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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Judging with right judgment

Mike, I know you don't believe in burning heretics. But aren't you just a little concerned that this "great reformer" believed in burning heretics, actually practiced it, and went as far as to say that if you [Mike] don't believe in burning non-believers, you are just as guilty as them?? Doesn't that concern you just a little bit, if not greatly?

Jesse, yes and no. On the one hand I am not bothered at all what he thought or stated, what does it have to do with me or you for that matter? But of course it is bothersome, irrational, absurd ... insane and inhumane. It is each and everyone of those things. I would never attempt to defend it nor is that what I am doing now. I am not even fond of a great deal of the whole presumptuous notions derived from the theology of [i]election[/i] and cannot help but wonder at the followers more so than even John Calvin himself, crafting a doctrine within a doctrine that makes God [i]our[/i] benefactor that thwarts the very essence of [i]My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor My ways your ways[/i]". But that is all an aside to this.

I know that most people try to sweep this sort of stuff under the rug. But the house never get's clean that way. All things must come to the light. Only those who's deeds are evil hate the light lest their deeds be exposed - John 3:20

Again yes and no. As I mentioned earlier brother, this has been brought to the fore here in the past and that is also neither here nor there, just a mention.

Where I would come alongside Ron is precisely where this is not a matter of 'agreement', how can there be? Or of 'defense' again, it is absurd. But the point is in looking at it in all it's blunt ugliness, does it not create a real tension ... is there something else that might be a derivative to ... glean from? I am going somewhere with this, bear with me.

This well could be the perfect vehicle to demonstrate something that happens here, in this very forum, far too often, far too easily and far too grievously. And that is how we deal with each other, with disputes, with strife and contention ... do we create it unnecessarily? Do we take snap shots and incidents and make a 'whole' out of it? Do we fill in the blanks with assumptions and presumptions, infer motive and imply inference ... are we not often [i]judging with wrong judgment[/i]? I am certainly speaking here in generalities to broaden this to what is going on in our own hearts and heads. Are we prideful when we have yet to examine the whole of a matter and take a quote, a comment, a video clip, whatever it may be and start pronouncing all kinds of conclusions, putting a stamp of finality on a matter on a believer, non-believer, a heathen, a heretic ...

I know this again opens up the whole dialouge of 'knowing them by their fruits' and whether or not we ought to be 'naming names' and all the rest. I would say it is besides the point, but of course I could hardly do that without being taken to task so I will state that I find it just as devious often times when one is talking of a 'certain minister who ....' when it comes to scriptural error in teaching is not named as if this is some sin to reference him or her when it is their very words and intention and meaning that is in dispute.

What I do find dangerous and ill-advised and very grievous is the [i]finish[/i] that is applied wholesale, the jumping to and finality of [i]conclusion[/i] over the whole life, no matter who it is. It is to skirt nothing, hide nothing, disallow nothing, but facing facts as they are and to make us truly honest about what we do and do not know or understand.

Still in generality mode here, so do not take this the wrong way but I find a great deal that is pompous and highly presumptuous of us by the way things can be taken on such scant evidence and made or inferred as finality. It does come back to that very verse;

1Co 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Where do we get off doing these kinds of things? It happens with politicians and the guy that cuts you off in traffic. I know this is redundant for some but I am compelled nonetheless. It happens with each other here in this very place where we cannot stick to the replies or comments and start going for the jugular as it were with [i]personality[/i] and slander of [i]character[/i], creating things that are not there by our wild and dare I say evil imaginations.

Where is the check to our own hearts? Where is the true grief, if it is truly that, which is of the kind;

[i]these things ought not to be so[/i]

Over our highmindedness.

Why is it that more often it is a sort of arm chair theologian mindset that thinks it knows far more and far better than what has been actually internalized and experienced. It begs the question; Have you\we exhausted the subject, the contention, the [i]person[/i] in question or are we often aping and spouting off bits of 'things I have read' and making grand pronouncements? What of our motive for doing so? Because we are earnestly grieved or because we are proud and want the whole world to know about it. What of our '[i]judging nothing before the time'[/i]?

