It seems Calvinism is simply determinism in the context of soteriology. Determinism is the cause and TULIP is the result. Let’s walk through TULIP to see if we can spot determinism.
Total Depravity – Hum… not necessarily deterministic, unless one adds either that man is unable to choose between sinful options or that God treats an unable man as able.
Unconditional Election – Our destiny is determined before we were born without having anything to do with us. Clearly deterministic.
Limited Atonement – Christ’s death was sufficient for all, which means that if He had died for the reprobate, He would have been able to save them. The “possibility” of salvation is based on a different past than the actual past – a hallmark of determinism.
Irresistible grace – Those under grace cannot choose to reject. Denying contrary choice is another sign of determinism.
Perseverance of the Saints – Believers can’t fall away. Basically the same thing same as irresistible grace.
Arminius sums things up nicely:
From this decree of Divine election and reprobation [i.e. Calvinism], and
from this administration of the means which pertain to the execution of both of
them, it follows, that the elect are necessarily saved, it being impossible for
them to perish — and that the reprobate are necessarily damned, it being
impossible for them to be saved; and all this from the absolute purpose [or
determination] of God, which is altogether antecedent to all things, and to all
those causes which are either in things themselves or can possibly result from
TULIP also requires awkward deterministic language to explain various passages. God unconditionally elects, but says He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Christ doesn’t die for the reprobate, but tells them the banquet has been prepared, all things are ready. God withholds the only thing that can help, irresistible grace, yet asks what more He could have done. The elect can’t fall away, but God warns of apostasy.
At this point, it’s likely that experienced Calvinists are probably saying sure, what’s your point? But if you are new to Calvinism, I just want you to be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.