HOME
TheInfoList



Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and ...
that follows the theological tradition and forms of
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koine Greek title ''Christós'' (Χριστ ...
practice set down by
John Calvin John Calvin (; french: Jean Calvin ; born Jehan Cauvin; 10 July 150927 May 1564) was a French theologian, pastor and reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian t ...

John Calvin
and other Reformation-era
theologians Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supe ...
. It emphasises the sovereignty of God and the
authority In the fields of sociology and political science, authority is the legitimate power that a person or a group of persons possess and practice over other people. In a civil state, ''authority'' is made formal by way of a judicial branch and an execu ...
of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilati ...
. Calvinists broke from the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international ...

Roman Catholic Church
in the 16th century. Calvinists differ from
Lutherans Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. T ...
(another major branch of the Reformation) on the
real presence of Christ in the Eucharist In Christian theology, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the doctrine that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, not merely symbolically or metaphorically, nor literalistically, but Sacramentally. There are a number of Christian denom ...
, theories of worship, the purpose and meaning of baptism, and the use of God's law for believers, among other things. The term ''Calvinism'' can be misleading, because the religious tradition which it denotes has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder; however almost all of them drew heavily from the writings of
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
twelve hundred years prior. In the context of the Reformation,
Huldrych Zwingli Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system. He attended the ...
began the Reformed tradition in 1519 in the city of
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco Zürich is the lar ...

Zürich
. His followers were instantly labeled ''
Zwinglians The theology of Ulrich Zwingli was based on an interpretation of the Bible, taking scripture as the inspired word of God and placing its authority higher than what he saw as human sources such as the ecumenical councils and the church fathers. He a ...
'', consistent with the Catholic practice of naming heresy after its founder. Very soon, Zwingli was joined by
Martin Bucer Martin Bucer (early German: ''Martin Butzer''; 11 November 1491 – 28 February 1551) was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. B ...

Martin Bucer
,
Wolfgang Capito Wolfgang Fabricius Capito (also Koepfel) ( – November 1541) was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition. His life and work Capito was born circa 1478 to a smith at Hagenau in Alsace. He attended the famous Latin school in Pforzhe ...

Wolfgang Capito
,
William Farel William Farel (1489 – 13 September 1565), Guilhem Farel or Guillaume Farel (), was a French evangelist, Protestant reformer and a founder of the Reformed Church in the Principality of Neuchâtel, in the Republic of Geneva, and in Switzerland in t ...
,
Johannes Oecolampadius Johannes Oecolampadius (also ''Œcolampadius'', in German also Oekolampadius, Oekolampad; 1482 – 24 November 1531) was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition from the Electoral Palatinate. He was the leader of the Protestant facti ...
and other early Reformed thinkers. The namesake of the movement, French reformer John Calvin, renounced Roman Catholicism and embraced
Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and ...
views in the late 1520s or early 1530s, as the earliest notions of later Reformed tradition were already espoused by
Huldrych Zwingli Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system. He attended the ...
. The movement was first called ''Calvinism'', referring to John Calvin, in the early 1550s by Lutherans who opposed it. Many within the tradition find it either an indescriptive or inappropriate term and would prefer the word ''Reformed'' to be used instead. The most important Reformed theologians include Calvin, Zwingli,
Martin Bucer Martin Bucer (early German: ''Martin Butzer''; 11 November 1491 – 28 February 1551) was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. B ...

Martin Bucer
,
William Farel William Farel (1489 – 13 September 1565), Guilhem Farel or Guillaume Farel (), was a French evangelist, Protestant reformer and a founder of the Reformed Church in the Principality of Neuchâtel, in the Republic of Geneva, and in Switzerland in t ...
,
Heinrich Bullinger Heinrich Bullinger (18 July 1504 – 17 September 1575) was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zürich church and pastor at Grossmünster. As one of the most important reformers in the Swiss reformation, Bullinger ...

Heinrich Bullinger
,
Peter Martyr Vermigli Peter Martyr Vermigli (8 September 149912 November 1562) was an Italian-born Reformed theologian. His early work as a reformer in Catholic Italy and his decision to flee for Protestant northern Europe influenced many other Italians to convert an ...
,
Theodore Beza Theodore Beza ( la, Theodorus Beza; french: Théodore de Bèze or ''de Besze''; June 24, 1519 – October 13, 1605) was a French Reformed Protestant theologian, reformer and scholar who played an important role in the Reformation. He was a disc ...
, and
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country's Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Born in Giffordgate, a street in Haddington, East Lothi ...
. In the twentieth century,
Abraham Kuyper Abraham Kuyper (; ; 29 October 1837 – 8 November 1920), "with a 'y', not an 'ij'", was Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905, an influential neo-Calvinist theologian and also a journalist. He established the Reformed Churches in ...

Abraham Kuyper
,
Herman Bavinck Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) was a Dutch Reformed theologian and churchman. He was a significant scholar in the Calvinist tradition, alongside Abraham Kuyper and B. B. Warfield. Biography Background Bavinck was born on 13 December 1854 in t ...
, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen,
Karl Barth Karl Barth (; ; – ) was a Swiss Reformed theologian who is most well known for his landmark commentary ''The Epistle to the Romans (1921)'', his involvement in the Confessing Church, and authorship of the Barmen Declaration, and especially his ...
,
Martyn Lloyd-Jones David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Cha ...
,
Cornelius Van Til Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895 – April 17, 1987) was a Dutch-American Christian philosopher and Reformed theologian, who is credited as being the originator of modern presuppositional apologetics. Biography Van Til (born Kornelis van Til in Gro ...

Cornelius Van Til
,
Gordon Clark Gordon Haddon Clark (August 31, 1902 – April 9, 1985) was an American philosopher and Calvinist theologian. He was a leading figure associated with presuppositional apologetics and was chairman of the Philosophy Department at Butler Universi ...
,
R. C. Sproul Robert Charles Sproul ( ; February 13, 1939 – December 14, 2017) was an American Reformed theologian and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. He was the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries (named for the Ligonier Valle ...
, and J. I. Packer were influential. Contemporary Reformed theologians include John MacArthur, Timothy J. Keller,
David Wells David Lee Wells (born May 20, 1963), nicknamed "Boomer", is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for nine teams. A three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, Wells was ...
, and Michael Horton. The Reformed tradition is largely represented by the
Continental Reformed A Continental Reformed church is a Reformed church that has its origin in the European continent. Prominent subgroups are the Dutch Reformed, the Swiss Reformed, the French Reformed (Huguenots), the Hungarian Reformed, and the Waldensian Church i ...

