Historical Context

A good number of evangelical Christians are unaware that there was such a thing as the Protestant Reformation. While they may be aware that they are not Roman Catholic, a typical evangelical may be ignorant of what those differences are…you know, apart from the funny hats and the confessional. So to talk about Reformed theology or Calvinism without understanding where the words come from makes it a little difficult. So, here are some helpful links to set the historical stage for the conversation that will follow over the next few days.

General historical overview of the Protestant Reformation.

Theological overview of the Protestant Reformation.

On John Calvin.

On Martin Luther.

All of the above links are Wikipedia or Theopedia links. They are generally helpful (in this case quite adequately so), and thoughtfully neutral.

Looking forward to the discussion.


2 responses to “Historical Context

  1. I don’t want to trump your flow here for setting up the conversation. I’m sure this piece is covered in the Wickipedia/Theopedia links; but I just thought I’d shortcut. I found this very helpful in discerning what is meant when said ‘5 points of Calvinism’. This history helps belay the attitude that Calvin simply trumped up 5 points and we’re all following blindly. Just like study of Scripture, history and context are very important in understanding.

    I ‘borrowed’ this from DesiringGod.org

    “The controversy between Arminianism and Calvinism arose in Holland in the early 1600’s. The founder of the Arminian party was Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). He studied under the strict Calvinist Theodore Beza at Geneva and became a professor of theology at the University of Leyden in 1603.

    Gradually Arminius came to reject certain Calvinist teachings. The controversy spread all over Holland, where the Reformed Church was the overwhelming majority. The Arminians drew up their creed in Five Articles (written by Uytenbogaert), and laid them before the state authorities of Holland in 1610 under the name Remonstrance, signed by forty-six ministers. (These Five Articles can be read in Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, vol. 3, pp. 545-547.)

    The Calvinists responded with a Counter-Remonstrance. But the official Calvinistic response came from the Synod of Dort which was held to consider the Five Articles from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619. There were eighty-four members and eighteen secular commissioners. The Synod wrote what has come to be known as the Canons of Dort. These are still part of the church confession of the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. They state the Five Points of Calvinism in response to the Five Articles of the Arminian Remonstrants. (See Schaff, vol. 3, pp. 581-596).

    So the so-called Five Points were not chosen by the Calvinists as a summary of their teaching. They emerged as a response to the Arminians who chose these five points to oppose.”

    Here is my favorite quote thus far. It outlines the fact that so called ‘Calvinist’ aren’t mindless robots seeking to defend only on the merit that John Calvin said/taught it. We find these truths in Scripture.

    “We share the sentiments of Jonathan Edwards who said in the Preface to his great book on THE FREEDOM OF THE WILL, “I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every thing just as he taught.”

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