f The Wittenberg Door: Was John Calvin a Murderer?

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Was John Calvin a Murderer?

Was John Calvin responsible for the execution of Michael Servetus? That’s the question Jim McClarty answers over at Reformed Voices. Here’s how it begins . . .

This is a question that shows up in my email from time to time. It's a claim that is leveled by those who seek to besmirch Reformed Theology. Usually, the claim that Calvin was a murderer is an attempt to make all Calvinistic doctrine wrong through 'guilt by association.'

However, historically speaking, the so-called 'Doctrines of Grace' - which go by the nickname of Calvinism - did not originate with Calvin. They are the result of a Synod held in Dort, Holland in 1618/19, after Calvin was long dead. Those of us who hold to Reformed Theology do so not because we are attempting to replicate the theology or ecclesiology of John Calvin, but because we are convinced that the Biblical arguments and conclusions stemming from that Synod are valid and our own exegesis confirms the five points.

If it could be proven that John Calvin was indeed a murderous wretch, it would have no effect on the theology that sprung from the pen of the Reformers. In other words, the 'guilt by association' tactic has no teeth. That being said, let's clear up the history and let the proverbial chips fall where they will.

You can read the entire post here. For a well-reasoned contrary view, I recommend Standford Rives’ article, Servetus & Calvin: Was it Murder by Calvin?

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40 Comments:

Anonymous Sharon Griffith said...

John Calvin got his "doctrine" from Augustine...a catholic priest. Augustine is considered the 4th Founding Father of Catholicism. While John Calvin was never ordained a Catholic Priest, he held fast to the false doctrine of Infant Baptism and that Baptism was essential to salvation, as did Martin Luther. Anything rooted in Catholicism cannot be trusted.

John Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Zwingli all hated the Pope, but hated (Ana)Baptists even more. All were part of the the persecution of those saints who refused Catholicism in any form and especially in the doctrine of scriptural Baptism.

I cannot help but wonder why in Calvinism ALL doesn't mean ALL when it applies to the Doctrine of Salvation, but all means all when scripture mentions anything else.

John Calvin was a murder. If he was counting on his Baptism to be essential to his salvation, then he is in Hell today. As is Luther, Augustine and Zwingli.

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.

12:51 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Sharon. I’m afraid you’ve fallen prey to a lot of misinformation. First, Calvin didn’t get his “doctrine” from Augustine, although they certainly agreed on many things. Calvin’s Institutes isn’t an Augustine quote book, but the first thorough-going work of systematic theology.

Regarding baptism, neither Luther nor Calvin held to baptismal regeneration or that baptism is required for salvation. Also, infant baptism doesn’t come from Rome, but, I would argue, from the Scriptures. I recommend following the links in my post Baptism Resources to learn more.

Does “all” really mean without exception? If so, then you must be a universalist. Did the Aztec Indians pay taxes to Caesar since the Bible says that “all” do? There are many such examples. Instead of, as so many do, mindlessly chanting “all means all and that’s all it means,” we should let the context determine the meaning of “all,” and carefully study other passage that relate to the topic in question. For more, I recommend my series Who’s Sovereign in Salvation?

Regarding the Anabaptists, it’s true that Luther and Calvin didn’t like them. Reason being, they rejected the Anabaptists use of violence to spread their doctrine, and Luther and Calvin opposed their doctrine of the “inner light,” which devalued the Scriptures.

Calvin was a murderer? The irony is that you left that comment on a post that debunks that slander. Obviously you didn’t take the time to read it.

Does the truth matter to you, Sharon? If so, I recommend that you take the time to study these issues prior to condemning people to hell.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

History supports the fact that Calvin purposely had Michael Servetus burned at the stake (with green wood), that it was premeditated (He promised Servetus would never leave Geneva alive), and that he was likewise responsible for the deaths by burning of many other persons--not to mention the incarcerations of even women and children.

Scripture plainly denounces all such behavior and declares that no murderer has within him eternal life.

I have read your entire post, and it does nothing to help the case for John Calvin or Calvinism. The doctrines. John Calvin was a merciless tyrant, and he created his god in his image.

2:07 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Melissa, like Sharon, you have succumbed to nonsense. What you’re claiming simply isn’t true. First, Calvin never had anybody executed, for he had no civil authority. Even in his own church, the Genevan council overrode Calvin on things such as the frequency of communion and, even, who would be admitted to the table. The myth that he was some kind of tyrant falls for the same reason.

During the sixteenth century, all European countries and cities executed heretics. Geneva was no exception. Instead of handing Servatus over to France (they wanted to executed him too), the city council chose to deal with it on their own. The entry for the registry of the Venerable Company of Pastors recorded the city council’s decision on October 25, 1533, as follows: “Their Lordships, having received the opinions of the churches of Basle, Berne, Zurich, and Schaffhausen upon the Servetus affair, condemned the said Servetus to be led to Champey and there to be burned alive.” Calvin, of course, is not mentioned, because he was not a member of the city council and had nothing to do with the verdict.

As you mentioned, however, Calvin supported state-execution of heretics. Calvin met with Servatus and tried to get him to repent, but he refused. He also went to the city council, after the judgment was made, and plead with them to change the mode of execution to the more humane beheading—they refused.

Since Calvin murdered no one, he can’t be charged with murder. And just because he supported the state’s right to, at the time, execute heretics, doesn’t make him a murderer either.

