It stands for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints. These Five Points were adopted by the Synod of Dordt (or Dordrecht), each point the subject of a chapter or head of the Canons of Dordt. According to the followers of Calvin, the Five Points "set forth clearly the biblical teaching on the sovereignty and particularity of the grace of God in salvation."1
Total depravity" is often mistaken to mean that humans are all hopelessly, intensely sinful. Actually, it means something quite different: as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience to God -- the Fall of Man -- sin has extended to all parts of every person's being: "his thinking, his emotions and his will."
Sometimes, this has been called "Total inability." This is the concept that it is impossible for the ordinary "natural" human to understand the Gospel's message. They are spiritually helpless. First, God must first decide to intervene in the form of the third personality within the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the person is lost forever. 2
This is seen in Romans 5:12: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" and in Mark 4:11: "And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables."3
Unconditional Election is the concept of predestination: that God has divided humanity into two groups. One group is "the elected." It includes all those whom God has chosen to make knowledgeable about himself. The rest will remain ignorant of God, and the Gospel. They are damned and will spend eternity in Hell without any hope of mercy or cessation of the extreme tortures. God made this selection before the universe was created, and thus before any humans existed. The ground or grounds that God uses to select the lucky few is unknown. What is known is that it is not through any good works on the part of the individual. It is not that he extends knowledge to some in order to find out who will accept salvation and who will not.
There is a degree of tension within the Bible concerning precise division of responsibility between God and humans on this matter. The Bible does not resolve this issue. Hyper-Calvinists believe that a person has zero responsibility for their own salvation; it is all up to God. Arminians teach that humans have free will and thus can accept or resist the call of God.4
This is supported by Romans 9:15: "For he saith to