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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 Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants originating in the Ref ...
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 in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
practice set down by
John Calvin John Calvin (; Middle French: Jean Cauvin; french: Jean Calvin ; 10 July 150927 May 1564) was a French Christian theology, theologian, pastor and Protestant Reformers, reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal f ...

John Calvin
and other Reformation-era
theologians Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the uni ...
. It emphasises the sovereignty of God and the
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empiric ...
of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
. Calvinists broke from the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the , with 1.3 billion Catholics . As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history ...

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 Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology a ...
(another major branch of the Reformation) on the
real presence of Christ in the Eucharist The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ...
, 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 (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

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 mercenaries, Swiss mercenary syste ...

Huldrych Zwingli
began the Reformed tradition in 1519 in the city of
Zürich Zürich () is the in and the capital of the . It is located in north-central Switzerland, at the northwestern tip of . As of January 2020, the municipality has 434,335 inhabitants, the urban area (agglomeration) 1.315 million (2009), and the 1. ...

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 New High German, early German: ''Martin Butzer''; 11 November 1491 – 28 February 1551) was a German Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Buce ...

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 Pfo ...

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 Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Refor ...
,
Johannes Oecolampadius Johannes Oecolampadius (also ''Œcolampadius'', in German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also Ger ...

Johannes Oecolampadius
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 that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
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 mercenaries, Swiss mercenary syste ...

Huldrych Zwingli
. 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 New High German, early German: ''Martin Butzer''; 11 November 1491 – 28 February 1551) was a German Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Buce ...

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 Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Refor ...
,
Heinrich Bullinger Heinrich Bullinger (18 July 1504 – 17 September 1575) was a Switzerland, Swiss Protestant reformers, reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zürich church and pastor at Grossmünster. As one of the most important reformers i ...

Heinrich Bullinger
,
Peter Martyr Vermigli Peter Martyr Vermigli (8 September 149912 November 1562) was an Italian-born Calvinist Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantis ...

Peter Martyr Vermigli
,
Theodore Beza Theodore Beza ( la, Theodorus Beza; french: Théodore de Bèze or ''de Besze''; June 24, 1519 – October 13, 1605) was a French people, French Calvinist Protestant theologian, Protestant reformer, reformer and scholar who played an important ...
, and
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear dis ...

John Knox
. 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 The prime minister of the Netherlands ( nl, Minister-president van Nederland) is the head of the executive branch of the G ...

Abraham Kuyper
,
Herman Bavinck Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) was a Dutch Calvinist 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 Chri ...
, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen,
Karl Barth Karl Barth (; ; – ) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system tournament, in various gam ...
,
Martyn Lloyd-Jones David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981) was a Welsh Protestant Minister (Christianity), minister and medical doctor who was influential in the Calvinist wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the ...
,
Cornelius Van Til Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895 – April 17, 1987) was a Dutch-American Christian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meani ...

Cornelius Van Til
,
Gordon Clark Gordon Haddon Clark (August 31, 1902 – April 9, 1985) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover ...
,
R. C. Sproul
R. C. Sproul
, 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 Baseball is a bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting (baseball), batting and ...
, 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 Huguenots ( , also , ) were a Religious den ...

Continental Reformed
,
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tr ...
,
Evangelical Anglican Evangelical Anglicanism or evangelical Episcopalianism is a tradition or church party within Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of ...
, Congregationalist, and
Reformed Baptist Reformed Baptists (sometimes known as Particular Baptists or Calvinistic Baptists) are Baptists Baptists form a major branch of Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movemen ...
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 Minister of religion, ministerial structure of a church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity ...
are exercised by a group of Reformed churches, including
presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tr ...
, congregationalist, and some episcopal. The biggest Reformed association is the
World Communion of Reformed Churches The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is the largest association of Calvinist churches in the world. It has 230 member denominations in 108 countries, together claiming an estimated 80 million people, thus being List of the largest Protes ...
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 Ecumenism (), also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle in which Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic rel ...
and the
International Conference of Reformed Churches The International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC) is a federation of Reformed or Calvinist Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Prot ...
, as well as independent churches.


Etymology

Calvinism is named after
John Calvin John Calvin (; Middle French: Jean Cauvin; french: Jean Calvin ; 10 July 150927 May 1564) was a French Christian theology, theologian, pastor and Protestant Reformers, reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal f ...

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 Speakers of English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the Wo ...
. 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 Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the Christian theology, 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 o ...
, 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 Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants originating in the Ref ...
distinguished from Lutheranism—divided into two separate groups:
Arminians Arminianism is a branch of Protestantism based on the Christian theology, 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 o ...
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 Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu de ...

Methodist Church
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 rel ...
and
predestination Predestination, in Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better understand Christian tenets * make comparative religion, comparisons between Christianity and other tr ...
, which are summarized in part by the
Five Points of Calvinism 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 Reformat ...
. Some have also argued that Calvinism as a whole stresses the
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate au ...
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 mercenaries, Swiss mercenary syste ...

Huldrych Zwingli
(1484–1531),
Martin Bucer Martin Bucer (Early New High German, early German: ''Martin Butzer''; 11 November 1491 – 28 February 1551) was a German Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Buce ...

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 Pfo ...

Wolfgang Capito
(1478–1541), John Oecolampadius (1482–1531), and
Guillaume Farel William Farel (1489 – 13 September 1565), Guilhem Farel or Guillaume Farel (), was a French evangelist, Protestant reformer Protestant Reformers were those theologians whose careers, works and actions brought about the Protestant Reformation ...
(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
scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of ...

scripture
as a source of authority. Scripture was also viewed as a unified whole, which led to a covenantal theology of the
sacraments A sacrament is a Christian rite A rite is an established, Ceremony, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories: * rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marria ...
of
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
and the
Lord's Supper The Eucharist (; also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper among other names) is a Christian rite A rite is an established, Ceremony, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories: * rites o ...
as visible signs of the
covenant of grace Covenant theology (also known as covenantalism, federal theology, or federalism) is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall structure of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, '' ...
. Another Reformed distinctive present in these theologians was their denial of the bodily 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 particular election (the teaching that some people are chosen by God for
salvation Salvation (from : ''salvatio'', from ''salva'', 'safe, saved') is the state of being saved or protected from harm or a dire situation. In and , ''salvation'' generally refers to the deliverance of the from and its consequences."Salvation." ' ( ...

salvation
).
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a Germans, German professor of Christian theology, theology, priest, author, composer, former Order of Saint Augustine, Augustinian monk, and is best known as a seminal f ...

Martin Luther
and his successor
Philipp Melanchthon Philip Melanchthon. (born Philipp Schwartzerdt; 16 February 1497 – 19 April 1560) was a German Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abraham ...
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 (; Middle French: Jean Cauvin; french: Jean Calvin ; 10 July 150927 May 1564) was a French Christian theology, theologian, pastor and Protestant Reformers, reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal f ...

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

Heinrich Bullinger
(1504–75),
Wolfgang Musculus Wolfgang Musculus, born "Müslin" or "Mauslein", (10 September 1497 – 30 August 1563) was a Reformed Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of ...

Wolfgang Musculus
(1497–1563),
Peter Martyr Vermigli Peter Martyr Vermigli (8 September 149912 November 1562) was an Italian-born Calvinist Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantis ...

Peter Martyr Vermigli
(1500–62), and
Andreas Hyperius
Andreas Hyperius
(1511–64) belong to the second generation of Reformed theologians. Calvin's ''
Institutes of the Christian Religion An institute is an organisation An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing a ...
'' (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 confessions of faith, which would shape the future definition of the Reformed faith. The 1549 ''
Consensus Tigurinus The ''Consensus Tigurinus'' or Consensus of Zurich was a document intended to bring unity to the Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceive ...

