Do You Really Want to Claim John Calvin as Your Homeboy?

A few days ago I saw someone wearing a “Calvin is my homeboy” T-shirt.  I have to admit that the shirt made me cringe.  My thoughts immediately went to questions concerning Calvin’s character.  While I believe that John Calvin did contribute some solid exegesis in his works, I must admit that I feel uneasy about him as a person.  There is no question that John Calvin thought it was a good thing to persecute and even execute heretics.  There is no question that John Calvin was instrumental in carrying out such persecutions and executions.  

Personally, I find the “man of his times” argument to be very weak.  I don’t think God judges us by our times, but rather judges us according to His word.  The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus simply give no sanctions for the persecution and execution of those who reject Christianity or deviate from certain Christian positions of orthodoxy.  Jesus and the New Testament are in harmony that we should be willing, instead, to give our lives for the truth of the gospel (if necessary) when the surrounding culture and government is in opposition to basic Christian principles.  This John Calvin did not do, and I simply cannot condone nor respect his involvement in persecuting and executing heretics.  There is simply no legitimate defense for such actions.

What I find particularly damning are Calvin’s comments long after the execution of Michael Servetus.  These comments are impossible to square with the common defense that Calvin tried so hard to save Servetus, and was apparently against (or largely uninvolved in) the consensus to have him killed (the best that can be argued is that Calvin wanted him beheaded rather than burned, though it has been pointed out that this may well have been primarily for political reasons, rather than a desire to be merciful).  Nine years later John Calvin wrote these chilling words,

Servetus suffered the penalty due to his heresies, but was it by my will?  Certainly his arrogance destroyed him not less than his impiety.  And what crime was it of mine if our Council, at my exhortation, indeed, but in conformity with the opinion of several Churches, took vengeance on his execrable blasphemies?  Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster. (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. VIII, pp. 690, 691)

Schaff later writes,

Calvin’s work against Servetus gave complete satisfaction to Melanchthon.  It is the strongest refutation of the errors of his opponent which his age produced, but it is not free from bitterness against one, at last, had humbly asked his pardon, and who had been sent to the judgment seat of God by a violent death.  It is impossible to read without pain the following passage: ‘Whoever shall now contend that is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.  This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church. (ibid. 791)

This is incontrovertible evidence that John Calvin was unrepentant of the murder of Servetus even nine years after his death.  Rather, Calvin actually felt that posterity owed him a debt of gratitude for purging the church of “so pernicious a monster”!  Do we really want to venerate such a man, even if we agree with his theology?  Have we stopped to consider that according to John Calvin, it is a God ordained and perpetual rule for the Church to persecute and execute heretics and that any who might disagree should themselves be put to death!  Do we really want to wear a shirt that says “Calvin is my homeboy” in light of such disturbing truths concerning his character and beliefs?

I do not believe that the proper way to falsify Calvinism is to point to such sinful behavior on the part of John Calvin, but I am coming to agree more and more with Roger Olson who wrote,

However, I do not admire or respect John Calvin. I have been told that he should not be held responsible for the burning of the heretic Servetus because, after all, he warned the Spanish doctor and theologian not to come to Geneva and he urged the city council to behead him rather than burn him. And, after all, Calvin was a child of his times and everyone was doing the same. Nevertheless, I still struggle with placing a man complicit in murder on a pedestal. [link]

So to those of you proudly sporting a “Calvin is my homeboy” shirt, I ask,

Are you sure you want to wear that shirt?

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141 Responses

  1. I can’t remember where I read it, but I read some accounts of things that happened in Geneva under Calvin that were just plain chilling. The place seemed to be like a police state. I’m thinking Calvin was pretty much a jerk. Funny how he criticized the way Rome handled things and then went right along to participate in those same acts.

  2. Kang

    I see your point about Calvin. The deed was done.

    But, as Jesus was towards Paul, Saul of Tarsus, I would accept that the Lord was somewhat similar with John or me or you.

    Do you agree with the Reformed confession that we in our present guilt and deed are worthy of both temporal and eternal punishments?

    thanks

  3. I think the modern veneration of Calvin would deeply embarrass Calvin himself he saw it today.

  4. I don’t think God judges us by our times, but rather judges us according to His word.

    No, he judges us according to our culpability. That’s an important distinction, and it helps us keep from judging the sinfulness of others (while still being able to condemn objective sins). Heresy, especially anti-Trinitarian heresy, was widely considered, by the greatest minds of the age and prior ages, as a soul-destroying plague that must be eradicated. I can’t say that if I were born in the 16th century that I would have the acumen to see differently. The “man of his times” argument is a very helpful point.

    I think you have to read Calvin’s works, not just the Institutes, but also the sermons and commentaries. What you’ll discover is a profound faith. His intuitive depth is rarely paralleled in the history of the Church. But, yes, on the issue of heresy, he didn’t see clearly enough.

  5. I’d be quite happy to wear the T-Shirt.

  6. michael,

    We cannot receive the forgiveness of sins unless we repent. Those who willfully engage in wicked behavior unrepentantly are not in the favor of God, even though God may love them deeply.

  7. “he who attempts to overcome evil with evil, may perhaps surpass his enemy in doing injury, but it is to his own ruin; for by acting thus he carries on war for the devil.” -John Calvin

  8. Grievously impenitent heretics like Servetus do not deserve to live; Calvin has nothing to repent of. “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death,” Lev. 24:16. Heresy and blasphemy as possessed by Servetus are certainly not innocent intellectual errors, but grave moral ones; hence the institution of this perfect law of God.

    Of course, I am not advocating some “slay the infidel” thing; these laws ought to be instituted and upheld by the civil magistrate of a particular nation, not the citizens. No citizens have the right to carry out God’s vengeance. That job is left to the magistrate, a servant of God, who bears not the sword in vain, Romans 13:1 ff.

  9. A few of these comments were just approved because I have been away from the computer since last Friday. I hope to respond to a few of these comments in the near future.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  10. Kyle

    while I do not disagree with you I would insert this quote from the Westminster Confession of Faith that I read over on another blog discussing the sins of another and why judging the heart of the sinner might find you in hot water with God:::>

    “God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.”

    Do you accept that logic or reason as just carnal thinking or is it spiritual in nature and scope?

  11. Kevin,

    Great quote. Thanks for sharing that. It looks like theology wasn’t the only area in which John Calvin was contradictory.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  12. Great article! Calvin is definitely NOT my homeboy….

  13. Arminius is my homeboy; and I have the t-shirt and hoodie to prove it, lol.

  14. Ben,

    You wrote,

    Grievously impenitent heretics like Servetus do not deserve to live; Calvin has nothing to repent of. “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death,” Lev. 24:16. Heresy and blasphemy as possessed by Servetus are certainly not innocent intellectual errors, but grave moral ones; hence the institution of this perfect law of God.

    How much do you know of Servetus, and what sources are you getting your information from? My understanding is that he was executed primarily for denying the Trinity. Where do you see a denial of the Trinity as blasphemy in Scripture? The passage you quote comes from the OT before a solid doctrine of the Trinity was formulated. I would be interested in any quotes you could produce that showed that Servetus blasphemed, and what constituted that “blasphemy”.

    Also, I wonder if you can provide any substantiation from the NT that believers are called on to put heretics or even blasphemers to death. If you want to say that the OT law is binding in this area, I would like to see some proof of that (again, a continuation of such practices and teachings in the NT would be the best way to do this).

    Of course, I am not advocating some “slay the infidel” thing; these laws ought to be instituted and upheld by the civil magistrate of a particular nation, not the citizens. No citizens have the right to carry out God’s vengeance. That job is left to the magistrate, a servant of God, who bears not the sword in vain, Romans 13:1 ff.

    Is this your justification from the NT? If you read verses 1-7, I think you will see well enough that these verses do not give Christians, at any level, license to put heretics and blasphemers to death. That is not even close to what that passage is addressing.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  15. Kevin,

    You wrote,

    Heresy, especially anti-Trinitarian heresy, was widely considered, by the greatest minds of the age and prior ages, as a soul-destroying plague that must be eradicated.

    And why should we assume that it should be eradicated by putting those who proclaim it to death? Does the Bible really teach us that that is the way we are to “eradicate” soul destroying teachings? Could you demonstrate that from anywhere in the NT?

    I can’t say that if I were born in the 16th century that I would have the acumen to see differently. The “man of his times” argument is a very helpful point.

    Perhaps you wouldn’t have seen it differently, but does that make it right? Didn’t 16th century Christians, like Calvin, have the same Bible we do? Did they have a version which gave justification to killing heretics?

    If you will notice in that first quote of Calvin, he is trying to defend what he did to Servetus against the objections of others. If it was such an acceptable practice among Christians at that time, then why did Calvin feel the need to defend himself against those who found his actions objectionable? That takes the teeth effectively out of the “man of his times” argument, as far as I am concerned.

    But, yes, on the issue of heresy, he didn’t see clearly enough.

    I would call that quite the understatement.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  16. Ben,

    Sorry about confusing you with someone else over on SBC Voices and my Blog.

    Concerning Calvin,

    Are you also going to reject the writings of the apostle Paul because he was guilt of “wasting” the early church?

    By the way, most Calvinist only agree with Calvin’s doctrine and conduct based upon what they view as supported by Scripture. The rest we just caulk up to his “totally depraved” nature.

    Anyway… Thanks for being a good sport about my mistaking you for someone else, and enjoy the interaction with the SBC Calvinists who, by checking you comments section on this post, I see have already found you. 🙂

    Grace Always,
    Greg

  17. Kevin Davis,

    I am surprised that you deny that God judges us according to his word, and maintain instead that he judges us according to culpability, which seems like an ambiguous statement. Do you really mean to deny that God judges us according to his word? Now I undersatand if you are trying to say that there are cases in which we don’t have accesss to his word and so he doesn’t judge us according to what we could not know or do. That’s a fine sentiment at odds with Calvinism. But surely you agree that, generally, God judges us according to his word, at least insofar as we can access and understand it, no?

    (BTW, I am not commenting on the “man of his times” argument in asking you about your comments.)

  18. Greg,

    I appreciate the apology. You wrote,

    Are you also going to reject the writings of the apostle Paul because he was guilt of “wasting” the early church?

    Not at all. This post isn’t about trying to discount Calvin’s teachings. Rather it has to do with his character. However, Calvin executed Servetus and remained unrepentant about it nine years later (and perhaps to his death), long after he was supposedly regenerated. Therefore, I don’t see how the analogy of Paul is accurate.

    By the way, most Calvinist only agree with Calvin’s doctrine and conduct based upon what they view as supported by Scripture.

    I understand that. Again, I am not attacking his theology in this post.

    The rest we just caulk up to his “totally depraved” nature.

    Would he then be a totally depraved regenerate believer (since his actions regarding Servetus were post-conversion)?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  19. Ben,

    Thanks for being so gracious…

    I really don’t think that any of us today are qualified to stand in judgment of Calvin’s conduct in this matter. Does the death of Servetus reflect badly on Calvin? You bet it does! Is Calvin the only Christian to ever have been wrongly influenced by the culture of his day? Not hardly. Does that excuse Calvin? Not at all. But it does remind us that we might not have done any differently had we been in Calvin’s position at the time. We like to think that we would have stood up against the Government and said this is wrong, but I doubt it after all we tolerate abortion in our society. (I know not a good example, but the best I can do)

    You ask –

    “Would he then be a totally depraved regenerate believer (since his actions regarding Servetus were post-conversion)?”

    Very large smile… the answer would be “Yes”.

    Just how long of a defense of that answer do you want me to give? You and I could be here for a good long time on this one, so I will spare you the long defense unless you really want to go down that rabbit hole.

    Again, thank you for being so gracious… and I owe you a cup of coffee.

    Grace Always,

  20. Greg,

    Doesn’t Calvinism hold that the regenerate are no longer totally depraved? After all, does not the C doctrine hold that total depravity entails inability to believe, but that regeneration enables and causes someone to believe? C’s often criticize the Arminian doctrine of prevenient grace as undermining total depravity. So if you would follow that line, then you would have the C doctrine undermining total depravity. So would you mind clarifying? You don’t necessarily have to defend, just explain a little. One more thing: if you believe that a regenberate believer is still totally depraved, do you think that is the standard C position or is your position unusual?

    Thanks.

  21. Arminian,

    I suppose one of the greatest hindrances to truly communicating with those who are of a different theological persuasion than your own is that we have a tendency to only read, discuss, and listen to those who agree with us. Therefore we have a tendency to believe that everyone defines the terms like “Total Depravity” and “Regeneration” the same and when we hear others using these terms we assume we are talking about the same thing, when in fact we are not.

    So, with the above disclaimer let me attempt to define “Total Depravity” for this discussion. Total Depravity speaks of the extent of Human Corruption caused by the Fall of Man. By extent of Human Corruption I mean that all of mans being; heart, soul, body, mind, and will were all corrupted by the sin of Adam. In short, man in his totality became corrupted by sin.

    This is where we often misunderstand one another… No Calvinist that I know would ever say that Regeneration completely frees man of his corruption of sin. Man is only totally free of the corrupting influence of sin when he is glorified, and that will never be on this side of glory. The Apostle Paul spoke well when he said “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

    It is with this understanding that I made the earlier comment concerning mans total depravity after regeneration; that even after man’s will is freed by the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit so that with his freedom he may now love his God, yet he finds that he is not fully made free from sin and while he indeed expresses his love for God, with his conduct he yet proves his corruption.

    I hope this helps a little…

    Grace Always,

  22. The real context of Servetus’ trial and condemnation – not murder – was the war that was kind of raging between the Beast church of Rome (and her secular arms in most all of Christendom) and the Protestant reformers. Servetus didn’t just have a decades long thing about dogging Calvin. He came to Geneva because he thought the time was ripe to ally himself with the Libertines and literally take over the city. Servetus’ acts put the entire population of Geneva in danger in time of war. It was the political leaders of Geneva who tried Servetus (existing laws on the books) and convicted him and sentenced him *specifically* to death by burning.

    These great pious statements being made here don’t fool anybody. You’re not ignorant of history (Calvinists have disabused you of your historical ignorance over and over), and your game of imply that one heretic, legally tried and convicted and sentenced, somehow discounts all that Calvinists did in the battle of the Reformation is rather juvenile and disgusting.

    Really, time to move on. You only fool the innocent, and God doesn’t like that.

  23. Greg,

    You wrote,

    I really don’t think that any of us today are qualified to stand in judgment of Calvin’s conduct in this matter. Does the death of Servetus reflect badly on Calvin? You bet it does! Is Calvin the only Christian to ever have been wrongly influenced by the culture of his day? Not hardly. Does that excuse Calvin? Not at all.

    Then we seem to be on the same page. Should such a man be venerated by the Church? I think not. Should Christians wear Tee-shirts that claim him as their homeboy? I sure wouldn’t, but apparently many disagree with me on that.

    But it does remind us that we might not have done any differently had we been in Calvin’s position at the time.

    Maybe we wouldn’t have, but maybe we would. It is really not an issue of what we would have or would not have done, but what we or John Calvin should have done. I don’t see how this serves as any defense for Calvin’s conduct. He was wrong to have Servetus put to death according to the word of God, and remained unrepentant (even proud) concerning his actions even nine years after the event. I just don’t understand why we would want to put a man like that on a pedestal. I also don’t understand why Calvinists, who are quick to say we should not judge Calvin’s theology by his actions, want so very much to defend him. Maybe I am wrong, but I suspect that if Calvin’s theology had never gained any sort of foothold in the Christian church, there wouldn’t be anybody trying to defend his actions towards Servetus or any other heretics.

    We like to think that we would have stood up against the Government and said this is wrong, but I doubt it after all we tolerate abortion in our society. (I know not a good example, but the best I can do)

    Again, I just don’t see how this is relevant. Calvin was wrong, bottom line. There really is no need to speculate on what anyone else would have done. The truth is that there were Christians alive in Calvin’s day who thought his actions were reprehensible, hence the reason why he felt the need to defend his actions. In the same way, very few Christians today tolerate abortion. Many in society might tolerate it, but that doesn’t mean that the Church finds it acceptable- quite the contrary (but you did admit it was a bad example).

    You ask –
    “Would he then be a totally depraved regenerate believer (since his actions regarding Servetus were post-conversion)?”

    Very large smile… the answer would be “Yes”.

    Just how long of a defense of that answer do you want me to give? You and I could be here for a good long time on this one, so I will spare you the long defense unless you really want to go down that rabbit hole.

