The Origins of Calvinism
by Joel Beeke
by Joel Beeke
The spread of Calvinism was unusual. In contrast to Catholicism, which had been maintained by civil and military force, and Lutheranism, which survived in becoming a religion of politics, Calvinism had, for the most part, only its consistent logic and its fidelity to the Scriptures. Within a generation it spread across Europe. 1 —Charles Miller
Calvinism is rooted in the sixteenth-century religious renewal in Europe that we refer to as the Protestant Reformation. 2 But this great movement was not an isolated phenomenon. It did not simply begin with Martin Luther’s (1483–1546) act of posting his Ninety-five Theses on the church doors of Wittenberg on Oct. 31, 1517, even though those theses were soon translated into numerous languages and distributed to the masses. In one sense, the Reformation originated in Luther’s so-called “tower experience,” which probably predated his theses by a few years. Through this experience, Luther came to grasp the definitive doctrine of the Reformation: justification by gracious faith alone. But in another sense, the Reformation flowed out of earlier attempts for renewal, the most notable of which were led by Peter Waldo (ca. 1140–ca. 1217) and his followers in the Alpine regions, 3 John Wycliffe (ca. 1324–1384) and the Lollards in England, 4 and John Hus (ca. 1372–1415) and his followers in Bohemia. 5 Lesser-known divines, such as Thomas Bradwardine (ca. 1300–1349) 6 and Gregory of Rimini (ca. 1300–1358), 7 came even closer to what would become known as Protestant theology. All these men are properly called forerunners of the Reformation rather than Reformers because, although they anticipated many of the emphases of the Reformation, they lacked a complete understanding of the critical doctrine of justification by gracious faith alone. 8
These forerunners of the Reformation were morally, doctrinally, and practically united in their opposition to medieval Roman Catholic abuses. This opposition is critical to note, since the Reformation began primarily as a reaction to the abuses of Roman Catholicism. Luther did not set out to destroy the Roman Catholic Church and to establish a new church. His initial intent was to purge the Roman Catholic Church of abuses.
Reformed theology thus cannot be fully understood apart from its reaction to problems in the church, such as:
• Papal abuses. The medieval papacy was rife with abuses in theology and practice. Immoral conduct was lived out and condoned even by the popes, and grace became a cheap, commercialized religion throughout the church via a complex system of vows, fasts, pilgrimages, masses, relics, recitations, rosaries, and other works. The papal imperative was “do penance” (as translated in the Vulgate) rather than “be penitent,” or “repent,” as Jesus commanded.
• Papal pretentiousness. Biblical and historical study by the Protestant forerunners led them to question papal claims to apostolic authority as head of the church. For example, the Reformers concluded that the rock on which the church was built (Matt. 16:18) was the content of Peter’s faith rather than Peter himself, which meant that the bishop of Rome possessed no more than a position of honor. Though the Protestants initially were willing to accept a Reformed papacy that would honorably serve the church, the cruel opposition of the popes to reform eventually persuaded many of them to regard the pope of Rome as Antichrist (cf. Westminster Confession of Faith, 25.6).
• Captivity of the Word. Protestants taught that the Roman Catholic Church held Scripture captive, withholding it from the laypeople and thus keeping them in bondage to church councils, bishops, schoolmen, canonists, and allegorists for interpretation. The Protestants worked hard to deliver the Bible from this hierarchical captivity. As Malcolm Watts writes:
The Church of Rome degraded the Holy Scriptures by alloying the purity of the Canon with her apocryphal additions, by supplementing the inspired records with an enormous mass of spurious traditions, by admitting only that interpretation which is according to “the unanimous consent of the Fathers” and “the Holy Mother Church,” and, particularly by diminishing the role of preaching as their “priests” busied themselves with miraculous stories about Mary, the saints and the images, and magnified the importance of the Mass, with its elaborate and multiplied ceremonies and rituals. It was thus that preaching deteriorated and, in fact, almost disappeared. The Reformers vigorously protested against this and contended with all their might for the recovery of God’s Holy Word. 9• Elevation of monasticism. Protestants opposed the Roman Catholic concept of the superiority of the so-called religious life. They did not believe that monasticism was the only way to spirituality or even the best way. By stressing the priesthood of all believers, they worked hard to eliminate the Roman Catholic distinction between the “inferior” life of the Christian involved in a secular calling and the “higher” religious world of monks and nuns.
• Usurped mediation. Protestants also rejected the Roman Catholic ideas of mediation by Mary and the intercession of saints, as well as the automatic transfusion of grace in the sacraments. They opposed all forms of mediation with God except through Christ. They reduced the sacraments to two, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, thereby stripping priests and the church of mediating power and the sacramental dispensation of salvation.