Your last charge is that Calvin, and it seems by extension Calvinists (such as myself), believe in a different god, and thus aren’t Christians. It certainly can’t be because of the case you’ve made here—our salvation isn’t depended upon which state laws we support. Instead, it’s based upon our faith in the person and work of second person of the Trinity: Jesus Christ, and that faith is in Him and His work alone. Since I believe that, John Calvin believed that, and I assume you believe that, then we can all rejoice in the fellowship of the communion of the saints.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'we should let the context determine the meaning of all' -- ok - here is a good example - does the meaning of the word ALL differ in the first part of the verse from the second part?

Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for ALL men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for ALL men.

6:41 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

So, then, Anonymous, you’re a Universalist? If we limit our reading to Rom. 5:18 you must be. But if we want to stay orthodox, we must consider Rom. 5:15:

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.”

Here the construction is similar, except “many” is used instead of “all.” My point is that it isn’t exegetically sound to simply say, “All means all and that’s all it means.” There is a wealth of Scripture that needs to be considered. I recommend checking out my series called Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? where I do just that.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Child of the Reformation with his catechism is more powerful than a Pentecostal? LOL. Surely you jest! That's like the Pharisees claiming that clinging to their Talmud made them more powerful than those Pentecostal Apostles and their Pentecostal followers! Only a Reformed cessationist can believe such delusions, while Pentecostals in the last 100 years have won more people to the Lord than Calvinists have in the last 500. Pentecostals are the force in global missions, not "reformed" Calvinists.

Also, you may want to consider seeing this link o learn that your defence of Calvin is not based in truth-http://knol.google.com/k/servetus-calvin#

9:31 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Anonymous. First, let me explain the tagline. I didn’t grow up in the church. So when I did start going to church, I fell in with a bad theological crowd: Word-Faith Pentecostals. After six years of binding, loosing, and demon chasing, I realized that I didn’t know squat about Christianity. That’s where the creeds, confessions, and catechisms came in. The contrast is given with a catechized child who actually knows God in truth. That’s it in a nutshell.

Regarding evangelism, Calvinism offers a rich tradition of world-wide evangelism that has continued from the tie of the Reformation to today. The question is, what is the “evangel”? Because Pentecostalism is completely man-centered and man-exalting, you get the gospel wrong; you end up with a works-based salvation.

Finally, you’re “your defense of Calvin is not based on truth” is itself false. After reading Mr. Rives’ case, I continue to stand by what I wrote above. That said, his is the most well-reasoned anti-Calvin argument I’ve read. I found his argument that Geneva had no right to put him on trial was particularly compelling. As a matter of fact, because it’s so good, I think those on my side should give it a fair reading, so I will add a link to it in the post.

Thanks for weighing in, and I hope you come back so that we can talk further.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Rives case is SIX HUNDRED PAGES LONG. have you read that? There is no wiggle-room. John Calvin was a murderer, persecutor of God's people and a tyranical control-freak. His doctrine came from Augustine, not the Bible.

Word of Faith is a strain of Pentecostalism. It hardly reflects the whole. Neither is it man-centered like you claim. Besides, if you were binding and loosing without FAITH, without FASTING, you did it in unbelief and hence saw no results, just like the apostles experienced. Christ told them their failure was due to their UNBELIEF and they needed to FAST.

Pentecostalism, being the closest reflection of Biblical Christianity, is THE GLOBAL FORCE in missions activity and results. That is a fact. They have the right doctrine and walk in the power of the Spirit, not in the enticing words of "reformed" wisdom and creeds, which are powerless and often FALSE DOCTRINE. But I am sure you are comfy in this camp--you don't have top do much--leave it all the God's "sovereingty" to get it done.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Harry said...

calvin was a "control freak" who created a theology to justify his depraved behavior.

"Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth," Since Calvin was anything but meek, he surely will not inherit the earth.

6:44 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Right, Harry. Calvin certainly wasn’t as meek as you. Thank you for being such a wonderful example of meekness and humility by slandering a brother in Christ and consigning him to hell because you disagree with some aspects of his theology.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pentecostals are the force in global missions, not "reformed" Calvinists.

- As a Spirit Filled Calvinist, I haver to disagree - Calvanism is more Word bound then the "loose" pentecostal federation, and has done much more for evangelism than the Pentecostals - (Unless you regard Benny Hinn's one time visitors as Evangelized.) Secondly, there is various COMPLETELY undebate"able" Denominations who are in fact complete and utter heretics and sects on primary bible-based doctrine that came from the "pentecostal movement" such as i.e. the Oneness Teachings, Jehovas Witnesses, Unitarians etc. to name but a few... Calvinism was never the starting point of un-Christian teachings in History unlike Pentecostal teaching, who is in fact a propagation of Humanism, and ultimately the gateway "drug" to the Anti-Christ... People should follow Christ on a response to a personal conviction / or answering a call, and not because of the promise of al sorts of funny "shum-sway" "spiritual" powers. The focus went from Primary to 5th class secondary...

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

+1 with Rives. My mea culpa is that I'm an ordained minister of Anabaptist tradition with BA, MA blaa blaa blaa.

Read Calvin in Seminary. Liked Calvin and still do. But he was still a murderer. You’re right, thought, in that this fact doesn’t impact the importance or validity of his work or followers.

