Happy Michael Servetus Day?

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Particular Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
One thing that I think this whole situation proves is that we aren't (and shouldn't be) followers of Calvin (even though I love the work of Calvin), but of Christ. Personally, I come from an Arminian background and I can say that it wasn't John Calvin who convicted me of the Doctrines of Grace and what we would term "Reformed theology", rather it was the God the Holy Spirit speaking through His Word that brought me to, what I believe, a more proper understanding of who God is.

I'm not here to say that Calvin hasn't been slandered by those who oppose his theology, but I am saying that I'm thankful (as I'm sure everyone here is) that my salvation was secured by Jesus Christ and not by any other man!
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Servetus was an incorrigible heretic, blasphemer of God and His ministers, and received a just punishment.

Burning people is not justice. We have no new testament warrant to burn people who teach false teaching.

Aaron,

Having once been a baptist myself, I understand your vantage point.

However, we likewise have no New Testament warrant for the civil magistrate to neglect punishing offenses against the First Table.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Calvin was also part of the fixture of the Geneva city gov't. He helped with city planning, social welfare, and even sanitation. Church and State were not separate but mixed, such that what the church wanted done, the government would often do.

Yes, Calvin was not the prosecuting attorney.

He was, however, consenting to Servetus' death, though he appeared to have tried to persuade Servetus in private. During the trial, however, Calvin did write, ""I hope that the verdict will call for the death penalty." (Walter Nigg, The Heretics (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1962).

Pergy, I don't deny that Calvin consented to the execution nor do I maintain that it was the right thing to do.

However, it doesn't seem that you have given enough weight to the fact that in 1553, Calvin was at the nadir of his popularity. Not only was he NOT a citizen, he was roundly scorned, dogs were named after him, people made fun of him and interrupted his preaching with "rude" biological sounds.

I'm offended at a lot of things about the 16th century: ridiculously personal attacks in debate, medical and surgical practices that contributed to the death rather than the healing of persons, religious wars, the acceptance of torture of prisoners, etc. But, if we are going to fault the spirit of the times, let's do so without attaching all of the blame to one individual who had a relatively incidental role in the proceedings.

In developing the legacy of Calvin, this does NOT deserve the role it plays in the popular historiography of Calvin.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Maybe this is turning into a theonomy thread.

It is not a Theonomy thread, it's a Theocracy thread.

CT

Thank you for the clarification and also for your good thoughts. I am now bowing out of this particular discussion since I have made my point.

My summmary:

Calvin was not the prosecuting attorney in Geneva. He even tried to persuade Servetus privately. If someone is guilty for Servetus' death, it would be the city council mainly.

However, the church and state back then were dangerously close. They were childen of their age. Whether Calvin's teaching helped ameliorate this climate of the age or helped perpetuate this climate is debatable. He did consent to Servetus' death.

But, Servetus, according to history was the ONLY heretic killed in Geneva while scores were killed elsewhere, and this may prove Calvin's generosity in comparison. However, this incident will blacken the eye of Calvinisits and Protestantism until the Second Coming and I would assert again that I am glad for the 1788 Revision and I do not believe that civil gov't ought to punish theological offenders, nor should we try to influence governmental laws to reflect sectarian interests.
 

Oecolampadius

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think everyone should also put into consideration the fact that the Genevan Council did not come up with the decision to burn Servetus at the stake by themselves. John T. Mcneill in The History and Character of Calvinism states:

The Council did not wish to act until it had obtained the judgment of the ministers and magistrates of Zurich, Bern, Basel and Schaffhausen. To these centers copies of the documents of the trial were sent. Bullinger had already expressed a judgment that Servetus ought to be put to death, and the Zurich leader gave the tone to the replies from the other churches. The Bernese replied that in Bern the penalty would be death by fire. All expressed horror at the heresies revealed, and advocated punishment. [emphases mine]
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
Maybe this is turning into a theonomy thread.


I am glad for the 1788 Revision of the Westminster Confession.


