Crying In the Wilderness
Tip Toe through the Tulips
I would hope that curiosity in the title has drawn you here. I’m not sure why this has come upon me at the time it has. I can’t pinpoint any occurrence that would have spurred this thought and can only attribute it to the Holy Spirit. At the time I’m writing this, we are nearing the end of the last term of the second President Bush. It has been a popular joke to imitate him saying “don’t mess with Texas.” That is exactly the sentiments that I hold toward the Holy Scriptures and the revelations supplied by the Holy Ghost, don’t mess with them! It is also the time that we recognize Thanksgiving as a National Holiday.
When I was a young boy, there was a character that would appear on television as a guest on variety shows. His name was “Tiny Tim” and he was not the most handsome fellow that graced the silver screens of our living rooms. He wore long shoulder length black hair that was wavy and curly. He sported a rather large nose and strummed a small guitar-looking instrument called a ukulele. While strumming he would sing in a high falsetto voice resembling a woman. The tune that he would always sing was called “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.” This was no doubt a novelty act designed to spur laughter. Believe it or not, this novelty song actually reached #17 on the pop music charts in the 1960’s.
Now I would imagine that you are thinking what kind of a picture is this guy trying to paint with such a brush? I hope and pray before we are done that we are able to see and visit a garden. I hope we are able to stop by the heights of Sharon to view and catch the fragrance of the rose. This in not just any rose but one that bloomed died and bloomed again among a world of thorns. I hope we pass through a green valley where the still waters flow and find the beautiful fragrant lily. I also pray that our eyes are opened to see the beauteous field that is viewed by the “Wayfaring Stranger” and is white to the harvest. That we pray the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into the field for the harvest truly is great and the laborers are few.
My mind went back to an event that happened when my youngest son was attending high school (his senior year) at a local Christian School. Those of you who know anything about me or have read any of my articles know that I consider myself a “Streaky-Head” Baptist which is one of the older order or style of Baptist. We’ve often been mistakenly confused with the Primitive Baptist or Hard-shell although we differ on some major points. It is from this confusion that this chapter arises. My son was accused of being a “Calvinist” while attending the modern Christian School. He wasn’t really sure of what a Calvinist was and I knew only a little from previous occurrences of folks confusing my belief with the true Primitive Baptist.
The one point we kept being accused of the most was predestination. While no “Streak” that I know of holds the view that a soul is predestined for either heaven or hell, they do believe all of the Scriptures. The typical “Streak” believes in man’s free will to accept salvation but also believes that God in His foreknowledge knows who will and who will not accept and therein they consider the election that is so evident in the Holy Scriptures.
I began researching this and found it amusing that most of the folks doing the accusing didn’t know as much as they thought they did about Calvinism. They only knew what they had been taught in Bible or Sunday Schools. I have recently researched and written concerning the various articles of faith with a focus on the different Baptist Sects. I must admit that there are a lot of similarities to what today is considered Calvinism and most Baptist Articles.
I will hold you in suspense no longer. The tulips that we will endeavor to walk among or if you will tip-toe through is actually one tulip. In fact it would be better illustrated as T.U.L.I.P. which is what is now considered an acronym for the “Five Points of Calvinism”. To those of you who with some knowledge of Baptist and other Denominations’ Articles of Faith, some of these should look familiar. The “T” represents “Total Depravity”, U = “Unconditional Election”, L = “Limited Atonement”, I = “Irresistible Grace” and P = “Perseverance of the Saints”.
I came across a blog on a Baptist Board one day that was discussing the origin of the term “Streaky-Head.” Of course this caught my attention as the comedian Jeff Foxworthy would say, “I are one”. During this discussion, the participants had copied the eight articles from the New Hope Baptist Associations’ Constitution. As they analyzed the articles they deemed that they represented two and a half points of Calvinism. Since I was raised a New Hope Baptist “Streaky-Head” I just assumed that I was a two and a half point Calvinist. Guess what, it don’t pay to assume.
In order to be fair and dispel some of the misconceptions, John Calvin the Famous Reformist did not draft the “Five Points of Calvinism.” In fact they did not show up in print until he was long passed from the walks of this life and they were actually drafted as a response to the “Five Articles of Remonstrance.” I fear that much of the stigma that currently surrounds his name as viewed by many today may not be entirely warranted.