I do find some discomfort in the fact that we (me included) tend to judge yesterday by today's standards. Also Love Luther, but he was a drunken anti-semite (though I guess everybody was drunk back then!).

The problem is, I think, in the judging. We are "saved by grace" but then Christ comes to judge everyone according to what they've done (stated plainly 2X in Revelation). An Anabaptist would see this as simply God deciding whether your claim to faith was authentic or not – the pattern of one’s life (ie Hitler claiming faith in Christ at his judgment but being rejected on account of his actions). Even Luther and Calvin admitted a difference between their professed churches (large number) and the true invisible church (much smaller number). I could site their works if you like.

The big question:

Calvin in heaven? Not by my reckoning.

And while it’s true that I’m a committed Free Will Christian, I’m certain the day will come when we all stand faced with the folly of our own self-assurance. God will burst every such bubble once eternity becomes reality.

Good blog, I enjoy being rustled by the sound of some wrong-headed internet writer .

9:54 PM  
Anonymous DTF said...

Calvinists follow the doctrines of John Calvin, but because he was a murderer, Calvinists try and distance themselves from him. This is like Nazis claiming that they didn't follow Hitler, or Mormons claiming they did not follow Joseph Smith. Calvinists want to have it both ways. The god of Calvinism is based on the philosophies of John Calvin, who actually based his beliefs on St. Augustine.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When these obvious Biblical truths are pointed out to a Calvinist, an attempt will be made to defend the Calvinist position with arguments such as, "we do not follow Calvin, we follow the Bible". However, you can no more seperate Calvinism from John Calvin, than you can seperate Mormonism from Joseph Smith, or Nazism from Adolph Hitler.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous DTF said...

There is no way to defend Calvin's conduct with scripture. Yes, he was loving and caring toward those who agreed with him. Yes, he expended himself and shortened his life through visiting the sick, caring for the flock and preaching continually. But in his treatment of those who disagreed with him he was anything but Christian.


Is not Christ the standard for His followers? And is He not always the same, unchanged by time or culture? How can the crusades be condemned (and rightly so) for all the evil and killing that was done under the banner of the Cross while excusing Calvin for doing much of the same, though on a smaller scale? Calvin's conduct day after day, year after year was the very antithesis of Christianity and those who are truly led by the Spirit of God. We can not escape drawing this conclusion from God's Word.

8:01 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Greetings, Anonymous and DTW. Anonymous, you mention the problem of reading today’s sensibilities into the past; I completely agree. The honest thing to do is to judge people in their time. I think that applies here because we certainly have different standards today. Back then, because of the co-mingling of church and state that began under Constantine, certain aspects of the two (church and state) became indistinguishable. One such example was church discipline being exercised by the sword for things such as heresy (blasphemy) and serial adultery (both based on the Old Testament law).

John Calvin was a man of his time and agreed that unrepentant heretics should be put to death, so this, of course, included Servetus (and Servetus thought that Calvin should be put to death for the same reason). Because Calvin was the pastor of the city he was called upon as an expert witness against Servetus. The city council, after consulting with churches in other cities, found him guilty and pronounced the sentence prescribed by law. Calvin spent hours with Servetus trying to get him to repent and save himself, but he refused. Calvin then tried to get the council to execute him in a more humane fashion (beheading), but they too refused.

The question is, Is it immoral for the state to execute heretics (blasphemers)? I don’t’ think so because that’s what God had Israel do. Should they? No, I don’t think they should for reasons I’m sure we agree upon. The thing is, Calvin, and every Christian we know of at that time, thought that it was an appropriate function of the state.

As I’m sure you know, America is the only Western country left with capital punishment. I support capital punishment for certain crimes. If it is outlawed, would it be right for a person 100 years from now to call me a murderer because I supported it? Or supported it in a certain case? Furthermore, would it be right to claim that I’m in hell because I acted as an expert witness against a person who was later executed under our current laws? I don’t think so, and I don’t think we should likewise charge John Calvin.

Regarding the term “Calvinist,” I don’t know any Calvinist who likes it. It was originally used as a derisive term. Calvin was a very humble man (he didn’t even what his grave marked because he feared people would venerate it), so I’m sure Calvin himself would be horrified by the knowledge that his name has become the pseudonym for the Doctrines of Grace—but it’s something that we’re stuck with. I became a Calvinist based solely upon my study of Scripture and long before I read a word from John Calvin. Calvin was a dedicated and loving pastor, an extremely insightful theologian, and, despite his faults, someone to admire. Like every other Calvinist I know, I’m a student of Calvin (like I am of many other giants of the faith), but a follower of Christ.

DTF, I’m curious. In your use of Mormons and Nazis as analogies, and in your comment, “the god of Calvinism,” is it your view that Calvinists aren’t Christians?

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous responds (The +1 guy) I really don't think you get the point here, and certainly not my point. I admit the difficulty in judging people based on my standards but I don't admit any difficulty at all in God judging them according to HIS standards. My whole point was that while we should rightly be careful, the New Testament would completely condemn Calvin as a murderer.

You skipped over Calvin's earlier plea that folks of divergent religious ideas be treated without the specter of death. He said that when the Catholics were in charge. As soon as his group ruled they changed their tune. We call that despotism.

And please don't claim that "everyone thought this or that" because they didn't. There were millions of Anabaptists who ended up dying for their faiths.