Just ourt of curiosity, what in the 1788 revision would prevent/forbid the state from lawfully executing a heretic against the Christian religion?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The OPC web site, in an article by Dr Hart, explains the substance of the revisions in 1789:


Quote:
The substance of the revision was to reformulate the Westminster Divines' teaching on the civil magistrate. The Westminster Assembly had been called by Parliament, and its affirmations about the role and function of the government, especially in ecclesiastical matters, reflected a situation in which the state exerted control over the church as part of the price of religious establishment. The American revision of 1787-1789 took into account the new situation in the United States, where the state had no authority over the church.


The most notable revisions were made in the chapters on the civil magistrate and synods and councils in the Confession of Faith. In the original version of chapter 23, the Divines declared that "for the better effecting whereof, [the civil magistrate] has the power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God" (23.3). Reverence for George Washington aside, the prospect of giving him the power to call an assembly or synod did not make much sense by 1789. So the American revision changed that section to assert that civil magistrates, as "nursing fathers," had the duty "to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger" (23.3). Gone was the power of the state to convene an assembly and the duty to insure that such church bodies conducted their business "according to the mind of God."


Furthermore, the American revision went on to affirm the principle of religious freedom and asserted that the civil magistrate had a duty to protect that liberty, even including the freedom of infidels: "It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury."


American Presbyterians undertook a similar revision in chapter 31 on synods and councils. Here they deleted entirely section 2 from the original version, which gave further direction to civil magistrates about their participation in ecclesiastical assemblies. The civil magistrate was mentioned in the revised chapter only in paragraph 4 (old number 5), which now stated that the church is not to "handle or conclude" any matter of civil polity, except for "cases extraordinary," to satisfy the conscience of the church, or to comply with a request from the civil magistrate.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
The American revision of 1787-1789 took into account the new situation in the United States, where the state had no authority over the church.

No doubt a secular faith required this man to make such a blunder. The Federal government was forbidded from establishing any manifestation of the Christian religion, because the states had already done so. All 13 colonies had either established state churches or had established Christianity as the state religion without reference to any particular denomination being established.

The magistrate was still defined as the nursing father of the Church.

Cheers,

Adam
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
Hey, Pergamum.

While I appreciate Dr. Hart's personal analysis, that doesn't really answer my question. And I think he is missing something significant.

In particular, this:
Furthermore, the American revision went on to affirm the principle of religious freedom and asserted that the civil magistrate had a duty to protect that liberty, even including the freedom of infidels: "It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury."
The language that Dr. Hart quotes was in the original 1646 WCF. It was not a novelty to the American revision. In its context, it is simply speaking about differences among Christian sects. I.e., “among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief.”

Note also the presence and placement of the word “pretense.” The burden of the magistrate is that he should not use religion or lack thereof as some arbitrary criteria for punishment. But that does not prevent the magistrate from exercising his legitimate duty to enforce just laws related to all of the Ten Commandments, including public heresy.

So my question stands regarding the alleged superiority in the 1788 revision in that matter at hand.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
If the guy was let alone to spread his lies, millions might have died. What if the Germans had executed Lenin rather than send him to Russia with gold? The Germans knew what would happen. They sent him to Russia knowing that he would cause the type of social unrest which would force Russian out of the war, and it worked. But was it right morally?

Servatus should be seen in that light. From a converso family in Spain, he spread Jewish objections of the Trinity where ever he went. His "discovery" of the pulmonary circulation of the blood was also plagiarised from a Jewish work not widely circulated at the time. He was kicked out of one city after another because of the civil unrest the authorities knew would be the end result of his teaching.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
If the guy was let alone to spread his lies, millions might have died. What if the Germans had executed Lenin rather than send him to Russia with gold? The Germans knew what would happen. They sent him to Russia knowing that he would cause the type of social unrest which would force Russian out of the war, and it worked. But was it right morally?

Servatus should be seen in that light. From a converso family in Spain, he spread Jewish objections of the Trinity where ever he went. His "discovery" of the pulmonary circulation of the blood was also plagiarised from a Jewish work not widely circulated at the time. He was kicked out of one city after another because of the civil unrest the authorities knew would be the end result of his teaching.

Exactly.

And for his sedition he was justly condemned to death.
 

Blue Tick

Puritan Board Graduate
Servetus was an incorrigible heretic, blasphemer of God and His ministers, and received a just punishment.

Exactly.