    No need to go down that rabbit hole, but I do think it is unusual for a Calvinist to say that a Christian is totally depraved. Do we still have a sin nature that we must continually overcome by the Holy Spirit? Yes. Is sanctification a life long process? Yes. I don’t think that is quite the same as saying Christians are totally depraved, and I doubt many Calvinists would be comfortable calling a believer totally depraved, but I think I understand what you are trying to say.

    Again, thank you for being so gracious… and I owe you a cup of coffee.

    I am a huge coffee fan, but you don’t owe me anything.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  24. dt,

    This post has apparently gotten you rather upset. You wrote,

    The real context of Servetus’ trial and condemnation – not murder – was the war that was kind of raging between the Beast church of Rome (and her secular arms in most all of Christendom) and the Protestant reformers. Servetus didn’t just have a decades long thing about dogging Calvin. He came to Geneva because he thought the time was ripe to ally himself with the Libertines and literally take over the city. Servetus’ acts put the entire population of Geneva in danger in time of war. It was the political leaders of Geneva who tried Servetus (existing laws on the books) and convicted him and sentenced him *specifically* to death by burning.

    This post was really based on the words of John Calvin himself concerning his involvement and actions. Would you care to build your case off of what he actually said (as quoted in the post), rather than on your view of the historical context? If it was all about politics, then he should not have been burned (burning was not a political punishment). The fact is that they had no justifiable political reason to put him to death, and so were forced to kill him for religious reasons. Do you see John Calvin claiming that Servetus was put to death for political reasons, or do you see him claiming that he was killed for heresy and blasphemy? Does he not say it was a church matter? No doubt there were political factors involved, but to try to point to that as a reason to wink at Calvin’s actions (especially considering his own accounting of the incident) is a red herring.

    These great pious statements being made here don’t fool anybody.

    I am not sure what great pious statements you are referring to, and I am not trying to fool anyone. I simply let John Calvin speak for himself.

    You’re not ignorant of history (Calvinists have disabused you of your historical ignorance over and over), and your game of imply that one heretic, legally tried and convicted and sentenced, somehow discounts all that Calvinists did in the battle of the Reformation is rather juvenile and disgusting.

    This comment here makes me think you didn’t even read the post. I wasn’t trying to “discount all that Calvinists did in the battle of the Reformation” (though I find that statement a little strange in itself). I simply made the point that history, and Calvin’s own testimony, make me wonder why anyone would want to claim a man of such character as their homeboy. Also, you here say he was a heretic, legally tried, where before you seemed to make it into a political matter. And do you think that Christians should always abide by what society claims as legal? What if gay marriages become legalized? Should the church then justify and perform gay marriages, or should they refuse to compromise based on the word of God?

    Really, time to move on. You only fool the innocent, and God doesn’t like that.

    I am not trying to fool anyone. I can only hope that you are not as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  25. To everyone,

    Just to make it clear again, this post is not about trying to discount Calvin’s theology based on his actions. This post is also not about questioning whether or not Calvin was saved at any point in time. I do not think the issue of Servetus should be used as a means to falsify Calvinist theology, and have defended that view in the thread linked below, so please remember that while commenting. Thank you.

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/paul-washer-calvinist-arminian-or-confused/#comment-2850

  26. To anyone interested in the historical details concerning the Servetus execution and the role Calvin played, as well as what appear to be prior historical inaccuracies concerning this event (e.g. Calvin’s comments that the Churches were in agreement with his decision to execute Servetus, pg. 360 ff., and the claim that Calvin wanted the sword for Servetus, pg. 365 ff.), I recommend the following book, which can be read for free online.

    Did Calvin Murder Servetus?

    Especially interesting is the section entitled, Standard Excuses for Calvin, beginning on page 373.

  27. (I am replying to this post: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/do-you-really-want-to-claim-john-calvin-as-your-homeboy/#comment-3001).

    Ben,

    I have just been using standard information that I’ve seen at various times over the internet, although presently I cannot cite any original sources for them.

    The reason that denying the Trinity — and not just denying it, but being incorrigible in one’s heresy and ignoring rebuke for many years — is blasphemy is because it is the propagation of a false religion. Servetus was promoting a non-Christian religion, and claiming that he was worshipping Jehovah. This is not a good thing. It is not good, but rather pernicious, to publicly espouse and encourage false views of the Lord. This was punished by death in Israel, and since there is nothing regarding that law to have it be totally confined to Israel — it is not ceremonial, nor is it peculiar to the land of Israel for any reason — it follows that it holds today as a standing moral principle.

    And frankly, to say that this requires some reinstitution in the NT is to employ a Marcionite hermeneutic. God needs to speak only once; His law is in force until He Himself abrogates it, either explicitly or implicitly.

    Ben

  28. John Calvin indeed did murder Michael Servetus. Calvin was not of Christ because not once in the words of Christ does it say to exterminate someone who disagrees with you. This teaching is from the old testament. The Law and the ten commandments were finished by Jesus. He fulfilled the law by his life. If you want to be part of the curse the children of disobedience gave us, then follow Calvin instead of Christ.

    I suggest reading the New Testament and the words of Christ. Do not seek salvation in the words of Moses but instead follow after the true bread from heaven. I might also suggest reading “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?” by Stanford Rives Esq. IF you think you love the word of God, you will follow after Christ instead of those who killed him.

  29. Ben,

    Can you find anywhere in Scripture where a denial of the Trinity is correlated with blaspheme?

    By good and necessary consequence. Do you think that it’s not blasphemy to propagate a totally false view of the Godhead until it can be proven otherwise?

    Essentially, Servetus had something similar to a oneness view of God. He did not deny Christ’s deity or eternal nature. He only denied that Christ was the eternal Son of God. He argued, rather, that prior to the incarnation, Jesus was the eternal Word and only became the Son of God in the incarnation (a view held today by many who fully affirm the Trinity, though Servetus seemed to deny a plurality of persons in God). Servetus should not be considered an orthodox Christian for such views, but that does not make him a blasphemer. He apparently loved Christ, and tried hard to serve God in his life (no less so than Calvin).

    It is irrelevant whether he “apparently loved Christ,” because if his doctrine is that far off, it is clear that he is a heretic and therefore does not love Christ. We always judge men’s claims by Scripture and not by any emotional pretension we might have ourselves. You cannot seriously be arguing that Servetus was “just a nice guy” when he was an incorrigible heretic. It’s as if you try to note in passing that he denied the Trinity!

    I agree that it is not a good thing, but will we really justify execution for such beliefs?

    Was God wrong when He instituted capital punishment for blasphemers?

    If you were in a position of power in the church, and the current government would not prevent your actions, would you enact your power to have men like T.D. Jakes put to death? Would you truly have the confidence that Scripture affords you such power and, in fact, gives you divine sanction for such actions?

    First off, execution is up to the state, not the church.

    Second, I just gave the Scriptural argument above there. God doesn’t have to speak twice, and the law mandating the execution of blasphemers has no ceremonial elements, nor is it peculiar to Israel as a body politic. Therefore, the law itself is totally a moral law, and it is binding today.

    Are you suggesting that any OT law is still in force unless the NT specifically says otherwise?

    “…until He Himself abrogates it, either explicitly or implicitly.” This would mean that ceremonial laws that are abrogated in Christ (see Heb. 9-10), such as wearing specific garments, are not in force today. And yes, it does imply that laws mandating the execution of incorrigible children, since there is nothing to confine them to Israel, should be in force today.

    Are you implying that God made a mistake when He made that law?

    When we look at the NT, we never see a single example of a Christian putting a heretic or blasphemer to death, nor do we see any such teaching that even comes close.

    God has to speak only once. This is a very simple concept. Please dispense of your Marcionite Bible.

    Paul mentioned that he handed Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan, to be taught not to blaspheme. Do you think he was referring to putting them to death? If not, then why would Paul not say that they should be put to death (even if the church was not in any position to carry out such actions)?

    Because it’s up to the state and the state didn’t have that law instituted. He was obediently following his leaders.

    Ben

  30. Also, Jesus Himself promoted the law for the execution of incorrigible children in Matthew 15:4.

  31. By good and necessary consequence. Do you think that it’s not blasphemy to propagate a totally false view of the Godhead until it can be proven otherwise?

    It is a false teaching, but not blasphemy. Any false teaching about God will misrepresent Him to some extent. If Calvinism is not correct, then it essentially maligns His character, and that is exactly what Arminians claim. Should Calvinists then be considered blasphemers? Calvinists believe that Arminians do not properly understand or represent God. Do you then consider Arminians to be blasphemers who deserve death?

    It is irrelevant whether he “apparently loved Christ,” because if his doctrine is that far off, it is clear that he is a heretic and therefore does not love Christ. We always judge men’s claims by Scripture and not by any emotional pretension we might have ourselves. You cannot seriously be arguing that Servetus was “just a nice guy” when he was an incorrigible heretic. It’s as if you try to note in passing that he denied the Trinity!

    You assume quite a lot in you comments here concerning Servetus. You base your judgment on him as a corrigible heretic on the testimony of those who put him to death. Servetus was a protestant who held to sola fide. Did not the reformation break away from Rome based largely on a desire for the freedom to read God’s words and draw their own conclusions based on that word. Did they not desire the right to say Rome was wrong on certain doctrinal issues, based on their own interpretation of God’s word, without fear of persecution or death? Servetus was following reformation principles and was put to death by the Reformers for doing so. Do you really think Servetus didn’t believe he was interpreting Scripture accurately? He had respect for God’s word, but came to different conclusions. Calvin had him put to death for it.

    Was God wrong when He instituted capital punishment for blasphemers?

    I never suggested God was wrong, but we are now living under a covenant of grace, and a law of love. As you point out below, the Old Covenant has been abolished. We are now living under a new Covenant, and that Covenant is laid out in the NT. If we want to live according to the New Covenant and understand what that Covenant entails, then we need to look to the NT. That is not a Marcionite principle (it is not denying the Yahweh of the OT, but affirming His right to make one Covenant obsolete and establish a new one that alone is binding), nor is it a hermeneutic which completely discounts the OT revelation. It seems strange to that you feel the need to heap such slanderous labels on me in order to make your point. Paul made it clear that false teachers should be silenced by way of refuting their teachings, and not by putting them to death (Titus 1:9-11).

    First off, execution is up to the state, not the church.

    But if God has made it an eternally binding law for blasphemers to be put to death, as you suggest, then we need to obey him. Where did God say it was up to the state?

    Second, I just gave the Scriptural argument above there. God doesn’t have to speak twice, and the law mandating the execution of blasphemers has no ceremonial elements, nor is it peculiar to Israel as a body politic. Therefore, the law itself is totally a moral law, and it is binding today.

    First, I think it would be hard to prove that the penalty for blasphemy was not an issue of covenant between Israel and God. Second, it doesn’t really matter if it was ceremonial or not, since God still has the divine right to make one covenant obsolete, and establish a new one with His people. To say that blaspheme is a moral issue is correct, but we are not talking about the morality of the offense, but the penalty assigned to that offense. If the penalty is a God ordained penalty that cannot be lifted, then Jesus was wrong to allow the adulterer to live in the face of those who wanted to put her to death according to moral law (John 8:1-11).

    “…until He Himself abrogates it, either explicitly or implicitly.” This would mean that ceremonial laws that are abrogated in Christ (see Heb. 9-10), such as wearing specific garments, are not in force today.

    Hebrews 9-10 has more to do with than just abrogation of ceremonial laws or practices. It has to do with God establishing an entirely new covenant through Jesus Christ. That is why it is so important to look to the NT for instruction on matters like these. Also, the law I mentioned concerning wearing clothes of different fabrics was a general law given to all of the people as a part of the Old Covenant. It was not necessarily ceremonial. You can say it is not a moral law, but it becomes a moral issue whenever the commands of God are not obeyed, correct?

    And yes, it does imply that laws mandating the execution of incorrigible children, since there is nothing to confine them to Israel, should be in force today.

    Then I guess I better keep the youth I work with everyday away from you.

    Are you implying that God made a mistake when He made that law?

    Absolutely not. Rather, I am upholding God’s sovereign right to abolish one covenant and establish another.

    God has to speak only once. This is a very simple concept. Please dispense of your Marcionite Bible.

    Please dispense with your slanderous comments.

    Because it’s up to the state and the state didn’t have that law instituted. He was obediently following his leaders.

    So Paul was setting an example to all of us that it is better to obey man than God (Acts 5:28-29)?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  32. It is a false teaching, but not blasphemy. Any false teaching about God will misrepresent Him to some extent. If Calvinism is not correct, then it essentially maligns His character, and that is exactly what Arminians claim. Should Calvinists then be considered blasphemers?

    If you think such a false statement about God’s nature regarding a doctrine that has already been set in stone for the Church for many, many centuries is equivalent to a more recent dispute in soteriology, then I’m not sure what to say. For the record, I do believe that Arminianism, if pressed to logical consistency, is certainly a heresy. Whether its espousal could be deemed blasphemy, I’m not sure.

    Did not the reformation break away from Rome based largely on a desire for the freedom to read God’s words and draw their own conclusions based on that word. Did they not desire the right to say Rome was wrong on certain doctrinal issues, based on their own interpretation of God’s word, without fear of persecution or death?

    The Reformation was not about freedom of religion. It was not about the fact that the Roman Church wouldn’t let others interpret the Bible (though that was part of it), but rather that the Roman Church was dead wrong.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith, when originally penned, was establishmentarian. No freedom of religion there. In fact, this simple fact tears apart this (contradictory) statement that you make: “Servetus was following reformation principles and was put to death by the Reformers for doing so.”

    I never suggested God was wrong, but we are now living under a covenant of grace, and a law of love.

    …contra Jesus’s statement in Matt. 5:17-20. And not to mention the fact that the dispensationalist bazooka known as the “but we’re under a LAW OF LOVE,” is nonsensical and contradictory. To say that love is the fulfillment of the law is not to say that whatever we deem loving is lawful, but that whatever has been authoritatively prescribed in God’s law is loving. And guess where God has authoritatively prescribed His law? I don’t appreciate that you would imply that God’s laws in the Old Covenant were not based on the principle of love. His law is perfect.

    But if God has made it an eternally binding law for blasphemers to be put to death, as you suggest, then we need to obey him. Where did God say it was up to the state?

    Romans 13…and common sense.

    First, I think it would be hard to prove that the penalty for blasphemy was not an issue of covenant between Israel and God.

    Are you seriously telling me that I need to prove that there was not something that would discontinue the law?

    If the penalty is a God ordained penalty that cannot be lifted, then Jesus was wrong to allow the adulterer to live in the face of those who wanted to put her to death according to moral law (John 8:1-11).

    Actually, He followed the law perfectly in that situation. The fact that the adulteress and not her adulterer was brought to Jesus shows that improper procedures were used by the Pharisees. If you’ll do a quick Google search of that passage and “Theonomy” you will see that it does not imply that God’s law is non-binding today.

    Also, the law I mentioned concerning wearing clothes of different fabrics was a general law given to all of the people as a part of the Old Covenant. It was not necessarily ceremonial. You can say it is not a moral law, but it becomes a moral issue whenever the commands of God are not obeyed, correct?

    The fact that something is commanded does not ipso facto make it moral. In saying that, you make a moral law a redundancy and a non-moral law a contradiction.

    Moral laws reflect God’s unchanging character and are binding on all people universally. Ceremonial laws are given only to Israel as a means of precursoring Christ, and they are therefore abrogated since He performed the perfect sacrifice.

    Then I guess I better keep the youth I work with everyday away from you.

    This displays both contempt for God’s law and your inability to understand what the law entails, how it is carried out, and when it is to be instituted. Truly amazing.

    So Paul was setting an example to all of us that it is better to obey man than God (Acts 5:28-29)?

    It is one thing to obey man when man requires you to break God’s law. It is another to obey man when he doesn’t require you to do so. The fact that Paul’s magistrate did not enforce Biblical law does not mean that Paul had to obey man rather than God.

    I’m done with this, as I will no longer waste my time having to teach the Scriptures to incorrigible Marcionite antinomian Arminians.