• The role of good works. Protestants rejected the ideas of Semi-Pelagianism, which says that both grace and works are necessary for salvation. This theological difference was at the heart of Protestant opposition to Roman Catholicism, though it was largely through moral and practical corruption that the issue came to the fore.
The Protestant response to Roman Catholic abuses gradually settled into five Reformation watchwords or battle cries, centered on the Latin word solus, meaning “alone.” These battle cries, expounded in chapter 10, served to contrast Protestant teaching with Roman Catholic tenets as follows:
|Scripture alone (sola Scriptura)||Scripture and tradition|
|Faith alone (sola fide)||Faith and works|
|Grace alone (sola gratia)||Grace and merit|
|Christ alone (solus Christus)||Christ, Mary, and intercession of saints|
|Glory to God alone (soli Deo gloria)||God, saints, and church hierarchy|
The first of these battle cries deals with the fundamental issue of authority, the middle three deal with the basics of salvation, and the final one addresses worship.
In early Protestantism, both Lutheran and Reformed believers embraced these five watchwords. Regrettably, Luther and Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531), the early leader of the Swiss Reformation, parted ways in October 1529 during the infamous Marburg Colloquy, when they could not reach agreement on the nature of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper. 10 From that time on, Protestantism divided into two traditions, Lutheranism and Calvinism—the latter being the Reformed tradition as understood and expressed in the writings of John Calvin and his fellow Reformers.
The Spread of the Reformed (Calvinistic) Faith
The Reformed tradition has its earliest roots in Switzerland with Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575), who established and systematized it after Zwingli’s death. 11 Calvin (1509–1564), its greatest representative and most influential exponent, established Geneva as a model Reformed city. 12 In many respects, Geneva was the most important Protestant center in the sixteenth century. This was not only because of the presence of Calvin, but also because the seminary Calvin established sought to train and educate Reformers for all of Western Europe. Amazingly—somewhat to the chagrin of some of the Genevan populace—the town became the Protestant print capital of Europe, with more than thirty houses publishing literature in various languages. Because of Zwingli’s premature death on the battlefield, the fact that Bullinger’s works 13 were not as easily accessible by the later Calvinist tradition, and Calvin’s able work in systematizing Reformed Protestantism through his Institutes of the Christian Religion, commentaries, sermons, and leadership, the terms Reformed and Calvinism became virtually synonymous. Calvin himself preferred Reformed because he was opposed to having the movement called by his name.
The Reformed movement then spread to Germany. The city of Heidelberg, where the Heidelberg Catechism originated, became an influential center of Reformed thinking. Nonetheless, much of Germany remained staunchly Lutheran. A minority of Lutherans in Germany were affected by Calvin’s thinking, most notably Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560), a close associate of Luther who was unkindly referred to by his peers as a crypto-Calvinist. 14 Eventually, a number of Melanchthon’s followers, estranged from the Lutherans after Luther’s death, joined the Reformed Church in Germany. 15
Calvinism also took hold in Hungary, 16 Poland , and the Low Countries, particularly the Netherlands, where it penetrated the southern regions about 1545 and the northern about 1560. 17 From the start, the Calvinist movement in the Netherlands was more influential than its number of adherents might suggest. But Dutch Calvinism did not flower profusely until the seventeenth century, cultivated by the famous international Synod of Dort in 1618–1619 and fortified by the Dutch Further Reformation (De Nadere Reformatie), a primarily seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century movement paralleling English Puritanism. 18 The Dutch Further Reformation dates from such early representatives as Jean Taffin (1528–1602) and Willem Teellinck (1579–1629), and extends to Alexander Comrie (1706–1774). 19
The Reformed movement also made substantial inroads into France. 20 By the time Calvin died in 1564, 20 percent of the French population—some two million people—confessed the Reformed faith. In fact, this 20 percent included half of the aristocracy and middle class in France. For a while, it seemed that France might officially embrace the Reformed faith. But Roman Catholic persecution and civil war halted the spread of Reformed teaching. In some ways, the French Reformed movement has never recovered from this blow of persecution and attack in the sixteenth century. On the other hand, God brought good out of evil—the Reformed believers who fled France, known as the Huguenots, injected fresh spiritual vitality and zeal into the Reformed movement everywhere they settled. 21
The Reformation spread rapidly to Scotland, largely under the leadership of John Knox (1513–1572), who served nineteen months as a galley slave before he went to England and then to Geneva. Knox brought the Reformation’s principles from Geneva to Scotland and became its most notable spokesman there. 22 In 1560, the Scottish Parliament rejected papal authority, and the following year, the Scottish Reformed “Kirk,” or church, was reorganized. In ensuing generations, many Scots became stalwart Calvinists, as did many of the Irish and the Welsh.