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 The means of grace in Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better understand Christian tenets * make comparative religion, comparisons between Christianity and other tr ...
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 Formula of Concord (1577) (German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * G ...
. 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 The County Palatine of the Rhine (german: kurfürstliche Pfalzgrafschaft bei Rhein or ), later the Electorate of the Palatinate () or simply Electoral Palatinate (), was a territory in the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum ...
under
Frederick IIIFrederick III may refer to: * Frederick III, Duke of Upper Lorraine (died 1033) * Frederick III, Duke of Swabia (1122–1190) * Friedrich III, Burgrave of Nuremberg (1220–1297) * Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine (1240–1302) * Frederick III of Sici ...
, which led to the formulation of the
Heidelberg Catechism The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), one of the Three Forms of Unity, is a Protestant confessional document taking the form of a series of questions and answers, for use in teaching Calvinist Christian doctrine. It was published in 1563 in Heidelberg, ...
in 1563. This and the
Belgic Confession The ''Confession of Faith'', popularly known as the Belgic Confession, is a doctrinal standard document to which many of the Reformed churches Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or ...
were adopted as confessional standards in the first synod of the
Dutch Reformed Church The Dutch Reformed Church (, abbreviated NHK) was the largest Christian denomination in the Netherlands from the onset of the Protestant Reformation until 1930. It was the foremost Protestant denomination, and—since 1892—one of the two maj ...

Dutch Reformed Church
in 1571. In 1573,
William the Silent William the Silent (24 April 153310 July 1584), also known as William the Taciturn (translated from nl, Willem de Zwijger), or, more commonly in the Netherlands The Netherlands ( nl, Nederland ), informally referred to as Holland, is a coun ...
joined the Calvinist Church. Calvinism was declared the official religion of the
Kingdom of Navarre ) , religion = , common_languages = , title_leader = Monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity) ...
by the queen regnant
Jeanne d'Albret Jeanne d'Albret (Basque language, Basque: ''Joana Albretekoa''; Occitan: ''Joana de Labrit''; 16 November 1528 – 9 June 1572), also known as Jeanne III, was the queen regnant of Kingdom of Navarre, Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She married Antoine d ...

Jeanne d'Albret
after her conversion in 1560. Leading divines, either Calvinist or those sympathetic to Calvinism, settled in England (Martin Bucer,
Peter Martyr
Peter Martyr
, and
Jan Łaski Jan Łaski or Johannes à Lasco (1499 – 8 January 1560) was a Polish Reformed Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Pro ...
) and Scotland (
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear dis ...

John Knox
). During the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governance and issues of re ...
, the Calvinistic
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Je ...

Puritan
s produced the
Westminster Confession Westminster is a district in central London, central London, part of the wider City of Westminster. The area, which extends from the River Thames to Oxford Street has many Tourism in London, visitor attractions and historic landmarks, includin ...
, which became the confessional standard for
Presbyterians Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Cath ...
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

Although much of Calvin's work was in
Geneva Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, Ginevra ; rm, Genevra) is the List of cities in Switzerland, second-most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich) and the most populous city of Romandy, the French-spea ...

Geneva
, his publications spread his ideas of a ''correctly'' Reformed church to many parts of Europe. In
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
, some cantons are still Reformed, and some are Catholic. Calvinism became the theological system of the majority in
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
(see
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear dis ...

John Knox
), the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
(see
William Ames William Ames (; Latin: ''Guilielmus Amesius''; 157614 November 1633) was an English Puritan minister, philosopher, and controversialist. He spent much time in the Netherlands, and is noted for his involvement in the controversy between the Calv ...

William Ames
, T. J. Frelinghuysen and
Wilhelmus à Brakel
Wilhelmus à Brakel
), some communities in
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
, and parts of Germany (especially these adjacent to the Netherlands) in the Palatinate,
Kassel Kassel (; in Germany, spelled Cassel until 1926) is a city on the in northern , Germany. It is the administrative seat of the and the and had 200,507 inhabitants in December 2015. The former capital of the state of Hesse-Kassel has many palac ...

