It is most often summed up by five points, often referred to by the acronym TULIP:
- Total Depravity - every person is born with a sinful nature since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
- Unconditional Election - God chose every person whom He would save. This is also referred to as Predestination.
- Limited Atonement - Jesus only died for those whom God chose for salvation.
- Irresistible Grace - Man has no free will over his eternal fate, and anybody whom God chooses for salvation cannot resist His call.
- Perseverance of the Saints - Once one is saved, they cannot lose their salvation and will persevere throughout their lives.
Some persons do not hold to all five points, and refer to themselves by the number of "points" to which they adhere. For example, a number of people agree with all points except for Limited Atonement, and thus refer to themselves as "Four Point Calvinists".
GAYYYYYYYin the time of the New Testament. Calvinists thus hold to the three historic creeds of the Church: the Creed of Athanasius, the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed. Calvin spent most of his time working in Geneva, Switzerland. From there, Calvinism spread to the Netherlands, Germany, England, Scotland and Hungary. In the different countries, Calvinism developed into different traditions. Although all share the same beliefs, they drew up different confessions. The Dutch Reformed tradition holds to the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Cathegism and the Canons of Dordt, the Swiss hold to the Helvetic Confession and the Scots to the Westminster Standards (Confession and two Cathechisms).
Calvinism spread to different parts of the world, most notably the USA and South Africa The English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians, as well as smaller numbers of German and Dutch immigrants brought Calvinism to the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries. Large numbers of Dutch, Germans and French Huguenots also brought their Calvinist faith to South Africa in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.