The Calvin / Servertus controvercy

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Locoponydirtman

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Oct 9, 2018
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#1
I have read more than a few times on this forum about how John Calvin is a murderer. After some research I find that the allegations are quite erroneous.
Calvin took the considerable risk of travelling to Paris to meet with Servetus, either — depending on which account we credit — to “gain him for our Savior” or to silence him, but Servetus was a no-show.
In 1545, Servetus contacted Calvin again, luring him into correspondence by asking for help in understanding three difficult theological points. Calvin explained them; Servetus disputed Calvin’s explanations; Calvin replied again and sent Servetus a copy of his Institutes as giving fuller answers. Servetus returned the copy scribbled up with his criticisms, along with part of his yet unfinished Restoration of Christianity and some other writings and suggested that he come to Geneva.
By this time, Calvin had concluded that Servetus would abandon his heresies only if God changed his heart, and so he warned Servetus not to come. Servetus published his Restoration at the beginning of 1553 and sent a copy to Calvin; who found it to be full of errors and blasphemy. On August 13 of that year, Servetus came to a Sunday service at Calvin’s church. When some recognized him, they told Calvin, who took steps to have the civil magistrate arrest him.
By the time Servetus appeared in Geneva, he was already a fugitive from justice, who had been tried and condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake by the Catholic Inquisition. But in Geneva, the determination of Servetus’s fate was entirely in the hands of the civil magistrates.
 

maxwel

Senior Member
Apr 18, 2013
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#2
I have read more than a few times on this forum about how John Calvin is a murderer. After some research I find that the allegations are quite erroneous.
Calvin took the considerable risk of travelling to Paris to meet with Servetus, either — depending on which account we credit — to “gain him for our Savior” or to silence him, but Servetus was a no-show.
In 1545, Servetus contacted Calvin again, luring him into correspondence by asking for help in understanding three difficult theological points. Calvin explained them; Servetus disputed Calvin’s explanations; Calvin replied again and sent Servetus a copy of his Institutes as giving fuller answers. Servetus returned the copy scribbled up with his criticisms, along with part of his yet unfinished Restoration of Christianity and some other writings and suggested that he come to Geneva.
By this time, Calvin had concluded that Servetus would abandon his heresies only if God changed his heart, and so he warned Servetus not to come. Servetus published his Restoration at the beginning of 1553 and sent a copy to Calvin; who found it to be full of errors and blasphemy. On August 13 of that year, Servetus came to a Sunday service at Calvin’s church. When some recognized him, they told Calvin, who took steps to have the civil magistrate arrest him.
By the time Servetus appeared in Geneva, he was already a fugitive from justice, who had been tried and condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake by the Catholic Inquisition. But in Geneva, the determination of Servetus’s fate was entirely in the hands of the civil magistrates.
I don't think anyone who's done any research makes the claim Calvin murdered anyone with his bare hands.

The issue is always about Calvin using, or working with, the civil government in order to bring "heretics" to capital punishment.
And you just verified that he did, indeed, do that very thing.

And I'll also add... I don't care.

Those were different times, and most nations did have a state religion, which made heresy and non-conformity a legal and criminal matter. In a legal sense Calvin doesn't seem to be guilty of anything (that I'm aware of) but we can debate endlessly about the ethics and morals.

Personally, I get tired of this whole argument.
It's a bad argument.
It's a bad argument as a means to debate theological doctrine.
Calvin's personal life has NOTHING to do with whether his theological arguments are correct.
Logically, one has nothing to do with the other.
If we want to debate Calvinism, we need to debate it on doctrine.

I am NOT a Calvinist, but I don't debate Calvinism by attacking Calvin's character...
because it's not a logical argument.



This all makes for very interesting history.
It's fine to talk about it.
But Calvin's character, good or bad, simply has nothing to do with debating theological doctrine.

...
 
Dec 28, 2016
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#3
Here is yet another false accusation on Calvin.

"When Jacques Gruet, a theologian with differing views, placed a letter in Calvin’s pulpit calling him a hypocrite, he was arrested, tortured for a month and beheaded on July 26, 1547. Gruet's own theological book was later found and burned along with his house while his wife was thrown out into the street to watch."

more here: http://www.reenactingtheway.com/blo...led-and-bad-bible-interpretation-justified-it

Gruet wasn't murdered for these things. He didn't have a theological book, he was an atheist who mocked the Gospel and Calvin. He led a life of crime and was wanted on several charges and was eventually executed after admitting to his crimes and libel on Calvin. In the past I posted against the above lie with proof and was subsequently banned from the anti-calvinist forum for showing the truth of the matter. Sad thing, many anti-Calvinists aren't interested in the truth or being objective, but believe whatever serves their purposes.

