(picture is Abbesy Fontagaumbalt, burned by Calvinists)
PROTESTANT INTOLERANCE: AN INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW
1. Views of Catholic and Protestant Historians
A. Johann von Dollinger
Historically nothing is more incorrect than the assertion that the Reformation was a movement in favour of intellectual freedom. The exact contary is the truth. For themselves, it is true, Lutherans and Calvinists claimed liberty of conscience . . . but to grant it to others never occurred to them so long as they were the stronger side. The complete extirpation of the Catholic Church, and in fact of everything that stood in their way, was regarded by the reformers as something entirely natural.
(Grisar, VI, 268-269; Dollinger: Kirche und Kirchen, 1861, 68)
B. Preserved Smith (S)
If any one still harbors the traditional prejudice that the early Protestants were more liberal, he must be undeceived. Save for a few splendid sayings of Luther, confined to the early years when he was powerless, there is hardly anything to be found among the leading reformers in favor of freedom of conscience. As soon as they had the power to persecute they did.
C. Hartmann Grisar
At Zurich, Zwingli's State-Church grew up much as Luther's did . . . Oecolampadius at Basle and Zwingli's successor, Bullinger, were strong compulsionists. Calvin's name is even more closely bound up with the idea of religious absolutism, while the task of handing down to posterity his harsh doctrine of religious compulsion was undertaken by Beza in his notorious work, On the Duty of Civil Magistrates to Punish Heretics. The annals of the Established Church of England were likewise at the outset written in blood.
(Grisar, VI, 278)
D. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (P)
The Reformers themselves . . . e.g., Luther, Beza, and especially Calvin, were as intolerant to dissentients as the Roman Catholic Church.
2. The Double Standard of Protestant "Inquisition Polemics" (John Stoddard)
Religious persecution usually continues till one of two causes rises to repress it. One is the sceptical notion that all religions are equally good or equally worthless; the other is an enlightened spirit of tolerance, exercised towards all varieties of sincere opinion . . . inspired by the conviction that it is useless to endeavor to compel belief in any form of religion whatsoever. Unhappily this enlightened, tolerant spirit is of slow growth, and never has been conspicuous in history, but if it be asserted that very few Catholics in the past have been inspired by it, the same thing can be said of Protestants.
This fact is forgotten by Protestants. They read blood-curdling stories of the Inquisition and of atrocities committed by Catholics, but what does the average Protestant know of Protestant atrocities in the centuries succeeding the Reformation? Nothing, unless he makes a special study of the subject . . . Yet they are perfectly well known to every scholar . . . If I do not enumerate here the persecutions carried on by Catholics in the past, it is because it is not necessary in this book to do so. This volume is addressed especially to Protestants, and Catholic persecutions are to them sufficiently well known . . .
Now granting for the sake of argument, that all that is usually said of Catholic persecutions is true, the fact remains that Protestants, as such, have no right to denounce them, as if such deeds were characteristic of Catholics only. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones . . .
It is unquestionable . . . that the champions of Protestantism - Luther, Calvin, Beza, Knox, Cranmer and Ridley -- advocated the right of the civil authorities to punish the 'crime' of heresy . . . Rousseau says truly:
The Reformation was intolerant from its cradle, and its authors were universal persecutors . . .
Auguste Comte also writes:
The intolerance of Protestantism was certainly not less tyrannical than that with which Catholicism is so much reproached. (Philosophie Positive, IV, 51)
What makes, however, Protestant persecutions specially revolting is the fact that they were absolutely inconsistent with the primary doctrine of Protestantism -- the right of private judgment in matters of religious belief! Nothing can be more illogical than at one moment to assert that one may interpret the Bible to suit himself, and at the next to torture and kill him for having done so!Nor should we ever forget that . . . the Protestants were the aggressors, the Catholics were the defenders. The Protestants were attempting to destroy the old, established Christian Church, which had existed 1500 years, and to replace it by something new, untried and revolutionary
. The Catholics were upholding a Faith, hallowed by centuries of pious associations and sublime achievements; the Protestants, on the contrary, were fighting for a creed . . . which already was beginning to disintegrate into hostile sects, each of which, if it gained the upper hand, commenced to persecute the rest! . . . All religious persecution is bad; but in this case, of the two parties guilty of it, the Catholics certainly had the more defensible motives for their conduct.
At all events, the argument that the persecutions for heresy, perpetrated by the Catholics, constitute a reason why one should not enter the Catholic Church, has not a particle more force than a similar argument would have against one's entering the Protestant Church. In both there have been those deserving of blame in this respect, and what applies to one applies also to the other.
(Stoddard, 204-205, 209-210)
Will Durant (S)
Calvin was as thorough as any pope in rejecting individualism of belief; this greatest legislator of Protestantism completely repudiated that principle of private judgment with which the new religion had begun. He had seen the fragmentation of the Reformation into a hundred sects, and foresaw more; in Geneva he would have none of them.
B. Georgia Harkness (P)
There was little political liberty in Geneva under Calvin's regime, and still less of religious liberty. His practical influence was on the side of an autocratic state and complete conformity of the individual to the established powers.