In England, Henry VIII (1491–1547) rebelled against papal rule so that he could legally divorce, remarry, and hopefully produce a male heir. He tolerated a mild reformation but established himself as the Church of England’s supreme head, even as he remained essentially Roman Catholic in his theology. 23 During the short reign of his young son Edward VI (1547–1553), who, together with his council, had a great heart for true reformation, some gains were made, especially by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) through his book Homilies, his Book of Common Prayer, and his Forty-Two Articles of Religion. All of this seemed to be reversed during the bloody reign of Mary Tudor (1553–1558), who reinstated the Latin Mass and enforced papal allegiance at the cost of nearly three hundred Protestant lives. But the blood of those martyrs, including Cranmer, was to be the seed of the Protestant cause in England.
When Mary’s half-sister Elizabeth (1533–1603) succeeded her, many Protestants harbored fervent hopes that the reforms begun under Edward VI would grow exponentially. Elizabeth, however, was content with the climate of British Protestantism and strove to subdue dissident voices. Those who fought too much for reform in matters of worship, godliness, politics, and culture were persecuted and deprived of their livings. Elizabeth’s cautious, moderate type of reform disappointed many and eventually gave rise to a more thorough and robust Calvinism that was derogatorily called Puritanism.
Puritanism lasted from the 1560s to the early 1700s. The Puritans believed the Church of England had not gone far enough in its reformation, because its worship and government did not agree fully with the pattern found in Scripture. They called for the pure preaching of God’s Word; for purity of worship as God commands in Scripture; and for purity of church government, replacing the rule of bishops with Presbyterianism. Above all, they called for greater purity or holiness of life among Christians. As J. I. Packer has said, “Puritanism was an evangelical holiness movement seeking to implement its vision of spiritual renewal, national and personal, in the church, the state, and the home; in education, evangelism, and economics; in individual discipleship and devotion, and in pastoral care and competence.” 24 Doctrinally, Puritanism was a kind of vigorous Calvinism; experientially, it was warm and contagious; evangelistically, it was aggressive, yet tender; ecclesiastically, it was theocentric and worshipful; and politically, it sought to make the relations between king, Parliament, and subjects scriptural, balanced, and bound by conscience. 25
Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Congregationalists were all part of the Calvinist movement. Some Puritans seceded from the Church of England during the reign of King James I (1603–1625). They became known as separatists or dissenters and usually formed Congregationalist churches. Puritan conformists remained within the Anglican fold.
Eventually, Calvinism crossed the Atlantic to the British colonies in North America, where the New England Puritans took the lead in expounding Reformed theology and in founding ecclesiastical, educational, and political institutions. 26 The Puritans who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony continued to sanction the Church of England to some degree, whereas the Pilgrims who sailed to America in the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth (1620) were separatists. 27 Despite these differences, all Puritans were zealous Calvinists. As John Gerstner observes, “ New England, from the founding of Plymouth in 1620 to the end of the 18th century, was predominantly Calvinistic.” 28
Four more streams of immigrants brought Calvinism to America. Dutch Reformed believers, from the 1620s, were responsible for the settlement of New Netherlands, later called New York. The French Huguenots arrived by the thousands in New York, Virginia, and the Carolinas in the late seventeenth century. From 1690 to 1777, more than two hundred thousand Germans, many of whom were Reformed, settled mostly in the Middle Colonies. The final stream was the Scots and the Scotch-Irish, all Presbyterians. Some settled in New England, but many more poured into New York, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas. “As a consequence of this extensive immigration and internal growth it is estimated that of the total population of three million in this country in 1776, two-thirds of them were at least nominally Calvinistic,” John Bratt concludes. “At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the largest denominations were, in order: Congregationalists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, German Reformed, and Dutch Reformed. Roman Catholicism was tenth and Methodism was twelfth in size.” 29
With the exception of the migrations to America, all of this spreading of the Reformed faith happened by the end of the sixteenth century. 30 The most extensive and enduring strongholds of the Reformed movement became the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Great Britain, and North America.
It is noteworthy that all of these Reformed bodies shared the conviction that Christianity in many parts of Europe prior to the Reformation was little more than a veneer. As these Reformed believers surveyed Europe, they saw what they could regard only as large swaths of paganism. The planting of solidly biblical churches was desperately needed. This explains in large measure the Reformers’ missionary focus on Europe.
