Who Was John Calvin? | Part One

January 14, 2015

Dr. Marty Comer | Pastor
Sand Ridge Baptist Church, Lexington, TN

*This article was originally published HERE and was used by permission.

The theology of John Calvin is currently experiencing quite a renaissance. His followers are today called “young, restless, and reformed” or adherents of “The New Calvinism.” In fact, Time magazine in 2009 listed “The New Calvinism” as one of the “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now.” Calvin and his ideas are making inroads among Southern Baptists. Many seminarians and young pastors identify with his doctrines, while long established traditional Southern Baptist Churches (and their leadership) generally stay away from the thinking of Calvin.  Because of the contemporary emphasis on Calvinism I thought that perhaps we should take a closer look at a man who, although he has been dead for over 400 years, still speaks to many in our day. Who was John Calvin? Where did he live? What did he teach? And would you want to live in a place where he exerted a dominating influence?

John Calvin was born in France in 1509. He was educated in the law and trained for a legal career and only later on became interested in religion. While living in Paris he became acquainted with numerous Protestant Christians who dissented from Catholic teachings on things such as transubstantiation (the view that at communion the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ and are not just symbolic of his body and blood). In 1533 many Protestants were forced to leave Paris because of their call for reform in the Church. Calvin “disguised as a vinedresser, escaped in a basket” from the city. [1]

Calvin was eventually asked by a friend to assist in the Reformation efforts in Geneva. In 1536 he arrived in Geneva, but was banished for three years in 1538 before returning for good in 1541. His banishment came at the behest of Roman Catholics who were aligned with less religious people in the city in opposing Calvin’s desire to make Geneva a “model Christian community.” [2] Upon his return to Geneva, Calvin began to work in earnest to transform the city into his vision of a model Christian city. Until his death in 1564 this was the focus of his life.

What kind of community did Calvin seek to build? Unlike Traditional Baptists, Calvin did not believe in the separation of church and state. Religious Liberty was not to be found in Calvin’s Geneva. Although Calvin never officially held public office, he ruled the city as pastor of the church. How did he rule? An ecclesiastical court called The Consistory was formed that included laymen and ministers. Though not a member, Calvin’s will was expressed through this group. His teachings and reforms were the foundation of their decisions.

According to historian Clyde L. Manschreck, in Calvin’s Geneva “between 1542 and 1546, fifty-eight people were executed and seventy six people were banished.” [3] During Calvin’s time in Geneva many were forced to leave the city while many who supported his teachings moved there from other areas of Europe. Manschreck goes on to report that people were sentenced to death in Geneva for things such as adultery, being a witch, blasphemy, and various other offenses. One child was beheaded for striking his parents.

On one occasion, one of Calvin’s numerous critics in Geneva placed an unsigned letter on Calvin’s pulpit. The authorities conducted an investigation and searched the home of a man named Jaques Gruet. In Calvin’s Geneva, homes could be searched at any time without notice. In Gruet’s home they found evidence they used to arrest him. After being tortured, Gruet confessed to writing the letter along with other crimes.  His confession, derived under torture, was cause for him to be condemned to death. He was beheaded for freely expressing his views. In Calvin’s Geneva, freedom of expression was not always tolerated.

As a Traditional Baptist who believes in Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State, I admit to being troubled by Calvin’s conflating of religion and government. As someone who believes that all people have the right to freedom of worship, I believe that no one should be coerced to worship. Freedom of conscience is important. Genuine faith cannot be forced. Genuine faith cannot be manipulated by law or government. Genuine faith comes from the heart. But in Calvin’s Geneva the population was compelled to adhere to what Calvin viewed as God’s sovereign will for the model Christian community. It is difficult to understand how someone like Calvin could reconcile his soteriological positions with his political positions. Let me explain.

Calvin taught that God was absolutely sovereign, good, and just while mankind was totally depraved and corrupt. God thus sent Christ into the world as redeemer. But according to Calvin, not all have an opportunity for redemption (or salvation). He said that Election is the reason why some respond to the gospel and some do not. God, he taught, chose to save SOME through the work of Christ while others were left as reprobates. In Calvin’s view, some hit the jackpot and some don’t. Some are chosen for salvation. Others are left in a state of hopeless reprobation in which they will eventually end up in hell forever.

And why, we might ask Mr. Calvin, did God elect some and not others? He would answer, “Because He wanted to!” Calvin taught that it pleased God to do so. And in Calvin’s view God has “determined what he would have to become of every individual of mankind.” [4] My conundrum is this: If God had determined that some would be elect (or redeemed) and others would not be elect (thus reprobate), then why would Calvin rule Geneva in a way that required all citizens to conform to his view of the “model Christian community?” How did he expect non-elect citizens to behave like elect citizens? If he truly believed that many were non-elect, how could he build a system of social control that was imposed on all citizens, many of whom were non-elect who didn’t believe in, nor have the desire to obey Calvin’s laws?

While I agree that there must be limits on behavior, Calvin imposed laws that were strict even in the 16th century. Calvin’s Geneva outlawed theatrical performances, coming late to church, laughter, dancing, playing  cards, fighting, and charging interest in excess of five percent. Also prohibited in Geneva were things such as fasting, religious idols or symbols, and many things associated with Catholicism. And behind it all was the man in the pulpit, John Calvin. [5]

Part Two coming soon!

 

[1]  Clyde L. Manschreck.  A History of Christianity in the World. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985), 188.
[2] John Dillenberger and Claude Welch. Protestant Christianity: Interpreted Through It’s Development. (New York: MacMillan Publishing Company, 1988), 23.
[3]  Manschreck, 190.
[4]  Ibid, 189.
[5]  Ibid, 190.

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Lydia

Clothing and jewelry were even regulated in Geneva. How many courses at meals was regulated. There was a punishment or fine attached to everything. Including making fun of Calvin or falling asleep during one of his sermons. There was no dissenting free speech allowed at all. Yet the Reformers promised freedom from Catholic oppression.

It scares me to death that so many young men in America, of all places, have adopted the despot Calvin as their “Christian hero”. I have to wonder if it is the result of indoctrination and they are simply ignorant of how he operated or is it they agree with him? I fear some of it is the latter when I read the lengths they go to- to defend his rule in Geneva. They even claim he had no power! That should mean they are ignorant of what happened. Calvin insisted on power the 2nd time around.

Calvin refused to come back to Geneva the 2nd time unless his way was adopted. the Genevan church/state were afraid the Catholics were making inroads back into Geneva. They had no Reformed “system” to follow. Calvin had the system and they were desperate, so they thought. He was what? 26?

Norm

Calvin and his devotees remind me of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ This blog has numerous academic, exegetical essays that reveal Calvin’s soteriological nakedness. I oppose Calvinism based on exegetical study of the Bible, and find the major tenets of his system biblically unsustainable. It is time that those who revere Calvin acknowledge that the Emperor’s clothes are not new, they are, in reality, not there.

Dan Nelson

I am glad to see you highlight Calvin’s disdain for religious liberty. The article really highlights the extent of this. This is why anyone following the reformed movement hook, line and sinker can not be classified ecclesiastically in the technical sense a Baptist. For Calvin believed in a State Church with enforcement powers unlike Baptist who have always believed the church on earth as “the gathered assembly.” The state church idea carried over to America with the Puritans and their persecution of Baptist through their state church structure. Calvin wished to have a council that determined the future structure of the Christian faith and wished to invite the Pope. Other reformers like Zwingli in Switzerland imprisoned and martyred Anabaptist. The Michael Servetus issue shows how far Calvin was willing to go. Although a heretic Calvin ordered Servetus to be burned at the stake. When we told we need to get in line with the reformed movement my response should why do I want to be part of a movement who persecuted and killed my spiritual ancestors? Calvin was very wrong on the church and mode of baptism. For this reason Baptist should never enshrine him as a patron saint.
Dan Nelson

    Max

    “… Calvin believed in a State Church with enforcement powers …”

    The facts are clear on that statement, Brother Nelson. Calvin employed “magisterial reform” to frame his “model Christian community” in Geneva. Calvin’s 16th century church was characterized by an interdependence of the church and secular authorities. Calvin relied on the authority of the magistrate to enforce discipline and suppress opposition to his theology … as Servetus and numerous Anabaptists found out. Geneva was not Utopia.

    “… Baptists should never enshrine him as a patron saint.”

    And everybody said AMEN! (or should have)

Rick Patrick

Dr. Comer,

I appreciate your outstanding historical sketch tracing Calvin’s Ethics and Religious Liberty (Sins Of) Commission. While many have explored Calvin’s philosophy, theology and history, he usually receives from them a free pass for his immoral behavior with trite expressions like, “Alas, he was a man of his times.”

Calvin treated his fellow man so horrifically that his life deserves to be explored psychoanalytically. What exactly is the mental health status of the man depicted in your portrait? He is manipulative and controlling to the point of running an entire city—seemingly acting upon his own alleged divine authority. He directed the leadership activities of others in a secretive manner, as might a puppet master. He tortured, banished and executed numerous victims, including children. Strip away the so-called brilliant theology for a moment. Look at the matter objectively. This is a textbook portrait of sociopathic, egocentric, sadistic and homicidal behavior.

It absolutely floors me that any Christian would wish to imitate such a leader. What is the primary message of Calvin’s life? “I am smarter than you are. I am correct on every single point. Therefore, I deserve to be exalted—to tell everyone else what to do. You, on the other hand, are not that bright. You are wrong on so many levels. You deserve to be punished for your errors. You even deserve to die. I must do my part to see that you get what you deserve.”

Again, we study Calvin’s history, theology and philosophy at great length. But his psychological state may be the greatest concern of all, especially if one considers the notion that Calvin’s punishing and superior mentality might be passed on to those followers who imitate him with such unyielding devotion.

    Norm

    Rick: Your comments reflect historical accounts I have read, and I thank you for reminding us that Calvin’s errors permeated his life and not only his theology. You noted the lame “man of his times” excuse that some Calvies proffer in defense of Calvin’s murder of Servetus (and others). How laughable is that? What Calvie would allow his unwed, teenaged daughter to get an abortion because she is a “teen of her times.” What Calvie would let his son engage in “sexting” because he is a “teen of his times”? It was Calvin’s theology that led him to call for the murder of Servetus, thus demonstrating that the man was shot through with erroneous thinking. And as you speculated here many months ago (to the great ire of some Calvies): that Calvin would demand Servetus’ murder would then call Calvin’s entire systematic theology into serious question. I am like Servetus: I would not be caught dead espousing Calvin. I cannot figure why anyone would want to be identified with a murderer who committed such an atrocious crime supposedly based on theology.
    Are we not seeing murder in the name of “theology” even today?

Jon

Uh…uh…Servetus!

I’ve seen less bias from atheist historians. It’s interesting—and pretty dishonest—how you move between the Consistory and executions, even though Calvin clearly favored the separation of civil and church authorities; may not be the modern conception of separation of church and state, but there was certainly a separation in jurisdiction. I hardly feel a need to defend all of his actions (some were just wrong), but some of the comments on here are laughable. Even more concerning is how commenters on here feel the need to discredit a man in order to discredit a theology. I’d hardly consider this short article a model of rigorous research, so some people might want to calm down on their conclusion.

