Calvinism

Calvinism

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Calvinism is a Protestant theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 system and an approach to the Christian life. The Reformed tradition was advanced by several theologians such as Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

, Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zurich church and pastor at Grossmünster...

, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

, but this branch of Christianity bears the name of the French reformer
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 (Jean Cauvin in Middle French
Middle French
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

) because of his prominent influence on it and because of his role in the confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the 16th century. Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches
Reformed churches
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

 of which Calvin was an early leader. Less commonly, it can refer to the individual, biblical teachings of Calvin himself. The system is often summarized in the Five Points of Calvinism and is best known for its doctrines of predestination
Predestination (Calvinism)
The Calvinistic doctrine of predestination is a doctrine of Calvinism which deals with the question of the control God exercises over the world...

 and total depravity
Total depravity
Total depravity is a theological doctrine that derives from the Augustinian concept of original sin...

, stressing the absolute sovereignty of God.

Historical background


John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

's international influence and eventual development of the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 began in 1534 when Calvin was 25. That marks his start on the first edition of Institutes of the Christian Religion
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Institutes of the Christian Religion is John Calvin's seminal work on Protestant systematic theology...

(published 1536). He revised this work several times, and produced a French vernacular translation. The Institutes, together with Calvin's polemical and pastoral works, his contributions to confessional documents
Confession of Faith
A Confession of Faith is a statement of doctrine very similar to a creed, but usually longer and polemical, as well as didactic.Confessions of Faith are in the main, though not exclusively, associated with Protestantism...

 for use in churches, and his massive outpouring of commentary on the Bible
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

, meant that Calvin had a direct personal influence on Protestantism. Along with Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

, Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zurich church and pastor at Grossmünster...

, Peter Martyr Vermigli
Pietro Martire Vermigli
Peter Martyr Vermigli , sometimes simply Peter Martyr, was an Italian theologian of the Reformation period.-Life:...

, and Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

, Calvin influenced the doctrines of the Reformed churches. He eventually became the most prominent of those reformers.

The rising importance of the Reformed churches and of Calvin belongs to the second phase of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. Evangelical churches began to form after Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Calvin was a French exile in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

. He had signed the Lutheran Augsburg Confession
Augsburg Confession
The Augsburg Confession, also known as the "Augustana" from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran reformation...

 as it was revised by Melancthon
Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon , born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems...

 in 1540. However, his influence was first felt in the Swiss Reformation
Reformation in Switzerland
The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland was promoted initially by Huldrych Zwingli, who gained the support of the magistrate and population of Zürich in the 1520s. It led to significant changes in civil life and state matters in Zürich and spread to several other cantons of the Old Swiss...

 whose leader was Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

. It soon became evident that doctrine in the Reformed churches
Reformed churches
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

 was developing in a direction independent of Martin Luther's, under the influence of numerous writers and reformers among whom Calvin eventually became preeminent. Much later, when his fame was attached to the Reformed churches, their whole body of doctrine came to be called "Calvinism".

Theology


The particulars of Calvinist theology may be stated in a number of ways. Perhaps the best known summary is contained in the five points of Calvinism, though these points identify the Calvinist view on soteriology rather than summarizing the system as a whole. Broadly speaking, Calvinism stresses the sovereignty or rule of God in all things – in salvation but also in all of life.

Sovereign grace


Calvinism stresses the total depravity
Total depravity
Total depravity is a theological doctrine that derives from the Augustinian concept of original sin...

 or total inability of humanity's ethical nature against a backdrop of the sovereign grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

 of God in salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

. It teaches that fallen people are morally and spiritually unable to follow God or escape their condemnation before him. It is seen as the work of God (divine intervention) in which God changes their unwilling hearts from rebellion to willing obedience.

In this view, all people are entirely at the mercy of God, who would be just in condemning all people for their sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

s, but who has chosen to be merciful to some. Thus, one person is saved while another is condemned, not because of a foreseen willingness, faith, or any other virtue in the first person, but because God sovereignly chose to have mercy on him. Although the person must believe the gospel and respond to be saved, this obedience of faith is God's gift, and thus God completely and sovereignly accomplishes the salvation of sinners. Views of predestination to damnation
Damnation
Damnation is the concept of everlasting divine punishment and/or disgrace, especially the punishment for sin as threatened by God . A damned being "in damnation" is said to be either in Hell, or living in a state wherein they are divorced from Heaven and/or in a state of disgrace from God's favor...

 (the doctrine of reprobation
Reprobation
Reprobation, in Christian theology, is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which derives that some of mankind are predestined by God for salvation. Therefore, the remainder are left bound to their fallen nature and certain damnation. This same state of unbelief is...

) are less uniform than is the view of predestination to salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 (the doctrine of election) among self-described Calvinists (see Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism
Supralapsarianism and Infralapsarianism
Lapsarianism is the set of Calvinist doctrines describing the theoretical order of God's decree , in particular concerning the order of his decree for the fall of man and reprobation...

).

In practice, Calvinists teach sovereign grace primarily for the encouragement of the church because they believe the doctrine demonstrates the extent of God's love in saving those who could not and would not follow him, as well as quashing pride and self-reliance and emphasizing the Christian's total dependence on the grace of God. In the same way, sanctification
Sanctification
Sanctity is an ancient concept widespread among religions, a property of a thing or person sacred or set apart within the religion, from totem poles through temple vessels to days of the week, to a human believer who achieves this state. Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity,...

 in the Calvinist view requires a continual reliance on God to purge the Christian's depraved heart from the power of sin and to further the Christian's joy.