In time, the Reformed movement developed into two very similar systems of theology: the Continental Reformed, represented primarily in the Netherlands by its Three Forms of Unity—the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort; and British-American Presbyterianism, expressed in the Westminster standards—the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. 31 These two systems were not opposed to or entirely separate from each other, however. For example, British Puritans profoundly influenced the Dutch Further Reformation in the seventeenth century. Likewise, the Italian-Swiss Francis Turretin (1623–1687) profoundly affected American Presbyterianism. 32 Turretin’s systematic theology was taught at Princeton Seminary until the 1870s, when it was replaced by that of Charles Hodge.
Calvinism and the Lutherans
Both systems of Reformed theology parted ways with Lutheranism. By the end of the sixteenth century, Calvinism differed from Lutheranism in the following areas:
• Approach to the Lord’s Supper . Lutherans maintained the doctrine of consubstantiation, which holds that Christ is physically present in, with, and under the elements in the Lord’s Supper. They resisted any attempt to explain Jesus’ statement “this is my body” as a metaphor, saying that such efforts opened the door to allegorizing away the gospel itself. Furthermore, they said, if all that is offered in Communion is a spiritual Christ, the sacrament presents a truncated gospel that offers no comfort to believers whose bodies eventually will die. Lutherans would be satisfied only with a concrete, historical Christ.
The Reformed leaders said that the incarnate, historical Christ is now risen and ascended, and therefore is not present in the Supper in the way He was prior to His ascension. Furthermore, the concept of Christ’s spiritual presence does not mean something less than complete; rather, it refers to His ongoing work through His Spirit. The Reformed believed they were affirming all that the Lutherans wanted to protect, but in a clearer, more biblical manner.
• The primary function of the law . Luther generally regarded the law as something negative and closely allied with sin, death, or the Devil. He believed that the dominant function of the law is to abase the sinner by convicting him of sin and driving him to Christ for deliverance. Calvin regarded the law more as a guide for the believer, a tool to encourage him to cling to God and to obey Him more fervently. The believer must try to follow God’s law not as an act of compulsory duty, but as a response of grateful obedience. With the help of the Spirit, the law provides a way for a believer to express his gratitude.
• Approach to salvation. Both Lutherans and Calvinists answered the question “What must I do to be saved?” by saying that Spirit-worked repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His substitutionary work of atonement are necessary. But Lutherans had a tendency to remain focused on the doctrine of justification, whereas Calvinists, without minimizing justification, pressed more than Lutherans toward sanctification, which asks, “Having been justified by God’s grace, how shall I live to the glory of God?” Calvinism thus became more comprehensive than Lutheranism in explaining how salvation works itself out in the life of a believer.
• Understanding of predestination . In the late sixteenth century, most Lutherans moved away from Luther and the Calvinists, who asserted the predestination of both the elect and the reprobate rather than the predestination of the elect only. Reformed theologians believed this shift in thinking was at odds with the content of Romans 9 and similar passages, as well as with the comprehensive sovereignty of God.
The Calvinists were convinced that election is sovereign and gracious, and that reprobation is sovereign and just. No one who enters heaven deserves to be there; no one who enters hell deserves anything different. As Calvin said, “The praise of salvation is claimed for God, whereas the blame of perdition is thrown upon those who of their own accord bring it upon themselves.” 33
• Understanding of worship . Luther’s reform was more moderate than Calvin’s, retaining more medieval liturgy. Following their leaders, the Lutherans and Calvinists differed in their views of how Scripture regulates worship. The Lutherans taught that we may include in worship what is not forbidden in Scripture; the Calvinists maintained that we may not include in worship what the New Testament does not command.
Calvinism has stood the test of time. Most Protestant denominations that originated in the Reformation were founded on Calvinistic confessions of faith, such as the Thirty-nine Articles (Anglicanism), the Canons of Dort (Reformed), the Westminster Standards (Presbyterianism), the Savoy Declaration (Congregationalism), and the Baptist Confession of 1689 (Baptist). All of these confessions essentially agree, with the major point of disagreement being the doctrine of infant baptism.
Reformation theology prevailed, for the most part, in Protestant evangelicalism for many decades, but was diluted in the nineteenth century because of several influences, such as the Enlightenment in Europe and Finneyism in America. By the mid-twentieth century, Calvinistic theology had declined dramatically in the Western world, having been assaulted by nineteenth-century liberal theology and revived Arminianism.