Kassel
and
Lippe Lippe () is a ''Kreis'' (district A district is a type of that, in some countries, is managed by the . Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning s or , several , subdivisions of municipalities, , or . By c ...

Lippe
with the likes of Olevianus and his colleague
Zacharias Ursinus Zacharias Ursinus (18 July 15346 May 1583) was a sixteenth-century German Reformed theologian and Protestant reformer, born Zacharias Baer in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). He became the leading theologian of the Reformed Protestant movement of ...

Zacharias Ursinus
. In
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...

Hungary
and the then-independent
Transylvania Transylvania is a historical region in central Romania. To the east and south its natural border is the Carpathian Mountains, and to the west the Apuseni Mountains. Broader definitions of Transylvania also encompass the western and north-western R ...

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 Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
and
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
before being mostly erased due to the counter-reformational activities taken up by the monarch in each country. In Poland disconnected from Calvinism the Polish stream called
Polish Brethren The Polish Brethren (Polish: ''Bracia Polscy'') were members of the Minor Reformed Church of Poland, a Nontrinitarian Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic reli ...
. 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 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 Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, A ...
) churches of Poland held in the village of
Secemin Secemin is a village A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smaller towns), with a population ty ...
. Calvinism gained some popularity in
Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' can refer to , , and , sometimes more narrowly to the , or more broadly to include , th ...

Scandinavia
, especially Sweden, but was rejected in favor of
Lutheranism Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of that identifies with the teachings of and was founded by , a 16th-century German monk and whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Catholic church launched the . The reaction of t ...
after the Synod of Uppsala in 1593. Most settlers in the American Mid-Atlantic and
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography G ...

New England
were Calvinists, including the English
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Je ...

Puritan
s, the French
Huguenot The Huguenots ( , also , ) were a religious group of French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République fran ...

Huguenot
s and Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam (New York), and the Scotch-Irish
Presbyterians Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Cath ...
of the Appalachian back country. Nonconforming Protestants,
Puritans The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jes ...
,
Separatists Separatism is the advocacy of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. As with secession, separatism conventionally refers to full political separation. Groups simply seeking greater ...
, Independents, English religious groups coming out of the English Civil War, and other
English dissenters English Dissenters or English Separatists were Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and ...
not satisfied with the degree to which the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
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 The Huguenots ( , also , ) were a religious group of French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République fran ...

Huguenot
Calvinist settlers were also the first European colonizers of South Africa, beginning in the 17th century, who became known as
Boer Boers () ( af , Boere) refers to the descendants of the proto-Afrikaans-speaking colonist A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. A settler who migra ...

Boer
s or
Afrikaners Afrikaners () are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can i ...
.
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone (, also , ), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western A ...

Sierra Leone
was largely colonized by Calvinist settlers from
Nova Scotia ) , image_map = Nova Scotia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English (''de facto'') , RegionalLang = French, Scots Gaelic , capital ...

Nova Scotia
, who were largely
Black Loyalist Black Loyalists were people of African descent who sided with the Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was ...
s, black people who had fought for the
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
during the
American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colonia ...
.
John Marrant John Marrant (June 15, 1755 – April 15, 1791) was one of the first African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black ...
had organized a congregation there under the auspices of the Huntingdon Connection. Some of the largest Calvinist communions were started by 19th- and 20th-century
missionaries A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or provide services, such as education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), va ...

missionaries
. Especially large are those in
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
,
Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (the Republic of Korea). Korea co ...

Korea
and
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
. In
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is for ...

South Korea
there are 20,000
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tr ...
congregations with about 9–10 million church members, scattered in more than 100 Presbyterian denominations. In South Korea,
Presbyterianism Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism that traces its origin to the Church of Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian polity, presbyterian form of ecclesiastical polity, churc ...
is the largest Christian denomination. A 2011 report of the
Pew Forum The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank A think tank, or policy institute, is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for doing research. Research instit ...
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 Calvinist churches in the world. It has 230 member denominations in 108 countries, together claiming an estimated 80 million people, thus being List of the largest Protes ...
, which includes some
United Churches A united church, also called a uniting church, is a church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building) A church building, church house, or simply church, is a building used for Christian worship services and other Christian religio ...
(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 Ecumenism (), also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle in which Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic rel ...
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 The Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu ( Tuvaluan: ''Te Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu'', EKT), commonly the Church of Tuvalu, is the state church of Tuvalu, although in practice this merely entitles it to "the privilege of performing special ser ...
is the only 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
infinite Infinite may refer to: Mathematics *Infinite set, a set that is not a finite set *Infinity, an abstract concept describing something without any limit Music *Infinite (band), a South Korean boy band *''Infinite'' (EP), debut EP of American musi ...
, 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 Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it i ...

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
creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came t ...
and
providence Providence often refers to: * Providentia, the divine personification of foresight in ancient Roman religion * Divine providence, divinely ordained events and outcomes in Christianity * Providence, Rhode Island, the capital of Rhode Island in the ...
, 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 Redemption may refer to: Religion * Redemption (theology), an element of salvation to express deliverance from sin * Redemptive suffering, a Roman Catholic belief that suffering can partially remit punishment for sins if offered to Jesus * Pidyo ...
, which is the gospel of
salvation Salvation (from : ''salvatio'', from ''salva'', 'safe, saved') is the state of being saved or protected from harm or a dire situation. In and , ''salvation'' generally refers to the deliverance of the from and its consequences."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 The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites. The ...
and the ministry of the
apostles upright=1.35, Jesus and his Twelve Apostles, Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla">Chi_Rho.html" ;"title="fresco with the Chi Rho">Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles, parti ...

apostles
who saw him and communicated his message are also the Word of God. Further, the
preaching A sermon is an oration Public speaking (also called oratory or oration) is giving speech face to face to a live audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art A work o ...

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 Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
, 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 inerrant, or incapable of error or falsehood, in every place. This view is very similar to that of
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...

Catholic
orthodoxy as well as modern
Evangelicalism Evangelicalism (), also called evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century ...
. Another view, influenced by the teaching of
Karl Barth Karl Barth (; ; – ) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss-system tournament, in various gam ...
and
neo-orthodoxy Neo-orthodoxy or Neoorthodoxy, in Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazar ...
, is found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s
Confession of 1967 A confession is a statement – made by a person or by a group of persons – acknowledging some personal fact that the person (or the group) would ostensibly prefer to keep hidden. The term presumes that the speaker is providing information tha ...
. 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 Covenant theology (also known as covenantalism, federal theology, or federalism) is a conceptual overview and biblical hermeneutics , interpretive framework for understanding the overall structure of the Bible. It uses the theological concept of ...
" 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 Adam (Hebrew: ''ʾĀḏām'') and Eve ( ''‎‎Ḥavvā'') according to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman. They are central to the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone des ...

Adam and Eve
in the
Garden of Eden In Abrahamic religions, the Garden of Eden (Hebrew language, Hebrew: – ''gan-ʿĒḏen'') or Garden of God ( – ''gan-Yahweh, YHWH''), also called the Terrestrial Paradise, is the Bible, biblical paradise described in Book of Genesis, Genesi ...

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 Forbidden fruit is a name given to the fruit growing in the Garden of Eden which God commands mankind Taboo#In_religion_and_mythology, not to eat. In the biblical story, Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil an ...

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 MurrayJohn Murray or John Murry may refer to: Arts and media Literature and music *John Murray (publishing house), a British publishing house, founded by John Murray (1745–1793) *John Murray (publisher, born 1778) (died 1843), second head of the pub ...
, 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
Nicaea Nicaea or Nicea (; el, wikt:Νίκαια, Νίκαια, ''Níkaia'') was an ancient Greek city in northwestern Anatolia and is primarily known as the site of the First Council of Nicaea, First and Second Council of Nicaea, Second Councils of Nic ...
and
Chalcedon Chalcedon ( or ; , sometimes transliterated as ''Chalkedon'') was an ancient maritime town of Bithynia, in Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula ...
on the doctrine of the
Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Trinity
. God is affirmed to be one God in three persons:
Father A father is the male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot sexual reproduction, reproduce sex ...

Father
,
Son A son is a male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction ...
, and
Holy Spirit In Abrahamic religions, the Holy Spirit is an aspect or agent of God in Abrahamic religions, God, by means of which God communicates with people or acts on them. In Judaism, it refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the ...

Holy Spirit
. The Son (Christ) is held to be eternally begotten by the Father and the 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 Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...
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 Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label= Hebrew/ Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the world's largest religion. He was a fir ...

Christ
is eternally one person with a divine and a human nature. Reformed Christians have especially emphasized that Christ truly became human so that people could be saved. Christ's human nature has been a point of contention between Reformed and Lutheran
Christology In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religio ...
. 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
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
s believe that Christ is bodily 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
three officesThree Offices, or ''Samsa'' (삼사·三司), is a collective name for three government offices in Joseon Dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer to: P ...
:
prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...
,
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
, and
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...
. Christ is said to be a prophet in that he teaches perfect doctrine, a priest in that 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 The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were two related Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the anci ...
. 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 Resurrection or anastasis is the concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of religions, a Dying-and-rising deity, dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects. Reincarnation is a similar process hypothesized by ot ...
makes it possible for believers to attain forgiveness for sin and reconciliation with God through the
atonement Atonement (also atoning, to atone) is the concept of a person taking action to correct previous wrongdoing on their part, either through direct action to undo the consequences of that act, equivalent action to do good for others, or some other e ...
. Reformed Protestants generally subscribe to a particular view of the atonement called 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 The Image of God (; ) is a concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas or general notions that occur in the mind, in speech, or in thought. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of thoughts and belief A belief is an A ...
but have become corrupted by
sin In a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ...

sin
, which causes them to be imperfect and overly self-interested. Reformed Christians, following the tradition of
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

Augustine of Hippo
, believe that this corruption of human nature was brought on by Adam and Eve's first sin, a doctrine called
original sin Original sin is the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' a ...
. 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 Total depravity (also called radical corruption or pervasive depravity) is a Protestant theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline ...
. 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 Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on ...
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 ''Justificatio sola fide'' (or simply ''sola fide''), meaning justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine commonly held to distinguish the Reformed Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianit ...
is sufficient. 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 Ecumenism (), also spelled oecumenism, is the concept and principle in which Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion b ...
concerns. People are not on their own able even to fully
repent Repentance is reviewing one's actions and feeling contritionIn Christianity, contrition or contriteness (from the Latin ''contritus'' 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt Guilt may refer to: *Guilt (emotion), an emotion that occurs when a p ...

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 Sanctification or in its verb form, sanctify, literally means "to set apart for special use or purpose", that is, to make holy or sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity ...
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 In Christian theology, good works, or simply works, are a person's (exterior) actions or deeds, in contrast to inner qualities such as Grace in Christianity, grace or faith in Christianity, faith. Views by denomination Anglican Churches The A ...
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
predestined 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 "Argument from free will, ...
some people to be saved and others were predestined to eternal damnation. This 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 Arminianism is 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 Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catho ...
view that God's 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 use both this parameter and , birth_date to display the person's date of birth, date of death, and age at death) --> , death_place = , home_town = , spouse = , partner = , awards = , mod ...
, 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 A mnemonic () device, or memory device, is any learning technique that aids information retention or retrieval (remembering) in the human memory Memory is the faculty of the by which or is , stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the ...

mnemonic
"TULIP". The five points are popularly said to summarize the
Canons of Dort The Canons of Dort, or Canons of Dordrecht, formally titled The Decision of the Synod of Dort The Synod of Dort (also known as the Synod of Dordt or the Synod of Dordrecht) was an international Synod A synod () is a council of a Ecclesia (c ...