Boiled down it comes to this: If you talked some group into killing someone because they believed differently than you, you would be a murderer. And God would judge you a murderer, just like Calvin.

Yes, this is 400 years later but the God who judges doesn't change with the times like we do.

11:49 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Anonymous, I’ve taken the time to layout the case as to why Calvin isn’t a murderer, and the article to which this post links does so even more thoroughly. So far all you’ve done is make the claim that he’s a murderer. It’s time for you to make your case. Why is he a murderer? And why am I and the author of the article wrong in our defense? Please deal with the particulars of our case.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone has already said, read the amazing "Did Calvin Murder Servetus?" by Rives.

Or just google Sebastian Castellio, an ardent Protestant and former friend of Calvin who called on Calvin to repent of his horrific sin of murdering Servetus.

Do you at ALL realise that the very FIRST principle of the Reformation was that people should not be killed for heresy? DO you realise that Calvin championed this for many years - until he had to reverse his beliefs (and kill his own conscience) when he came to murder Servetus?

Do you realise that under the laws of Geneva (drawn up by Calvin), the severest punishment for heresy was expulsion from the city - until Servetus came along and Calvin made up some laws in order to murder a fellow theologian due to his insane jealousy?

And my goodness, I'm shocked that you call yourself a Calvinist but still haven't come to terms with the letters that were found in the French RCC Inquisition archives in 1749 !!!! --- Calvin sent personal letters from Servetus to the RCC Inquisition in order to get Servetus burnt as a heretic. In other words, the ultimate kind of betrayal. Something the majority of non-Christians would ever do!!! And not just a horrible personal betrayal, but what about Calvin the supposedly great "Protestant" -- who in reality helped a Roman Catholic Inquisition. And who lied thought his sinful teeth during the trial of Servetus, little knowing that his sin would be caught out 200 years later. Ya, ya. There's not a hope you can wriggle out of that one. Ughh, anyway,, pity that supposed followers of a man can't even make the effort to study properly. I mean, it takes all of 30 minutes to find the necessary sources on google these days.

And the drearily inane "he was a man of his times" argument. Lots of Jews were involved in resistance to the Romans and in killing them in the time of Christ. OK for Jesus' disciples to do that then, too? Sheesh. How about reading the deeply spiritual and TRULY Christian Sebastian Castellio ,, His, and the many other expressions of horror at what Calvin had done, completely put the lie to your argument that everybody was killing each other in those days so it was fine for Calvin. Listen to Castellio:

“If Christ himself came to Geneva, he would be crucified. For Geneva is not a place of Christian liberty. It is ruled by a new pope, but one who burns men alive, while the pope at Rome at least strangles them first.” 1554

(Yup, when the Catholics killed Tyndale, they strangled him first. Poor Servetus took a full 30 minutes to be slowly roasted to death. All to God's glory, mind you, as he had predestined .. )

Calvin was as far opposite the Jesus of the Bible as it's possible to be ,, and I love how Castellio's brilliant lines foreshadow Dostoyevsky's famous Grand Inquisitor parable. Calvin: Murderer of an Innocent Man!

12:48 PM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Anonymous, this is getting tiresome. I’ve already answered the claims you’re making, and so has the author of the article to which I’ve linked. I asked you to support your claim that he was murderer, and to deal with the particulars of the cases made by me and the author. Instead, you continue to ignore our arguments and to instead continue your claims. Does truth matter to you? Or is your hatred of John Calvin more important?

For the sake of those who are reading this, I’ll provide a summery response to your assertions.

Regarding Sebastian Castellio, he and Calvin were friends, and he was outraged Calvin’s participation in the trial. Castellio held that heretics should be tolerated, and Calvin held that, unless they repent, they should be executed. Calvin’s view was the common view of the time, and Castellio’s was very progressive.

Castellio held Calvin responsible for Servetus’ death, as you do. Of course, citing someone who agrees with you does not prove that either of you are right. You still must make that case Calvin murdered Servetus. You are the one making the claim; therefore, it is incumbent upon you to prove your claim through evidence and arguments. You have done neither so far.

Do you realise that under the laws of Geneva (drawn up by Calvin), the severest punishment for heresy was expulsion from the city - until Servetus came along and Calvin made up some laws in order to murder a fellow theologian due to his insane jealousy?

Calvin didn’t draw-up any laws in Geneva. As a Frenchman, he was a resident alien living in Geneva via permission of the city council; he didn’t even have the right to vote.

During the sixteenth century, all European countries and cities executed heretics. Geneva was no exception. Instead of handing Servatus over to France (they wanted to executed him too), the city council chose to deal with it on their own. The entry for the registry of the Venerable Company of Pastors recorded the city council’s decision on October 25, 1533, as follows: “Their Lordships, having received the opinions of the churches of Basle, Berne, Zurich, and Schaffhausen upon the Servetus affair, condemned the said Servetus to be led to Champey and there to be burned alive.” Calvin, of course, is not mentioned, because he was not a member of the city council and had nothing to do with the verdict.

Regarding any letters to the French Inquisition, I don’t know anything about that. If your point is to show that Calvin wanted Servetus executed as a heritic, that point has already been established (and Servetus wanted Calvin executed for the same reason).