Five points of Calvinism



Calvinist theology is sometimes identified with the five points of Calvinism, also called the doctrines of grace, which are a point-by-point response to the five points of the Arminian
Arminianism
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic followers, the Remonstrants...

 Remonstrance
Five articles of Remonstrance
The Five Articles of Remonstrance were theological propositions advanced in 1610 by followers of Jacobus Arminius who had died in 1609, in disagreement with interpretations of the teaching of John Calvin then current in the Dutch Reformed Church...

 (see History of Calvinist-Arminian debate
History of Calvinist-Arminian debate
The Calvinist-Arminian debate is best known as a dispute between Dutch Protestants in the early seventeenth century. The theological points remain at issue as the basis of current disagreements amongst some Protestants, particularly evangelicals...

) and which serve as a summation of the judgments rendered by the Synod of Dort
Synod of Dort
The Synod of Dort was a National Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618-1619, by the Dutch Reformed Church, to settle a divisive controversy initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The first meeting was on November 13, 1618, and the final meeting, the 154th, was on May 9, 1619...

 in 1619. Calvin himself never used such a model and never combated Arminianism directly. In fact, Calvin died in 1564 and Jacob Arminias was born in 1560, and so the men were not contemporaries. The Articles of Remonstrance were authored by opponents of reformed doctrine and Biblical Monergism. They were rejected in 1619 at the Synod of Dort, more than 50 years after the death of Calvin.

The five points therefore function as a summary of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, but not as a complete summation of Calvin's writings or of the theology of the Reformed churches in general. In English, they are sometimes referred to by the acronym
Acronym and initialism
Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters or parts of words . There is no universal agreement on the precise definition of the various terms , nor on written usage...

 TULIP (see below), though this puts them in a different order than the Canons of Dort
Canons of Dort
The Canons of Dort, or Canons of Dordrecht, formally titled The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands, is the judgment of the National Synod held in the Dutch city of Dordrecht in 1618–19...

.

The central assertion of these canons is that God is able to save 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
    Total depravity is a theological doctrine that derives from the Augustinian concept of original sin...

    ": This doctrine, also called "total inability", asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin
    Sin
    In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

    . People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.) This doctrine is borrowed from Augustine who was a member of a Manichaean sect in his youth.
  • "Unconditional election
    Unconditional election
    Unconditional election is the Calvinist teaching that before God created the world, he chose to save some people according to his own purposes and apart from any conditions related to those persons...

    ": This doctrine asserts that God has chosen from eternity
    Eternity
    While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

     those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy alone. God has chosen from eternity
    Eternity
    While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

     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
    Limited atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology which is particularly associated with the Reformed tradition and is one of the five points of Calvinism...

    ": Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", this doctrine asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement
    Substitutionary atonement
    Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that all regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, "instead of" them...

     was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned
    Penal substitution
    Penal substitution is a theory of the atonement within Christian theology, developed with the Reformed tradition. It argues that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of sinners , thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive the sins...

     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 designed for some and not all. Hence, Calvinists hold that the atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect. The doctrine is driven by the Calvinistic concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and their understanding of the nature of the atonement.
  • "Irresistible grace
    Irresistible grace
    Irresistible Grace is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism, which teaches that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing...

    ": This doctrine, 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, in God's timing, 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 every influence of God's Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

     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."
  • "Perseverance of the saints
    Perseverance of the saints
    Perseverance of the saints, as well as the corollary—though distinct—doctrine known as "Once Saved, Always Saved", is a Calvinist teaching that once persons are truly saved they can never lose their salvation....

    ": Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints (the word "saints" is used to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not of those who is exceptionally holy, canonized
    Canonization
    Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

    , or in heaven
    Heaven
    Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

    ). The doctrine 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 or will return.

Nature of the atonement


An additional point of disagreement with Arminianism implicit in the five points is the Calvinist understanding of the doctrine of Jesus's substitutionary atonement
Substitutionary atonement
Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that all regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, "instead of" them...

 as a punishment for the sins of the elect, which was developed by St. Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 and especially St. Anselm
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

 and Calvin himself. Calvinists argue that if Christ takes the punishment in the place of a particular sinner, that person must be saved since it would be unjust for him then to be condemned for the same sins. The definitive and binding nature of this satisfaction model
Atonement (satisfaction view)
The satisfaction view of the atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology related to the meaning and effect of the death of Jesus Christ and has been traditionally taught in Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed circles...

 has strong implications for each of the five points, and it has led some Arminians to subscribe instead to the governmental theory of the atonement
Atonement (governmental view)
The governmental view of the atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology concerning the meaning and effect of the death of Jesus Christ and has been traditionally taught in Arminian circles that draw primarily from the works of Hugo Grotius...

. Under that theory, no particular sins or sinners are in view, but all of humanity are included in those whose sins have been taken away. The atonement was not the penalty of the law, but a substitute for the penalty, which allows God to remit the penalty by his grace when any sinner repents and believes in Jesus as the Christ.

Covenant theology


Although the doctrines of grace have generally received the greater focus in contemporary Calvinism, covenant theology is the historic superstructure that unifies the entire system of doctrine.

Calvinists take God's transcendence
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 to mean that the relationship between God and his creation must be by voluntary condescension on God's part. This relationship he establishes is covenant
Covenant (biblical)
A biblical covenant is an agreement found in the Bible between God and His people in which God makes specific promises and demands. It is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith. It it is used in the Tanakh 286 times . All Abrahamic religions consider the Biblical covenant...

al: the terms of the relationship are unchangeably decreed by God alone.

