[T]he I in TULIP was actually a caricature of the position championed in the Synod of Dordt. Those who derided the Reformed idea of effectual calling or prevailing grace branded it “irresistible.”[n53] This is the kind of inside information that needs circulating. It should change popular Calvinism’s use of TULIP.
[n53] The “I” of the acronym T-U-L-I-P, far from encapsulating Dordt’s intended emphasis, actually relays the protest of the Dutch Remonstrants against early seventeenth-century Calvinism in a way dependent on Jesuit writers of that time. How is it possible that irresistible, a term intended to besmirch and caricature the concept of a grace that eventually prevails over all opposition, has been taken up and championed by those it was meant to portray unfavorably? See Anthony Hoekema, Saved by Grace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), pp. 104–5.
“Irresistible” is not an unredeemable term (I love singing “Grace irresistible drew me“!), but it’s not my first choice because it is so easily misunderstood.
Some contemporary Calvinist theologians suggest better labels to communicate the doctrine of “irresistible grace.” For example, R. C. Sproul calls it “the Spirit’s effective call” (ch. 9 in Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology).
Related: Here’s the table of contents for Stewart’s informative book: