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The term, derived from the name of J. Calvin,* is employed variously to denote the individual teachings of Calvin; the doctrinal system confessed by the “Reformed” or “Calvinistic” churches; the entire body of conceptions, theol., ethical, philos., soc., and pol., that owe their origin to Calvin. Sometimes also the term comprehends his views regarding both theological doctrine and ecclesiastical polity. At other times it is limited to the former, esp. to his view on the doctrine of grace. These views are sometimes called the Five Points of Calvinism: 1. particular election (supralapsarianism); 2. particular redemption; 3. moral inability in the fallen state; 4. irresistible grace; 5. final perseverance. These Five Points were opposed by the rival system of Arminianism,* which was presented by the Remonstrants* at the 1618–19 Syn. of Dordrecht.* The syn. condemned the Arminian doctrines and enforced adherence to Calvinism. In addition to a doctrine of grace, Calvin held the spiritual presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper but not the doctrine of the real presence of Christ's body in the sacrament. He stressed the sovereignty of God. His views of ch. govt. were essentially such as are now called Presbyterian. Holding that the ch. should he spiritually indep. of the state, he yet was willing that the discipline of the ch. should be carried out by the civil magistrates.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion, first pub. 1536, were the earlier systematic presentation of Calvin's thought. Various Prot. chs. adopted Calvin's theol. views, together with his ecclesiastical polity. Thus J. Knox* carried both Calvin's theol. and polity to Scot., where the first Presb. Gen. Assem. was held 1560. The early reformers of the Eng. Ch. mostly held Calvin's doctrine of grace, which prevailed to the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign. When the rival system of Arminius was brought to trial 1618 at the Syn. of Dort, Holland, the Eng. clerical representatives cast Calvinistic votes. In spite of this, Arminianism took deep root in the Eng. Ch. and elsewhere. Abp. Laud* was its warm friend and advocate, as was the High Ch. party gen. Low Churchmen continued Calvinistic. The ecclesiastical polity of Calvin was embraced by the Puritan* party, but never enjoyed the favor of the majority of the Eng. people. Of the 2 great Eng. revivalists of the 18th c. Whitefield* was Calvinistic (Calvinistic Methodists), and J. Wesley* was Arminian (Wesleyan Methodists). Most Eng. Baps. are Calvinistic. The theol. tenets and ecclesiastical polity of Calvin have nearly always been dominant in Scot., though the sterner features of both have been softened.

Calvinistic chs. include Calvinistic Bap., Calvinistic Meth., Cong., Ev. Ch., Ger. Ref., Presb.

See also Grace, Means of, I 7; Scotland, Reformation in, 1.

J. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, tr. F. L. Battles, ed. J. T. McNeill (Philadelphia, 1960); E. F. K. Mueller, Die Bekenntnisschriften der Reformierten Kirche (Leipzig, 1903); J. Calvin, Tracts and Treatises on the Reformation of the Church, with a short life of Calvin by T. Beza, tr. H. Beveridge, I–III (Edinburgh, 1844–51), reprint. with addition of hist. notes and introd. by T. F. Torrance (Grand Rapids, 1958); J. T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York, 1954).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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