Continental Reformed
,
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, specifically Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is gove ...
,
Evangelical Anglican Evangelical Anglicanism or evangelical Episcopalianism is a tradition or church party within Anglicanism that shares affinity with broader evangelicalism. Evangelical Anglicans share with other evangelicals the attributes of "conversionism, act ...
, Congregationalist, and
Reformed Baptist Reformed Baptists (sometimes known as Particular Baptists or Calvinistic Baptists) are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology. They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist ...
denominational families. Several forms of
ecclesiastical polity Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or of a Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of a church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity relates closely to eccle ...
are exercised by a group of Reformed churches, including
presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, specifically Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is gove ...
, congregationalist, and some
episcopal Episcopal may refer to: *Of or relating to a bishop, an overseer in the Christian church *Episcopate, the see of a bishop – a diocese *Episcopal Church (disambiguation), any church with "Episcopal" in its name ** Episcopal Church (United States ...
. The biggest Reformed association is the
World Communion of Reformed Churches The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is the largest association of Reformed churches in the world. It has 233 member denominations in 110 countries, together claiming 100 million people, thus being the third largest Christian communion i ...
with more than 100 million members in 211 member denominations around the world. There are more conservative Reformed federations such as the
World Reformed Fellowship The World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) is an ecumenical Christian organization which promotes unity between confessional Reformed churches around the world. History The World Fellowship of Reformed Churches (WFRC) was formed in 1994 by the Presbyteri ...
and the
International Conference of Reformed Churches The International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC) is a federation of Reformed or Calvinist churches across the world. The ICRC is founded in 1981. The ICRC convenes international meetings every four years. Its theology is more conservative th ...
, as well as independent churches.


Etymology

Calvinism is named after
John Calvin John Calvin (; french: Jean Calvin ; born Jehan Cauvin; 10 July 150927 May 1564) was a French theologian, pastor and reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian t ...

John Calvin
. It was first used by a Lutheran theologian in 1552. It was a common practice of the Roman Catholic Church to name what it viewed as heresy after its founder. Nevertheless, the term first came out of Lutheran circles. Calvin denounced the designation himself: Despite its negative connotation, this designation became increasingly popular in order to distinguish Calvinists from Lutherans and from newer Protestant branches that emerged later. The vast majority of churches that trace their history back to Calvin (including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and a row of other Calvinist churches) do not use it themselves, since the designation "Reformed" is more generally accepted and preferred, especially in the
English-speaking world#REDIRECT English-speaking world ...
. Moreover, these churches claim to be—in accordance with John Calvin's own words—"renewed accordingly with the true order of gospel". Since the Arminian controversy, the Reformed tradition—as a branch of
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and ...
distinguished from Lutheranism—divided into two separate groups:
Arminians Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609) and his historic supporters known as Remonstrants. His teachings held to the five solae of the Reformation, b ...
and Calvinists. However, it is now rare to call Arminians a part of the Reformed tradition, with the majority of Arminians today being members of the
Methodist Church Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their doctrine of practice and belief from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John' ...
es and General Baptist Churches. While the Reformed theological tradition addresses all of the traditional topics of Christian theology, the word ''Calvinism'' is sometimes used to refer to particular Calvinist views on
soteriology Soteriology (; el, σωτηρία ' "salvation" from σωτήρ ' "savior, preserver" and λόγος ' "study" or "word") is the study of religious doctrines of salvation. Salvation theory occupies a place of special significance in many religions. ...
and
predestination Predestination, in Christian theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the "paradox of free will", w ...
, which are summarized in part by the Calvinism#Five points of Calvinism, Five Points of Calvinism. Some have also argued that Calvinism as a whole stresses the Sovereignty of God in Christianity, sovereignty or rule of God in all things including salvation.


History

First-generation Reformed theologians include
Huldrych Zwingli Huldrych Zwingli or Ulrich Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland, born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system. He attended the ...
(1484–1531),
Martin Bucer Martin Bucer (early German: ''Martin Butzer''; 11 November 1491 – 28 February 1551) was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. B ...

Martin Bucer
(1491–1551),
Wolfgang Capito Wolfgang Fabricius Capito (also Koepfel) ( – November 1541) was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition. His life and work Capito was born circa 1478 to a smith at Hagenau in Alsace. He attended the famous Latin school in Pforzhe ...

Wolfgang Capito
(1478–1541), John Oecolampadius (1482–1531), and Guillaume Farel (1489–1565). These reformers came from diverse academic backgrounds, but later distinctions within Reformed theology can already be detected in their thought, especially the priority of Bible, scripture as a source of authority. Scripture was also viewed as a unified whole, which led to a covenantal theology of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper as visible signs of the covenant of grace. Another Reformed distinctive present in these theologians was their denial of the bodily Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, presence of Christ in the Lord's supper. Each of these theologians also understood salvation to be by grace alone, and affirmed a doctrine of unconditional election, particular election (the teaching that some people are chosen by God for salvation). Martin Luther and his successor Philipp Melanchthon were undoubtedly significant influences on these theologians, and to a larger extent later Reformed theologians. The doctrine of justification by faith alone, also known as sola fide, was a direct inheritance from Luther.
John Calvin John Calvin (; french: Jean Calvin ; born Jehan Cauvin; 10 July 150927 May 1564) was a French theologian, pastor and reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian t ...

John Calvin
(1509–64),
Heinrich Bullinger Heinrich Bullinger (18 July 1504 – 17 September 1575) was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zürich church and pastor at Grossmünster. As one of the most important reformers in the Swiss reformation, Bullinger ...

