Calvinism, properly speaking, is a term which belongs to the Continent rather than to Great Britain. At the same time as John Calvin was leading the work of the Reformation in Switzerland and France, men like Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer were doing the same in England, and John Knox in Scotland. Of course there were contacts and communications between the British Reformers and Calvin, and interactions of thought and theology. But there was a spontaneousness in the flowering of the Reformation in these different spheres which contradicts any notion of radical interdependence and, by the same token, magnifies the sovereignty and exuberance of the Holy Spirit in his working. As a matter of terminology, therefore, the term “Calvinistic” is applicable to the Continent rather than to Great Britain, where the correspondingly appropriate adjective is “Reformed.” This distinction, however, does not at all imply any kind of cleavage or disharmony in theology. But it is sometimes necessary discreetly to remind friends across the Channel or on the other side of the Atlantic that in the sixteenth century Great Britain had her own Reformation and her own Reformers, though, unlike Luther and Calvin on the Continent, the names of Knox and Cranmer had the good fortune not to become compounded or associated with particular “isms.”
A comparison of the teaching of Calvin with the Westminster Confession of Faith and with the Book of Common Prayer and Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England will show how in all essentials of doctrine and worship the respective reforming movements of Geneva, Edinburgh, and Canterbury were at one with each other. The explanation of this identity of conviction was, ...1
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