Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 11, 1969

T -U -L -I -P (An Acrostic)


Do you think of a "tulip" as a lovely flowering plant, most often associated in the popular mind with the people of Holland? Well, it is. But the word "tulip" is also an acrostic, frequently used by students of church history to call to mind the five cardinal points of Calvinism. We recently found a yellowed clipping between the pages of an old book which states these five points in clear and graphic terms. The clipping was from "The Primitive Baptist" which declares itself to be "A weeldy periodical devoted to the Primitive Baptist Cause," and listing "Elder S. F. Cayce" as Editor. The name will be familiar to some of our older readers. The Cayce-Srygley Debate is in many a gospel preacher's library. The editor's father, J. D. Tant, had at least three debates with Cayce, perhaps more. Editor Cayce lists an "Abstract of Principles" at the heading of his column, as follows:

1. The existence, immutability, omnipotence, omni-presence and eternal perfections of the only true God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

2. That the scriptures of the old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, written by inspiration, and that they are the standard of faith, and the only rule divinely authorized for Christian practice, teaching, as they do, all that we ought to believe, know or practice religiously.

3. The TOTAL DEPRAVITY and just condemnation of the entire human family, in virtue of our union and relationship to the first man, Adam, in whom we sinned and fell under the law, be-coming dead in trespasses and sins.

4. The eternal and UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION of the saints unto glory.

5. That the atonement and redemption of Jesus Christ are for the ELECT ONLY, and that they are justified in the sight of God by the imputed righteousness of the Son alone.

6. The sovereign, IRRESISTIBLE, direct and immediate, and in all cases the effectual work of the Holy Spirit in calling, regenerating and sanctifying the elect of God, and that in his own appointed time and way.

7. The final PRESERVATION and eternal happiness of all the elect of God by grace.

8. The resurrection of the dead, and that the joys of the righteous will be eternal and the punishment of the wicked everlasting.

9. That baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ, and that true believers (those who have been born again) are the ONLY ONES to be admitted to these ordinances.

The rest of the column is missing. Whether there were additional "principles" set forth or not, we do not know. But look now at the five points of Calvinism as set forth in this abstract.


TOTAL DEPRAVITY. This is a basic tenet of Calvinism, and holds that every infant born on this earth is "totally depraved" in every faculty of mind, body, and spirit. The infant is a sinner, under just and righteous condemnation by God.


UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION. God of his own sovereign will, and with no basis in fore-knowledge as to what the person might be, before the world ever began, UNCONDITIONALLY decreed and ordained certain individuals to be eternally saved; and has fore-doomed and pre-determined that all the rest of the human race shall spend eternity in hell. This selection was in no wise related to anything good or bad God fore-knew in the life of the individuals.


LIMITED ATONEMENT. Christ died for the elect ONLY. He did not shed his blood for the non-elect; and they have no right to him.


IRRESISTIBLE CALLING. If one is of the elect, God will in a direct, miraculous and IRRESISTIBLE fashion work on his heart so that he will believe and obey the gospel of Christ. He cannot refuse, and cannot resist. He is powerless to reject.


PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. This is the doctrine of "once in grace, always in grace," or the impossibility of apostasy. It holds that God so controls and hedges in the saved person that he CAN NOT so sin as to be eternally lost.

In modern days very few Calvinists will hold to or defend the first four items of doctrine; but many of them cling stubbornly to the fifth point. But the whole structure stands or falls as a unit. The last item is preposterous unless the first four are accepted. It is like trying to keep the top fifth of the Washington monument in its place while removing the bottom four-fifths! If Calvin's first four points are true, then his fifth is certainly true; if any one of the first four is false, then the fifth also is false.

As a faithful and knowledgeable disciple of Christ you will realize, of course, that all five points are false. But in talking with some friend who clings to the fifth, perhaps this "tulip" acrostic will help you to show him the impossibility of his position, and so bring him to the truth of Christ.

— F. Y. T.