As for this: “He directed the leadership activities of others in a secretive manner, as might a puppet master. He tortured, banished and executed numerous victims, including children.” Can you please find me that reference? From a recognized, scholarly source…and not just your favorite writer, writing against Calvin…

    Dan Nelson

    The Travil of Religious Liberty, Roland Bainton, (Harper: New York, 1958), 92-94. Bainton records how Calvin accused Servetus before the city council of heresy and they pronounced the sentence of burning at the stake. It is practically the same thing as ordering the execution since the council was his kangaroo court. William Farrel, Calvin’s compatriot followed Servetus to the stake exhorting him to repent and confess Christ. This confirms how Rick Patrick’s supposition of how Calvin worked behind the scenes to bring about his desires through others. It’s history, you can’t rewrite it.

    Rick Patrick

    Clyde L. Manschreck. A History of Christianity in the World. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985), 188.

      Jon

      Rick,

      Can we get a direct quote, since we don’t all own the book? And by reference, I mean someone who cites a primary source to substantiate the claim.

      Dan,

      Sure he accused Servetus of heresy…he was a heretic. The court pronounced the sentence and the method; Calvin probably wouldn’t have disagreed with the sentence, but he did on the method. Do I think it was right? Meh. As I said, I’m not to concerned with trying to justify everything about Calvin. Farel followed him exhorting him to repent and confess Christ? How terrible!

      No, it doesn’t support what he said, at all. You can say it does, but you need to demonstrate it. Calvin often had mixed authority in Geneva and was usually opposed—though not always.

        Rick Patrick

        Jon,

        You asked for a reference. After giving you a reference, you now want from me a direct quote. That’s changing the goalposts. After I provide the quote, will you just ask for a dissertation? Quotes from other scholars referencing Manschreck? This could go on forever!

        I researched online and the only copy available at my local library is currently checked out. But really, the looking up of footnotes and digging out of research is your responsibility. The author of the post, Dr. Marty Comer, is responsible for citing his sources, which he has faithfully done. Your job, as a skeptical reader of that research, is to do your own homework, not ask me to do it for you.

        Manschreck, page 188. With all due respect, go look it up yourself.

          Jon

          Nope. Don’t need a dissertation. Just a reliable source with a credible citation. It was you who made the outlandish remark, so I’m just curious where it came from. I’ll try to find the book; thought you might have it; sorry I assumed that. No need to get touchy about it.

            Rick Patrick

            Hi Jon,
            Sorry if my reply seemed touchy. I did not intend to be dismissive. I’ve just played the “You’ve given us no credible proof” game a few too many times on these streams. My so-called outlandish comment basically summarized the author’s point. When you asked for a reference, I merely cited his own footnote, which I consider both credible and scholarly. Good luck with your research.

              Jon

              Right on. I will definitely look it up, just need some time off work! And I’m sure I was defensive too, so apologies as well.

    Andrew Barker

    Jon: There’s no need to go ad hominem on us in retaliation. There is no need for anybody to try to discredit Calvin’s theology by dishing the dirt on the man. Both are equally reprehensible in their own right. Calvin’s theology draws extensively from Augustine and many do not find it to be true to scripture. Calvin’s conduct is a matter of record. Although Servetus is the one who receives most attention, he was certainly not the only person to be at the wrong end of the ‘doctrines of grace’. Burning, drowning and decapitation were all used to keep people in line. All this info is easily accessible online and people can make their own minds up regarding validity of the sources.

      Jon

      What was the ad hominem? Whether both are reprehensible is an opinion between you and God. I completely understand that most on here find it reprehensible. But again, what is the record of Calvin being directly involved in the civil magistrate’s laws and subsequent manner of punishing said laws? Since it’s easily available, I’m still waiting on the easy to attain information. And not an SBCToday article that hasn’t take the time to cite anything but their own conclusions.

        Andrew Barker

        Jon: Your first comment was to try and establish that people were more biased than atheists. That’s attacking the man, not the message!

        Your call for citing sources is all very well, but not realistic for the average blog. If anybody says something radical, maybe, but this stuff on Calvin is all well documented. You choose not to believe it, that’s your right, but your call for ‘sources’ looks very much like a way of avoiding the question.

          Jon

          I gotcha. Wasn’t really attempting to attack the man, only what I observed from the article (I don’t know anything about the man). As far as well-documented, I thought it’d be easier to document. Calling for “sources” is the only way to accept it; there is no other way, unless you propose to name one; it would actually be a fallacy for me to accept it just because he has a Dr. in front of his name. That’s why I need more than just a quote mine here and there.

          One person wants me to know all the facts, the next thinks I should already know them—then just throws out a page from a book that says nothing close to what’s being said, only what seems to support the understanding they already had.

          Les Prouty

          Jon,

          “Calling for “sources” is the only way to accept it; there is no other way, unless you propose to name one”

          That is exactly right. The children statement would be a good one to see corroborated. Should be easy for those who have the book.

            Rick Patrick

            Perhaps the word “children” may need to be edited in favor of “a child.” From the original post: “One child was beheaded for striking his parents.”

            norm

            Even if one statement may not be as well resourced as others, such an instance does not negate all the other well documented murderous atrocities committed by Calvin and/or his political henchmen — all behind the guise of what Calvin and his ilk considered to be biblical theology.

    Robert

    Jon you wrote:

    “I’d hardly consider this short article a model of rigorous research, so some people might want to calm down on their conclusion.”

    So you appear to want “rigorous research” on Calvin before coming to conclusions about him. That’s fair.

    And Bruce Gordon wrote what is considered the best biography of Calvin (even in the estimation of Calvinists themselves). Gordon’s book is **extremely well researched**, more so than any other book on Calvin that I have read or seen.

    That being said, look at how Gordon after doing “rigorous research” describes Calvin in the preface of his book:

    “John Calvin was the greatest Protestant reformer of the sixteenth century, brilliant, visionary, and iconic. The superior force of his mind was evident in all that he did. He was also ruthless, and an outstanding hater. Among those things he hated were the Roman church, Anabaptists and those people who, he believed, only faint-heartedly embraced the Gospel and tainted themselves with idolatry. He saw himself as an instrument of God, and as a prophet of the Church he brooked no rivals. He never felt he had encountered an intellectual equal, and he was probably correct. To achieve what he believed to be right, he would do virtually anything. Although not physically imposing, he dominated others and knew how to manipulate relationships. He intimidated, bullied and humiliated, saving some of his worst conduct for his friends.”(from the preface)

    Gordon acknowledges that Calvin was “brilliant”, but he was also “ruthless” “an outstanding hater” “saw himself as an instrument of God and as a prophet of the Church” “to achieve what he believed to be right, he would do virtually anything” “he dominated others and knew how to manipulate relationships” “intimidated, bullied, and humiliated” “saving some of his worst conduct for his friends”.

    This description is meticulously established by Gordon with event after event in Calvin’s life in which he manifests these traits. And this is from a source that **is** “a model of rigorous research.”

    Servetus was just one event among many, many events in which an extremely evil character was manifested. If people really want to see an accurate and well researched picture of Calvin they should read Bruce Gordon’s book for themselves. The facts are in on Calvin and he really was just like the person Gordon describes.

    Robert

      Max

      Arrogance, intimidation, and manipulation were not in the list of spiritual gifts the last time I looked.

      “The superior force of his mind was evident in all that he did.”

      Education does not produce one ounce of revelation. Human intellect is not spiritual understanding. What is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention right now is a spiritual battle for the minds of the next generation of SBC leaders.

        Jon

        Robert,

        Yes. It would wonderful if the whole world would actually take the time to perform “rigorous research” on the things they so dogmatically know and accuse others of doing. This article makes a bunch of conclusions without even showing us how he came to them. That’s just bad history; he has every right to write the article, but no right to consider it a legitimate contribution to the question, “Who Was John Calvin?”

        Thank you for the Gordon quote; it didn’t really address the specific remark I was talking about, however. I’ve already admitted that I could easily find fault in Calvin, as I could Abraham, David, Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Whitefield, Tozer, Lewis, etc. I was looking for the reference to “he executed children! that horrible sociopath!”

        But thanks for the book reference, I’ll look into it. Seriously, I will…

          Robert

          Jon,

          Your comments suggest to me that truth about Calvin really does not matter to you. You are all about justifying and rationalizing Calvin’s actions and evil personality. You questioned the article claiming it did not involve “rigorous research”. So I supplied a source that did involve “rigorous research” and which also painted a very negative picture of Calvin. Instead of accepting the facts you respond with:

          “Yes. It would wonderful if the whole world would actually take the time to perform “rigorous research” on the things they so dogmatically know and accuse others of doing. This article makes a bunch of conclusions without even showing us how he came to them. That’s just bad history; he has every right to write the article, but no right to consider it a legitimate contribution to the question, “Who Was John Calvin?””

          Gordon does deal with the question of “Who Was John Calvin”? and the answer which you cannot stomach is that he was a very evil man with traits that no Christian leader should exhibit.

          You also pulled the, “but everybody is flawed argument”/rationalization:

          ”I’ve already admitted that I could easily find fault in Calvin, as I could Abraham, David, Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Whitefield, Tozer, Lewis, etc”

          Your reasoning is that everybody including X, Y and Z has flaws, so why so be hard on Calvin? That breaks down because if you had a biblical perspective the Bible does not excuse people because “everybody is flawed”. Take David as an example, he paid dearly for his sins, including the death of a newborn infant, the defiance and later death of his own son, etc. The Bible also has a higher standard for Christian leaders, a standard Calvin completely failed to realize. Instead of viewing Calvin as your hero whose evil character and actions were justified you ought to look at him as someone to not emulate in any way shape or form. If someone else manifested this evil character you would not accept him nor rationalize his actions and character. But its Calvin, and you hold his determinists beliefs so He is rationalized.

          “I was looking for the reference to “he executed children! that horrible sociopath!”

          I note your sarcasm here, even if the “executed children” reference cannot be found, Calvin’s actions do manifest the characteristics of a sociopath. Gordon documents this evil man’s evil actions and corrupt character very well.

          “But thanks for the book reference, I’ll look into it. Seriously, I will…”

          I doubt it, and even if you did, it wouldn’t mean anything because the facts about Calvin are not what is important to you. What is important is defending him and rationalizing away his actions because he is just flawed like everybody else . . . . .

          Robert

            Jon

            Robert,

            Gotta be honest, you surprised me with your response. Think I was more than charitable in considering your points; you, on the other hand, seem a bit defensive.

            “Your comments suggest to me that truth about Calvin really does not matter to you. You are all about justifying and rationalizing Calvin’s actions and evil personality.”