Here is something on Gruet:

"In 1549,[1] a book with anti-Christian writings by Gruet was found in Gruet's house. While Calvin himself had not taken direct part in Gruet's trial and execution, he was asked what to do about this book, and together with Geneva religious leaders, it was decided that the book should be burned. The public burning took place on May 25, 1550.[7][5]"

Not hardly the "theological book" found.
 

Hevosmies

Well-known member
Sep 8, 2018
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#4
Whether Calvin did it or not is largely IRRELEVANT. I have never read any of his works, nor do I care to do so.

Calvin was just like Luther and they both made mistakes, because they are HUMANS.

Moses made mistakes. Moses sinned, Luther sinned, Calvin sinned, I sinned, everyone and their mother sinned, except for the Lord Jesus Christ.

What can we dig up from Arminius or Wesley?

But good OP in the sense that, truth is always preferred, even if the topic isnt that relevant, truth is still truth.
 
Dec 28, 2016
9,171
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#5
Whether Calvin did it or not is largely IRRELEVANT. I have never read any of his works, nor do I care to do so.

Calvin was just like Luther and they both made mistakes, because they are HUMANS.

Moses made mistakes. Moses sinned, Luther sinned, Calvin sinned, I sinned, everyone and their mother sinned, except for the Lord Jesus Christ.

What can we dig up from Arminius or Wesley?

But good OP in the sense that, truth is always preferred, even if the topic isnt that relevant, truth is still truth.





https://adam4d.com/anti-calvinist/
 

Locoponydirtman

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Oct 9, 2018
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#6
Defending the integrity of fellow Christians in truth is an important work. The criticism of figures in the faith is the most flung arrow of the opposition. I find myself many times speaking in defence of some Christian figure of one sort or another when I am in discussion with non-believers. I usually find the allegations to be wild exaggerations of the truth, and their excuse for opposition.
As I said above, I had read many times on this very forum that Calvin was a murderer. I guess I see contending for the faith as also contending for the faithful.
 
Dec 28, 2016
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#7
Defending the integrity of fellow Christians in truth is an important work. The criticism of figures in the faith is the most flung arrow of the opposition. I find myself many times speaking in defence of some Christian figure of one sort or another when I am in discussion with non-believers. I usually find the allegations to be wild exaggerations of the truth, and their excuse for opposition.
As I said above, I had read many times on this very forum that Calvin was a murderer. I guess I see contending for the faith as also contending for the faithful.
Very good point brother.
 

maxwel

Senior Member
Apr 18, 2013
8,654
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#8
Defending the integrity of fellow Christians in truth is an important work. The criticism of figures in the faith is the most flung arrow of the opposition. I find myself many times speaking in defence of some Christian figure of one sort or another when I am in discussion with non-believers. I usually find the allegations to be wild exaggerations of the truth, and their excuse for opposition.
As I said above, I had read many times on this very forum that Calvin was a murderer. I guess I see contending for the faith as also contending for the faithful.
Answering defamatory statements may be worthwhile, particularly when dealing with non believers.

My point above was only that this is a completely separate endeavor from defending doctrine...
they are separate issues.


...
 
Dec 28, 2016
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#11
Who were entirely in the hands of Calvin and his followers.
Servetus was warned by Calvin not to come to Geneva to spare him from death. Servetus came anyway, despite the warning.

As per usual you don't know what you're talking about.
 
7

7seasrekeyed

Guest
#13
many sources, including the following, indicate that Calvin was actually persecuting those who disagreed with him

so everyone is wrong?

I follow Christ...not Calvin and He instructs me to forgive those who wrong me and as far as disagreeing goes, only one thing will matter and that is whether or not you have accepted Christ and follow him

Calvin will not be admitting or refusing entry to heaven and only God knows if a person with such an (apparently murderous) lean will enter in



John Calvin Killed Rival Theologians: Bad Bible Interpretation Justified It
3/15/2015
46 Comments


John Calvin’s interpretation of the Bible justified the murder of his theological opponents.

