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Calvinism is a belief system based upon the teachings of John Calvin, of which the name is derived. Calvinism initially was a denomination founded by John Calvin during the Protestant Reformation, but has spread to other sects, most notably Evangelical circles in recent years, and most prominently in Presbyterianism. Pure "Calvinist Churches" are hard to come by these days, largely being replaced with the Presbyterian Church. Calvinism is the polar opposite of Arminianism and is a form of Monergism. Anyone who is a Calvinist is considered Reformed. Calvinism stresses the sovereighnty of God above all else.
Five Points of Calvinism Edit
Calvinism can be summarized in the Five Points of Calvinism:
1. Total Depravity - In essence, humans are born with a sinful nature and an inclination to sin. Humans have a heart that is wicked to the core, and humans are basically bad. They don't desire to seek God or to do good, because it is part of their nature, they simply cannot do it.
2. Unconditional Election - Before anyone was born, in the beginning of time, God chose certain individuals to come to faith in Christ. Because they cannot have faith on their own as it is not in their nature, God has to give them faith and a specific call. The chosen, called the Elect, are saved from hellfire by the grace of God.
3. Limited Atonement - Because God only chose a certain number of individuals to be His Elect, Christ died on the cross to atone for a limited number of people. Not everyone can come to Christ according to Calvinism, because God only chose some people to come to Christ. The cross was intended for the Elect, and nobody else, though his blood is sufficient for everyone.
4. Irresistable Grace - When God calls certainly by electing them, they cannot resist the call, because of God's sovereighnty. When God chooses the give faith to certain individuals, they will certainly be saved.
5. Perservearance of the Saints - When God saves someone, they cannot lose their salvation.
History of Doctrine Edit
The beliefs of Predestination and Election stretch all the way back to the fourth century in the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo. He is the earliest writer of these such doctrines and the inspiration for Calvin to formulate his doctrine. St. Thomas Aquinas later wrote about a similar belief system, much less primitive than Augustine's, but still much different from Calvin's. Aquinas founded Thomism, a type of Monergism held by some Catholics, considered the Catholic equivalent of Calvinism. Thomism lacks the fifth point of Calvinism, but is otherwise very similar. Calvinists often point to Romans and Ephesians for Apostolic evidence for Calvinism.
Nearly all of the early Reformers were Monergists, believing that God elected certain individuals to be saved. Martin Luther wrote quite a bit about this in his work On the Bondage of the Will, and Calvin adopted and expanded upon these ideas, developing a theology of his own. He mostly preached in Geneva, and wrote several influental works there. John Knox was a Scottish reformer who came to Geneva and heard him preach, inspiring him to start a Church in Scotland, which would later evolve into Presbyterianism. Calvin also greatly influenced English Puritans.
After Calvin died, his influence spread thanks to his followers. Jacobus Arminius taught Synergism, that salvation was a partnership between God and man, a stark contrast from the otherwise Monergistic Reformation. The teachings of Arminius later became known as Arminianism, and can be found in the Belgic Confession, which later sparked controversy in the Reformed crowd. Arminianism was discussed at the Synod of Dort, where Calvin's followers wrote out the Five Points of Calvinism in order to combat Arminianism. These are somtimes called by the acronym TULIP, while the Five Points of Arminianism is called DAISY.
George Whitfield and Charles Spurgeon were two of the greated post-Reformation preachers who taught Calvinism. They contributed greatly to educating people about Calvinism. Calvinism grew less and less popular during the Second Great Awakening and through the early- and mid-20th century. A surge of popularity spiked in the late-20th century, and many Baptist churches have begun to adopt Calvinism. This is largely due to incredibly popular contemporary theologians such as John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and John MacArthur preaching about Calvinism not just to Reformed circles, but also to Evangelical circles.
Types of Calvinism Edit
Four Point Calvinism Edit
Four Point Calvinism leaves off the third point. Four Point Calvinists assert that Christ died for everyone, but God saw that none would come to Him by their own merit, and thus chose certain individuals to come to the faith.
Seven Point Calvinism Edit
Seven Point Calvinists are the same as Five Point Calvinists, but add two extra points:
6. Double Predestination - Not only does God predestine certain people to come to Heaven and have faith, but also predestines certain people to Hell and to not have faith.
7. Best of All Possible Worlds - God governs all of history and makes it unfold in the best possible way to glorify Him.
Nine Point Calvinism Edit
Nine Point Calvinists are identical to Seven Point Calvinists, but also add two extra points to the list:
8. Good is God - Everything God does is good, because God is good, and good cannot be good apart from God. God and good are synonyms. He is the standard for goodness, therefore He can do whatever he pleases and it is still good, because apart from Him, there is no standard.
9. Ordination of All Things - God is sovereign over every aspect of life. Everything happens because God made it happen. Everything comes from God.