            Huh? I’ve admitted, at least twice now, that I could easily find fault in Calvin. I don’t feel the need to justify or rationalize anything, and have yet to do that. Please cite where I have, and I’ll consider it…

            I wasn’t responding to the Gordon quote when I wrote what you quoted me as saying, I think the order of that should be clear to any honest reader of my remark (I was talking about the SBCToday article above).

            Gordon never paints Calvin as an “evil” man; but certainly as a man with sinful qualities, that I assume you would admit to in yourself.

            I never said anything about being hard on Calvin. Was simply pointing out that I could find fault in all of them. I can honestly care less what you say about Calvin, in the sense that I’m not his friend or family—however, I would caution against such dogmatic positions on a man of the past; caution is all I would say.

            “Instead of viewing Calvin as your hero whose evil character and actions were justified you ought to look at him as someone to not emulate in any way shape or form.”

            Why are you assuming he’s a “hero” of mine? Did I say it? No. So please don’t try to put words into my mouth. That said, I do think he was a brilliant mind, and does have notable qualities—certainly a sinful man used powerfully by God.

            “If someone else manifested this evil character you would not accept him nor rationalize his actions and character.”

            You haven’t actually succeeded in showing the “evil” character, only a flawed one.

            “I note your sarcasm here…”

            Oh, come on! I never do that! And neither do you…

            “I doubt it, and even if you did, it wouldn’t mean anything because the facts about Calvin are not what is important to you.”

            Yikes. Thanks for the confidence “brotha”. Actually already looked into it; tried to purchase it on Amazon, but couldn’t find a decent price. So if you can find a decently priced hardback volume, I’m all ears. I’m genuinely interested in reading it. Not thanks to your boost of confidence that is…

              Robert

              Jon,

              “Huh? I’ve admitted, at least twice now, that I could easily find fault in Calvin. I don’t feel the need to justify or rationalize anything, and have yet to do that. Please cite where I have, and I’ll consider it…”

              You are defending your boy Calvin by questioning comments others have said about him, demanding sources, as if their comments were not true.

              “Gordon never paints Calvin as an “evil” man; but certainly as a man with sinful qualities, that I assume you would admit to in yourself.”

              Actually, No, if I had the traits that Calvin displayed (e.g. an “outstanding hater”) then I would have to seriously question whether or not I was saved. Those around me would have to question whether or not I ought to be an elder, whether or not I ought to be in church leadership (hopefully if I displayed the same traits as Calvin I would not be allowed to remain in church leadership because then I would not fit the NT requirements for elders).

              Regarding Gordon’s description, if these things were indeed true about Calvin then by NT standards he was an evil man. In the NT we are told that God hates pride: Calvin was extremely arrogant feeling himself superior to everyone. In the NT we are told that we are to love one another: Calvin was an “outstanding hater”. In the NT we are told that we are to love one another, be gentle, be kind, forgive, etc. etc.: Calvin was no lover of other people, he was harsh, unkind, unforgiving, hostile, aggressive, manipulative, controlling, etc. If we compare the NT prescriptions for believers and Calvin’s actions and conduct they are opposites. If I knew of someone today who was an outstanding hater, persecuted people with banishments, imprisonments, and executions, seemed to be the opposite of the NT description of an elder and yet this person was involved in church leadership I would see them as evil. The Lord has made it very clear what good conduct is: and Calvin’s traits are opposite what good Christian conduct is. And the opposite of good is evil. I have had the good fortune of having godly examples of what a Christian ought to be like and none of them manifested the traits Calvin did.

              “I can honestly care less what you say about Calvin, in the sense that I’m not his friend or family—however, I would caution against such dogmatic positions on a man of the past; caution is all I would say.”

              It is not what I say about Calvin, it is comparing the NT with Calvin and his actions. When that comparison is done, Calvin will be seen as an evil person operating in the church bringing immense confusion and division into the church.

              “Why are you assuming he’s a “hero” of mine? Did I say it? No. So please don’t try to put words into my mouth. That said, I do think he was a brilliant mind, and does have notable qualities—certainly a sinful man used powerfully by God.”

              If you were more objective and your standard was scripture you would see Calvin as an evil man. But your standard does not appear to be the NT qualifications for church leaders but instead is your own opinion that “he was a brilliant mind, and does have notable qualities”.

              “You haven’t actually succeeded in showing the “evil” character, only a flawed one.”

              See above, compare the NT qualifications of an elder with the traits of Calvin, they are opposite. Based on NT standards Calvin was evil. Again if someone manifested the traits he manifested he certainly would be unfit for local church leadership (unless the NT standards and qualifications for an elder do not apply in that church).

              “Yikes. Thanks for the confidence “brotha”.”

              Speaking of “confidence” . . . I clicked your name which took me to your website. In a critique of a series that appeared recently here at SBC today you described SBC today as follows:

              [[“SBCToday.com has become a fascinating site for me. In many ways it’s like the Fox News of the SBC world: always on the watch for the Calvinists lurking around each corner, ready to destroy all that is good in the convention. An honest observer might be tempted to think SBCToday stands for “Scared by Calvinists Today,” with the almost-once-a-day post about Calvinism. One begins to wonder if they would have anything to talk about if Calvinists were wiped off the earth. Apparently their ilk would be at a loss for conference topics.
              Most of the posts—that have Calvinism as their subject—are rehashed pablum. The same one-liners. The same outlandish remarks about the evil God of Calvinism. The same tired appeals to the “whosoever” of John 3:16. The same philosophical casuistry. Et cetera. Et cetera. Not much is worth responding to in any depth, because none of the posts are really of any depth”]]

              Hmm, “rehashed pablum” “the same one liners” “same philosophical casuistry” “not much is worth responding to in any depth, because none of the posts are really of any depth”. Reading your words here does not give me a lot of confidence in what you are saying and also makes me wonder why you are posting here. If I thought a site was as bad as you describe, I sure wouldn’t waste my time posting there.
              Contrary to your negative description of SBC today, I believe substantial things are being posted here, and that they are sufficiently substantial to the point that calvinists like you are extremely threatened by what is said here. Hence you feel compelled to post here to defend your beloved Calvinism.

              Robert

                Jon

                Keep on keepin’ on, Robert. You win.

                Try responding to the reviews, not just saying how threatened you think I am, lol. I’ve been more than fair.

            Andrew Barker

            Robert: For reference re children http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/8_ch13.htm under the section the exercise of discipline in Geneva.

            I have no idea if Philip Schaff is reputable or not, but he certainly knows how to reference! ;-)

            I note Lester’s follow up comment re David’s adultery. Debbie made exactly the same point recently! It serves to demonstrate the level of their understanding!

              Les Prouty

              Really good Andrew. No answer on David and personal attack on our ability to understand. Nice.

              norm

              Andrew: Here is an excerpt from the link you gave: “Three children were punished because they remained outside of the church during the sermon to eat cakes. … A child was whipped for calling his mother a thief and a she-devil (diabless). A girl was beheaded for striking her parents, to vindicate the dignity of the fifth commandment.”

              Robert

              Hello Andrew,

              “Robert: For reference re children http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/8_ch13.htm under the section the exercise of discipline in Geneva.”

              Thanks for the source and citation.

              “I have no idea if Philip Schaff is reputable or not, but he certainly knows how to reference! ;-)”

              He **is** a reputable church historian.

              When I was in Seminary he was one of the acceptable and suggested sources for us on church history (also Kenneth Scott Latourette and Jaroslav Pelikan were good ones as well).

              I went and found the citation you provided and am citing it here for all to see (I capitalized the part about children) it includes examples of what Calvin was doing to people in Geneva:

              “Several women, among them the wife of Ami Perrin, the captain-general, were imprisoned for dancing (which was usually connected with excesses). Bonivard, the hero of political liberty, and a friend of Calvin, was cited before the Consistory because he had played at dice with Clement Marot, the poet, for a quart of wine.718 A man was banished from the city for three months because, on hearing an ass bray, he said jestingly: “He prays a beautiful psalm.”719 A young man was punished because he gave his bride a book on housekeeping with the remark: “This is the best Psalter.” A lady of Ferrara was expelled from the city for expressing sympathy with the Libertines, and abusing Calvin and the Consistory. Three men who had laughed during the sermon were imprisoned for three days. Another had to do public penance for neglecting to commune on Whitsunday. THREE CHILDREN were punished because they remained outside of the church during the sermon to eat cakes. A man who swore by the “body and blood of Christ” was fined and condemned to stand for an hour in the pillory on the public square. A CHILD was whipped for calling his mother a thief and a she-devil (diabless). A GIRL was beheaded for striking her parents, to vindicate the dignity of the fifth commandment.
              A banker was executed for repeated adultery, but he died penitent and praised God for the triumph of justice. A person named Chapuis was imprisoned for four days because he persisted in calling his child Claude (a Roman Catholic saint) instead of Abraham, as the minister wished, and saying that he would sooner keep his son unbaptized for fifteen years.720 Bolsec, Gentilis, and Castellio were expelled from the Republic for heretical opinions. Men and women were burnt for witchcraft. Gruet was beheaded for sedition and atheism. . . . .
              The official acts of the Council from 1541 to 1559 exhibit a dark chapter of censures, fines, imprisonments, and executions. During the ravages of the pestilence in 1545 more than twenty men and women were burnt alive for witchcraft, and a wicked conspiracy to spread the horrible disease.722 From 1542 to 1546 fifty-eight judgments of death and seventy-six decrees of banishments were passed.723 “ (Phillip Schaff)

              What is particularly disconcerting here is not just an isolated case here or there (for example the execution of Servetus) but as Schaff describes it “a dark chapter of censures, fines, imprisonments, and executions.”

              There was no justification for any of this and it all is strong evidence that Calvin was an evil man.

              But for his fans they will just look the other way because they are enamored by his false theology on predestination and soteriological issues.

              Robert

          Les Prouty

          Robert, since you brought up the murdering adulterer David, does he get a pass substantially from you? Do you read his writings? Maybe sing them sometimes?

            Norm

            Les:
            You hardly bring an unbiased opinion to these matters as you are a baby-baptizing Presbyterian. Be that as it may, I find that the Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart. I find no such reference anywhere to Calvin. I find a record of David bitterly repenting for his sins. I find no such record of Calvin doing the same. You would do well to retract your untenable comparison as put to Robert.

              Les Prouty

              Norm,

              And we are to suppose you are unbiased, right? And what’s with the “baby-baptizing Presbyterian?” Is that meant to be some sort of slur?

              “I find that the Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart. I find no such reference anywhere to Calvin.” I never even suggested such.

              “I find a record of David bitterly repenting for his sins. I find no such record of Calvin doing the same.” And yet you cannot know for sure what Calvin repented of, now can you? Since you weren’t there with him and can’t know his heart.

            norm

            Additionally, Les, comparing the Institutes to the God-inspired writings of David is a theological atrocity of your own.
            Are you saying Calvin’s writings were ‘theo-pneustos”?

              Les Prouty

              Norm,

              “comparing the Institutes to the God-inspired writings of David is a theological atrocity of your own.”

              Show me where I did such and I’ll gladly retract it.