Reformed writings commonly refer to an intra-Trinitarian
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 covenant of redemption. The greater focus is the relationship between God and man, which in historic Calvinism is seen as bi-covenantal, reflecting the early Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 distinction between Law and Gospel
Law and Gospel
In Christianity the relationship between God's Law and the Gospel is a major topic in Lutheran and Reformed theology. In these traditions, the distinction between the doctrines of Law, which demands obedience to God's ethical will, and Gospel, which promises the forgiveness of sins in light of the...

. The covenant of works encompasses the moral and natural law
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

, dictating the terms of creation. By its terms, man would enjoy eternal life and blessedness based on his continued personal and perfect righteousness. With the fall of man, this covenant continues to operate, but only to condemn sinful man. The covenant of grace is instituted at the fall, and administered through successive historic covenants seen in Scripture for the purpose of redemption. By its terms, salvation comes not by any personal performance, but by promise. Peace with God comes only through a mediator, the fulfillment of which is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ is seen as the federal head of his elect people, and thus the covenant is the basis of the doctrines of the substitutionary atonement
Substitutionary atonement
Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that all regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, "instead of" them...

 and the imputation
Imputed righteousness
Imputed righteousness is a concept in Christian theology that proposes that the "righteousness of Christ ... is imputed to [believers] — that is, treated as if it were theirs through faith." It is on the basis of this "alien"...

 of the active obedience of Christ.

Covenant theology has had a resurgence around key participants in the Scripture and Hermeneutics Seminar (SAHS), a project first based in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Gloucestershire (Cheltenham, England), where it was headed by Dr Craig Bartholomew
Craig Bartholomew
Craig Bartholomew is the H. Evan Runner Professor of philosophy at Redeemer University College. He has published a great number of works, and is involved in a number of different Academic communities...

 and engaged such hermeneuticians as Anthony Thistleton, Nicolas Wolterstorff, and Kevin Vanhoozer
Kevin Vanhoozer
Kevin J. Vanhoozer is Blanchard Professor of Theology at Wheaton College. He will resume his old position, Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, in Fall, 2012. He is the author of several books on theology, hermeneutics, and...

. Bartholomew became professor at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, in religion and philosophy. He has been a key figure in the migration of SAHS ("The Seminar") from England to America, now housed at the Paideia Centre for Public Theology with which Dr Batholomew is also associated as a Senior Member. Besides writing many books himself, he also supervized SAHS's extensive publication program, himself editing some 8 annual volumes. In the course of its deliberations over the years, SAHS faced the Christian scholarly problem of interpreting the Hebrew-Bible-sourced Old Testament. All through these new developments in covenant theology we see (1) a thematic resurgence of "interpreting the Old Testament through Christ" including the notion of Christ the Creator and now King (Abraham Kuyper, Pro Rege; and (2) retaining, stressing, and re-exploring Genesis 1–3 toward a renewed discipline of biblical interpretation in terms of the religious ground motive
Religious ground motive
Religious ground motive is a conceptual construct of the reformational philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd. Dooyeweerd saw four great distinct value-systems that contested the general formative power over Western culture and civilization for within - in comparison, say, to an Islamic RGM...

 of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Communion in the Holy Spirit as the core of the covenant in the OT, biblically speaking (as taught by Christian philosophers Herman Dooyeweed and Evan Runner). A third major nuancing of the covenant theology resurgence today is the motif of ecumenical dialogue in this task which now includes evangelical Protestants and Catholics as the main denominational demographics of its participants, and the scholarly dialogue with the Canon Criticism
Canonical criticism
Canonical criticism, sometimes called canon criticism or the canonical approach, is a way of interpreting the Bible that focuses on the text of the biblical canon itself as a finished product. It has been made popular by Brevard Childs, though he personally rejected the term...

 school of the last 30 years. An active proponent of all of these concerns is Albert M. Wolters
Albert M. Wolters
Albert Wolters is a professor of Religion & Theology, and Classical Studies at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario and has provided expert commentary for the Copper Scroll in the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls , and also in a Nova documentary.After World War II, his family left...

. Wolters is himself a philosopher turned biblical scholar; he is about to publish his many years of research to produce a model exegesis and interpretation of the Book of Zachariah; he is also an expert on the Copper Scroll
Copper Scroll
The Copper Scroll is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls found in Cave 3 near Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. Whereas the other scrolls are written on parchment or papyrus, this scroll is written on metal: copper mixed with about 1 percent tin...

 of Qumran, and famous for his book on worldview basics which has been translated into many languages. Another forthcoming event will occur in November 2011 where Anglican Bible scholar Bishop N. T. Wright will present his hermeneutics with responses by missiologist Dr Michael Goheen (Protestant), and biblical theology expert on covenant, Scott Hahn
Scott Hahn
Scott Hahn is a contemporary author, theologian, and Catholic apologist. His works include Rome Sweet Home and The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. He currently teaches at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic university in the United States.-Education:Hahn received his...

  (Catholic). The event will take place in San Francisco in November.

