Why do theologies and churches based on the teaching of Calvin consistently self-identify using the term "Reformed" even down to the 21st century, such as the 2019 Reformed Systematic Theology by Joel R. Beeke and the newly created denomination in 2021 Alliance of Reformed Churches?
Why the early usage was not consistently "Calvinist" like how Lutherans kept using "Lutherans" even though over the centuries Lutheran theology diverged rather significantly from Martin Luther himself?
One Lutheran commenter said:
Sometimes reformation theology is called “reformed” theology. So, Lutherans would be included. But strictly speaking Calvinism is what you are thinking about. So, in that sense I get where you are coming from.
This got me thinking, how did the term "Reformed" start to be used to identify a theology or a church based on the teaching of Calvin?
I would like this question to be broadly suggestive as a historical question that explains the usage "Reformed" as a self-identifying label. But here are some angles that an answer may want to explain:
- When was the term started to be used? This is a cross-language "when", as the Dutch used Reformeerte or Gereformeerde (see here), the French used Réformée (see here), and the German used Reformierte (see here).
- Did linguistic / word history have anything to do with it?
- Did Calvin himself use the term "Reformed" to identify his theology?
- Which group started to use the term? Was it a self-identifying term, or was it a term used by other groups to label Calvinists (such as how the term "Anabaptist" got started)?
- Was it an early attempt to claim the whole Protestant reformation to Calvinism, thus denying Lutherans participation as a valid reformation theology?
- Was it a feature only in certain parts of Europe, associated with a certain language (like Dutch, German, English, French)?
- Why down to our century we still use "Reformed" in naming a theology rather than a more obvious "Calvinist", or more theologically precise "Baptist" or more ecclesiologically precise / "Presbyterian"? What motivated the 21st century groups to still prefer the term "Reformed" in this context?