With the absence of a state run prison system and the nanny state mentality. The state wasn’t in a position to “incarcerate” Servetus, nor should they.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Sometimes I wonder if things will be easier if we could just do it like they did back then. No more Benny Hinn, no more Joel Osteen, no more Joyce Meyer, no more (...).

If someone ever perfects time travel:rolleyes: let's send the whole TBN line-up back to Old Geneva:D
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Have you guys seen this?

Home- Servetus the Evangelical

Dr. White has responded. It seems as "Michael" has challenged Dr.White to a public debate which I am excited about! Dr. White posted the link of "Michael's" response. The Link is here...( No one knows the identity of "Michael Servetus" and according to him he will make it known (I believe) on November 19?

http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/ResponseToJamesWhite.pdf

Hola, my name is Beza the Trinitarian :)
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
Have you guys seen this?

Home- Servetus the Evangelical

Dr. White has responded. It seems as "Michael" has challenged Dr.White to a public debate which I am excited about! Dr. White posted the link of "Michael's" response. The Link is here...No one knows the identity of "Michael Servetus" and according to him he will make it known (I believe) on November 19?

http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/ResponseToJamesWhite.pdf

:rolleyes:

I just love the humility on his website. It so smacks of a Christlike character.

:rolleyes:

Everyone is out to make a name for himself.

:rolleyes:
 

Jon Peters

Puritan Board Sophomore
Have you guys seen this?

Home- Servetus the Evangelical

Dr. White has responded. It seems as "Michael" has challenged Dr.White to a public debate which I am excited about! Dr. White posted the link of "Michael's" response. The Link is here...No one knows the identity of "Michael Servetus" and according to him he will make it known (I believe) on November 19?

http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/ResponseToJamesWhite.pdf

Why debate this guy? I just read a bit of his stuff and he is not all that articulate, nor is he well-reasoned. Does this guy actually have any followers?
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Another point worth mentioning is that in Calvin's personal correspondence with Servetus, he warned him not to come to Geneva, because of the consequences. When Servetus escaped from the RC lockup, he went to Geneva anyway.
 

awretchsavedbygrace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Have you guys seen this?

Home- Servetus the Evangelical

Dr. White has responded. It seems as "Michael" has challenged Dr.White to a public debate which I am excited about! Dr. White posted the link of "Michael's" response. The Link is here...No one knows the identity of "Michael Servetus" and according to him he will make it known (I believe) on November 19?

http://servetustheevangelical.com/doc/ResponseToJamesWhite.pdf

Why debate this guy? I just read a bit of his stuff and he is not all that articulate, nor is he well-reasoned. Does this guy actually have any followers?

I say debate him to make an example of him!! :)

Im sure the online modalists are cheering him on.
 

captivewill

Puritan Board Freshman
Surely you jest !

Sometimes I wonder if things will be easier if we could just do it like they did back then. No more Benny Hinn, no more Joel Osteen, no more Joyce Meyer, no more (...).
:down:
This is ridiculous comment. Maybe you should spend some time in countries where people actually are killed for what they think.

-----Added 10/28/2009 at 09:46:44 EST-----

Sometimes I wonder if things will be easier if we could just do it like they did back then. No more Benny Hinn, no more Joel Osteen, no more Joyce Meyer, no more (...).
Absolutely ridiculous comment. Maybe you should spend some time in countries where people still are killed for what they think. Somebody somewhere no doubt thinks you should be killed for what you think. Youe attitude with the power to carry it out would be appalling.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Sometimes I wonder if things will be easier if we could just do it like they did back then. No more Benny Hinn, no more Joel Osteen, no more Joyce Meyer, no more (...).
:down:
This is ridiculous comment. Maybe you should spend some time in countries where people actually are killed for what they think.