Worship regulated by God


The regulative principle regarding worship, which distinguishes the Calvinist approach to the public worship
Christian worship
In Christianity, worship is adoration and contemplation of God.-Overview:Throughout most of Christianity's history, corporate Christian worship has been primarily liturgical, characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, particularly the Psalter;...

 of God from other views, is that only those elements that are instituted or appointed by command or example in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 are permissible in worship. In other words, the regulative principle maintains that God institutes in the scriptures what he requires for worship in the church, and 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 her worship, and it associates musical instruments with icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s, which he considered violations of the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

' prohibition of graven images.

On this basis, many early Calvinists also eschewed musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s and advocated exclusive psalmody
Exclusive psalmody
Exclusive psalmody is the particular worship practice of several small Protestant denominations worldwide which use a metrical version of the Book of Psalms from the Bible as the only manual of songs that may be sung in their services...

 in worship, though Calvin himself allowed other scriptural songs as well as psalms, and this practice typified presbyterian worship
Presbyterian worship
Presbyterian worship documents worship practices in Presbyterian churches; in this case, the practises of the many churches descended from the Scottish Presbyterian church at the time of the Reformation.-Theology of 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. The following are Orders of Service for the Lords Day as designed by John Calvin (Collect is a short prayer; Lection is a Scripture reading; Fraction and Delivery are the breaking of the
bread and distribution thereof, respectively):
Liturgy of the Upper Room>
Calvin: Strasbourg, 1540 Calvin: Geneva, 1542
Scripture Sentence (Psalm
124,8)
Confession of sins Confession of sins
Scriptural words of pardon Prayer for pardon
Absolution
Metrical Decalogue sung with
Kyrie eleison after each
Law
Collect for Illumination Collect for Illumination
Lection Lection
Sermon Sermon
Collection of alms Collection of alms
Intercessions Intercessions
Lord’s Prayer in long paraphrase Lord’s Prayer in long paraphrase
Preparation of elements while Apostles' Creed sung Preparation of elements while Apostles' Creed sung
Consecration Prayer
Words of Institution Words of Institution
Exhortation Exhortation
Consecration Prayer
Fraction Fraction
Delivery Delivery
Communion, while psalm sung Communion, while psalm or
Scriptures read
Post-communion collect Post-communion collect
Nunc dimittis in metre
Aaronic Blessing Aaronic Blessing

Since the 19th century, however, most 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 few who hold to a strict view of the regulative principle, today hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s and musical instruments are in common use, as are contemporary worship music styles and worship bands.

Variants


Many efforts have been undertaken to reform or expand on Calvinism, and these variations appear to a greater or lesser degree throughout the history of Calvinism.

Lapsarianism


Within scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 Calvinist theology, there are two schools of thought over when and whom God predestined: supralapsarianism (from the Latin: supra, "above", here meaning "before" + lapsus, "fall") and infralapsarianism (from the Latin: infra, "beneath", here meaning "after" + lapsus, "fall"). The former view, sometimes called "high Calvinism", argues that the Fall
The Fall of Man
In Christian doctrine, the Fall of Man, or simply the Fall, refers to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise, but the serpent tempts them into...

 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 before he decided 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
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 and others to heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 (that is, it provides the grounds of condemnation in the reprobate
Reprobation
Reprobation, in Christian theology, is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which derives that some of mankind are predestined by God for salvation. Therefore, the remainder are left bound to their fallen nature and certain damnation. This same state of unbelief is...

 and the need for salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 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 (1618), 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
Canons of Dort
The Canons of Dort, or Canons of Dordrecht, formally titled The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands, is the judgment of the National Synod held in the Dutch city of Dordrecht in 1618–19...

, First Point of Doctrine, Article 7). The influential Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

 also teaches (in Hodge's words "clearly impl[ies]") the infralapsarian view, but is sensitive to those holding to supralapsarianism. The Lapsarian controversy has a few vocal proponents on each side today, but overall it does not receive much attention among modern Calvinists.

Four-point Calvinism


Another revision of Calvinism is called "Amyraldism
Amyraldism
Amyraldism primarily refers to a modified form of Calvinist theology...

", "hypothetical universalism
Universalism
Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal application or applicability...

", or "four-point Calvinism", also known as Four-point Calvinism, Moderate Calvinism, Modified Calvinism, or Unlimited Limited Atonement. This drops the limited atonement in favor of an unlimited atonement
Unlimited atonement
Unlimited atonement is the majority doctrine in Protestant Christianity that is normally associated with Non-Calvinist and persons who are up to "four-point" Calvinist Christians...

 saying that God has provided Christ's atonement for all alike, but seeing that none would believe on their own, he then elects those whom he will bring to faith in Christ, thereby preserving the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election
Unconditional election
Unconditional election is the Calvinist teaching that before God created the world, he chose to save some people according to his own purposes and apart from any conditions related to those persons...

.

This doctrine was most thoroughly systematized by the French Reformed theologian at the Academy of Saumur
Academy of Saumur
The Academy of Saumur was a Huguenot university at Saumur in western France. It existed from 1593, when it was founded by Philippe de Mornay, until shortly after 1683, when Louis XIV decided on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, ending the limited toleration of Protestantism in...

, Moses Amyraut
Moses Amyraut
Moses Amyraut , also known as Amyraldus, was a French Protestant theologian and metaphysician. He is perhaps most noted for his modifications to Calvinist theology regarding the nature of Christ's atonement, which is referred to as Amyraldism or Amyraldianism.-Life:Born at Bourgueil, in the valley...