What I am prying into here is just what makes us so concerned about some things that others are doing when we have such penetrating heart issues of our own to contend with.

Will end the digression there. Jesse, did you read that last link there? It is not a pointed question, just curious. I could not but help take notice of how much the disputes and the way they were handled have a certain reflection here, guess I am still digressing, pardon that.

Want to snatch a couple of bits from it, just to look at in the sheer ... brutality of it all, actual, physical, spiritual. It is in no fashion defending even if it is to draw attention to some things;

The Council had no doubt of its jurisdiction in the case; it had to respect the unanimous judgment of the Churches, the public horror of heresy and blasphemy, and the imperial laws of Christendom, which were appealed to by the attorney-general. The decision was unanimous. [b]Even the wish of Calvin to substitute the sword for the fire was overruled[/b], and the papal practice of the auto-da-fé followed, though without the solemn mockery of a religious festival.

The venerable old Farel visited him in the prison at seven in the morning, and remained with him till the hour of his death. He tried to convince him of his error. Servetus asked him to quote a single Scripture passage where Christ was called "Son of God" before his incarnation. Farel could not satisfy him. He brought about an interview with Calvin, of which the latter gives us an account. Servetus, proud as he was, humbly asked his pardon. [b]Calvin protested that be had never pursued any personal quarrel against him. "Sixteen years ago," he said, "I spared no pains at Paris to gain you to our Lord. You then shunned the light. I did not cease to exhort you by letters, but all in vain. You have heaped upon me I know not how much fury rather than anger. But as to the rest, I pass by what concerns myself. Think rather of crying for mercy to God whom you have blasphemed.[/b]" This address had no more effect than the exhortation of Farel, and Calvin left the room in obedience, as he says, to St. Paul’s order (Tit. 3:10, 11), to withdraw from a self-condemned heretic. Servetus appeared as mild and humble as he had been bold and arrogant, but did not change his conviction.

The point if anything is, do you disallow this even though it has nothing to do with defending him, does it also not raise a question of ... can all these things be laid at Calvin's feet? (You would have to read it in it's entirety)

There was prepared a funeral pile hidden in part by the autumnal leaves of the oak trees. The Lord Lieutenant and the herald on horseback, both arrayed in the insignia of their office, arrive with the doomed man and the old pastor, followed by a small procession of spectators. Farel invites Servetus to solicit the prayers of the people and to unite his prayers with theirs. Servetus obeys in silence. The executioner fastens him by iron chains to the stake amidst the fagots, puts a crown of leaves covered with sulphur on his head, and binds his book by his side. The sight of the flaming torch extorts from him a piercing shriek of "misericordias" in his native tongue. The spectators fall back with a shudder. The flames soon reach him and consume his mortal frame in the forty-fourth year of his fitful life. In the last moment he is heard to pray, in smoke and agony, with a loud voice: "Jesus Christ, thou Son of the eternal God, have mercy upon me!"11971197 Farel does not mention this, nor some other circumstances which are more or less apocryphal (and omitted by Rilliet): for instance, that the executioner did not understand his business, and piled up green oak-wood; that many threw dry, bundles into the slow-burning fire, and that Servetus suffered nearly half an hour. See the anonymous Historia deMorte Serveti, ascribed to a Genevese, who was an enemy of Calvin. Henry, III. 200 sq.

This was at once a confession of his faith and of his error. He could not be induced, says Farel, to confess that Christ was the eternal Son of God.

The tragedy ended when the clock of St. Peter’s struck twelve. The people quietly dispersed to their homes. Farel returned at once to Neuchâtel, even without calling on Calvin. [b]The subject was too painful to be discussed.[/b]

There is so much more to be considered and maybe that is all I am asking here in this instance and more broadly by generality. I would rather not get bogged down into semantics over the whole thing and find the whole of it just remarkable in showing the ravages of sin from the side of the heretic and that which could even be misconstrued from "the great reformer" as it is put, himself.

