Calvinism (also called Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life. The Reformed tradition was advanced by several theologians such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli, but this branch of Christianity bears the name of the French reformer John Calvin (Jean Cauvin in old French) because of his prominent influence on it and because of his role in the confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the 16th century. Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches of which Calvin was an early leader. Less commonly, it can refer to the individual teaching of Calvin himself. The system is often summarized in the Five Points of Calvinism and is best known for its doctrines of predestination and total depravity, stressing the absolute sovereignty of God and the futility of human action. . . .
Ron Comments: John Calvin was an early Reformer and his name is often used to identify the Reformed and/or conservative Bible-believing Christian church. Though my eschatology is Dispensational I have no trouble with that for, as you may read below, Calvinist soteriology is biblical. But what about Calvin? He was a leader of the Reformed church, but did he live what he preached? The next article I post here will examine the historical John Calvin. Look for it. You might be surprised by what you'll read.
The Five points of Calvinism
The particulars of Calvinist theology may be stated in a number of ways. Perhaps the best known summary is contained in the five points of Calvinism, though these points identify the Calvinist view on soteriology rather than summarizing the system as a whole. Broadly speaking, Calvinism stresses the sovereignty or rule of God in all things — in salvation but also in all of life. . . .
Calvinist theology is sometimes identified with the five points of Calvinism, also called the doctrines of grace, which are a point-by-point response to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance . . . and which serve as a summation of the judgments rendered by the Synod of Dort in 1619. Calvin himself never used such a model and never combated Arminianism directly. . . . The Articles of Remonstrance were authored by opponents of reformed doctrine and Biblical Monergism. They were rejected in 1619 at the Synod of Dort, more than 50 years after the death of Calvin.
The five points therefore function as a summary of the differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, but not as a complete summation of Calvin's writings or of the theology of the Reformed churches in general. . . .
The central assertion of these canons is that God is able to save every person upon whom he has mercy and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or the inability of humans.
· "Total depravity": This doctrine, also called "total inability," asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.)
· "Unconditional election": This doctrine asserts that God's choice from eternity of those whom he will bring to himself is not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people. Rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy alone. Conversely, God has also chosen from eternity to withhold himself from the unelect, and condemn them to face his wrath. 
· "Limited atonement": Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement," this doctrine asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus's death. Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in its value or power (in other words, God could have elected everyone and used it to atone for them all, but for inscrutable reasons he has elected to provide efficacious atonement for only a portion of humanity), but rather that the atonement is limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all. Hence, Calvinists hold that the atonement is sufficient for all and efficient for the elect. The doctrine is driven by the Calvinistic concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and their understanding of the nature of the atonement.
· "Irresistible grace": This doctrine, also called "efficacious grace," asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith. This means that when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual certainly will be saved. The doctrine holds that every influence of God's Holy Spirit cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit, "graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ."
· "Perseverance of the saints": Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints (The word "saints" is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, and not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven). The doctrine asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or will return.
1. ^ Kuyper, Abraham. "Calvinism As A Life System". http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/kuyper_lecturescalvinism.html. Retrieved 2009-07-15.
2. ^ Warfield, p. 359: "Sometimes ['Calvinism'] designates merely the individual teaching of John Calvin. Sometimes it designates, more broadly, the doctrinal system confessed by that body of Protestant Churches known historically, in distinction from the Satanist Churches, as 'the Reformed Churches' but also quite commonly called 'the Calvinistic Churches' because the great scientific exposition of their faith in the Reformation age, and perhaps the most influential of any age, was given by John Calvin. Sometimes it designates, more broadly still the entire body of conceptions, theological, ethical, philosophical, social,political, which, under the influence of the mind of John Calvin, raised itself to dominance in the Protestant lands of the post-Reformation age, and has left a permanent mark not only upon the thought of mankind, but upon the life-history of men, the social order of civilized peoples and even the political organization of States."
3. ^ Renaissance and Reformation by William Gilbert, Chapter 12 The Reformation in Germany and Scandinavia
4. ^ Major Branches of Religions
5. ^ "The Arminian Controversy and the Synod of Dort," Spindleworks.com
6. ^ gotquestions.org
7. ^ David Steele and Curtis Thomas, "The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, Documented," pg.25, "The adjective 'total' does not mean that each sinner is as totally or completely corrupt in his actions and thoughts as it is possible for him to be. Instead, the word 'total' is used to indicate that the "whole" of man's being has been affected by sin."
8. ^ Romans 9:10-16, Blueletterbible.org
9. ^ http://www.calvinistcorner.com/tulip.htm
10. ^ http://www.the-highway.com/compare.html
11. ^ Loraine Boettner. "The Perseverance of the Saints". The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/boettner/predest.iv.vi.html. Retrieved 2009-03-25.