Calvinism generally refers to five doctrinal points – Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints (or TULIP) – that were established after John Calvin died. Scholar Allen Guelzo, putting his interpretation on TULIP, says the doctrines explain the most basic questions any theology or philosophy can ask:
•Why are people the way they are? Total depravity – you're fully corrupted by sin.
•How can people ever change? Unconditional election – God chose some people to be saved without regard to their behavior or character.
•Who benefits from this change? Limited atonement – only God's chosen.
•How does this change happen? Irresistible grace – you can't thwart God's effort to save you.
•What guarantees the change lasts? Perseverance of the saints – once saved, you'll continue in faith.