, for whom it is named. His formulation was an attempt to bring Calvinism more nearly alongside the Lutheran view. In England, hypothetical universalism (which is not entirely consistent with Amyraldianism) was held by the early 17th century theologians John Davenant
John Davenant
John Davenant was an English academic and bishop of Salisbury from 1621.-Life:He was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, elected a fellow there in 1597, and was its President from 1614 to 1621...

 and John Preston
John Preston (clergyman)
John Preston D.D. was an English puritan minister of the church, and master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.-Upbringing:John Preston was the son of Thomas Preston, a farmer, was born at Upper Heyford in the parish of Bugbrook, Northamptonshire, and was baptised at Bugbrook church on 27 October...

 and was propounded at the Westminster Assembly
Westminster Assembly
The Westminster Assembly of Divines was appointed by the Long Parliament to restructure the Church of England. It also included representatives of religious leaders from Scotland...

 by the English Presbyterian leaders Edmund Calamy the Elder
Edmund Calamy the Elder
Edmund Calamy was an English Presbyterian church leader and divine. Known as "the elder", he was the first of four generations of nonconformist ministers bearing the same name.-Early life:...

, Lazarus Seaman
Lazarus Seaman
Lazarus Seaman , was an English clergyman, supporter in the Westminster Assembly of the Presbyterian party, intruded Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and nonconformist minister.-Life:...

 and Stephen Marshall. In a different, more idiosyncratic form, it was expounded in England by the writings of the Reformed pastor Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long...

 and gained strong adherence among the Congregationalists and some Presbyterians in the American colonies, during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Amyraldism can be found among various evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 groups in the United States and within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney
Anglican Diocese of Sydney
The Diocese of Sydney is a diocese within the Anglican Church of Australia. The majority of the diocese is Evangelical and low church in tradition and committed to Reformed and Calvinist theology....

. "Four point" Calvinism is prevalent in conservative and moderate groups among Presbyterian churches, Reformed churches
Reformed churches
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

, Reformed Baptist
Reformed Baptist
Reformed Baptists are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology. They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist church was formed in the 1630s...

s and some non-denominational churches, and is not uncommon among evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 members of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

.

Historically, Amyraldism has been called "moderate Calvinism", but Norman Geisler
Norman Geisler
Norman L. Geisler is a Christian apologist and the co-founder of Southern Evangelical Seminary outside Charlotte, North Carolina, where he formerly taught. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Jesuit Loyola University...

 uses this term to describe his own views, which James R. White
James White (theologian)
James Robert White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, an evangelical Reformed Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books and has engaged in numerous moderated debates...

 calls "merely a modified form of historic Arminianism
Arminianism
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic followers, the Remonstrants...

."

R. C. Sproul
R. C. Sproul
Robert Charles Sproul, is a prominent American Calvinist theologian, author, and pastor of the Reformed tradition...

 believes there is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. While he considers it possible for a person to believe four points without believing the fifth, he claims that a person who really understands the other four points must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic.

Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll
Mark A. Driscoll is an American pastor and author. He is the founder and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, he co-founded the Acts 29 Network and Churches Helping Churches, and has contributed to the "Faith and Values" section of the Seattle Times and the "On Faith"...

 calls this "Unlimited Limited Atonement", or "Four-and-a-half point Calvinism", whereby Jesus, by dying for everyone, purchased everyone as His possession and He then applies His forgiveness to the elect by grace and applies His wrath to the non-elect. Objectively, Jesus' death was sufficient to save anyone, and, subjectively, only efficient to save those who repent of their sin and trust in Him.

Hyper-Calvinism


Hyper-Calvinism first referred to an eccentric view that appeared among the early English Particular Baptists
Strict Baptist
Strict Baptists, also known as Particular Baptists, are Baptists who believe in a Calvinist or Reformed interpretation of Christian soteriology. The Particular Baptists arose in England in the 17th century and took their namesake from the doctrine of particular redemption.-Further reading:*History...

 in the 18th century. Their system denied that the call of the gospel to "repent
Repentance
Repentance is a change of thought to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness from a person who is wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to confession to God, ceasing sin against God, and resolving to live according to religious law...

 and believe" is directed to every single person and that it is the duty of every person to trust in Christ for salvation. The term also occasionally appears in both theological and secular controversial contexts, where it usually connotes a negative opinion about some variety of theological determinism
Theological determinism
Theological determinism is a form of determinism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or predestined to happen, by a monotheistic God. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam....

, predestination
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

, or a version of Evangelical Christianity or Calvinism that is deemed by the critic to be unenlightened, harsh, or extreme.

Neo-orthodoxy


In the mainline Reformed churches, Calvinism has undergone expansion and revision through the influence of Karl Barth
Karl Barth
Karl Barth was a Swiss Reformed theologian whom critics hold to be among the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century; Pope Pius XII described him as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas...

 and neo-orthodox
Neo-orthodoxy
Neo-orthodoxy, in Europe also known as theology of crisis and dialectical theology,is an approach to theology in Protestantism that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War...

 theology. Barth was an important Swiss Reformed theologian who began writing early in the 20th century, whose chief accomplishment was to counter-act the influence of the Enlightenment in the churches. The Barmen declaration
Barmen Declaration
The Barmen Declaration or The Theological Declaration of Barmen 1934 is a statement of the Confessing Church opposing the Nazi-supported "German Christians" movement known for its anti-Semitism and extreme nationalism...

 is an expression of the Barthian reform of Calvinism. Conservative Calvinists (as well as some liberal reformers) regard it as confusing to use the name "Calvinism" to refer to neo-orthodoxy or other liberal revisions stemming from Calvinist churches due to their differing theological views.