-----Added 10/28/2009 at 09:46:44 EST-----

Sometimes I wonder if things will be easier if we could just do it like they did back then. No more Benny Hinn, no more Joel Osteen, no more Joyce Meyer, no more (...).
Absolutely ridiculous comment. Maybe you should spend some time in countries where people still are killed for what they think. Somebody somewhere no doubt thinks you should be killed for what you think. Youe attitude with the power to carry it out would be appalling.
I'm pretty sure ewenlin was just joking, but in defense of the theocrats on this thread, you should note (as has been stated already) that it is the deception they teach to massive followers that is at issue, not their private opinions.
 

captivewill

Puritan Board Freshman
It must be wonderful to have such intimate knowwledge of the Divine will of our Sovereign Lord. I can see why folks are wise to reject the union of church and state. Go olver to Nigeria or China and try to apply your horribly shallow and silly assumptions.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Some Alternatives to Church-State Separation

-----Added 10/28/2009 at 09:53:15 EST-----

It must be wonderful to have such intimate knowwledge of the Divine will of our Sovereign Lord. I can see why folks are wise to reject the union of church and state. Go olver to Nigeria or China and try to apply your horribly shallow and silly assumptions.

Church and State will always be United, the only question is if the State will be United with the Proper Church.

CT
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
It must be wonderful to have such intimate knowwledge of the Divine will of our Sovereign Lord. I can see why folks are wise to reject the union of church and state. Go olver to Nigeria or China and try to apply your horribly shallow and silly assumptions.
Before you throw out statements like this without having studied the matter (and before the mods get you for being rude after only 5 posts on here...) you might consider viewing some of the theonomy threads to get an idea of what they really believe. No one is suggesting we march over to China and start beheading them.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
It must be wonderful to have such intimate knowwledge of the Divine will of our Sovereign Lord. I can see why folks are wise to reject the union of church and state. Go olver to Nigeria or China and try to apply your horribly shallow and silly assumptions.

William,

Before you throw out the entire Reformed tradition of the first few hundred years as using "horribly shallow and silly assumptions," and as presumptuously asserting some "intimate knowledge of the Divine will," I think some explanations would be in order. This is not to say you must agree with our older teachers, but I'm sure even those who disagree (and disagree vehemently!) do not find them using "horribly shallow and silly assumptions!" These were men who did all based only upon rigorous exegesis.

The older Reformed teachers saw the continuity of a certain moral principle between Old Testament Israel and modern, covenanted, Christian nations. Therefore, once the Word of God has spiritually converted a people and their magistrate, and they have been baptized and declared submission to the Lord, it became that Christian magistrate's duty to watch over the church with respect to it as an outward, civil body: thus to preserve its good order, to call synods when needed for peace and harmony of the church in his land, to ensure the ministry is discharging its duty, etc. See Westminster Larger Catechism Question 129. They saw it as his role as a superior to instruct and admonish his inferiors in the good.

They also taught that the rule of justice for *all* was none other than the natural law of God; that is, the Law written on the hearts of men. This includes the *substance* of all 10 of the 10 Commandments (certain positive aspects being mixed therein). For the Christian magistrate (or pre-Christian magistrate when the word of God came in the old days), all of the moral law, including the moral-positive elements became his rule of justice in this older Reformed teaching. Consider, for example, the King of Nineveh in the book of Jonah: does scripture seem to indicate that he did rightly or wrongly to issue a decree concerning the worship of the LORD? Or Nebuchadnezzar?

In maintaining order in his realm toward the church, then, the magistrate was seen to have the duty of preserving true teaching. Thus he could do two things: 1.) Establish *this* church as the true and official church in his realm; and 2.) Use his God-given authority to prevent the public teaching and spreading of heresy. No one has ever thought that the magistrate should punish someone simply for believing something different! What happened in the case of Servetus and Geneva was that one *extremely* notorious heretic, preaching against the most fundamental teaching of catholic Christianty, was ordered by the State to stay out of Geneva, as they had a care for the souls under them. He defiantly refused, and was accordingly arrested.

This, of course, is but a brief introduction; and it is not intended as an argument to convince you of any position: I merely hope to point out that what the older Reformed taught, even if you will think it wrong, did not rest on "horribly shallow and silly assumptions."
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I'm not for burning, but I'd just be happy in our day if churches and denominations would consistently discipline members and ministers who teach heretical doctrines. Instead, too often, the leaven is allowed to remain in the lump of dough.
 

captivewill

Puritan Board Freshman
It must be wonderful to have such intimate knowwledge of the Divine will of our Sovereign Lord. I can see why folks are wise to reject the union of church and state. Go olver to Nigeria or China and try to apply your horribly shallow and silly assumptions.

William,

Before you throw out the entire Reformed tradition of the first few hundred years as using "horribly shallow and silly assumptions," and as presumptuously asserting some "intimate knowledge of the Divine will," I think some explanations would be in order. This is not to say you must agree with our older teachers, but I'm sure even those who disagree (and disagree vehemently!) do not find them using "horribly shallow and silly assumptions!" These were men who did all based only upon rigorous exegesis.

The older Reformed teachers saw the continuity of a certain moral principle between Old Testament Israel and modern, covenanted, Christian nations. Therefore, once the Word of God has spiritually converted a people and their magistrate, and they have been baptized and declared submission to the Lord, it became that Christian magistrate's duty to watch over the church with respect to it as an outward, civil body: thus to preserve its good order, to call synods when needed for peace and harmony of the church in his land, to ensure the ministry is discharging its duty, etc. See Westminster Larger Catechism Question 129. They saw it as his role as a superior to instruct and admonish his inferiors in the good.

They also taught that the rule of justice for *all* was none other than the natural law of God; that is, the Law written on the hearts of men. This includes the *substance* of all 10 of the 10 Commandments (certain positive aspects being mixed therein). For the Christian magistrate (or pre-Christian magistrate when the word of God came in the old days), all of the moral law, including the moral-positive elements became his rule of justice in this older Reformed teaching. Consider, for example, the King of Nineveh in the book of Jonah: does scripture seem to indicate that he did rightly or wrongly to issue a decree concerning the worship of the LORD? Or Nebuchadnezzar?

In maintaining order in his realm toward the church, then, the magistrate was seen to have the duty of preserving true teaching. Thus he could do two things: 1.) Establish *this* church as the true and official church in his realm; and 2.) Use his God-given authority to prevent the public teaching and spreading of heresy. No one has ever thought that the magistrate should punish someone simply for believing something different! What happened in the case of Servetus and Geneva was that one *extremely* notorious heretic, preaching against the most fundamental teaching of catholic Christianty, was ordered by the State to stay out of Geneva, as they had a care for the souls under them. He defiantly refused, and was accordingly arrested.

This, of course, is but a brief introduction; and it is not intended as an argument to convince you of any position: I merely hope to point out that what the older Reformed taught, even if you will think it wrong, did not rest on "horribly shallow and silly assumptions."
Thanks for a serious and reasoned reply. I did not mean to say that the reformers were silly and shallow but the comments of the posts to which I spoke. I do believe that experience in places that lack freedom of thought and speech would temper such unwise remarks. And I do not find any instruction of our Lord or of His apostles that would warrant our assumption of any complicity whatsoever in killing a person for speech or teaching. Freedom to rebut and respond...yes. But not to bear the sword.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
And I do not find any instruction of our Lord or of His apostles that would warrant our assumption of any complicity whatsoever in killing a person for speech or teaching. Freedom to rebut and respond...yes. But not to bear the sword.

Of course, you will not find Jesus or His Apostles calling the Church to bear the magistrate's sword, any more than you will find our Lord telling the State to bear or educate children, as this is the family's business. Different jurisdictions have different tasks. Asserting the duty of the magistrate to put evil workers in terror by bearing a sword with which to kill them is not unChristian; on the contrary, denying this duty is to be a companion of murderers or souls and bodies.

Cheers,

Adam
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I'm not for burning, but I'd just be happy in our day if churches and denominations would consistently discipline members and ministers who teach heretical doctrines. Instead, too often, the leaven is allowed to remain in the lump of dough.

Wouldn't that be the proper view of what general equity looks like in the NT Church?

...the New Testament church "fulfills the Old Testament theocracy" (Barker 1990, 95). In applying the Old Testament laws to the church, Paul did not apply them exactly as they were applied in the Old Testament. For instance, In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul addresses a situation where a man is living with his father's wife. According to Old Testament law, the man and the woman should receive capital punishment (Leviticus 20:10). However, this was not recommended by Paul. Rather, the proper punishment of this crime for Paul is excommunication (vv. 2, 13). Furthermore, Paul's statement in verse 13 is a quotation of a formula found in Mosaic penal sanctions (Deut. 17:7, 12; 12:19; 19:21, 21:21; 22:21, 24: 24:7).

Third Millennium Ministries
 
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