The conscience and piety of that age approved of the execution, and left little room for the emotions of compassion. But two hundred years afterwards a distinguished scholar and minister of Geneva echoed the sentiments of his fellow-citizens when he said: "Would to God that we could extinguish this funeral pile with our tears."

Here is a curious bit as well;

Dr. Henry, the admiring biographer of Calvin, imagines an impartial Christian jury of the nineteenth century assembled on Champel, which would pronounce the judgment on Calvin, "Not guilty"; on Servetus, "Guilty, with extenuating circumstances."11991199 Leben Joh. Calvin’s, III. 209 sq.

The flames of Champel have consumed the intolerance of Calvin as well as the heresy of Servetus.

I don't know about the outcome proposed there by a modern jury but that last line seems a pretty good assessment.

I do not know how well I have gotten across all this and would again only draw back to your association of judgment upon Calvin as, in your words;

Calvin was, to put it lightly, a very bad man who had (in my estimation) a very bad theology. Calvin was obviously governed by a different spirit and a different motivation then the Holy Spirit and by love. I am not sure how anyone can say that Calvin knew the heart of God, or knew God at all.

I do not know how you or any of us could be so bold as to make such a statement, but we keep on doing it anyway, in a variety of ways and fashions towards others, even to each other in this setting. There is far too much left out even in this instance of circumstance and atmosphere of the times (again, no it does not change or make a pragmatism of what should or should not have been done) and it also dashes to the sidelines some of the expression of zeal and motivation that followed even in the next pages from that particular link. Don't forget the very bitterness, rage and malice of Servetus either it is telling and I think telling of those things that can come about here in a similar fashion, in strife and contention of those very things brought about by James in those very pertinent verses.

Again, I am bouncing around here a bit but as to some motivational aspects to be put into the grid-work;

[b]Calvin's Catholicity of Spirit[/b]

The Church of God was his home, and that Church knows no boundaries of nationality and language. The world was his parish. Having left the papacy, he still remained a Catholic in the best sense of that word, and prayed and labored for the unity of all believers. Like his friend Melanchthon, he deeply deplored the divisions of Protestantism. To heal them he was willing to cross ten oceans. Thus he wrote, in reply to Archbishop Cranmer, who had invited him (March 20, 1552), with Melanchthon and Bullinger, to a meeting in Lambeth Palace for the purpose of drawing up a consensus creed for the Reformed Churches.12221222 See Cranmer’s letter of invitation in Calvin’s Opera, XIV. 306. After expressing his zeal for the Church universal, he continues (Oct. 14, 1552):—

"I wish, indeed, it could be brought about that men of learning and authority from the different churches should meet somewhere, and after thoroughly discussing the different articles of faith, should, by a unanimous decision, deliver down to posterity some certain rule of doctrine. But amongst the chief evils of the age must be reckoned the marked division between the different churches, insomuch that human society can hardly be said to be established among us, much less a holy communion of the members of Christ, which, though all profess it, few indeed really observe with sincerity. But if the clergy are more lukewarm than they should be, the fault lies chiefly with their sovereigns, who are either so involved in their secular affairs, as to neglect altogether the welfare of the Church, and indeed religion itself, or so well content to see their own countries at peace as to care little about others; and thus the members being divided, the body of the Church lies lacerated.

"As to myself, if I should be thought of any use, I would not, if need be, object to cross ten seas for such a purpose. If the assisting of England were alone concerned, that would be motive enough with me. Much more, therefore, am I of opinion, that I ought to grudge no labor or trouble, seeing that the object in view is an agreement among the learned, to be drawn up by the weight of their authority according to Scripture, in order to unite Churches seated far apart. But my insignificance makes me hope that I may be spared. I shall have discharged my part by offering up my prayers for what may have been done by others. Melanchthon is so far off that it takes some time to exchange letters. Bullinger has, perhaps, already answered you. I only wish that I had the power, as I have the inclination, to serve the cause."


