Saturday, August 30, 2008

Did Calvin play a role in Servetus execution?

Karl Keating @ Catholic Answers has written that this is true. In my debate with the a-C on the instigation, culpability and guilt professed by Protestants that Catholics/Rome created Christian Martyrdom during the Crusades, I mailed the a-C the following summary of Calvins involvement published by one Reformist Encyclopedia (citation ^ John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History), Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-521-65114-X p. 325).

(Dave writes to a-C):
Servetus, a theologian and follower of Calvin and close personal friend of Calvin, was publishing non-trinitarian theology....John Calvin had him executed.

Heres an excerpt from a Reformist History encyclopedia from 1553:

When Calvin requested that Servetus be executed by decapitation rather than fire, Farel, in a letter of September 8, chided him for undue lenity, On 27 October 1553 Servetus was burned at the stake just outside Geneva with what was believed to be the last copy of his
book chained to his leg. Historians record his last words as: "Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have mercy on me."[24]
The common view of the age, that heretics like Servetus should be subject to punishment, was explained by Calvin as follows:

" Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man's authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory."


(a-C responds)
Wow is that so off it is sad

When you have the time, this will be an incredible derivation from trusting in what is written in one source from another. Many good sources report the opposite and John’s own writings reveal the opposite.

John Calvin served this man day and night and was merely a witness called by the state….he was not the accuser, he was not the source of the condemnation, he was in fact a loving follower of Jesus Christ who availed his entire library and every resource he had to help Servetus to see the truth, he was overwhelmed with grief at his demise….

There are many villainizations in history. I have never read one quite more painted than this one.

Many professed evangelicals hate John Calvin and the doctrines of Grace…there could be many sources for this untruth, all are likely and valid, but like our Lord, we know his servants are not above his master, they will be persecuted (Rom 8). Simply stated, truth is truth, and every aspect of biblical truth is truth from the bible, not from men. Calvinism and the doctrines of grace are unmistakably in the bible, and men will go to any length to reject the things they hate.

I make it clear to my kids Encyclopedia’s are not truth, they are a version of the story. The only knowable truth is scripture, all is else is perspective that changes with the fashions.


Fair assessment on both sides I think reveals some ecumenical possibilities. The conversation went on and degraded somewhat, so I will leave it here to return to sometime in effort to explore the possibility of common dialogue.


Tim A. Troutman said...

"The only knowable truth is scripture" which is itself an unknowable statement since it is not Scripture.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

Worse than that Tim, I quote Calvin as advocating Heretical bloodshed directly and its brushed off by his avid follower.

As you have said, They cant get beyond their unwillingness to even ponder this light.