Heinrich Bullinger
(1504–75), Wolfgang Musculus (1497–1563),
Peter Martyr Vermigli Peter Martyr Vermigli (8 September 149912 November 1562) was an Italian-born Reformed theologian. His early work as a reformer in Catholic Italy and his decision to flee for Protestant northern Europe influenced many other Italians to convert an ...
(1500–62), and Andreas Hyperius (1511–64) belong to the second generation of Reformed theologians. Calvin's ''Institutes of the Christian Religion'' (1536–59) was one of the most influential theologies of the era. Toward the middle of the 16th century, the Reformed began to commit their beliefs to creed, confessions of faith, which would shape the future definition of the Reformed faith. The 1549 ''Consensus Tigurinus'' brought together those who followed Zwingli and Bullinger's memorialist theology of the Lord's supper, which taught that the supper simply serves as a reminder of Christ's death, and Calvin's view that the supper serves as a means of grace with Christ actually present, though spiritually rather than bodily. The document demonstrates the diversity as well as unity in early Reformed theology. The remainder of the 16th century saw an explosion of confessional activity. The stability and breadth of Reformed theology during this period stand in marked contrast to the bitter controversy experienced by Lutherans prior to the 1579 Formula of Concord. Due to Calvin's missionary work in France, his programme of reform eventually reached the French-speaking provinces of the Netherlands. Calvinism was adopted in the Electorate of the Palatinate under Frederick III, Elector Palatine, Frederick III, which led to the formulation of the Heidelberg Catechism in 1563. This and the Belgic Confession were adopted as confessional standards in the Synod of Emden, first synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1571. In 1573, William the Silent joined the Calvinist Church. Calvinism was declared the official religion of the Kingdom of Navarre by the queen regnant Jeanne d'Albret after her conversion in 1560. Leading divines, either Calvinist or those sympathetic to Calvinism, settled in England (Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Peter Martyr, and Jan Łaski) and Scotland (
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country's Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Born in Giffordgate, a street in Haddington, East Lothi ...
). During the English Civil War, the Calvinistic Puritans produced the Westminster Confession, which became the confessional standard for Presbyterians in the English-speaking world. Having established itself in Europe, the movement continued to spread to other parts of the world, including North America, South Africa, and Korea. Calvin did not live to see the foundation of his work grow into an international movement; but his death allowed his ideas to break out of their city of origin, to succeed far beyond their borders, and to establish their own distinct character.


Spread

, Poland. Although much of Calvin's work was in Geneva, his publications spread his ideas of a ''correctly'' Reformed church to many parts of Europe. In Switzerland, some cantons are still Reformed, and some are Catholic. Calvinism became the theological system of the majority in Scotland (see
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country's Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Born in Giffordgate, a street in Haddington, East Lothi ...
), the Netherlands (see William Ames, T. J. Frelinghuysen and Wilhelmus à Brakel), some communities in Flanders, and parts of Germany (especially these adjacent to the Netherlands) in the Palatinate (region), Palatinate, Kassel and Lippe with the likes of Olevianus and his colleague Zacharias Ursinus. In Hungary and the then-independent Transylvania, Calvinism was a significant religion. In the 16th century, the Reformation gained many supporters in Eastern Hungary and Hungarian-populated regions in Transylvania. In these parts, the Reformed nobles protected the faith. Almost all Transylvanian dukes were Reformed. Today there are about 3.5 million Hungarian Reformed people worldwide. It was influential in France, Lithuania and Poland before being mostly erased due to the Counter Reformation, counter-reformational activities taken up by the monarch in each country. In Poland disconnected from Calvinism the Polish stream called Polish Brethren. This stream was started on January 22, 1556, when Piotr of Goniądz (Peter Gonesius), a Polish student, spoke out against the doctrine of the Trinity during the general synod of the Reformed (Calvinist) churches of Poland held in the village of Secemin. Calvinism gained some popularity in Scandinavia, especially Sweden, but was rejected in favor of Lutheranism after the Synod of Uppsala in 1593. Most settlers in the American Mid-Atlantic and New England were Calvinists, including the English Puritans, the French Huguenots and Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam (New York), and the Ulster Scots people, Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism, Presbyterians of the Appalachian back country. Nonconformist (Protestantism), Nonconforming Protestants, Puritans, Ecclesiastical separatism, Separatists, Independent (religion), Independents, 17th century denominations in England, English religious groups coming out of the English Civil War, and other English dissenters not satisfied with the degree to which the Church of England had been reformed, held overwhelmingly Reformed views. They are often cited among the primary founders of the United States of America. Dutch and French Huguenot Calvinist settlers were also the first European colonizers of South Africa, beginning in the 17th century, who became known as Boers or Afrikaner Calvinism, Afrikaners. Sierra Leone was largely colonized by Calvinist settlers from Nova Scotia, who were largely Black Loyalists, black people who had fought for the British Empire, British during the American Revolutionary War, American War of Independence. John Marrant had organized a congregation there under the auspices of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, Huntingdon Connection. Some of the largest Calvinist communions were started by 19th- and 20th-century missionary, missionaries. Especially large are those in Indonesia, South Korea, Korea and Nigeria. In South Korea there are 20,000
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, specifically Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is gove ...
congregations with about 9–10 million church members, scattered in more than 100 Presbyterian denominations. In South Korea, Presbyterianism is the largest Christian denomination. A 2011 report of the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life estimated that members of Presbyterian or Reformed churches make up 7% of the estimated 801 million Protestants globally, or approximately 56 million people. Though the broadly defined Reformed faith is much larger, as it constitutes Congregationalist (0.5%), most of the United and uniting churches (unions of different denominations) (7.2%) and most likely some of the other Protestant denominations (38.2%). All three are distinct categories from Presbyterian or Reformed (7%) in this report. The Reformed family of churches is one of the largest Christian denominations. According to adherents.com the Reformed/Presbyterian/Congregational/United churches represent 75 million believers worldwide. The
World Communion of Reformed Churches The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is the largest association of Reformed churches in the world. It has 233 member denominations in 110 countries, together claiming 100 million people, thus being the third largest Christian communion i ...
, which includes some United Churches (most of these are primarily Reformed; see ''Uniting and united churches'' for details), has 80 million believers. WCRC is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Many conservative Reformed churches which are strongly Calvinistic formed the
World Reformed Fellowship The World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) is an ecumenical Christian organization which promotes unity between confessional Reformed churches around the world. History The World Fellowship of Reformed Churches (WFRC) was formed in 1994 by the Presbyteri ...
which has about 70 member denominations. Most are not part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches because of its ecumenical attire. The International Conference of Reformed Churches is another conservative association. Church of Tuvalu is the only State religion, officially established state church in the Calvinist tradition in the world.


