By Rick Patrick
According to The History and Character of Calvinism by J. T. McNeil, in 1553 John Calvin requested that Michael Servetus be decapitated as a traitor rather than burned as a heretic. In light of this merciful request, Calvin’s friend William Farel chided him for his undue lenience. However, it did no good and Servetus was burned at the stake.
Who among us cannot sympathize with Farel’s concern? Frankly, Calvin’s softness in proposing merely to cut off the head of a man who so clearly deserved to be set on fire is puzzling. What kind of girlyman allows a heretic who denies both the Trinity and infant baptism to get away with the mere wrist slap of head removal?
Clearly, Calvin hoped in this matter that cooler heads would prevail–except, of course, for that of Servetus. When rebuffed by the Geneva Council, Calvin undoubtedly felt he had been burned, ironically the very same sensation that the heretic felt last.
by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pryor, Oklahoma, and author of
Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
This is the thirtieth of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
Views on the Fall of Man
A discussion of election might best be prefaced by explaining the primary schools of thought opining when election occurs. There are two principal views regarding the Fall of man: the supralapsarian and the infralapsarian.
The supralapsarian view argues that election preceded the Fall. Supralapsarian proponents posit the following chronology, saying that (1) God proposed to elect some individuals to salvation and condemn others to destruction, (2) God then proposed to create, (3) God proposed to permit the Fall, (4) God proposed to send Christ to redeem only the elect, and, (5) God proposed to send the Holy Spirit to apply redemption only to the elect.1