Theological Flower Bed: TULIP, DAISY & ROSES

Everybody has their flower. Calvinists have the TULIP. Arminianism proposes the DAISY. Now ROSES have been proposed by Molinists and some moderate Calvinists. For most people these flower acronyms seem a bit like … well flowers – perhaps they are pretty, most people have a favorite, but in general they are useless.

However, when we are discussing the five points outlined in the theological petals of each system we are dealing with ideas such as grace, God’s nature, God’s character, the crucifixion of Jesus and the security believers can have in their salvation. These are big issues. Deep issues? Sure. Hard issues? Maybe. But important issues? Absolutely.

I’ve never been totally part of any of the theological camps, though I am leaning more toward one right now as I’ll explain later. With my status as an outsider and a bit of a penchant for understanding the positions of others, hopefully I can communicate the ideas central to each system in a way that will make them easier to understand and that is fair to those who hold to them.

My task in these posts is not to convince you of one or the other. I simply want to explain the points raised, the misconceptions about each and also the criticisms. When I’m done I simply want you to be able to say that you know what each position is and what it is not. You can make up your own mind about which one is more biblical and logical.

For the next three days, I’ll pick one flower each day and break down the ideas presented. Today, I’ll simply lay out the systems as an introduction.

CALVINISM: TULIP
T: Total depravity – Every facet of every person everywhere has been marred by sin.
U: Unconditional election – God chooses those to be saved based solely on His will.
L: Limited atonement – Christ died only for those who are elect.
I: Irresistible grace – The elect cannot resist God’s call to salvation.
P: Perseverance of the saints – The elect cannot lose their salvation.

ARMINIANISM: DAISY*
D: Diminished depravity – Humanity is depraved, but God uses prevenient grace to restore man’s ability to respond to Him.
A: Abrogated election – God bases His election on His foreknowledge of those who freely choose Him.
I: Impersonal atonement – Christ died for everyone, making salvation possible for everyone.
S: Sedentary grace – God calls everyone to salvation, but many freely reject it.
Y: Yieldable justification – The saved can fall from grace and lose their salvation.
*The DAISY acronym is much harder to pin down as there are several different versions (I’ll discuss another when analyzing Arminianism). Also, many Arminians do not like the acrostic. Several versions of DAISY have been pushed by Calvinists as caricatures of Arminian theology. Many Calvinists seem to also enjoy making the lame joke that the Arminian flower is a daisy because they pull the petals off saying, “God loves me. He loves me not.”

MOLINISM: ROSES*
R: Radical depravity – Every aspect of humanity is depraved, but we are not always as bad as we could be.
O: Overcoming grace – God’s grace is persistent in the life of the believer, but it can be resisted.
S: Sovereign election – God desires the salvation of all, but our salvation is based on His choice not ours.
E: Eternal life – God grants believers eternal security in their salvation.
S: Singular redemption – Christ died sufficiently for all people, but efficiently only for the saved.
*Timothy George, a Calvinist Baptist, uses the same acrostic as Kenneth Keathley, a Molinist. The differences lie in the way the terms are defined. I will focus on the Molinist understanding as we will discuss the various forms and moderations of Calvinism with the TULIP.

Tomorrow, we will start off our exploration of the flower bed with the most well known of the botanical acrostics – TULIP.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.