About two centuries ago, William Ellery Channing, the father of American Unitarianism, wrote: “Calvinism, we are persuaded, is giving place to better views. It has passed its meridian, and is sinking to rise no more. It has to contend with foes more powerful than theologians; with foes from whom it cannot shield itself in mystery and metaphysical subtleties—we mean the progress of the human mind, and the progress of the spirit of the gospel. Society is going forward in intelligence and charity, and of course is leaving the theology of the sixteenth century behind it.” 34
Channing was a false prophet. Today, even though the world in general is becoming more anti-God and wicked than ever, Calvinism is being revived, although, sadly, it is still a minority position. A fresh hunger for Calvinism’s biblical doctrine and spirituality is causing the roots of Reformed theology to spread throughout the entire world. In recent decades, a significant number of Calvinistic churches and denominations have been birthed around the world. Today, Reformed churches exist in the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom, North America, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, China, the Philippines, Russia, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Israel, and various additional African and Asian countries. Also, since the 1960s, there has been a resurgence of interest in Calvinistic literature. Calvinistic conferences are being offered in numerous countries; in many of these nations, the number of Calvinists is steadily growing in our new millennium.
Calvinism has a bright future, for it offers much to people who seek to believe and practice the whole counsel of God. Calvinism aims to do so with both clearheaded faith and warm-hearted spirituality, which, when conjoined, produce vibrant living in the home, the church, and the marketplace to the glory of God. It confesses with Paul, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever” (Rom. 11:36). That, after all, is what Scripture, Calvinism, and life itself are all about.
D i s c u s s i o n Q u e s t i o n s
1. What are the historical roots of Calvinism?
2. What are the main geographical areas where Calvinism spread in the first two centuries after the Reformation?
3. H ow does Calvinism differ from Lutheranism?
Chapter One from Living for God's Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel Beeke. Posted with Permission.
1 Charles Miller, “The Spread of Calvinism in Switzerland, Germany, and France,” in The Rise and Development of Calvinism, ed. John H. Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 27.
2 For Reformation history, see Owen Chadwick, The Reformation (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1972); Hans J. Hillerbrand, The Reformation: A narrative history related by contemporary observers and participants (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978) and The Protestant Reformation (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007); Bernard M. G. Reardon, Religious Thought in the Reformation (London: Longman Group, 1981); Lewis William Spitz, The Protestant Reformation, 1517–1559 (New York: Harper & Row, 1985); Andrew Pettegree, The Early Reformation in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) and The Reformation World (London: Routledge, 2000); Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996) and The European Reformations Sourcebook (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000); Diarmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490–1700 (London: Penguin, 2003); Heiko Oberman and Donald Weinstein, The Two Reformations: The Journey from the Last Days to the New World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); and Patrick Collinson, The Reformation: A History (New York: Modern Library, 2004).
For Reformation theology, see Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1988); Carter Lindberg, The Reformation Theologians: An Introduction to Theology in the Early Modern Period ( Oxford: Blackwell, 2002); and David V. N. Bagchi and David Curtis Steinmetz, The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). For helpful encyclopedias on the Reformation, see Hans Joachim Hillerbrand, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 4 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), and The Encylopedia of Protestantism, 4 vols. (New York: Routledge, 2004).
For bibliography and research on the Reformation, see Roland H. Bainton and Eric Gritsch, Bibliography of the Continental Reformation, 2 nd ed. (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1972); Steven E. Ozment, Reformation Europe: A Guide to Research (St. Louis: Center for Reformation Research, 1982); William S. Maltby, Reformation Europe: A Guide to Research II (St. Louis: Center for Reformation Research, 1992) and David M. Whitford, ed., Reformation and Early Modern Europe; a guide to research(Kirksville, Mo.: Truman State University Press, 2008).
For Reformation historiography, see Lewis Spitz, ed., The Reformation: Basic Interpretations (Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1972).
3 For studies on Waldo and the Waldensians, see Gabriel Audisio, The Waldensian Dissent: Persecution and Survival, ca. 1170–ca. 1570 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Peter Biller, The Waldenses, 1170–1530: Between a Religious Order and a Church (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2001); Euan Cameron, Waldenses: Rejections of Holy Church in Medieval Europe (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000); Giorgio Tourn, et al., You Are My Witnesses: The Waldensians Across 800 Years (Torino: Claudiana, 1989); J. N. Worsfold and B. Tron, Peter Waldo, The Reformer of Lyons: His Life and Labours (London: John F. Shaw, 1880); and J. A. Wylie, The Story of the Waldenses(Altamont, Tenn.: Pilgrim Books, 1995).
4 For books on Wycliffe and the Lollards, see Ellen W. Caughey, John Wycliffe: Herald of the Reformation ( Ulrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing, 2001); G. R. Evans,John Wyclif: Myth & Reality ( Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2005); Anthony John Patrick Kenny, Wyclif in His Times (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986); Ian Christopher Levy, A Companion to John Wyclif: Late Medieval Theologian (Leiden: Brill, 2006); G. H. W. Parker, The Morning Star: Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966); and Fiona Somerset, Jill C. Havens, and Derrick G. Pitard, Lollards and Their Influence in Late Medieval England(Woodbridge, U.K.: Boydell Press, 2003).