You claim that Calvin lied “through his sinful teeth” during the trial. We have those records. What lie did he tell? Calvin testified as to Servetus’ theology. Servetus didn’t deny any of it. Indeed, if he did deny it, his life would have been spared.

The question is, Is it immoral for the state to execute heretics (blasphemers)? It can’t be, unless God is immoral for that’s what had had Israel do. Should they? No, I don’t think they should for reasons I’m sure that we, and Castellio then, would agree upon. The thing is, Calvin, and most Christian of the time, thought that it was an appropriate function of the state.

As I’m sure you know, America is the only Western country left with capital punishment. I support capital punishment for certain crimes. If it is outlawed, would it be right for a person 100 years from now to call me a murderer because I supported it? Or supported it in a certain case? Furthermore, would it be right to claim that I’m in hell because I acted as an expert witness against a person who was later executed under our current laws?

You called this argument “drearily inane.” But insulting an argument isn’t answering it. Time to step up to the plate: How does testifying in a court regarding a man’s theology make you a murderer?

11:13 AM  
Blogger DaGodfather said...

How any anyone believe in Calvinism when its founder, John Calvin, is murderer? God help the blind! Furthermore, show me in the new testament where any of the apostles murdered someone for disagreeing with them?

12:04 PM  
Blogger usmcwarrior said...

Dear Wittenberg;

I happened across this site in the past few days and would like to leave a couple of comments.

I have struggled with the doctrines of Calvin, Luther and Augustine for the past three years and not because of anything I have read in Scripture. I have struggled with them because of the comments of a fellow Christian who shared his belief in this doctrine with me - trying, if you will, to enlighten me.

What I have come away with to date is this; (1) All does mean all. (2) Your Aztec comment really isn't relevant because Jesus was speaking to the very people the comment was intended for and they, as we, should understand it to mean all those under the control of Rome.

As far as judging a man by the era in which he lives goes, we would then have to deduce that Jesus Christ was not living 'up' to the standard of his day. Jesus met with at least two prostitutes and in neither case did he recommend torture or killing and in fact intervened on behalf of one, placing himself in danger. It is curious that we hold a man 1500 years removed who is upheld by some members of the protestant churches as a father of reformed reason and theology, to a much lower standard.

He is guilty not only of the murder of Michael Servetus but possibly as many as 57 more. By his own words, some years earlier, he desired Servetus dead and not for any crime related to the ten commandments, but simply for not believing and even preaching against a church baptistic tradition. Why are Calvinists ready to come to his defense in this? The man died in his sins, unrepentant of the murders he was complicit in.

I have also found it troubling that many theologians declare the word foreknow as equal to foreordained and that 'the best manuscripts' render it as such. I have many English translations and all of them are rendered exactly the same so either all of the translating bodies of theologians conspired - across time, to use a word not intended by the original transcripts, or defenders of 5 point Calvinism, are desperate to find an answer supporting their hypothesis. This is an important point because foreknow, in English, is passive while foreordained, is active. When looking at Romans 8: 28-30 alone, Paul's logical explanation declares God's foreknowledge is a passive act and the 'predestination' is after some fact; logically an affirmation of faith on the part of the Believer and that those are predestined to conformity to the Son. There is a logical progression here that is unmistakable and which does not require a redefining of earlier passages or words.

You should know I renounce the suggestion that we must continually look back at the manuscripts to check the original Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic. None of those who support this have these as the language of their childhood and every linguist agrees that not all words in these languages (except Latin), bear a similar word in English. In addition, a person needs to have been ensconced not only in the language but the society in which it is being used in order to perfectly understand the intended meaning.

One other point on language; if it is necessary to look at 'other older languages' to determine the precise meaning of a Scripture, it necessarily makes all English translations untrustworthy. Are you ready to make that statement? No; The translators are pretty clear and close enough that we can trust what the intent of the original was. All we have to do is trust what they say.

To Be Con't...

6:09 AM  
Blogger usmcwarrior said...

To Wittenberg, con't;

Calvinism, whether it is 5 point or 4 or some derivative; it all leads to fatalism if followed through honestly. The problem is most Calvinists believe to a point and then lose courage to follow through to the logical conclusions:
1. If God chose; he will keep, which suggests, as some believe, a 'true believer' will not sin.
2. If God 'predestined' some, he logically intended for the others to go to hell. The irrational support of a God who 'gives' that special 'something' to some but withholds it from the vast majority not wanting any to go to hell is intellectually dishonest. Example; If two of you are on the edge of a cliff and in peril of a certain fall to your deaths and I am in front of you, I can intervene and save both of your lives. If I only reach out for one of you - intentionally, while possessing the ability to reach out for both, I have determined that the other should die. One of the bedrock Calvinist truths is that no man, short of God's intervention, willingly chooses God. If that is true, then as much as God has 'chosen' to save some, he has also 'chosen' for others to go to hell. Fatalism. While it may not 'fit' the Calvinist model, it is never-the-less, logically consistent and logic; is logic. That hollow argument that there is a Godly logic and a human logic is, illogical. Something is either consistent with the physical laws provided by God and the laws of reason (also of God) or they are not.

It is also curious that for nearly 400 years, the church did not seem to squabble about this. Augustine's Confessions, are not a defense of an agreed doctrine but his declaration of what he believed was revealed. It is curious that the Catholic church adopted a version of his thesis on this topic around the same time they declared a new name.

