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Calvinism, the Reformed Church, and Presbyterianism

Calvin led the reform in Switzerland, and his teaching spread to the southwestern Germany and Holland (the Reformed Church), to France (the Huguenots), and to Scotland, England, and North America under the name of Presbyterianism. Calvin added to Lutherís creed, teaching the concept of "predestination." To some extent, Lutherís teachings preserved the unique position of Christianity, and Luther speaks nothing of Judaism. In Calvinism, elements of Judaism and paganism are so obvious that it is difficult to consider Calvinism Christian. "Divine predestination," according to Calvin, is the idea that God had eternally called some people to salvation, and others to eternal damnation, independent of their will. Predestination to eternal salvation consists of a small group of people selected by God, through the power of his comprehensible decision, apart from their choice. On the other hand, no effort is possible to save those who are predestined to eternal damnation. Good or evil deeds serve for the fulfillment of predestination and merely fulfill what has already been decided. If this notion is true, for what purpose did Jesus Christ so thoroughly teach us how to live and strive to advance in the narrow way? What is the meaning of prayer, confession, and correction of our ways?

Calvinism consists of a single statement from the writing of Apostle Paul (in Romans Chapter 9) taken out of context from the entire text ó a fragment ó and this is the basis for Calvinís teaching of predestination. The true meaning of this passage can be understood only in connection with the meaning of the entire chapter, in which the apostle states that justification is not the property of the Jewish people. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel, neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children of Abraham . . ." (Rom. 9:6-7). Here the apostle speaks against the Jews, who considered the gentiles rejected by God, and exclusively themselves the children of the Kingdom of Heaven (by the creation and the law of Moses). The apostle contends that the saving grace of God permeates all people, and God calls to salvation not only the Jews but also the gentiles. The teaching of Calvin is influenced in part by Judaism, which holds that only the elect of God are predestined to salvation and the rest doomed to damnation. However, the Word of God teaches that, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3-4); and "the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

The teaching of Calvin contradicts the understanding of the Holiness of God. In connection with this understanding it appears that God is guilty of cruelty and of playing favorites, electing from eternity some to salvation and others to damnation. There is pagan influence in this teaching of destiny. Calvin thus brings an indifferent attitude towards good and evil deeds, rejecting manís freedom of will, and considering sin natural and unavoidable. According to this thinking, no battle may be fought effectively against sin, because prayer and repentance are useless. Calvin rejects the precepts of Christianity and considers the Sacraments merely symbolic, teaching that the transubstantiation of the Body and Blood of Christ is not a reality.

In Scotland, Calvinism (Presbyterianism) became the accepted faith of the governmental parliament in 1592. Presbyterians, under the name of "Puritans" requested of the King of England the freedom to worship in their faith. Eventually, they began to emigrate, first to Holland and then to the American colonies, to escape the authorities in England.

Rejecting such symbols as the Cross, the Sign of the Cross during baptism, and other outwardly Traditional Christian practices, they forged a sect which was quite new. Further, the structure of Presbyterianism consists of a church congregation who elect their own clergy. The role of bishop is nonexistent. Worship consists of listening to prayers created by the presbyters, a sermon, and the singing of psalms. Communion was served on one long table, weddings were held at home, and prayers for the dead were also read at home. There are no icons, and both the Creed and the traditional liturgical prayers are changed.

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