              “Are you saying Calvin’s writings were ‘theo-pneustos”?” Nope.

                norm

                Will you deny the inference you make that the Psalms and the Institutes are equal?
                You wrote: “Robert, since you brought up the murdering adulterer David, does he get a pass substantially from you? Do you read his writings? Maybe sing them sometimes?”
                Traditional Southern Baptists do not sing the praises of Calvin as do Presbyterians and others who claim to be Southern Baptists. We do sing the praises of God that David wrote as inspired by God.
                Whenever you are ready to discuss the specific passages from the Bible that moved you from being a Southern Baptist and into Presbyterianism, Les, then we can have a conversation. Until then, I refuse to engage in a “tit-for-tat” digital debate with you. You and I both have better things to do.

                  Les

                  Norm,

                  I’ll say it again. I was not and am not equating the Institutes with scripture. And if my words inferred that to you please forgive my lack of clarity. No human writing is on par with holy scripture.

                  And FYI Presbyterians do not sing praise to Calvin nor worship him or anyone else, but God alone. I’m pretty sure that’s also true for those Southern Baptists who are Reformed.

                  I agree that we don’t have time for a “tit-for-tat” back and forth. I hope my responses didn’t come across that way.

                  As for having a conversation or discussion about my theological journey, I’m happy to do that with you any time. Probably wouldn’t be appropriate on this post. But if you want to have that discussion privately by email that’s fine. If here on an appropriate post then that’s fine too. Just let me know brother.

            Robert

            Les it appears that you are presenting a common Calvinist attempt at rationalizing Calvin and his actions and trying to make an argument from analogy with these comments:

            “Robert, since you brought up the murdering adulterer David, does he get a pass substantially from you? Do you read his writings? Maybe sing them sometimes?”

            The analogy you seem to be wanting to make is something like this: well, David did some evil things (e.g. murder and adultery) and yet you do not condemn him as an evil person and you even read his writings considering them to be profitable and you sing some of the psalms he wrote. So likewise, Calvin did some evil things and so you should not condemn him as an evil person and you may also profit from reading his writings (i.e. the Institutes and his Bible commentaries).

            There are at least three major problems with this analogy.

            First, what David wrote, last time I checked was INSPIRED SCRIPTURE. So of course if it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and intended for believers we should read it and benefit from it.

            Are you equating Calvin’s “Institutes” with scripture????

            Are they inspired writings as the Psalms are?

            Seems clear that this is a point where the analogy completely breaks down, one author is writing scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the profit of the entire church: the other is writing in the flesh a theology that has caused untold division and controversy among professing believers. One wrote scripture, one wrote a divisive and false theology.

            A second place where this analogy breaks down is that David was a godly man. We know this from scripture because he is referred to as having a heart after God. From available sources by no stretch of the imagination could Calvin be considered a godly man. A simple way to demonstrate this is to take the NT passages that describe what an elder ought to be like, and then compare those traits with the traits that Calvin manifested. They are not similar they are opposite. Christians are supposed to be known for their love of one another, while Calvin was an “outstanding hater” who hated a lot of other believers including the Anabaptists and even the Catholics. Calvin hated people, was manipulative, controlling, and these traits fly completely opposite the NT qualifications of an elder.

            In most Bible believing churches if you were on a pastoral search committee and had these qualifications before you as your standard of evaluating prospective pastors and were considering whether or not to hire Calvin as Pastor, judging by these qualifications he would have no chance at being the pastor.

            A third place where the analogy breaks down is in reference to your question about David: “does he get a pass substantially from you?”

            What does it mean to say getting a pass substantially? Regarding David’s writings, the Psalms, again as they are inspired scripture there is no issue of them “getting a pass”. Regarding David’s sinful actions I don’t give him a pass at all. I do not teach that David ought to be emulated as a father or husband, because he clearly failed in both areas. In fact he is actually a perfect example of the effects and consequences of sin upon a family. You want to teach that sin has consequences and can destroy a family and make it dysfunctional you will find no better example than David. And this is where your analogy breaks down yet again. I don’t give David a pass on his sins and enjoy his writings. No, I appreciate the writings because they are inspired scripture, but I see the man as committing major sins and literally paying for them in his life circumstances. With Calvin we are dealing with a person whose writings are NOT inspired scripture, so there is no comparison between the two.

            Furthermore I would argue from the available evidence that David was a godly man who committed some sins that ruined his life, but his character was basically good. Calvin on the other hand was not a godly man, his character was evil and he appeared to get away with his sins in this life (e.g. he never faced consequences in this life for his treatment Servetus). So the two are not the same, and we don’t give a pass to either concerning their sins. Another major difference is that David being the godly person he was did in fact express contrition and grief about his sins (do I need to cite the Psalms where he does this????), Calvin on the other hand committed his sins with no evidence of a contrite spirit at all, no humility, no grief about what he had done, no evidence of repentance at all (which is what you expect from such an arrogant and prideful person).

            Robert

              Les Prouty

              Robert,

              “Les it appears that you are presenting a common Calvinist attempt at rationalizing Calvin and his actions and trying to make an argument from analogy…”

              Nope, not trying to do such Robert. Just pointing out your and the others’ inconsistency. So most of the rest you wrote doesn’t apply since your premise is wrong. But I need to reply to a couple of things you asked/said.

              “Are you equating Calvin’s “Institutes” with scripture????” Are you being serious asking this? No I am not.

              “Calvin on the other hand committed his sins with no evidence of a contrite spirit at all, no humility, no grief about what he had done, no evidence of repentance…”

              And unless you know everything (which you don’t) you cannot be sure what Calvin or anyone else repented of.

              Have a good evening.

              norm

              Robert:
              We cannot know if Calvin repented in some quiet moment. But we are fruit inspectors, and there is no record of contrition, then we can look at what came from Calvin’s murderous actions and learn something of his heart and theology. Per your point, I think that for others to employ the debate tactic of arguing facts (or even suggestions) not in evidence merely proves the weakness of their points.
              Looking at the context of your initial comment, I would say your detractor wrote and sent before thinking too deeply.
              Also, Robert, there are some who troll Trad blogs for the sake of argument only — no matter how congenially couched their verbiage may be. The Bible tells us to avoid contentious folks, and I plan to do that. Besides, you and I both have better things to do than to engage with those who embrace a murderer’s teachings and theology. If they cannot reject Calvin for that, then what hope does any human have of persuading them otherwise?

            Lydia

            I am always confused at folks bringing up David to excuse heinous evil in His Name. If I recall correctly, God was angry the Israelites begged for a king in the first place. That should be our first clue in how this played out and if the Israelites learned anything from it at all? What can we learn from it? (Quit following man). Would we also say now that Polygamy is not a sin and no big deal since God permitted it? Would that mean they could not help but have more than one wife or did God allow it because of the way widows were being treated?

            Making OT characters out to be modern heros for us to emulate is a dangerous business. Abraham a liar. Noah a drunk, Moses a murderer and so on. So what is it we are to learn from them? They listened to God and believed Him for a specific purpose.

            Because David is described as a man after God’s own heart does not mean God approved all his behavior. Or excuses it. The man would be court martialed or in jail today. But that could not be because he had power as a king. And he misused it. And frankly the narrative of his death creeps me out. Perhaps it is the filter through which we read the OT. The determinist has to believe that God foreordained the behavior or that the person only had free will to sin. So it becomes moral equivalency sin. Does not matter how heinous because we are all sinners. (So glad our justice system is not like this and the child molester given a small fine like the parking ticket)

            Perhaps David not a great role model for Solomon in his personal life? But he got that Temple built which was his charge. What I don’t understand is why we cannot discuss these things without people accusing others of some grave sin of not worshipping David or something. It is ridiculous. The part we usually miss is that God was angry they wanted a king but gave them kings. They got what they asked for. Humans who got too much power and let it go to their heads while carrying out God’s specific commands for them concerning the Temple, etc.

            But the bigger point is that Calvin had the benefit of the cross/resurrection. But his aim was to build a New Jerusalem in Geneva with tons of laws and micromanaging people. He really believed God was pleased with him for heresy hunting and punishing people so severely. He actually believed “his” system pleased God. Talk about arrogant! There was no love. And there was perverted justice. The exact opposite of Jesus Christ.

              Les

              Oh Lydia. There is so much wrong about what you’ve said here. Can’t say much right now. Be back later tonight.

              God bless.

              Les Prouty

              Ok. I just feel the need to straighten out a few things (ok, “so much wrong” may have been hyperbole) you have wrong here. Frankly I’m surprised, given what a good writer you are. I expect better comprehension and grasping of the issues from you.

              “I am always confused at folks bringing up David to excuse heinous evil in His Name.”

              Lydia, no one, especially me, is using David to excuse “heinous evil in His Name.” No, I am simply calling you and others on your inconsistency.

              “Making OT characters out to be modern heros for us to emulate is a dangerous business.” I agree.

              “Abraham a liar. Noah a drunk, Moses a murderer and so on. So what is it we are to learn from them? They listened to God and believed Him for a specific purpose.” Yes. And you and I are murderers too. (queue the moral equivalency comment). But it’s true.

              “What I don’t understand is why we cannot discuss these things without people accusing others of some grave sin of not worshipping David or something.”

              Didn’t happen Lydia. Please copy and paste here where I have “[accused] others of some grave sin of not worshipping David.”

              You can do better sister.

                Lydia

                “Lydia, no one, especially me, is using David to excuse “heinous evil in His Name.” No, I am simply calling you and others on your inconsistency.”

                That is strange. I see you as inconsistent. How can the victim be committing the same sin as the child molester, for example?

                “Abraham a liar. Noah a drunk, Moses a murderer and so on. So what is it we are to learn from them? They listened to God and believed Him for a specific purpose.” Yes. And you and I are murderers too. (queue the moral equivalency comment). But it’s true.”

                That is my point. Your doctrinal stance sees everyone as murderers.(why did you have a problem with Debbie seeing everyone as racists? It is the same argument) If that were true we would all be dead. (wink)

                I do understand where this thinking comes from, I just disagree with it. And think it actually dumbs down and excuses real heinous sin in the long run. All you have to say is’ we are all the same sinners’ and that is that. As in we cannot help it. I think that is dangerous and it makes you and your system unsafe and unhealthy. it makes it a great place for real pervs though. They love that thinking. I am glad our secular justice system, as flawed as it is, does not agree with you. I think we are guilty of the sins we actually commit. I do not think our very existence is sin.

                “Didn’t happen Lydia. Please copy and paste here where I have “[accused] others of some grave sin of not worshipping David.””

                That was a general comment concerning how evangelicalism typically views any discussion on David’s bad behavior..

                “You can do better sister.”

                Absolutely. Thing is, it won’t be coming from you because I believe your system is inconsistent and full of cognitive dissonance. And scary.

                  Les Prouty

                  Lydia,

                  “That is strange. I see you as inconsistent. How can the victim be committing the same sin as the child molester, for example?”

                  All sins are not the same. But all sins are still, well, sin and heinous before God. Are do you disagree that some sins are not heinous before God?