The tradition of intolerance among Protestants did not soon die out. According to Protestant historian Owen Chadwick:
The ablest defence of persecution during the 17th century came from the Scottish Presbyterian Samuel Rutherford (A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty Of Conscience, 1649).
John Milton and John Locke, otherwise relatively "enlightened" Protestants, argued for tolerance, but excluded Catholics -- the former in his Areopagitica (1644), and the latter in his first Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). (Cross, 1384)
One of the many tragi-comic ironies of the Protestant Revolution is the fact that even persecuted Protestants failed to see the light:
Often the resistance to tyranny and the demand for religious freedom are combined, as in the Puritan revolution in England; and the victors, having achieved supremacy, then set up a new tyranny and a fresh intolerance.
Multitudes of Non-Conformists fled from Ireland and England to America; . . . What is amazing is the fact that, after such experiences, those fugitives did not learn the lesson of toleration, and did not grant to those who differed . . . freedom . . . When they found themselves in a position to persecute, they tried to outdo what they had endured . . . Among those whom they attacked was . . . the Society of Friends, otherwise known as Quakers.
In Massachusetts, for successive convictions, a Quaker would suffer the loss of one ear and then the other, the boring of the tongue with a hot iron, and sometimes eventually death. In Boston three Quaker men and one woman were hanged. Baptist Roger Williams was banished from Massachusetts in 1635 and founded tolerant Rhode Island (Stoddard, 208). To his credit, he remained tolerant, an exception to the rule, as was William Penn, who was persecuted by Protestants in England and founded the tolerant colony of Pennsylvania. Quakerism (Penn's faith) has an honorable record of tolerance since, -- like its predecessor Anabaptism --, it is one of the most subjective and individualistic of Protestant sects, and eschews association with the "world" (governments, the military, etc.), whence lies the power necessary to persecute. Thus, Quakers were in the forefront of the abolition movement in America in the first half of the 19th century.Calvin on other “reformers”
What to think of Luther I know not . . . with his firmness there is mixed up a good deal of obstinacy . . . Nothing can be safe as long as that rage for contention shall agitate us . . . Luther . . . will never be able to join along with us in . . . the pure truth of God. For he has sinned against it not only from vainglory . . . but also from ignorance and the grossest extravagance. For what absurdities he pawned upon us . . . when he said the bread is the very body! . . . a very foul error. What can I say of the partisans of that cause? Do they not romance more wildly than Marcion respecting the body of Christ? . . . Wherefore if you have an influence or authority over Martin, use it . . . that he himself submit to the truth which he is now manifestly attacking . . . Contrive that Luther . . . cease to bear himself so imperiously.
(Dillenberger, 46-48; letter to Martin Bucer, January 12, 1538)
I am carefully on the watch that Lutheranism gain no ground, nor be introduced into France. The best means . . . for checking the evil would be that the confession written by me . . . should be published.
(Dillenberger, 76; letter to Heinrich Bullinger, July 2, 1563Repression of Catholics:
William Farel, who preceded Calvin in Geneva, helped to abolish the Mass in August, 1535, seize all the churches, and close its four monasteries and nunnery. (Harkness, 8)
His sermons in St. Peter's were the occasion of riots; statues were smashed, pictures destroyed, and the treasures of the church, to the amount of 10,000 crowns, disappeared.
In 1529 the Council of Strassburg also ordered the breaking in pieces of all remaining altars, images and crosses, and several churches and convents were destroyed (Janssen, V, 143-144). Similar events transpired also in Frankfurt-am-Main (Durant, 424). At a religious convention at Hamburg in April, 1535 the Lutheran towns of Lubeck, Bremen, Hamburg, Luneburg, Stralsund, Rostock and Wismar all voted to hang Anabaptists and flog Catholics and Zwinglians before banishing them (Janssen, V, 481). Luther's home territory of Saxony had instituted banishment for Catholics in 1527 (Grisar, VI, 241-242).
In 1522 a rabble forced its way into the church at Wittenberg, on the doors of which Luther had nailed his theses, destroyed all its altars and statues, and . . . drove out the clergy. In Rotenburg also, in 1525, the figure of Christ was decapitated . . . On the 9th of February, 1529, everything previously revered in the fine old cathedral of Basle, Switzerland, was destroyed . . . Such instances of brutality and fanaticism could be cited by scores.
[In] Constance, on March 10, 1528, the Catholic faith was altogether interdicted . . . by the Council . . . 'There are no rights whatever beyond those laid down in the Gospel as it is now understood' . . . Altars were smashed . . . organs were removed as being works of idolatry . . . church treasures were to be sent to the mint.
(Janssen, V, 146)Scotland: John Knox
In Scotland, John Knox and his ilk passed legislation in which:
It was . . . forbidden to say Mass or to be present at Mass, with the punishment for a first offence of loss of all goods and a flogging; for the second offence, banishment; for the third, death.
Knox, like virtually all the Protestant Founders, was persuaded "that all which our adversaries do is diabolical." He rejoiced in that:
. . . perfect hatred which the Holy Ghost engenders in the hearts of God's elect against the condemners of His holy statutes.
