have more time. I’ll be sure to share it with you when I do, though I seriously doubt anyone can outdo BEERS!

      1. My only disagreement would be to the “Response to grace” line. I’ve spent years studying this until I was finally able to come to a conclusion on the topic…took me awhile, didn’t it? :-) I’m sure I’ll be blogging about it some day….

    1. Joel,
      I would also probably agree with the idea of curative atonement. With a view of sin as disease that than through a legal lens of behavior, atonement then is curative rather than punitive.

  4. Quite honestly, I am personally quite skeptical of theological ‘-isms’. I suppose there might be some benefit to them, but it seems to me that the overriding benefit is that of solidifying a sect to the point of exclusivism. In my experience, this has become more devisive than it has unifying (except, perhaps, within the exclusivity of the sect itself).

    Having served in international, cross-cultural, cross-denominational mission for ten years, I found that the unifying bond of Christ’s followers is not found in theological -isms, rather it is found in a relational bond of passion and compassion.

    This would probably never pass muster with a true theologian, but I’ll go with these five:

    *Listen attentively
    *Observe carefully
    *Value every life
    *Include everyone
    *Never hold a grudge
    *Give without reserve

    1. Ken,
      Great points. I agree that unity is most important and that creating division based on theology is counter-productive. However, in being exposed recently to theologies that seem really different than mine, it seems important relationally to understand where they are coming from, even if we don’t agree. The challenge then is for me to communicate with love and grace around the areas of disagreement and focus on the areas of common ground.

      1. Being of Dutch heritage myself, I’d say you are on your way to a healing mission when you can relate TULIP to BEERS. :)

    2. Ken,

      Ditto to all you wrote.

      I don’t think it’s possible to entirely eliminate “systematic theology” either on the personal or group level. Even your LOVING is a systematizing. However, it should be remembered that no systematic theology of our own making is an exact representation of The Good News…though some systematic theologies come closer than others.

      And, I’m not “a true theologian”, but all of us “do theology” whether we admit it or not.


      1. …changing one sentence…

        Instead of;

        However, it should be remembered that no systematic theology of our own making is an exact representation of The Good News.


        …no systematic theology of our own making is a substitute for The Good News.


      2. Tom,

        Agreed. Theology at it’s simplest is a study of God, which would, of course, lead to some system of thought. I fear we could not be true disciples if we were not engaged in such study on some level. My skepticism lies more in the area of “-isms”. Building an encampment around inconclusive theories developed by men. This, I believe, is the fundamental cause of divisions in the church. Paul addressed this very point in 1 Corinthians 3 beginning in verse 4 where he chastises elements of the church of Corinth for dividing between ‘following Pau’ and ‘following Apollos’. Today we could substitute Calvin, Luther, Wesley, or any other number of men, for Paul and Apollos. When the church becomes more focused on ‘fine points of doctrine’ than it does ‘Christ’s mission’, we loose a lot of our impact. We can now quite readily measure this loss in our post-modern culture.

  5. I’ve never commented here before, but I think your doctrines of grace are absolutely splendid! Seriously. I am going to share this with others. Wonderful!

  6. Grace,

    Looks like the major point of divergence is probably the area of “Limited Atonement” vs. “Extravagant Atonement”. How do you understand “Extravagant Atonement” and in what way do you think that differs or compares to “L A”?

    (Not an interrogation. Just trying to pin down the corners of the discussion.)


  7. Here’s a question as we venture further down the TULIP…

    The “evangelicals” I am familiar with give homage to Calvin for (much of?) their “doctrine”. Some of it, seems to be different.

    Take, for instance, the “P”… “Perseverance of the Saints”. That is not the same as “Eternal Security” or “Once Saved, always Saved” which is often touted from the pulpits.

  8. Joel,
    There may be disagreement amongst calvinist about each of these points. My initial reading about P did indicate something about “once saved, always saved.” However my understanding of the calvinist perspective is cursory. I am relying on the definitions provided on the site that I’ve linked.

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