During the first half of the 16th century, John Calvin (the father of Calvinism) promoted intense thinking concerning the absolute omnipotence of God and the idea that he predestined all of life, since the time of the fall from grace of all mankind. Calvinists believed that God is totally in charge of all outcomes and that free will is non-existent and really just an illusion.
Presbyterians (puritan Calvinists) are firm believers of predestination. Coming to see God as the Supreme Being in charge of creation and destruction instilled a degree of fear within some people and the feeling of being distanced from God grew.
Additionally, a feeling of helplessness prevailed. People tried harder to prove themselves to God through actions, words and deeds. Some developed a hatred for God, whether it was a conscious or unconscious form of hatred. Conversely, the ideas surrounding predestination brought comfort to many people. Finally, they felt that there was an organized plan for everything.
The Calvinists are strict religionists, which has created some rigidity with the church as well as rigidity within certain families. Structure and hierarchy were being stressed as the way to live happily on the planet. Stern behavior and facial expressions of stress continue to be signs of unhappiness.
The four orders that prevail in Calvinist and many other Protestant churches are the orders of the preachers, the teachers, the elders and the deacons. These categories or divisions create a hierarchy within the Church itself. Moral surveillance was prevalent in the 16th century. Reprimands were issued to individuals and excommunication from the Church became the primary disciplinary tool for repeat offenders.
People were being excommunicated for "lewd" singing and dancing. Superstition was another infraction of church rules. Holidays were not observed with the exception of Sundays. Austerity created a tremendous amount of deprivation among the church followers. It seems obvious why Calvinism went through various periods of decline. Calvinism is generally at odds with the concepts behind physical life here on the planet.
It is no wonder that Calvinism has lost popularity. However, when founder John Calvin began the movement, it was seen as a powerful threat to the larger Roman Catholic Church. There is even some evidence that Calvin, like Martin Luther, was funded by elite banking families who wanted to diminish the power of the Catholic Church.
Conspiratorial historians hold that both Calvin and Luther were willing tools of these families, but what cannot be denied was that the movements these two spawned ended up expanding in numerous, unpredictable ways. While Calvinism became less of a force over time, Lutheranism went on to create what is now known as the Protestant Revolution. Martin Luther, when he nailed his theses to the church door, truly shook the world.