Calvinism Vs Lutheranism Essay

Lutheranism vs Calvinism

Broadly speaking, Calvinism can be thought of as virtually synonymous with reformed theology or ‘reformed Protestantism’, comprising of the entire body of doctrine that’s taught by the reformed churches and represented in different reformed confessions like the Belgic confession of faith (1561) and the Westminster confession of faith (1647).

The theology of Calvinism was developed and advanced by John Calvin and further advanced by his followers, becoming the foundation of the reformed church as well as Presbyterianism. Calvin’s successor was Theodore Beza, who is credited for spear heading the emphasis on Calvinism’s core doctrine of predestination which affirms that God extends grace and gives salvation only to the chosen. It emphasizes the Bible’s literal truth and takes the church as a Christian community headed by Christ with all members under him equal. It does not agree with the Episcopal form of church government in favor of an organization in which church officers are elected. Calvinism strongly influenced the Presbyterian Church in Scotland and was the basis for Puritanism as well as theocracies in Geneva. The ‘doctrines of grace’, commonly known by the acronym ‘TULIP’ basically summarize the doctrine of Calvinism. These are; total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints.

Lutheranism is another of the major protestant denominations, begun in the sixteenth century as a movement led by Martin Luther, who was a German Augustinian monk and theology professor at the University of Wittenberg in Saxony. Luther’s intent originally was to reform the western Christian church but because of being excommunicated by the Pope, Lutheranism started to develop in various national and territorial churches effectively leading to the disintegration of the organizational unity of western Christendom.

Lutheran theology stresses that salvation is independent of merit and worthiness, arguing that it is a gift of God’s sovereign grace. All human beings alike are sinners and the ‘original sin’ keeps them in bondage to the evil powers, rendering them unable to aid their liberation. Lutherans believe that the only way to respond to God’s saving initiative is through trust in Him (faith). Thus, the controversial slogan of Lutheranism became ‘salvation by faith alone’; with opponents arguing that the Christian responsibility of doing good works was not being done justice. Lutherans claimed in reply that good works follow from faith as faith must be active in love.

Summary:
1.  Calvinism was started by John Calvin (1509-1564) while Lutheranism was the brainchild of Martin Luther (1483-1546).
2. Calvinism salvation belief is that of predestination (chosen few) whereas Lutheranism believes any one can attain salvation through faith.
3. Calvinism stresses the absolute sovereignty of God whereas Lutheranism believes man has some control over certain aspects in his life.


Cite
Kivumbi. "Difference Between Lutheranism and Calvinism." DifferenceBetween.net. August 7, 2010 < http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-lutheranism-and-calvinism/ >.

"Reformed" and "Reformed church" redirect here. For other uses of Reformed, see Reform (disambiguation). For Reformed churches originating in continental Europe, see Continental Reformed church.

For the theology of John Calvin himself, see Theology of John Calvin.

Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin and other Reformation-eratheologians.

Calvinists broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Calvinists differ from Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, theories of worship, and the use of God's law for believers, among other things.[1][2] As declared in the Westminster and Second Helvetic confessions, the core doctrines are predestination and election. The protestant part of this reformation was considering that the Bible be interpreted by itself, meaning the parts that are harder to understand are examined in the light of other passages where the Bible is more explicit on the matter.[3][4] The term Calvinism can be misleading, because the religious tradition which it denotes has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder. The movement was first called Calvinism by Lutherans who opposed it referring to French reformer John Calvin, and many within the tradition would prefer to use the word Reformed.[5]

Early influential Reformed theologians include Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Martin Bucer, William Farel, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. In the twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Karl Barth, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Cornelius Van Til, and Gordon Clark were influential. Contemporary Reformed theologians include J. I. Packer, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Timothy J. Keller, John Piper, David Wells, and Michael Horton.

Reformed churches may exercise several forms of ecclesiastical polity; most are presbyterian or congregationalist, though some are episcopalian. Calvinism is largely represented by Continental Reformed, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist traditions. The biggest Reformed association is the World Communion of Reformed Churches with more than 80 million members in 211 member denominations around the world.[7][8] There are more conservative Reformed federations such as the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches, as well as independent churches.

Etymology[edit]

Calvinism is named after John Calvin. It was first used by a Lutheran theologian in 1552. It was a common practice of the Catholic Church to name what they perceived to be heresy after its founder. Nevertheless, the term first came out of Lutheran circles. Calvin denounced the designation himself:

They could attach us no greater insult than this word, Calvinism. It is not hard to guess where such a deadly hatred comes from that they hold against me.

