Recently I read a novel called Young Goodman Brown, which aroused me interests in Calvinism. Here I want to share some understanding of it and also some of my confusion.
Originally, Puritanism emerged as a rebellion against the English Catholic Church under King James I. Its major doctrines are purifying Christianity to the initial stage of Jesus Christ. It rejects any preaching of the vicars. In the 16th century of England, the Church of England set out to break away from the Catholic Church and introduce reforms in a new protestant religion. The puritans however believe that the newly founded church still held too many of the catholic churches remnants. After their efforts failed at reforming the church, the puritans are left with no choice but to break away from the Church of England all together and escaped to America to pursue their own beliefs.
The settlers in New England practiced puritan beliefs as ethics. Puritans seek help from religions in understanding secular ethics. In the 17th century of America, puritan beliefs are believed by people and those who violate what the Puritanism preaches are judged morally decadent. Later, a man called Calvin summarized some ideas from Christianity into 5 major tenets. These are called Calvinism. Calvinism can be boiled down to the following five points: a): total depravity, which means original sin. It can be traced back to Eve and Adam, the ancestors of mankind as described in the Bible. By original sin, it means the evil Adam and Eve has done. Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge and God was infuriated so he drove them out of the garden of Eden and hence began the endless suffering of mankind. This doctrine is the most fundamental one in Calvinism as all other doctrines come from it. b): unlimited selection, which means God choose people he wants to save at his will. Namely, none is too good to be granted salvation. Puritans live a ascetic life in the hope of getting salvation. All puritans regards themselves as chosen ones so long as they live by virtues Calvinism prescribed. c): Limited atonement, which means despite the almightiness of God, not all have the chance to be saved. Only the chosen ones can redeem their sins and hence be saved. d): irresistible grace，which means God’s salvation is given randomly, one can neither pursue it nor reject it. e): perseverance of the saints，which means to get salvation entails puritan’s strong will and God’s favor.
In my opinion Calvinism is also connected with discussion. But as 安酱has talked about in her topic"Is God dead?", God has never give responses, and this kind of discussion can live in everyone's heart. However many people believes that Calvinism is negative and harmful. I'm confused that since it's free for people to beloved in god and believe that they will be saved, isn't is also free for people to believe that there doesn't exist god and redemption? Why is it harmful?