John Calvin: One of History's Top Monsters
It was at just about this time 2-years ago that I began to read Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, a guided tour through the mind of a sociopath and, doubtless, the engine of huge amounts of human misery; if it could all be totted-up, Calvin would surely rank near the top of the list of history’s monsters.
The author, Bob Felton, appears to be an atheist from what he writes at his Web site, Civil Commotion. He is most concerned with the influence of religious fundamentalism. Based on what I’ve read of him, his concern seems to be restricted to Christianity. Along those lines, nothing seems to raise his ire more than John Calvin, whom he describes as one of history’s top monsters. I must say, when you look at the evidence, he has me convinced.
Used to be, when I reflected upon the great evils in human history I needn’t look further than the last 100 years. During that time we’ve had more state-sponsored murders than all of human history combined—well over 100 million.
- Mao Tse Tung - 61.7 million people
- Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev - 66.7 million people
- Pol Pot – 1/3 of Cambodia’s population
These are just a few butchers who sacrificed people in mass upon the alter of Communism, an ideology that is necessarily atheistic. But, as Mr. Felton reminds us, we mustn’t forget who is near the top of the “monster” list; a true “sociopath” and “engine of huge amounts of human misery”—John Calvin.
Disclaimer: What follows is very graphic and many may find it disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.
For the next three years [after his conversion], Calvin lived in various places outside of France under various names. He studied on his own, preached, and began work on his first edition of the Institutes—an instant best seller. By 1536 Calvin had disengaged himself from the Roman Catholic Church and made plans to permanently leave France and go to Strasbourg. However, war had broken out between Francis I and Charles V, so Calvin decided to make a one-night detour to Geneva.
But Calvin's fame in Geneva preceded him. Farel, a local reformer, invited him to stay in Geneva and threatened him with God's anger if he did not. Thus began a long, difficult, yet ultimately fruitful relationship with that city. He began as a lecturer and preacher, but by 1538 was asked to leave because of theological conflicts. He went to Strasbourg until 1541. His stay there as a pastor to French refugees was so peaceful and happy that when in 1541 the Council of Geneva requested that he return to Geneva, he was emotionally torn. He wanted to stay in Strasbourg but felt a responsibility to return to Geneva. He did so and remained in Geneva until his death May 27, 1564. Those years were filled with lecturing, preaching, and the writing of commentaries, treatises, and various editions of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.
For further information on the atrocities committed by John Calvin, I recommend the expose John Calvin: Servant of the Word. And, If you’re interested in the Servetus affair, Was John Calvin a Murderer? is a fine resource.
Also recommend is the article article The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason, from where I derived numbers above.