I will agree that Luther, Calvin, Augustine and many even throughout the 'reformation' were better Catholics than even the Catholic church would admit to. And this from a former Catholic.

6:11 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

It’s clear, based on the comments above (and other such comments elsewhere on this site), that the vast majority of blog-commenting Arminians have little interest in facts, arguments, or, for that matter, basic honesty. I’ve taken great pains to lay out the case as to why the charge of murder is false, and the article to which I link does so in even more detail. But does any of that matter? Will you Arminians carefully read and consider the arguments made? No. No, it’s much simpler to just close your eyes, plug your ears, and repeat the mantra, “John Calvin is a murderer!” John Calvin is a murderer!” (Spoiled five-year-olds around the world would be proud.) So I will no longer respond to comments on this topic, for to do so would simply be casting my pearls before swine. I leave you to your hate and to your lies.

10:42 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

How any anyone believe in Calvinism when its founder, John Calvin, is murderer

DaGodfater, your comment reinforces my theory as to why people such as you are so commented to your hatred of John Calvin: The strength of Calvinism is its exegesis. This is a problem for Arminianism. So to protect the paradigm, people like you resort to the Genetic Fallacy. This fallacy is committed when you support or reject a claim or argument because of its source. So you folks commit this fallacy when you say “Calvin was bad therefore Calvinism is bad.” I think the reason you do this is so that you can feel justified in simply dismissing Calvinism without actually studying its arguments, engaging its exegesis, and thoughtfully providing response.

10:46 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

usmcwarrior, as I stated above, I won’t waste my time responding to your slander, but I will respond to other comments you made.

What I have come away with to date is this; (1) All does mean all. (2) Your Aztec comment really isn't relevant because Jesus was speaking to the very people the comment was intended for and they, as we, should understand it to mean all those under the control of Rome.

That’s exactly my point: context determines the meaning of all. So I will repeat what I wrote above: Instead of, as so many do, mindlessly chanting “all means all and that’s all it means,” we should let the context determine the meaning of “all,” and carefully study other passages that relate to the topic in question. For more, I recommend my series Who’s Sovereign in Salvation?

Your comments about judging men in their time have already been answered above. Please take the time to read it.

Regarding Rom. 8:28-30, it says “for those whom He forknew . . . “Whom” refers to me and to you—individual believers. He forknew us. It does not mean that He simply forknew future events (this is the difference between a mere prognosticator and a sovereign God). Because it speaks of God knowing us, you and I, before we were created, this turns out to be a very personal set of texts:

God forknew me and predestined me to be conformed to the image of His Son. Because He predestined me He called me (I heard the gospel and, by His grace, responded); because He called me, he justified me (declared me “not guilty” due to the doing and dying of Christ); and because of being justified He promises that I will be glorified (raised up to glorify and enjoy Him forever). These amazing texts should give every believer great comfort, for salvation, from beginning to end, is the work of God. And nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:37-39).

1. If God chose; he will keep, which suggests, as some believe, a 'true believer' will not sin.

As we’ve seen in the Roman’s passages above, God certainly will keep us. Regarding not sinning, I’ve never met nor read a Calvinist who believed that believers don’t sin.
On the contrary, we will continue to struggle with sin throughout our sojourn in this life, but the goodness of God will always bring us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

Continue reading below . . .

10:53 AM  
Blogger The Wittenberg Door said...

Regarding your (usmcwarrior) comments concerning God’s predestinating work in salvation, I think the problem is that you have an insufficient understanding man’s plight.

In the third chapter of Genesis we read of our first parents’ sin. Because Adam represented us as our federal head, we all sinned in him (Rom. 5:12–19). The resulting corruption is passed on to us all, and its extent is total—every aspect of our being has been affected:

Our heart (emotions and affections)—Rom.1:24–27; 1 Tim. 6:10; 2 Tim. 3:4

Our mind (thoughts and understanding)—Gen. 6:5; 1 Cor. 1:21; Eph. 4:17

Our will (constitution and moral vitality)—John 8:34; Rom 7:14–24; Eph.2:1–3; 2 Pet. 2:19

Furthermore, Scripture teaches that Adam’s sin brought spiritual death to us all (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–7; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13). As a result, men are spiritually deaf, blind, and completely corrupted (Ecc. 9:3; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14); also, men are slaves of sin (John. 8:34; Rom. 6:20; Tit. 3:3) and children of the devil (Eph. 2:1–2; 2 Tim. 2:25–26; 1 John 3:10), and not a single one of us does good nor seeks after God (Rom. 3:10–12)

Because of this corrupted state, man is dead in his sins and in complete and utter rebellion against God. His only hope is a sovereign act of God’s Mercy: he must be made a new creation (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 5:17–18), to have his nature renewed (Due. 30:6; Ezk. 36:26–2; 1 Pet. 1:3)—to be brought to life by the Spirit (John 5:21; Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13) and to be granted repentance (Acts. 11:18, 16:14; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:25–26).