Calvin did not believe all Old Covenant laws had been set aside by the New Covenant Jesus inaugurated. He didn't buy into the plain sense of Hebrews: “God has made the first covenant obsolete” (Hebrews 8:13). He maneuvered around Paul’s conclusion: “the Law became a tutor to lead us to Christ and now that faith has come we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:24-25; cf. Rom 10:4). Therefore, laws from the Torah guided his actions.

Calvin justified capital punishment of heretics with Leviticus 24:16. “The one who blasphemes the name of the Lord should be put to death; all the congregation must stone him. Any foreigner or native who blasphemes the Name should be put to death.”

Jesus’ teaching to “love your enemies” didn’t stop Calvin from killing them. Paul’s instructions for dealing with people who theologically disagree with you were ignored: “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Calvin authorized beheadings, death by fire, and torture rather than exercise patience and kindness with competing theologians. His enforcement of biblical doctrines looked more like ISIS than Jesus.

John Calvin’s Reign of Terror

In 5 years as magistrate of the Geneva “church-city-state,” Calvin oversaw 58 death sentences and the exile of 76 people. He wasn't the sole decision-maker in those cases, but personal correspondence and city council records betray his extraordinary influence. When Jacques Gruet, a theologian with differing views, placed a letter in Calvin’s pulpit calling him a hypocrite, he was arrested, tortured for a month and beheaded on July 26, 1547. Gruet's own theological book was later found and burned along with his house while his wife was thrown out into the street to watch.

Michael Servetus, a Spaniard, physician, scientist and Bible scholar, suffered a worse fate. He was Calvin's longtime friend who resisted the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. However, he angered Calvin by returning a copy of Calvin's Institutes with critical comments in the margins. The next time Servetus attended Calvin's Sunday preaching service on a visit, Calvin had him arrested and charged with heresy. The 38 official charges included rejection of the Trinity and infant baptism. Servetus pleaded to be beheaded instead of the more brutal method of burning at the stake, but Calvin and the city council refused the quicker death method.
Dr. Paul Penley (left) holding a 1575 print of Calvin's Institutes at a Seminary library in Cluj, Romania. Thanks Istvan!
On October 27, 1553, Calvin’s men used green wood for the fire so Servetus would be slowly baked alive from the feet upward. For 30 minutes he screamed for mercy and prayed to Jesus as the fire worked its way up his body to burn the theology book Calvin had strapped to his chest as a symbol of his heresy. How could such torture be condoned? In November 1552 the Geneva Council declared Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion to be a "holy doctrine which no man might speak against." Disagreeing with Calvin’s view of God was a violation warranting the death penalty according to the way John Calvin interpreted Leviticus 24:16.

ARTICLE SOURCE
 

Locoponydirtman

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Oct 9, 2018
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#14
So I just spent some time reading other writings of Dr. Penley, not impressed. From cannibalistic comparisons of communion to Jesus condemned the rich because being rich indicated some unique sin.
Anyway, Calvin was never a Magistrate in Geneva or any where else for that matter.
Also no one would survive a green wood fire for 30 minutes nor could they scream, smoke asphyxiation is a real thing.
Plus Calvin is on record for having opposed buring Servetus at the stake, where he appealed to the council to not burn him.
Dr. Penley seems to have a lot of problems
Like this little quote, "Should we stop promoting personal Bible reading because it has dashed Jesus’ dream of unity? Let me qualify my answer. If we don’t promote anything else to quell the confusion of “biblical” truths, the answer is yes. Bible engagement is not inherently a good thing."
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#15
I have read more than a few times on this forum about how John Calvin is a murderer. After some research I find that the allegations are quite erroneous.
Calvin took the considerable risk of travelling to Paris to meet with Servetus, either — depending on which account we credit — to “gain him for our Savior” or to silence him, but Servetus was a no-show.
In 1545, Servetus contacted Calvin again, luring him into correspondence by asking for help in understanding three difficult theological points. Calvin explained them; Servetus disputed Calvin’s explanations; Calvin replied again and sent Servetus a copy of his Institutes as giving fuller answers. Servetus returned the copy scribbled up with his criticisms, along with part of his yet unfinished Restoration of Christianity and some other writings and suggested that he come to Geneva.
By this time, Calvin had concluded that Servetus would abandon his heresies only if God changed his heart, and so he warned Servetus not to come. Servetus published his Restoration at the beginning of 1553 and sent a copy to Calvin; who found it to be full of errors and blasphemy. On August 13 of that year, Servetus came to a Sunday service at Calvin’s church. When some recognized him, they told Calvin, who took steps to have the civil magistrate arrest him.
By the time Servetus appeared in Geneva, he was already a fugitive from justice, who had been tried and condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake by the Catholic Inquisition. But in Geneva, the determination of Servetus’s fate was entirely in the hands of the civil magistrates.
Interesting,

