This article discusses the complicated question of the connection between Calvin and the
confessions of the Presbyterian Reformed tradition. Firstly, a contrast is drawn to the question
of the connection between Luther and the Lutheran confessions. It is noted that here a closed
canon of Lutheran confessions exists, and Luther himself wrote three of the documents. On
the other hand, there is no closed canon of Reformed confessions. However, there is a broad
consensus concerning which Reformed confessions from the 16th century are classical. In this
article a synopsis is provided of this list, and it is discovered that Calvin himself only wrote
one of the classical Reformed confessional documents, although he influenced some others.
The article then continues to discuss Calvin’s own contribution, his Catechism of 1542/1545.
The historical context of writing in which this Catechism is sketched, its use in Geneva is
described, and the outline of the Catechism is mentioned. The article continues to discuss why
Calvin thought there was a need for a catechism, and why he wrote it in Latin and sent it to
East Friesland. In conclusion the author explains why he has discussed Calvin’s Catechism,
instead of focusing on the English Confession of 1556.
This article represents
a reworked version of a
lecture delivered at the
Calvin Conference in Peebles,
Peeblesshire, Scotland, on 11