Reformed Christian (Calvinist) Church in Croatia is a historic recognized religious community in Croatia due to its confessional affiliation and contribution to cultural and religious formation of European identity. It has a continuity in Croatia since the 16th century Reformation.
Our distinctiveness derives from the 16th century Christian Reformation and its second wave, which has been called Calvinism. Reformed Churches, together with Lutherans and Anglicans (Episcopalians), represent Mainstream Protestant churhes because their roots date back to the Reformation and have European confessional heritage. We have been focused on ecumenical efforts, following the Gospel message of our Lord Jesus Christ, announced in the Holy Scripture. Confessional Churches of Reformed tradition and Presbyterian polity have been present in many countries, above all in Switzerland, Netherlands, Hungary, Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, Romania (Trasylvania), Czech Republic, Slovakia, South Korea, South Africa and in Anglo-Saxon countries (New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United States). In many European countries Reformed Churches have been united or exist in a communion with Lutheran Churches, like in Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Estonia, Scandinavian countries and elsewhere.
Beginnings and presence in Croatia
The Reformed Church had been organized during the Reformation in Swiss cantons, first of all in Zürich and Geneva. It represented efforts of godly believers through the whole history of Christianity, so it is more precise to say that it has its continuity since the beginning of Christianity. The Reformed Church has been present on Croatian areas from the 16th century till today, and first church communities were established around 1540’s, The first Sinod was 1550.. The biggest concentration today is in Baranja and eastern Slavonia. It is the largest Protestant Church in Croatia. Beside mentioned areas, through the history Calvinism was also present in other parts of Croatian lands, especially in regions of Međimurje and Varaždin, the central part of Croatia and in other places. For example, the noble family of Zrinski ruled Međimurje, and they were partly Protestant or promoters of Calvinist Protestantism, so they permitted the establishment of tens of church communities. There were hundreds of church communities in Slavonia predominantly of Croatian, Hungarian and German ethnic identity.
Prosecution and tolearnce
Inglorious destiny of Protestants in Croatian areas was determined by the Counter-Reformation propaganda since the second half of the 16th century. That movement had its epicenter outside our homeland and it didn’t permit freedom of conscience and confession, except in Slavonia which was under Hungarian administration, which ensured freedom of conscience and confession. That unnatural and blasphemous situation was legalised by Croatian parliament in 1604, which ment total ban of religious freedom, and enforced assimilation of Protestants. But the Edict of Tolerance of Joseph II in 1781 guarantied limited freedom of conscience and confession to mainstream Protestants (Lutherans and Calvinists), which would later be confirmed in Austrian-Hungarian monarchy where the Reformed confession was the second largest, especially in its Hungarian part. The Croatian Parlament in the year 1859 granted freedom of religion to the Reformed and Lutheran Church. The Reformed Church through its history has a stong multiethnic background in Croatian areas, promoting the true mission of the Church.
Reformed Christian (Calvinist) Church in Croatia is a part of the roof organization of Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational and the United Churches that have its administrative seat in Geneva (Word Communion of Reformed Churches). This Alliance, which has the biggest credibility, unites around 80 million believers with a soft tendency of growth, but real number is much bigger and it is estimated that around 150 million believers cherish this confessional identity.
On the national level church communities have been united in Synods inside the Synod-Presbyterian polity under coordination of the Synod council led by a bishop (moderator) who is elected for a mandate. Church communities united in that way constitute the Church. Full name of the Church is „Reformed Christian (Calvinist) Church in Croatia.” Active parish communities are called church communities according to the place where they are active. It is correct to use the abrevieted name „Reformed Church.” It is in a spirit of European theological expression, long practice in many countries and related to our confession.
Doctrine and Service
Our doctrine is based and derived from the Holy Scriptures. We follow a positive Church tradition from the beginnings. Christian teaching, tradition and Church practice that find their stronghold and basis in Biblical teaching are a part of our doctrin. We believe that Biblical teaching is the best, the most appropriately expressed through the Creeds of our Church; Apostolic, Nicene-Constantinopolitan, Athanasian, Ephesians and Caledonian one, the teachings of the early Church fathers (among whom we specially emphasise St. Augustine) and through confessions and catechisms of the Reformed Church; the Heidelberg Catechism, the Second Helvetic Confession, Belgic Confession, Westminster Confession, the Augsburg confession of the Lutheran Church etc.
“We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity,
neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son,
and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one,
the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.”
The Creed of Athanasius
Our service is theocentric, and the teaching finds its stronghold and development in the Holy Scripture. The center of our teaching and proclamation is the Lord Jesus Christ; Son of God, Savior of the world, incarnated Word of God and our Lord God. His teaching is most exactly and most clearly described in the Gospels, and explained in the New Testament epistles, which are for us the true Word of God like the rest of the Bible (inspired by God and written by holy people under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit). The Lord Jesus Christ has offered the answer to eternal questions and had showed the way how to reach them and how to have a life on earth with purpose, and eternal life after death. By His words and deeds He has showed that we find the answer to eternal questions in faith. The Lord Jesus has revealed the Truth. His deeds have shown the Truth, His death and resurrection lead towards the Truth. Therefore we encourage you to read the gospel teaching and believe in God, live with God through the only mediator between God and men, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.