    Ben

  33. Also, Jesus Himself promoted the law for the execution of incorrigible children in Matthew 15:4.

    Jesus was addressing their disobedience under the Old Covenant, since they were accusing him and his disciples of breaking the “tradition of the elders”. Jesus rebuked them sternly as hypocrites since they were breaking the law of God (rather than certain traditions), and doing so by putting their traditions above the law of God. He did this by addressing the fact that their traditions hindered God’s people from obeying the command to honor their parents. Jesus makes reference to the death penalty under the Law, but this is to demonstrate the severity of their sin in preventing God’s people from fulfilling a law that God took so seriously. Jesus was not saying that the penalty of death would still be in force after the new covenant was established in His blood. If Jesus rebuked them for not putting their children to death, then you might have a case. Rather, Jesus is rebuking them from hindering His people from obeying the covenant, by not allowing them to honor their parents.

    We see something similar in Hebrews 10:27-31. The writer of Hebrews is describing the horrible sin of apostasy (which many correlate with blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, see verse29), and contrasting the penalty with that of the old covenant (verse 28). Setting aside the law of Moses resulted in death without mercy (verse 28). This point is made to remind them of how serious such an offense is before God, but he was not suggesting that apostates be put to death under the new covenant. Rather, he leaves the matter of divine punishment (which is more severe than that under the OC) entirely in God’s hands (vss. 27, 29-31)

    Paul (under the new covenant) instructs children to obey their parents, but does not threaten them with death for disobedience. Rather, he encourages them with a promise of blessing from God.

    You seem to be a Theonomy guy. Is that correct? I really don’t want to get into an argument over Theonomy since it is such a minority view among evangelicals (and for good reason). I think the Bible is rather clear (and most evangelicals agree) that the ceremonial and civil law (which would include such things as death penalties for blasphemies) has been done away with in Christ (while the moral law still holds). If Theonomy is the only way you can defend John Calvin, then I will just leave you to that peculiar view, since it would take the discussion too far a field to dive into that topic beyond what has already been addressed here.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  34. Ben,

    Just noticed your newest response. I just briefly glanced at it, but it is troubling to hear the things you are saying. It really seems that your defense of Calvin has caused you to sound just like him. Notice this last sentence,

    I’m done with this, as I will no longer waste my time having to teach the Scriptures to incorrigible Marcionite antinomian Arminians.

    That is a truly sad testimony of how someone can so easily mimick their theological hero. Statements like this seem to be filled with pride, which should be out of place for those who claim to have a corner on the doctrines of grace. For the record, I am far from an antinomian, and of course, I am far from a Marcionite. It seems to me that if you had your way, based on such rhetoric and allegiance to Calvin’s persecution principles, you would be pleased to see me put to death for my incorrigibleness. I sure hope that that is not the case.

    I will address the rest of what you wrote here when I get the chance (though it may not be till Monday), though you seem to have made it clear that you do not find me worth your time.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  35. Ben,

    I think you would do well to read some of the book I linked to above.

    The reason that denying the Trinity — and not just denying it, but being incorrigible in one’s heresy and ignoring rebuke for many years — is blasphemy is because it is the propagation of a false religion.

    This may be your opinion, but can you support it with Scripture? Can you find anywhere in Scripture where a denial of the Trinity is correlated with blaspheme? Essentially, Servetus had something similar to a oneness view of God. He did not deny Christ’s deity or eternal nature. He only denied that Christ was the eternal Son of God. He argued, rather, that prior to the incarnation, Jesus was the eternal Word and only became the Son of God in the incarnation (a view held today by many who fully affirm the Trinity, though Servetus seemed to deny a plurality of persons in God). Servetus should not be considered an orthodox Christian for such views, but that does not make him a blasphemer. He apparently loved Christ, and tried hard to serve God in his life (no less so than Calvin). Again, I think you would do well to read some of the book I linked to above. There is a good section on the issue of Servetus supposedly being a blasphemer (pp. 323-332).

    This is not a good thing. It is not good, but rather pernicious, to publicly espouse and encourage false views of the Lord.

    I agree that it is not a good thing, but will we really justify execution for such beliefs?

    This was punished by death in Israel, and since there is nothing regarding that law to have it be totally confined to Israel — it is not ceremonial, nor is it peculiar to the land of Israel for any reason — it follows that it holds today as a standing moral principle.

    I am quite honestly amazed that you would say these things. We are talking about putting a man to death by burning him alive. We are talking about the church killing blasphemers and heretics. If you are going to side with Calvin that such things should be done, you better have strong Scriptural support. Do you realize that, according to your standards, oneness pastor T.D. Jakes should be put to death by the church? If you were in a position of power in the church, and the current government would not prevent your actions, would you enact your power to have men like T.D. Jakes put to death? Would you truly have the confidence that Scripture affords you such power and, in fact, gives you divine sanction for such actions?

    And frankly, to say that this requires some reinstitution in the NT is to employ a Marcionite hermeneutic. God needs to speak only once; His law is in force until He Himself abrogates it, either explicitly or implicitly.

    Are you suggesting that any OT law is still in force unless the NT specifically says otherwise? I wonder if you think the law to not wear garments of mixed fabrics is still binding (since the OT forbids it and the NT never says that law is no longer in effect, nor does the OT say that it is merely ceremonial, Lev. 19:19). Many similar examples could easily be produced (e.g., I would think that the OT law about rebellious children would make most parents rather nervous considering your claims here, Duet. 21:18-21). Do you also think the church has divine sanction to put rebellious children to death?

    When we look at the NT, we never see a single example of a Christian putting a heretic or blasphemer to death, nor do we see any such teaching that even comes close. Paul mentioned that he handed Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan, to be taught not to blaspheme. Do you think he was referring to putting them to death? If not, then why would Paul not say that they should be put to death (even if the church was not in any position to carry out such actions)? Much more could be said, but I will leave it there for now. I am having a hard time understanding why someone would want to defend Calvin so badly as to suggest that the church has been given divine sanction to put blasphemers (which Servetus was not) to death.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  36. Just noticed that “Ben” has been posting at the “Confessional Puritan Board” and drew attention to me and my post:

    http://confessionalpuritan.forumcircle.com/viewtopic.php?p=3566

    If you follow the link, you will find that right out of the gate Ben refers to me exclusively as a Marcionite. You will also notice that he refers to Servetus as an “incorrigible” heretic. This is significant since he finishes his last post to me by calling me heretical names (an antinomion Marcionite) and likewise calls me “incorrigible”. It is hard to imagine, considering such talk, that Ben would be opposed to seeing me put to death, if the opportunity presented itself (and BTW, though Ben goes on and on about blaspheme, he seems to forget that Calvin said heretics should be put to death as well). This is a stunning and disturbing testimony concerning some of the followers of John Calvin today, and I would hope that other, more level headed Calvinists would stand up against such vicious and shameful intolerance among their own.

    I also want to point out that the majority of Ben’s “defense” of John Calvin can be summed up in “Excuses” # 10 and #11 in the book I linked to above (Did Calvin Murder Servetus?).

  37. Kang,

    Pro 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

    I hope this proverb is not the case between us?

    I asked early on in this thread:

    Do you agree with the Reformed confession that we in our present guilt and deed are worthy of both temporal and eternal punishments?

    thanks

    Could you kindly respond?

    thanks again

  38. Critics of Calvin should be reading Calvin (ad fontes!). May I also warmly recommend Robert L. Reymond’s ‘John Calvin: His Life & Influence’ which offers an excellent discussion on Servetus!

  39. D. S.

    I have read quite a bit from Calvin and quoted him in the post. In fact, my criticisms were based entirely on his own words. Thanks for the book recommendation. Have you read Did Calvin Murder Servetus? I linked to it above.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  40. Hmmm…Mr. Ben Maas apparently can’t play honestly with his definitions. In calling us “Marcionite antinomian Arminians,” he himself teeters on committing a severe moral violation of the Law. The Marcionists believed that the God of the O.T. was not the same God as revealed in the N.T., as you’ve pointed out.

    Believing that God displays His wrath against violators of His commandments differently in the ages of different covenants hardly amounts to believing that the God of the Old Testament wasn’t God. It logically can’t, since in saying so, we already acknowledge that He is the same God, merely employing different methods of judgment.

    Mr. Maas having no evidence of you arguing such things, yet still leveling the charge of Marcionism against you, is in effect bearing false witness against you. This is quite ironic considering the penalty in the Law for false witnesses:

    “And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 19:18-19)

  41. I wonder if Calvin knows the the rich mans’ last name yet?

  42. I wonder if Calvin knows the the rich mans’ last name yet?

    I fail to see how this is meaningful to the dialogue at hand…when in doubt, consign your theological nemesis to hell?

    In calling us “Marcionite antinomian Arminians,” he himself teeters on committing a severe moral violation of the Law.

    Ben,

    Curious as to how Josh and Ben are ‘antinomian marcionites’ particularly since the charge is predicated upon a wholesale subscription to theonomy. I am no arminian and having spoken to Josh at great lengths I find your charges to be vacuous at best…

  43. BTW: my comments should not be viewed as a defense of Servetus-the man indeed held a heretical view of the Godhead. It should also be noted that I am not defending executing a heretic, this is not consistent with N.T. revelation.

  44. Most people who read the new testament, can easily see if John Calvin was anywhere close to the image of Christ. By his life and his writings it is easy to see he was not of Christ. If this offends you scribe then read some more. His fruits were not of Christ. He was filled with a passion of hate towards Servetus. If you read Stanford RIves Esq. book, “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?” you can easily see that Calvin fell way short of the mark set by Christ in the new testament.

  45. Your theological nemesis should be the great whore of babylon mentioned in the book of Revelations. She decieves all of the nations and in her is the blood of all the saints, prohets,etc

  46. Also in Matthew 5:20 Christ said, For I say unto you,that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.5:21 You have heard that it was said to those who were before you,You shall not kill,and whoever kills is guilty before the court.5:22 But I say to you, that whoever becomes angry with his brother for no reason, is guilty before the court: and whoever should say to his brother,Raca(which means,I spit on you) is guilty before the congregation; and whoever says to his brother,you are a nurse maid,is condemned to hell fire.

    Also , nowhere in the New Testament does it EVER advocate the killing or extermination of any heretic. Heretic is used 1 time in the New Testament and heresy is used 3 times, never does it say to kill, murder, imprison any such person. Calvin was absolutely wrong in the way he treated Michael Servetus. He used his influence and his theological authority to get a verdict of death for Servetus. For those of you who say he had no authority, neither did the scribes and Pharisees who murdered the messiah.

  47. Most people who read the new testament, can easily see if John Calvin was anywhere close to the image of Christ. By his life and his writings it is easy to see he was not of Christ.

    Curious as to how you were objectively able to come up with your statistical analysis of ‘most people who read the NT’ agree Calvin was unlike Christ hence lost. This form of argumentation is not meaningful and only helps to rile up the ignoramuses of your theological persuasion. Ah, Luther was another unsaved man given his anti-semitic statements and his persecution of anabaptists ( I be one 😉 )

    If you read Stanford RIves Esq. book, “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?” you can easily see that Calvin fell way short of the mark set by Christ in the new testament.

    I’d be more inclined to defer to multiple sources to get a greater understanding of what really occurred between Calvin and Servetus.

    Your theological nemesis should be the great whore of babylon mentioned in the book of Revelations. She decieves all of the nations and in her is the blood of all the saints, prohets,etc

    Perhaps you should reread my comment to attempting to deduce my intention instead of taking us on these tangents that really have nothing to do with my original statement. And it’s Revelation-singular

    Also , nowhere in the New Testament does it EVER advocate the killing or extermination of any heretic. Heretic is used 1 time in the New Testament and heresy is used 3 times, never does it say to kill, murder, imprison any such person. Calvin was absolutely wrong in the way he treated Michael Servetus.

    Did you not read my follow-up comment? “It should also be noted that I am not defending executing a heretic, this is not consistent with N.T. revelation.”
    It would be superfluous to be labor this point. If Calvin had so much power (politically) how was he thrown out of Geneva for 2 years? Why couldn’t Calvin have Servetus hung instead of burned as requested for a more humane death? You are making it sound as if Calvin unilaterally had Servetus killed; based on what historical facts? Calvin was no monarch.

    For those of you who say he had no authority, neither did the scribes and Pharisees who murdered the messiah.

    Correction: God ultimately had Christ killed (watches a few people squirm)

    Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain -Acts 2:23

    The connection you are attempting to make here seems dubious…

  48. Scribe,

    I hasten to say, of the 6 billion plus and growing souls alive today on planet earth, it would be my guess, that only a small fraction of them would even know anything about Calvin or Aminius, which underscores what you wrote:

    “….This form of argumentation is not meaningful and only helps to rile up the ignoramuses of your theological persuasion…..”.

  49. Scribe, you really have no idea of my theological persuasion. Lets see now, Who did God have counsel with?

  50. To all,

    Your history seems a little incomplete on what happened with Calvin and Servetus. Joe Morecraft and Doug Philips do a pretty good job of explaining this at the end of a track called “Patriots and Torries.” (Track 11 @ 2:50 through the first part of Track 12). You can see some excerpts from his speech here.

    http://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/defending-john-calvin-and-the-execution-of-servetus/

  51. Hey Ben,

    One is not a crazy whackjob Calvinist (i.e. the Calvinist Jihadist), until he is ready to excuse (or in this case *endorse*), the murder of Servetus.

    On the other hand, if Arminius (or another prominent Arminian), had done the equivalent, I would have no problem in condemning the murder, and not feeling one shred of need to make any excuses for it. But then again, I’m not a crazy whackjob Calvinist Jihadist.

    Richard

  52. Scribe, you are hilarious!

  53. John,

    Thanks for the link. I hope to check it out at some point. It is important to read a variety of historical perspectives in order to get a good feel for what happened. The link to the book I provided above is more up to date then most, and challenges some of the older historical claims (like Schaff’s) with good documentation (which is why I recommended it). I would not agree so much with the guy’s theology on several points, but I think his work is important because it looks deeply into the arguments of Calvin apologists and finds their arguments wanting both historically and logically. Perhaps he even addresses some of what is promoted in that link (which seems to be written by those who would fall into the “Calvin apologist” category).

    Also, you will notice that my post was not built on a certain historical accounting, but rather on the words of John Calvin himself. That is a point that has seemed to have been lost to some extent in this discussion.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  54. Brian S. Baker,

    For the record, this post was not dealing with whether or not Calvin was ever saved (as I noted in the thread above), and I would prefer to not move the discussion in that direction. Rather, it has to do with the overall character of Calvin and whether or not there is good reason to feel uncomfortable about claiming him as our “homeboy”. I think it is pretty clear that you would not consider him your homeboy 🙂

    God Bless,
    Ben

  55. Scribe,

    It is good to read a Calvinist who is not commited to theonomy, and sees no justification for the persecution of heretics in the NT. I was beginning to wonder if all Calvinists were theonomists, and was also beginning to get some rather scary ideas as to why that might be the case.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  56. Brian,

    I have to echo KD’s sentiment: the question isn’t really what God’s final judgment of Jean Chauvin is, but whether he displayed the kind of behavior worthy of imitation by followers of Christ (much less the pedestal some have placed him on).

    ‘Counsel’ in Acts 2:23 btw is an archaic form of ‘will.’

  57. FYI Ben,

    The link that John dropped is to the blog of one of the site admin (Reformed Covenanter/D. Ritchie) for that ‘confessional Puritan’ board that Ben Maas was posting on.

  58. J.C.

    Yeah, I looked at it. It is a very short post which just makes a few undocumented assertions concerning Servetus. It is hardly something that will “complete” anyone’s history. Also, I noticed in the comments someone echoing the claim that the churches were all in agreement concerning putting Servetus to death. The book I linked to above (Did Calvin Murder Servetus?) effectively demonstrates that this is a false historical claim. So it would seem that they are the ones with a rather incomplete (or fallacious) historical perspective.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  59. This also comes from that link provided by John,

    Calvin, who sought time and again for changes and exceptions to the Council’s methods, with other ministers, tried to convince the city Council, of which Calvin was not a member, to execute Servetus by a quicker, less painful death by beheading, but the Council refused. In the trial and conviction of Servetus, Calvin would not decide a single detail, and yet he continues to be blamed for Servetus’ burning.

    This claim, that Calvin tried so hard to have Servetus beheaded and had virtually nothing to do with the details of Servetus’ death, has also been taken to task (and I believe soundly refuted) in Did Calvin Murder Servetus (e.g. 359-372).

  60. Kangaroo,

    For whatever reason, I didn’t get an e-mail that you replied to my post. Thanks for answering.

    Schaff is a liberal, but when his agenda doesn’t come through he is a reasonable historian, none the less, I haven’t read the book you are referring to. For what it is worth, the notes on the link I posted earlier don’t do justice to the audio from the Q&A with Morecraft and Phillips.

