Reformed churches, in a general sense, all Protestant churches that claim a beginning in the Reformation. In more restricted and more usual historical usage, Reformed churches are those Protestant churches that had their ecclesiastical origin in the doctrines of John Calvin, as distinct from those that are Lutheran or Evangelical. Swiss and Dutch churches and many in Germany came to be denominated Reformed. The Reformed churches as a rule follow the polity of Presbyterianism. They tend toward a simple form of worship rather than elaborate ritual. In the United States, churches bearing the Reformed title include the Reformed Church in America, generally known as the Dutch Reformed Church, the Christian Reformed Church, the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and the Free Magyar Reformed Church in America. The first two trace their origin to Holland, the third to Germany and Switzerland, and the fourth to Hungary. See Calvinism.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.