Theology


Revelation and scripture

Reformed theologians believe that God communicates knowledge of himself to people through the Word of God. People are not able to know anything about God except through this self-revelation. Speculation about anything which God has not revealed through his Word is not warranted. The knowledge people have of God is different from that which they have of anything else because God is Infinity of God, infinite, and finite people are incapable of comprehending an infinite being. While the knowledge revealed by God to people is never incorrect, it is also never comprehensive. According to Reformed theologians, God's self-revelation is always through his son Jesus Christ, because Christ is the only mediator between God and people. Revelation of God through Christ comes through two basic channels. The first is Genesis creation narrative, creation and Divine providence, providence, which is God's creating and continuing to work in the world. This action of God gives everyone knowledge about God, but this knowledge is only sufficient to make people culpable for their sin; it does not include knowledge of the gospel. The second channel through which God reveals himself is Redemption (theology), redemption, which is the gospel of Salvation (Christianity), salvation from condemnation which is punishment for sin. In Reformed theology, the Word of God takes several forms. Jesus Christ himself is the Word Incarnate. The prophecies about him said to be found in the Old Testament and the ministry of the Twelve Apostles, apostles who saw him and communicated his message are also the Word of God. Further, the preaching of ministers about God is the very Word of God because God is considered to be speaking through them. God also speaks through human writers in the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilati ...
, which is composed of texts set apart by God for self-revelation. Reformed theologians emphasize the Bible as a uniquely important means by which God communicates with people. People gain knowledge of God from the Bible which cannot be gained in any other way. Reformed theologians affirm that the Bible is true, but differences emerge among them over the meaning and extent of its truthfulness. Conservative followers of the Princeton theologians take the view that the Bible is true and biblical inerrancy, inerrant, or incapable of error or falsehood, in every place. This view is very similar to that of Catholic orthodoxy as well as modern Evangelicalism. Another view, influenced by the teaching of
Karl Barth Karl Barth (; ; – ) was a Swiss Reformed theologian who is most well known for his landmark commentary ''The Epistle to the Romans (1921)'', his involvement in the Confessing Church, and authorship of the Barmen Declaration, and especially his ...
and neo-orthodoxy, is found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Confession of 1967. Those who take this view believe the Bible to be the primary source of our knowledge of God, but also that some parts of the Bible may be false, not witnesses to Christ, and not normative for today's church. In this view, Christ is the revelation of God, and the scriptures witness to this revelation rather than being the revelation itself.


Covenant theology

Reformed theologians use the concept of covenant to describe the way God enters fellowship with people in history. The concept of covenant is so prominent in Reformed theology that Reformed theology as a whole is sometimes called "covenant theology". However, sixteenth and seventeenth-century theologians developed a particular theological system called "covenant theology" or "federal theology" which many conservative Reformed churches continue to affirm today. This framework orders God's life with people primarily in two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant of works is made with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The terms of the covenant are that God provides a blessed life in the garden on condition that Adam and Eve obey God's law perfectly. Because Adam and Eve broke the covenant by eating the forbidden fruit, they became subject to death and were banished from the garden. This sin was passed down to all mankind because all people are said to be in Adam as a covenantal or "federal" head. Federal theologians usually infer that Adam and Eve would have gained immortality had they obeyed perfectly. A second covenant, called the covenant of grace, is said to have been made immediately following Adam and Eve's sin. In it, God graciously offers salvation from death on condition of faith in God. This covenant is administered in different ways throughout the Old and New Testaments, but retains the substance of being free of a requirement of perfect obedience. Through the influence of Karl Barth, many contemporary Reformed theologians have discarded the covenant of works, along with other concepts of federal theology. Barth saw the covenant of works as disconnected from Christ and the gospel, and rejected the idea that God works with people in this way. Instead, Barth argued that God always interacts with people under the covenant of grace, and that the covenant of grace is free of all conditions whatsoever. Barth's theology and that which follows him has been called "monocovenantal" as opposed to the "bi-covenantal" scheme of classical federal theology. Conservative contemporary Reformed theologians, such as John Murray (theologian), John Murray, have also rejected the idea of covenants based on law rather than grace. Michael Horton, however, has defended the covenant of works as combining principles of law and love.


God

For the most part, the Reformed tradition did not modify the medieval consensus on the doctrine of God. God's character is described primarily using three adjectives: eternal, infinite, and unchangeable. Reformed theologians such as Shirley Guthrie have proposed that rather than conceiving of God in terms of his attributes and freedom to do as he pleases, the doctrine of God is to be based on God's work in history and his freedom to live with and empower people. Traditionally, Reformed theologians have also followed the medieval tradition going back to before the early church councils of First Council of Nicaea, Nicaea and Council of Chalcedon, Chalcedon on the doctrine of the Trinity. God is affirmed to be one God in three persons: God the Father, Father, God the Son, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son (Christ) is held to be eternally begotten by the Father and the Procession of the Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father and Son. However, contemporary theologians have been critical of aspects of Western views here as well. Drawing on the Eastern Christianity, Eastern tradition, these Reformed theologians have proposed a "social trinitarianism" where the persons of the Trinity only exist in their life together as persons-in-relationship. Contemporary Reformed confessions such as the Barmen Confession and Brief Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have avoided language about the attributes of God and have emphasized his work of reconciliation and empowerment of people. Feminist theologian Letty Russell used the image of partnership for the persons of the Trinity. According to Russell, thinking this way encourages Christians to interact in terms of fellowship rather than reciprocity. Conservative Reformed theologian Michael Horton, however, has argued that social trinitarianism is untenable because it abandons the essential unity of God in favor of a community of separate beings.


Christ and atonement

Reformed theologians affirm the historic Christian belief that Christ is eternally hypostatic union, one person with a divine and a human nature. Reformed Christians have especially emphasized that Christ truly incarnation of Christ, became human so that people could be saved. Christ's human nature has been a point of contention between Reformed and Lutheran Christology. In accord with the belief that finite humans cannot comprehend infinite divinity, Reformed theologians hold that Christ's human body cannot be in multiple locations at the same time. Because Lutherans believe that Christ is bodily Real presence, present in the Eucharist, they hold that Christ is bodily present in many locations simultaneously. For Reformed Christians, such a belief denies that Christ actually became human. Some contemporary Reformed theologians have moved away from the traditional language of one person in two natures, viewing it as unintelligible to contemporary people. Instead, theologians tend to emphasize Jesus' context and particularity as a first-century Jew. John Calvin and many Reformed theologians who followed him describe Christ's work of redemption in terms of threefold office, three offices: prophet, priest, and Kingly office of Christ, king. Christ is said to be a prophet in that he teaches perfect doctrine, a priest in that intercession of Christ, he intercedes to the Father on believers' behalf and offered himself as a sacrifice for sin, and a king in that he rules the church and fights on believers' behalf. The threefold office links the work of Christ to God's work in ancient Israel. Many, but not all, Reformed theologians continue to make use of the threefold office as a framework because of its emphasis on the connection of Christ's work to Israel. They have, however, often reinterpreted the meaning of each of the offices. For example, Karl Barth interpreted Christ's prophetic office in terms of political engagement on behalf of the poor. Christians believe Jesus' death and Resurrection of Jesus, resurrection makes it possible for believers to attain forgiveness for sin and reconciliation with God through the atonement in Christianity, atonement. Reformed Protestants generally subscribe to a particular view of the atonement called Penal substitution, penal substitutionary atonement, which explains Christ's death as a sacrificial payment for sin. Christ is believed to have died in place of the believer, who is accounted righteous as a result of this sacrificial payment.