So to make your analogy more accurate, you have two men on the gallows having been justly sentence to death for their crimes. The governor, however, chooses to commute the sentence of one of the prisoners for his own purposes.

usmcwarrior, as we’ve seen, we are but drowning men lost in a sea of sin and rebellion. Our only hope is a rescue operation—a sovereign work of God upon our heart. And this rescue operation does not depend upon the drowning man seeking out the lifeguard. Instead, our rescuer chose to save us, and to preserve us, before we ever entered the water.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wittenberg Door, I am absolutely stunned that you would express the justify the idea that heretics,(unbelievers) could or should have been burned at the stake or executed by any means, at any time past or present, since Christ's death & resurection. Calvinism or Arminianism aside, how can you justify such an opinion, when Christ's main command was for us to love one other. Heretics were & are to be won to Christ & NOT harmed. From your opinions, you might as well be living under the Law in Old Testament times. Any Christian, in this time or past, that holds that unbelivers are to be harmed if they will not convert should look to Islam to see the end result of that type of doctrine. We as Christians do not live under the law as in Old Testament times & God now looks upon ALL men thru Christ with love. You go ahead & show me any instance in the New Testament where God commanded heretics to be executed,(guess what,YOU CAN'T). I would suggest that YOU need to look to YOUR own salvation through the Holy Spirit as the Bible says with fear & trembling.

8:39 AM  
Blogger usmcwarrior said...

Of course I know the pat and well orchestrated argument for this, but it difficult to believe people place any credence in either Calvin or the Synod being as it took 1600 years for the teaching to gather any traction. Augustine was the first to float the idea but the entire established Church of the day, rejected the notion.

That God would predestinate - before time, some for salvation and others for hell runs counter to every Scripture where God exhorts men to reason with him and to choose this day who you will serve. It also requires redefining words likw all and whosever, foreknow et al.

Yes I know your arguments but they are arguments which force all other Scripture to support your presupposition that Calvin, the Synod, the Reformed churches, et al were right on this doctrine.

They were wrong!

9:49 AM  
Blogger The Catechizer said...

Anonymous, the positions you ascribe to me I do not hold. If you care anything for the truth then you would desire an honest, respectful dialog, instead of erecting a straw man so that you can triumphantly knock it down. I invite you to read what I wrote, and if you find fault, challenge those ideas thoughtfully and graciously. Who knows? Maybe you’ll show me wrong and we’ll both be the better for it.

10:04 AM  
Blogger The Catechizer said...

Usmcwarrior, I love your moniker. It conjures up images of valor, steadfastness, and stoutness of character. I’m sure you chose it carefully, knowing the high-bar you set for yourself when engaging others. Do you think you’ve lived up to that in these discussions?

First, I took the time to offer a well-reasoned, biblical argument for man’s falleness and God’s sovereignty in salvation. Your response was to simply dismiss it by calling it “pat” and claiming that those who hold these views are wrong, but ridicule is not an answer to an argument, and claiming that someone is wrong doesn’t make him so. After the dismissal you seem to argue that since the majority of the church held to a semi-pelagian view of salvation for, ostensibly, 1600 years, then they must be right. This seems to me to be a very odd view of truth. How long does a belief have to be held before it is protected against questioning? Do you believe the earth to be flat? Are you Roman Catholic?

As far as God’s predestinating work, it’s simple: As I showed above, all men stand before God guilty and deserving of eternal punishment; God, for His own sovereign purposes, choses to save some.

You claim that I’m redefining words. Where? The one making the claim has the evidentiary responsibility. However, since you made mention of two words (I’ve already answered your “all” claim above), I’ll take it as an honest question as to how their plain meaning fits in to my case.

Whosever
I assume you mean “whosever believes,” which is used in places like John 3:16 and 11:26. It means that anyone (whosoever) believing in Christ will be saved. I’m sure that we both agree that faith (knowledge, assent, and trust) is required for salvation. Where we differ is from where that faith comes. Your position is that it comes from within the man himself, and mine is, as argued for above, that it comes from God. So the difference is on where faith comes from, not on what the meaning of the word “whosever” is.

Foreknew
The word foreknew means to know something or someone beforehand. In Rom. 8:28 “for those whom He forknew . . ." is the later. He foreknew me and you before we were created; not that He simply foreknew our actions. This is the point where we differ—it’s not the meaning of the word, but the object of the knowledge.

Your last paragraph is more fodder that I believe to be beneath your lofty moniker: claims without any support, conclusions assumed without any substantiation, and still, no arguments against my position and for yours.

Usmcwarrior, I extend to you the same invitation that I did Anonymous: read what I wrote, and if you find fault, challenge those ideas thoughtfully and graciously. In 2 Cor. we are called to be “ambassadors of Christ.” An ambassador represents him who sent him. While having this dialog in the blogosphere we are representing Christ. When doing so we either bring glory to His name or shame. Let’s work together to bring glory by reflecting thoughtfully and biblically upon our positions, carefully and honestly engaging the ideas of the other, and always remembering that believing true things is much more important than “being right.”

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just wondering, do all people who claim to know the God of peace have this much hostility in what they believe? Is God really glorified by having those who claim to know Him talk like this in front of everyone? If I was considering the Christian faith, I would run away after reading these posts!

7:00 PM  
Anonymous John Paul said...

Thank you The Catechizer for your level headed, well reasoned arguments. Your patience and longsuffering in answering the many questions and accusations should also be noted. Grace and Peace to you. I know from personal experience, defending the faith is a thankless job.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Calminian said...

I come from an anabaptist heritage and now am a deacon at a calvanistic church. I would like to inform the honorable Catechizer that by far most anabaptist were a non-violent people. This tradition carries on to this day in Mennonite and Amish circles. I would encourage anyone to read Pilgrim Ablaze, a book on Michael Saddler who, as well as his wife were executed for their faith by Zwinglian authorities. Michael Saddler stands in the fruit of his character and actions head and shoulders above John Calvin. Why do most Christians not know of him?

Well I don't want to get caught up in debates over singular words not that words don't matter, of course they do. I would like to point out however,that from my perspective the words are meant to paint a picture bigger than mere doctrinal statements. And let us not forget that our Lord prayed fervently for His people to be one, even as He and the Father are one.

2:38 PM  
Blogger chapmaned24 said...

All this talk, and yet, I need to know something.

Who brought charges against Michael Servetus? CALVIN

What were the charges against Michael Servetus? Heresy

Was it because Michael Servetus disagreed with Calvin's interpretation of the Bible? YES

Did Calvin bring the charges, KNOWING FULL AND WELL WHAT THE PUNISHMENT WOULD BE? YES.

Then Calvin is a murderer.

I hate it when Calvinists speak out of both sides of their mouths in topics such as this.

They can attempt to re-write history, and someone will buy it for a dollar.

Ed



8:24 PM  
Blogger EnydOfDays said...

If you put in a little study and are willing to chase down a few facts it is hard to come to any other conclusion that John Calvin is a murderer.

There were numerous accounts of this, from within his own circles as well as historians throughout the centuries.

He was involved heavily in Severus murder, and in at least 50 others as well. Many were driven from Geneva destitute.

His rampage showed no boundaries, men, women and children were done this way.

A rather detailed writing gives many of the details I have found across numerous pages and historical data.

Whitten, you take the stand that everyone is wrong. Even when detailed information is provided and expounded upon either from the bible or from well known historical facts.

You remain adamant.

I was brought up Baptist, one of the denominations that hold tightly to Calvin's teachings. I was away from God for a number of years, once I returned I began to read the word of God for myself. I learned things I had been taught in church was not as it would appear.

I have since Attended a Church of God which is Pentecostal. I have grown more in the years with them than at any other time in my Christian life.

I see Calvinist fighting against the spirit or anything supernatural, to the point of calling it demonic at times.

While Pentecostals and the like embrace the supernatural and walk in it as a regular part of their beliefs.

http://mbplee.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/murderer-and-heretic-john-calvin/

8:57 PM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

chapmaned24 and EnydOfDays, because, as is common for people such as yourselves, you commented without reading what I had wrote, so you missed this:

It’s clear, based on the comments above (and other such comments elsewhere on this site), that the vast majority of blog-commenting Arminians have little interest in facts, arguments, or, for that matter, basic honesty. I’ve taken great pains to lay out the case as to why the charge of murder is false, and the article to which I link does so in even more detail. But does any of that matter? Will you Arminians carefully read and consider the arguments made? No. For it’s much simpler to just close your eyes, plug your ears, and repeat the mantra, “John Calvin is a murderer!” John Calvin is a murderer!” (Spoiled five-year-olds around the world would be proud.) So I will no longer respond to comments on this topic, for to do so would simply be casting my pearls before swine. I leave you to your hate and to your lies.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the number is unknown - the guilt is not - it does not require one to be on something to influence it

I am not a member of the church I attend yet I run various programs, control budgets and the hiring of staff in those programs - this is because of my experience - and the fact that the modern church is a little on the lazy side

John Calvin easily influenced people to do what he wanted - as proven by the statement concerning his grave - if I tell or suggest you do something wrong and you do it - we are both guilty

as for the article itself - it amused me that they called some of the accused incompetent bio-terrorists - perhaps they had spread a version of soap - but people who are only human and did not like them spread false testimony

It has happened many times in history

However - in my mind it is better to be an uptight overconservative - then a freewheeling liberal when it comes to theology - both are equally wrong in things - but the conservative has the better chance for personal salvation - while the liberal is better for the care of others - it is better to be saved and fruitless - then to lead a thousand souls astray

11:12 AM  
Blogger The Catechizer and The Deacon said...

Anonymous, you used a lot of words to say nothing. First because some church allows you, an outsider, to run it, doesn’t mean that the Genevan council allowed such a thing, and there’s certainly no evidence to suggest that they did.

Why would anyone believe that Calvin’s wishes regarding his grave was wrong, as you suggest?

Your only reference to the article (“they called some of the accused incompetent bio-terrorists”) shows that you, like the others above, didn’t take the time to read it; and your last paragraph, where you talk about liberals and conservatives, doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the topic at hand. But I’ve already wasted too much time . . .

. . . because, as is common for people such as yourselves, you commented without reading what I had wrote, so you missed this:

It’s clear, based on the comments above (and other such comments elsewhere on this site), that the vast majority of blog-commenting Arminians have little interest in facts, arguments, or, for that matter, basic honesty. I’ve taken great pains to lay out the case as to why the charge of murder is false, and the article to which I link does so in even more detail. But does any of that matter? Will you Arminians carefully read and consider the arguments made? No. For it’s much simpler to just close your eyes, plug your ears, and repeat the mantra, “John Calvin is a murderer!” John Calvin is a murderer!” (Spoiled five-year-olds around the world would be proud.) So I will no longer respond to comments on this topic, for to do so would simply be casting my pearls before swine. I leave you to your hate and to your lies.

4:43 AM  

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