Neo-Calvinism


Besides the traditional movements within the conservative Reformed churches, several trends have arisen through the attempt to provide a contemporary, but theologically conservative approach to the world.

A version of Calvinism that has been adopted by both theological conservatives and liberals gained influence in the Dutch Reformed churches, late in the 19th century, dubbed "neo-Calvinism", which developed along lines of the theories of Dutch theologian, statesman and journalist, Abraham Kuyper
Abraham Kuyper
Abraham Kuijper generally known as Abraham Kuyper, was a Dutch politician, journalist, statesman and theologian...

. More traditional Calvinist critics of the movement characterize it as a revision of Calvinism, although a conservative one in comparison to modernist Christianity or neo-orthodoxy. Neo-Calvinism, "Calvinianism", or the "reformational movement
Reformational philosophy
Reformational philosophy is a Neo-Calvinistic movement pioneered by Herman Dooyeweerd and D. H. Th. Vollenhoven that seeks to develop philosophical thought in a radically Protestant Christian direction.- Historical overview :...

", is a response to the influences of the Enlightenment, but generally speaking it does not touch directly on the articles of salvation. Neo-Calvinists intend their work to be understood as an update of the Calvinist worldview in response to modern circumstances, which is an extension of the Calvinist understanding of religion to scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, social
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 and political issues. To show their consistency with the historic Reformed movement, supporters may cite Calvin's Institutes
Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Institutes of the Christian Religion is John Calvin's seminal work on Protestant systematic theology...

, book 1, chapters 1–3, and other works. In the United States, Kuyperian neo-Calvinism is represented among others, by the Center for Public Justice
Center for Public Justice
The Center for Public Justice is a Christian think tank which undertakes to bring a Christian worldview to bear on policy issues.It is rooted in the European Christian-political tradition of such Dutch figures as Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, Abraham Kuyper, and Herman Dooyeweerd. James W...

, a faith-based political think-tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Neo-Calvinism branched off in more theologically conservative movements in the United States. The first of these to rise to prominence became apparent through the writings of Francis Schaeffer
Francis Schaeffer
Francis August Schaeffer was an American Evangelical Christian theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor. He is most famous for his writings and his establishment of the L'Abri community in Switzerland...

, who had gathered around himself a group of scholars, and propagated their ideas in writing and through L'Abri
L'Abri
L'Abri is an evangelical Christian organization founded by Francis Schaeffer and his wife Edith in Huémoz-sur-Ollon, Switzerland on June 5, 1955. They opened their alpine home as a ministry to curious travellers and as a forum to discuss philosophical and religious beliefs.- The development of...

, a Calvinist study center in Switzerland. This movement generated a reawakened social consciousness among Evangelicals
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

.

Christian Reconstructionism


A neo-Calvinist movement called "Christian Reconstructionism
Christian Reconstructionism
Christian Reconstructionism is a religious and theological movement within Evangelical Christianity that calls for Christians to put their faith into action in all areas of life, within the private sphere of life and the public and political sphere as well...

" is much smaller, more radical, and theocratic
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

, but by some believed to be widely influential in American family and political life. Reconstructionism is a distinct revision of Kuyper's approach, which sharply departs from that root influence through the complete rejection of pluralism
Religious pluralism
Religious pluralism is a loosely defined expression concerning acceptance of various religions, and is used in a number of related ways:* As the name of the worldview according to which one's religion is not the sole and exclusive source of truth, and thus that at least some truths and true values...

, and by formulating suggested applications of the sanctions of Biblical Law for modern civil governments. These distinctives are the least influential aspects of the movement. Its intellectual founder, the late Rousas J. Rushdoony, based much of his understanding on the apologetical
Presuppositional apologetics
In Christian theology, presuppositionalism is a school of apologetics that presumes Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and claims to expose flaws in other worldviews...

 insights of Cornelius Van Til
Cornelius Van Til
Cornelius Van Til , born in Grootegast, the Netherlands, was a Christian philosopher, Reformed theologian, and presuppositional apologist.-Biography:...

, father of presuppositionalism and professor at Westminster Theological Seminary
Westminster Theological Seminary
Westminster Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian and Reformed Christian graduate educational institution located in Glenside, Pennsylvania, with a satellite location in London.-History:...

 (although Van Til himself did not hold to such a view). It has some influence in the conservative Reformed churches in which it was born, and in Calvinistic Baptist and Charismatic
Charismatic movement
The term charismatic movement is used in varying senses to describe 20th century developments in various Christian denominations. It describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt...

 churches mostly in the United States, Canada, and to a lesser extent in the UK.

Reconstructionism aims toward the complete rebuilding of the structures of society on Christian and Biblical presuppositions, not, according to its promoters, in terms of "top down" structural changes, but through the steady advance of the Gospel of Christ as men and women are converted, who then live out their obedience to God in the areas for which they are responsible. In keeping with the Theonomic Principle
Theonomy
Theonomy is a theory in Christian theology that God is the sole source of human ethics. The word theonomy derives from the Greek words “theos” God, and “nomos” law. Cornelius Van Til argued that there "is no alternative but that of theonomy or autonomy"...

, it seeks to establish laws and structures that will best instantiate the ethical principles of the Bible, including the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 as expounded in the case laws and summarized in the Decalogue
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

. Not a political movement, strictly speaking, Reconstructionism has nonetheless been influential in the development of aspects of the Christian Right
Christian right
Christian right is a term used predominantly in the United States to describe "right-wing" Christian political groups that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies...

 that some critics have called "Dominionism
Dominionism
Dominionism is a term used to describe politically active conservative Christians that are believed to conspire and seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States, with the goal of either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation...

