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Calvinism: What is the Leading Motif in Calvinism?

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Theology seeks an understanding of the revealed truth, whose authoritative interpretation is usually entrusted to the leaders of the church; it is intrinsic to the principles and methods of their research and teaching in their academic discipline that theologians respect the authority that church leaders have.Calvinism can be defined as a series of beliefs which are based on those ones of John Calvin and the followers.This is because John Calvin had a major influence on Calvinism and also played a major role in the 16th century. Calvinism is a theological system which explains Christian life; it also explains Christian practices and doctrines of the churches that were led by John Calvin.

Calvinist has been distinguished from the public worship in that, the elements that are appointed by command are only applied in worship. This is a principle that maintains that God has stated in the scriptures the requirements of worship and what should not be done which differs from Calvin thoughts. According to Calvinism, the relationship between a person and God must be voluntary and not forced. A person is therefore expected to have a personal understanding about God, his creation and what is expected of him or her.

The Calvinism theology is defined by the doctrines of grace. There are various points that assist in the understanding of Calvinism. Some of the points are of indifferent quality while others have an outstanding limit Total depravity is the first point which is means that that sin has extended to human beings which is as a result of the sins that were committed by Adam and Eve. This means that sin extends from a person’s thinking to the emotions and will. However, people have always interplated the meaning of this point differently because they think that it means that human beings are hopeless and intensive sinners. The total depravity can also mean total inability which means that it is not possible for ordinary people to understand the message that the gospel has meaning that people are spiritually helpless. Therefore, God has to intervene to make understanding possible.

The second point is unconditional election. This point means that God has categorized humanity into various groups. The first group is the elected group which is made up of people that God has chosen to inform about him. This means that the people who are not chosen will remain in the dark and ignorant of God and the gospel. They will therefore spend the rest of their life in hell without hope or mercy. Unconditional election also means that God made this selection before creating the universe and human beings. However, this does not mean that his intention was to find out people who will accept salvation and those ones who will not. The third point is limited atonement which is a believe that Jesus death was not to save mankind. People believe that God died to save mankind so that they can be free and free indeed. However, this point explains that Jesus died for the sins of those sinners who are saved which means that the sins of those who are not saved are not catered for.

The other point is irresistible Grace which is a belief that the people who have been chosen by God will come to know and understand God hence they cannot resist his call.This is because God will give them a better understanding of him a factor that will set them apart from other people. The last point is Perseverance of the saints which means that once a person is saved then he or she will always be saved.This means that one’s a person accepts Jesus as his or her personal savior then he or he will remain in that state forever.

Statement of the problem

In this context, John Calvin introduces us to Calvinism. Calvinism has attracted different views, perceptions and definitions from different people. Calvinism also has many conflicting belief systems which have been opposed by Christians. For example, according to Calvinism, attaining heaven is universal which means that all people will go to heaven and none of them will go to hell. This is contradicting because Christians believe that there is heaven for those who are saved, follow God’s teachings and hell for those who are rebellious and sinners. Arminiansm is another teaching that is contradicting. This is because Calvinists believe that people are spiritually helpless. Calvinism has been associated with evangelism whereby people believe that an evangelist has to be involved in Calvinism. People believe that one has to be a Calvinist in order to be referred to as a faithful Christian. This happens especially in the Pentecostal churches. However, it is important to note that nobody is forced to be a Calvinist. Some people believe that when one is a Calvinist, it becomes difficult to distinguish between the devil and God.

Limitations of the study

The study was limited due to various factors. One of the factors is that this paper has a words limit which means that the discussion will be limited because one cannot exceed the required words. This means that this paper will not discuss Calvinism from different perspectives in terms of its practice in different countries or rather continents. Different continents and countries practice Calvinism for example, America, England, Scotland and Holland among others. It is important to discuss practice of Calvinism in the different countries because it assists in comparing and contrasting which helps in giving a better understanding of the practice.

Methodology

      The purpose and objectives of the research paper will be achieved by carrying out analysis of the text. It outlines the overall methodology that will be used to obtain accurate information which will assist in the achievement of objectives. It presents a systematic description of the method to be used to collect information. The research paper will first look at the history of Calvinism, its reformation and the role of John Calvin in the development of Calvinism. The paper will also look at how Calvinism is related to education and representative government. This will be followed by a summary and conclusion towards the end of the paper.