A Dutch Theologian named Jackob Harmenszoon who took on the Latin name of Jacobus Arminius was the originator of the “Five Articles of Remonstrance”. These articles caused quite a stir in the Churches in the early 1600’s. Both Arminius and Calvin were part of the Reformation or Protestant movement which had absolutely no fans in the Catholic Church. After Arminius published his “Remonstrance” the Synod of Dort convened, debated and drafted a response. It is from their response that the “Five Articles of Calvinism” or “T.U.L.I.P.” emerged.
Let me explain a little about the Synod of Dort. A synod is a council or an assembly of Churches or Church Officials. This Synod met in the Dutch city of Dordrecht around 1618-1619 to debate the Five Articles of Remonstrance that was generated by Arminius and his collaborators. It was from this council that the Five Points of Calvinism was generated in answer to the Arminius’ submittal. This in itself has been one of the most hotly contested disagreements amongst the Protestants ever since. Unfortunately as was in our case, most of the disagreements are due to folks being poorly educated on who, what, when and then of course, not following the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
I will say this for my youngest son; he is definitely his Father’s son and his Grandfather’s grandson. He was raised the straightest sect a “Streaky-Head” and is not easily moved in his beliefs. There are some beliefs that I hold in which he will not subscribe because he has been raised and taught to follow his own convictions as he is led by the Holy Spirit. That is the main thing that is lacking in so many Churches today. Children are taught to follow the doctrine that is being taught as Gospel and not enough emphasis is placed on the leadership and teaching of the Holy Spirit. If you are unsure of what the Gospel is, read my chapter concerning it for it is something that the world and many Churches have misconstrued.
After my boy was accused of being a Calvinist, he purchased a T-shirt that on the front said “Calvinism this shirt chose me” and on the back side read “Arminiumism I chose this shirt.” Both he and I thought the shirt cute but I don’t think his Mother shared or enjoyed our humor.
From my research it seems that Mr. Arminius first came up with his Five Articles of Remonstrance. These articles were not readily accepted and were hotly contested and debated. This took place around 1610 and the idea was that a group of Preachers get together and draft in written form their beliefs that differed from the varying views being debated at the time. Please bear in mind that Calvin died in 1564 and never drafted the “TULIP” which is an acronym for what is now known as the Five Points of Calvinism. The “TULIP” was actually developed (supposedly based upon Calvin’s writings) by the Synod of Dort in response to the Arminius submittal of the Remonstrance. Of course the Remonstrance was supposed to be in answer to what Calvin was thought to have believed and taught based upon his writings in (The Institutes of the Christian Religion). My what a vicious circle. Oh by the way, this was all part of the Reformation that eventually led to all Christian Denominations that are not part of the Catholic Church or that at least is what the historians would have you believe. Being a true “Streak” we believe that we were separate from the Catholic Church all along as we hold that our Doctrine ties back to the Apostles and the Lamb. That viewpoint has a name in itself and I maybe the only “Streak” to know this. It is called “Apostolic Succession” and it is a belief that some bishops succeeded in uninterrupted lines and are traceable back to the original twelve Apostles. This lines up fully with “Streaky-Head” doctrine and teachings.
Let’s take a look at the Five Articles of Remonstrance since it appears to have been issued first and afterwords we will look at the T.U.L.I.P. After each article, I will submit my comments as the Lord has laid upon my heart.
The Five Articles of Remonstrance
I agree with Arminius’ view here. God knew that we would fall prior to the foundation of the world and Christ was already the plan. We are saved by and through Christ and for Christ’s sake. You must believe and you are saved by grace through faith.
I believe that the Synod of Dort generated Irresistible Grace in answer to this article. I further believe that Christ died for all and there is enough grace to save all that come to him. Paul tells us that Christ died to save sinners and counted himself as chief.
Of course man can’t save himself. One thing that is missing here is that man cannot come to God anytime he wants as no man can come to the Father but by the Son and you can’t come to the Son unless the Father draws you. The third part of the Godhead which is the Holy Spirit is the cord that is used for the act of drawing.
This article serves little purpose to me other than stating that grace is not irresistible. Of course it is not irresistable if we believe the Scriptures that it is not His will that any should perish. If it was irresistable grace and His will that none should perish then all would be saved.