(John Knox, History of the Reformation in Scotland, New York: 1950, Introduction, 73)
In conflict with these damned opponents (i.e., Catholics) all means were justified -- lies, treachery (Ibid., I, 194 and note 2), flexible contradictions of policy. (Durant, 610; Knox, ibid., Introduction, 44. See also Edwin Muir, John Knox, London: 1920, 67, 300
Melanchthon asked the state to compel the people to attend Protestant services (Durant, 424). Later on, in Saxony (1623), even auricular confession and the Eucharist were made strictly obligatory by law, punishable by banishment. (Grisar, VI, 264) Calvin, in Geneva, also pushed religious compulsion to an absurd degree.
His conviction . . . harked back to the darkest practices of the Inquisition . . . Every heretic was to be put to death, and cities predominantly heretical were to be smitten with the sword and utterly destroyed:
To the carnal man this may appear a . . . severe judgment . . . Yet we find no exception, but all are appointed to the cruel death. But in such cases God wills that all . . . desist from reasoning when commandment is given to execute his judgments.
(Durant, 614; Edwin Muir, John Knox, London: 1920, 142)General
In the preface to the Institutes he admitted the right of the government to put heretics to death . . . He thought that Christians should hate the enemies of God . . . Those who defended heretics . . . should be equally punished.
During Calvin's reign in Geneva, between 1542 and 1546, "58 persons were put to death for heresy." (Durant, 473)
While he did not directly recommend the use of the death penalty for blasphemy, he defended its use among the Jews.
In defense of stoning false prophets, Calvin observes:
The father should not spare his son . . . nor the husband his own wife. If he has some friend who is as dear to him as his own life, let him put him to death.
(Harknesss, 107; Calvin, Opera [Works], vol. 27, 251; Sermon on Deuteronomy 13:6-11)
He talks of the execution of Catholics, but, like Luther, did not readily attempt to act on his rhetoric:
Persons who persist in the superstitions of the Roman Antichrist . . . deserve to be repressed by the sword.
(Harkness, 96; letter to Duke of Somerset, October 22, 1548)James Gruet
In January, 1547 in Calvin's Geneva, one James Gruet, a kind of free-thinker of dubious morals, was alleged to have posted a note which implied that Calvin should leave the city:
He was at once arrested and a house to house search made for his accomplices. This method failed to reveal anything except that Gruet had written on one of Calvin's tracts the words 'all rubbish.' The judges put him to the rack twice a day, morning and evening, for a whole month . . . He was sentenced to death for blasphemy and beheaded on July 26, 1547 . . . Evangelical freedom had now arrived at the point where its champions took a man's life . . . merely for writing a lampoon!
(Huizinga, 176; cf. Daniel-Rops, 82-83)
Durant gives further detail:
Half dead, he was tied to a stake, his feet were nailed to it, and his head was cut off.
(Durant, 479)Comparet Brothers
In May 1555, a drunken riot occurred, precipitated by a group which objected to the excess of foreign refugees in Geneva. Dissidents of Calvin were termed "Libertines."
The brothers Comparet, two humble boatmen, were executed and pieces of their dismembered bodies nailed on the city gates.
The Comparet brothers, with Calvin's approval, were tortured . . . Under the rack they said the riot had . . . been premeditated, but denied this again before their execution. A number, including Francois Berthelier, were beheaded . . . Several others were banished, and the wives of the condemned were likewise driven from the city.
All the other leaders of the party took flight and were sentenced to death in their absence.
(Daniel-Rops, 192)Michael Servetus
The most infamous execution in Geneva was that of Michael Servetus, a Spanish physician who denied the Trinity, and was a sort of Gnostic pantheist. He had met Calvin, and the latter declared on February 13, 1547 in a letter to Farel:
If he comes, provided my authority prevails I will not suffer him to return home alive.
With Calvin's knowledge and probably at his instigation, . . . William Trie, of Geneva, denounced Servetus to the Catholic Inquisition at Vienne and forwarded the material sent by the heretic to Calvin.
Daniel-Rops says of this episode, that "Protestant historians refer to it with embarrassment." (Daniel-Rops, 187)
The fact cannot be dodged that Calvin delivered Servetus to the Inquisition,and then tried either by a lie or a subterfuge to cover his part in the matter.
Upon arriving at Geneva on August 13, 1553, he was detected almost immediately . . . through Calvin's instigation he was arrested and put in prison. Calvin . . . hoped for his execution.
On August 20 he wrote to Farel:
'I hope that Servetus will be condemned to death, but I should like him to be spared the worst part of the punishment,' meaning the fire.
This is the most that can be said about Calvin's "mercy" in this case.
On October 26, the Council ordered that he be burned alive on the following day . . . That he desired Servetus' death . . . is clear.
Calvin's observations on this appalling death make horrifying reading: . . .
He showed the dumb stupidity of a beast . . . He went on bellowing . . . in the Spanish fashion: "Misericordias!" . . .
Henry Hallam, the Protestant historian
, gave the following opinion:
Servetus, in fact, was burned not so much for his heresies, as for personal offense he had several years before given to Calvin . . . which seems to have exasperated the great reformer's temper, so as to make him resolve on what he afterwards executed . . . Thus, in the second period of the Reformation, those ominous symptoms which had appeared in its earliest stage, disunion, virulence, bigotry, intolerance, . . . grew more inveterate and incurable.
