Thursday, September 25, 2008


Calvinism is a system of Christian theology and an approach to Christian life and thought, articulated by John Calvin, a Protestant Reformer in the 16th century, and subsequently by successors, associates, followers and admirers of Calvin and his interpretation of Scripture. The Reformed tradition is referred to by the roughly equivalent term Calvinism.

The Reformed tradition was originally advanced by stalwarts such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and Pietro Martire Vermigli, and also influenced English reformers such as Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel. However, because of Calvin's great influence and role in the confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the seventeenth century, this Reformed movement generally became known as Calvinism. Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches, of which Calvin was an early leader. Though it is often over-emphasized by its detractors, Calvinism is perhaps best known for its doctrines of predestination and election.

John Calvin's international influence on the development of the doctrine of the Protestant Reformation began at the age of 25, when he started work on his first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1534 (published 1536). This work underwent a number of revisions in his lifetime, including an impressive French vernacular translation. Through it and together with his polemical and pastoral works, his contributions to confessional documents for use in churches, and a massive collection of commentaries on the Bible, Calvin had a direct personal influence on Protestantism. But he is only one of many, although eventually the most prominent influence, on the doctrine of the Reformed churches.


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