Basic Assumptions

The major assumption of this study is that Calvinism is a practice that contradicts Christian teachings or misinterplates the Bible which is the written Word of God. The second assumption is that the findings of this study would be help giving a better understanding of the practice which will changes and improve the perceptions and attitudes that people have towards it.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine and understand factors that have contributed practice of Calvinism by different people. Consequently, the study is expected to make a relevant conclusion that will enhance better practices to benefit individuals in making informed choices. The study will explore the practice and understanding of Calvinism by different people. The study will help to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices with Calvinism as the key issue. In attempt to understand Calvinism, various observations show that these practices are different in different contexts. The study recommends that individuals should at first understand what Calvinism entails before practicing it or being a follower.

 Significance of the study

It is important to carry out the study to ensure that people practice what they understand in terms of religion. The study is expected to help people live better lives, practice what God wants them to practice which is based on his teachings. This is because people tend to follow other people when it comes to some practices hence it is important to give people a better understanding of Calvinism which starts from its history, objectives and teachings. 

Before reformation

Doctrine was not considered important before the end of the fourth century.This means that the early church more so the church leaders only considered good works for example repentance, baptism prayers among other factors that were considered important in the formation of salvation basis. However, it is important to note that the early church considered salvation to be very important hence they taught it. The early church taught that man had a responsibility of making a choice on whether to accept the gospel or to reject it.They also recognized God and the freedom that mankind has but since they could not link the two, they would have hindered the doctrine of predestination. The early church considered teaching to be important, they therefore taught synergism which encouraged cooperation between free will and grace. This means that it was not possible for man to ignore the choice that he had regarding salvation. Later on, people came to understand that salvation is a God given gift which is given to people irrespective of merit hence it is considered fixed in terms of eternity. Augustine is a theologian from the west who first saw and understood the truth about Christianity.

Augustine made an effort of going far beyond other theologians in exploring the doctrine of sin and grace. He therefore taught about the unconditional choice of grace and the redemption. Augustine is considered to be a good and strong leader who led to the establishment of a doctrine that was acceptable and at the same time revived religion. This led to making corrections of heresies within the various churches an activity that was interrupted by received attacks from the pagans.As a result, little effort to enhance development of the doctrine was put in place. The doctrine did not receive much attention because people confused the predestination doctrine with the pagan doctrine of fatalism. However, the theologians were determined hence they did not give up. In the fourth century, the theologians went back to lay emphasis on the content of the doctrine because a new settled time had already arrived. Augustine was given the responsibility and chance of developing his doctrine of sin and grace which was based on the experiences that he had which were as a result of conversion from the worldly life to Christianity.  The theologian was to teach that Adam’s fall did not have a major impact on the salvation race hence man had the ability to work his or her own salvation. He was also expected to inform people that the life of a Christian has value to other people and this is achieved by setting good examples for others to follow.  However, Augustine taught what was totally different from what he was expected to teach. For example; he taught people that the men are deprived in terms of nature, men are spiritually dead, he informed people that the whole race fell in Adam and that God chooses anyone irrespective of the merits they have among other teachings that were not according to what was expected.

These teachings affected the progress of the doctrine meaning that retrogression took place. People who were ignorant were blinded because they believed what was taught. This affected the church as a whole because it became more ritualistic and people also believed that salvation was acquired through the external church. As a result, there was growth in the system of merit which led to indulgences. Great power, politics, state morals were exerted until they reached a point where they could not be tolerated. Moreover, priesthood became corrupt and priests sinned by involving themselves in activities that were not acceptable. This shifted the emphasis that was to be put on the predestination doctrine which affected its development.

History of Calvinism

Calvinism was established in 1534 by John Calvin. This marked the beginning of development of different doctrines related to the reformation of Protestants.  John Calvin made the first publication in 1536 which was later on revised and translated to French.  Calvin had a major influence on Protestantism. This is because he worked together with the institutes of the Christian religion, to perform his polemical and pastoral duties which made a big contribution to the confessional documents that were used in various churches. He worked together with other religious leaders such as Ulrich Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr Vermigli in order to influence reformed churches doctrines.As a result, John Calvin became the prominent reformer among the people mentioned above.

The reformed churches became of great importance. This reformation led to the rise of the second phase of the reformation of the Protestants. As a result, evangelical churches were established and this activity was made possible by Martin Luther who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church.In 1540, John Calvin was an exile signed the Augsburg confession by Luther which was later on revised. This activity was first recognized in the reformations in Swiss where Ulrich Zwingli was the leader.  The leaders recognized the the doctrines was developing towards a direction that was independent of Martin Luther. This took place under the influence of various prominent writers and reformers but John Calvin was the most prominent. The doctrines led to the name Calvinism because of the fame that was attached to the churches.