    They mention that Calvin urged Servetus not to come to Geneva, which he did anyway. They mention that Calvin tried to meet with Servetus privately to convince him of his error and urge him to repent. They also mention that Calvin was not directly in charge, which is evidenced in the fact that his sentence was burning rather than the more humane execution (beheading) that Calvin advocated.

    More important than all of that, would be the simple fact that Calvin (and virtually everyone else in Christendom) believed that the Law of God commanded his execution and acted out of obedience to God.

    John

  61. JC,

    You are correct as to the source of the simplified link, but I actually found that inadvertantly looking for a way to post the audio that is also cited above… I have an MP3 of it, but it’s really large, and I couldn’t figure out how to take just that section out.

    John.

  62. I apologize Ben. You are right, I would not have him as my homeboy. I actually think Michael Servetus was a better example than Jean Cauvin. Whether or not anyone believes John Calvin did murder Micahel Servetus, if one uses the New Testament,it would appear that Calvin was not a sheep of Christ. Of course I have no statistical analysis to support this, just history. So as to the question, if I would imitate John Calvin, I would say no.

  63. Kangaroodort wrote:

    ” This is incontrovertible evidence that John Calvin was unrepentant of the murder of Servetus even nine years after his death. Rather, Calvin actually felt that posterity owed him a debt of gratitude for purging the church of “so pernicious a monster”! Do we really want to venerate such a man, even if we agree with his theology? Have we stopped to consider that according to John Calvin, it is a God ordained and perpetual rule for the Church to persecute and execute heretics and that any who might disagree should themselves be put to death!”

    __________

    If you are going to make smart comments about what I posted, at least have the integrity to make them directly.

    Calvin didn’t ‘murder’ Servetus. He affirmed that Servetus should be executed by the Civil Magistrate in accordance with the law of God. Your portrayal of this event is a caricature intended to evoke a particular emotional response to what happened. It uses imprecise and inflammatory language and fails to address the fact that Servetus was burned in accordance with the dictates of scripture as a incorrigible public blasphemer.

    You want to sit in judgment on Calvin for his actions here, but since he acted in accordance with scripture you end up sitting in judgment of the word of God. If Calvin is a monster as you say, then what logical grounds do you have to deny that the one who issued the command he followed is any less, even if, as you contend, he revoked it at some later point?

    John.

  64. Ben,

    I’m not sure about each Calvinist in particular but i would assert certain folks buy into Calvinism hook, line, and sinker just to fit within the ‘Reformed’ mold… I choose to actually think for myself

  65. Why thank you, I think… 😉

  66. 1. True to some extent. Non-calvinistic? 2. Himself?

  67. You want to sit in judgment on Calvin for his actions here, but since he acted in accordance with scripture you end up sitting in judgment of the word of God.

    Petitio Principii-what scripture in the New Covenant allows for the death of a heretic? You must substantiate the claim that your Theonomist views are indeed scriptural hence you are asserting the consequent. How’s this for how to deal with heretics?

    And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all [men], apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

  68. 2nd Timothy 2:24-26, sorry…

  69. Scribe,

    How many times does God have to say something for you to be willing to obey? There in no circular argument here, God said it, and I believe it.

    It isn’t my place to carry out that sentence, but the one who gave it is good and just, and he has given the Civil Magistrate the sword in order punish those who do evil and reward those who do good. The sentence the leaders of Geneva carried out on Servetus was in accordance with that proscribed by God’s word, unless you can demonstrate that God has changed his command here.

    The Timothy passage is a good one, but consider Joshua dealing with Achan. He treated him fairly, and even encouraged him to do right before he had him stoned.

    Fulfilling Paul’s mandate to Timothy does not mean that you should not fulfill the law, it rather proscribes the manner in which you should carry it out and the attitude you should have to other men in doing so. The judgment belongs to God, we are just his servants.

    “Then Joshua said to Achan, ‘My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Josh 7:19

    John

  70. John,

    “If you are going to make smart comments about what I posted…”

    I’m sorry, what part(s) of Ben’s post did you deem to consist of ‘smart comments,’ and why exactly?

    “If Calvin is a monster as you say….”

    In your haste to hurl accusations, you’re not even reading what’s been written. The “monster” quote was made by Calvin in reference to Servetus, it was not Ben’s assessment of Calvin.

  71. JC,

    “It is hardly something that will “complete” anyone’s history.”

    The quotes around “complete,” are rather condescending. It’s not a huge deal, was going to erase it before I posted and forgot to.

    I am well aware that the word “monster” was used by Calvin in the quote and not directly by anyone on the board. I was getting at the general tenor of your statements. I put one example in another post where Kangaroo accuses Calvin of murder in the body of his first post. This is nonsense and violates the meaning of the word.

    Collectively you have set up a straw man and have little interest in a balanced historical perspective. The agenda is clear.

    John.

  72. John,

    “The quotes around “complete,” are rather condescending.”

    And exactly how are quotes around a key word “condescending?”

    “I am well aware that the word “monster” was used by Calvin in the quote and not directly by anyone on the board.”

    Then why exactly did you contend that Ben said this, and then use it to try and implicate him as calling God the same thing?

    “This is nonsense and violates the meaning of the word.”

    Murder being, ‘killing wrongfully;’ if John Calvin was wrong in his action of killing Servetus, then the term is being employed properly.

    “Collectively you have set up a straw man….”

    You’re not citing any specifics. Exactly who’s position is being so badly misrepresented and how?

  73. John,

    Your responses are confusing. I will address them shortly, but I wanted to ask you to post at the bottom of the thread rather than use the “reply” button. I could have easily missed a few of your replies, and it causes your responses to get sandwiched into areas where the conversation seems a little backwards (since replies to you had already been posted at the bottom of the thread). Thank you.

    Ben

  74. John,

    Sorry I missed the audio track, I only saw a small blog post.

    You wrote,

    They mention that Calvin urged Servetus not to come to Geneva, which he did anyway. They mention that Calvin tried to meet with Servetus privately to convince him of his error and urge him to repent. They also mention that Calvin was not directly in charge, which is evidenced in the fact that his sentence was burning rather than the more humane execution (beheading) that Calvin advocated.

    More important than all of that, would be the simple fact that Calvin (and virtually everyone else in Christendom) believed that the Law of God commanded his execution and acted out of obedience to God.

    I have heard all of this before. As I mentioned earlier, my post was primarily concerned with Calvin’s own words. Also, all of the points you cite here are rather inaccurate (or incomplete) according to the book I recommended (Did Calvin Murder Servetus), of which I have given specific page numbers which deal specifically with these claims (not to mention the quote of Calvin in which he says he will not allow Servetus to leave Geneva alive if he should ever come there, which makes your point about his warning him not to come rather weak).

    This really confused me,

    You quoted my post where I said,

    “This is incontrovertible evidence that John Calvin was unrepentant of the murder of Servetus even nine years after his death. Rather, Calvin actually felt that posterity owed him a debt of gratitude for purging the church of “so pernicious a monster”! Do we really want to venerate such a man, even if we agree with his theology? Have we stopped to consider that according to John Calvin, it is a God ordained and perpetual rule for the Church to persecute and execute heretics and that any who might disagree should themselves be put to death!”

    And responded with,

    If you are going to make smart comments about what I posted, at least have the integrity to make them directly.

    You seem to be confused. What I wrote and you quoted above was in the original post. How could it be directed to you when it was written prior to anything you wrote? There are no smart comments about anything you have written in that quote from the OP. Very strange. Also, I don’t see what would even constitute a “smart comment” in anything I wrote there. Maybe you meant to reference something else?

    Calvin didn’t ‘murder’ Servetus. He affirmed that Servetus should be executed by the Civil Magistrate in accordance with the law of God. Your portrayal of this event is a caricature intended to evoke a particular emotional response to what happened. It uses imprecise and inflammatory language and fails to address the fact that Servetus was burned in accordance with the dictates of scripture as a incorrigible public blasphemer.

    Well, I disagree on all counts. Since I believe that Servetus was wrongly put to death, then I see it as murder. Do I not have the right to state things as I see them? I am not alone on this either. Even many during Calvin’s day saw his act as inexcusable murder (again, I direct you to the book recommended above). You say that Servetus was burned in accordance with the dictates of scripture. Could you please cite where the scripture dictates that anyone should be burned for denying the trinity? If you want to try to stretch things and say that he was killed for blasphemy (which he wasn’t), then could you please cite where the Bible says that blasphemers should be burned alive? If you want to say that he was burned for being a heretic, please cite where the Bible says that heretics should be put to death, much less burned alive?

    Both you and Ben have tried to invoke the OT command for death penalty with regards to blaspheme. I have already dealt with this issue with Ben concerning the lack of NT support for such a practice, but neither of you have dealt with the fact that Calvin said Servetus was killed for heresies and said that all heretics should be killed (and all those who disagree that heretics should be killed as well),

    “Servetus suffered the penalty due to his heresies, but was it by my will?”

    And,

    “Whoever shall now contend that is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church.”

    So again, if you want to defend Calvin, please cite Biblical support for burning heretics alive.

    You want to sit in judgment on Calvin for his actions here, but since he acted in accordance with scripture you end up sitting in judgment of the word of God.

    Well, that is exactly the point in contention here, is it not? I obviously disagree that he was acting in accordance with Scripture, and I am happy to let Scripture be the judge of that.

    If Calvin is a monster as you say, then what logical grounds do you have to deny that the one who issued the command he followed is any less, even if, as you contend, he revoked it at some later point?

    You seem to be confused again. I never said Calvin was a monster (though Calvin did say Servetus was a monster). The last part of this is also confusing. I never suggested that God does not have the right to dictate whatever penalty He sees fit for any offense against Him. You then admit that my position is that God later revoked that penalty under the new covenant. That is correct. Therefore, Calvin is wrong for enacting an unsanctioned killing under the new covenant. That is all I am saying. Your logic simply doesn’t follow in the least (never mind the fact that I never called Calvin a monster).

    How many times does God have to say something for you to be willing to obey? There in no circular argument here, God said it, and I believe it.

    Again, this is problematic on several fronts as I pointed out above. Even if we want to say that such OT penalties are still in force, there is no death penalty prescribed for heresy. Nor does the OT even sanction burning someone at the stake for blasphemy. So even if you can make the case that the OT civil law should still be in effect under the NC, you can’t find any OT justification for what happened to Servetus (and if you will look at the book I recommended, the defense that Calvin wanted the sword for Servetus is extremely questionable).

    It isn’t my place to carry out that sentence, but the one who gave it is good and just, and he has given the Civil Magistrate the sword in order punish those who do evil and reward those who do good.

    This seems to be another appeal to Romans which is shown to be of no help to your position when the context is examined.

    The sentence the leaders of Geneva carried out on Servetus was in accordance with that proscribed by God’s word, unless you can demonstrate that God has changed his command here.

    Actually, I think the burden falls on you demonstrate that the NT sanctions death for blasphemy or heresy. God has the sovereign right to abolish one covenant and replace it with a new one, which He did in Christ. Since the old covenant is done away with, we need to look to the new for the authority to put blasphemers or heretics to death. We see no such thing, but rather numerous teachings which move in the opposite direction, encouraging tolerance and patience, suggesting that heretics be silence by argumentation alone (Titus 1:9-11), and suggesting that God alone will judge those who oppose Him and insult His Spirit (Heb. 10:27-31).

    Collectively you have set up a straw man and have little interest in a balanced historical perspective. The agenda is clear.

    Not at all. I have cited Calvin’s own words and interacted with them. I have also recommended an excellent and up to date historical work concerning this event numerous times (and it seems that all of the Calvinist apologists on this thread have decided not to read any of it). I suppose we could also question your agenda as well. We could say that you have no interest in the facts and refuse to acknowledge the heinous nature of Calvin’s involvement in Servetus’ murder because Calvin is your theological hero that you feel compelled to defend at all costs. But such speculations might not be fair or accurate.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  75. Ben,

    Sorry, I wasn’t used to this blog, I’ll post at the bottom…

    John.

  76. Ben & JC,

    Some clarification…

    Sorry about posting the quote about “complete” where it was posted, it was confusing in the context… I was referring to the post from Ben to JC right above it where it was posted. I then moved on to a completely different explanation that related to Ben’s first post.

    As I explained before, I didn’t intended to publish it at all, but I was thinking about it as I was typing and forgot to take it out, though I think my analysis was accurate… The comment is condescending, and it wasn’t made to me directly. When Ben addressed me directly he was polite, later he addressed JC and was not. As I stated previously, none of this is a big deal to me, I have a pretty thick skin and am not worried about it.

  77. JC

    Get over the monster thing… Not just Arminians, but Dispensational as well? It is a figure of speech, I’m not making a reference to you actually using that exact word earlier in the text as I have already explained. I’m referring to the tenor of this board in its treatment of Calvin and I stand by it.

    “Murder being, ‘killing wrongfully;’ if John Calvin was wrong in his action of killing Servetus, then the term is being employed properly.”

    Let’s see you try and get a conviction for that in a court of law. Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus, he wasn’t even a member of the court that passed sentence on him. The action itself was carried out by the lawful civil magistrates acting in accordance with both Biblical Law and Local Law, so it in no way constitutes murder. Calvin merely stated that Servetus should be executed in accordance with the Law of God. The accusation made in Ben’s post is libelous.

  78. It may take me a bit to respond Ben, but I’ll get back and answer your post…

  79. Ben and John (first, Ben),

    Ben,
    Thanks much for the link to the excellent article on “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?” I went through the main text of the 30 page chapter (beginning p. 373) and some of the footnotes, as well as about 10 pages prior, and it was all quite revealing.

    I can only hope that your detractors will take the time to read and respond to the many specific historical points in this chapter, especially Calvin’s inexplicable public flip-flopping from his prior position of No Burning of Heretics. (What an expose!) Otherwise, I don’t see how we can view their criticisms as particularly informed.

    I’ve enjoyed your many insights also, Ben, and marvel at your fortitude in keeping the record straight. I feel that you’ve really handled this masterly, and with especial energy and patience. Thank you again.

    John,
    I realize (as C.S. Lewis once said) that reading views that are antithetical to one’s own is a loathsome task. And I’m not saying you avoid it generally. But it does seem to me that your one point about the civil magistrates representing Local Law, thus removing Calvin from culpability–would appear more in earnest, at least to Ben and to me, if you responded **specifically** to points countering that “Excuse” as given in the chapter of “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?”, which Ben has been asking us to read. Perhaps you have been too busy for some reason (admittedly, all of us do get busy). But I think it would elevate the discussion if your schedule can allow for it.

  80. John,

    “Get over the monster thing…”

    When you cease employing polemics based upon wild accusations, I’ll consider desisting in calling you on it.

    “Not just Arminians, but Dispensational as well?”

    That doesn’t make any sense either….

    “I’m referring to the tenor of this board in its treatment of Calvin…”

    Again no specifics.

    “Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus…”

    David didn’t ‘technically’ kill Uriah either. Try that one on Nathan the prophet.

    “in accordance with both Biblical Law…”

    Hardly. The biblical law never sanctions the death penalty for just teaching misconceptions about God; and even if it did, the church has never been called to enforce sound doctrine through persecution or killing of heretics/dissidents.

    “The comment is condescending, and it wasn’t made to me directly.”

    Yeah, being eager to take offense over a set of quotation marks in a comment that’s not even addressed to you always helps the conversation along. 😉

  81. John,

    You wrote,

    Sorry, I wasn’t used to this blog, I’ll post at the bottom…

    That’s no problem. It isn’t a blog rule or anything, I just noticed that the chronology of comments and responses was getting mixed up and wanted to lessen confusion.

    Sorry about posting the quote about “complete” where it was posted, it was confusing in the context… I was referring to the post from Ben to JC right above it where it was posted. I then moved on to a completely different explanation that related to Ben’s first post.

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    As I explained before, I didn’t intended to publish it at all, but I was thinking about it as I was typing and forgot to take it out, though I think my analysis was accurate… The comment is condescending, and it wasn’t made to me directly. When Ben addressed me directly he was polite, later he addressed JC and was not.

    Are you referring to this?

    Yeah, I looked at it. It is a very short post which just makes a few undocumented assertions concerning Servetus. It is hardly something that will “complete” anyone’s history. Also, I noticed in the comments someone echoing the claim that the churches were all in agreement concerning putting Servetus to death. The book I linked to above (Did Calvin Murder Servetus?) effectively demonstrates that this is a false historical claim. So it would seem that they are the ones with a rather incomplete (or fallacious) historical perspective.

    This was not directed to you because it was in response to J.C. letting me know that the post was written by someone who belonged to the same board as Ben Maas. Like I said, I didn’t realize there was an audio track and that is why I made the comment that it didn’t complete anyone’s history (BTW, the last sentence was not even directed to you, but to whoever wrote the post). I am sorry if you found that offensive. I certainly did not mean to be condescending. It was simply a way to voice disagreement with your claim (that my history was incomplete). I guess I could just as well have found it offensive that you simply dropped a link with the claim that my history was incomplete. But thankfully, we both have thick skin 🙂

    I do have a question for you though. Are you involved with that board that Ben Maas posts at? If so, I wonder what you think of his starting a thread about his conversation with me and referring to me as a “Marcionite” throughout that interaction. Do you approve of such things?

    Let’s see you try and get a conviction for that in a court of law. Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus, he wasn’t even a member of the court that passed sentence on him.

    Again, the reason why you need to read that book. Even without that book, it is well known that Calvin was extremely influential in the proceedings and essentially took credit for the killing himself when he wrote,

    “Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.”

    This has been a point that I have continually brought up and none of the Calvin apologists have addressed. Calvin is condemned by his own words. My initial post did not attempt to give my side of a historical event, but rather quoted Calvin himself and commented on his own words. It would be nice if you dealt with that particular data.

    The action itself was carried out by the lawful civil magistrates acting in accordance with both Biblical Law and Local Law

    Again, this is simply begging the question. The point of contention is whether or not there was Biblical sanction for such an act. I say no.

    …so it in no way constitutes murder.

    Again, that is the point in dispute. I say there is no Biblical justification for what happened to Servetus, therefore it was wrong to put him to death (therefore it was murder). All you are doing is asserting your position. You might as well just say you disagree and leave it at that.

    Calvin merely stated that Servetus should be executed in accordance with the Law of God. The accusation made in Ben’s post is libelous.

    The book I referred you to argues forcefully that Calvin knew that there was no justification for his actions in Scripture (and even if he thought Scripture sanctioned his actions, he was wrong; just as Servetus was wrong about the Trinity, even though he believed Scripture supported his view). And again, you need to contend with his own words whereby he takes personal credit for the execution of Servetus (above).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  82. Dan,

    Thanks for the comments and thanks for taking the time to read some of the book. It brings up a lot of relevant information concerning this discussion and I would hope that those who are concerned that our history be as complete as possible would find the time (whenever possible) to read it as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  83. Interesting . I am sure most of you know that John Calvin was found to be a denier of the trinity by Caroli

  84. Daniel,

    I do actually read the opposition pretty regularly but only read this article a few days ago. At some point if the arguments you are making are convincing, it would be worth reading the book, though with the budget the way it is, it may take a while to fund the project.

    If you list out the points you are referring to about Biblical Law and Local Law, I would look at them.

    John.

  85. JC,

    “When you cease employing polemics based upon wild accusations, I’ll consider desisting in calling you on it.”

    I already answered this, you’re not calling me on anything, you just being belligerent.

    “Not just Arminians, but Dispensational as well?”

    It makes perfect sense… In your above fetish, you are fixated on the fact that you saw me use a word that someone else used. You are taking what was said in a wooden literal way in relation to what they said that doesn’t apply in any way to what I said. This is Dispensational hermanutics 101.

    “Again no specifics.”

    You are totally missing what I was saying… At this point I was responding to you worrying about the word monster and explaining why I used it. I wasn’t trying to further the argument about why you were vilifying Calvin (or treating him as if he was a monster.)

    “David didn’t ‘technically’ kill Uriah either. Try that one on Nathan the prophet.”

    Touche… None the less, the two cases are not comparable. David abused his authority with the intent to kill someone for personal gain. This was clearly wrong (Though I don’t see anyone here saying – don’t make those David is my homeboy T-Shirts.)

    Calvin, did no such thing. By your logic, am I guilty of the murder of Servetus because I think that the Council in Geneva acted appropriately? You can be really cute and say yes, but the fact remains that your logic here is poor.

    “Hardly. The biblical law never sanctions the death penalty for just teaching misconceptions about God; and even if it did, the church has never been called to enforce sound doctrine through persecution or killing of heretics/dissidents.”

    Read Dueuteronomy 13:1-18 The whole chapter is devoted to the topic at hand, not to killing people for having misconceptions about God as you said above, but for encouraging others to commit idolatry. This clearly Servetus did unrepentantly.

    John.

  86. Ben,

    Sorry it’s taken so long to get back… If my wife gets back from the library I’ll have to cut it short again…

    “I do have a question for you though. Are you involved with that board that Ben Maas posts at? If so, I wonder what you think of his starting a thread about his conversation with me and referring to me as a “Marcionite” throughout that interaction. Do you approve of such things?”

    I spent some time re-reading the above posts, but my wife is back now, so it will have to wait…

    John
    Yes, I have been on that board with Ben for a while. I think Ben called you a Marcionite on this board as well. I would have to go back and read what the two of you said in more detail, but I think he is referring to your statements that he Old Covenant

  87. The order got jumbled above, but I bet you can figure out what came first.

  88. John,

    Real quick (since I just read a little of what you said and may not get to the rest till later), you mentioned not being able to afford the book. If you will just scroll up a ways you will find a link to the book on-line. It is a google book and you can read it free on-line. It is really easy to navigate as well since you can just click on “Contents” and immediately see all the chapter headings. Just click on whichever one seems interesting or relevant (i.e. you don’t even have to read the whole thing). To make it easier, I’ll just include the link again below.

    Did Calvin Murder Servetus?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  89. John,

    “…you just being belligerent.”

    Please do not equivocate ‘demand for accuracy’ with ‘belligerence.’

    “you are fixated on the fact that you saw me use a word that someone else used.”

    Incorrect, I pointed out not merely that you used the term, but directly attributed it to someone else. FYI, that’s not literalness. Wooden literalness would entail that I interpret ‘monster’ as referring to an actual beast of some sort. Also, not all Dispensational interpretations are literal, nor are all literalists Dispensationalists; I would appreciate it if you also ‘dispensed’ with such tarbrushing.

    “Calvin, did no such thing.”

    Which is irrelevant to my response to your assertion that “Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus.”

    “…but for encouraging others to commit idolatry. This clearly Servetus did unrepentantly.”

    How is unrepentantly teaching a misconception about God ‘idolatry?’ Why stop there though? Who exactly decides which forms of heresy constitute ‘blasphemy’ or ‘idolatry;’ or what’s ‘heresy’ at all for that matter? We’ve already had one Theonomist here express uncertainty over whether Arminianism was ‘blasphemy,’ and I’ve heard/read worse sentiments from Calvinists past and present. Exactly what principle in Calvinistic Theonomy then would preclude similar condemnation and execution of those who disagree with Calvinist doctrine as ‘idolaters’ or ‘blasphemers?’

  90. John,

    I’ll let J.C. answer you himself, but I wanted to address a few things as well. You wrote,

    Touche… None the less, the two cases are not comparable. David abused his authority with the intent to kill someone for personal gain. This was clearly wrong (Though I don’t see anyone here saying – don’t make those David is my homeboy T-Shirts.)

    First, there are numerous historical writings (including the one reference many times here) that demonstrate that Calvin indeed abused (through manipulation and influence, etc.) his power in order to ensure that Servetus was put to death. Second, David did his action out of lust, while Calvin did his out of hatred and anger (having been insulted by Servetus) as Rives’ book well documents (so on those two grounds the analogy is sound). Third, David did not attempt to justify his actions before Nathan, but repented and cried out to God for mercy. Calvin was unrepentant and proud of his actions nine years later, defiantly taking full credit for Servetus’ death (as quoted above). Big difference (hence, the reason why Christians shouldn’t have a problem with a “David is my homeboy” shirt).

    Read Dueuteronomy 13:1-18 The whole chapter is devoted to the topic at hand, not to killing people for having misconceptions about God as you said above, but for encouraging others to commit idolatry. This clearly Servetus did unrepentantly.

    This is simply false. Servetus did not encourage others to commit idolatry. He found the creedal formulations on the trinity to be unbiblical, and rejected infant baptism as an affront to sola fide (which Calvin was especially bothered by). Calvin himself had problems with the use of the word trinity and refused to use the language of different “persons” in the trinity in his own confessions. He was even charged with antitrinitarianism at one point and called a follower of Servetus! (as Rives’ book well documents).

    Again, I highly recommend people to peruse Rives’ book (which is available free on-line). One could find a cursory examination of most of this information beginning on page 427 (but should look elsewhere in the book for more detailed accountings).

    Furthermore, anyone who wants to defend Calvin must defend his insistence that it is Biblical to put heretics to death (as Calvin himself promoted). Also, anyone who wants to proof text the OT laws on the penalty for blaspheme needs to show where such laws sanction burnings or beheadings as penalty for blaspheme. As far as I know, the OT sanctions only stoning “outside the camp” (and I would love for a theonomist to explain how we put heretics to death “outside the camp” today, which again testifies to the fact that the civil penalty for blasphemy was an issue of covenant between Israel and God, a covenant that was abolished and replaced in the NT). Now if the theonomist wants to say that the death penalty carries over, but not the divinely stated method of execution, he effectively blows up the basis of his entire argument.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  91. John,

    You wrote,

    Yes, I have been on that board with Ben for a while. I think Ben called you a Marcionite on this board as well. I would have to go back and read what the two of you said in more detail, but I think he is referring to your statements that he Old Covenant

    This got cut off for some reason. I am not sure you are seeing my point. You made an issue out of how condescending it was for me to use quotes around “complete”. So I was wondering if you would also find Ben’s comments to me as likewise condescending, inappropriate, rude, etc. Ben’s accusation of Marcionism is out of line. I am not a Marcionite, nor do I hold to any Marcionite principles. To affirm that God has abolished one covenant and established a new one, and to affirm His divine right and freedom to do so, is completely Biblical, and in no way Marcionicism. Ben’s labeling me as a Marcionite (nevermind antinomian) is therefore slanderous, or to use your word, “libelous” (those quotes are to show that this was a word you used and not meant to be condescending).

    So, what do you make of Ben’s labeling me as a Marcionite and exclusively referring to me as one on that thread? Will you defend him or rebuke him? If it is slanderous, and therefore a case of bearing false witness, then what should be the penalty for such acts according to the OT?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  92. Jus a quick correction on my above post. I wrote,

    Servetus was a protestant who held to sola fide.

    While this true of Servetus (in fact, sola fide was a main issue of contention between him and Calvin since Calvin advocated child baptism, which Servetus saw as an affront to “sola fide”), it should read “sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone) rather than “sola fide” (faith alone).

  93. hey, you can get an “jacobus arminius” is my homeboy t-shirt or some some arminian slip on shoes on this website: http://www.zazzle.com/altruist05

  94. To all,

    Sorry it has taken me a while to respond, I’ve been buried at work and worked this weekend… I’ll try and respond in the next few days.

    John.

  95. Josh,

    If they sell the Arminius stuff on toilet paper, then I may by some…

    John.

  96. Ben,

    I’m going to answer these in reverse for a while…

    The post got cut off because I have been really busy lately, and when my wife came home I needed to get off pretty quickly.

    On the Marcionite question, I saw where you were going… I was pointing out to you the difference in the approach. Ben called you a Marcionite to your face, and your comments about what I wrote were not done in the same forthright manner. As I said before I have a pretty thick skin, say what ever you like about me, but have the courage to do it directly.

    As to the question of whether or not you are a Marcionite. I assume that you would formally deny that the God of the OT is different from that of the NT, but you do demonstrate tendencies that are similar to those of Marcion when you say that the OT ^B has been abolished ^B. Matthew 5:17 certainly doesn’t speak that way.

    “Do not think that I have come to ^B abolish ^B the law or the prophets, I have come ^B not to abolish ^B them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of the pen will in any way disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.

    Marcion’s cannon rejected the OT, and you for all practical purposes you do the same. The New Testament replaces the Old Covenant because we have a different relationship to God now, not because of some fault with it, though that is how you speak when you try to use RAA arguments against its teachings.

    We are no longer slaves under a schoolmaster, we are sons who love the father and obey his law out of love for him through the Spirit. We aren’t free from God’s law, but are under Christ’s law. The law is still holy, righteous and good, the problem was not with it, but rather that we were unable to obey it apart from having the Holy Spirit inside of us. The miracle of the new covenant is that Christ paid for our sins and we can be reconciled to God, we now have his Spirit inside of us, and we have his laws written on our hearts.

    John.

  97. Ben,

    Calvin himself had problems with the use of the word trinity and refused to use the language of different “persons” in the trinity in his own confessions. He was even charged with antitrinitarianism at one point and called a follower of Servetus! (as Rives’ book well documents).

    ____________

    “3. The expressions “Trinity” and “Person” aid the interpretation of Scripture and are therefore admissible… Now, although the heretics rail at the word “person,” or certain squeamish men cry out against admitting a term fashioned by the human mind, they cannot shake our conviction that there are spoken of, each of which is entirely God, yet that there is not more than one God. What wickendness, then it is to disapprove of words that explain nothing else than what is attested and sealed by Scripture!” Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion P123

    __________

    If you look at the basic chapter headings in the institutes this took me about three minutes to find, maybe your scholar isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. Calvin was attacked by all kinds of people, and is still being attacked by people here on this site today, but charges don’t equate to evidence.

    John.

  98. Ben,

    “Furthermore, anyone who wants to defend Calvin must defend his insistence that it is Biblical to put heretics to death (as Calvin himself promoted). Also, anyone who wants to proof text the OT laws on the penalty for blaspheme needs to show where such laws sanction burnings or beheadings as penalty for blaspheme. As far as I know, the OT sanctions only stoning “outside the camp”

    _______

    Did you read Deuteronomy 13 before you posted this? The death sentence is invoked on three different occasions and only one of the three mentions stoning.

    Verse 4, “That prophet or dreamer of dreams must be put to death.” (Generic reference only, stoning is not mentioned.)

    Verse 9, talks about putting them to death, and latter it specifies stoning, but only after the general command to put them to death is issued. The focus isn’t on the mode but on putting them to death.

    I think stoning was employed because it was easily accessible, and was up close and personal rather than the detached process we have today. See Verse 11, “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.”

    Verse 14, if the people of a town try to lead the people away after other Gods, then you are to put them to — THE SWORD.

    John.

  99. Ben,

    “This is simply false. Servetus did not encourage others to commit idolatry. He found the creedal formulations on the trinity to be unbiblical, and rejected infant baptism as an affront to sola fide (which Calvin was especially bothered by).”

    __________

    Do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of “ANYTHING IN HEAVEN ABOVE” or the earth beneath, or the waters below, do not bow down to it or worship it for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”

    Servetus made an idol in the form of something in heaven above, namely God. He didn’t do this casually, or unintentionally, he struck out against the doctrine of the trinity intentionally and forcefully. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he intended to deceive the Church of God.

    This is exactly the force of the Deuteronomy 13 passage. If someone comes in and tries to teach you about another God other than the Lord, put him to death. Simple and straightforward, not out of vengeance or spite, but because a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.

    It is one thing for someone to have misconceptions about the word of God and even be heretical in their understanding, Deuteronomy 13 is invoked when they militantly attack the people of God and try to turn them away from the truth. This is what Calvin did. If you are correct about his motives, then he may be guilty of sin for them, none the less, his actions judicially were correct.

    John.

  100. Ben,

    “Which again testifies to the fact that the civil penalty for blasphemy was an issue of covenant between Israel and God, a covenant that was ABOLISHED and replaced in the NT.”

    _________

    Your words here contradict what scripture says about the nature of the New and Old Covenants. Matthew 5:17 again.

    “Do not think that I have come to ABOLISH the law or the prophets, I have come NOT TO ABOLISH them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of the pen will in any way disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.

    John.

  101. JC,

    “Please do not equivocate ‘demand for accuracy’ with ‘belligerence.’”

    This isn’t a demand for accuracy. Saying that the people on this board, Ben specifically paint Calvin as a monster is completely accurate. You are being belligerent, with this argument, and are making all kinds of noise about absolutely NOTHING.

    “you are fixated on the fact that you saw me use a word that someone else used.”

