calvin-servetus

© 2015 by Clement Li. All Rights Reserved.

It’s sad that many Calvinists that I’ve encounter have absolutely no idea who John Calvin was. They know him by name and as the person who founded the idea of Calvinism but they don’t actually know what kind of person he was.

I often wonder how someone who identify themselves as a Christian can tell me many stories about Jesus and what kind of person he was, but when someone identify themselves as a Calvinist and I ask them to tell me a little about John Calvin, the only thing they can give me is that he was the person who founded Calvinism. I mean wouldn’t it be baffling if someone told you they were Christians but couldn’t tell you one single thing about Jesus? If Calvinist followers today would pick up a book and do a little research on their spiritual leader they would know that they’re following the beliefs of a serial killer, mass murderer and a terrorist.

Before I get into details about how John Calvin was a serial killer, mass murderer and a terrorist, lets look at the definition of each:

1.Serial Killer: A person who murders three or more people with the murders taking place over more than a month between them

2. Mass Murderer: A person who kills several or numerous  victims in a single incident or A person, especially a political or military leader, who is responsible for the death of many individuals

3. Terrorist:  A person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon or a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells

Now that we have these definitions lets take a look at the actions of John Calvin and how well he fits into these terms.

Laws and facts about Geneva Under Calvin’s Authority:

* Each household had to attend Sunday morning services. If there was preaching on weekdays, all had to attend also. (There were only a few exceptions, and Calvin preached three to four times a week.)

* If a person came to the service after the sermon had begun, he was warned. If he continued, he would have to pay a fine.

* Heresy was regarded as an insult to God and treason to the state and was punished by death.

* Witchcraft was a capital crime. In one year, 14 alleged witches were sent to the stake on the charge that they persuaded Satan to afflict Geneva with the plague.

* Clergy were to abstain from hunting, gambling, feasting, commerce, secular amusements, and had to accept annual visitations and moral scrutiny by church superiors.

* Gambling, card-playing, frequenting taverns, dancing, indecent or irreligious songs, immodesty in dress were all prohibited.

* The allowable color and quantity of clothing and the number of dishes permissible at a meal were specified by law.

* A woman was jailed for arranging her hair to an “immoral height.”

* Children were to be named after Old Testament characters. A rebellious father served four days in prison for insisting on naming his son Claude instead of Abraham.

* To speak disrespectfully of Calvin or the clergy was a crime. A first violation was punished by a reprimand. Further violations with fines. Persistent violations were met with imprisonment or banishment.

* Fornication was punished by exile or drowning.

* Adultery, blasphemy, and idolatry was punished with death.

* In the year 1558-1559, there were 414 prosecutions for moral offenses.

* As everywhere in the 16th century, torture was often used to obtain confessions or evidence.

* Between 1542-1564, there were 76 banishments. The total population of Geneva then was 20,000.

Calvin’s own step-daughter and son-in-law were among those condemned for adultery and executed.

* In Geneva, there was little distinction between religion and morality. The existing records of the Council for this period reveal a high percentage of illegitimate children, abandoned infants, forced marriages, and sentences of death. [1]

* In one case, a child was beheaded for striking his parents. [2] (Following Old Testament Mosaic law, Calvin believed it was scriptural to execute rebellious children and those who commit adultery.) [2a]

* During a period of 17 years when Calvin was leading Geneva, there were 139 recorded executions in the city. [3]

*Burned a man (Michael Servetus) alive for disagreeing with his theology. [4]

I’m not a mathematician but I know 139 is a much bigger number than 3, and when it comes to the number of murders committed it’s enough to be labeled a serial killer and a mass murderer. The way these executions were carried out definitely made him a terrorist. In fact with these gruesome historical details I think it’s safe to say he was also a psychopath.

A few questions I leave with Calvinists believers:

  1.  If Jesus was someone who ruled with a sword or an iron hand, would you still follow him?
  1. Do you think God approved of Calvin’s tactics on imposing his faith on others?
  1. What is your idea of a good spiritual leader and do you think John Calvin was one?

I would like to conclude and point out that nowhere in this article you’ll see me use the term “Calvinist Christians” instead I use words like “Calvinist” or “Calvinist followers”, this is because I don’t think Calvinists are Christians, it pains to say something like this because I know there are decent people who are Calvinist, people that I  consider friends and even brothers and sisters, but to me a Christian is someone who follows the teaching of Jesus and no one else. not Arminius, not Luther, not Calvin but Jesus only.

[1] All of the above information about Geneva can be found in Will Durant, The Reformation, pp. 472-476. Durant cites his sources. See also Calvin’s Geneva: An Experiment in Christian Theocracy – published in The Radical Resurgence andCalvin’s Geneva: Applied Critical Thinking – published in The Radical Resurgence

[2] Fear of the Word by Eli Oboler, pp. 60-62.

[2a] See http://etb-history-theology.blogspot.com/2012/03/execution-of-child-and-adulterers-in.html

[3] The Church Polity of John Calvin by Harro Hopfl, p. 136.

[4] Civilization VI: 484  by Will Durant

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4 thoughts on “Are Calvinists Following the Beliefs of a Serial Killer, Mass Murderer and a Terrorist?

  1. It seems you are attacking Calvin’s character directly, which you could do to anyone including God himself. In the Old Testament He killed people by the tens of thousands both directly (through His power) and indirectly (by acting through human nations and armies). Entire tribes and nations were annihilated because they refused to convert to the same religious beliefs held by the Israelites. People that did not meet God’s fundamental demands were (and still are) punished with death and eternal suffering.

    Should the Jews have abandoned God because he ruled with an iron fist? By your stated definitions, he certainly fit the categories of serial and mass murderer, and terrorist.