". Reconstructionism assumes that God institutes in the Scriptures everything he requires for the ordering of self and society, extending the regulative principle of worship
Regulative principle of worship
The regulative principle of worship is a teaching shared by some Calvinists and Anabaptists on how the Bible orders public worship. The substance of the doctrine regarding worship is that God institutes in the Scriptures everything he requires for worship in the Church and that everything else is...

 to all areas of life.

Calvinism Today


Calvinism has undergone a resurgence in North America in recent years. TIME magazine described the New Calvinism as one of the "10 ideas changing the world" in 2009 and cited its adherents to be largely Reformed Baptist
Reformed Baptist
Reformed Baptists are Baptists that hold to a Calvinist soteriology. They can trace their history through the early modern Particular Baptists of England. The first Reformed Baptist church was formed in the 1630s...

 or Presbyterians. Figures today which are associated with Calvinism include R.C. Sproul, Mark Dever
Mark Dever
Mark E. Dever has been the senior pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. since 1994, and is the president of 9Marks , a Christian ministry he co-founded "in an effort to build biblically faithful churches in America."...

, Mark Driscoll
Mark Driscoll
Mark A. Driscoll is an American pastor and author. He is the founder and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, he co-founded the Acts 29 Network and Churches Helping Churches, and has contributed to the "Faith and Values" section of the Seattle Times and the "On Faith"...

, Ligon Duncan
Ligon Duncan
J. Ligon Duncan III is an American Southern Presbyterian scholar and pastor.-Early life and education:Duncan is native to Greenville, South Carolina. His father, J. Ligon Duncan, Jr. was an eighth-generation Southern Presbyterian ruling elder. He had a small commercial printing company, still in...

, Tim Keller, C.J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, J.I. Packer, and John Piper
John Piper (theologian)
John Stephen Piper is a Christian preacher and author, currently serving as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota...

.

Usury and capitalism


One school of thought attributes Calvinism with setting the stage for the later development of capitalism in northern Europe. In this view, elements of Calvinism represented a revolt against the medieval condemnation of usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

 and, implicitly, of profit in general. Such a connection was advanced in influential works by R. H. Tawney
R. H. Tawney
Richard Henry Tawney was an English economic historian, social critic, Christian socialist, and an important proponent of adult education....

 (1880–1962) and by Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 (1864–1920).

Calvin expressed himself on usury in a 1545 letter to a friend, Claude de Sachin, in which he criticized the use of certain passages of scripture invoked by people opposed to the charging of interest. He reinterpreted some of these passages, and suggested that others of them had been rendered irrelevant by changed conditions. He also dismissed the argument (based upon the writings of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

) that it is wrong to charge interest for money because money itself is barren. He said that the walls and the roof of a house are barren, too, but it is permissible to charge someone for allowing him to use them. In the same way, money can be made fruitful.

He qualified his view, however, by saying that money should be lent to people in dire need without hope of interest, while a modest interest rate of 5% should be permitted in relation to other borrowers.

Arminianism



A theological and political movement in opposition to Calvinism, now called "Arminianism
Arminianism
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic followers, the Remonstrants...

", was founded by Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius and revised and pursued by the Remonstrants
Remonstrants
The Remonstrants are the Dutch Protestants who, after the death of Jacobus Arminius, maintained the views associated with his name. In 1610 they presented to the States of Holland and Friesland a remonstrance in five articles formulating their points of disagreement from Calvinism.-History:The five...

. Arminius rejected several tenets of the Calvinist doctrines of salvation – namely, the latter four of what would later be known as the five points of Calvinism. The term "Arminianism" today often serves as an umbrella term for both Arminius's doctrine and the Remonstrants', but Arminius's followers sometimes distinguish themselves as "Reformed Arminians."

The Remonstrants' doctrine was condemned at the Synod of Dort
Synod of Dort
The Synod of Dort was a National Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618-1619, by the Dutch Reformed Church, to settle a divisive controversy initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The first meeting was on November 13, 1618, and the final meeting, the 154th, was on May 9, 1619...

 held in Dordrecht
Dordrecht
Dordrecht , colloquially Dordt, historically in English named Dort, is a city and municipality in the western Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland. It is the fourth largest city of the province, having a population of 118,601 in 2009...

, Holland, in 1618/1619, and followers of either Arminius or the Remonstrants are not generally considered "Reformed" by most Calvinists. Many Evangelical Christians
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 adopted the position advocated by the Remonstrants, and Arminius's system was revived by evangelist John Wesley
John Wesley
John Wesley was a Church of England cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield...

 and is common today, particularly in Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

.

Comparison among Protestants


This table summarizes the classical views of three different Protestant beliefs about salvation.
Topic Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

Calvinism Arminianism
Arminianism
Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius and his historic followers, the Remonstrants...

Human will Total Depravity without free will until spiritual regeneration Total Depravity without free will permanently due to the nature of divine sovereignty Total depravity, with prevenient grace
Prevenient grace
Prevenient grace is a Christian theological concept rooted in Augustinian theology. It is embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of Jacob Arminius or John Wesley. Wesley typically referred to it in 18th century language as prevenient grace...

