CARM does not promote or condemn Calvinism. Writers for CARM include Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Calvinism is the teaching summarized in what is called the five points: TULIP. Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints.
- Total depravity--Man is completely touched by sin in all that he is, but is not as bad as he could be. Furthermore, this total depravity means that the unregenerate will not, of their own free will, choose to receive Christ.
- Unconditional Election--God elects a person based upon nothing in that person because there is nothing in him that would make him worthy of being chosen; rather, God's election is based on what is in God. God chose us because he decided to bestow his love and grace upon us, not because we are worthy, in and of ourselves, of being saved.
- Limited Atonement--Christ bore the sin only of the elect, not everyone who ever lived.
- Irresistible Grace--The term unfortunately suggests a mechanical and coercive force upon an unwilling subject. This is not the case. Instead, it is the act of God making the person willing to receive him. It does not mean that a person cannot resist God's will. It means that when God moves to the save/regenerate a person, the sinner cannot thwart God's movement and he will be regenerated.
- Perseverance of the Saints--That we are so secure in Christ, that we cannot fall away.
There are godly, Christian theologians on both sides of these five points, some agreeing and some disagreeing with them. But we are to remain humble and tolerant of those within Christianity who don't agree with us on the issues of non-essentials (Rom. 14:1-12). The essentials of the faith (the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth, justification by faith alone, Jesus' physical resurrection, etc.) are not listed in these five points. Therefore, Christians are free to affirm or deny these teachings and still remain within the Christian faith.