5 For books on Hus and the Hussites, see Poggio Bracciolini, The Trial and Burning of John Huss: An Eye- Witness Account (Toronto: Wittenburg Publications, 1991); E. H. Gillett, The Life and Times of John Huss: Or, The Bohemian Reformation of the Fifteenth Century (New York: AMS Press, 1978); The Letters of John Hus (Manchester: University Press, 1972); Matthew Spinka, John Hus, a Biography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979); and Jarold Knox Zeman, The Hussite Movement and the Reformation in Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia (1350–1650): A Bibliographical Study Guide (with Particular Reference to Resources in North America) (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Michigan Slavic Publications, 1977).
6 See Heiko A. Oberman, “Archbishop Thomas Bradwardine: A Fourteenth-Century Augustinian” (Ph.D. dissertation, Utrecht, 1957), and Gordon Leff, Bradwardine and the Pelagians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957).
7 See Gordon Leff, Gregory of Rimini(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1961).
8 For a good study of those who were forerunners of the Reformation together with some of their writings, see Heiko A. Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation: The Shape of Late Medieval Thought Illustrated by Key Documents, trans. Paul L. Nyhus (New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1966).
9 Malcolm Watts, “What is a Reformed Church?” Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 16, no. 3 (March 2008): 73.
10 For Luther, see the classic studies by Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand. A Life of Martin Luther (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1950); James M. Kittelson, Luther the Reformer (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986); and Heiko A. Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil, trans. Eileen Walliser-Schwarzbart (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). For a succinct study, see W. Robert Godfrey, “Martin Luther: German Reformer,” in John D. Woodbridge, ed., Great Leaders of the Christian Church (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 187–196.
11 For Zwingli, see Jaques Courvoisier, Zwingli: A Reformed Theologian (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1963); Gottfried Locher, Zwingli’s Thought: New Perspectives(Leiden: Brill, 1981); G. R. Potter, ed., Huldrych Zwingli (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978); Robert C. Walton, “Zwingli: Founding Father of the Reformed Churches,” inLeaders of the Reformation, ed. Richard L. DeMolen (Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press, 1984), 69–98; and W. P. Stephens, The Theology of Huldrych Zwingli(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986) and Zwingli: An Introduction to His Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).
On Bullinger, see especially Cornelis P. Venema, Heinrich Bullinger and the Doctrine of Predestination: Author of “the Other Reformed Tradition”? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002). Venema’s work is a response to J. Wayne Baker, Heinrich Bullinger and the Covenant: The Other Reformed Tradition (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1980), and Charles S. McCoy and J. Wayne Baker, Fountainhead of Federalism: Heinrich Bullinger and the Covenantal Tradition (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991). The work by McCoy and Baker contains their translation of Bullinger’s A Brief Exposition of the One and Eternal Testament or Covenant of God (1534).
12 For Calvin’s life and ministry, see especially François Wendel, Calvin (New York: Harper & Row, 1963); T. H. L. Parker, Portrait of Calvin ( London: SCM Press. 1954, and John Calvin: A Biography ( Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975); Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin, Geneva and the Reformation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988); Timothy George, ed., John Calvin and the Church. A Prism of Reform (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990); and Alister E. McGrath, A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990).
For an annotated bibliographical guide to Calvin’s vast corpus and material on his life and theology printed prior to 1964, see Lester de Koster, “Living Themes in the Thought of John Calvin: A Bibliographical Study” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1964). For a bibliography on Calvin and Calvinism since the 1960s, see Peter De Klerk and Paul Field’s annual articles in the Calvin Theological Journal. See also D. Kempff, A Bibliography of Calvinism, 1959–1974 ( Potchefstroom, South Africa: I. A. C., 1975), and Michael Bihary, ed., Bibliographia Calviniana ( Prague: n.p., 2000). The best list of Calvin and Calvinism resources is available from the database of the Henry Meeter Center, Calvin College Library, Grand Rapids, Mich. I wish to thank the staff there for supplying me with a list of 662 books and 6,081 articles on Calvinism, and for their competent and friendly assistance.
