- What Christians Want To Know - https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com -

What Is Reformed Theology? A Christian Study

Besides worldly apostasy, nothing has arguably infiltrated churches more than reformed theology. Sadly, this has resulted in large numbers of churches splitting, losing members, and causing conflict. In many cases, these conflicts have resulted in large numbers of believers doubting their faith when struggling with life issues because of a perception that people who are really saved persevere against adversity. What is reformed theology? A Christian study is in order to understand it and how it can affect the believer.

What Is Reformed Theology A Christian Study [1]

Where did the term reformed theology come from?

Generally speaking, reformed theology was a term for the resulting theology adopted by many groups at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 1400-1500s AD. Later, it came to be referred to as Calvinism, based on the writings of French theologian John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin, originally a lawyer who broke away from the Catholic Church [2], argued that the sovereignty of God trumped everything when it came to salvation and all matters of human choice and living. Contemporaries of John Calvin that were reformation theologians often heatedly debated their version of theology. In one case, the conflict became so intense that Calvin was instrumental in the execution of Michael Servetus, a Spanish physician, who supported the separation of church and state and was burned at the stake for disagreeing with his theology (1)(2)(3). This earned him the nickname of the “Protestant Pope” of Geneva (4).

What are the tenets of Reformed Theology?

Although the initial tenets were heavily Catholic in focus and many were first presented by Augustine many centuries before, they eventually evolved to what many reformed theologians believe today. However, most subscribe to the reformed theology made popular by John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (5) and the contemporary writings of A.W. Pink (1886-1952). Often, reformed theology is summarized in five points, referred to by the acronym TULIP as follows:

The dangerous part of this belief system is that all sorts of unbiblical practices can be derived from it. For example, a young lady who struggled with a drug addiction had been raised as a Calvinist. When she was unsuccessful in overcoming her addiction through Biblical counseling in a non-residential environment, she decided that since she was unable to persevere against her addiction, she must not be of God’s elect for salvation. She gave up and not long after was involved in a horrific automobile accident that nearly killed her. In another example, a famous minister that teaches Biblical counseling advised in his book and at a conference I attended that when someone presents for counseling, you should share the gospel with them. But, if they do not trust Christ, do not press the matter because if you do, you might be sinning because God may not have chosen them to be saved. This confirms a principle that bad theology creates bad counsel.


Reformed theology is permeating many churches today. It is a theological system that came to be during the Protestant Reformation. Although some tenets were promoted long before this time, it eventually focused on matters of sin, salvation, and man’s relationship with an all-sovereign God as represented in the writings of John Calvin. It can be summed up using the TULIP acronym, with each letter describing one of five points. Reformed theology contradicts Scripture in many places and is responsible for many cases of incorrect life application of Scripture. Because reformed theology is embraced by so many people, the references in this article as well as a deep study of predestination versus the foreknowledge of who would love God in Romans 8 should be studied by the reader.

Related reading: What Does the Bible Teach about Free Will and Predestination? [4]

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Roland H. Bainton, Hunted Heretic (The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 207. (2) Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Baker Book House, 1950), p. 371. (3) Encyclopedia Britannica (2015), Michael Servetus: Spanish Theologian. Retrieved from: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Michael-Servetus. (4) Stephen Hole Fritchman, Men Of Liberty (Reissued, Kennikat Press, Inc., 1968), p. 8. (5) McMahon, C. Matthew. A Condensed Summary of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. A Puritan’s Mind (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-reformation/a-short-summary-of-calvins-institutes-by-dr-c-matthew-mcmahon/