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Slave owners, Calvin/Servetus, Luther/Anti-semite... How can we take these guys serious?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Stope, Jan 10, 2017.

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  1. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    I am far from educated on the ins and outs of the content with which Im about to share, but I operate from what I do know (or think I know)...

    I know we arent to throw the baby out with the bath water, but on earth are we to embrace men who were "theologically correct" on so many issues, yet were slave owners? On Calvin who, maybe didn't preside over it, but did stand like Saul over Stephen when Servetus was burned at the stake (and Calvin merely remorse that burning was harsh and perhaps death by head chopped off is a better way for annoying heretics)? And Luther (and this one I have only HEARD) that he was an Anti-Semite...

    (the scary part is, what if I/we too are so a part of our day and age that we too dont realize things we engage/champion might possibly look back on in 100 years and cringe... O Lord, that we would not be citizens of this world but your unchanging and forever Kingdom!!!)
     
  2. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim Staff Member

    So, how 'bout educatin' yourself on it before furthering the accusations with no context, first?
     
  3. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    My first bit of advice would be to get a true sense of sinfulness of one's own heart. Once you do that, you will find you have enough to occupy your time without obsessing over whether or not people, who are now long dead, were the "real deal." Still, I am not completely naive, and I realise that these questions do trouble us to some degree.

    On the issue of chattel slave-owners, I do not deny that they were complicit in the crime of man-stealing. That being said, I would only question the salvation of those who were totally stiff-necked in that error. Beyond that general observation, I would not want to say much more.

    No. The martyrdom of Stephen is not comparable to the execution of a stiff-necked, public blasphemer like Servetus. Your question assumes that it is a civil right to blaspheme the Triune God. Before you criticise Calvin, you may wish to question the validity of the supposition underlying your question. As I understand it, Calvin did all he reasonably could to get Servetus to recant to spare him execution.

    You should consult Carl Trueman's Histories and Fallacies for more on this issue. The term anti-Semite has racial connotations that were probably not relevant to Luther's critique of the Jewish religion. Luther was anti-Jewish as he opposed their religion, but to be anti-Semitic is to oppose the Jews simply as a race of people.
     
  4. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    Putting aside for a moment the overblown nature of these accusations, even if they are partially true, we must judge men according to the context in which they lived. It is neither fair nor possible to judge men who lived hundreds of years ago according to modern standards born out of modern circumstances. It is much better to appreciate their significant accomplishments, which are made all the more impressive in light of their circumstances, while also understanding that they were flawed just as we are
     
  5. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Bill, in relation to Thomas Aquinas and other medieval theologians, I have sometimes said that it is unfair to judge pre-Reformation theologians by post-Reformation standards. Now, of course, we judge all things by scripture, but I do not think it is reasonable to expect Aquinas or Anselm to speak with the same clarity as Luther or Calvin did on some issues. Would you say that that assertion is reasonable?
     
  6. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    Alright wise guy, i do then remove my Luther accusations, but maintain my Calvin one as I am educated on that scenario.

    Sheesh
     
  7. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    ---I think, as much as it is tru in some scenarios, it is NOT true when it comes to CLEAR teaching. Calvin knew full well that killing a person for being an annoying heretic does not warrant death. The man can nuance most any theological fine point so we will not give him a free pass on this. Further not a few of Calvin's contemporaries maintained that its just flat out wrong to kill heretics (meaning, he also doesnt get a free pass because thats just the way they did things back then)
     
  8. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim Staff Member

    I am not sure where the seeming hostility from you is coming (a la the wise guy address and the sheesh comment); however, I was only responding to your self-admission that you had not educated yourself on the matters, yet proceeded to post about them. This seems counter-intuitive and counter-productive, especially with all of Solomon's words pertaining to the wise withholding speech, etc. As for Calvin, it has already correctly been pointed out to you that the comparison of Calvin to Saul of Tarsus at the feet of Stephen is far from accurate. The truth is, God is against freedom of religion (1st Commandment). When a civil ruler rightly suppresses heresy as is ensconced by that particular civil society's laws, and a heretic -after much admonition and warning- continues to stir up disturbance of the peace of a society, as well as blaspheme the God of Scripture publicly, and subsequently refuses to repent (although given opportunity), then execution may well be the consequence. As for the method of execution chosen, why do you believe Calvin -who was not a civil magistrate- had the authority to change it?
     
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Actually, he did not "know" that at all. Calvin and the entire Reformed tradition (pre-Enlightenment) believed that the civil magistrate had the right to inflict death upon stiff-necked, gross heretics as (at the very least) a maximum punishment.
     