    Moreover, it is bad taste to practice character assassination. All people, Christians included, are heavily influenced by their culture and times. You can find flaws in every person, whether that person is a pastor, deacon, or just a regular guy. The further back in time you go, the more likely you’ll find people holding heinous views. Regardless, in God’s eyes we are all sinners and deserving of death.

    Lastly, whenever a statement is made, it is the statement you should judge. Whether a person is vile or virtuous has no bearing on how truthful the statement is, for the truth is the truth (i.e. it would be the objective reality). If Calvin’s espoused views are true and correct (which are debatable of course), then his actions on earth would not make them any less true. If you believe his theological arguments/beliefs to be false or deceitful, then attack his arguments/beliefs, not his character.

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    1. The definition of murder is “the unauthorized, UNJUSTIFIED taking of human life”. If you read the bible and don’t think God is just then you misunderstood the bible completely. God, Who created us and owns us and has every right to decide when and how our lives should end, as He is under no obligation to keep it going. The people who died in the flood (through his power) or were killed during the conquest of Canaan(by acting through human nations and armies) all had a chance to repent. In fact they had hundreds of years to repent. God warned those tribes that you mentioned and told them if they continue to sin they will be condemned. The first warning was in Genesis 15:16, and that was 400 plus years before the conquest of Canaan. God (WHO IS JUST) authorized Joshua to kill those people (Joshua 1) , therefore it’s not murder. I don’t remember anywhere in the bible where it said God authorized John Calvin to execute people.

      Yes, people and Christians are influenced by their culture and time. But what are you trying to say? that this makes it okay? The Mosaic covenant (Which Calvin tried to enforce in Geneva) included “Thou Shall Not Murder” and was given to the people thousands of years before John Calvin was even born. So because of the time and culture John Calvin existed in he should be exempted from this law? In fact, what does culture and time have to do with anything? are you suggesting that the laws of the bible should be modified according to time and culture differences?

      Yes we are all sinners, but we can always repent ask for forgiveness and we can all be saved if we accept Jesus as our lord. Unlike how Calvin teaches us how those who aren’t elected can never be saved because God condemned them from the beginning which has no biblical basis.

      you really believe that whether a person is vile or virtuous has no bearing on how truthful their statements are? Then how do you explain Matthew 7:18 where it says “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” or Matthew 7:20 where it says “Therefore by their fruits you will know them”

      you mentioned “if Calvin’s espoused views are true and correct (which are debatable of course), then his actions on earth would not make them any less true”, but that’s the thing, it’s NOT true, in fact it’s totally the opposite and contradictory to what is written in the bible. Also I did argue against his arguments/beliefs, in fact I wrote a whole entry about it. Here’s the link,

      https://faithisourresponsibility.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/jc-christ-vs-jc-calvin-who-speaks-the-true-word-of-god/

      feel free make comments, I appreciate you taking your time to read through my entries. I loo forward to hearing from you. God bless

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      1. Let me understand this, since God created the 10 commandments, God therefore has the power to break the ten commandments when desired. Where is the accountability? Why should someone place their belief in a supreme being who at any time can break the covenant that you have with them? Since Calvin created law, shouldn’t he have the authority to break and change laws when it suits his purpose?

        If God killed all those people after giving them a chance to repent shouldn’t the same to be applied to those who are facing the death penalty?

        While Calvin does sound like a dictator, I would like to point out during that time the Catholic Church no better then a theocracy like in Iran. Many organized religions used violence and half-baked religious edicts to enforce their view on the populace.

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  2. God never broke any of the ten commandments. If you’re talking about “thou shall not murder” I’ve already explained that the definition of murder is “the unauthorized, UNJUSTIFIED taking of human life”. God, who created the world and the people in, owns us and sustains us for every second of our existence. In fact it’s a privilege and blessing to exist. Keep in mind we are not entitled to even exist. If he chooses to end our time in this world then he has every right to. This is not murder.

    The covenant is not an agreement into which two equal partners enter; it is an infinitely asymmetric relationship. The rules that God gives us are given for us to follow, not him. As for accountability? to whom could God possibly be accountable?

    Why should someone place their belief in a supreme being who at any time can break the covenant that you have with them?

    Again, he never broke any covenant. The existence of God is not contingent upon Him performing as you want, if you choose not to believe in Him because of that you will rightly reap the consequences of your unbelief, for He is, whether or not you choose to believe it.

    “Since Calvin created law, shouldn’t he have the authority to break and change laws when it suits his purpose”?

    John Calvin wasn’t God, and since he wasn’t God he had no authority to break or change the laws that was laid down by God. This includes murder and forced conversion which is strictly forbidden by the bible.

    “If God killed all those people after giving them a chance to repent shouldn’t the same to be applied to those who are facing the death penalty?”

    God gives everyone a chance for repentance (Romans 1:18-21). However God decreed the death penalty for murder and it is the government’s job to enforce such standards (Romans 13).

    While Calvin does sound like a dictator, I would like to point out during that time the Catholic Church no better then a theocracy like in Iran. Many organized religions used violence and half-baked religious edicts to enforce their view on the populace.

    I’m not sure why you pointed out the Catholic church. I’m not Catholic nor am I defending the Catholic church, If anything I’m against them and their history of violence and I’m sure God is too. The use of violence by the Catholic church or the violence used to impose religion during that century does not excuse the numerous laws laid down by God that Calvin broke such as murder. Again we cannot change the laws of and commands of the bible just because of culture and time differences.

    However speaking of the use of violence, as far as I know Jacob Arminius committed no murders, neither did John Wesley and Jesus certainty didn’t either.

    Thank you for your comments. God bless you!

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