Hope you like the title. TULIP has been far too influential for too long, so time for a push back. My one success in my theological studies days was when I pushed a professor (a bit of a Calvin expert) to agree that he was holding to ‘God desired all to be saved, but only chooses some’. An all powerful God who can do what he wishes and chooses to do something he does not desire? Really? All systems leak, and mine simply leaks less than the next person. So I am not in favour of the ‘irresistable’ part of TULIP. [Note to self: have to come up with a new acronym.]
A couple of texts that of course ‘prove’ my perspective (we all love proof texts, all one has to do is to ignore the non-proof texts!).
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain (1 Cor. 15:10).
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1).
Not in vain… seems to imply that the grace of God can be received in vain: from the same verb as in Phil. 1:6 regarding the kenosis of Jesus… the self emptying of Jesus, so it seems ‘in vain’ is along the lines of ‘deprived of power’, ‘without achieving the desired results’. The grace of God could be without desired results, and the deciding factor regarding the outcome in these verses was Paul, or the Corinthians. I don’t think it really gives the idea of ‘irresistable’.
Charity. When we see someone who is desperate it is right to be moved and to give without knowing much more something that will at least enable that person to survive. Charity though is not the meaning behind the word ‘grace‘ or ‘gift‘ in the NT. Both charity and gift / grace are given with no strings attached, neither demand a return, neither buy the person’s allegiance. The difference though lies in the consideration given that lies behind the act, the reason for the act. For gift to be truly gift / grace it is given without strings attached, but with the consideration that what is given will enable this person / situation to pull toward their destiny. Without the gift it will be very difficult for them to move onward and upward, indeed, unless something similar comes from another source, the movement toward their destiny will not be possible. That is the purpose of grace. Paul responded in such a way that he moved on to fulfil his destiny, and he is appealing (second verse quoted) that the Corinthians will respond in like manner.
Paul gave the escaped slave Onesimus back to Philemon as a gift. Philemon could receive him back as a slave, but the gift was given to pull Philemon to a new level. He might be a slave owner (in that culture) but he was being given a gift to enable him to pull himself higher and to humanise all people, regardless of economic status. (We might add that Paul gave some fairly strong arguments, and perhaps a bit of emotional weight, to strongly encourage Philemon not to receive the gift ‘in vain’.)
Gifts given are given because they carry an inherent power… if pulled on. In order to be truly a gift we will need to know something of the other person / situation, so that what is not ours (in the sense of ownership) but is ours to steward can be given freely. There will be a relational, but not transactional, element to the gift.
2022 – I have had on my heart for some days ‘a new economy being birthed’. Resistable grace has to be part of it.
[Now to work on that very clever acronym.]