    Completely correct, you have been fixated on this ridiculous argument for quite some time now… Get a life. You are taking the statement in a wooden literal fashion, and the conclusion you draw is meaningless….
    _____

    “Calvin, did no such thing. By your logic, am I guilty of the murder of Servetus because I think that the Council in Geneva acted appropriately? You can be really cute and say yes, but the fact remains that your logic here is poor.”…… Which is irrelevant to my response to your assertion that “Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus.”

    It is relevant, you drew an analogy to David, and I showed how the two are dissimilar. Apples and oranges. Answer my question, ‘Am I guilty of murder because I think the council in Geneva did the right thing?’

    How about addressing the substantive questions I raised in this post rather than hiding behind your obsession with me calling Ben a monster, or was that saying he called Calvin a monster… OK, either way, I confess, I’m a very bad man who calls people monsters.

    Could you address the argument now instead of wasting our time. So far, you haven’t addressed anything I have said. Pull your head out of the sand and stop hiding or go home. How about addressing the Deuteronomy 13 passage…. There you have it a confession, and three arguments you can try to deal with.

    1. David’s actions and Calvin’s are dissimilar.

    2. Am I guilty of murder because I agree with the council in Geneva?

    3. Deuteronomy 13 sanctions the death penalty for people like Servetus who militantly attack the people of God and try to draw them away into idolatry. (see my post to Ben for more detail.)

    John….

  102. John,

    I may not get to all of your responses today, but I wanted to quickly address this one as I think it is very important,

    Your words here contradict what scripture says about the nature of the New and Old Covenants. Matthew 5:17 again.

    “Do not think that I have come to ABOLISH the law or the prophets, I have come NOT TO ABOLISH them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of the pen will in any way disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.

    This response is problematic for you and misrepresents what I wrote. I did not say the law and the prophets were abolished. I said the Old Covenant with Israel was abolished and replaced by the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.

    First, even assuming that Christ meant all the law, this would contradict your insistence that the ceremonial law has been replaced. It would contradict your comments concerning wearing clothes of two different fabrics as well. Second, in context, Christ is speaking of the moral law (since he goes on to speak of the laws pertaining to murder and adultery, vv.21-22 and vv. 27-28). I never said that the moral law has been abolished (in fact, I said it was still in force, though the specific covenantal civil penalties for breaking those laws did not carry over into the New Covenant age), so my words do not contradict Christ here. Third, even in the context of Matthew 5, Christ makes plain that the civil law has been modified or done away with,

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil [I wonder what Calvin thought of Christ’s words here?]; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him your other also.” (vv. 38, 39 NASB)

    So the Matthew passage you quote to support your position actually works against your claims on several levels, while supporting my own.

    When I said that the Old Covenant had been abolished, I had in mind what was said in Hebrews 8:7-13,

    “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second…When he said, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.”

    There is no question that the Old Covenant has been made obsolete and replaced by the New Covenant (which is no different than saying that God abolished one covenant and replaced it with another). While Hebrews is mainly concerned with Christ’s sacrifice replacing the ceremonial law, the civil penalties attached to various moral laws (like blasphemy) are also shown to have been removed as encompassed in the New Covenant in Christ’s blood (as I explained above with regards to Hebrews 10:26-31).

    Again, it is important to keep the point of contention in focus so we are not arguing against straw men. My contention is simply that one covenant has been replaced by God with another and superior one, and that the civil penalties attached to the moral law in the Old Covenant are no longer in force under the New Covenant. I may not get to the rest of your comments until tomorrow at the earliest.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  103. John,

    “…and are making all kinds of noise about absolutely NOTHING.”

    Funny you would say that, since you’re the one doing the ‘shouting.’ If that’s not what you meant, fine, just quit mis-attributing statements. But if you’re going to continue to hurl more unsustainable accusations of ‘belligerence’ and such, I’m going to continue to highlight such inaccuracies.

    “You are taking the statement in a wooden literal fashion….”

    I’ve already addressed this errant sentiment of yours with,

    “Wooden literalness would entail that I interpret ‘monster’ as referring to an actual beast of some sort.”

    Now please quit trying to smear people with the term, ‘Dispensationalist.’

    “It is relevant, you drew an analogy to David, and I showed how the two are dissimilar. Apples and oranges.”

    No, it isn’t; I was not addressing culpability, but involvement in the killing, contra your statement that ‘Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus;’ the concepts of involvement and guilt are separate issues.

    “Answer my question, ‘Am I guilty of murder because I think the council in Geneva did the right thing?’”

    A counter-question is ‘fair play.’ I asked:

    “Exactly what principle in Calvinistic Theonomy then would preclude similar condemnation and execution of those who disagree with Calvinist doctrine as ‘idolaters’ or ‘blasphemers?’”

    “So far, you haven’t addressed anything I have said.”

    And now you’re employing outright falsehood. As pointed out above, I used David’s example to show that being a ‘killer’ doesn’t necessarily entail being the one who carries out the act, which very well is directly addressing what you said. I also addressed your statements concerning Deuteronomy with the rhetorical,

    How is unrepentantly teaching a misconception about God ‘idolatry?

    Your rebuttal to Ben,

    “Servetus made an idol in the form of something in heaven above, namely God.”

    is nonsensical. The quote from the scriptural law is,

    ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth….” (Exodus 20:4/Deut 5:8)

    which plainly refers to tangible idols, not false doctrines.

  104. John,

    You wrote,

    On the Marcionite question, I saw where you were going… I was pointing out to you the difference in the approach. Ben called you a Marcionite to your face, and your comments about what I wrote were not done in the same forthright manner. As I said before I have a pretty thick skin, say what ever you like about me, but have the courage to do it directly.

    These comments are bordering on ridiculous and making me think that this discussion needs to come to an end. I already addressed your gripe about me not answering you directly. My comments were directed to J.C. because I was responding to his comments to me. If you missed that, please scroll up and read that post. Do you really think that I lack the courage to say something to your face? Maybe you should read through some of the numerous comment threads at this site and see how often I lack the courage to direct my responses to the person who made the initial comments (and just notice how childish this whole thing is, essentially amounting to the immature “Yeah…say it to my face!” rhetoric of schoolchildren).

    Not only that, but you made a big deal out of the simple fact that I put quotation marks around a word you used and felt that was condescending (which is pretty common practice in internet discussions, and you are the first person I have ever seen take offense to it). So my question was about comparing what you seemed to think was so rude (putting quotation marks around “complete” in my response to J.C. concerning the post you linked to), with the use of such words as “Marcionite” and “antinomian” by Ben Maas.

    As to the question of whether or not you are a Marcionite. I assume that you would formally deny that the God of the OT is different from that of the NT, but you do demonstrate tendencies that are similar to those of Marcion when you say that the OT ^B has been abolished ^B. Matthew 5:17 certainly doesn’t speak that way.

    I already addressed your misuse of Matthew 5:17 and your misunderstanding of my position. Of course I would formally deny that the God of the OT is different that the NT. I have never said anything even close to an affirmation of such nonsense, which is why Ben’s labeling me a Marcionite is slanderous. (BTW, by Ben’s loose standards of association, we could just as easily label him and all Calvinists Marcionites since Marcion advocated a sort of divine determinism, just as Calvinism does).

    Marcion’s cannon rejected the OT, and you for all practical purposes you do the same. The New Testament replaces the Old Covenant because we have a different relationship to God now, not because of some fault with it, though that is how you speak when you try to use RAA arguments against its teachings.

    This does not follow at all, and it does not accurately represent my beliefs. I do not reject the OT, and to suggest that I do is both inaccurate and slanderous. Furthermore, your words contradict Scripture where the writer of Hebrews says,

    “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second…For finding fault with them he says…When he said, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Hebrews 8:7-13)

    There was certainly fault with the first covenant as God Himself declares (though the fault lied with the disobedient Israelites and not with God). Therefore, God sought to make a new covenant to replace the old, a covenant by which real cleansing could be affected in Christ’s blood and the law would be written not on tablets of stone, but on the hearts of His covenant people.

    We are no longer slaves under a schoolmaster, we are sons who love the father and obey his law out of love for him through the Spirit. We aren’t free from God’s law, but are under Christ’s law. The law is still holy, righteous and good, the problem was not with it, but rather that we were unable to obey it apart from having the Holy Spirit inside of us. The miracle of the new covenant is that Christ paid for our sins and we can be reconciled to God, we now have his Spirit inside of us, and we have his laws written on our hearts.

    Well said, I agree completely, but this has nothing to do with the Old Covenant civil penalties attached to the violations of the moral law.

    I wrote,

    Calvin himself had problems with the use of the word trinity and refused to use the language of different “persons” in the trinity in his own confessions. He was even charged with antitrinitarianism at one point and called a follower of Servetus! (as Rives’ book well documented).

    You responded:

    3. The expressions “Trinity” and “Person” aid the interpretation of Scripture and are therefore admissible… Now, although the heretics rail at the word “person,” or certain squeamish men cry out against admitting a term fashioned by the human mind, they cannot shake our conviction that there are spoken of, each of which is entirely God, yet that there is not more than one God. What wickedness, then it is to disapprove of words that explain nothing else than what is attested and sealed by Scripture!” Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion P123

    If you look at the basic chapter headings in the institutes this took me about three minutes to find, maybe your scholar isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. Calvin was attacked by all kinds of people, and is still being attacked by people here on this site today, but charges don’t equate to evidence.

    A few things here. First, I said nothing about Calvin’s Institutes. I said that he refused to use such language in his own confessions (the confessions of the Genevan church). This is a documented fact. Second, Calvin’s comments and views on the Trinity appeared to change over time (and in subsequent additions of his Institutes). It is also well documented that Calvin despised the Nicene Creed for its Trinitarian language, and was brought up on charges by a Lutheran pastor for antitrinitarianism. Not only that, but the Lutherans considered Calvin’s view of the Trinity to be Socinian (see pp. 202-226 in Did Calvin Murder Servetus?).

    More to follow…

  105. John,

    I wrote,

    “Furthermore, anyone who wants to defend Calvin must defend his insistence that it is Biblical to put heretics to death (as Calvin himself promoted). Also, anyone who wants to proof text the OT laws on the penalty for blaspheme needs to show where such laws sanction burnings or beheadings as penalty for blaspheme. As far as I know, the OT sanctions only stoning “outside the camp”

    And your responded with,

    Did you read Deuteronomy 13 before you posted this? The death sentence is invoked on three different occasions and only one of the three mentions stoning.

    Yes I did read it, very carefully. The first two mentions of the need for the death penalty are brought to a head in the mode of execution which involves taking the person to the gates of the city and stoning him. It should be rather obvious from the context that stoning would be the method of execution in both of the prior incidents.

    Verse 4, “That prophet or dreamer of dreams must be put to death.” (Generic reference only, stoning is not mentioned.)

    Verse 9, talks about putting them to death, and latter it specifies stoning, but only after the general command to put them to death is issued. The focus isn’t on the mode but on putting them to death.

    The focus is on both. There are very detailed descriptions on how the stoning should be done and where. How then can you say the focus isn’t on the mode? Perhaps because you realize the problem this poses for your theonomy?

    I think stoning was employed because it was easily accessible, and was up close and personal rather than the detached process we have today. See Verse 11, “Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.”

    Well, your entitled to your opinion, but Scripture doesn’t say why stoning was employed (I would personally suggest other reasons, but that is irrelevant and distracting from the point). The point is that stoning was the divinely appointed means of execution and if your are consistent with your claims, you must say that any mode of execution employed, other than stoning, would be contrary to the law and commands of God (which you insist carry over into the New Covenant age).

    Verse 14, if the people of a town try to lead the people away after other Gods, then you are to put them to — THE SWORD.

    I had a feeling you might try to gain some leverage with this one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help your case. This is the mode of execution prescribed for putting an entire city population to death (stoning people would hardly work in such a scenerio), and is therefore irrelevant to the point at hand.

    More to follow…

  106. John: “Marcion’s cannon rejected the OT, and you for all practical purposes you do the same.”

    Now that’s just downright preposterous. More of the wild accusation polemic I was talking about. It’s simultaneously telling and ironic that these Theonomists can’t seem to push civil enforcement of the O.T. law without resorting to breaking that ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor’ part.

  107. John,

    You wrote,

    Servetus made an idol in the form of something in heaven above, namely God. He didn’t do this casually, or unintentionally, he struck out against the doctrine of the trinity intentionally and forcefully. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he intended to deceive the Church of God.

    This has already been dealt with by J.C. Talk about stretching a passage beyond all credibility in order to find justification for your position. Your first sentence alone is absurd, suggesting that Servetus made an idol in the form of God (???). The rest of what you said concerning Servetus goes beyond your ability to judge, and amounts to nothing more than mere opinions on your part.

    This is exactly the force of the Deuteronomy 13 passage. If someone comes in and tries to teach you about another God other than the Lord, put him to death. Simple and straightforward, not out of vengeance or spite, but because a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.

    Servetus didn’t try to teach anyone about a God other than the Lord. In the context of that passage the Trinity was completely unknown to the people of that time, so even trying to call it into service pertaining to issue of trinitarian formulations is spurious. Servetus affirmed that there was only one God and affirmed that Christ was divine, but he protested the creedal formulations on the Trinity based on his own understanding of Scripture. Was he unorthodox? Yes. Did he deserve to be put to death for it? No. Such false teachings should have been silenced through refutation and not through execution (Titus 1:9-11). Catellio criticized Calvin heavily on this same basis, saying,

    “When Servetus fought with reasons and writings, he should have been repulsed by reasons and writings.”

    He later cited Calvin’s own words against him,

    “It is unchristian to use arms against those who have been expelled from the church, and to deny them rights common to all mankind.” (Did Calvin Murder Servetus? 344).

    Furthermore, there is no question that Calvin was indeed motivated by vengeance and spite. He had previously banished heretics who were no better than Servetus, but with Servetus he was completely unmerciful, and his personal writings regarding Servetus attest to the reasons why- he had been personally insulted by Servetus and wasn’t going to let him get away with it.

    It is one thing for someone to have misconceptions about the word of God and even be heretical in their understanding, Deuteronomy 13 is invoked when they militantly attack the people of God and try to turn them away from the truth.

    Again, you have misconstrued Deut. 13.

    This is what Calvin did. If you are correct about his motives, then he may be guilty of sin for them, none the less, his actions judicially were correct.

    Well, we will just have to agree to disagree on whether or not his actions were judicially correct. However, his own words (on more than one occasion) condemn him as one with murderous intent and pure disdain for another human being, which he likely never repented of (see pp. 291-298 in Rives’s book). That alone should give someone pause in wearing a “Calvin is my homeboy” T-shirt.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  108. How many times does God have to say something for you to be willing to obey? There in no circular argument here, God said it, and I believe it.

    I do not take issue with Sacred Writ but rather the theonomist interpretive grid you assiduously advance hence my charge of circularity.

    It isn’t my place to carry out that sentence, but the one who gave it is good and just, and he has given the Civil Magistrate the sword in order punish those who do evil and reward those who do good. The sentence the leaders of Geneva carried out on Servetus was in accordance with that proscribed by God’s word, unless you can demonstrate that God has changed his command here.

    Again, perhaps you can direct me to a New Covenant proscription that clearly instantiates your claim…

    The Timothy passage is a good one, but consider Joshua dealing with Achan. He treated him fairly, and even encouraged him to do right before he had him stoned.

    Shall we now side-step treatment of heretics in prescriptive epistles by the apostle Paul for an anachronistic hermeneutic that makes a descriptive narrative prescriptive (i.e. Pentecostals and the book of Acts)? Calvin was not living under a theocracy.

  109. Fulfilling Paul’s mandate to Timothy does not mean that you should not fulfill the law, it rather proscribes the manner in which you should carry it out and the attitude you should have to other men in doing so. The judgment belongs to God, we are just his servants.

    Interesting that Paul did not hold your view regarding Alexander the Coppersmith, he left judgment where it rightfully belongs, in the hands of God. Stoning people to death in a ‘gentle’ manner is what Paul had in view here when he passed this mandate down to Timothy?

    Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.- Romans 12:18-21

    Hmm…

  110. Just wanted to quickly point out that “Scribe” recently left two responses to John above using the “reply” button (so those comments could be easily missed). I think it would be beneficial for anyone who may have missed those responses to scroll up and read them, as Scribe makes several solid points (particularly the example of Paul with Alexander the Coppersmith, and a very relevent reference to Romans 12:18-21).