Right, wrong, indifferent. It is stark, brutal, ugly, overwrought, misplaced zeal, a whole panoptical of [i]tension[/i] and [i]pathos[/i]. If there is any last comment I might have here it is one that frequently comes about; This penchant we can have that has to have an answer and a conclusion for everything, that we cannot withhold our judgment on a matter and leave it with the Lord. Sure, put into your grid-work, certainly ponder it, feel the pain of it all, see our own complacency and our own culpability to things impartial as to factual, present evidence of time and history now far removed and our penchant to cast judgment over it all. That we would make simple the complexities. That we wish to do this even at all.

What does it say of our hearts?

Just food for thought.

Mike Balog

 2007/8/5 11:59Profile

Joined: 2007/2/9
Posts: 640
Southern California

 Re: Contention for Contention's Sake

crsschk wrote:
This well could be the perfect vehicle to demonstrate something that happens here, in this very forum, far too often, far too easily and far too grievously. And that is how we deal with each other, with disputes, with strife and contention ... do we create it unnecessarily?

....If there is any last comment I might have here it is one that frequently comes about; This penchant we can have that has to have an answer, and a conclusion for everything, that we cannot withhold our judgment on a matter and leave it with the Lord.

What does it say of our hearts?

Just food for thought.

I find it particularly repulsive that there is so much unnecessary debate, so much hair-splitting and tearing of hair over an event that took place 500 years ago.

And I find it ridiculous that anyone could be truly concerned about Servetus, who had a 'Wanted' poster out on him in most of the Canton's of Switzerland, not merely by the various reformers, but by the Roman Catholic Church, and the Governments in Germany and Italy, all for the same reason...the denial that Jesus was of a divine nature.

This is not about pity for one man executed for disagreeing with the goverment at a time when that generally got you killed.

This thread was started as an attack on Calvin, as a murderer, without presenting all the facts.

Calvin was the Pastor of Geneva, and although idolized by the Canton, and revered in most reform churches, Calvin did not run the Canton of Geneva, and Calvin didn't arrange Servetus' death.

Everyone wanted him dead, for Servetus was upsetting the precarious political and religious balance of Switzerland, Italy and Germany, by his continuous challenges on settled doctrine in Catholic and Reform churches alike.

Even today denying the Divinity of Christ is considered heresy. We merely have gotten out of the habit of killing people for disagreeing with us.

But this thread is not about Calvin. And it is not about who wanted Servetus dead, since nearly every government and church official did.

What this thread represents is contention for contention's sake...almost exactly what Servetus himself was doing at the time, hairsplitting over the Trinity, which is not named, but is represented everywhere in the Bible, and worse, when the whole of the Bible names the Christ to be Divine from before the beginning of the world, Servetus was playing games with trying to find titles in a Holy Book as if it were a play thing.

It is a pity to see similar game playing on this thread, debating the entire history of this execution without all the facts, as Servetus debated Divinity and Trinity without considering the entire Bible.

Have we all gotten into the habit of encouraging contention?

Is this how we entertain ourselves?

Why are any of us bothering to discuss such foolishness?

Where is there Christ in any of this?

Where is there any valuable discussion?

Answering the Devil's Advocate is always a foolish thing for a human to do, and playing the Devil's Advocate makes one wonder what is being preached out on the open road by the originator of this thread.

Contention for contention's make a be recognized.

Provocation for the sake of provocation...pointless...and a mockery of the forum.

And a very good reason for people to avoid reading or posting on threads with such foolish nonsense, or taking seriously again those who originate them.

Forrest Anderson

 2007/8/6 2:23Profile

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