This one is dangerous. Loosely interpreted you could gleam grace falling from this article. Perserverence of the Saints was written to address this article. I believe simply if you’ve ever been saved, you’ll ever be saved. If He has given you the earnest of His Spirit, He will redeem the possesion that He has invested the earnest in.
Now let’s take a look at what is known as the Five Points of Calvinism?
Total depravity-The doctrine of total depravity (also called "total inability") asserts that, as a consequence of the fall of humanity into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.)
Jacob Arminius himself and some of his later followers, such as John Wesley, also affirmed total depravity.
I ascribe to total depravity with one amendment. No one has addressed a child passing from the walk of this life prior to reaching the age of accountability. In other words before they know the difference in good and evil they are equal to the state of Adam prior to the fall. Only the Holy Spirit can bring you to this knowledge through conviction. If you leave this world before this act takes place, you are a heaven-bound soul. One older Preacher told me of a conversation he had with a Hard-Shell Preacher. He asked the Hard-Shell if he believed there were children in Hell. The Hard-Shell replied “not a span long”. This is so sad and puts a very negative light on hyper-Calvinism.
Unconditional election-The doctrine of unconditional election asserts that God's choice from eternity of those whom he will bring to himself is not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people. Rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy alone.
The doctrine of unconditional election is sometimes made to stand for all Reformed doctrine, sometimes even by its adherents, as the chief article of Reformed Christianity. However, according to the doctrinal statements of these churches, it is not a balanced view to single out this doctrine to stand on its own as representative of all that is taught. Unconditional election, and its corollary in the doctrine of predestination are never properly taught, according to Calvinists, except as an assurance to those who seek forgiveness and salvation through Christ, that their faith is not in vain, because God is able to bring to completion all whom He intends to save. Nevertheless, non-Calvinists object that these doctrines discourage the world from seeking salvation.
We cannot deny the usage of the terms election and predestination within God’s Holy Word. However, being a “Streaky-Head” we believe it this way. God foreknows who will be saved and therefore they are pre-destined through His foreknowledge. Notwithstanding, He is obligated to dispatch the Holy Spirit for conviction to all even though all will not accept. This is really simple and I don’t believe the Calvin or Arminius views accurately cover this in its entirety. It is also scripture that God hated Esau and loved Jacob without them ever doing good or evil. This would really be a good argument for the Hyper-Calvinist. The answer of course is that Esau represents the outward or fleshly man and Jacob the inner or spiritual man. Esau cannot be saved no matter if he seeks repentance bitterly with tears.
Limited atonement-Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", the doctrine of limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus' substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. The doctrine is driven by the concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and the Calvinistic understanding of the nature of the atonement. Namely, Calvinists view the atonement as a penal substitution (that is, Jesus was punished in the place of sinners), and since, Calvinists argue, it would be unjust for God to pay the penalty for some people's sins and then still condemn them for those sins, all those whose sins were atoned for must necessarily be saved.
Moreover, since in this scheme God knows precisely who the elect are and since only the elect will be saved, there is no requirement that Christ atone for sins in general, only for those of the elect. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power (in other words, God could have elected everyone and used it to atone for them all), but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all. Hence, Calvinists hold that the atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect.
I cannot hold to this article as Christ died for all. There is enough grace to save everyone if they will just come to Him even though it is evident that all will not. I remember the moving words penned by William Cowper so many years ago, “Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood will never lose its power, till all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more”. That pretty much says it all and makes me believe that neither of these doctrines affected Mr. Cowper but he was divinely inspired in what he wrote.
Irresistible grace-The doctrine of irresistible grace (also called "efficacious grace") asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith.
The doctrine does not hold that every influence of God's Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit is able to overcome all resistance and make his influence irresistible and effective. Thus, when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved.
This article is held by Hyper-Calvinist and I have been told by some sects of the Primitive Baptist. I think it made it into our articles in the form of “Effectual Call” which is a watered down version. Grace is not irresistible or all would be saved as I said earlier. I do believe in an effectual call but tend to believe that deals more with the call to ministry.
Perseverance of the saints-Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints is also known as "eternal security." The word saints is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven (see Saint). The doctrine asserts that, since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or will return.
