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Presbyterian Origins: 6 Things That Led to Development of Protestant Christian Denomination

By    |   Friday, 06 February 2015 05:13 PM

The Presbyterian Christian Church is a reformed Protestant denomination that originates in the teachings of French theologian John Calvin and to a lesser extent, Scottish priest John Knox. Presbyterians use the term "reformed" to distinguish their church from Protestant Martin Luther. Luther is often called the "Father of the Reformation" and was the preeminent Protestant theologian in the 16th century. John Calvin is largely regarded as his successor.

Here are six things that led to the development of the Presbyterian Christian denomination:

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1. In the early 16th century, German monk Martin Luther took issue with the religious practices and authority of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1517, he nailed a scholarly document called the "95 Theses" on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church with the intention of inspiring theological debate. In addition to ecclesiastical points, he took issue with the practice of "indulgences," which were opportunities the Catholic Church provided to repay offenses caused by sin, and were sold by the church to raise money. Thanks to the printing press, Luther's Theses were distributed across Europe and led to the Protestant Reformation.

2. John Calvin, who was studying to be a lawyer in France, was provoked by Luther's ideas and the Protestant Reformation and in 1530, he broke away from the Catholic Church. To avoid the persecution of Protestants in France, Calvin relocated to Geneva, Switzerland.

3. Although he had planned to live a scholarly life, Calvin became embroiled in the protestant Reformation in Switzerland. In 1536, Calvin wrote "The Institutes of Christian Religion," which in addition to instruction on the doctrine of salvation, was highly critical of the Roman Catholic Church. Largely referenced as Protestant systemic theology, the work remains a staple of theological study today. John Knox was strongly impacted by Calvin’s teachings, which he took back to Scotland where he is considered the founder of the Presbyterian denomination.

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4. Although he was briefly forced out of Switzerland by anti-Protestant authorities, Calvin return in 1541 and resumed his role as a leader in the Protestant Reformation. During his ministry in Geneva, he preached over 2,000 sermons, sometimes twice on Sundays. According to Patheos, "Presbyterian and Reformed Churches maintain much of the basic Protestant doctrine, but are distinct for their adherence to Reformed theology and their unique structure of church government, which stresses leadership representation by both church congregants and ministers."

5. Calvin also coined the term "Libertine" to denote the opponents of his policies as devoid of moral restraint. According to Religion Facts, "In 1541, the town council of Geneva enacted Calvin's Ecclesiastical Ordinances, which set forth regulations on everything from church order and religious education to gambling, dancing, and swearing. Strict disciplinary measures were put in place to deal with transgressors of these ordinances."

6. Although strongly influenced and motivated by the work of Luther, according to Biography.com, Calvin was "known for an intellectual, unemotional approach to faith that provided Protestantism's theological underpinnings, whereas Luther brought passion and populism to his religious cause."

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The Presbyterian Christian Church is a reformed Protestant denomination that originates in the teachings of French theologian John Calvin and to a lesser extent, Scottish priest John Knox.
Presbyterians, Protestant, Christian, Denomination
Friday, 06 February 2015 05:13 PM
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