— John Calvin, Leçons ou commentaires et expositions sur les Revelations du prophete Jeremie 1565[9]

Despite its negative connotation, this designation became increasingly popular in order to distinguish Calvinists from Lutherans and from newer Protestant branches that emerged later. Even though the vast majority of churches that trace back their history to Calvin (including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and a row of other Calvinist churches) do not use it themselves, since the designation "Reformed" is more generally accepted and preferred, especially in the English-speaking world. Moreover, these churches claim to be—in accordance with John Calvin's own words—"renewed accordingly with the true order of gospel".

Since the Arminian controversy, the Reformed tradition—as a branch of Protestantism distinguished from Lutheranism—divided into two separate groups, Arminians and Calvinists.[10][11] However, it is now rare to call Arminians a part of the Reformed tradition. While the Reformed theological tradition addresses all of the traditional topics of Christian theology, the word Calvinism is sometimes used to refer to particular Calvinist views on soteriology and predestination, which are summarized in part by the Five Points of Calvinism. Some have also argued that Calvinism as a whole stresses the sovereignty or rule of God in all things including salvation.

History[edit]

Main article: History of Calvinism

First-generation Reformed theologians include Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531), Martin Bucer (1491–1551), Wolfgang Capito (1478–1541), John Oecolampadius (1482–1531), and Guillaume Farel (1489–1565). These reformers came from diverse academic backgrounds, but later distinctions within Reformed theology can already be detected in their thought, especially the priority of scripture as a source of authority. Scripture was also viewed as a unified whole, which led to a covenantal theology of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper as visible signs of the covenant of grace. Another Reformed distinctive present in these theologians was their denial of the bodily presence of Christ in the Lord's supper. Each of these theologians also understood salvation to be by grace alone, and affirmed a doctrine of particular election (the teaching that some people are chosen by God for salvation). Martin Luther and his successor Philipp Melanchthon were undoubtedly significant influences on these theologians, and to a larger extent later Reformed theologians. The doctrine of justification by faith alone was a direct inheritance from Luther.

John Calvin (1509–64), Heinrich Bullinger (1504–75), Wolfgang Musculus (1497–1563), Peter Martyr Vermigli (1500–62), and Andreas Hyperius (1511–64) belong to the second generation of Reformed theologians. Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536–59) was one of the most influential theologies of the era. Toward the middle of the 16th century, the Reformed began to commit their beliefs to confessions of faith, which would shape the future definition of the Reformed faith. The 1549 Consensus Tigurinus brought together those who followed Zwingli and Bullinger's memorialist theology of the Lord's supper, which taught that the supper simply serves as a reminder of Christ's death, and Calvin's view that the supper serves as a means of grace with Christ actually present, though spiritually rather than bodily. The document demonstrates the diversity as well as unity in early Reformed theology. The remainder of the 16th century saw an explosion of confessional activity. The stability and breadth of Reformed theology during this period stand in marked contrast to the bitter controversy experienced by Lutherans prior to the 1579 Formula of Concord.

Due to Calvin's missionary work in France, his programme of reform eventually reached the French-speaking provinces of the Netherlands. Calvinism was adopted in the Electorate of the Palatinate under Frederick III, which led to the formulation of the Heidelberg Catechism in 1563, and in Navarre by Jeanne d'Albret. This and the Belgic Confession were adopted as confessional standards in the first synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1571. Leading divines, either Calvinist or those sympathetic to Calvinism, settled in England (Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr, and Jan Łaski) and Scotland (John Knox). During the English Civil War, the Calvinistic Puritans produced the Westminster Confession, which became the confessional standard for Presbyterians in the English-speaking world. Having established itself in Europe, the movement continued to spread to other parts of the world including North America, South Africa, and Korea.[15]

Calvin did not live to see the foundation of his work grow into an international movement; but his death allowed his ideas to break out of their city of origin, to succeed far beyond their borders, and to establish their own distinct character.[16]

Spread[edit]

