Calvinism (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
The term Calvinism was originally a polemical label meant to denigrate those deemed to be followers of the French reformer John Calvin (1509564). Those who in fact were most influenced by Calvin chose not to be named after a personalvin or anyone elsend instead most commonly referred to themselves as members of the "Church reformed according to the Word of God" or simply as "those of the cause."
If Calvinism cannot be traced exclusively to one person, it also cannot be reduced to the presence of two or three fixed teachings. If one is to judge from the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (1646647), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the most prominent components of Calvinism include the centrality of the person and work of the Mediator; the work of the Holy Spirit in the right interpretation of the normative Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; the emphasis on the Church as the body of the elect and their assurance of salvation; justification and sanctification by grace alone through faith and the positive use of the law in guiding believers; the importance of the ordinary means of grace; and the need to translate the sovereignty of God into transforming political, educational, and economic structures. In polemical debate Calvinists were often divided over the implications of any given doctrine of predestination, especially concerning the...
(The entire section is 281 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Calvinism (American History Through Literature)
The term "Calvinism" is applied to the teachings linked to John Calvin (1509564), a French theologian and church reformer, whose Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) provided the five basic doctrines of the Protestant churches and Reformed tradition: (1) total depravity—the "complete corruption of humanity resulting from Original Sin"; (2) unconditional election—the predestined salvation or damnation of every individual"; (3) irresistible grace—necessary for conversion but available to the "elect" only; (4) perseverance of the saints—the enduring justification and righteousness of the converted"; and (5) limited atonement—Christ's gift of life through His death but only for those already predestined for heaven" (Elliott, p. 187). In short, Calvin stressed the sovereignty of a deliberate God and denied the innately depraved individual all agency.
Calvinistic faith flourished in early America. The Pilgrims, under the leadership of Governor William Bradford (1590657), planted it in New England in November of 1620. Only ten years later, roughly one thousand Puritans, led by John Winthrop (1588649), set sail for Massachusetts Bay. Particular Baptists removed it to Virginia, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. George Fox's (1624691) Quakers, whom the church historian Sydney Ahlstrom characterized as the "most important and enduring manifestation of Puritan radicalism in...
(The entire section is 4524 words.)