Calvinism

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Calvinism (also Reformed Theology) is a Protestant Christian theological system that arose in Switzerland during the sixteenth century as a part of the Protestant Reformation. It is named after the reformer, lawyer and theologian John Calvin and was created after he was exiled in France. Calvin's thought was deeply inspired by earlier reformers such as Martin Luther's reformation in what is now Germany.

Reformed Theology takes Luther's criticism that the Roman Catholic Church's theory of good works as a means to salvation as a theologically incorrect concept that leads to corruption. The essence of Reformed Theology and its most significant distinction from Catholic dogma is how it views the mass, the use of images of Christ, and it's soteriology. Calvinist thought sees man is by his nature fallen, depraved, and incapable of ending his rebellion against God, it is by faith alone that God intervenes and gives man the gift of salvation, that man may not refuse that gift, and that God preordained who would receive it.

There are two basic groups within Calvinism and Reformed Theology. Various contemporary churches adhere to the general principles of Reformed Theology, but have liberal aspects, such as the ordination of women or tolerance of evolution. This includes the older Presbyterian churches such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church of America (RCA), and the Christian Reformed Churches (CRC), Congregationalists, the United Church of Christ.

There are also much more conservative Calvinists. This includes most Reformed Baptists, such as some Southern Baptists, Congregationalists, various churches in the Continuing Anglican Church movement, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA[1], and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).

Churches that follow Calvinism very closely usually follow set standards known as Confessions. Such churches are referred to as confessional. Other churches which tone down Calvinism are referred to as liberal churches.

Calvinism has been very influential in the development of many Protestant churches, including churches of the English Separatist and Dissenter movements (Pilgrims and Puritans).

Contents

[edit] Doctrine

[edit] Theological origins

The significant differences among early Protestant movements and Roman Catholicism are their views on free will and original sin and their soteriologies (theologies of salvation). This reached a high point in 1525 when Luther published "On the Bondage of the Will" against Desiderius Erasmus's arguments of free will.

Luther's protest against the Catholic Church's practice of selling indulgences was a response to what he viewed as the heresy of Pelagius. They key heresy he was thought to have made was that man could chose to become perfect through human works.

Calvin was heavily influenced by the works of Augustine and many other Theologians before him, and had a good understanding of the Early Church Fathers.

Other parts of Calvin's theology, such as his views on Iconoclasm, were previously part of Huldrych Zwingli's doctrines before his death.

[edit] Predestination

Calvin was a highly prolific writer, who wrote many books, letters, commentaries, and sermons. Much of Calvin's original doctrine can best be described as a young earth creationist, Biblical literalist view of the bible. Most of his thought can be found in either a 1500 page book translated from Latin, known as the "Institutes of the Christian Religion." Also among his works include a 2000 page "Commentary of Genesis", and similar commentaries on most parts of the Bible.

Much of what Calvin believed lives on in various confessions, such as the The Westminster Confession of Faith.[2]

Despite this fact, Calvin is best known for what is known as Predestination.

Put simply, predestination states that Christians were chosen by God, for no apparent reason[3], and cannot be un-chosen for any reason.[4] This is based of off the idea that people are so sinful that they do not want anything to do with God, and that given a choice would not rationally choose to become christians in the first place.

[edit] Five Points of Calvinism

The Five Points of Calvinism refers to an Mnemonic which describes parts of predestination. The acronym itself was not created by Calvin, but is based of a confession known in English as "The Cannons of Dort". The five points of the Arminian Remonstrance prompted the The Cannons of Dort as a response to their protest.

Being of Dutch origin, the Mnemonic is called T.U.L.I.P.

  • Total depravity. Every person is born tainted by original sin from the fall of man and without God's intervention is unable to serve God, but will serve only his own interests. One cannot voluntarily turn to God of his own will.
  • Unconditional election. God chose a few select people to whom he will give the gift of salvation. The rest are reprobate and will automatically go to perdition. Supralapsarian Calvinists believe God decreed who would be among the elect before he decreed the fall of man; infralapsarians believe that God decreed who would be among the elect after he decreed the fall of man. In either case, neither the elect nor the reprobate have a say in the matter.
  • Limited atonement. Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement by crucifixion was only to save the elect, not everybody.
  • Irresistible grace. Those few God chose to receive salvation will be unable to resist God's grace.
  • Perseverance of the saints. Those few who are converted to Christ will remain saved. They cannot lose their salvation because they were predestined by God to be saved. Thus, there is no notion of true apostasy within Calvinism. This doctrine raises a number of problems, not the least of which is that it's impossible to identify someone who's been saved from someone who has not.


[edit] The fringe of the fringe

There are also some believers in Calvinism who take these five points to their logical conclusion. They are often called "Hyper-Calvinists". Hyper-Calvinists will typically refrain from any evangelistic attempts at converting "sinners", believing that only God will do the converting. More "moderate" Calvinists do believe in personal evangelism, believing that they can be God's instrument in reaching those he has chosen to be saved.

What this means in practical terms is all us filthy pagans, heathens, atheists, Jews, and other unrepentant sinners were predestined by God to be this way, and can never be saved.

Fred Phelps was known to subscribe to a particularly whacked variant of the Hyper-Calvinist belief system. He not only believed that filthy reprobates are predestined for hell, but also that God actively hates them and brings about their untimely deaths.

Another Calvinist that has risen to more recent prominence among this loon squad is Harold Camping, the mastermind behind the (horribly failed) May 21, 2011 Doomsday date phenomenon. His "predictions" instigated fringe Calvinists with little knowledge to go on a mad conversion spree, trying desperately to find God's "elect" before the Judgement Day that never came. The Christian churches in his surroundings generally reject him as a heretic for violation of the no-future-predictions-please rule, that relies on some sayings attributed to Jesus himself.

[edit] On the Internet

Calvinism has a presence on the internet, mostly found in the form of online forums and Youtube. One such site is aptly called the Puritanboard, and is devoted to people studying and becoming Puritans. It is choked full of people posting under the avatar of their favorite Puritan, and often features dainty writing.[5]

Calvinism is closely related to homeschooling,[6] the quiverfull movement, and the occasional geocentrism.[7]

There are literally hundreds of videos on YouTube where Calvinists debate Arminians. [8] Debates of this variety will eventually turn emotional, and result in hour long rants.

[edit] Interesting Calvinists

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Not the PC(USA) listed above. Yes, it is confusing.
  2. The Westminster Confession of Faith
  3. Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. Cannons of Dort, Article 7,http://files.puritanboard.com/confessions/canonsofdordt.htm
  4. Article 11,http://files.puritanboard.com/confessions/canonsofdordt.htm
  5. http://www.puritanboard.com/content/
  6. Despite the fact that Calvin opened one of the first public schools in Geneva, and the fact that the Puritans in New England had mandatory public schooling
  7. Here is an example: http://www.puritanboard.com/f60/central-sun-earth-54925/
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sEIbwZIeQE
  9. http://www.reformationchurch.com/about/church-officers-staff/
  10. particularly about Harry Potter. See: https://generationswithvision.com/broadcast/harry-porter-vs-harry-potter/



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