I've covered a lot about the "Solas" on my "what I belive" page and never even started TULIP! The "Solas" ended up being much more defining for me as a Christian, but it was TULIP I first learned about. As with many people, the aspect I had the most trouble wrapping my brain around was the "U" part.
Here's the "short story"
- T - total depravity of man
- U - unconditional election
- L - limited atonement
- I - irresistable grace
- P - perseverence of the saints
Every week I get a commentary in my email box from White Horse Inn and this week's segment is on Roman's 9:10-21. When I first started looking at Reformed teaching this was a toughie. In many churches, the issue is so charged that they just don't deal with it; this was the church I grew up in. My dad says, "it upsets people."
Why is "election" so difficult of a thing to wrap your brain around? I think (this is just my opinion) that it comes from pride.
As humans, we want to "do" and it is part of who we are that we want to be independent; we want to be able to "do" for ourselves.
But before we know God, we are dead in sin; as dead as Lazarus was in his tomb and we can no more walk out of our death on our own than Lazarus could. And it's not just that we can't - we can't even try without God's calling us. "Election" is the term used to describe God's choosing of us. It is unconditional because there is no condition that we (as humans) are able to meet on our own, before God chooses us.
Here's what we don't like: what about free will? If it's God that "elects" us, how can we have the free will to choose Him?
The "U" teaches that we can't.
The Bible teaches that we are chosen; and that His choosing of us allows us to accept Him.
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
(I'm not at home today, so don't expect any interaction from me...until after midnight (eastern)