(Hallam, ibid., I, 280)
'Servetus's death, for which Calvin bears much of the responsibility,' writes Wendel, 'marked the reformer with a bloody stigma which nothing has been able to efface.'
This stigma, however, is shared by many other "reformers", who commended this atrocious vendetta:
Melanchthon, in a letter to Calvin and Bullinger, gave 'thanks to the Son of God' . . . and called the burning 'a pious and memorable example to all posterity.' Bucer declared from his pulpit in Strasbourg that Servetus had deserved to be disemboweled and torn to pieces. Bullinger, generally humane, agreed that civil magistrates must punish blasphemy with death.
In 1554 Calvin wrote the treatise Against the Errors of Servetus
, in which he tried to justify his cruel action:
Many people have accused me of such ferocious cruelty that (they allege) I would like to kill again the man I have destroyed. Not only am I indifferent to their comments, but I rejoice in the fact that they spit in my face.
This was Calvin's attitude towards the punishment and execution of heretics. In what way, I submit, is he morally any better than those who committed atrocities by means of the Inquisition?
As to the myth that torture was a tactic solely of Catholics, Janssen quotes a Protestant eyewitness to the contrary:
The Protestant theologian Meyfart . . . described the tortures which he had personally witnessed . . . 'The subtle Spaniard and the wily Italian have a horror of these bestialities and brutalities, and at Rome it is not customary to subject a murderer . . . an incestuous person, or an adulterer to torture for the space of more than an hour'; but in Germany . . . torture is kept up for a whole day, for a day and a night, for two days . . . even also for four days . . . after which it begins again . . . 'There are stories extant so horrible and revolting that no true man can hear of them without a shudder.'
(Janssen, XVI, 516-518, 521)
He gives also another typical instance of the treatment of Anabaptists:
At Augsburg, in the first half of the year 1528, about 170 Anabaptists of both sexes were either imprisoned or expelled by order of the new-religionist Town Council. Some were . . . burnt through the cheeks with hot irons; many were beheaded; some had their tongues cut out.
(Janssen, V, 160)
(thanks to Dave Armstrong for above info)FALSE DOCTRINES OF CALVINISMfrom Protestant view point (warning, some false statements, esp about St. Augustine)
One must first study the man, John Calvin, in order to understand the theology that has come to be called Calvinism. Calvin was born July 10, 1509, in Picardy at Noyon, France to devout Roman Catholic parents as Jean Chauvin and died at Geneva, May 27, 1564, at age 54. The family name, spelled in many ways, was Cauvin, latinized according to the custom of the age as Calvinus. For some unknown reason John is commonly called Maître Jean C. His mother, Jeanne Le Franc, born in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cambrai, is mentioned as "beautiful and devout." She took her little son to various shrines and brought him up a good Catholic. John was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as an infant. On the father's side, his ancestors were seafaring men. His grandfather settled at Pont l'Evêque near Paris, and had two sons who became locksmiths. The third, Gerard, became procurator at Noyon and had four sons and two daughters. John Calvin's father, Gerard, an attorney, had purchased the freedom of the City of Noyon where he practiced civil and canon law. Gerard's four sons were made clerics and held benefices at a tender age. John was given one when a boy of twelve. He became Curé of Saint-Martin de Marteville in the Vermandois in 1527 and of Pont l'Eveque in 1529. Three of the boys attended the local Collège des Capettes, and there John proved himself an apt scholar.
Calvin's formal education was complete in 1527 when he was eighteen. He drifted from his Roman Catholic faith to become a humanist and a reformer, according to the Catholics. The "sudden conversion" to a spiritual life in 1529 could possibly be interpreted as his becoming saved, but throughout his life he counted on his Roman Catholic infant baptism as the basis of his regeneration.
John Calvin studied the voluminous writings of Saint Augustine, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo (354-430 AD), much more so than those of Martin Luther, his contemporary. Calvin is continually praising Augustine's work with numerous references and quotations. Augustine was greatly influenced by the Gnostics, an early Christian sect, whose doctrine was heretical. Gnostics believed that mankind was wholly evil and some sects even renounced marriage and procreation. They also believed in two gods, one evil and one good. Their teachings are believed to have influenced Saint Augustine in the development of his theology of the "total depravity" of mankind and his concept of God. For nine years Saint Augustine adhered to Manichaeism, a Persian dualistic philosophy proclaimed by Mani (216-276? AD) in southern Babylonia (Iraq) that taught a doctrine of "total depravity" and the claim that they were the "elect." Augustine could not advance in his Manichaeism religion because of his sinful lifestyle. He had a reputation as a "womanizer" and a fornicator.
Augustine then turned to skepticism and was attracted to the philosophy of Neoplatonism. He blended these beliefs with his later Gnostic and Christian teachings. Augustine's prolific writings were more strongly biased by his previously obtained theology than on his detailed study of the Christian Scriptures. He used Christian Scripture out of context when words or phrases could be adapted to match his theology. Augustine's teachings were in turn passed on to John Calvin through his extensive study of Augustine's writings, the most popular being his book, Confessions. It is very easy to follow the trail of John Calvin's theology from the pagan religion of Mani in Babylonia to Saint Augustine and into his own writings in France and Geneva that distort the Word of God. Calvin's false doctrine came directly from Augustine.
