Throughout the Bible “faith” coupled with God’s “grace” is essential for salvation. The I in TULIP stands for irresistible “grace”, what role does “faith” hold in Calvinism and why is it isolated from "grace"?

Here are some scriptures with "faith" coupled with "grace/love":

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love

Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Ephesians 6:23 Peace [be] to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 4:16 Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace…

Romans 5:2 …we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us…according to the proportion of faith

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God

1 Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another

  • 5
    TULIP was a response to the followers of Josef Arminius - not to be taken an explanation of Christianity to the non-believer
    – warren
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 16:48
  • @warren This question is essentially from a Christian perspective, why is "grace" isolated from faith in Calvinistic doctrine?
    – Rick
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:43
  • 3
    @Rick The mistake here is to assume that TULIP is a complete formulation of Calvin's doctrine. The guy wrote volumes, boiling it down to 5 points sort of does him and his followers an injustice (one we self propogate to be honest).
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 18:36
  • So with your edit, I am confused what you are actually asking for now. Do you want a Calvinist perspective on all these verses?
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


The important thing to remember is that each of the items in TULIP was a response to the (Arminian) Remonstrants own five point rejection of Calvinism. Thus the simple reason why faith is omitted is because the Remonstrants weren't critiquing the place of faith, per se, but the place of grace in salvation. Because TULIP is a response to a critique, the debate was framed by the Remonstrants, not the "Calvinists."

Reformed theology has always closely affirmed the "five solas," including sola fide (solely by faith). Faith is assumed an absolutely essential part of Reformed belief. For example, Westminster Confession of Faith 14.1:

The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.

As you can see, and this is worked throughout the Westminster Standards, faith is seen as a part of God's grace. However, grace is obviously more than just faith -- it is also God's grace that "the rain falls on the just and the unjust," for example (Mt. 5.45). But, directly to your question regarding TULIP, the issue is simply that neither Calvin nor the later Reformed theologians were the ones to frame the five point debate, they were only responding, and thus the fact that faith isn't in TULIP only speaks to a particular Reformed-"Arminian" controversy and not Reformed belief in general.


The TULIP acronym is intended to define the Calvinist position - however it is not intended to define that position relative to non-Christians, it is intended to define it relative to other Christians. It doesn't include doctrines that are considered basic to Christianity, or Protestantism. So you will find no emphasis on:

  • Necessity of faith;
  • Primacy of Scripture
  • Deity of Jesus
  • The Trinity

among others. All of these would absolutely be considered necessary to be a Calvinist, but would also be believed by the people the Calvinists are looking to distinguish themselves from.

  • I don’t understand your atheist comment but it does seem that Grace is being isolated from faith in Calvinism.
    – Rick
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 16:52
  • 2
    What DJ is saying that TULIP differentiates Calvinists from other Christians, not Calvinists from non-Christians. The desire for higher taxes and higher government differentiates Democrats from Republicans, but not Democrats from, say, Islamic Fundamentalists or Nazis. If you were to differentiating Democrats from Nazis, you'd probably focus on things like, say, actual elections and a general preference for not killing those who disagree with you. The shorthand of "tax and spend Democrats" would be representative on Fox News, but not, say, Al Jazeera Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:51
  • 1
    In the same way, Calvinists and Arminian Christians share a lot in common, but differ on the 5 points of the TULIP. It's only a shorthand for what differentiates an otherwise highly similar grouping of Christians. There is no need to point out the areas of agreement. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:53
  • Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree on the necessity of grace (I = Iressistable Grace!) and faith for salvation. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:54
  • 3
    When you ask "If grace is irresistible then what role does faith play?" it seems to me you just took the title of one of the five points and never have actually read an explanation of it or even the actual Canons of Dordrecht, otherwise the role of faith, the Gospel, etc would be clear, specially if you have read the latter. Click here to read them
    – Trinidad
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 3:53

The TULIP from Calvinism is derived from this one principle that is hard to deny if you are a Bible believing Christian:

God has complete sovereignty over all that is.

The logic that Calvinists take after that consideration does not lead them to list faith as a major point, nor does it require them to do so.

The faith of the individual is covered under the I, Irresistible Grace, and slightly under the U, Unconditional Election.

God's grace is irresistible, meaning that you cannot refuse it once it is offered to you. That is your faith, for which you were unconditionally elected to receive, meaning you did not earn it in anyway, which includes whatever you might believe.

To clarify things, here is the chronology of events:

  1. You are unconditionally elected to receive grace.
  2. God pours that grace upon you. It is irresistible and you accept it.
  3. The grace of God works in you and builds faith in you.
  4. You then freely and willingly come to God because of that faith within you.

This site sums the points well.

  • 3
    It should also be noted that the five points are a reaction to those who agree with the need for faith but disagree about some or all of the five points.
    – user3331
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 0:37
  • @PaulA.Clayton The five points are a reaction to themselves?
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 2:35
  • Just curious, what does the Calvinist do with Romans 4:16 Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace…? Here it appears grace is a codependent of faith.
    – Rick
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 11:09
  • Also: Romans 5:2 …we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand...
    – Rick
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 11:13
  • And of course: Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God
    – Rick
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 11:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .