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Who Was John Calvin?

24 Sep

On this week’s What Color is the Sky in Their World podcast, Pastor Michael Newnham and I begin our series on Calvinism. Todays topic is Who Was John Calvin?

To listen to the program from this site please click the link provided below. To save this program to your portable device please right click the link provided below and select “save as”.

http://phillyflash.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/who-was-john-calvin-cal1.mp3

To read John Calvin’s work online please visit the site below.

http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/

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3 Comments

Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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3 responses to “Who Was John Calvin?

  1. Alan Hawkins

    September 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Hi Phil,

    Great program with Michael … of course I have some problems with it. So let me weigh in with a modifier or two. Supposing that Calvin is not liable for the death of Servetus because a) Servetus was condemned everywhere else b) He was a heretic and in those days heresy was capital crime c) he was so recalcitrant … well some other thoughts.

    First, to propose that killing heretics was the only option available in those days is certainly false… in those times there were number of people defying state religions on the basis of freedom of conscience or on the basis of freedom to interpret scripture apart from established churches. Michael Sattler, the Swiss Brethren and their Schleitheim Confession come to mind.

    Calvin was no child of his times as a leader of the Reformation he was simply unreformed in the area of freedom of conscience and freedom of dissent in the area of scripture interpretation. Calvin furthermore was a beneficiary of some measure of protection from those who wished to crush the Reformation completely. Luther certainly enjoyed this benefit.

    You guys were very one-sided on that matter. I am not calling Calvin a murderer but I will say he was in mortal error and was complicit in killing a man in a fashion that was unfitting for Christians. The Radical Reformers ultimately won that battle.

    Why does Calvin need to be so sainted. His failure in the Servetus affair does not nullify the rest of his work or thinking but it shows him flawed …and flawed in his thinking. I think that is the motivation for protecting him … but life is not a zero sum game… we are this and that… But the Servetus affair proves Calvin is no infallible thinker in things theological.. This too was a theological matter.

    I am not looking to impugn the man irrationally and cast him aside… but he does not escape on the ‘child of his times’ excuse. You guys acted as if his critics are all out of line… but this is not so. Some surely are overboard but this is a real issue for Calvin devotees and you are better served to admit his shortsightedness and even his failure to imbibe the fulness of the grace of the Gospel .

     
  2. Phil Naessens

    September 26, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Hey Alan!

    Thanks for weighing in on the podcast. Sorry for the delay in posting this. It was unfortunately caught in the spam filter.

    Alan said;

    Great program with Michael … of course I have some problems with it. So let me weigh in with a modifier or two. Supposing that Calvin is not liable for the death of Servetus because a) Servetus was condemned everywhere else b) He was a heretic and in those days heresy was capital crime c) he was so recalcitrant … well some other thoughts.

    Thank you. I enjoy doing the podcast with Michael very much. I knew you and others would most likely have some problems with the contents of the program and I’ll try and answer you to the best of my ability.

    Alan said

    First, to propose that killing heretics was the only option available in those days is certainly false… in those times there were number of people defying state religions on the basis of freedom of conscience or on the basis of freedom to interpret scripture apart from established churches. Michael Sattler, the Swiss Brethren and their Schleitheim Confession come to mind.

    I don’t remember either of us saying that killing heretics was the only option. What was said was that the execution was the penalty by law for the crime of heresy in Geneva and nearly everywhere else in Europe during that era. Michael Sattler was executed for heresy as well which demonstrates how serious they took what they spiritually believed.

    Alan said:

    Calvin was no child of his times as a leader of the Reformation he was simply unreformed in the area of freedom of conscience and freedom of dissent in the area of scripture interpretation. Calvin furthermore was a beneficiary of some measure of protection from those who wished to crush the Reformation completely. Luther certainly enjoyed this benefit.

    I agree with you that Calvin was still a throwback to the OT days in this regard as were the majority of the Reformers. Remember that they were educated RCC and that’s how the RCC handled things and more importantly how they taught others on how to handle what they deemed as heresy.

    Alan said:

    You guys were very one-sided on that matter. I am not calling Calvin a murderer but I will say he was in mortal error and was complicit in killing a man in a fashion that was unfitting for Christians. The Radical Reformers ultimately won that battle.

    One sided? Yea probably but then it’s easy to become one sided when arguing a subject or defending a person that has meant so much to so many as Calvin has. Even though we haven’t met him in person there are some (including me) who consider Calvin to be a dear friend and worth defending in spite of his faults and shortcomings. I’m sure you can relate.

    I don’t know how you can say he was complicit with murder. He didn’t decide on what the punishment for heresy was in Geneva. Calvin didn’t force Geneva to treat anything that went against the Institutes as heresy punishable by death did he? Did Calvin strike the match? Did he choose green wood over the faster burning wood? He didn’t even have the influence to change the way Servetus was to be executed.

    Now, was this killing unfitting for Christians? Yes it was but to hang it on Calvin as some have (not you) is equally as wrong, don’t you think? Also it was the Government of Geneva that sentenced Servetus to death and a Libertine judge who refused to listen to Calvin’s pleas that he be beheaded rather then burned alive. If you remember the Libertines were no friend of Calvin.

    Alan said:

    Why does Calvin need to be so sainted. His failure in the Servetus affair does not nullify the rest of his work or thinking but it shows him flawed …and flawed in his thinking. I think that is the motivation for protecting him … but life is not a zero sum game… we are this and that… But the Servetus affair proves Calvin is no infallible thinker in things theological.. This too was a theological matter.

    I don’t believe Calvin should be sainted and I think even he would agree with me. The problem is that unlike you there are some who toss his work in the proverbial junkpile just because of the Servetus deal.

    I don’t believe Calvin to be infallible nor does Michael. I just believe that folks shouldn’t just throw Calvin’s teachings under the bus because he erred in not doing more to stop the execution but outside of objecting to it publicly what more could he have really done to stop it?

    Alan said:

    I am not looking to impugn the man irrationally and cast him aside… but he does not escape on the ‘child of his times’ excuse. You guys acted as if his critics are all out of line… but this is not so. Some surely are overboard but this is a real issue for Calvin devotees and you are better served to admit his shortsightedness and even his failure to imbibe the fulness of the grace of the Gospel .

    Well, I think I just did admit to his shortsightedness or error or whatever we should call it. I wonder though, how much Romans 13 entered into Calvins thought process during this time. I dunno do you?

    Actually we thought the critics we publicly named were out of line…..I don’t know all of his critics.

    Thanks Alan,

    Phil

     
  3. Alan Hawkins

    September 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Phil,

    Thanks for your fine response. Just one slight modification. I did not say and do not think that Calvin committed murder, nor that he was ‘complicit’ with murder. I said he was complicit in ‘killing a man in a way unfitting for Christians.’ I was very careful in my use of murder vs killing and calling it a ‘mortal error.’

    But I am also unwilling to call abortionists murderers precisely because they do their killing under the banner of government sanction. I hope one day we will all see how subchristian killing unborn babies is as well.

    Culture has ultimately sided with the radicals on matters of conscience over against both the Catholics and the Reformers and, at least the former has been impugned and discarded in many minds because of such things. I think the Reformers largely escape being dismissed out of hand over the killing of heretics in the mind of the general public.

    Let me reiterate that the program was great and was a blessing. I am a royal pain on some matters but was trying to fair-minded on this one.

    Peace to you.

     

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