Although much of Calvin's work was in Geneva, his publications spread his ideas of a correctly Reformed church to many parts of Europe. In Switzerland, some cantons are still Reformed and some are Catholic. Calvinism became the theological system of the majority in Scotland (see John Knox), the Netherlands (see William Ames, T. J. Frelinghuysen and Wilhelmus à Brakel), some communities in Flanders, and parts of Germany (especially these adjacent to the Netherlands) in the Palatinate, Kassel and Lippe with the likes of Olevianus and his colleague Zacharias Ursinus. In Hungary and the then-independent Transylvania, Calvinism was a significant religion. In the 16th century, the Reformation gained many supporters in Eastern Hungary and Hungarian-populated regions in Transylvania. In these parts, the Reformed nobles protected the faith. Almost all Transylvanian dukes were Reformed. Today there are about 3.5 million Hungarian Reformed people worldwide.[17] It was influential in France, Lithuania and Poland before being mostly erased due to the counter-reformational activities taken up by the monarch in each country. Calvinism gained some popularity in Scandinavia, especially Sweden, but was rejected in favor of Lutheranism after the Synod of Uppsala in 1593.[18]

Most settlers in the American Mid-Atlantic and New England were Calvinists, including the English Puritans, the French Huguenots and Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam (New York), and the Scotch-IrishPresbyterians of the Appalachian back country. Nonconforming Protestants, Puritans, Separatists, Independents, English religious groups coming out of the English Civil War, and other English dissenters not satisfied with the degree to which the Church of England had been reformed, held overwhelmingly Reformed views. They are often cited among the primary founders of the United States of America. Dutch Calvinist settlers were also the first successful European colonizers of South Africa, beginning in the 17th century, who became known as Boers or Afrikaners.

Sierra Leone was largely colonized by Calvinist settlers from Nova Scotia, who were largely Black Loyalists, blacks who had fought for the British during the American War of Independence. John Marrant had organized a congregation there under the auspices of the Huntingdon Connection. Some of the largest Calvinist communions were started by 19th and 20th century missionaries. Especially large are those in Indonesia, Korea and Nigeria. In South Korea there are 20,000 Presbyterian congregations with about 9–10 million church members, scattered in more than 100 Presbyterian denominations. In South Korea, Presbyterianism is the largest Christian denomination.[19]

A 2011 report of the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life estimated that members of Presbyterian or Reformed churches make up 7% of the estimated 801 million Protestants globally, or approximately 56 million people.[21] Though the broadly defined Reformed faith is much larger, as it constitutes Congregationalist (0.5%), most of the United and uniting churches (unions of different denominations) (7.2%) and most likely some of the other Protestant denominations (38.2%). All three are distinct categories from Presbyterian or Reformed (7%) in this report.

The Reformed family of churches is one of the largest Christian denominations. According to adherents.com the Reformed/Presbyterian/Congregational/United churches represent 75 million believers worldvide.[22]

The World Communion of Reformed Churches, which includes some United Churches (most of these are primarily Reformed; see Uniting and united churches for details), has 80 million believers.[23] WCRC is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.[22]

Many conservative Reformed churches which are strongly Calvinistic formed the World Reformed Fellowship which has about 70 member denominations. Most are not part of the World Communion of Reformed Churches because of its ecumenial attire. The International Conference of Reformed Churches is another conservative association.

Church of Tuvalu is the only officially established state church in the Calvinist tradition in the world.

Theology[edit]

Revelation and Scripture[edit]

See also: General revelation, Biblical inspiration, and Sola scriptura

Reformed theologians believe that God communicates knowledge of himself to people through the Word of God. People are not able to know anything about God except through this self-revelation. Speculation about anything which God has not revealed through his Word is not warranted. The knowledge people have of God is different from that which they have of anything else because God is infinite, and finite people are incapable of comprehending an infinite being. While the knowledge revealed by God to people is never incorrect, it is also never comprehensive.

According to Reformed theologians, God's self-revelation is always through his son Jesus Christ, because Christ is the only mediator between God and people. Revelation of God through Christ comes through two basic channels. The first is creation and providence, which is God's creating and continuing to work in the world. This action of God gives everyone knowledge about God, but this knowledge is only sufficient to make people culpable for their sin; it does not include knowledge of the gospel. The second channel through which God reveals himself is redemption, which is the gospel of salvation from condemnation which is punishment for sin.

In Reformed theology, the Word of God takes several forms. Jesus Christ himself is the Word Incarnate. The prophecies about him said to be found in the Old Testament and the ministry of the apostles who saw him and communicated his message are also the Word of God. Further, the preaching of ministers about God is the very Word of God because God is considered to be speaking through them. God also speaks through human writers in the Bible, which is composed of texts set apart by God for self-revelation. Reformed theologians emphasize the Bible as a uniquely important means by which God communicates with people. People gain knowledge of God from the Bible which cannot be gained in any other way.

