Portal : Calvinism - what does it mean
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(also called the Calvinism Reformed Tradition, Reformed Protestantism, Reformed Christianity or simply Reformed) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. It emphasises the sovereignty of God and the authority of the Bible.
Calvinists broke from the
Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Calvinists differ from Lutherans (another major branch of the Reformation) on the spiritual real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, theories of worship, the purpose and meaning of baptism, and the use of God's law for believers, among other points. The label Calvinism can be misleading, because the religious tradition 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 twelve hundred years prior to the Reformation.
The namesake of the movement, French reformer John Calvin, embraced Protestant beliefs in the late 1520s or early 1530s, as the earliest notions of later Reformed tradition were already espoused by
Huldrych Zwingli. The movement was first called Calvinism in the early 1550s by Lutherans who opposed it. Many in the tradition find it either a nondescript or inappropriate term and prefer the term Reformed. The most important Reformed theologians include Calvin, Zwingli, Martin Bucer, William Farel, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. In the twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Louis Berkhof, Karl Barth, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Cornelius Van Til, R. C. Sproul, and J. I. Packer were influential. Contemporary Reformed theologians include Albert Mohler, John MacArthur, John Piper, Joel Beeke, and Michael Horton.
The Reformed tradition is largely represented by the
Continental Reformed, Presbyterian, Evangelical Anglican, Congregationalist, and Reformed Baptist denominations. Several forms of ecclesiastical polity are exercised by a group of Reformed churches, including presbyterian, congregationalist, and some episcopal. The biggest Reformed association is the World Communion of Reformed Churches, with more than 100 million members in 211 member denominations around the world. More conservative Reformed federations include the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches. ( )
(July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a
French Protestant theologian
and was a central developer of the system of
or Reformed theology. In
, his ministry both attracted other Protestant refugees and over time made that city a major force in the spread of Reformed theology. He is renowned for his teachings and writings, in particular for his
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Calvin's father was an
attorney and in 1523 sent his fourteen-year-old son to the University of Paris to study humanities and law. His Protestant friends included Nicholas Cop, Rector at the University of Paris. In 1533 Cop gave an address "replete with Protestant ideas," and "Calvin was probably involved as the writer of that address." Calvin later settled for a time in Basel, where in 1536 he published the first edition of his Institutes. John Calvin died in Geneva on May 27, 1564. He was buried in the Cimetière des Rois under a tombstone marked simply with the initials "J.C.", partially honoring his request that he be buried in an unknown place, without witnesses or ceremony.
This Dutch stained glass allegory shows Christ ascending the cross with Satan and several dead people on his back. Faith is personified as a woman to the right of a naked man on the ground asking Christ the way of salvation. (from
Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (from )
Early Calvinism was known for simple, unadorned churches, as shown in this 1661 painting of the interior of the
John Calvin on his deathbed with church members (from
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