  111. I think we need to put an end to the theonomy debate in this thread. It is clear that for John and Ben, theonomy is the best defense for Calvin’s actions, though I think it has been shown that this approach is problematic on many fronts (though John and Ben quite obviously disagree). For those who are interested, here are a few critiques of theonomy:

    The first is in response to the late Greg Bahnsen (who was probably the most prominent and forceful defender of theonomy in the reformed tradition), and is written by a Calvinist.

    http://www.the-highway.com/theonomy_Zorn.html

    I think he does a good job, especially with issues of proper exegesis (which in my opinion is a major weakness for the theonomy view as it is supported by proof texts which simply do not hold up when examined in their proper context). Especially interesting is a reference made to the Westminster Confession (a standard confession of beliefs among Calvinists),

    “To them [Israel] also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require” (XIX, 4)

    Other resources, which I have not yet looked at too carefully, would include:

    http://www.theologicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/gordon_theonomy.pdf

    http://www.providencepca.com/essays/theonomy.html (this one gets into the position of the Westminster Confession, proving that it does not take a theonomic position).

    For me, it is enough to point out that the penalties attached to the Mosaic law seem to have been plainly covenantal in nature and specifically catered to the Israelite covenant community. Theonomists struggle to be consistent in what should carry over and what should not. As I pointed out above, executions for offenses like blasphemy were to be done outside the camp or at the city gates (which might mean the same thing). God was very specific that stoning was the proper mode of execution and gave detailed descriptions of how the stoning was to be conducted (Deut. 13:9-11; Lev. 24:14; Num. 15:35).

    This is very problematic for those who wish to defend Calvin’s actions on the basis of a perpetual Mosaic civil law. The OT method for execution was just as divinely ordained as the penalty itself. This alone cuts the legs off of any theonomic defense for Calvin’s actions.

    Furthermore, we have examples in Scripture from the apostle’s (the heralds of the New Covenant) teachings regarding how blasphemers and heretics should be dealt with. Death and stoning was never a part of that apostolic prescription. We have also seen what tragic results theonomic principles tend to yield with historical examples like that of the Salem witch hunts, and the Inquisition.

    At any rate, for the purpose of discussions in this thread, whether or not one subscribes to theonomy, it cannot properly serve as a defense for John Calvin having Michael Servetus burned at the stake and proudly proclaiming that heretics should be killed as a perpetual rule for the church, and that any who disagreed should be treated in like manner as those heretics (i.e. put to death). Therefore, the issue of theonomy will no longer be entertained as relevent in this thread.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  112. Ben,

    Nice how you make five posts worth of speeches and then decide to cut off debate.

    BTW, the inquisition was carried out against Calvinists, not by them.

    “God was very specific that stoning was the proper mode of execution and gave detailed descriptions of how the stoning was to be conducted (Deut. 13:9-11; Lev. 24:14; Num. 15:35).”

    God did command people to be killed, and many times he referenced stoning as the method. But other times he didn’t as I pointed out in the verses in question. This is another example of you fixating on one aspect of a verse and using it as an RAA argument to try and disprove the validity of the larger concept. If you want to argue that Servetus should have been stoned instead of burned or killed with the sword, then fine, but the point is that he deserved death by both the law of God and the law of Geneva. That he got.

    John.

  113. Ben,

    “Servetus didn’t try to teach anyone about a God other than the Lord. In the context of that passage the Trinity was completely unknown to the people of that time, so even trying to call it into service pertaining to issue of trinitarian formulations is spurious.”

    “If a prophet or one who fortells by dreams appears and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place and he says, let us follow other gods (gods you have not known) and let us worship them, you must not listen…The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him will all your soul…That Prophet or dreamer must be put to death, BECAUSEHE PREACHED REBELLION AGAINST THE LORD YOUR GOD who brought you out of Egypt…HE HAS TRIED TO TURN YOU FROM THE WAY THE LORD YOUR GOD COMMANDED YOU TO FOLLOW. You must purge the evil from among you.”

    Not at all Deuteronomy is clear and does not limit itself to the understanding of those hearers, we are responsible for the amount of revelation we have been given. Obviously, the OT saints didn’t know about the trinity and were not responsible to have such an understanding, but Michael Servetus should have because of its clear revelation in the NT.

    Your argument is non sequitor. It is akin to saying that shooting someone wouldn’t fall under the Exodus 20 prohibition to murder because the Biblical writer didn’t know about guns. It simply does not follow.

    John.

  114. Ben,

    “Verse 14, if the people of a town try to lead the people away after other Gods, then you are to put them to — THE SWORD.

    I had a feeling you might try to gain some leverage with this one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help your case. This is the mode of execution prescribed for putting an entire city population to death (stoning people would hardly work in such a scenerio), and is therefore irrelevant to the point at hand.”

    You just made my argument for me… The focus of the law isn’t on the mode, it is on the punishment for the crime. Even if the mode is critical, your RAA argument against the law does not hold. At best you can use this line of argumentation to say that Servetus should have been stoned rather than burned or put to death with the sword. But you argument carries no force against the sentence passed on him by the Council of Geneva.

    John..

  115. Ben,

    “This does not follow at all, and it does not accurately represent my beliefs. I do not reject the OT, and to suggest that I do is both inaccurate and slanderous. Furthermore, your words contradict Scripture where the writer of Hebrews says,”

    On this board, you have numerously used RAA arguments to mock OT law as a means to show that it isn’t binding on us. It is one thing to say that the law has changed, indeed it has on some points, the vision at Cornelius’ house being a prime example, it is another to treat it lightly in order to try and make a point. It is the very word of God, show some respect.

    “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second…For finding fault with them he says…When he said, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Hebrews 8:7-13)

    You are right to focus on Hebrews. The problem with the law as you point out is with us not with the law. We are not justified or saved by it, but it is a reflection of God’s character and as such is holy, righteous and good.

    The law instituted 430 years later does not do away with the promise previously ratified (with Abraham.) The law was added to make sin utterly sinful, and to show us our need for Christ. Now in the New Covenant we as sons obey it out of love for God because of the Spirit he put in us. The law is obsolete because we now see Christ face to face, but this does not mean that the law is abolished. Christ himself upheld the law, because it was given to us by his Father. Now that the law is written on our hearts (as Hebrews quotes Jeremiah saying), we obey Christ out of love for him.

    This is very similar to the fruit of the spirit, “against such things there is no law.” We as children aren’t under the law because we love the father, those who are outside are under its curse.

    “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers.” 1 Timothy 1:9

    John.

  116. “Third, even in the context of Matthew 5, Christ makes plain that the civil law has been modified or done away with,

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil [I wonder what Calvin thought of Christ’s words here?]; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him your other also.” (vv. 38, 39 NASB)”

    This does little for your point. Christ intensified the law. The law said “A”, Christ says “A” & “B”.

    Matthew 23 hints at this when it says of the Pharisees, “you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. YOU SHOULD HAVE PRACTICED THE LATTER, WITHOUT NEGLECTING THE FORMER.”

    The purpose of the law for Christians is to show us our sin, and then to point us to obedience out of faith and love for God. Christ’s statements, and those to the Pharisees point this out, but they in no way show that the law is done away with.

    John.

  117. JC,

    “But if you’re going to continue to hurl more unsustainable accusations of ‘belligerence’ and such, I’m going to continue to highlight such inaccuracies.”

    The statement was accurate, you have been belligerent about nothing for quite some time now.

    “No, it isn’t; I was not addressing culpability, but involvement in the killing, contra your statement that ‘Calvin didn’t actually kill Servetus;’ the concepts of involvement and guilt are separate issues.”

    You did do that, and you will notice that I acknowledged your point to some degree above in another post. The problem is that your analogy doesn’t go far enough. David abused his position for personal gain and illegally ordered Uriah’s death. Calvin, merely said that Servetus deserved death that was carried out in a lawful manner by the legal authority of that state. Apples and Oranges.

    “Exactly what principle in Calvinistic Theonomy then would preclude similar condemnation and execution of those who disagree with Calvinist doctrine as ‘idolaters’ or ‘blasphemers?’”

    I have answered this before, the issue isn’t adherence to Calvinist theology, it is defending the Church from those who attack its foundations. The Civil Magistrate has the responsibility to punish those who do evil and reward those who do good. This is what happened in Geneva, the city (not Calvin) executed an aggressive heretic who had been warned not to come. Servetus was looking for a fight and kept pushing until he found one.

    Now answer my question, “Am I a murderer because I think that it was right for the Council in Geneva to execute Servetus?”

    ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image–any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth….” (Exodus 20:4/Deut 5:8)

    The NAS & NIV say idol, ESV & KJV say graven image. Fair enough, but look at the context and sense of the passage. The first commandment says “You shall have no other God’s before me.” The second is an intensification of it. “You shall not make for yourself and idol… because I the Lord your God am a Jealous God.” Yes he does specify a physical idol, but the point is that we are not to worship anything or anyone but God. Servetus clearly violated this commandment.

    Deuteronomy 13 is even more clear about what is prohibited, see my post to Ben.

    John.

  118. Scribe,

    “I do not take issue with Sacred Writ but rather the theonomist interpretive grid you assiduously advance hence my charge of circularity.”

    Yes you do, you argue that God’s word is only valid if repeated in the NC. It is one thing to say that the NT has priority over the OT, but quite another to throw it away if it isn’t said a second time.

    Many of the issues God dealt with in the OT weren’t issues in the NT period. By that time they had different problems and sins that needed to be dealt with, so many things weren’t specifically mentioned again, because they didn’t need to be. Other new things were mentioned because they were issues in the Church and hadn’t been issues to the OT saints.

    Most of the bible deals with man in his situation in life. It addresses the things that are actually going on, it is a mistake to read it like a systematic theology and expect it to read like a manual. The purpose isn’t an exhaustive treatment, but a treatment of the issues the early church had. This in no way invalidates the words God spoke to the people of Israel.

    John…

  119. Scribe,

    “Interesting that Paul did not hold your view regarding Alexander the Coppersmith, he left judgment where it rightfully belongs, in the hands of God. Stoning people to death in a ‘gentle’ manner is what Paul had in view here when he passed this mandate down to Timothy?”

    These are different situations. The council of Geneva passes sentence on Servetus and he was punished for a crime. Paul speaks about living peaceably with all men and not repaying evil for evil personally. These are different things.

    Please address my comments above about Joshua and Achan, was Joshua wrong in his actions? Rather he fulfilled Paul’s words to Timothy and to the Romans, while at the same time obeying the law that God laid down.

    The same Jesus who said “Turn the other Cheek,” and “if a man compels you to go with him a mile go with him twain,” also says, “For God said, “honor your father and mother and anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.” Matt 15:4. Jesus upholds both principles and so should we, kindness and obedience to the law need never to be opposed to one another for those who love God.

    John…

  120. I responded to Scribe above, if you respond up there, please post down here so I will see it.

    John.

    BTW, Now that I have successfully answered all these Arminians, we should close the debate, why should Ben have all the fun.

  121. John,

    BTW, Now that I have successfully answered all these Arminians, we should close the debate, why should Ben have all the fun.

    Because it’s his blog?

    I am ‘itching’ to respond to your rebuttal but want to make sure I don’t violate Ben’s request to end the debate on theonomy…

  122. John,

    You wrote,

    Nice how you make five posts worth of speeches and then decide to cut off debate.

    And it is nice how you acknowledge the fact that I said there would be no more discussion on theonomy, and then completely ignored what I wrote and added several more posts on the subject.

    Scribe,

    Since John has ignored my request and continued a discussion that I said needed to come to an end in this thread, you can have your rebuttal. I will be responding as well and then the theonomy debate in this thread will be over. Any further posts appealing to theonomy, whether by John or anyone else, will subsequently be deleted. I appreciate the fact that you respected my request and refrained from responding to John for that reason. I also appreciate the fact that you didn’t take offense to him calling you an Arminian 😉

    I am not sure when I will get to my responses, but you can respond as soon as you like.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  123. Scribe,

    Please reply at the bottom of the thread when you do respond.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  124. Yes you do, you argue that God’s word is only valid if repeated in the NC. It is one thing to say that the NT has priority over the OT, but quite another to throw it away if it isn’t said a second time.

    I am advancing no such notion John so your hyperbolic phraseology asserting that I am throwing the OT away simply because I reject your theonomic hermeneutic is moot and logically untenable. Again, this form of equivocation only displays your inability to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ (2 Timothy 2:15). The O.T. is theopnuestos but that is not tantamount to saying that every element of the O.T. is prescriptive-interestingly enough the WOF preachers fail to make this distinction when trying to apply verses that were strictly applicable to the Children of Israel (i.e. Deu 8:18But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for [it is] he that giveth thee power to get wealth).

    These are different situations. The council of Geneva passes sentence on Servetus and he was punished for a crime. Paul speaks about living peaceably with all men and not repaying evil for evil personally. These are different things.

    And nowhere in the NT does it say we are to carry out justice on heretics through the civil magistrates, this is mere question-begging, you must needs run to the O.T. under a theocratic reign to support such a notion… Such a skewed hermeneutic the RCC could just as easily justify The Saint Bartholomew Massacre (the brutal massacre of over 100,000 French Calvinists in France) while falling back upon texts like Romans 13.

    Most of the bible deals with man in his situation in life. It addresses the things that are actually going on, it is a mistake to read it like a systematic theology and expect it to read like a manual. The purpose isn’t an exhaustive treatment, but a treatment of the issues the early church had. This in no way invalidates the words God spoke to the people of Israel.

    Non-sequitur. I’ve asserted no such position.

    Please address my comments above about Joshua and Achan, was Joshua wrong in his actions?

    Joshua was justified in stoning Achan due to the theocracy they were under AT THE TIME. I fail to see how this coincides with Paul’s charge to Timothy on false teachers. Also, Achan was stoned for violating YHWH’s command to not take any ‘accursed’ thing from Jericho… two different issues.

    Rather he fulfilled Paul’s words to Timothy and to the Romans, while at the same time obeying the law that God laid down.

    See above

    The same Jesus who said “Turn the other Cheek,” and “if a man compels you to go with him a mile go with him twain,” also says, “For God said, “honor your father and mother and anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.” Matt 15:4. Jesus upholds both principles and so should we, kindness and obedience to the law need never to be opposed to one another for those who love God.

    Reading Matthew 15:4 in context and the Lord’s reason for citing Deuteronomy 5:16 has more to do with exposing a particular, hypocritical pharisaical practice else we make the Lord a walking contradiction… context is king.

  125. Ben,

    Not a problem… 🙂

    As Calvinism is not a monolith I suspect Arminianism isn’t either so if he lumped me in with the likes of Wesley, Ravenhill, and Tozer I am much honored. I really am a monergist but apparently a non-subscription to Theonomy arbitrarily throws one into the Arminian camp… 😉

  126. John,

    “you have been belligerent about nothing…”

    Well at least you admit it now.

    “…the issue isn’t adherence to Calvinist theology…”

    Which doesn’t answer my question, but you may consider it dropped along with the topic it related to.

    “The problem is that your analogy doesn’t go far enough.”

    It doesn’t make any sense to try and over-stretch a comparison.

  127. If Calvinism is correct and God wrote the names of the elect in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world, then how can a righteous God give Christ authority to be Judge over anyone ?

  128. Tony,

    Thanks for dropping by. Did you mean to ask this question in this thread, or somewhere else? Anyway, the Bible plainly tells us that there are those whose names have been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Therefore, it is not just what Calvinism teaches. The difference comes in the ways that Calvinists or Arminians understand the implications of this passage.

    Perhaps the point you were trying to make had more to do with the Calvinistic concept of exhaustive determinism based on an irresistible and unchangeable eternal decree? If all of our actions were predetermined before creation and we had no choice but to conform to that decree, then on what basis would Christ be able to justly judge our actions and beliefs, since they were predetermined and we had no real control over them? Is that what you were trying to say? If so, then that is certainly a question the Calvinist needs to address.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  129. John responded again, complaining about the fact that I ended debate when it was “convenient”. He also complained that, though it was my blog, my comments deserve a response from him (John’s comments deserved a response from Scribe as well, but Scribe at least respected my request and did not respond). He also left responses to Scribe and J.C. which were rather rude and, again, filled with unsubstantiated accusations concerning their views on Scripture, along with more childish rhetoric like “get a spine”, etc.

    The reason that I closed discussion with John is because he continues to make the same points over and over, even though they have been answered. He continues to throw around slanderous accusations concerning all those who disagree with his theonomy hermeneutic, as if a belief in theonomy is the test of orthodoxy (which is strange since it is such a minority position in the church, rejected by most evangelicals).

    He continues to appeal to the same passages (like Matt. 5:17 and Deut. 13) even though it has been shown that those passages do not give his position any support when read in their proper context. He has attributed words to me that I never said (saying I called Calvin a “monster” and then going so far as calling J.C. “belligerent” for making the point that he misrepresented what I said).

    John also made a huge issue out of the fact that I put quotes around a word that he used in a response I made to J.C., but sees no problem with the inappropriate manner with which he has repeatedly addressed those who disagree with him in this thread, even going so far as defending Ben Maas for calling me a Marcionite. And yet John feels that he is being treated unfairly because he is no longer allowed to post comments in this thread with regards to theonomy.

    I think I have been more than patient and fair with John, but of course he disagrees. Regardless, I would hope that he would at least respect the fact that I asked him not to post further on the subject, but instead he has twice ignored my request and continued to post in his usual disrespectful manner.

    If John wants to continue this conversation, or get the last word, he can do so at his blog. I promise to not even leave a comment in response. But at this blog, he has made himself unwelcomed. I will address his last comments and rants directed to me (above) some time today, and yes, that will be the last word on the matter in this thread (again, if he doesn’t like that, he can post a nice long response at his blog, and anyone can just click on his name above to find their way there).

  130. Before specifically responding to John, it needs to be reiterated that my position is that the civil penalties for violations of certain laws was strictly a covenantal matter between God and Israel, and were important given God’s plans and purposes for Israel at that time (this comes out quite clearly in the text of Deut. 13). It is also my position that these civil penalties were discontinued when the covenant with Israel was replaced by the new covenant in Christ’s blood. This is not to say that the moral law was no longer binding (it is since it is an eternal reflection of God’s holy character, and is therefore binding on all men, even those outside of covenant relationship with God) when the old covenant with Israel was replaced with the new covenant in Christ’s blood.

    However, the civil penalties are not synonymous with the moral law itself, but rather are divinely instituted covenantal penalties for the violations of said laws. The penalties and the laws should therefore not be conflated (as theonomists are bound to do) and one can easily hold that the laws are still binding while acknowledging that the civil penalties, like the ceremonial laws, came to an end in Christ Jesus and the new covenant affected by his blood. Indeed, the wages of sin is death and, to a great extent, the civil death penalties as well as the sacrificial laws were illustrative of this universal principal as well as shadows pointing to Christ, the one who would ultimately pay the penalty for all sin Himself. After Christ’s death and resurrection, the civil penalties and sacrificial system came to an end (in that they reached fulfillment in Christ) and man will now be judged according to his faith in or rejection of Christ, rather than on the basis of strict observance of any OT law (and true faith will naturally include the following of the moral law as true faith expresses itself in love for God and others, Gal. 5:6, cf. vs. 14).

    This is why judgment of those outside the covenant community (unbelievers), or those who remove themselves from the covenant community (apostates) is left in the hands of God Himself under the new covenant, as John 3:16-18, 36 and Hebrews 10:26-31 declares. At times, God may sovereignly act to destroy those who despise Him (Acts 5:1-11), but nowhere does God sanction the New Covenant church to personally enact the death penalty on anyone, as Hebrews 10:30-31 declares:

    “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (cf. vs. 26-29)

    The following posts will be in direct response to John’s posts.

  131. [all questions will have to be considered rhetorical since John will not be able to respond here, though he may want to answer them at his own blog at his own convenience]

    BTW, the inquisition was carried out against Calvinists, not by them.

    It doesn’t matter. It was based on the same principles that you advocate here in defense of Calvin. That is the point.

    “God was very specific that stoning was the proper mode of execution and gave detailed descriptions of how the stoning was to be conducted (Deut. 13:9-11; Lev. 24:14; Num. 15:35).”

    God did command people to be killed, and many times he referenced stoning as the method. But other times he didn’t as I pointed out in the verses in question.

    And as I pointed out the two prior descriptions of offenses deserving death conclude with the method of execution. It is simply a matter of describing two offenses that deserve death and then explaining the mode of execution. The context makes this rather obvious (vv. 1-8 lead up to vv. 9-11). Still, it is a strange defense to say that the mode of death wasn’t described at some points (even when it is two descriptions of the same basic offense that leads to vv. 9-11).

    We could, by that logic, point out that blasphemy and worshipping false gods (and other offenses punishable by death) are sometimes mentioned without any mention of death penalty (e.g. Exodus 20:20:3-8, 12-14, cf. Deut. 5:7-12, 16-18) and conclude that there were instances where one could blaspheme or worship false gods and the death penalty should not be meted out (since those passages state only the law and make no mention of penalty for the offense). In other words, we might just rephrase your above statement to say, “God did command not to blaspheme, and many times he referenced death as a penalty for blasphemy. But other times he didn’t as I pointed out in the verses in question.” (and what of it?)

    This is another example of you fixating on one aspect of a verse and using it as an RAA argument to try and disprove the validity of the larger concept. If you want to argue that Servetus should have been stoned instead of burned or killed with the sword, then fine, but the point is that he deserved death by both the law of God and the law of Geneva. That he got.

    You completely missed the point. The mode of execution is as much of the divine law as the penalty itself. Are you saying God didn’t care how those executions were carried out? Why then did he make sure to be so specific about the mode of execution? You want to down play this, but you contradict yourself by doing so.

    So you defend Calvin based on this principle that God’s law has not changed, but refuse to condemn him for not following the law with regards to the divinely instituted mode of execution. The fact is that this small detail does indeed disprove the validity of the larger concept and kills your entire argument. Your attempt to sidestep the force of this problem and downplay it only serves to highlight the difficulty it causes for your position. It is interesting how you try to spin things by saying, “If you want to argue that Servetus should have been stoned instead of burned or killed…” as if this were my idea. But it is not me who says he should have been stoned, but God Himself in the OT law, the very law you invoke as a defense for Calvin’s actions (and how many times does He need to say something after all?).

  132. “Servetus didn’t try to teach anyone about a God other than the Lord. In the context of that passage the Trinity was completely unknown to the people of that time, so even trying to call it into service pertaining to issue of trinitarian formulations is spurious.”

    “If a prophet or one who fortells by dreams appears and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place and he says, let us follow other gods (gods you have not known) and let us worship them, you must not listen…The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him will all your soul…That Prophet or dreamer must be put to death, BECAUSEHE PREACHED REBELLION AGAINST THE LORD YOUR GOD who brought you out of Egypt…HE HAS TRIED TO TURN YOU FROM THE WAY THE LORD YOUR GOD COMMANDED YOU TO FOLLOW. You must purge the evil from among you.”

    Not at all Deuteronomy is clear and does not limit itself to the understanding of those hearers, we are responsible for the amount of revelation we have been given.

    And the revelation of the trinity is found in the New Testament under the New Covenant age, and we should therefore look to that NT revelation to find how those who misconstrue or misunderstand the trinity should be dealt with (hint: it isn’t death by burning or any other mode).

    Servetus misunderstood the triune nature of God (though he affirmed the deity of Christ), but that is not the same as following after false gods as in the context of Deut. 13 (and 12:29-32). He was committed to the God of the Bible and relied on the Bible in trying to understand that God, though ultimately he misunderstood and misconstrued His triune nature.

    The Deut. passage is not dealing with anything even close to that (all one has to do is read the chapter to see that). It is the difference between misunderstanding the mysteries of Yahweh’s Being and seducing people to follow after false gods who have nothing to do with Yahweh. Your attempts to stretch the meaning of Deut. 13 to apply to a denial of the trinity are a plain matter of eisegesis, and demonstrate how difficult it is for you to find support for your argument in the pages of Scripture.

    Obviously, the OT saints didn’t know about the trinity and were not responsible to have such an understanding, but Michael Servetus should have because of its clear revelation in the NT.

    And, for that reason, he should have been dealt with in accordance with that NT revelation, which in no way sanctions death for such things.

    Your argument is non sequitor. It is akin to saying that shooting someone wouldn’t fall under the Exodus 20 prohibition to murder because the Biblical writer didn’t know about guns. It simply does not follow.

    Actually, it is this little irrelevant point about guns that does not follow. That should be obvious from what I said above (whether it is by gun or otherwise it is still murder, but there is a difference between misunderstanding the triune nature of God and worshipping false gods altogether).

    “Verse 14, if the people of a town try to lead the people away after other Gods, then you are to put them to — THE SWORD.

    “I had a feeling you might try to gain some leverage with this one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help your case. This is the mode of execution prescribed for putting an entire city population to death (stoning people would hardly work in such a scenerio), and is therefore irrelevant to the point at hand.”

    You just made my argument for me… The focus of the law isn’t on the mode, it is on the punishment for the crime. Even if the mode is critical, your RAA argument against the law does not hold. At best you can use this line of argumentation to say that Servetus should have been stoned rather than burned or put to death with the sword. But you argument carries no force against the sentence passed on him by the Council of Geneva.

    Again, you miss the point, and purposely down play the mode of execution. For a single offender it was stoning. For an entire town it was the sword (for obvious reasons). In either case the mode was no less divinely instituted as the penalty. Remember, I am arguing within your own position (which I disagree with, since I believe the covenantal civil law is no longer in force) and showing you to be inconsistent. Will you then condemn Calvin for sinfully burning Servetus to death in violation of OT law, or will you continue to try to down play the importance of a divinely appointed civil command concerning the mode of execution?

  133. “This does not follow at all, and it does not accurately represent my beliefs. I do not reject the OT, and to suggest that I do is both inaccurate and slanderous. Furthermore, your words contradict Scripture where the writer of Hebrews says,”
    On this board, you have numerously used RAA arguments to mock OT law as a means to show that it isn’t binding on us.

    You keep talking about “RAA arguments”. I can’t speak to that issue because I don’t know what you mean by “RAA arguments”. I suspect they are another inappropriate label that does not reflect my position (I had thought it stood for “Reductio Ad Absurdum” but that doesn’t seem to fit with the way you keep using the acronym [guess I will never know]). However, I have never mocked any OT law in any way, and to suggest that I have is as slanderous and false as calling me a Marcionite.

    It is one thing to say that the law has changed, indeed it has on some points, the vision at Cornelius’ house being a prime example, it is another to treat it lightly in order to try and make a point.

    I am not even really saying the law has changed (the moral law has not changed), but saying that some aspects of the law were strictly covenantal and were done away with or replaced with the institution of a new covenant (which is the case of dietary restrictions being lifted in the example you provide of Cornelius). I think it is easy to demonstrate that the civil law was strictly covenantal for Israel, and is therefore no longer binding under the new covenant. This can be seen very clearly in the Deut. passage you keep citing, e.g. 13:5 “the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt”, vs. 10 “the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt”, vs. 11, “Then all Israel will hear…”, vs. 17, “make you increase, just as He as sworn to your fathers”, vs. 18, “if you will listen to the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments…”

    It is the very word of God, show some respect.

    I have in no way disrespected the word of God.

    “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second…For finding fault with them he says…When he said, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Hebrews 8:7-13)

    You are right to focus on Hebrews. The problem with the law as you point out is with us not with the law. We are not justified or saved by it, but it is a reflection of God’s character and as such is holy, righteous and good.

    Regardless of where the fault lies, the old covenant was inadequate and needed to be replaced. It was replaced and the civil penalties attached to the covenant between God and Israel were brought to an end in Christ. It is still true that God found fault with the first covenant, flatly contradicting your previous claim that the first covenant was without fault.

    The law instituted 430 years later does not do away with the promise previously ratified (with Abraham.) The law was added to make sin utterly sinful, and to show us our need for Christ. Now in the New Covenant we as sons obey it out of love for God because of the Spirit he put in us. The law is obsolete because we now see Christ face to face, but this does not mean that the law is abolished.

    I am glad you agree that the OT law is now obsolete, which includes civil penalties. I have no disagreement with you on the other points, but those points have reference to the moral law and not to civil and ceremonial laws.

  134. “Third, even in the context of Matthew 5, Christ makes plain that the civil law has been modified or done away with,

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil [I wonder what Calvin thought of Christ’s words here?]; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him your other also.” (vv. 38, 39 NASB)”

    This does little for your point. Christ intensified the law. The law said “A”, Christ says “A” & “B”.

    Matthew 23 hints at this when it says of the Pharisees, “you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. YOU SHOULD HAVE PRACTICED THE LATTER, WITHOUT NEGLECTING THE FORMER.”

    Notice how you specifically ignore what is said in verses 38 and 39 and instead try to shift the focus to other passages in that chapter, and then appeal to a passage in Matt. 23 in order to avoid the problem these verses present for your view. This is very telling.

    Your examples of intensifications of the law and “B” being added to “A” are accurate for passages like 5:21-22 and 5:27-28 (though I wouldn’t necessarily call this an intensification of the law, or an addition to it, but Jesus’ pointing out that obedience of the laws are primarily a matter of the heart and not just the outward actions). But verses 38 and 39 do not follow this pattern. In those verses Jesus quotes the OT civil code and then reverses it. That is big trouble for your theonomic claims, and that is why you felt the need to ignore the passage itself and deflect attention away from it by appealing to other passages which are completely disanalogous. So my point still stands. The context of the passage you quote as primary support for your position actually undermines your position and supports mine in vv. 38 and 39.

    May God bless you as you continue to seek Him and His truth.

    Ben

  135. Regardless where calvin is ,Gods word has’nt changed.
    Psalms 19: 7-10
    The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
    The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
    8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
    9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
    10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    Yea, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

  136. […] him if he was affirming that Calvin was both regenerate and totally depraved at the same time.  He responded that this was indeed what he was suggesting.  I mentioned that I understood the idea that we still have a sinful nature that must be overcome […]

  137. I follow Scripture, not Calvin:) But that does not mean that Scripture teaches Arminianism. Scripture clearly teaches that God is absolutely sovereign and that man is accountable for his own sins. Anything else is pelagianism.

  138. Wasn’t it heretics that crucified our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus was God made flesh. Trying to imagine that Jesus would have wanted heretics to be beheaded or burned at the stake is beyond me. Jesus came to save sinners not to condemn them. As Christians our ultimate goal is forgiveness and love not justice. That is God’s alone!

  139. I think it might be possible that “some” of the reasons that John Calvin thought it was acceptable for Servetus to be so treated were:

    1) His Catholic roots of blending church and state.
    2) Geneva’s government was actually the judge/executioner.
    3) His Eschatology of the kingdom of God being right now.
    4) His view of the church as the new Israel (Mingling OT principles).
    5) Paul’s strong language against heretics in the NT.

    Remember, it was a “Libertine” who condemned and sentenced Servetus in the trial. Libertines were actually dissenters of Calvinism. There were many other “Christian groups” who wanted Servetus put to death as well. Calvin sought leniency for Servetus’s execution and was rebuked for it. Geneva handled the situation wrongly. However, God allowed the death of Servetus at the hands of Geneva, for reasons only He knows. Who knows how far his modalistic view of God might have permeated the church if he had not died, considering it still exists today. (Oneness Pentecostals, T. D. Jakes, etc.)

  140. Patrick,

    You wrote,

    Remember, it was a “Libertine” who condemned and sentenced Servetus in the trial. Libertines were actually dissenters of Calvinism. There were many other “Christian groups” who wanted Servetus put to death as well. Calvin sought leniency for Servetus’s execution and was rebuked for it.

    Unfortunately, this stuff doesn’t really square too well with Calvin’s own perspective on things:

    “Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.” (emphasis mine)

    Notice Calvin takes personal credit for putting Servetus to death and is quite proud of himself for doing so.

    However, God allowed the death of Servetus at the hands of Geneva, for reasons only He knows. Who knows how far his modalistic view of God might have permeated the church if he had not died, considering it still exists today. (Oneness Pentecostals, T. D. Jakes, etc.)

    Should it be OK then to put T.D. Jakes to death? It seems to me that his modalistic view of God is permeating the church at least some (since he is very popular) and one can only guess how much further it will go.

    The bottom line for me is that it was wrong to put Servetus to death for holding heretical views. Period. Notice in the quote by Calvin that Baudouin opposed Calvin’s actions in having Servetus put to death. He wasn’t the only one who thought such actions were clearly wrong, so “the man of his times” argument is very weak. Personally, I just don’t get why people are so anxious to defend his actions and make excuses for him. Maybe that is not what you are attempting to do, but I am having a hard time understanding your comment otherwise.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  141. Let’s not forget the other charge Servetus was convicted of: rejecting paedobaptism.

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