Reformed theologians affirm that the Bible is true, but differences emerge among them over the meaning and extent of its truthfulness. Conservative followers of the Princeton theologians take the view that the Bible is true and inerrant, or incapable of error or falsehood, in every place. This view is very similar to that of Catholic orthodoxy as well as modern Evangelicalism. Another view, influenced by the teaching of Karl Barth and Neo-Orthodoxy, is found in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Confession of 1967. Those who take this view believe the Bible to be the primary source of our knowledge of God, but also that some parts of the Bible may be false, not witnesses to Christ, and not normative for today's church. In this view, Christ is the revelation of God, and the scriptures witness to this revelation rather than being the revelation itself. Dawn DeVries, a professor at Union Presbyterian Seminary, has written that Barth's doctrine of Scripture is not capable of resolving conflicts in contemporary churches, and proposed that Scripture not be thought of as the Word of God at all, but only human reports of the revealed Jesus Christ.

Covenant[edit]

See also: Covenant theology

Reformed theologians use the concept of covenant to describe the way God enters fellowship with people in history. The concept of covenant is so prominent in Reformed theology that Reformed theology as a whole is sometimes called "covenant theology". However, sixteenth and seventeenth-century theologians developed a particular theological system called "covenant theology" or "federal theology" which many conservative Reformed churches continue to affirm today. This framework orders God's life with people primarily in two covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant of works is made with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The terms of the covenant are that God provides a blessed life in the garden on condition that Adam and Eve obey God's law perfectly. Because Adam and Eve broke the covenant by eating the forbidden fruit, they became subject to death and were banished from the garden. This sin was passed down to all mankind because all people are said to be in Adam as a covenantal or "federal" head. Federal theologians usually infer that Adam and Eve would have gained immortality had they obeyed perfectly.

A second covenant, called the covenant of grace, is said to have been made immediately following Adam and Eve's sin. In it, God graciously offers salvation from death on condition of faith in God. This covenant is administered in different ways throughout the Old and New Testaments, but retains the substance of being free of a requirement of perfect obedience.

Through the influence of Karl Barth, many contemporary Reformed theologians have discarded the covenant of works, along with other concepts of federal theology. Barth saw the covenant of works as disconnected from Christ and the gospel, and rejected the idea that God works with people in this way. Instead, Barth argued that God always interacts with people under the covenant of grace, and that the covenant of grace is free of all conditions whatsoever. Barth's theology and that which follows him has been called "monocovenantal" as opposed to the "bi-covenantal" scheme of classical federal theology. Conservative contemporary Reformed theologians, such as John Murray, have also rejected the idea of covenants based on law rather than grace. Michael Horton, however, has defended the covenant of works as combining principles of law and love.

God[edit]

See also: God in Christianity and Trinity

For the most part, the Reformed tradition did not modify the medieval consensus on the doctrine of God. God's character is described primarily using three adjectives: eternal, infinite, and unchangeable. Reformed theologians such as Shirley Guthrie have proposed that rather than conceiving of God in terms of his attributes and freedom to do as he pleases, the doctrine of God is to be based on God's work in history and his freedom to live with and empower people.

Traditionally, Reformed theologians have also followed the medieval tradition going back to before the early church councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon on the doctrine of the Trinity. God is affirmed to be one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Son (Christ) is held to be eternally begotten by the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father and Son. However, contemporary theologians have been critical of aspects of Western views here as well. Drawing on the Eastern tradition, these Reformed theologians have proposed a "social trinitarianism" where the persons of the Trinity only exist in their life together as persons-in-relationship. Contemporary Reformed confessions such as the Barmen Confession and Brief Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have avoided language about the attributes of God and have emphasized his work of reconciliation and empowerment of people. Feminist theologian Letty Russell used the image of partnership for the persons of the Trinity. According to Russell, thinking this way encourages Christians to interact in terms of fellowship rather than reciprocity. Conservative Reformed theologian Michael Horton, however, has argued that social trinitarianism is untenable because it abandons the essential unity of God in favor of a community of separate beings.