, does not preclude free will
Election Unconditional election to salvation only Unconditional election
Unconditional election
Unconditional election is the Calvinist teaching that before God created the world, he chose to save some people according to his own purposes and apart from any conditions related to those persons...

 to salvation with those outside the elect foreordained to damnation (double-predestination)
Conditional election
Conditional election
In Christian theology, conditional election is the belief that God chooses, for eternal salvation, those whom He foresees will have faith in Christ. This belief emphasizes the importance of a person's free will...

 on the basis of foreseen faith or unbelief
Justification Justification of all people made available at Christ's death Justification is limited to those predestined to salvation, completed at Christ's death Justification made possible for all through Christ's death, but only completed upon placing faith in Jesus (hypothetical universalism)
Conversion Monergistic
Monergism
Monergism describes the position in Christian theology of those who believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, works to bring about effectually the salvation of individuals through spiritual regeneration without cooperation from the individual...

, through the means of grace
Means of Grace
The Means of Grace in Christian theology are those things through which God gives grace. Just what this grace entails is interpreted in various ways: generally speaking, some see it as God blessing humankind so as to sustain and empower the Christian life; others see it as forgiveness, life, and...

, resistible
Monergistic, through the inner calling of the Holy Spirit, irresistible
Irresistible grace
Irresistible Grace is a doctrine in Christian theology particularly associated with Calvinism, which teaches that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing...

Synergistic, resistible due to the common, sufficient grace of free will
Preservation and apostasy Falling away is possible, but reflection on one's faith provides assurance of preservation Perseverance of the saints
Perseverance of the saints
Perseverance of the saints, as well as the corollary—though distinct—doctrine known as "Once Saved, Always Saved", is a Calvinist teaching that once persons are truly saved they can never lose their salvation....

: the eternally elect in Christ will necessarily persevere in faith and subsequent holiness until the end
Preservation is conditional
Conditional preservation of the saints
The Conditional preservation of the saints, or commonly conditional security, is the Arminian belief that believers are kept safe by God in their saving relationship with Him upon the condition of a persevering faith in Christ...

 upon continued faith in Christ; reflection on one's faith provides assurance
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See also




History

  • Crypto-Calvinism
    Crypto-Calvinism
    Crypto-Calvinism is a term for Calvinist influence in the Lutheran Church during the decades just after the death of Martin Luther . It denotes what was seen as a hidden...

    : German Protestants accused of Calvinist leanings within the Lutheran church in the late 16th century
  • Jansenism
    Jansenism
    Jansenism was a Christian theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Otto Jansen, who died in 1638...

    : a radical Augustinian group within the Catholic Church with doctrinal distinctives very similar to Calvinism
  • Max Weber
    Max Weber
    Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

    : The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
    The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
    The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by Talcott Parsons in 1930...

  • Welsh Methodist revival
    Welsh Methodist revival
    The Welsh Methodist revival was an evangelical revival that revitalised Christianity in Wales during the 18th century. Methodist preachers such as Griffith Jones, William Williams and Howell Harris were such powerful speakers that they converted thousands of people back to the church...

    , 1904-1905 Welsh Revival
    1904-1905 Welsh Revival
    The Welsh Revival was the largest Christian revival in Wales during the 20th century. While by no means the best known of revivals, it was one of the most dramatic in terms of its effect on the population, and it had repercussions that reached far beyond the Welsh border, triggering a series of...


Doctrine

  • Common grace
    Common grace
    Common Grace is a theological concept in Protestant Christianity, primarily in Reformed and Calvinistic circles, referring to the grace of God that is either common to all humankind, or common to everyone within a particular sphere of influence...

     and free offer of the Gospel
    Free offer of the gospel
    The free offer of the Gospel refers to the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ to all people. It is generally accepted by Calvinists, but rejected by a few small Reformed denominations, such as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Australia and the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, and also...

  • Moderate Calvinism
  • Monergism
    Monergism
    Monergism describes the position in Christian theology of those who believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, works to bring about effectually the salvation of individuals through spiritual regeneration without cooperation from the individual...

    , as opposed to synergism

People groups


:Category:Calvinists
  • Boer Calvinists
    Afrikaner Calvinism
    Afrikaner Calvinism is, according to theory, a unique cultural development that combined the Calvinist religion with the political aspirations of the white Afrikaans speaking people of South Africa....

    : Boere-Afrikaners that hold to Reformed Theology.
  • Huguenot
    Huguenot
    The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

    s: followers of Calvinism in France, the 16th and 17th century.
  • Pilgrim (Plymouth Colony): Puritan separatists who left Europe for America in search of religious toleration.
  • Puritan
    Puritan
    The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

    s: Calvinists in England.
  • Reformed churches
    Reformed churches
    The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger and especially John Calvin...

    : denominations that have historically adhered to Calvinist doctrine.

Further reading

  • David N. Steele, Curtis C. Thomas, and S. Lance Quinn, The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, and Documented (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2004).
  • Ford Lewis Battles and John Walchenbach, Analysis of the "Institutes of the Christian Religion" of John Calvin (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House
    Baker Book House
    Baker Publishing Group is an evangelical Protestant Christian book publisher based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has six subdivisions: Bethany House, Revell, Baker Books, Baker Academic, Chosen and Brazos Press.-Identity:...

    , 1980).
  • John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeil, trans. Ford L. Battles (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960).
  • John Thomas McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York: Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

    , 1954).
  • Philip Benedict, Christ's Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (New Haven: Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 2002).

Calvinist websites


Calvinism and other theological systems