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 1611The Counter-Remonstrance of 1611 was the Dutch Reformed Churches' response to the controversial Remonstrants The Remonstrants (or the Remonstrant Brotherhood) is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th ...
, a less known Reformed reply to the Arminians that occurred prior to the Canons of Dort. The acronym was used by
Cleland Boyd McAfee Cleland Boyd McAfee (September 25, 1866 – February 4, 1944) was an American theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline An academic ...
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 Total depravity (also called radical corruption or pervasive depravity) is a Protestant theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline ...
", also called "total inability", asserts that as a consequence of the 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 Original sin is the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' a ...
. 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 Unconditional election (also known as unconditional grace) is a Reformed tradition, Reformed doctrine relating to predestination that describes the actions and motives of God in Christianity, God prior to his creation of the world, when he predesti ...
" 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 Limited atonement (or definite atonement or particular redemption) is a doctrine Doctrine (from la, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positio ...
", also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", asserts that Jesus's
substitutionary atonement Substitutionary atonement, also called vicarious atonement, is the idea that Jesus died "for us," as propagated by the Western classic and objective paradigms of atonement in Christianity, which regard Jesus in Christianity, Jesus as dying as a su ...
was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished. This implies that only the sins of the elect were 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 Irresistible grace (also called effectual grace, effectual calling, or efficacious grace) is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism, which teaches that the saving Divine grace, grace of God is effectually applied ...
", 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 In Abrahamic religions, the Holy Spirit is an aspect or agent of God in Abrahamic religions, God, by means of which God communicates with people or acts on them. In Judaism, it refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the ...

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 Perseverance of the saints In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. ...
" (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 Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as "a God (male ...

holy
,
canonized Canonization is the declaration of a deceased person as an officially recognized saint, specifically, the official act of a Christianity, Christian communion declaring a person worthy of Cult (religious practice), public cult and entering his ...
, 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 Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. ...

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 Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the , including , , and . In Judaism, he is the founding father of the , the special relationship between the and ; in C ...

Abraham
and
Sarah Sarah (; ar, سَارَة ) born Sarai ( ''Sāray'') is a biblical matriarch and prophetess In religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, ...

Sarah
. The church is conceived of as both
invisible thumb Invisibility is the state of an object that cannot be seen. An object in this state is said to be ''invisible'' (literally, "not visible"). The term is often used in fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a ficti ...
and
visible Visibility is in meteorology, a measure of the distance at which an object or light can be seen. Visibility may also refer to: * Visual perception ** Naked-eye visibility * A measure of turbidity in water quality control * Interferometric visibili ...
. 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 The Marks of the Church are those things by which the True Church may be recognized in Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Cr ...
. 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
sacrament A sacrament is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ...
s. Others, such as those following the
Scots Confession The Scots Confession (also called the Scots Confession of 1560) is a Confession of Faith written in 1560 by six leaders of the Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) ...

Scots Confession
, include a third mark of rightly administered
church discipline Church discipline is the practice of censuring church members when they are perceived to have Christian views on sin, sinned in hope that the offender will repentance (theology), repent and be reconciliation (theology), reconciled to God and the ch ...
, 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 The magisterium of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptise ...
or church tradition.


Worship


Regulative principle of worship

The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and
Anabaptists Anabaptism (from Neo-Latin , from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
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
icon An icon (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appr ...

icon
s, which he considered violations of the
Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments ( he, עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, ''Aseret ha'Dibrot''), also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. " ...

Ten Commandments
' prohibition of graven images. On this basis, many early Calvinists also eschewed musical instruments and advocated
a cappella A cappella (, also , ; ) music is group or solo performance without instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticulate vocal The human voice consists of sound Voice produc ...
exclusive psalmody Exclusive psalmody is the practice of singing only the biblical Psalms in congregational singing as worship. Today it is practised by several Protestant, especially Reformed denominations. Hymns besides the Psalms have been composed by Christians si ...
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
hymn A hymn is a type of song, usually religious and partially coincident with devotional song, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. T ...

hymn
s and musical instruments are in common use, as are
contemporary worship music Contemporary worship music (CWM), also known as praise and worship music, is a defined genre of Christian music used in contemporary worship. It has developed over the past 60 years and is stylistically similar to pop music Pop is a genre ...
styles with elements such as worship bands.