                  “Your doctrinal stance sees everyone as murderers.”

                  No, the bible sees everyone as murderers. Your argument isn’t with me. It’s with what Jesus said. Ever been angry Lydia?

                  “I think that is dangerous and it makes you and your system unsafe and unhealthy.”

                  Then document the widespread abuses among Reformed people? Heck I can point out just as many abuses among non Reformed people, probably more, than you can count up among Reformed people. IOW prove it as systemic among Reformed people. But we know you can’t. You and others here keep trying to discredit a theology as dangerous and abusive and find causation to heinous actions. Probable is you cannot prove it.

                  “That was a general comment concerning how evangelicalism typically views any discussion on David’s bad behavior..”

                  You should be a bit more careful when accusing people of saying things.

                  “Scary.” Right. I was with hundreds of these “scary” people this morning worshiping God. Happy to report there were no burnings, beheadings, drownings or the like. wink

                  BTW, Bill Mac said way better than I have the problems with the constant attacking of Calvinism and in some cases Calvinists. Read what he said.

                    Lydia

                    “All sins are not the same. But all sins are still, well, sin and heinous before God. Are do you disagree that some sins are not heinous before God?”

                    Make a list and we will go through them. Be sure and include imputed guilt which means our very existence is sin. (Which is why your forefathers baptized babies)

                    “No, the bible sees everyone as murderers. Your argument isn’t with me. It’s with what Jesus said. Ever been angry Lydia?”

                    Yes and Jesus got angry a few times, too. Are you referring to John 8?

                    “hen document the widespread abuses among Reformed people? Heck I can point out just as many abuses among non Reformed people, probably more, than you can count up among Reformed people. IOW prove it as systemic among Reformed people. But we know you can’t. You and others here keep trying to discredit a theology as dangerous and abusive and find causation to heinous actions. Probable is you cannot prove it. ”

                    Historically? From Luther to the Puritans? We would be here all day. No thanks. Thank goodness it became illegal. I prefer the Founders over the Puritans any day.

                    “You should be a bit more careful when accusing people of saying things.”

                    Ok–??

                    ““Scary.” Right. I was with hundreds of these “scary” people this morning worshiping God. Happy to report there were no burnings, beheadings, drownings or the like. wink”

                    I know, it is now illegal. :o) But I am sure the Holy Spirit was just taking a Holiday over those centuries it was considered pleasing to God to do such heinous things in His Name.

                    The Reformers are guilty of institutionalizing such behavior as pleasing to God.

                    Not sure why Bill Mac is my go to guy even though I often like his comments?
                    . In fact, I am wondering why it was ok for Calvinists to attack us for long as in we don’t have the true Gospel. This was done quite a few clever ways such as Mohler calling for marginalizing, stealth take over of churches, The Founders in their “quiet revolution”, etc. Was that honest?

                    They made pointing out the problems of that system a serious need. So here we are.

                    Les Prouty

                    Lydia,

                    “Make a list and we will go through them. Be sure and include imputed guilt which means our very existence is sin. (Which is why your forefathers baptized babies)”

                    God already gave you a list. It’s called the ten commandments. And wrong on the Reformed view of baptism. Read up a bit more on that one.

                    “es and Jesus got angry a few times, too. Are you referring to John 8?”

                    No, here: “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court” You ever been angry Lydia? An unjustified anger? There is justified anger. But there is anger that is sin. Have you always 100% had only pure, justified sinless anger since becoming a Christian?………That’s what I thought.

                    “I know, it is now illegal.” So that’s what keeps my wife and my daughters (believes in Reformed theology) from actually killing someone? Lydia, you really do have a warped view of theology and it’s extrapolation to all who hold said theology. I’m afraid your hatred of Calvin and Calvinism has blinded you.

                    You said to Andrew: “That we practice sin as a lifestyle?” I have never said that Christians practice unrepentant sin as a lifestyle.

                    But check back in when you have always for even a day kept all 10 commandments perfectly.

                    “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

                    Blessings to you.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Lydia: I too am at a loss to see how citing “the murdering adulterer David” can in any way mitigate the behaviour of Calvin. The Bible never excuses sin from anybody, in any shape or form. In some cases the sin is dealt with immediately, in others God bides his time. Moses never entered the promised land (major fail) David lost his baby son and was forbidden to build the temple. Solomon’s heart was divided and so was the kingdom after that! But God was able to use all these men (sorry they happen to all be men) to write part of what we now have as God inspired scripture.

                  You point out that the very existence of a King in Israel was actually against God’s advice and dare I say his will. But God being God allowed men to have their own way. Even so, God was still able to use them, which just goes to demonstrate his grace. We still see the same struggles going on throughout history and even today. Men, more hungry for power and influence than seeking and doing what God really wants. Calvin is nothing but another example of the abuse of power and influence. His loathing for the papacy is well documented but he ended up creating is his own enclave where he became the ‘pope’ of Geneva with all that that entailed.

                  However, according to Lester, you have got so much wrong and are unable to grasp the issues! I note though, that none of ‘the issues’ are highlighted and your main error appears to have been that you accused him of something which to the best of my knowledge you didn’t accuse him of in the first place! No doubt he will play the victim in all this, which is the normal pattern these exchanges follow. As for the last comment …… sister, you’re doing OK and that’s not meant in any way to be condescending! :)

                    Les Prouty

                    Andrew, let me see if I can help.

                    “Lydia: I too am at a loss to see how citing “the murdering adulterer David” can in any way mitigate the behaviour of Calvin.”

                    I’m wondering if you guys are scan reading what I say. “Mitigate: make less severe, serious, or painful.” Now if you have been doing more than scan reading you’d know that bringing up Dsvid was not an attempt to mitigate. As I already plainly said above: “No, I am simply calling you and others on your inconsistency.”

                    “However, according to Lester, you have got so much wrong…”

                    And then I said, “Ok. I just feel the need to straighten out a few things (ok, “so much wrong” may have been hyperbole) you have wrong here.”

                    “…and are unable to grasp the issues.” Nope, I said I expect better grasping of the issues. Come on Andy.

                    “I note though, that none of ‘the issues’ are highlighted and your main error appears to have been that you accused him of something which to the best of my knowledge you didn’t accuse him of in the first place!” Read it again Andrew. Now you join Lydia in getting it wrong too. It’s like your narrative need not be interrupted by facts.

                    “No doubt he will play the victim in all this, which is the normal pattern these exchanges follow.” You are 0 for all so far brother.

                    Lydia

                    Andrew, I am convinced that the biggest mistake we make is accepting the Reformed platitudes because we fear the consequences of being called heretics. It is still working all these centuries later!

                    Why have we not questioned their interpretation that our hearts remain wicked after salvation? That we practice sin as a lifestyle? That our very existence is sin? That all sin is the same to God, etc.

                    If we continue to question these things the only conclusion we can eventually come to is that they remain totally depraved so we should stop listening to them. :o)

                    Remember what is taught about “reason”. The Reformed brand has a foundation of being a caste system. The ruling elders and authorities who know best for us and have to explain it to us because we do not have the same Holy Spirit, I guess.

            Andrew Barker

            Lester: Robert did not bring up David, he was replying to a comment made by Jon. Perhaps you would care to explain what you meant by using the phrase “murdering adulterer David”. This is your terminology. Nobody else used it previously. What relevance has it to Calvin’s theology or behaviour?

              Les Prouty

              Andrew,

              I don’t think I ever said Robert brought up David. I’ve repeatedly said that I brought David into the discussion as I have repeatedly explained why.

              The phrase “murdering adulterer David” was meant to point out as a reminder that David was a murderer and an adulterer. And again as I have said before, the reason I brought him up in this discussion on the Calvin was simply to point out that while some on here are seeking to make a causal relationship between Calvin’s theology and heinously sinful behavior, well then there’s David committing heinous sin. Some on here are saying that no one in their right mind would read and try to glean anything from Calvin. After all, they say, “look at his behavior!”. It is to point out such an inconsistency when I bring up David. And in case you’re not reading all my comments, no, I am not equating Calvin’s writing with scripture as some on here have wrongly concluded.

              Bill Mac’s point is spot on. Read them if you haven’t.

                Andrew Barker

                Lester: In your last comment you say “I don’t think I ever said Robert brought up David. I’ve repeatedly said that I brought David into the discussion as I have repeatedly explained why. ”

                But earlier in the thread you DID say: “Robert, since you brought up the murdering adulterer David, does he get a pass substantially from you? Do you read his writings? Maybe sing them sometimes?”

                So you are wrong. The truth is you did try to argue that it was Robert who brought David into the discussion!

                So what is it that you are trying to establish from this? It was obvious from Robert’s comments that he doesn’t view David’s sin as of little or no consequence. Robert pointed out that David repented of his sin and yes, although it wasn’t quoted I guess Psalm 51 comes to mind. We do read David’s writings!

                So given that it was obvious that Robert needed no reminder of David’s shortcomings, just what was the point of your comment? Nobody I’ve read on this thread has excused David’s behaviour in the slightest!

                You then proceed to explain that your comments are to point out inconsistency in regard to David. I will quote you so there’s no room for confusion “It is to point out such an inconsistency when I bring up David.” Your words, not mine.

                However, you have been unable to establish that anybody is being inconsistent in their treatment of David. The truth is, people have been very even handed with regard to accepting the failings of David. There is one glaring inconsistency. It’s on your part! Psalm 51 is an expression of David’s repentance. Can you find a single sentence, even a nuanced phrase which would indicate that Calvin repented or felt the slightest remorse for any of the evil that he had committed? Indeed, did he even accept that what he had done was wrong? Where is the consistent treatment of Calvin? You are quick to demand we treat historical figures consistently? So for Calvin, let’s see the fruit of repentance!

                Les Prouty

                Andrew,

                “But earlier in the thread you DID say: “Robert, since you brought up the murdering adulterer David, does he get a pass substantially from you? Do you read his writings? Maybe sing them sometimes?”

                So you are wrong. The truth is you did try to argue that it was Robert who brought David into the discussion!”

                You are right. I was wrong. Robert did mention David’s name. I then followed up and began making my points.

                “So what is it that you are trying to establish from this?”

                I have repeatedly made clear why I brought up David’s murder and adultery.

                “So given that it was obvious that Robert needed no reminder of David’s shortcomings, just what was the point of your comment? Nobody I’ve read on this thread has excused David’s behaviour in the slightest!”

                Already said what my point was. Further, right no one has excused David’s behavior. But neither has anyone also tried to link causation of murder and adultery to David’s theology as they have with Calvin. Thus the inconsistency I was pointing out.

                Truth is, no one here CAN link causation of heinous behavior to Calvin’s theology. Some have tried, but the argument is bankrupt.

                “However, you have been unable to establish that anybody is being inconsistent in their treatment of David.” Your opinion. No one here has established causation from Calvin’s theology to heinous behavior. I have correctly shown the inconsistency in trying to do so while giving David’s theology a pass.

