Two-Point Calvinism – Is That an Acceptable Alternative?

Towards the end of a recent sermon, barriers to Bible study including “I don’t know how” and “I’m not motivated” were mentioned.  In my own journey, a struggle with Bible study is related to opposing perspectives where both sides of an argument reference and use the same scriptures in defending their arguments.  What is one, who admittedly struggles with the general concepts of Calvinism, to believe when PhD theologians (if that’s the correct term) such as John Piper and Greg Boyd can’t agree on the Apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans 9?  Focusing less on a theological “system” such as Calvinism or any theological model that attempts to organize biblical data may be the best approach.  However, it’s my observation that variability in scriptural interpretation comes about, in part, because believers have a “hypothesis” based upon their “belief system”.  That said, the debate regarding Calvinism is troubling because 1) there appear to be good arguments for and against Calvinism and 2) one’s perception of who God is can be significantly altered by an affinity (or lack thereof) to Calvinist thought.  Honestly, do believers get to choose (pun intended) who’s right – and conversely, who’s wrong?  It may seem like a silly thing and perhaps it is.  However, the impact of Calvinistic thought has been real in my relationship to God over the last three years.  Perhaps I’m ignorant of facts.  Perhaps all too often data is usurped by dogma.  Perhaps there is a sense of mystery in a spiritual relationship.  Perhaps mystery leads to a theological tension. 

Is there such a thing as a “two-point” Calvinist?  For instance, are there Calvinists who adhere only to (T) total depravity and (P) perseverance of the saints?  I’ve always thought that Calvinism rises or falls collectively on all five points (TULIP).  What if ditching the whole notion of election, and perhaps a couple of other Calvinist tenants as well, eliminates my sense of theological tension? 

Hey Colleen!  Guess what? 

I’m a Calvinist now!  Praise God! 

Albeit, I’ll just admit to being a two-point Calvinist.  Somehow, that expressed sentiment seems hollow because it lacks the totality of Calvinistic thought.  There are five points within the Calvinist “system” or “theological model”.  In addition, I suspect my dear friend is not rejoicing over any two-point Calvinist conversion I may proclaim. 

So, back to where I started – as an open theist.  For reasons I don’t fully understand, I am more comfortable with the general concepts of open theism than I am with Calvinism.  I just don’t know whether open theism is right.  Then, too, I don’t know if Calvinism is right either.  The theological tension continues.


Author: Bob

I’m an upper Midwestern guy who has recently entered the "Buick stage" of life and decided to migrate to Florida. This blog is an attempt to rectify discordant aspects within my Christian faith ... or what often feels like my lack of Christian faith. Things which make life more enjoyable include strong black coffee, charcoal grilling anytime of the year, putz'ing at a table saw, playing chess, a good orthopedic surgeon and an occasional IPA. Please feel free to poke around and comment as you wish. I welcome discussion and the insights of others.

12 thoughts on “Two-Point Calvinism – Is That an Acceptable Alternative?”

  1. I’ve heard of 4 point and 5 point Calvinists and hyper Calvinists, too, so why not another flavor – 2 point Calvinists.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mike. I haven’t listened to Dr. Piper’s lectures on this topic. I have listened to a number of his sermons and read though a couple of his books. In looking through the resources page on his Desiring God site, I only see a sermon entitled “Perseverance of the Saints”. Please post a link as to where I can find the lectures. Thanks.

  3. Bob, it appears that I am a bit late to the party but I would love to throw my two cents in since I have been studying and struggling with many of the issues that you mention here.

    First- Calvinism would be better classified as TULIPS with the S being the stem that supports the whole flower. The support for Calvinism is the Calvinist’s belief in the absolute sovereignty of God. That is God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass.

    Now I do believe that God is absolutely sovereign but being absolutely sovereign and exercising totalitarian rule are not one and the same. Both Piper and David Platt have embraced a theology that gives God two wills to support this. That would be His word (decretive will) and whatever else happens (His secret will). I believe a more accurate picture would be that God has expressed three wills in the Bible and one of those necessitates free will.

    1. His decreed will- this shall come to pass. Examples are not limited to but include prophecy.
    2. His preceptive will- this would be God’s desire for rightful living or His laws.
    3. His permissive will- this necessitates free will but still maintains that God is sovereign for he allows or does not allow things to happen. The best example is Jeremiah 19:5 for permitting and the several accounts in the NT where Paul was denied what He desired to do by the Holy Spirit.

    Philosophically there are two problems with Calvinism. First, determinism by its very nature does not allow for truth. Second why would Calvinists argue in favor of their position with non Calvinists? Surely God has decreed that this person not know the truth. So the Calvinist is either rebelling against God by trying to persuade the other person, or they are showing that they do not really believe the system that they are arguing in favor of.

    The dogmas of man will never fully capture the magnificence of God.

    1. Hi Bruce. Thanks for stopping by. One is never late to ‘my’ party. Please feel free to join in the fray. I’ve never before considered that TULIP’s foundation is the ‘S’ – sovereignty of God. I probably always just took that for a given. But perhaps there’s something to that for if God isn’t sovereign then he can’t exercise unconditional election or any other part of TLIP.

      I find the term “secret will”, which you’ve stated is supported by Dr. Piper, troublesome – for I think it tends to allow for interpretation of, for instance, natural phenomena such as storm that blows the steeple off of a church in Minneapolis to be interpreted as God telling a group of people to move in a different direction. We could certainly argue the merits but the truth is we simply can’t know and as such I find it troublesome that some will claim God caused events to happen when we simply can’t conclusively make that assertion. Also, I think this line of reasoning can lead one to claim something to the effect that “it may be the will of God that sin occur”.

      To the concept of God’s will, I am certainly more in Garry Friesen’s camp and would reference anyone interested to his book, Decision Making and the Will of God.

      Again, thanks for stopping by and for your post. Please do so again. // Best regards, Bob

  4. So I’m REALLY late to the party, but I still hope you can respond. Recently, I have been struggling with the thought of predestination, election, and really just Calvinism. I have never liked Calvinism seeing as how it says that God sends people to Hell and that salvation is limited. I think some Calvinists make good points concerning man’s total depravity. Also, I agree with you on the total depravity and perseverance of the saints. I agree with those two points, but I will never claim any type of Calvinism simply because of the connotations the term brings with it. Anyways, as I said i have been recently struggling with Calvinism and I finally found a page that pretty much set the topic clear for me. Calvinism is wrong.

    This page goes into many of the verses that Calvinists use to determine that God has only elected some people for salvation. It goes into the verses and into the context of the verses, which is something many Calvinists do not do. Anyways, I really hope you receive this comment from me and I hope it helps. I think in my heart that Calvinism is wrong. There are way too many instances in the Bible that tells us that salvation is for ALL PEOPLE, not just an ‘elect.’ I hope you go to this page and read it. I am only 16 years old and have been struggling with this for a month or so, well i guess longer than that. This page is extremely long, but extremely helpful. I hope you can find some time to read it. Thanks A lot, Hope I can help spread God’s True Gospel to everyone!

    1. Johnie,

      This is a never ending party so please don’t worry about being late. Thanks for your comments. I can certainly appreciate struggling with the concepts of Calvinism. It’s only within the last year or so that I’ve finally come to a point in my Christian faith where I can say that, yes indeed, I do have eternal security. For many years I thought I had it. But then all of a sudden my faith world seemed turned on its head. Eventually, though, I came to realize that how one defines various words and terms predicates the logical extension of an argument. The site you referenced, indeed, makes many distinctions between how Calvinists interpret words, such as ‘elect’ or ‘predestined’. There are, however, a number of internet sites that you can find for both sides of the argument in which each side, to me, is able to reasonably well justify the definitions of words used. I’m 3x(+) older than you and us “old-timers” still like books. If I may, I would refer you to some sources I have found beneficial:

      Classic Christianity by Bob George

      Across the Spectrum by Boyd & Eddy

      Is God to Blame? by Greg Boyd

      Debating Calvinism by Hunt & White (this is an exceptionally good book in my estimation)

      Calvinism: A Road to Nowhere by John Mason

      I wish you well in your faith journey and would invite you to comment on anything else in this blog.

      Best Regards,


  5. Calvinism is just another way of saying you are not saved by faith. How can a person have faith in Jesus as his savior if he doesn’t know if he is one of the elect?

  6. I am the latest to arrive it seems,at age currently 78, have been studying cal vs Armenian for 20 yrs, John Calvin intentions perhaps good but got of track like augustine did in 275 ad, simply a situation of overthinking, verses will support any belief(almost any) one adopts, who ever calls on the Lord will be saved. Calvin was deceived, I say, read scripture, believe Christ died for us, was buried and arose from dead, and then become one of the chosen, or should I say predestined

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