Sacraments

The
Westminster Confession of Faith Westminster is a district in central London, central London, part of the wider City of Westminster. The area, which extends from the River Thames to Oxford Street has many Tourism in London, visitor attractions and historic landmarks, includin ...
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 Baptists form a major branch of Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Cath ...
and some
Congregationalists Congregational churches (also Congregationalist churches; Congregationalism) are Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Crit ...
. 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:
supralapsarianismThe logical order of God's decrees is the study in Calvinist theology Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the the ...
(from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...
: ''supra'', "above", here meaning "before" + ''lapsus'', "fall") and
infralapsarianismThe logical order of God's decrees is the study in Calvinist theology of the logical order (in God, God's mind, before Creation) of the decree to ordain or allow Fall of Man, the fall of man in relation to his decree to save some sinners (Election ( ...
(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) 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 Huguenots ( , also , ) were a Religious den ...

Continental Reformed
,
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tr ...
,
Evangelical Anglican Evangelical Anglicanism or evangelical Episcopalianism is a tradition or church party within Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of ...
, Congregationalist, and
Reformed Baptist Reformed Baptists (sometimes known as Particular Baptists or Calvinistic Baptists) are Baptists Baptists form a major branch of Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movemen ...
denominational families.


Continental Reformed Churches

Considered to be the most oldest and orthodox bearers of the Reformed faith, the
continental Reformed Church 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 Huguenots ( , also , ) were a Religious den ...
es uphold the Helvetic Confessions and
Heidelberg Catechism The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), one of the Three Forms of Unity, is a Protestant confessional document taking the form of a series of questions and answers, for use in teaching Calvinist Christian doctrine. It was published in 1563 in Heidelberg, ...
, which were adopted in Zurich and Heidelberg, respectively. In the United States, immigrants belonging to the continental Reformed Churches joined the
Dutch Reformed Church The Dutch Reformed Church (, abbreviated NHK) was the largest Christian denomination in the Netherlands from the onset of the Protestant Reformation until 1930. It was the foremost Protestant denomination, and—since 1892—one of the two maj ...

Dutch Reformed Church
there, as well as the Anglican Church.


Congregational Churches

The Congregational Churches are a part of the
Reformed 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 Reformat ...
tradition founded under the influence of
New England Puritanism New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz Albums and EPs * ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartney, 2013 * ''New'' (EP), by Regurgitator, ...
. The
Savoy Declaration The Savoy Declaration is a Congregationalist confession of Faith. Its full title is ''A Declaration of the Faith and Order owned and practiced in the Congregational Churches in England.'' It was drawn up in October 1658 by English Independents an ...
is the
confession of faith A creed, also known as a confession, symbol, or statement of faith, is a statement of the shared beliefs of (an often religious) community in the form of a fixed formula summarizing core tenets. The earliest creed in Christianity Christian ...
held by the Congregationalist churches. An example of a Christian denomination belonging to the Congregationalist tradition is the
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC or 4Cs) is an evangelical Evangelicalism (), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that ...
.


Presbyterian Churches

The
Presbyterian Church Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition 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 ...

Presbyterian Church
es are a part of the Reformed tradition and were influenced by
John Knox John Knox ( – 24 November 1572) was a Scottish minister Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity)Image:LutheranClergy.JPG, upA Lutheran minister wearing a Geneva gown and Bands (neckwear), bands. In many churches, ministers wear dis ...

John Knox
's teachings in the
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

Church of Scotland
. Presbyterianism upholds the
Westminster Confession of Faith Westminster is a district in central London, central London, part of the wider City of Westminster. The area, which extends from the River Thames to Oxford Street has many Tourism in London, visitor attractions and historic landmarks, includin ...
.


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 A presiding bishop is an ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor