Portal:Calvinism

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John Calvin

Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life. The Reformed tradition was advanced by several theologians such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli, but this branch of Christianity bears the name of the French reformer John Calvin 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 of which Calvin was an early leader. Less commonly, it can refer to the individual teaching of Calvin himself. 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. This concept is seen clearly in the doctrines of predestination and total depravity.

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Huldrych Zwingli in an oil portrait from 1531 by Hans Asper; Kunstmuseum Winterthur.
Huldrych Zwingli (1 January 1484 – 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of rising 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. In 1519, Zwingli became the pastor of the Grossmünster in Zürich where he began to preach ideas on reforming the Church. The Reformation spread to other parts of the Swiss Confederation, but several cantons resisted, preferring to remain Roman Catholic. Zwingli formed an alliance of Reformed cantons which divided the Confederation along religious lines. Zwingli’s ideas came to the attention of Martin Luther and other reformers. They met at the Marburg Colloquy and although they agreed on many points of doctrine, they could not reach an accord on the doctrine of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In 1531 Zwingli’s alliance applied an unsuccessful food blockade on the Roman Catholic cantons. The cantons responded with an attack at a moment when Zürich was badly prepared. Zwingli was killed in battle at the age of 47. His legacy lives on in the confessions, liturgy, and church orders of the Reformed churches of today.

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"There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make men rejoice."

-- John Calvin (Wikiquote), As quoted in The Value of Convenience: Genealogy of Technical Culture (1993) by Thomas F. Tierney, p. 128

"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"

-- Abraham Kuyper (Wikiquote), As quoted in Abraham Kuyper, A Centennial Reader, (1998) James D. Bratt, editor, p. 488

"I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed."

-- Matthew Henry (Wikiquote), As quoted in Preaching Today, by John Yates, tape #110

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