Calvin's Book Supercedes the Bible
Calvin's famous letter to King Francis I was dated August 23, 1535. It served as a prologue to his book, Institutes of the Christian Religion, the first edition of which was written in March 1536, not in French but in Latin. Calvin's apology for lecturing the king was displayed as placards posted all over the realm denouncing the Protestants as rebels. King Francis I did not read these pages, but if he had done so he would have discovered in them a plea not for toleration, which Calvin utterly scorned, but for doing away with Catholicism in favor of the new gospel. "There could be only one true Church; therefore, kings ought to make an utter end of popery," said the young theologian. The second edition of Calvin's Institutes was written in 1539; the first French translation in 1541; the final Latin, as revised by its author, in 1559; but that in common use, dated 1560, has additions by his disciples.
We know little of Calvin's previous activities, but because of a war between King Charles V and King Francis I, he settled his family affairs and reached Bale by way of Geneva in July 1536. He persuaded two of his brothers and two sisters to accept the Reformed views he had adopted and took them with him. At Geneva the Swiss preacher Fare, then looking for help with his propaganda, besought Calvin with such vehemence to stay and teach his theologies that, as Calvin himself relates, he was terrified into submission. As a student, recluse and new to public responsibilities, he may well have hesitated before plunging into the troubled waters of Geneva, then at their stormiest period.
Calvin had not introduced the legislative articles of Geneva; however, it was mainly by his influence that in January 1537, the articles were approved which insisted on communion four times a year, set spies on delinquents, established a moral censorship, and punished the unruly with excommunication. There was to be a children's catechism, which he drew up. The articles caused a dispute, and the city became divided into "jurants" who swore an oath to the articles and "nonjurors" who would not accept them. Questions had arisen with Berne concerning the points of major dispute, but Calvin made the claim in Lausanne for the freedom of Geneva. Discourse ensued in Geneva, where the opposition became more obstinate. In 1538 the council exiled Farel, Calvin, and the blind evangelist, Couraud from Geneva.
Calvin complained of his poverty and ill health, but these did not prevent him from marrying Idelette de Bure, the widow of an Anabaptist whom he had converted. Nothing more is known of this lady except that she bore him a son who died almost at birth in 1542 and that her own death took place in 1549.
Calvin's Reign of Terror
John Calvin - Enpsychlopedia.
After some negotiation, Ami Perrin, commissioner for Geneva, persuaded Calvin to return. He did so, though unwillingly, on September 13, 1541. His entry was modest. Geneva was a church-city-state of 15,000 people, and the church constitution now recognized "pastors, doctors, elders and deacons," but the supreme power was given to the magistrate, John Calvin. In November 1552, the Council declared Calvin's Institutes to be a "holy doctrine which no man might speak against." Thus the State issued dogmatic decrees, the force of which had been anticipated earlier, as when Jacques Gruet, a known opponent of Calvin, was arrested, tortured for a month and beheaded on July 26, 1547, for placing a letter in Calvin's pulpit calling him a hypocrite. Gruet's book was later found and burned along with his house while his wife was thrown out into the street to watch. Gruet's death was more highly criticized by far than the banishment of Castellio or the penalties inflicted on Bolsec -- moderate men opposed to extreme views in discipline and doctrine, who fell under suspicion as reactionary. Calvin did not shrink from his self-appointed task. Within five years fifty-eight sentences of death and seventy-six of exile, besides numerous committals of the most eminent citizens to prison, took place in Geneva. The iron yoke could not be shaken off. In 1555, under Ami Perrin, a revolt was attempted. No blood was shed, but Perrin lost the day, and Calvin's theocracy triumphed. John Calvin had secured his grip on Geneva by defeating the very man, Ami Perrin, commissioner of Geneva, who had invited him there.
Calvin forced the citizens of Geneva to attend church services under a heavy threat of punishment. Since Calvinism falsely teaches that God forces the elect to believe, it is no wonder that Calvin thought he could also force the citizens of Geneva to all become the elect. Not becoming one of the elect was punishable by death or expulsion from Geneva. Calvin exercised forced regeneration on the citizens of Geneva because that is what his theology teaches.
Michael Servetus, a Spaniard, a physician, a scientist and a Bible scholar was born in Villanova in 1511. He was credited with the discovery of the pulmonary circulation of the blood from the right chamber of the heart through the lungs and back to the left chamber of the heart. He was Calvin's longtime friend in their earlier resistance against the Roman Catholic Church. Servetus, while living in Vienne (historic city in southeastern France), angered Calvin by returning a copy of Calvin's writings, Institutes, with critical comments in the margins. Servetus was arrested by the Roman Catholic Authorities on April 4 but escaped on April 7, 1553. He traveled to Geneva where he attended Calvin's Sunday preaching service on August 13. Calvin promptly had Servetus arrested and charged with heresy for his disagreement with Calvin's theology. The thirty-eight official charges included rejection of the Trinity and infant baptism. Servetus was correct in challenging Calvin's false teaching about infant baptism leading to salvation, but he was heretical in his rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity. Servetus pleaded to be beheaded instead of the more brutal method of burning at the stake, but Calvin and the city council refused the quicker death method. Other Protestant churches throughout Switzerland advised Calvin that Servetus be condemned but not executed. Calvin ignored their pleas and Servetus was burned at the stake on October 27, 1553. Servetus was screaming as he was literally baked alive from the feet upward and suffered the heat of the flames for 30 minutes before finally succumbing to one of the most painful and brutal death methods possible. Servetus had written a theology book, a copy of which Calvin had strapped to the chest of Servetus. The flames from the burning book rose against Servetus' face as he screamed in agony.
John Calvin was proud of his killing of Servetus, bragging and celebrating. Many theological and state leaders criticized Calvin for the unwarranted killing of Servetus, but it fell on deaf ears as Calvin advised others to do the same. Calvin wrote much in following years in a continual attempt to justify his burning of Servetus. Some people claim Calvin favored beheading, but this does not fit charges of heresy for which the punishment as written by Calvin earlier was to be burning at the stake. Calvin had made a vow years earlier that Servetus would never leave Geneva alive if he were ever captured, and Calvin held true to his pledge.
Another victim of Calvin's fiery zeal was Gentile of an Italian sect in Geneva, which also numbered among its adherents Alciati and Gribaldo. More or less Unitarian in their views, they were required to sign a confession drawn up by Calvin in 1558. Gentile signed it reluctantly, but in the upshot he was condemned and imprisoned as a perjurer. He escaped only to be twice incarcerated at Berne where, in 1566, he was beheaded. Calvin also had thirty-four (34) women burned at the stake after accusing them of causing a plague that had swept through Geneva in 1545. John Calvin's actions were very paganistic like his mentor, Saint Augustine. Jesus and all of the Apostles would have abhorred and condemn these blatant mass murders.
The citizens of Geneva hated John Calvin as he clearly stated. In 1554 Calvin wrote "Dogs bark at me on all sides. Everywhere I am saluted with the name of 'heretic,' and all the calumnies that can possibly be invented are heaped upon me; in a word, the enemies among my own flock attack me with greater bitterness than my declared enemies among the papists." Calvin, quoted in Schaff, History, volume 8, page 496. The history of John Calvin's reign of terror in Geneva is undisputed. Calvin himself had historical records kept that have survived to this day.
John Calvin had no love, no compassion, no patience and no tolerance for those who did not believe his Institutes. Criticism of Calvin's Institutes was considered heresy for which the sentence was death by burning at the stake. To his dying day Calvin preached and taught from his works. By no means an aged man, he was worn out in these frequent controversies. On April 25, 1564, he made his will, leaving 225 French crowns, of which he bequeathed ten to his college, ten to the poor, and the remainder to his nephews and nieces. His last letter was addressed to Farel. He was buried without pomp in a spot which is not now ascertainable. In the year 1900 a monument of expiation was erected to Servetus in the Place Champel. Geneva has long since ceased to be the head of Calvinism.
John Calvin's murder of people who held different doctrinal views, his failure to acknowledge or repent from his sins, his incomplete gospel, his placing of his own writings above the Bible, his distortion of God and the Scriptures, and his dependence upon infant baptism places into question his salvation. In all of his writings is not found a clear declaration of his salvation by faith in the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Calvin was a cruel, murderous, tyrant who considered himself to be the pope of Geneva. The Bible never advocates harming an individual due to his unbelief or lack of understanding. Jesus taught to "turn the other cheek" instead. None of the Apostles taught action against unbelievers but instead taught the believer to seek them out to present the gospel in love.
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
John Calvin showed no signs of being a regenerate man. He became more murderous and cruel during his rule in Geneva. He showed no inclination to be conformed to the image of Christ as described in Scripture for those who have been saved. Notice Romans 8:29 below says we are "predestined to be conformed to His Son" and does not say we are predestined to be saved as taught by Calvin.
Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to] [be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
One should not have to study the works of John Calvin but should study his life first in order to arrive at the conclusion that he was an ungodly man who could only produce a distorted doctrine that opposes the true teachings of Scripture. Calvin's actions were directly opposed to the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles.
Matthew 10:14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet."
James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Calvin's Margin Notes Supercede Scriptural Text
Calvin's theology could not be ascertained by the typical student of the Bible without the external study of Calvin's Institutes. Therefore, Calvin wrote commentary notes in the margin of the Bible to be used as the interpretation of the Scripture. A present day review of these margin notes shows they present doctrine that is not supported by the text. This commentary Bible with margin notes came to be known as the Geneva Bible. Theodore de Beza (1519-1605) was the Protestant Reformer who succeeded John Calvin. Beza published the Geneva Bible in English between 1560 and 1611. William Whittingham, who was married to John Calvin's sister, is believed to have assisted by translating most of the New Testament. He has been accused of having a theological bias and making other random changes in the translation. The source manuscripts for the work appears to have been the Textus Receptus and other Byzantine Greek manuscripts. The most disturbing feature of the Geneva Bible was the extensive commentary notes placed in the margins written by John Calvin, John Knox, Miles Coverdale, William Whittingham, Theodore Beza and Anthony Gilby. The marginal notes give an allegorical or philosophical explanation of Scripture rather than a literal explanation of the text. The Roman Catholic Church was enraged by the notes because they deemed the act of confession of sin to men, the Catholic Bishops, as unjustified by Holy Scripture. Calvin can be congratulated for at least getting that doctrine correct.
The Geneva Bible and the doctrines of John Calvin spread across Europe as church leaders used the margin notes as the basis of their lectures and preaching. King James I (1566-1625) was opposed to Calvinistic Presbyterianism and some claim he was infuriated by the Geneva Bible because the marginal notes allowed disobedience to the King. This claim can be largely dismissed because Calvin ruled as "King" of Geneva and allowed absolutely no disobedience. King James was requested by Dr. John Reynolds of the Puritans in the famous Hampton Court Conference to authorize the printing of a new Bible without the marginal notes. King James agreed. He authorized work to begin on the new Bible in 1604 with a team of fifty-four theologians and scholars, and it was printed in 1611. The Bible was to be a new translation from the Greek. The King James Version of the Bible was prepared from the Textus Receptus as well as many of the other 5,000 Greek manuscripts. It is known as the 1611 Authorized King James Version and held by many as the only "Inspired Word of God."
The Dutch Church convened the Synod of Dordrecht in 1610 to resolve the dispute between Remonstrants (followers of Jacob Arminius) and the Reformed Church (followers of John Calvin) concerning the correct interpretation of the Bible. In the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, Jacob Arminius began to teach doctrines contrary to the Reformed faith. The Remonstrants drew up five statements of doctrine in which they set forth their own views. The Calvinists answered the Five Points of the Arminians with their own, which has come to be known as the Five Points of Calvinism. The approval of the Calvinist position was sealed by a packed prejudiced Synod before it began, and the Calvinists relished the victory by murdering many of their opponents as they fled for their lives. This appeared to be a great victory for Calvinism at the time, but it has since been shown to have been the high point in their theological domination. Calvinism has continued to decline over the centuries because John Calvin's technique of terror is no longer allowed for the spread of his theology.
Jesus nor any of the Apostles raised a finger against those who disagreed with them, but Calvinists continued to use the sword, beheading axe and burning at the stake as methods to eliminate any opposition well after the passing of John Calvin. Charles I succeeded King James in England. The Calvinists gained control of the English Parliament and waged a civil war against the king. They abolished episcopacy, ejected two thousand royalist ministers, summoned the Westminister Assembly, executed Archbishop Laud, and eventually executed the King himself in 1649.
Calvin's Sovereignty Doctrine Distorts the Attributes of God
Calvinists are proud to proclaim, "The basic principle of Calvinism is the sovereignty of God." This doctrine allowed John Calvin to misinterpret Scripture in any manner he desired in order to fit his Institutes theology. He simply claimed the sovereignty of God allowed it. God's other attributes such as love, justice, mercy and grace became irrelevant so long as sovereignty reigned. John Calvin's extreme definitions of sovereignty and sin (Total Depravity or Total Inability) laid the foundation for a religion that bears his name, Calvinism.
Certainly God is sovereign. However, John Calvin used sovereignty as an excuse to formulate doctrines which violated God's other attributes. Calvin's doctrines of Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement predestine much of humanity to eternal torment in violation of God's attributes of love, justice, mercy and grace. Doctrines which are correctly interpreted from Scripture will not violate any of God's attributes.
Calvinism has been called "the archenemy of soul-winning" and rightly so. John Calvin's false doctrine declares that some people are predestined by God from eternity past to spend eternity with Him by His sovereign grace while others are predestined to eternal torment. This doctrine causes one to question the need for presenting the gospel. If Calvinism were true, why bother? Those who have been predestined to salvation will be regenerated by God's unfailing sovereign will, and the others cannot be saved no matter how effectively one presents the gospel because they are not the elect.
But soul winning is not the major tragedy of Calvinism. Failure to present the gospel of Christ is the real problem. One can easily notice that Calvinists discuss and present Calvinism with the notion that they are presenting the gospel. They quote the writings of Calvin and other Calvinists and quote those Bible verses they feel are most supportive of Calvinism. The Bible is not taught directly and without bias. This is the reason John Calvin and his early followers prepared the Geneva Bible which contained Calvin's teachings written in the margins. Teaching was done from the margin notes in lieu of the Scriptural text. We will see in our study of Limited Atonement that Calvinism presents a false gospel.
Calvin's Predestination Doctrine Distorts the Character of God
Calvin's predestination doctrine teaches that God in eternity past established the course of all future events from the molestation of a child to a rocket trip to the moon. Calvin taught that God has decided in eternity past those persons who would spend eternity with Him and those who would endure eternal torment. This doctrine was not derived from the Bible, but was derived from the philosophical concepts called the immutability of God (unchangeable) and the impassability of God (unaffectable).
The pagan philosopher, Aristotle, was born in 384 BC and wrote a book he called, Metaphics. His reasoning concluded that "God can't feel and can't change." This God must be unaffected by anything and unalterable. He is unchanging for to do so would be a weakness and thus render Him less than the ultimate God. Aristotle's God cannot love, cannot suffer and cannot be influenced. Saint Augustine incorporated this philosophy from Plato, Plotinus and Aristotle into his writings which were transferred to John Calvin. Thus, Calvin's doctrine of predestination was born.
We know from Scripture that God does change His mind. God does suffer. God is influenced by prayer. God can be sorrowful and God does love. God changes His intended purpose as He chooses in response to the actions of man. Calvin's doctrine of predestination strips God of His character and is proven to be false by Scripture that shows God changing His mind in response to mankind's prayer or repentance.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 kings 20:1 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: `Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.' " 2 Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 "Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done [what] [was] good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 5 "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, `Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6 "And I will add to your days fifteen years.
Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every intent of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."
Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
The God of the Bible is certainly not the immutable, impassable God of Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Augustine and Calvin.
All of the great Christian fathers from the Apostles up to Martin Luther taught that the sovereign God placed free will in mankind to choose either good or evil. This free will is present and obvious in Scripture before the fall of Adam and thereafter. The heresies of Augustine were incorporated by Calvin into his doctrines. Was the Apostle Paul such a poor teacher that his followers didn't understand his teachings? Certainly not. All of the writings of Church leaders that came after Paul and before Augustine taught that mankind had a free will to either choose the gospel or reject it. The truth was presented in a beautiful expression of free will and the supportive work of the Holy Spirit by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD).
"God having placed good and evil in our power, has given us full freedom of choice; He does not keep back the unwilling, but embraces the willing." (Homilies on Genesis, 19.1)
"All is in God's power, but so that our free will is not lost. . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first chose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help. . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God's to perfect and bring to the end." (On Hebrews Homily, 12)
John Calvin and his followers teach that God makes everything happen because of His sovereignty. This doctrine makes God the author of sin, which is blasphemy. God allows Satan and man to do things but does not make them do so. This is clearly presented in Scripture. God keep the Dispensation of Grace a mystery because Satan, his evil demons and people under his control (rulers of this age), would not have killed Jesus had they known about the Dispensation of Grace. In Jesus' death we become victorious over sin. We can now come into the Throne of Grace to live forever with God. The Dispensation of Grace was kept a mystery hidden by God in order to give us a way of salvation.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Scripture Proves John Calvin Taught False Doctrines
John Calvin falsely taught that God draws only those to Himself that He elects to be saved. Calvin taught that those chosen could not resist the call. According to John Calvin a person is elected by God, saved by God's grace and given faith to believe as the final step. Calvin taught that this series of actions by Jesus Christ and God cannot be resisted by the elected person. On the other hand, Calvin taught that most people were not drawn by Jesus. Calvin taught that those not drawn by Jesus could not believe and could not be saved no matter what they did. Calvinists must twist scripture, ignore the clear message given and literally butcher the text in order to keep John Calvin's chain of false doctrines from total collapse. Jesus spoke doctrines clearly and directly that refute these false doctrines of John Calvin.
John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all [peoples] to Myself."
1 Timothy 2:3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Jesus does draw all people to Himself. Jesus said He will draw all people unto Himself if He were to be lifted up and crucified. God desires all mankind to be saved, but most people resist being drawn. John Calvin's doctrine of "Irresistible Grace" is clearly shown to be incorrect by Jesus' clear declaration.
History of the New Testament Scriptures.
We believe that salvation is by grace through faith based upon the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus took upon Himself the sins of all mankind in His death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead provides salvation to all who believe. All who receive the Lord Jesus Christ through faith are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become the children of God.
Calvinism encompasses many of the features which are characteristic of a Christian cult. Calvinist hold John Calvin too such a high esteem that his writings and teachings are studied and quoted in preference to Scripture. His teachings are used by Calvinists to interpret Scripture rather than the sound doctrine of using Scripture to interpret Scripture. John Calvin defined important doctrinal Bible words differently than the orthodox and historic Christian interpretation. These erroneous definitions are needed to give logical support to Calvin's blasphemous doctrines. This technique is typical of cults such as Mormons who hold Joseph Smith in high esteem and base their doctrines on his writings. Calvinists are so indoctrinated with these false definitions that they cannot understand the opposition to their doctrines. Naturally Calvinists believe the false doctrines of John Calvin because they believe the false definitions of major doctrinal words. The human brain is easily tricked when one does not search diligently for the truth. Calvinists have typically taught from the margin notes in the Calvinist's Geneva Bible in preference to the Scriptural text. King James ordered the King James Version translation of the English Bible to be printed in order to rid the church of Calvin's margin notes. John Calvin's doctrines are an incomplete and inaccurate gospel which is not in agreement with the Holy Scriptures. This study of Calvinism will easily prove the doctrines of John Calvin to be unorthodox and contrary to the historic Christian Church.
The Five Points of Calvinism which form the acrostic T-U-L-I-P will be shown here to distort and blaspheme the true attributes of God, the true nature of man and the Holy Scriptures.
Perseverance of the Saints
Pastors Who Preach Calvinism Have Responded
Many pastors have written directly from their church website with insulting, hate mail after reading the truths presented here. These pastors are obviously not born-again, Spirit filled Christians. They are fake Christians. Calvinistic preachers are our modern day Pharisees that put Jesus on the cross. They are wolves in sheep's clothing preaching "another gospel" that the Apostle Paul warned us about. They are in the ministry for power, control and money. They are certainly destined to spend eternity in hell. Their letters have revealed their corrupt hearts to the Holy Spirit.
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