Sin

In Christian theology, people are created good and in the image of God but have become corrupted by sin, which causes them to be imperfect and overly self-interested. Reformed Christians, following the tradition of , believe that this corruption of human nature was brought on by Adam and Eve's first sin, a doctrine called original sin. Although earlier Christian authors taught the elements of physical death, moral weakness, and a sin propensity within original sin, Augustine was the first Christian to add the concept of inherited guilt (''reatus'') from Adam whereby every infant is born eternally damned and humans lack any residual ability to respond to God. Reformed theologians emphasize that this sinfulness affects all of a person's nature, including their will. This view, that sin so dominates people that they are unable to avoid sin, has been called total depravity. In colloquial English, the term "total depravity" can be easily misunderstood to mean that people are absent of any goodness or unable to do any good. However the Reformed teaching is actually that while people continue to bear God's image and may do things that appear outwardly good, their sinful intentions affect all of their nature and actions so that they are not pleasing to God. From a Calvinist viewpoint, a person who has sinned was predestined to sin, and no matter what a person does, they will go to Heaven or Hell based on that determination. There is no repenting from sin since the most evil thing is the sinner's own actions, thoughts, and words. Some contemporary theologians in the Reformed tradition, such as those associated with the PC(USA)'s Confession of 1967, have emphasized the social character of human sinfulness. These theologians have sought to bring attention to issues of environmental, economic, and political justice as areas of human life that have been affected by sin.


Salvation

Reformed theologians, along with other Protestants, believe salvation from punishment for sin is to be given to all those who have Faith in Christianity, faith in Christ. Faith is not purely intellectual, but involves trust in God's promise to save. Protestants do not hold there to be any other requirement for salvation, but that faith alone is sufficient. Justification (theology), Justification is the part of salvation where God pardons the sin of those who believe in Christ. It is historically held by Protestants to be the most important article of Christian faith, though more recently it is sometimes given less importance out of ecumenical concerns. People are not on their own able even to fully repent of their sin or prepare themselves to repent because of their sinfulness. Therefore, justification is held to arise solely from God's free and gracious act. Sanctification is the part of salvation in which God makes the believer holy, by enabling them to exercise greater love for God and for other people. The good works accomplished by believers as they are sanctified are considered to be the necessary outworking of the believer's salvation, though they do not cause the believer to be saved. Sanctification, like justification, is by faith, because doing good works is simply living as the son of God one has become.


Predestination

Reformed theologians teach that sin so affects human nature that they are unable even to exercise faith in Christ by their own will. While people are said to retain will, in that they willfully sin, they are unable not to sin because of the corruption of their nature due to original sin. Reformed Christians believe that God predestination, predestined some people to be saved and others were predestined to eternal damnation. This unconditional election, choice by God to save some is held to be unconditional and not based on any characteristic or action on the part of the person chosen. This view is opposed to the Arminian view that God's conditional election, choice of whom to save is conditional or based on his foreknowledge of who would respond positively to God. Karl Barth reinterpreted the Reformed doctrine of predestination to apply only to Christ. Individual people are only said to be elected through their being in Christ. Reformed theologians who followed Barth, including Jürgen Moltmann, David Migliore, and Shirley Guthrie, have argued that the traditional Reformed concept of predestination is speculative and have proposed alternative models. These theologians claim that a properly trinitarian doctrine emphasizes God's freedom to love all people, rather than choosing some for salvation and others for damnation. God's justice towards and condemnation of sinful people is spoken of by these theologians as out of his love for them and a desire to reconcile them to himself.


Five points of Calvinism

Most objections to and attacks on Calvinism focus on the "five points of Calvinism", also called the doctrines of grace, and remembered by the mnemonic "TULIP". The five points are popularly said to summarize the Canons of Dort; however, there is no historical relationship between them, and some scholars argue that their language distorts the meaning of the Canons, Calvin's theology, and the theology of 17th-century Calvinistic orthodoxy, particularly in the language of total depravity and limited atonement. The five points were more recently popularized in the 1963 booklet ''The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, Documented'' by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas. The origins of the five points and the acronym are uncertain, but they appear to be outlined in the Counter Remonstrance of 1611, a less known Reformed reply to the Arminians that occurred prior to the Canons of Dort. The acronym was used by Cleland Boyd McAfee as early as circa 1905. An early printed appearance of the T-U-L-I-P acronym is in Loraine Boettner's 1932 book, ''The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination''. The acronym was very cautiously if ever used by Calvinist apologists and theologians before the booklet by Steele and Thomas. The central assertion of these points is that God saves every person upon whom he has mercy, and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or inability of humans. * "Total depravity", also called "total inability", asserts that as a consequence of the Fall of Man, fall of man into sin, every person is enslaved to sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God, but rather to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to trust God for their salvation and be saved (the term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as they could be). This doctrine is derived from Calvin's interpretation of Augustine's explanation about Original Sin. While the phrases "totally depraved" and "utterly perverse" were used by Calvin, what was meant was the inability to save oneself from sin rather than being absent of goodness. Phrases like "total depravity" cannot be found in the Canons of Dort, and the Canons as well as later Reformed orthodox theologians arguably offer a more moderate view of the nature of fallen humanity than Calvin. * "Unconditional election" asserts that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, his choice is unconditionally grounded in his mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity to extend mercy to those he has chosen and to withhold mercy from those not chosen. Those chosen receive salvation through Christ alone. Those not chosen receive the just wrath that is warranted for their sins against God. * "Limited atonement", also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished. This implies that only the sins of the elect were penal substitution, atoned for by Jesus's death. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power, but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is intended for some and not all. Some Calvinists have summarized this as "The atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect." * "Irresistible grace", also called "efficacious grace", asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that this purposeful influence of God's Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, "graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ." This is not to deny the fact that the Spirit's outward call (through the proclamation of the Gospel) can be, and often is, rejected by sinners; rather, it is that inward call which cannot be rejected. * "Perseverance of the saints" (also known as "perseverance of God with the saints" and "preservation of the believing") (the word "saints" is used to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not of those who are exceptionally holy, Canonization, canonized, or in heaven) asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with (1 John 2:19), or, if they are saved but not presently walking in the Spirit, they will be divinely chastened (Hebrews 12:5–11) and will repent (1 John 3:6–9). More recently, a broad range of theologians have sought to reformulate the TULIP terminology to reflect more accurately the Canons of Dort; one recent effort has been PROOF, standing for Planned Grace, Resurrecting Grace, Outrageous Grace, Overcoming Grace, and Forever Grace.


