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Calvinism may indicate the teachings expressed by John Calvin himself; it may be extended to include all that developed from his doctrine and practice in Protestant countries in social, political, and ethical, as well as theological, aspects of life and thought; or it may be employed as the name of that system of doctrine accepted by the Reformed churches. Calvinism, stressing the absolute sovereignty of God’s will, held that only those whom God specifically elects are saved, that this election is irresistible, and that individuals can do nothing to effect this salvation. Calvinism challenged Lutheranism throughout Europe, spread to Scotland, influenced the Puritans of England, was further developed during the scholasticism of the 16th and 17th centuries and received its expression in the United States in the theology of the elder Jonathan Edwards. The doctrinal aspects of Calvinism were continued in the Princeton School and the influence of Calvinism on the culture was emphasized by Abraham Kuyper and the neo-Calvinists. In more recent times, in the Reformed theology of Karl Barth, the Calvinist stress on the sovereignty of God found new and vital expression.


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