Christ and atonement[edit]

See also: Christ, Hypostatic union, Extra calvinisticum, Substitutionary atonement, and Threefold office

Reformed theologians affirm the historic Christian belief that Christ is eternally one person with a divine and a human nature. Reformed Christians have especially emphasized that Christ truly became human so that people could be saved. Christ's human nature has been a point of contention between Reformed and Lutheran Christology. In accord with the belief that finite humans cannot comprehend infinite divinity, Reformed theologians hold that Christ's human body cannot be in multiple locations at the same time. Because Lutherans believe that Christ is bodily present in the Eucharist, they hold that Christ is bodily present in many locations simultaneously. For Reformed Christians, such a belief denies that Christ actually became human. Some contemporary Reformed theologians have moved away from the traditional language of one person in two natures, viewing it as unintelligible to contemporary people. Instead, theologians tend to emphasize Jesus' context and particularity as a first-century Jew.

John Calvin and many Reformed theologians who followed him describe Christ's work of redemption in terms of three offices: prophet, priest, and king. Christ is said to be a prophet in that he teaches perfect doctrine, a priest in that he intercedes to the Father on believers' behalf and offered himself as a sacrifice for sin, and a king in that he rules the church and fights on believers' behalf. The threefold office links the work of Christ to God's work in ancient Israel. Many, but not all, Reformed theologians continue to make use of the threefold office as a framework because of its emphasis on the connection of Christ's work to Israel. They have, however, often reinterpreted the meaning of each of the offices. For example, Karl Barth interpreted Christ's prophetic office in terms of political engagement on behalf of the poor.

Christians believe Jesus' death and resurrection makes it possible for believers to attain forgiveness for sin and reconciliation with God through the atonement. Reformed Protestants generally subscribe to a particular view of the atonement called substitutionary atonement, which explains Christ's death as a sacrificial payment for sin. Christ is believed to have died in place of the believer, who is accounted righteous as a result of this sacrificial payment. Contemporary Reformed theologians such as William Placher and Nancy Duff have criticized this view, claiming it makes God appear abusive or vindictive and sanctions violence by the strong against the weak.

Sin[edit]

See also: Christian views on sin and Total depravity

In Christian theology, people are created good and in the image of God but have become corrupted by sin, which causes them to be imperfect and overly self-interested. Reformed Christians, following the tradition of Augustine of Hippo, believe that this corruption of human nature was brought on by Adam and Eve's first sin, a doctrine called original sin. Reformed theologians emphasize that this sinfulness affects all of a person's nature, including their will. This view, that sin so dominates people that they are unable to avoid sin, has been called total depravity. In colloquial English, the term "total depravity" can be easily misunderstood to mean that people are absent of any goodness or unable to do any good. However the Reformed teaching is actually that while people continue to bear God's image and may do things that appear outwardly good, their sinful intentions affect all of their nature and actions so that they are not pleasing to God.[58]

Some contemporary theologians in the Reformed tradition, such as those associated with the PC(USA)'s Confession of 1967, have emphasized the social character of human sinfulness. These theologians have sought to bring attention to issues of environmental, economic, and political justice as areas of human life that have been affected by sin.

Salvation[edit]

See also: Sola fide, Justification (theology), and Sanctification

Reformed theologians, along with other Protestants, believe salvation from punishment for sin is to be given to all those who have faith in Christ. Faith is not purely intellectual, but involves trust in God's promise to save. Protestants do not hold there to be any other requirement for salvation, but that faith alone is sufficient.

Justification is the part of salvation where God pardons the sin of those who believe in Christ. It is historically held by Protestants to be the most important article of Christian faith, though more recently it is sometimes given less importance out of ecumenical concerns. People are not on their own able even to fully repent of their sin or prepare themselves to repent because of their sinfulness. Therefore, justification is held to arise solely from God's free and gracious act.

Sanctification is the part of salvation in which God makes the believer holy, by enabling them to exercise greater love for God and for other people. The good works accomplished by believers as they are sanctified are considered to be the necessary outworking of the believer's salvation, though they do not cause the believer to be saved. Sanctification, like justification, is by faith, because doing good works is simply living as the son of God one has become.

Predestination[edit]

Main article: Predestination in Calvinism

Calvinism has been known at times for its simple, unadorned churches and lifestyles, as depicted in this painting of the interior of the Oude kerk in Amsterdam by Emanuel de Witte c. 1661
This Dutch stained glass allegory shows Christ ascending the cross with Satan and several dead people on his back. Faith is personified as a woman to the right of a naked man on the ground asking Christ the way of salvation.

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