Jollyblogger is doing a series on the five points of Calvinism. It's excellent so far. It starts here. Part 5 has just appeared, and he finally gets to the first of the five points! I'll probably have more to say about the series when it's done, but you can check out what's there so far.
One commenter linked to the five points the Remonstrants (Arminians) came up with that spurred Calvinists to make their five points explicit. I was expecting a flat-out contradiction of each of the five points, but I'd never read the Remonstrants' five points before, and it isn't that at all. Unless I'm missing something in my reading of them, almost everything they say is fully consistent with a healthy Calvinism! Read on for why I think this.
The first point is fully consistent with all but the most hyper hyper-Calvinists, i.e. heretics who consider being elect unrelated to whether someone has a life reflecting the grace of God and persevering to the end. Calvinists rightly insist on everything in this point. I don't think I need to say more on this unless someone challenges me on it.
The second point, I believe, is fully consistent with a healthy limited atonement view, which I've tried to explain carefully here. I'll defer to my prior post on this and say no more.
Point 3 seems to be a statement of total depravity, which is the first of the five points of Calvinism. This one was easy.
Point 4 states a consequence of total depravity and the logical implication that God's grace is necessary for any human good work, including the work of believing in Christ. So far this sounds like what Calvinists say all the time. Then, so as not to be understood to mean something too strong, the last statement denies what some have crudely misunderstood irresistible grace to be, i.e. that no one can even for a time show signs of being resistant to God's grace. This point says nothing about ultimate resistance, just that there are cases when people do in fact resist God's grace, which seems obvious from the language of the scriptures. Calvinists better not deny that Acts teaches that some resist the Holy Spirit in some sense. Since no specific sense is specified, I see no reason to think this contradicts what the Reformers meant when they talked about our inability to resist.
The fifth point says that they need to think more about whether they believe in perseverance of the saints, which means they're pretending they have no view (or pretending that some of them have one view and some the other). That isn't a denial of anything Calvinists believe, of course, but it leaves it open. Unfortunately for them, they can't say this, because they already assumed that only those who will persevere are the elect. This is in point 1. So they have endorsed perseverance of the saints after all. This is the one element that the five points explicitly deny, but point 5 of TULIP denies this by asserting a view that's officially possible here (ignoring the fact that point 1 already said that this view is not just possible but true).
Given that the most objectionable thing to a Calvinist is something they only consider (after having already denied it above), I just don't see why these points could have been so objectionable to Calvinists that they needed a whole council to establish their own five points in response. After all this, it just seems to me that those who felt compelled to respond to this were pretty stupid compared to the Reformers they followed, who probably would have agree with almost everything I've just written.