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Calvin did not live to see the foundation of his work grow into an international movement; but his death allowed his ideas to break out of their city of origin, to succeed far beyond their borders, and to establish their own distinct character.Although much of Calvin's work was in Geneva, his publications spread his ideas of a correctly Reformed church to many parts of Europe.
Calvinism became the theological system of the majority in Scotland (see John Knox), the Netherlands (see William Ames, T. Frelinghuysen and Wilhelmus à Brakel), some communities in Flanders, and parts of Germany (especially these adjacent to the Netherlands) in the Palatinate, Kassel and Lippe with the likes of Olevianus and his colleague Zacharias Ursinus.
The movement was first called Calvinism by Lutherans who opposed it referring to French reformer John Calvin, and many within the tradition would prefer to use the word Reformed. The biggest Reformed association is the World Communion of Reformed Churches with more than 80 million members in 211 member denominations around the world. It was first used by a Lutheran theologian in 1552.
Early influential Reformed theologians include Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, Martin Bucer, William Farel, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. Gresham Machen, Karl Barth, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Cornelius Van Til, and Gordon Clark were influential. It was a common practice of the Catholic Church to name what they perceived to be heresy after its founder.
The protestant part of this reformation was considering that the Bible be interpreted by itself, meaning the parts that are harder to understand are examined in the light of other passages where the Bible is more explicit on the matter. Reformed churches may exercise several forms of ecclesiastical polity; most are presbyterian or congregationalist, though some are episcopalian.
The term Calvinism can be misleading, because the religious tradition which it denotes has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder. Calvinism is largely represented by Continental Reformed, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist traditions.
This and the Belgic Confession were adopted as confessional standards in the first synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1571.
Leading divines, either Calvinist or those sympathetic to Calvinism, settled in England (Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr, and Jan Łaski) and Scotland (John Knox).Due to Calvin's missionary work in France, his programme of reform eventually reached the French-speaking provinces of the Netherlands.Calvinism was adopted in the Electorate of the Palatinate under Frederick III, which led to the formulation of the Heidelberg Catechism in 1563, and in Navarre by Jeanne d'Albret.During the English Civil War, the Calvinistic Puritans produced the Westminster Confession, which became the confessional standard for Presbyterians in the English-speaking world.Having established itself in Europe, the movement continued to spread to other parts of the world including North America, South Africa, and Korea.Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin, Martin Luther, and other Reformation-era theologians.