Calvinism and education

History shows that Calvinism and education are related. This is because Calvinism has always led to the establishment of schools which has popularized education. Calvinism is related to the education of people where it has been established. It is important to train people about what is involved in Calvinism and help them understand the process involved. This entails educating people about the love that God has for his people which comes from his heart and mind. According to John Calvin, faith is made up of intelligence meaning that a person is said to have faith when he or she has intelligent faith. Calvin found out that the spread of doctrine is not only related to the training that is carried out but it is also related to the faith intelligence which is all about what people what people who embrace it have in mind.

John Calvin started educating people by establishing a school in Geneva where he was to provide education to different people.The education process started on well because many people were enrolled and they included pilgrim students who were form Europe and British Isles. This was at first challenging because the people first sat next to his feet when they were being taught about the doctrines. Education of the large group of people was very important because it was the strongest way that was used to lay foundation about Calvinism.

The establishment of the love for learning which was made possible by Calvinism has had a major influence on the Calvinistic families living in different places such as Scotland, America, and Holland.This led to the increase in number of people who attend schools for education because the different group of people found it necessary to do so. Calvinism has empowered people, enhanced knowledge and learning because schools, colleges and universities have been established for example, the Princeton, Yale and Harvard universities in America were established.

The relationship between Calvinism and education is reflected in the statements made a professor in the Calvin College. According to professor Meeter, science and art is God given gifts which are as a result of his Grace. Therefore, people should not only use them but also developed them. Nature came to existence as a result of God’s efforts and hard work, his great ideas and virtues. This means that God linked science with the factors mentioned because of the plans that he had. It is important to note that there are other factor that led to the Calvinism interest in the establishment of schools, education and Calvinistic churches. For example, the Roman Catholics do not necessarily need education for them to conduct masses. According to them, the clergy were the ones who were supposed to make decisions on matters related to doctrines and the church government. This means that they did not require trainings.

Calvinism and representative government

Calvinism has always been a source of the modern republican government. Calvinists preferred a representative government and resisted rulers who were considered to be unjust. They therefore considered the state to be an institution that was divinely established. The relationship that exists between Calvinism and representative government is a cause and effect type of relationship. According to John Calvin, the church is a spiritual republic. It is very important to relate the sovereignty of God to the affairs of the government. This is because God is seen as a supreme ruler and has granted man that superiority to rule people.  It is important to consider the doctrines that people believe in and the principles that are adopted because they form a basis superstructure and where the government rests.

According to Calvinism, the application of God’s superiority to the representative government was of great importance. This is because God was referred to as a supreme ruler who was associated with sovereignty which was linked to man. Calvinism considered this principle regardless of a person’s age. This means that governments were not considered to be divinely ordained for a specific age group regardless of the republic, monarchy or even democracy. The type of government was not to be considered as an issue because they were expected to act as representatives of God and at the same time perform government duties according to the will and teachings of God. However, Calvinism had preference for the republican type of government.

Spiritual freedom acts as the main source of other relevant freedom hence it is expected to shape various political views that arise. Monsma is an individual who has expressed the Calvinistic ideas. According to Monsma, God has instituted governments through different people. Therefore, presidents are not supposed to be inherent of themselves no matter how much power and sovereignty that they have.  The Calvinist is expected to respect the laws and ordinances that have been put in place by the governments.  This is because they believe that God is behind the governments and before them hence breaking law is an act of disrespecting God.

 

Conclusion

Calvinism has a great impact in the church, the education sector and the entire society. However, it has contributed to emergence of difference in the church. People believe that Calvinism leads to a spirit that does not talk about Christ the savior. According to the review done, Calvinism has many statements that portray and proclaim that Calvinists are godly, smarter and even historic compared to other Christian groups. They also believe that everyone should be a Calvinist and if one is not, then it means that there is something wrong with that person. It is also evident that John Calvin did not love Baptists which raises many questions. According to John Calvin’s Institute of the Christian religion, he used to refer to the Baptists as ‘Anabaptists’. He also expected everyone to agree with what he said and could get angry and harsh if people objected what he was saying. This shows that Calvin was a dictator.

Calvinism has also led to the split of churches and fellowship of believers. This is because pastors are preaching Calvinism and have decided to go the Calvinism way an idea has been objected by Christians. For example, the southern Baptists split as a result of Calvinism because the pastor took some families and decided to go start another church somewhere. Currently, research shows that the church is moving on and practicing Calvinism because it is being led by a youth group referred to as the young fundamentalists who have adopted the religion.

According to the research done, it is evident that people have different objections perceptions and attitudes towards Calvinism especially in the modern day theology. This is because some of the Calvinism teachings contradict what Christians believe and what they are being taught in the modern world.  Therefore, individuals have an obligation of making their own personal decision regarding Calvinism because by the end of the day, they are the ones who are involved and affected by the practice. However, it is important for individuals to note that whatever they choose and do will be judged accordingly hence they should be keen and obey god’s law.

 

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