  10. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    ---He did respond to Servetus saying that he couldnt promise him he could keep him alive if he came, and perhaps he didnt have as much pull at the "hearings", but the fact remains he DIDNT OPPOSE IT

    ---I have a more pressing question though, do you maintain that it is NOT a civil right to blaspheme the Triune God?
     
  11. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim Staff Member

    From Whom are "rights" derived? From what is "law" derived? The Lord says, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."
     
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    See the above post for the answer to that question. I agree with the Reformed tradition prior to the Enlightenment on this issue.
     
  13. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    ---As mentioned, I have educated myself on Calvin's issue

    ---No, this was posted AFTER I wrote the comment

    ---You cant be serious? Would you say that, for example, the LDS "Prophet" who reeks of blasphemy deserves death?

    ---I dont believe Calvin had the authority to change the ruling. But he sure had MANY opportunities to speak against it (and as mentioned, the most he said was the MODE of death rather than death itself)
     
  14. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    --So, you DO say heretics can be executed?
     
  15. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim Staff Member

    We all deserve death, m'Friend. Thus are the wages of sin.

    Is God cruel? Are you telling the Lord that heretics may not be executed?
     
  16. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    ---Then it would not be wrong if the government killed you since you deserve death? Everyone deserves death, do you have a shirt that says "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out"?
     
  17. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    Jason,
    Many of us here on the Puritan Board hold to the original Westminster Confession, which states,

    So the civil magistrate has the duty to punish heretics. Whether this ought to be done via execution is a matter of discretion.
     
  18. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    ---I see you trying to dodge the question, I put it to you again; are you saying its okay to kill heretics? I thought the Lord was long suffering and desires that none should perish, I thought his kingdom of this world, etc...

    All the rest of you reading this thread, please tell me if you think its ok for Heretics to be killed by civil magistrates, because I am at the wrong place if that is the common belief
     
  19. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim Staff Member

    It is clear to me that either

    1) You do not understand the nuances of the particular context Calvin was in

    or

    2) You do not care, and would prefer to take what you perceive to be the higher road and paint a picture of those with whom you disagree as men who would proudly say things like "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out."

    So, I am confident until one of the two is established, we would get nowhere in discussing it further.

    No dodging. I am simply trying to help you think through the consequences of your reactive posts.
     
  20. chuckd

    chuckd Puritan Board Freshman

    Who may and may not be killed by civil magistrates according to the Bible?
     
  21. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok then my enlightened one, please teach me the nuances that justify a man who knows the Word of God to not speak against (to the best of their ability and authority) killing a heretic?
     
  22. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    Jason, please read my post above (#17). It provides necessary context for this discussion.
     
  23. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    Just observing, to my utter horros, that you probably have that shirt on right now is all (and you probably where it "proudly")
     
  24. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for trying to help me understand!

    That said, am I seeing the correct post you referenced? I see the WM standards... Al I see there is that the divines as well say punish heretics (but I say, first: was death an option and second: even if they said that it doesnt/shouldnt go beyond what is written in that this is NOT a Theocracy, that the Kingdom is not of this earth, that vengeance is the Lords...)
     
  25. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    This isn't an issue I've had to deal with, thankfully, but one thought I've had in the past is if it is the duty of the civil magistrate to administer capital punishment to those who destroy men's bodies, then why not capital punishment for those who destroy men's souls? Is there some taboo on the latter? Is a soul-destroyer untouchable, allowed free reign but a body-destroyer isn't?
     
  26. Joshua

    Joshua pilgrim Staff Member

    This is far from a charitable esteem of one's neighbor.
     
  27. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    ---Nope, still dodging. Still waiting for that response
     
  28. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    The Civil Magistrates have a Obligation to put down unrepentant Criminals and ect.
    Belgic Confession Article 36:
    • We believe that because of the depravity of the human race our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies so that human lawlessness may be restrained and that everything may be conducted in good order among human beings.
      For that purpose he has placed the sword in the hands of the government, to punish evil people and protect the good.

      And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God's law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.

      They should do this while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, with the means belonging to them.

      And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.

      Moreover everyone, regardless of status, condition, or rank, must be subject to the government, and pay taxes, and hold its representatives in honor and respect, and obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God's Word, praying for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their ways and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all piety and decency.

      And on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists, and in general all those who want to reject the authorities and civil officers and to subvert justice by introducing common ownership of goods and corrupting the moral order that God has established among human beings.
     
  29. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps you should kill me?
    (this is called satire)
     
  30. Stope

    Stope Puritan Board Freshman

    Brother, the civil magistrates are not afforded the righ tto kill based on heresy, because Christ (even though affords civil leaders sword its NOT for heresy) has made it clear the tone of his church (hand them over to Satan, NOT, hand them over to the Sword/fire)
     
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