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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.
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.
Even though the vast majority of churches that trace back their history to Calvin (including Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and a row of other Calvinist churches) do not use it themselves, since the designation "Reformed" is more generally accepted and preferred, especially in the English-speaking world.
John Calvin (1509–64), Heinrich Bullinger (1504–75), Wolfgang Musculus (1497–1563), Peter Martyr Vermigli (1500–62), and Andreas Hyperius (1511–64) belong to the second generation of Reformed theologians.In Switzerland, some cantons are still Reformed and some are Catholic.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.In the twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, B. Nevertheless, the term first came out of Lutheran circles.Calvin denounced the designation himself: Despite its negative connotation, this designation became increasingly popular in order to distinguish Calvinists from Lutherans and from newer Protestant branches that emerged later.
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.