                “The truth is, people have been very even handed with regard to accepting the failings of David. There is one glaring inconsistency. It’s on your part! Psalm 51 is an expression of David’s repentance.”

                “Can you find a single sentence, even a nuanced phrase which would indicate that Calvin repented or felt the slightest remorse for any of the evil that he had committed?” Andy, the fact that an expression of repentance does not mean one doesn’t exist. That thinking is similar to the atheist argument, “well there is no God because no one has ever seen him. that proves he doesn’t exist.” Silly. Unless you have scoured the world of literature and/or were with Calvin even in his thoughts, you cannot say that he never repented of any or all sins he may have committed. And of course if you say that he must have done so to have seen heaven, well welcome to Roman Catholic theology 101.

                “Indeed, did he even accept that what he had done was wrong? Where is the consistent treatment of Calvin? You are quick to demand we treat historical figures consistently? So for Calvin, let’s see the fruit of repentance!””

                See the above answer.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Lester: Here are some facts.
                  1. You brought up the subject of David (initially mentioned by Jon)
                  2. You claimed that Robert had introduced the argument re David’s sin
                  3. You were wrong in making out that Robert had introduced David’s sin

                  You now try to claim that people are being inconsistent as in … “But neither has anyone also tried to link causation of murder and adultery to David’s theology as they have with Calvin. Thus the inconsistency I was pointing out.”

                  I can explain why people have not pointed out the causal link to David’s theology and his murder/adultery. There isn’t one! David’s actions were totally against what he knew to be right. His actions were not in line with his beliefs. This is in stark contrast to what we see from Calvin who, as far as we know acted entirely in line with his beliefs. Are you able to show otherwise? The conclusion must be that Calvin’s actions were entirely consistent with his beliefs.

                  There is indeed inconsistency, but I repeat it is on your part. You are the one who is being inconsistent.

                  Les Prouty

                  Andy,

                  Andy: “Here are some facts.
                  1. You brought up the subject of David (initially mentioned by Jon)
                  2. You claimed that Robert had introduced the argument re David’s sin
                  3. You were wrong in making out that Robert had introduced David’s sin”

                  Lester: 1. Agree. 2. Agree. 3. Agree. I already stipulated to these. So, you rehashed them exactly why?

                  Andy: “You now try to claim that people are being inconsistent as in … “But neither has anyone also tried to link causation of murder and adultery to David’s theology as they have with Calvin. Thus the inconsistency I was pointing out.””

                  Lester: No, I have claimed that all along Andy. I don’t “now” claim that. Step up your game bro.

                  Andy: “The conclusion must be that Calvin’s actions were entirely consistent with his beliefs.”

                  Lester: Ok, Andy, are you stipulating that there is causation from Calvin’s theology to his sinful actions? State it clear man.

                  Andy: “This is in stark contrast to what we see from Calvin who, as far as we know acted entirely in line with his beliefs. Are you able to show otherwise?”

                  I, Bill Mac and Jim G. have put it out there that there is no causation. I think the three of us have explained why. You and others here have yet to actually PROVE causation. The onus is on you. Show us all the killing, torture, etc. being done today by Reformed church members. Just copy and paste in the links.

                  Andy: “There is indeed inconsistency, but I repeat it is on your part. You are the one who is being inconsistent.”

                  Lester: Afraid not my friend.

                  Have a blessed day.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Leslie: I have to assume that you honestly don’t understand where your reasoning is going wrong. You quote: “I have correctly shown the inconsistency in trying to do so while giving David’s theology a pass.” This is where your reasoning is suspect and your inconsistency shows. Nobody is giving David’s theology a pass, again your phrase and not one which I would use. You can’t show an inconsistency in people’s approach by arguing that they are saying something when in fact they are not saying it at all!

                    David’s theology was not to go around committing adultery and murder. He was guilty of both, but nothing he ever wrote would indicate that he thought that was the correct way to behave. This is confirmed in scripture when he is given a parable by the prophet Nathan, David’s answer makes it abundantly clear what his ‘theology’ is. It however takes Nathan to point out to David that “you are the man!”

                    So if you want to take a consistent approach towards judging what people say and what they do, you need to look at what they say and compare it with what they do. That’s all. If you do this with David, you find a man who says one things, does another, but recognises his mistake and his repentance is a matter of record. With Calvin you find a man who says one thing, acts according to what he thinks and to the best of our knowledge, never makes any attempt to rectify the wrong he does. Worse still, he makes strident attempts to erase any contradictions that may appear in his writings by revising them. He strenuously attacks those who disagree with what he says and attempts to justify his actions. This is all a matter of record and no I’m not going to both to quote sources!

                    So if you wish to carry on comparing David with Calvin, be my guest, but it will serve only to highlight your inconsistency in dealing with people on a like for like basis.

                    Les Prouty

                    Andrew,

                    Maybe I don’t understand. My mind and heart is now like a laser on Haiti. Leaving at 3am local time Wednesday with much left to do. So, I’ll leave it with you getting the effective last word.

                    Blessings to you brother.

                    Les

Max

A local SBC church planter has requested that his congregation refer to him as Reformed, rather than Calvinist … feeling that a close examination of the man Calvin and Calvinism’s dark history might distract current and prospective church members. Any time we affix a man’s name to the message of Christ (whether it be Calvin, Arminius, or even Rogers-Hobbs), we are putting too much focus on the teachings and traditions of men rather than the commandments of God (and Jesus warned us not to do that!).

    norm

    Max:
    Many of Calvin’s devotees want to be called Reformed and not Calvinistic — and for obvious reasons as have been made irrefutably clear, here. I find that name preference to be deceitful, i.e., Reformed v. Calvinistic. Are Calvinists ashamed of the man, or his theology, or the atrocities his theologies led him to commit?

    BTW: I drive a Taurus, but please don’t tell anyone I drive a Ford. (Distinction w/o a difference.)

      Max

      “… atrocities his theologies led him to commit …”

      And these are the roots New Calvinists within SBC want us to be identified with?! I would sooner drive a Ford!

      Bill Mac

      If I had to choose a label, I would say I’m a bit more molinist than calvinist these days, but this seems a little unfair. Suppose we agree with you that Calvin’s actions were pure evil, that they were indefensible. Suppose also that we have never read Calvin, the Institutes, or any else by him. Lastly, suppose a person does generally believe TULIP or some other set of doctrines that is commonly known as Calvinism? They can’t win. They are faulted if they refer to themselves as Calvinists, and faulted and accused of deception if they don’t.

      The purpose of this article is to expose what a monster John Calvin was. The more subtle purpose, it seems to me, is to equate his theology with his actions and declare in contemporary Calvinists guilt by association. The implication is that if today’s Calvinists just had free reign, they would be the SBC equivalent of ISIS.

      There are plenty of good, biblical arguments against Calvinism. Guilt by association isn’t one of them. No amount of demonizing Calvin goes one inch toward disproving his theology. I tend to agree that Calvin’s actions were indefensible and evil. That in no way begins to convince me that unconditional election or perseverance of the saints is untrue.

        norm

        That’s only two points, Bill. And I reject perseverance of the saints. It is the perseverance of the Savior. He holds my salvation secure, not me. I absolutely disagree with your assessment that Calvin’s theology did not affect his actions. If you disagreed with him, you paid with your life. That is my point, and not any guilt by association.

          Bill Mac

          Norm: Don’t miss the AND in there. If Calvin’s theology drove his evil acts, he wouldn’t be the first to misapply doctrine to justify something sinful. But I think the formula intended here is inescapable:

          Calvin = Evil, therefore Calvinism = Evil, therefore Calvinists = Evil. It’s being suggested that strict laws that frown on the guillotine and burning people at the stake are the only thing holding back SBC Calvinists from starting a reign of terror that would make the French Revolution look like a Billy Graham crusade.

          I think people make a mistake in defending Calvin. I have no interest in it. I don’t really have much interest in defending Calvinism, but it seems to me that Calvinists need a little defense from GBA in this thread.

        Lydia

        “The more subtle purpose, it seems to me, is to equate his theology with his actions and declare in contemporary Calvinists guilt by association. The implication is that if today’s Calvinists just had free reign, they would be the SBC equivalent of ISIS.

        There are plenty of good, biblical arguments against Calvinism. Guilt by association isn’t one of them. No amount of demonizing Calvin goes one inch toward disproving his theology. I tend to agree that Calvin’s actions were indefensible and evil. That in no way begins to convince me that unconditional election or perseverance of the saints is untrue.”

        Bill, My pew peasant view is that Calvin basically took Augustine further and systematized it. The “guilt by association” is because of the defense of Calvin’s behavior or the demand for proof when, frankly, there is a ton of proof for anyone willing to do some digging.

        I am at a loss to understand how people keep saying there is no connection between what Calvin wrote, what he believed and practiced. That only makes him worse! This is a religion I don’t get. Shouldn’t what we believe drive our behavior? This is a question for us all including non Cals. I saw a similarity in the seeker mega movement where it was taught indirectly that Jesus hung on the cross and was resurrected so we can be forgiven future sins. There was not much on how to sin less or grow in Holiness. I think that is just part of the evangelical landscape anymore. A sort of hold over from Protestantism, I suppose. There is a false dichotomy out there concerning sinless perfection and doing evil.

        It is just that Calvin is so obvious. And the fruit of the Reformation from that time all the way to the Boers of S. Africa is not exactly pretty. We also have others during the Reformation era who gave up their lives for freedom of conscience and believers baptism. What is the difference between them?

        Why would Calvin’s theology and actions be the total opposite. I mean, how does that work as a believer? Do as I say but not as I do? I guess the only way for that to work is to have correct doctrine but remain evil worms who want to murder.

          Bill Mac

          I’ve already conceded that Calvin’s actions were indefensible. But the logic that Calvinism creates murderers and tyrants doesn’t compute. All one needs to find are Calvinists who weren’t murderers and tyrants and non-Calvinists who were to refute it. Sometimes people are just twisted. Perhaps Calvin was a murderer and tyrant first, and twisted his theology to fit it.

          My point is, use the bible to refute Calvinism, don’t use Calvin. It’s a bad argument. It’s like pointing out Charles Finney’s faults to discourage people from using the altar call. Non-Calvinists cry foul when that is done, and rightly so.

          I am an elder in my church, and I guarantee you that I wield far less power and authority than the majority of single-pastor non-Calvinists in the SBC. My theology doesn’t make me thirst for power, doesn’t make me want to kill people, and doesn’t make me desire to control people’s lives. I have never read a single word that Calvin wrote. It can be done. It is being done

            Lydia

            Bill,

            I give you the benefit of the doubt you do not believe we are all murderers as Les believes. However, I do think the case can be made( regardless of what the YRR movement says) that it has in general been one of deception, control, arrogance, authoritarianism, stealth tactics, etc. The movement’s play book actually endorsed those things because the pew sitters were so ignorant. That is the foundation from which the resurgence was started. As we have seen nothing was more important in the SBC than putting Calvinists in positions of power and authority in our entities and taking over churches. This focus also included building a mass movement by joining up with other non SBC Calvinist groups. As much as they deny it, there has been a long term strategy for anyone paying attention. I find all of these things a use of force by stealth. It is rationalized, excused and denied. Same tactics Calvin used for his behavior because hunting what he deemed heresy was front and center including falling asleep during his sermons. Where do you think such tactics and thinking go if not checked?

