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The Reformed Church (Early Orthodoxy) Viner, Wesley


The period often identified as Reformed orthodoxy (alternatively, Reformed scholasticism) within the history of the Reformed church lasts from approximately 1560 until 1800. It is traditionally subdivided into three shorter periods: early orthodoxy (1560–1620), high orthodoxy (1620–1700), and late orthodoxy (1700–1800). Most historians fix the beginning of early orthodoxy to the transition from the second to the third generation of reformers, as Peter Martyr Vermigli (d. 1562), Wolfgang Musculus (d. 1563), John Calvin (d. 1564), and their second-generation peers were replaced by Theodore Beza, Zacharius Ursinus, Girolamo Zanchi, and others. It was a period of solidification for the Reformed tradition, witnessing the spread of confessional statements of faith—including the Gallic Confession (1559), Belgic Confession (1561), Second Helvetic Confession (1562), Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and eventually the Canons of Dort (1619)—which delineated the boundaries of the Reformed faith and reinforced its differences with other forms of Protestantism. The theology of the period is marked by a return to the scholastic method of the late medieval period and the rise of intra-Reformed disputes about particular theological doctrines (e.g., predestination), a trend which intensified throughout the first half of the seventeenth century as disputes turned increasingly to the minutiae of Reformed theology. The end of early orthodoxy has been located as early as 1620 (with the Canons of Dort serving as the approximate conclusion of the period in Willem van Asselt’s periodization) to as late as the 1640s (with the end of the Thirty Years’ War and the Westminster Assembly marking the transition in Richard Muller’s periodization).

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