13 Only in recent years has Bullinger’s work been recognized as nearly equal in influence to that of Calvin in their own day. See especially Pamela Biel, Doorkeepers at the House of Righteousness: Heinrich Bullinger and the Zurich Clergy, 1535–1575 (Bern: Peter Lang, 1991); Thomas Harding, ed., The Decades of Henry Bullinger, 4 vols. in 2, intro. George Ella and Joel R. Beeke ( Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2004); Bruce Gordon and Emidio Campi, ed., Architect of Reformation: An Introduction to Heinrich Bullinger, 1504–1575 ( Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004); and George Ella, Henry Bullinger ( Eggleston, England: Go Publications, 2007).
14 See Michael Rogness, Philip Melanchthon: Reformer Without Honor (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1969), and Karin Maag, ed., Melanchthon in Europe: His Work and Influence Beyond Wittenberg(Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster, 1999).
15 For a summary of the Reformed church in Germany, see R. W. Scribner, The German Reformation (London: Macmillan, 1986), nd James N. Hardin and Max Reinhart,German Writers of the Renaissance and Reformation, 1280–1580 (Detroit: Gale Research, 1997).
16 See Laszló Ravasz et al., Hungarian Protestantism (Budapest: Sylvester Nyomda, 1927); Imre Révész, History of the Hungarian Reformed Church, ed. G. N. Knight (Washington: Hungarian Reformed Federation, 1956); Gyula Combos, The Lean Years: A Study of Hungarian Calvinism in Crisis (New York: Kossuth Foundation, 1960); Alexander Sándor Unghváry, The Hungarian Protestant Reformation in the Sixteenth Century (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990); and Graeme Murdock, Calvinism on the Frontier 1600–1660: International Calvinism and the Reformed Church in Hungary and Transylvania (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000).
17 For a summary of the Reformed church in the Netherlands, see Maurice G. Hansen, The Reformed Church in the Netherlands (New York: Board of Publication of the RCA, 1884); Jerry D. van der Veen, “Adoption of Calvinism in the Reformed Church in the Netherlands” (B.S.T. thesis, Biblical Seminary in New York, 1951); Walter Lagerway, “The History of Calvinism in the Netherlands,” in The Rise and Development of Calvinism, ed. John Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959); W. Robert Godfrey, “Calvin and Calvinism in the Netherlands,” in John Calvin: His Influence in the Western World, ed. W. Stanford Reid (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 95–120; J. P. Elliott, “Protestantization in the Northern Netherlands: A Case Study— The Classis of Dordrecht, 1572–1640,” 2 vols. (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1990); and A. C. Duke, Reformation and Revolt in the Low Countries (London: Hambledon, 2003).
18 For English secondary sources on the Dutch Further Reformation, see F. Ernest Stoeffler, The Rise of Evangelical Pietism (Leiden: Brill, 1973); Cornelius Pronk, “The Dutch Puritans,” The Banner of Truth, nos. 154–155 (July–Aug. 1976): 1–10; Martin H. Prozesky, “The Emergence of Dutch Pietism,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History, no. 28 (1977): 29–37; Jonathan Neil Gerstner, The Thousand Generation Covenant: Dutch Reformed Covenant Theology and Group Identity in Colonial South Africa, 1652–1814 (Leiden: Brill, 1991); Fred Van Lieburg, “From Pure Church to Pious Culture: The Further Reformation in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch epublic,” n Later Calvinism: International Perspectives, ed. W. Fred Graham (Kirksville, Mo.: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1994), 09–430; Arie de Reuver, Sweet Communion: Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middle Ages through the Further Reformation, trans. James A. de Jong (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007); and Joel R. Beeke, “Insights for the Church from the Dutch Second Reformation,” Calvin Theological Journal, 28, no. 2 (Nov. 1993): 420–424, and “Gisbertus Voetius: Toward a Reformed Marriage of Knowledge and Piety,” in Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment, ed. Carl Trueman and R. Scott Clark (Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster, 1998), and “Appendix: The Dutch Second Reformation,” in The Quest for Full Assurance: The Legacy of Calvin and His Successors (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999), 286–309, and “Assurance of Faith: A Comparison of English Puritanism and the Nadere Reformatie,” in Puritan Reformed Spirituality (Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2006), 288– 308, and with Randall Pederson, Meet the Puritans (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 739–823, and “Evangelicalism in the Dutch Further Reformation,” in The Emergence of Evangelicalism: Exploring Historical Continuities, ed. Michael A. G. Haykin and Kenneth J. Stewart (Nottingham, U.K.: Apollos, 2008), 146-168.
19 See Jean Taffin, The Marks of God’s Children, trans. Peter Y. de Jong, ed. James A. de Jong (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003); Willem Teellinck, The Path of True Godliness, trans. Annemie Godbehere, ed. Joel R. Beeke (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007); and Alexander Comrie, The ABC of Faith, trans. J. Marcus Banfield (Ossett, West Yorkshire: Zoar Publications, 1978).