            After the Puritans and even again after the Civil War, the Calvinist type groups IN GENERAL usually went more liberal focusing more on social issues than the determinist God paradigm. One of my clients here long ago was the local Presbyterian Seminary. Liberals who were more concerned with the social gospel. They were delightful people.

            Historically determinism was pretty scary. But I also realize it was made up of mostly followers of a few exalted leaders or caste system who enforced the doctrine through various means.

            ” Sometimes people are just twisted”

            Here is another issue that fits right in. I believe Christians should be the light of the world. Christians do not remain twisted. They grow in Holiness never achieving perfection but certainly striving for truth, justice mercy, etc, here and now. I believe the resurrection means a New Birth is waiting for us here and now to be New Creatures in Christ. I believe in the Holy Spirit indwelling believers. I do not believe someone seeking wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit (abiding as in the vine) molests Children. Nor do I believe the victim molested is just a sinner, too. The same goes for seeking power over others. What on earth makes us different from non believers? We just get a pass because we are worms and cannot help it?

            That does not mean I believe in sinless perfection. If we believe that Christians (including long time leaders) commit such heinous sins then perhaps we should rethink what we believe is Christianity. This is across the board Christianity, btw. It is just that Calvin and then subsequent Reformed movements throughout history are glaringly obvious when it comes to the bad stuff. Stuff that does not look Christian unless we redefine what that is. And one thing that I believe has been the problem is a focus on systematized doctrine over people. People want those formulas because it is easier to follow a human than Christ.

            There are nice Calvinists out there. My problem is that I just cannot understand how they can ignore history and the long time fruit of that doctrinal position including recent history. If the answer to that is there are bad people/leaders in other non Calvinist groups (which there are), then perhaps we need to take a look at what we define as Christianity. If it does not produce good fruit then what on earth is it?

            Now

            Bill Mac 18-01-2015, 22:12

            I’ve already conceded that Calvin’s actions were indefensible. But the logic that Calvinism creates murderers and tyrants doesn’t compute. All one needs to find are Calvinists who weren’t murderers and tyrants and non-Calvinists who were to refute it. Sometimes people are just twisted. Perhaps Calvin was a murderer and tyrant first, and twisted his theology to fit it.

            My point is, use the bible to refute Calvinism, don’t use Calvin. It’s a bad argument. It’s like pointing out Charles Finney’s faults to discourage people from using the altar call. Non-Calvinists cry foul when that is done, and rightly so.

              Bill Mac

              I think the Christian bona fides of anyone willing to kill for God are suspect. That goes for Reformers all the way to people who think we ought to nuke Iran so we can make the Rapture happen sooner. Not all who say Lord, Lord……

            Les Prouty

            Lydia, if I may cut in briefly…

            “There are nice Calvinists out there.” Thanks for that. I know you had me in mind when you wrote that. :)

            “My problem is that I just cannot understand how they can ignore history and the long time fruit of that doctrinal position including recent history.”

            I think this plays into Bill’s point. Even if a member of a Reformed church knows nothing of Calvin’s history or even who he was, the doctrinal positions themselves do not cause heinous sinful behavior. Lydia if they did no human law would restrain someone. Why would a civil law restrain a heart bent on killing people, said killing arising from their behavior? Your argument is a non starter. As Bill Mac said, try to refute Calvinism based on the scriptures, not by attacking the figurehead and trying to link bad behavior to the theology. You just cannot.

            Jim G.

            Hi Bill,

            Calvinism does not create murderers and tyrants. As you said, there are plenty of evil people who do not follow Calvin, and on the flip side, there are many nice and genuine people who do hold to his teachings (who do not have a murderous or tyrannical bone in their body).

            Therefore, the idea that Reformed thinking causes murder or tyranny is absurd. Such a relationship is not causal. However, it CAN, in my opinion, be symbiotic. Murderers and tyrants can utilize Reformed theology and its view of a primarily-volitional God, as a means to being tyrannical. I believe Calvin did that very thing. His tyranny went hand-in-hand with his theology, and one hand washed the other, so to speak. He utilized the theology to enact his own tyranny. Such a scenario might only happen to 1 in 1000 people, but he was the 1.

            I don’t believe it is actually possible to disprove Calvinism using the Bible itself. That is not to say that I think Calvinism is biblical, because I certainly do not think it is. But we have seen this before. Two people are in a room (or a blog), and both are committed to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. One is a Calvinist and one is not. The Cal trots out his texts and the non-Cal his. The Cal has his answers for the non-Cal’s texts and vice-versa. If this goes on long enough, more than likely one of the two will accuse the other of being unbiblical. Therein lies our problem. We evangelicals do not usually have the ability to separate what the Bible says (exegesis) from what it means (interpretation/hermeneutics). Instead we lump exegesis and interpretation together and conclude that anyone who disagrees is being unfaithful to the text itself. We each read the Bible in the context of our own backstory (including our “isms”), and most of us naively think that our own backstory is identical with that of the biblical authors and God himself. We tend to forget that all of our “isms” have a set of assumptions, a methodology, and a history that combine to form the hermeneutical lens through which we read the text. The Bible can be used to prove and disprove a lot of things depending on who controls the hermeneutical process. In other words, if we play with my dice, I win every throw. See what I mean?

            I think it is very possible to judge Calvinism on the basis of its assumptions, methodology, and history. I have done so and found it sorely lacking. It’s a difficult task, because the assumptions have to be fleshed out, the methodology critiqued on the basis of those assumptions (and the inherent flaws), and the history dug through. It’s basically a who’s-who of western Christianity back to at least Augustine, if not Tertullian and Cyprian. I’ve got a couple of books started. :0)

            In my opinion, the Bible gives us the Word of God, a good set of assumptions, and an implied methodology. Therefore we judge all “isms” by what is recorded there, but it takes more work than just ping-ponging chapter and verse back and forth. It also leaves a good bit of ground unplowed. We are, after all, a people of the Word AND the Spirit.

            Jim G.

              Bill Mac

              Therefore, the idea that Reformed thinking causes murder or tyranny is absurd. Such a relationship is not causal. However, it CAN, in my opinion, be symbiotic. Murderers and tyrants can utilize Reformed theology and its view of a primarily-volitional God, as a means to being tyrannical. I believe Calvin did that very thing. His tyranny went hand-in-hand with his theology, and one hand washed the other, so to speak. He utilized the theology to enact his own tyranny. Such a scenario might only happen to 1 in 1000 people, but he was the 1.

              Yes, I think you’re right. We’ve got to get past the silly accusation that Calvinists worship Calvin or sing his praises. I mentioned earlier that I’m more of a molinist than a calvinist these days but I was hesitant to do so because I could just envision someone accusing me of worshiping Molina and then digging up dirt on him so I would be associated with his sins.

Dan Nelson

Trying to catch up with you guys being on CA time out here. I’m not trying to answer for Rick, Jon but Bainton lists as his primary source for Servetus trial this: The documents on the trial at Geneva are in the Calvin Opera, VIII. The best biographical study of Servetus is that by E. Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism, (Cambridge, 1945). He translated “Servetus on the Errors of the Trinity,” Harvard Theological Studies, XVI (1932).
I am not defending Servetus, but I am questioning Calvin’s and the council’s answer to what to do with heretics. It’s a new form of evangelism: If you don’t convert to the truth we will kill you! Oh, wait a minute it’s not so new the Muslims have been practicing this method for centuries as we have seen recently illustrated. Servetus was a heretic but you don’t dispose of heretics by getting the council to burn them at the stake. You shun them as Paul said in II Thess. 3:6.

Lydia

Servetus’ murder was premeditated by John Calvin.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45463/45463-h/45463-h.htm

It takes a bit of digging and includes another later letter of Calvin lamenting the fallout over Sevetus written in 1553. The Servetus threat written to Farel is under 1546 CLIV. One can click on page number 31 to the right.

Here is an excerpt from Calvin’s letter to Farel in 1546:

” Servetus lately wrote to me, and coupled with his letter a long volume of his delirious fancies, with the Thrasonic boast, that I should see something astonishing and unheard of. He takes it upon him to come hither, if it be agreeable to me. But I am unwilling to pledge my word for his safety, for if he shall come, I shall never permit him to depart alive, provided my authority be of any avail.[25]”

There was no legal provision for burning non citizen heretics in Geneva. Servetus was not a citizen and was passing through. Normally he would have been banished out of town and told not to come back. He had not even committed his “heresy” crime in Geneva. The only “heretical” items Calvin had were letters Servetus had sent him years before disagreeing with Calvin’s writings. That is it. The “crime” of heresy had not even been committed in Geneva. It was private correspondence from years before. As you can see by Calvin’s own hand, he was gunning for Servetus if he ever got his hands on him. (There is circumstantial evidence that Servetus and Calvin knew each other as students in France when they were much younger as they attended the same school)
:

Lydia

“I am not defending Servetus, but I am questioning Calvin’s and the council’s answer to what to do with heretics. It’s a new form of evangelism: If you don’t convert to the truth we will kill you!”

This is what Sabastian Castillio thought, too. He wrote De haereticis, an sint persequendi (Should Heretics be Persecuted?) in 1554 under an assumed name so he would not suffer the same fate. Seems he was not a “man of his time”. And because of his earlier dissent with Calvin he was banished and lived in poverty although he had once been a very popular professor. He was also one who went to spend time with the Plague victims as Calvin’s servants told people that he was too important to the church to take the risk to go and pray with the dying.

Dan Nelson

Jon, The source I quoted: Roland Bainton was the premiere Church History authority in the 60’s and 70’s. He was the authority in Church History have taught at Yale for many years. The Travail of Religious Liberty is a classic work. His biography on Martin Luther: Here I Stand is the best biography ever. We used his two volume work: Christendom as our textbook in college. He did research the primary source. I don’t mean to belabor this discussion but just wanted you to know my source on the Servetus trial and Calvin’s role it is well researched by one of the top Church Historians for several decades.

    Jon

    Understand that, Dan. I’m aware of Bainton. My question regards a specific statement; that seems to have been lost on most here. Still I’m searching for one that speaks of the Consistory and Council as the same, and Calvin as guilty of the worst evils (including the murder of “innocent” children) by his mere influence. Influences were many (including every other magistrate in Europe); it was a different time, different place, when the church was still working its way out of the Middle Ages, and the factors were various—we have the privilege of retrospect, living in an age of [probably too much] toleration and liberty. It’s also well-documented that Calvin went out of his way to plead with Servetus to repent… heresy was a capital offense, with a capital crime (soul murder vs. body murder; they felt both were punishable).

Lydia

“Gordon never paints Calvin as an “evil” man; but certainly as a man with sinful qualities, that I assume you would admit to in yourself.”