Comparison among Protestants


Church

Reformed Christians see the Christian Church as the community with which God has made the covenant of grace, a promise of eternal life and relationship with God. This covenant extends to those under the "old covenant" whom God chose, beginning with Abraham and Sarah. The church is conceived of as both invisible church, invisible and visible church, visible. The invisible church is the body of all believers, known only to God. The visible church is the institutional body which contains both members of the invisible church as well as those who appear to have faith in Christ, but are not truly part of God's elect. In order to identify the visible church, Reformed theologians have spoken of certain marks of the Church. For some, the only mark is the pure preaching of the gospel of Christ. Others, including John Calvin, also include the right administration of the sacraments. Others, such as those following the Scots Confession, include a third mark of rightly administered church discipline, or exercise of censure against unrepentant sinners. These marks allowed the Reformed to identify the church based on its conformity to the Bible rather than the Magisterium or church tradition.


Worship


Regulative principle of worship

The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and Anabaptists on how the Bible orders public worship. The substance of the doctrine regarding worship is that God institutes in the Scriptures everything he requires for worship in the Church and that everything else is prohibited. As the regulative principle is reflected in Calvin's own thought, it is driven by his evident antipathy toward the Roman Catholic Church and its worship practices, and it associates musical instruments with icons, which he considered violations of the Ten Commandments' prohibition of graven images. On this basis, many early Calvinists also eschewed musical instruments and advocated a cappella exclusive psalmody in worship, though Calvin himself allowed other scriptural songs as well as psalms, and this practice typified presbyterian worship and the worship of other Reformed churches for some time. The original Lord's Day service designed by John Calvin was a highly liturgical service with the Creed, Alms, Confession and Absolution, the Lord's supper, Doxologies, prayers, Psalms being sung, the Lords prayer being sung, Benedictions. Since the 19th century, however, some of the Reformed churches have modified their understanding of the regulative principle and make use of musical instruments, believing that Calvin and his early followers went beyond the biblical requirements and that such things are circumstances of worship requiring biblically rooted wisdom, rather than an explicit command. Despite the protestations of those who hold to a strict view of the regulative principle, today hymns and musical instruments are in common use, as are contemporary worship music styles with elements such as worship bands.


Sacraments

The Westminster Confession of Faith limits the sacraments to baptism and the Lord's Supper. Sacraments are denoted "signs and seals of the covenant of grace." Westminster speaks of "a sacramental relation, or a sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other." Baptism is for infant children of believers as well as believers, as it is for all the Reformed except Baptists and some Congregationalists. Baptism admits the baptized into the visible church, and in it all the benefits of Christ are offered to the baptized. On the Lord's supper, Westminster takes a position between Lutheran sacramental union and Zwinglian memorialism: "the Lord's supper really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance as the elements themselves are to their outward senses." The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith does not use the term sacrament, but describes baptism and the Lord's supper as ordinances, as do most Baptists Calvinist or otherwise. Baptism is only for those who "actually profess repentance towards God", and not for the children of believers. Baptists also insist on immersion or dipping, in contradistinction to other Reformed Christians. The Baptist Confession describes the Lord's supper as "the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance", similarly to the Westminster Confession. There is significant latitude in Baptist congregations regarding the Lord's supper, and many hold the Zwinglian view.


Logical order of God's decree

There are two schools of thought regarding the logical order of God's decree to ordain the fall of man: supralapsarianism (from the Latin language, Latin: ''supra'', "above", here meaning "before" + ''lapsus'', "fall") and infralapsarianism (from the Latin: ''infra'', "beneath", here meaning "after" + ''lapsus'', "fall"). The former view, sometimes called "high Calvinism", argues that the Fall occurred partly to facilitate God's purpose to choose some individuals for salvation and some for damnation. Infralapsarianism, sometimes called "low Calvinism", is the position that, while the Fall was indeed planned, it was not planned with reference to who would be saved. Supralapsarians believe that God chose which individuals to save logically prior to the decision to allow the race to fall and that the Fall serves as the means of realization of that prior decision to send some individuals to hell and others to heaven (that is, it provides the grounds of condemnation in the reprobate and the need for salvation in the elect). In contrast, infralapsarians hold that God planned the race to fall logically prior to the decision to save or damn any individuals because, it is argued, in order to be "saved", one must first need to be saved from something and therefore the decree of the Fall must precede predestination to salvation or damnation. These two views vied with each other at the Synod of Dort, an international body representing Calvinist Christian churches from around Europe, and the judgments that came out of that council sided with infralapsarianism (Canons of Dort, First Point of Doctrine, Article 7). The Westminster Confession of Faith also teaches (in Hodge's words "clearly impl[ies]") the infralapsarian view, but is sensitive to those holding to supralapsarianism. The Lapsarian controversy has a few vocal proponents on each side today, but overall it does not receive much attention among modern Calvinists.


Reformed Churches

The Reformed tradition is largely represented by the
Continental Reformed A Continental Reformed church is a Reformed church that has its origin in the European continent. Prominent subgroups are the Dutch Reformed, the Swiss Reformed, the French Reformed (Huguenots), the Hungarian Reformed, and the Waldensian Church i ...

Continental Reformed
,
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, specifically Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is gove ...
,
Evangelical Anglican Evangelical Anglicanism or evangelical Episcopalianism is a tradition or church party within Anglicanism that shares affinity with broader evangelicalism. Evangelical Anglicans share with other evangelicals the attributes of "conversionism, act ...
, Congregationalist, and
Reformed Baptist Reformed Baptists (sometimes known as Particular Baptists or Calvinistic Baptists) are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology. They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist ...
denominational families.


Continental Reformed Churches

Considered to be the most oldest and orthodox bearers of the Reformed faith, the continental Reformed Churches uphold the Helvetic Confessions and Heidelberg Catechism, which were adopted in Zurich and Heidelberg, respectively. In the United States, immigrants belonging to the continental Reformed Churches joined the Dutch Reformed Church there, as well as the Anglican Church.


