Timothy George, a professor and Baptist historian, himself a Calvinist, has provided what some will consider a helpful alternative to the “TULIP” acronym of Synod of Dort Calvinism. It’s the “ROSES” acronym, which is meant to capture a softer version of Calvinism that is closer to what most Baptists believe:
- Radical Depravity–Compared with total depravity, radical depravity agrees that every aspect of our being was damaged through the Fall and we can do nothing to save ourselves, but affirms that humans are not totally evil because we retain the image of God despite our fallenness.
Overcoming Grace–Compared with irresistible grace, overcoming grace (or effectual calling) affirms that God accomplishes salvation, but differs in that rather than salvation being a mechanical and deterministic process, it allows for even sinful, obstinate humans to respond to God’s persistent wooing.
Sovereign Election–In contrast to the double predestinarianism of unconditional election, God sovereignly elects those whom He foreknows will respond to Him.
Eternal Life–The phrase “perseverance of the saints” might suggest that although we are saved by grace, we are kept by our good works. The phrase “Once saved, always saved”could suggest that we could claim Christ as Savior without making Him Lord of our lives.
Singular Redemption–Finally, unlike limited atonement, singular redemption communicates that Jesus’ death was sufficient to save everyone but is efficient only for those who repent and believe.
Though Timothy George’s proposed “ROSES” acronym doesn’t have the same logical flow as the traditional TULIP acronym, it does present a softer view of these five points. But a pure Calvinist may not recognize them as truly Calvinian.
For example, Timothy George’s “Sovereign election” is not Calvinistic at all. In fact, it is more Arminian than Calvinian. In other words, because God knows in advance who will respond to him, he elects them.
But this alternative is not Calvinistic. It is not even a softer version of Calvinism. It is something else. It’s something my Arminian Methodist pastor friend often shares with me, as an explanation of election in the Bible.
Timothy George, Amazing Grace: God’s Initiative – Our Response (Nashville: LifeWay, 2000), 71-83.