The moral equivalency position raises its ugly head again. It goes like this: Robert is a sinner. Calvin is a sinner. Therefore Robert and Calvin are the same in sin. this is the same reasoning SGM used when dealing with child molesters in the church. The victim is a sinner too, ya know.

And they always trot out David!

    norm

    Good to see you here again, Lydia. We appreciate your understanding of history and your convictions for biblical truth. For Calvies to “trot out David” is a horrible strategy as Robert and I have shown. Looking forward to hearing more form you.

    Jon

    That’s because you can’t do anything about David or any other person in history. You’ve elevated yourself to the highest stage.

Lydia

“You haven’t actually succeeded in showing the “evil” character, only a flawed one.”

Flawed? I am almost scared to ask what you think is evil done in the name of Christ.

Charles e Whisnant

Have you heard the real story of Jack Hyles who hated John Calvin. Many Independent Fundamental Baptist hate Southern Baptists as well. If you are going to zero in on events in Calvin life to discredit his theology, its not really a good way. His theology and preaching was biblical. Preachers that want to discredit the man, is like the preacher who tried to discredit the Apostle Paul.

    Lydia

    Charles, Have you heard Hyles’ daughters’ talk on TEDS? Linda Miller if I remember right. She touches on the cult she grew up with, her escape and coming out of that thinking. Hyles and Calvin were a lot alike when it came to controlling people and not allowing dissent. Free will did not mean much to those in his cult.

    Why do folks trot out other evil deeds thinking it excuses evil deeds? Because we are all sinners molesting children or condemning heretics to death?

    Paul N

    Calvinism turns the plain reading of scripture on its head. I don’t get into this debate too much, but biblical it is not, regardless of its adherents stating that it is. And I do notice that it is the defense of the doctrine more than the defense of the goodness of God with Calvinism. So it seems to me, at least.

    norm

    Charles:
    If Calvin’s theology and preaching were biblical, we would not be having this discussion. While a blind hog finds a nut now and then, admittedly, many of Calvin’s findings on soteriology are not biblical, as numerous articles on this blog have shown, exegetically. I agree that the apparent “attack” on Calvin’s actions are not the best way to discredit him (crime and punishment examples notwithstanding). But, examining his actions (murder, beatings, banishments, fines, etc.) truly are indicators of his theological convictions. If faith equals practice, then practice reveals faith. Also, few Calvinists have sought to engage the actual Scriptures, here, but apparently prefer the debate. When sound exegetical articles have appeared on this blog, only rarely and briefly would an apparent Calvinist engage. Why is that? I think I know.

Lydia

“God already gave you a list. It’s called the ten commandments.”

Les, The 10C do not tell me I was born sinning and cannot help it.. The 10C do not tell me all sin is the same to God. It tells me the opposite. I know you all trot out the “Love God with all your heart” and claim no one can do it. And, the reason is imputed guilt. We are born sinning. But one can strive to love God with all their heart and we would recognize those types right away. God loves truth, justice, mercy, compassion, etc. I believe that is what He wants us to practice here and now.

“And wrong on the Reformed view of baptism. Read up a bit more on that one.”

Some Creed from some Council told you it was ok not to baptize babies, I guess.

“o, here: “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court” You ever been angry Lydia? An unjustified anger? There is justified anger. But there is anger that is sin. Have you always 100% had only pure, justified sinless anger since becoming a Christian?………That’s what I thought.”

Les, again, I will say that Jesus got angry. And I do not interpret that the same way you do. Jesus was talking about where murder starts. My “thoughts”are between Him and me because I strive for a personal relationship with Him. My “actions” become everyone’s business. Jesus is talking about changing our hearts not the letter of the law but the spirit of the law.

“I know, it is now illegal.” So that’s what keeps my wife and my daughters (believes in Reformed theology) from actually killing someone? Lydia, you really do have a warped view of theology and it’s extrapolation to all who hold said theology. I’m afraid your hatred of Calvin and Calvinism has blinded you.”

But you believe you and your daughters are murderers. That you don’t actually have to murder to be a murderer. Maybe that is why Calvin gets a pass with his premeditated murder of Servetus. I think those who ignore the historical fruit of his system are the ones who are blind.

“ou said to Andrew: “That we practice sin as a lifestyle?” I have never said that Christians practice unrepentant sin as a lifestyle.”

I know, but you think we are guilty of it anyway…we don’t have to actually practice it because we are already guilty of it.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Read the rest of the book:

” Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.”

And note that earlier he makes a distinction between walking in the light and walking in darkness. That is not sinless perfection. That is growing in Holiness toward being the light of the world. Actually striving to live out the Kingdom of God here and now. Reflecting Christ back out into the world as believers. Reading 1 John shows me also that we have the “ability” to do this with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Calvin had the “ability” to walk in the light. He chose to redefine it.

    Les Prouty

    Lydia,

    “Les, The 10C do not tell me I was born sinning and cannot help it.. The 10C do not tell me all sin is the same to God.” They tell me that neither.

    “Some Creed from some Council told you it was ok not to baptize babies, I guess.” Nope, the bible told me that.

    “Les, again, I will say that Jesus got angry. And I do not interpret that the same way you do.” Well that’s for sure. There is the generally accepted view (in which I include myself) and then there’s your view.

    “But you believe you and your daughters are murderers. That you don’t actually have to murder to be a murderer.” No, the bible tells me that they, and you and I and all people are “murderers” It’s right there in the NT, called anger.

    “I know, but you think we are guilty of it anyway…we don’t have to actually practice it because we are already guilty of it.” I don’t know how you get these things out of my words. Christians do not live lifestyles of unrepentant sin. That’s clear from 1 John. But you and I agree that we don’t reach perfection in this life. John knows that and says we have an advocate. I know 1 John very well. But you keep twisting what I say to mean something else.

    “And note that earlier he makes a distinction between walking in the light and walking in darkness. That is not sinless perfection. That is growing in Holiness toward being the light of the world. Actually striving to live out the Kingdom of God here and now. Reflecting Christ back out into the world as believers. Reading 1 John shows me also that we have the “ability” to do this with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

    Agree. Now, I’m tired of this exchange. Speaking of “redefine,” you have an uncanny ability to redefine what I write and turn it into what you want to think I believe. I’ve been clear and repeated myself many times. So we are going nowhere. I’m getting ready for my next trip to Haiti anyway and have not much time for continuing this “getting nowhere” back and forth.

    So, as I depart this convo, I will reiterate once again my main point: You non Reformed folks want to, but cannot succeed in finding causation from Calvinism to heinous, murderous (the killing kind) sins. To quote no defender of Calvinism Jim G. on this blog, “Calvinism does not create murderers and tyrants. As you said, there are plenty of evil people who do not follow Calvin, and on the flip side, there are many nice and genuine people who do hold to his teachings (who do not have a murderous or tyrannical bone in their body). Therefore, the idea that Reformed thinking causes murder or tyranny is absurd. Such a relationship is not causal.”

    You guys should really give it up. There are better and true ways to argue against Reformed theology.

    So, after Haiti and on another topic maybe…

    Leslie Edwin Prouty III

    Oh I almost forgot Lydia. Ran across these quotes from Adrian Rogers and Herschel Hobbs…you know, as Connect 3:16 is “a ministry fellowship celebrating the Hobbs-Rogers tradition in Southern Baptist life.”

    “Most people in the average church are carnal, fleshly—wood, hay, and stubble Christians—not gold and silver and precious stones Christians.” Adrian Rogers

    “When you become a Christian, you are free from sin’s penalty of death, but not from sin’s power.” Herschel Hobbs

    Be blessed.

      Lydia

      Les, Why do you assume I am automatically in another camp or cherry pick quotes? Why? To what end? I am not
      sure what the quotes are to tell me? I know mega churches full of Cultural Christians which would fit Rogers’ quote. I agree that sin has great power. But He is in us is greater than he who is in the world, right? 1 John 4

      I simply think that believers can grow in Holiness and sin less and less as they mature in Christ. I don’t think it is easy.

      So not sure why you trot out these things. I work hard not to align myself with any leaders.

        Les

        Lydia, let me splain it to you. The quotes serve to show that what I’ve been saying about sin remaining in us all is held across the theological spectrum. You seem to intimate that we Reformed are the only ones saying that sin remains active in us all. The 10 Cs are impossible. We all need Christ and his work in us advocating for us all the time. See 1 John. The Rogers-Hobbs tradition agrees.

        I know you try not to be in any camp. I know you cannot be pigeonholed. You are alone in your theology. I get that.

        So these quotes are really FYI. If in your Lone Ranger theological position these are of no use for you, well ok.

        Now back to Haiti. Have a blessed day and be comforted that at least from Wednesday to next Weenesday you’ll be Les free. Have fun.

          Lydia

          Thanks Les, I appreciate your attempts. :o)

          Have a good trip,

          Tonto

Lydia

http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/3306557

Dr. Flowers hits another one out of the ball park. In this podcast he talks about Piper’s answer to the question: Why aren’t there more black Calvinists?

Piper’s basic answer: They were not taught it.

Which just goes to show that even Piper admits (albeit not on purpose) it requires more than reading the bible. It has to be consistently taught to people.

    norm

    So right, Lydia. My former pastor (a Calvinist — thus the adjective “former”) told me his dad converted to Calvinism. He admitted that his dad had a very hard time swallowing the system and that it took repeated presentation and recital before his dad relented. This is also a similar testimony of some former Calvinists themselves.

    Max

    “It has to be consistently taught to people.”

    Transformed theology is caught … reformed theology is taught. Education doesn’t produce one ounce of revelation. It’s by the Spirit, thus saith the Lord.

    Max

    “Piper’s basic answer: They were not taught it.”

    After moving to a new area, we visited various SBC churches. One church required a class for prospective members in order to be considered for membership. Since this was an unusual policy in our SBC experience, I checked it out. We were familiar with new member classes to orient new members to church staff and ministry opportunities, but this one had a different feel to it. Yep, you guessed it … a 12-week course taught by the pastor on the Doctrines of Grace. We chose not be be indoctrinated, since we already knew who we were in Christ, and moved on down the road. I wonder how common this practice is in the SBC these days?

      Andy

      I’ve never heard of this as a new members class. At our (SBC) church, we have an occasional after-church lunch, in which we let people know our basic beliefs, expectations of membership, community opportunities, etc… We DO require new members to do that at some point before membership, but we also make arrangements for the Pastor to just go through that stuff with them one-on-one if their life schedule prevents the Sunday Lunch.

      I can’t believe that what you describe could be very common among SBC churches… Reformed Baptist or Primitive Baptist maybe…

      Mary

      The Calvinist SBC churches in our area all have “new members” classes. When we were at a church and they called a new young Pastor the first thing he did was make it mandatory that everyone in the church would be required to go through the “new members” class and then he made a big push for it to be a requirement that everyone had to sign the church covenant and agree to the official “doctrine” of the church. If you follow 9 Marks much this is one of there big recommendations – take members through classes and require them to sign contracts.

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