Congregational Churches

The Congregational Churches are a part of the Reformed churches, Reformed tradition founded under the influence of History of the Puritans in North America, New England Puritanism. The Savoy Declaration is the confession of faith held by the Congregationalist churches. An example of a Christian denomination belonging to the Congregationalist tradition is the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.


Presbyterian Churches

The Presbyterian Churches are a part of the Reformed tradition and were influenced by
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister, theologian, and writer who was a leader of the country's Reformation. He was the founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Born in Giffordgate, a street in Haddington, East Lothi ...
's teachings in the Church of Scotland. Presbyterianism upholds the Westminster Confession of Faith.


Evangelical Anglicanism

Historic Anglicanism is a part of the wider Reformed tradition, as "the founding documents of the Anglican church—the Book of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion—expresses a theology in keeping with the Reformed theology of the Swiss and South German Reformation." The Most Rev. Peter Robinson, presiding bishop of the United Episcopal Church of North America, writes:


Reformed Baptist Churches

Reformed Baptist, Reformed Baptist Churches, also known as Primitive Baptist Churches, are Baptists (a Christian denominational family that teaches credobaptism rather than infant baptism) who adhere to Reformed theology as explicated in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.


Variants in Reformed theology


Amyraldism

Amyraldism (or sometimes Amyraldianism, also known as the School of Saumur, hypothetical universalism, post redemptionism, moderate Calvinism, or four-point Calvinism) is the belief that God, prior to his decree of election, decreed Atonement in Christianity, Christ's atonement for all alike if they believe, but seeing that none would believe on their own, he then predestination, elected those whom he will bring to Faith in Christianity, faith in Christ, thereby preserving the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election. The efficacy of the atonement remains limited to those who believe. Named after its formulator Moses Amyraut, this doctrine is still viewed as a variety of Calvinism in that it maintains the particularity of sovereign grace in the application of the atonement. However, detractors like B. B. Warfield have termed it "an inconsistent and therefore unstable form of Calvinism."


Hyper-Calvinism

Hyper-Calvinism first referred to a view that appeared among the early English Strict Baptist, Particular Baptists in the 18th century. Their system denied that the call of the gospel to "repentance, repent and believe" is directed to every single person and that it is the duty of every person to trust in Christ for salvation. The term also occasionally appears in both theological and secular controversial contexts, where it usually connotes a negative opinion about some variety of theological determinism,
predestination Predestination, in Christian theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the "paradox of free will", w ...
, or a version of Evangelical Christianity or Calvinism that is deemed by the critic to be unenlightened, harsh, or extreme. The Westminster Confession of Faith says that the gospel is to be freely offered to sinners, and the Larger Catechism makes clear that the gospel is offered to the non-elect.


Neo-Calvinism

Neo-Calvinism, a form of Dutch Calvinism, is the movement initiated by the theologian and former Dutch prime minister
Abraham Kuyper Abraham Kuyper (; ; 29 October 1837 – 8 November 1920), "with a 'y', not an 'ij'", was Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905, an influential neo-Calvinist theologian and also a journalist. He established the Reformed Churches in ...

Abraham Kuyper
. James Bratt has identified a number of different types of Dutch Calvinism: The Seceders—split into the Reformed Church "West" and the Confessionalists; and the Neo-Calvinists—the Positives and the Antithetical Calvinists. The Seceders were largely infralapsarian and the Neo-Calvinists usually supralapsarian. Kuyper wanted to awaken the church from what he viewed as its pietistic slumber. He declared:
No single piece of our mental world is to be sealed off from the rest and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'
This refrain has become something of a rallying call for Neo-Calvinists.


Christian Reconstructionism

Christian Reconstructionism is a Christian fundamentalism, fundamentalist Calvinist theonomic movement that has remained rather obscure. Founded by R. J. Rushdoony, the movement has had an important influence on the Christian Christian Right in the United States. The movement declined in the 1990s and was declared dead in a 2008 ''Church History (magazine), Church History'' journal article. However, it lives on in small denominations such as the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States and as a minority position in other denominations. Christian Reconstructionists are usually postmillennialists and followers of the presuppositional apologetics of
Cornelius Van Til Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895 – April 17, 1987) was a Dutch-American Christian philosopher and Reformed theologian, who is credited as being the originator of modern presuppositional apologetics. Biography Van Til (born Kornelis van Til in Gro ...

Cornelius Van Til
. They tend to support a decentralized political order resulting in laissez-faire capitalism.


New Calvinism

New Calvinism is a growing perspective within conservative Evangelicalism that embraces the fundamentals of 16th century Calvinism while also trying to be relevant in the present day world. In March 2009, ''Time'' magazine described the New Calvinism as one of the "10 ideas changing the world". Some of the major figures who have been associated with the New Calvinism are John Piper (theologian), John Piper, Mark Driscoll (pastor), Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, C. J. Mahaney, and Timothy J. Keller, Tim Keller. New Calvinists have been criticized for blending Calvinist soteriology with popular Evangelical positions on the sacraments and continuationism.


Social and economic influences

Calvin expressed himself on usury in a 1545 letter to a friend, Claude de Sachin, in which he criticized the use of certain passages of scripture invoked by people opposed to the charging of interest. He reinterpreted some of these passages, and suggested that others of them had been rendered irrelevant by changed conditions. He also dismissed the argument (based upon the writings of Aristotle) that it is wrong to charge interest for money because money itself is barren. He said that the walls and the roof of a house are barren, too, but it is permissible to charge someone for allowing him to use them. In the same way, money can be made fruitful. He qualified his view, however, by saying that money should be lent to people in dire need without hope of interest, while a modest interest rate of 5% should be permitted in relation to other borrowers. In ''The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'', Max Weber wrote that capitalism in Northern Europe evolved when the
Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and ...
(particularly Calvinist) ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own Organization, enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investment. In other words, the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism. In his book, apart from Calvinists, Weber also discusses Lutherans (especially Pietists, but also notes differences between traditional Lutherans and Calvinists), Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, and Moravians (specifically referring to the Herrnhut-based community under Count von Zinzendorf's spiritual lead).