This doctrine is slightly different from the Free Grace or "once saved, always saved" view advocated by some evangelicals in which, despite apostasy or unrepentant and habitual sin, the individual is truly saved if they accepted Christ at any point in the past; in traditional Calvinist teaching, apostasy by such a person may prove that they were never saved.
I do not waiver on this one if you were ever saved you are ever saved! If traditional Calvinist do not hold this view then I do not stand with them. However, I do believe that most Baptist do hold my views on this.
I do not believe that I have “tip-toed” through the T.U.L.I.P.’s but rather stomped all over them. If you had asked me prior to doing this research if I was more of a Calvinist or Arminius, I would have responded Calvin. Now if we look at my answers to the Remonstrance and to the Five Articles of Calvinism we see a different outcome. I believe that with a couple of exceptions I hold four of the five articles of the Remonstrance. On the other hand looking at the T.U.L.I.P., I only hold two of them.
I’m thankful that I attended the same school that the prophet Jonah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha, Paul, Peter, John, etc. attended. To put it plainly, I was taught the Holy Spirit is the supreme infallible authority. It matters not what Jacob Arminius, Jean Calvin, John Knox, Erasmus, St. Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, Maze Jackson, Billy Graham or Robert Elsberry interpreted in the Scriptures. If the Holy Ghost shows me different, that is what I will stand upon. It will not matter if I’m the only one left that believes this way. All that matters is that the Holy Ghost confirms the interpretation He wants me to hold.
If you are tip-toeing through the tulips or slumbering in Arminus’ Remonstrance, I pray that the Holy Ghost will awaken you to what God wants you to know and give you peace and assurance that only He can give.
Please remember that the Remonstrance or the T.U.L.I.P. cannot save you. The only flower that has saving power is the Rose. When I speak of the Rose I’m referencing the one that grows upon Sharon. You can get a glimpse of it when you are on the mountain. You can take in it’s sweet fragrance which cannot be imitated. There is a Lily of comfort when you are in the valley and though they are two different looking flowers they are the same. One is the Son and the other the Holy Spirit. Either way, they are both still God and therefore the same flower.
In closing we need to clear up what I am. Am I a Calvinist? Am I of Arminus’ camp? Am I a “Streaky-Head”? Actually the answer to all of these is no. I am a sinner plain and simple. You might wonder what distinguishes me from other sinners or what gives me the right to pen these words that you are reading? That is a good question and worthy of a good response. I simply answer that though I’m a sinner that’s not the whole story. I’m a sinner saved by grace. Those three words “saved by grace” may not mean much to you but they are so important that they are the difference in spending eternity in a devil’s hell or in God’s Heaven! They are so important that now instead of being a lowly member of the Elsberry Family, I’m a child of the King! I am royalty, a chosen generation and a royal priesthood. Three little words that enable me not to worry about tip-toeing through the tulips or anything else but rather guides my feet as I walk in the Kings highway.
The morning following my posting of this thought happens to be Thanksgiving Day. My mind began to be flooded with a thought that should have been included but I failed to do so last night. An old preacher that I loved used to say he was going to preach supposition. When he first said that I snarled as a "Streaky-Head" wouldn't go along with nothing shy of the Gospel. Brother Maze Jackson said suppose God did such and such and then took off to preach the Gospel. This morning I began to think suppose I was drawn in front of the Judge this morning and was told that I had to choose either Arminius' Remonstrance or the Five Articles of Calvinism. I could no longer take the stance that I now hold which is four points to Arminius and two points to Calvin. Unlike being at a cafeteria, I cannot choose a la carte but the rules now are either or with no substitutions. Though I hold more of Arminius' views, I must choose Calvin based solely and entirely on the Perseverance of the Saints. You may ask is that one so important that you will take all the others that you disagree with? The answer is simply, yes! For we must all agree that we have not the power to save ourselves. If I didn't have the power to save myself then I do not have the power to keep myself. If I couldn't live good enough to become saved it would be foolish to even start to believe that I can live good enough to remain that way. This may not set well with some of my Church of God and Free Will Friends but it is the truth. What I posses and what has been granted unto me did not come by man and is not swayed or governed by man. Don't fret and fall out with me. If you do not believe this article as I do, as long as you are saved by grace you are OK. So whether you believe it or not, you will persevere!