20 For the spread of Calvinism in France, see especially Jean-Marc Berthoud, “John Calvin and the Spread of the Gospel in France,” in Fulfilling the Great Commission(London: The Westminster Conference, 1992), 1–53; W. Stanford Reid, “Calvin’s Geneva: A Missionary Centre,” The Reformed Theological Review, 42, no. 3 (Sept.–Dec. 1983): 65–74; and Mack P. Holt, Renaissance and Reformation France, 1500–1648 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
21 See Philip Conner, Huguenot Heartland: Montauban and Southern French Calvinism during the Wars of Religion ( Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2002).
22 For the writings of Knox, see David Laing, ed., The Works of John Knox, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: J. Thin, 1895). For Knox’s life and ministry, see Thomas M’Crie, The Life of John Knox (Philadelphia: Wm. S. Young, 1842); W. Stanford Reid, Trumpeter of God: A Biography of John Knox (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974); Richard L. Greaves, Theology and Revolution in the Scottish Reformation: Studies in the Thought of John Knox (Grand Rapids: Christian University Press, 1980); Richard G. Kyle, The Ministry of John Knox: Pastor, Preacher, and Prophet (Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 2002); Roger Mason, John Knox and the British Reformations (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 1998); and Douglas Wilson, For Kirk & Covenant: The Stalwart Courage of John Knox (Nashville: Cumberland House, 2000).
23 For a history of the Reformation in England, see W. H. Beckett, The English Reformation of the Sixteenth Century: With Chapters on Monastic England and the Wycliffite Reformation (London: Religious Tract Society, 1890); Charles Davis Cremeans, The Reception of Calvinistic Thought in England (Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1949); Gordon Crosse, A Short History of the English Reformation (New York: Morehouse Gorham Co., 1950); Merle d’Aubigné, The Reformation in England, 2 vols. (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1962); and Rosemary O’Day, The Debate on the English Reformation (London: Methuen, 1986).
24 J. I. Packer, An Anglican to Remember—William Perkins: Puritan Popularizer (London: St. Antholin’s, 1996), 1–2.
25 For sources that will introduce you to the Puritans, their Calvinistic theology, and their lifestyle, see Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1987); J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1990); Leland Ryken,Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990); Benjamin Brook, The Lives of the Puritans, 3 vols. (Morgan, Pa.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994); Ralph Martin, A Guide to the Puritans (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1997); Peter Lewis, The Genius of Puritanism (Morgan, Pa.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997); Erroll Hulse, Who are the Puritans? And what do they teach? ( Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2000); Kelly M. Kapic and Randall C. Gleason, eds., The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics ( Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004); Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans, with a Guide to Modern Reprints (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006); Francis J. Bremer and Tom Webster, eds., Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia, 2 vols. ( Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC CIIO, 2006); and Charles Pastoor and Galen K. Johnson, Historical Dictionary of the Puritans (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2007).
26 For New England Puritanism, see Andrew Delbanco, The Puritan Ordeal (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989); David Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989); Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, The Practice of Piety: Puritan Devotional Disciplines in Seventeenth-Century New England (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1982); Perry Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1939) and The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953); Darrett Rutman, American Puritanism: Faith and Practice (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970); Alden T. Vaughan and Francis J. Bremer, eds., Puritan New England: Essays on Religion, Society, and Culture (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1977); and Larzer Ziff, Puritanism In America: New Culture In A New World (New York: Viking Press, 1973).
27 See William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620–1647, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison, 2 vols. (New York: Russell and Russell, 1968), and George F. Willison, Saints and Strangers (Reynal and Hitchcock, 1945).
28 John Gerstner, “American Calvinism until the Twentieth Century,” in American Calvinism, ed. Jacob T. Hoogstra (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 16.
29 John H. Bratt, The Rise and Development of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 114–122.
30 For the advance of Calvinism during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, see John T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954), 235–350; W. Stanford Reid, ed., John Calvin: His Influence in the Western World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982); Menna Prestwich, ed.,International Calvinism 1541–1715 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985); and Alastair Duke, Gillian Lewis, and Andrew Pettegree, trans. and eds., Calvinism in Europe, 1540–1620: A collection of documents (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). See also Richard Gamble, ed., Articles on Calvin and Calvinism, 14 vols. (New York: Garland, 1992).
31 For a brief historical summary of these confessions, see the next chapter.
32 For his systematic theology in English, see Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., 3 vols. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 1992–1997).
33 Cf. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (hereafter, Inst.), ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 3.24.7–11.
34 Quoted in Bratt, The Rise and Development of Calvinism, 134–135.