Politics and society

File:Rijnwoude 019.jpg, Reformed church in Koudekerk aan den Rijn (Netherlands), 19th century Calvin's concepts of God and man led to ideas which were gradually put into practice after his death, in particular in the fields of politics and society. After their fight for independence from Spain (1579), the Netherlands, under Calvinist leadership, granted asylum to religious minorities, e.g. French Huguenots, English Independent (religion), Independents (Congregationalists), and Jews from Spain and Portugal. The ancestors of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza were Portuguese Jews. Aware of the trial against Galileo, René Descartes lived in the Netherlands, out of reach of the Inquisition, from 1628 to 1649. Pierre Bayle, a Reformed Frenchman, also felt safer in the Netherlands than in his home country. He was the first prominent philosopher who demanded tolerance for atheists. Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) was able to publish a rather liberal interpretation of the Bible and his ideas about natural law in the Netherlands. Moreover, the Calvinist Dutch authorities allowed the printing of books that could not be published elsewhere, such as Galileo's Two New Sciences, ''Discorsi'' (1638). Alongside the liberal development of the Netherlands came the rise of modern democracy in England and North America. In the Middle Ages, state and church had been closely connected. Martin Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms separated state and church in principle. His doctrine of the priesthood of all believers raised the laity to the same level as the clergy. Going one step further, Calvin included elected laymen (church elders, presbyters) in his concept of church government. The Huguenots added synods whose members were also elected by the congregations. The other Reformed churches took over this system of church self-government, which was essentially a representative democracy. Baptists, Quakers, and Methodists are organized in a similar way. These denominations and the Anglican Church were influenced by Calvin's theology in varying degrees. In another factor in the rise of democracy in the Anglo-American world, Calvin favored a mixture of democracy and aristocracy as the best form of government (mixed government). He appreciated the advantages of democracy. His political thought aimed to safeguard the rights and freedoms of ordinary men and women. In order to minimize the misuse of political power he suggested dividing it among several institutions in a system of checks and balances (separation of powers). Finally, Calvin taught that if worldly rulers rise up against God they should be put down. In this way, he and his followers stood in the vanguard of resistance to political absolute monarchy, absolutism and furthered the cause of democracy. The Congregationalists who founded Plymouth Colony (1620) and Massachusetts Bay Colony (1628) were convinced that the democratic form of government was the will of God. Enjoying self-rule, they practiced separation of powers. Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, founded by Roger Williams (theologian), Roger Williams, Thomas Hooker, and William Penn, respectively, combined democratic government with freedom of religion. These colonies became safe havens for persecuted religious minorities, including Jews. In England, Baptists Thomas Helwys ( 1575 – 1616), and John Smyth (Baptist minister), John Smyth ( 1554 – ) influenced the liberal political thought of the Presbyterian poet and politician John Milton (1608–1674) and of the philosopher John Locke (1632–1704), who in turn had both a strong impact on the political development in their home country (English Civil War of 1642–1651), Glorious Revolution of 1688) as well as in North America. The ideological basis of the American Revolution was largely provided by the radical Whigs (British political party), Whigs, who had been inspired by Milton, Locke, James Harrington (author), James Harrington (1611–1677), Algernon Sidney (1623–1683), and other thinkers. The Whigs' "perceptions of politics attracted widespread support in America because they revived the traditional concerns of a Protestantism that had always verged on Puritanism". The United States Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and (American) United States Bill of Rights, Bill of Rights initiated a tradition of human and civil rights that continued in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the constitutions of numerous countries around the world, e. g. Latin America, Japan, India, Germany, and other European countries. It is also echoed in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the nineteenth century, churches based on or influenced by Calvin's theology became deeply involved in social reforms, e.g. the Abolitionism in the United Kingdom, abolition of slavery (William Wilberforce, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, and others), women suffrage, and prison reforms. Members of these churches formed co-operatives to help the impoverished masses. The founders of the Red Cross Movement, including Henry Dunant, were Reformed Christians. Their movement also initiated the Geneva Conventions. Some sources would view Calvinist influence as not always being solely positive. The Boers and Afrikaner Calvinism, Afrikaner Calvinists combined ideas from Calvinism and Kuyperian theology to justify apartheid in South Africa. As late as 1974 the majority of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa was convinced that their theological stances (including the story of the Tower of Babel) could justify apartheid. In 1990 the Dutch Reformed Church document ''Church and Society'' maintained that although they were changing their stance on apartheid, they believed that within apartheid and under God's sovereign guidance, "...everything was not without significance, but was of service to the Kingdom of God." These views were not universal and were condemned by many Calvinists outside South Africa. Pressure from both outside and inside the Dutch Reformed Calvinist church helped reverse apartheid in South Africa. Throughout the world, the Reformed churches operate hospitals, homes for handicapped or elderly people, and educational institutions on all levels. For example, American Congregationalists founded Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), and about a dozen other colleges. Clifton E. Olmstead, ''History of Religion in the United States'', pp. 80, 89, 257.


See also

* List of Calvinist educational institutions in North America * List of Reformed denominations * Synod of Jerusalem (1672): Eastern Orthodox council rejecting Calvinist beliefs * Criticism of Protestantism * ''The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism'' (1905) – Max Weber's analysis of Calvinism's influence on society and economics


Doctrine

* Common grace * Reformed confessions of faith


Related

* Afrikaner Calvinism, Boer Calvinists: Boere-Afrikaners that hold to Reformed theology * Huguenots: followers of Calvinism in France, originating in the 16th and 17th century * Pilgrims (Plymouth Colony), Pilgrims: English Separatists who left Europe for America in search of religious toleration, eventually settling in New England * Presbyterians: Calvinists in Scotland, Ireland and England * Puritans: English Protestants who wanted to purify the Church of England * Continental Reformed church: Calvinist churches originating in continental Europe * Waldensians: Italian Protestants, preceded Calvinism but today identify with Reformed theology


Similar groups in other traditions

* Ājīvika, an ancient Indian religion with a similarly deterministic view of predestination * Crypto-Calvinism: German Protestants accused of Calvinist leanings within the Lutheran church in the late-16th century * Jansenism: a radical, Roman Catholic Augustinian school with some doctrinal distinctives similar to those of Calvinism * Calvinistic Methodists


Opposing views

* Amyraldism * Arminianism * Catholic theology, Catholicism ** Augustinianism * Christian universalism * Eastern Orthodox theology, Eastern Orthodoxy ** Palamism * Free Grace theology * Open theism * Lutheranism * Molinism * Socinianism


References


Bibliography

* * * * . * * * . * * * * * * * * * * * * . * * . * * * *


Further reading

* * * * Bratt, James D. (1984) ''Dutch Calvinism in Modern America: A History of a Conservative Subculture'
excerpt and text search
* * Hart, D.G. (2013). ''Calvinism: A History''. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
excerpt and text search
* * * * * *


External links

*
"Five Points of Calvinism"
by Robert Lewis Dabney. {{Authority control Calvinism, Calvinist theology Trinitarianism