Europe’s Reformed churches had no formal international organisation during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. There was no accepted primate who held authority across the Continent, nor any international agreement on a single confession or statement of doctrine. The connections between Europe’s Calvinists and Reformed churches were therefore decentralised, unofficial, and could often be disorganised and ineffective. However, many Reformed clergy and ordinary members of congregations consistently expressed their support for, and participated in, a wider international community which is the focus of this study. Establishing and maintaining the ties that bound the Reformed world together held an ideological and emotional significance for many Calvinists, even among those with no first-hand experience outside their own locality. For one thing, if Reformed religion was true, then its truth claims looked more convincing if they were shared across the Continent. However, gaining consensus on key points of Reformed doctrine proved difficult to achieve. Chapter 1 highlights the emergence and development of the shared ideas, in particular on the sacrament of Holy Communion, which underpinned all the connections between Reformed churches. Reformed theology was based not only on the work of John Calvin but was also developed from the insights of a range of leaders of Swiss and south German centres of reform. Much time and effort was spent trying to obtain and maintain international harmony on doctrine. Calvinists were, however, far from wholly united on some issues, and Reformed orthodoxy also changed over time. This was particularly the case over ideas about aspects of God’s plan for salvation and decrees of predestination.
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