Calvinism (also known as Reformed Theology) is a system in Christian theology that was first developed by 16th century Protestant theologian John Calvin.
It is most often summed up by five points, often referred to by the acronym TULIP:
- Total Depravity - every person is born with a sinful nature since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
- Unconditional Election - God chose every person whom He would save. This is also referred to as Predestination.
- Limited Atonement - Jesus only died for those whom God chose for salvation.
- Irresistible Grace - Man has no free will over His eternal fate, and anybody whom God chooses for salvation cannot resist His call.
- Perserverance of the Saints - Once one is saved, they cannot lose their salvation and will perservere throughout their lives.
Some persons do not hold to all five points, and refer to themselves by the number of "points" to which they adhere. For example, a number of people agree with all points except for Limited Atonement, and thus refer to themselves as "Four Point Calvinists".
The opposite of Calvinism is considered to be Arminianism, which was named after Jacobus Arminius. It should be noted here that neither John Calvin nor Jacobus Arminius truly came up with the theologies named after them, as the ideas contained within the respective beliefs have been debated upon even as far back as Paul in Romans 5.
Well Known Calvinists
John Calvin: http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/?show=worksBy
Charles Spurgeon: http://spurgeon.org/
Jonathon Edwards: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/edwards.html
John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/