Dutch Reformed Church
The Dutch Reformed Church to which Van Gogh's father belonged was a type of Protestantism, which originated in the 16th century. Like other protestant movements, it followed Calvinism, the doctrine of Johannes Calvijn (1509-1564). It reaffirms the authority of scripture, emphasizes predestination, and stresses the power of God's will. The good protestant embodies the purposes of God in his or her own life. Van Gogh's father, a moderate, quietly fulfilled his role as minister to his small congregation. Van Gogh, however, seemed to fully embrace the urge to work out the principles of Christianity in his life. His religiosity was sometimes related to the visual arts. The theme of his first sermon as a lay preacher was inspired by a painting, one that depicted a Christian pilgrim (by George Henry Boughton). When he failed at his first impulse—to alleviate the hard life of the peasant worker through his own ministry—Van Gogh demonstrated his compassion toward mankind through his own artwork.