Monday, January 18, 2010

8. Calvinism Beyond Europe and Today

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.

Map1: Spread of Protestantism in 16th Century
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. Channing was probably not right. Today, even though the world in general is becoming more anti-God and wicked than ever, Calvinism is being revived. 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, especially in Asia.
Map 2: Spread of Religions in 16th ct. Europe, 
Huguenots counted separately
Map: The New World's Calvinist Places in 16th Century Reformation Time

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