Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 273-274


  • Jaco HammanAffiliated withThe Divinity School, Vanderbilt University Email author 

Calvinism refers to a particular understanding of the Christian faith and an approach to the Christian life first articulated by the French Protestant theologian, John Calvin (1509–1564). Subsequently, it has been upheld in Protestant Christianity’s reformed tradition by persons such as John Knox (Scotland), John Bunyan (Britain), and Jonathan Edwards (America) (McGrath 2007).

Calvinism has five basic beliefs: (1) Humanity is totally deprived due to original sin, (2) God unconditionally elected those who will be saved to receive eternal life, (3) Jesus Christ has died for those who were elected by God, (4) the Holy Spirit pours irresistible grace over those saved, and (5) believers will persevere and are eternally saved in Jesus Christ. For Calvinists, the sovereignty of God reigns over all aspects of a person’s life: personal, spiritual, intellectual, political, and economical. Education informed by Calvinist dogma is important as is distinguishing the sacred from the secular (Spencer

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