What is more interesting and truthful to the historical record with regards to the laws at the time is that Geneva actually had no authority to bring Servetus to trial since he had not broken any of the laws of Geneva. The Civil Code of Geneva only provided expulsion/banishment for the only religious verbal crime..... blasphemy.
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#16
Demonstrably false. Calvin tried to convince the council to not burn him at the stake.
In fact the head of the council was one of Calvin's critics, named Gruet.
Where is this in the court transcripts?
 
U

UnderGrace

Guest
#17
Those were different times, and most nations did have a state religion, which made heresy and non-conformity a legal and criminal matter.
Can you find for me where "heresy" was on the books of the city government of Geneva at that time?
 
Dec 28, 2016
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#18
So I just spent some time reading other writings of Dr. Penley, not impressed. From cannibalistic comparisons of communion to Jesus condemned the rich because being rich indicated some unique sin.
Anyway, Calvin was never a Magistrate in Geneva or any where else for that matter.
Also no one would survive a green wood fire for 30 minutes nor could they scream, smoke asphyxiation is a real thing.
Plus Calvin is on record for having opposed buring Servetus at the stake, where he appealed to the council to not burn him.
Dr. Penley seems to have a lot of problems
Like this little quote, "Should we stop promoting personal Bible reading because it has dashed Jesus’ dream of unity? Let me qualify my answer. If we don’t promote anything else to quell the confusion of “biblical” truths, the answer is yes. Bible engagement is not inherently a good thing."
Penley is out on a limb, incorrect, uses false information, embellishes the narrative. This is all true yet if he serves ones purpose then it's all good.

The information is good as long as it slanders. Being objective or truthful is of no concern, nor is the person's character important, unless they want to attack another then the persons character is important, especially if the person holds to the Doctrines of Grace.
Anti-Calvinists prove this point time and again.

This isn't just hypocrisy, it's pure hate.

These will brush aside the fact that this hate, according to Scripture is indicative of a lost spiritual state by saying Calvinists aren't brothers, or it doesn't matter because "they got saved." I'd say several need to take a gander there in 1 John and couple it with 2 Corinthians 13:5.

Not all anti-Calvinists hold to this hatred yet many do.
 

Locoponydirtman

Well-known member
Oct 9, 2018
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#19
Interesting,

What is more interesting and truthful to the historical record with regards to the laws at the time is that Geneva actually had no authority to bring Servetus to trial since he had not broken any of the laws of Geneva. The Civil Code of Geneva only provided expulsion/banishment for the only religious verbal crime..... blasphemy.
When in history did Magistrates not have authority to put a man to death? The question is rhetorical because the answer is never.
Geneva was a theocracy.
The Code of Teodosius was completed by the Code of Justinianus (527-534). This latter Code, which was in force in the territories of the Sacred Roman Empire, prescribed in the chapter "Of summa catholica Trinitate et fide, hereticis, apostatis" the capital punishment for those negating the doctrine of the Trinity and the baptism of infants.
This is the code under which Servetus was prosecuted, it was sited in the case. Servetus was asked if he was aware of the code to which he answered yes. He argued that Justinious was not a member of the primative church but was from a time of bishop tyranny.
All that being said no one is advocating that the execution of Servetus was the right thing to do, simply that Calvin had much less to do with it than accused.
 
Dec 28, 2016
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#20
When in history did Magistrates not have authority to put a man to death? The question is rhetorical because the answer is never.
Geneva was a theocracy.
The Code of Teodosius was completed by the Code of Justinianus (527-534). This latter Code, which was in force in the territories of the Sacred Roman Empire, prescribed in the chapter "Of summa catholica Trinitate et fide, hereticis, apostatis" the capital punishment for those negating the doctrine of the Trinity and the baptism of infants.
This is the code under which Servetus was prosecuted, it was sited in the case. Servetus was asked if he was aware of the code to which he answered yes. He argued that Justinious was not a member of the primative church but was from a time of bishop tyranny.
All that being said no one is advocating that the execution of Servetus was the right thing to do, simply that Calvin had much less to do with it than accused.
Keep bringing those pesky facts!

It would be a comfort to see at least one recant their position due to facts but this is asking much these days.