Reformed churches
Encyclopedia
The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

 characterized by Calvinist
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation inaugurated by Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

 but developed more coherently by Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

, Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zurich church and pastor at Grossm√ľnster...

 and especially John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

. In the sixteenth century the movement spread to most of Europe, aligning with national governments in most cases, though several of these national or specific language based churches later expanded to worldwide denominations. There are now many different reformed churches: a 1999 survey found 746 Reformed denominations worldwide.

History

The first Reformed churches were established in Europe after 1519, and were part of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

.

Reformed doctrine is expressed in various confessions
Reformed Christian confessions of faith
Reformed Christian confessions of faith are documents of the faith of various Reformed churches. They express their consensus of faith in various creeds. A few creeds are shared by many denominations, which have made their choices from among the various creeds for primarily historical reasons...

. A few confessions are shared by many denominations. Different denominations use different confessions, usually based on historical reasons.

The following is a chronological list of confession and theological doctrines of the Reformed churches:
  • First Helvetic Confession (1536),
  • Consensus Tigurinus
    Consensus Tigurinus
    The Consensus Tigurinus or Consensus of Zurich was a document intended to bring unity to the Protestant churches on their doctrines of the sacraments, particularly the Lord's Supper...

     (1549),
  • French Confession (1559),
  • Scots Confession
    Scots Confession
    The Scots Confession is a Confession of Faith written in 1560 by six leaders of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. The Confession was the first Subordinate Standard for the Protestant church in Scotland....

     (1560),
  • Three forms of Unity
    • Heidelberg Catechism
      Heidelberg Catechism
      The Heidelberg Catechism is a Protestant confessional document taking the form of a series of questions and answers, for use in teaching Reformed Christian doctrine...

       (1563),
    • Belgic Confession
      Belgic Confession
      The Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, is a doctrinal standard document to which many of the Reformed churches subscribe. The Confession forms part of the Reformed Three Forms of Unity...

       (1566),
    • Canons of Dordrecht (1619),
  • Second Helvetic Confession (1566)
  • Westminster Standards
    • Westminster Confession of Faith
      Westminster Confession of Faith
      The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

       (1646)
    • Westminster Shorter Catechism
      Westminster Shorter Catechism
      The Westminster Shorter Catechism was written in the 1640s by English and Scottish divines. The assembly also produced the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Larger Catechism...

       (1649)
    • Westminster Larger Catechism
      Westminster Larger Catechism
      The Westminster Larger Catechism, along with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, is a central catechism of Calvinists in the English tradition throughout the world.- History :...

       (1649)
  • Helvetic Consensus
    Helvetic Consensus
    The Helvetic Consensus is a Swiss Reformed symbol drawn up in 1675 to guard against doctrines taught at the French Academy of Saumur, especially Amyraldism.-Origin:...

     (1675)
  • 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith
    1689 Baptist Confession of Faith
    The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith was written by Particular Baptists, who held to a Calvinistic Soteriology in England to give a formal expression of their Christian faith from a Baptist perspective...

  • Barmen Declaration
    Barmen Declaration
    The Barmen Declaration or The Theological Declaration of Barmen 1934 is a statement of the Confessing Church opposing the Nazi-supported "German Christians" movement known for its anti-Semitism and extreme nationalism...

     (1934)

Forms of government

In contrast to the episcopal polity
Episcopal polity
Episcopal polity is a form of church governance that is hierarchical in structure with the chief authority over a local Christian church resting in a bishop...

 of the Anglican and many Lutheran and Methodist churches, Reformed churches have two main forms of governance:
  • Presbyterian polity
    Presbyterian polity
    Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

     or Synodal government
    Synod
    A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

     - rule by assemblies of "elders" or ordained officers.
  • Congregationalist polity
    Congregationalist polity
    Congregationalist polity, often known as congregationalism, is a system of church governance in which every local church congregation is independent, ecclesiastically sovereign, or "autonomous"...

    , e.g. Congregationalist churches

The Reformed Church in Hungary
Reformed Church in Hungary
The Reformed Church in Hungary is a key representative of Christianity in Hungary, being numerically the second-largest denomination in Hungary after the Roman Catholic Church, and the biggest denomination among ethnic Hungarians in Romania...

, its sister church in Romania, the Hungarian Reformed Church in America, the Polish Reformed Church
Polish Reformed Church
The Polish Reformed Church, officially called the Evangelical Reformed Church in the republic of Poland is a historic Protestant church in Poland established in the 16th century, still in existence today.-Structure and organisation:An internal census showed that in 2004 the Polish Reformed Church...

, and the Reformed Episcopal Church
Reformed Episcopal Church
The Reformed Episcopal Church is an Anglican church in the United States and Canada and a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America...

 are the only Churches in the Reformed Tradition to have retained the office of Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

.

Reformed churches worldwide

Around the world many churches of Reformed tradition emerged, both by migration and missionary work. Here is a List of Reformed churches.

See also

  • :Category:Reformed church seminaries and theological colleges
  • Community of Protestant Churches in Europe
    Community of Protestant Churches in Europe
    The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe is a fellowship of over 100 Protestant churches which have signed the Leuenberg Agreement. Together they strive for realizing church fellowship, especially by cooperation in witness and service to the world...

  • World Alliance of Reformed Churches
    World Alliance of Reformed Churches
    The World Alliance of Reformed Churches is a fellowship of more than 200 churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation, and particularly in the theology of John Calvin...

  • World Communion of Reformed Churches
    World Communion of Reformed Churches
    The World Communion of Reformed Churches is an ecumenical Christian body formed in June 2010 by the union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council...

  • North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council
    North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council
    The North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council is an association of several Presbyterian and Reformed churches in the United States and Canada...


External links

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