Witch-Burning Puritans?

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
"It appertaineth not to thee King Uzziah to burn incense unto the Lord but to the priests of Aaron." The Westminster Divines were not Erastian and OT Israel was not Erastian, unfortunately many contemporary Presbyterians are Erastian in their presuppositions. Ironically, in the historic debate against Erastianism by Presbyterians the argument was that church & state were distinct in Israel and now those that hold such a view are accused by fellow Presbyterians of being Erastian.
:agree: Ditto to Peter and Chris Rhoades.

The Two Sons of Oil; or, The Faithful Witness for Magistracy and Ministry upon a Scriptural Basis by Samuel B. Wylie
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
What are you reading by Lachman? I have the Sprinkle reprint of Aaron's Rod and Lachman authored the intro.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
What are you reading by Lachman? I have the Sprinkle reprint of Aaron's Rod and Lachman authored the intro.
Listening to his lectures on Scottish Presbyterianism from PRTS. 12 lectures in all. See this thread. I've started and stopped Aaron's Rod a couple of times. Would love to have an extended time to slowly work my way through it with pencil in hand and Bible open. I would also like to read his Male Audis as well.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I was under the impression that Separatist (not Puritan) New England didn't burn their witches; they hanged them. Of course, the end result is the same; just seeking historical accuracy.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Chris,
Does Dr. Lachman interact or take note of any of W.D.J. McKay's An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the Writings of George Gillespie?
http://www.heritagebooks.org/item.asp?bookId=1023
Listening to his lectures on Scottish Presbyterianism from PRTS. 12 lectures in all. See this thread. I've started and stopped Aaron's Rod a couple of times. Would love to have an extended time to slowly work my way through it with pencil in hand and Bible open. I would also like to read his Male Audis as well.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Chris,
Does Dr. Lachman interact or take note of any of W.D.J. McKay's An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the Writings of George Gillespie?
http://www.heritagebooks.org/item.asp?bookId=1023
Not in regards to church-state relations. I haven't listened to the lecture all the way through regarding worship though. I have McKay's book but haven't had a chance to go through it. Do you have any thoughts on it?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I was under the impression that Separatist (not Puritan) New England didn't burn their witches; they hanged them. Of course, the end result is the same; just seeking historical accuracy.
In reference to New England, I believe this is true. I am not aware of a single instance of burning a witch in colonial New England.

Were the victims of the Salem witch trials burned at the stake?

With the exception of Giles Corey--who was crushed to death for refusing to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, the executed were hanged, not burned. In Colonial America, witchcraft was a felony punishable by death by hanging. However, in Europe witchcraft was considered heresy and punishable by burning at the stake.

Source
Did you realize that no witches were burned in Salem?

Everyone knows about the Burning Times, the period of history when witchcraft hysteria gripped parts of Europe and North America and thousands of people died. These events took place over hundreds of years, and across many different countries. Popular media has created this image of witches being burned at the stake, which persists today. In fact, though many of the accused were burned, most were actually hanged (or executed by other means).

The most celebrated and well-known of these events are the trials at Salem, Massachusetts that took place during 1692. Though more people died elsewhere, people today frequently associate the killings of witches with this one town. So, these various half-truths of the times have gotten rolled into the "Witch Burnings at Salem".

That's really not correct.

According to court records of those trials, there were 20 people put to death for witchcraft in Salem, but none of them died by fire. They were all hanged (save one, who was pressed to death).

Source
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
No; just that he criticizes some of G's argument on the separation of church and state in the OT (if I recall rightly). So may be worth a read sooner rather than later.;)
Not in regards to church-state relations. I haven't listened to the lecture all the way through regarding worship though. I have McKay's book but haven't had a chance to go through it. Do you have any thoughts on it?
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
To address the question of the propriety of the State enforcing a law punishing the Satanic practice of witchcraft, see The Decalogue and the Civil Magistrate and Reformed Confessions/Catechisms on the Civil Magistrate Collated.

William Perkins on the general equity of capital punishment for witchcraft:

Puritan William Perkins (cited in Rossell H. Robbins, Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology [New York: Crown, 1959], p. 382):

That the witch truly convicted is to be punished with death, the highest degree of punishment, and that by the law of Moses, the equity whereof is perpetual.
Increase Mather on the admission of spectral evidence in judicial proceedings:

Rev. Increase Mather, Cotton's father, however, became an opponent of spectral evidence - though not until after the Salem hangings had taken place, and not on the basis that it was false testimony by witnesses, but that it might be a deception by demons. He published Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating [sic] Men, in which he argued that "It were better that ten suspected witches should escape, than that one innocent person should be condemned".

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectral_evidence"
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Was fornication really a capital offense?
No, fornication itself was "punished" with marriage. To get to capital offense required some other circumstance in addition. Kinda like armed robbery has a certain penalty unless you kill someone while committing the crime.

CT
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
"It appertaineth not to thee King Uzziah to burn incense unto the Lord but to the priests of Aaron." The Westminster Divines were not Erastian and OT Israel was not Erastian, unfortunately many contemporary Presbyterians are Erastian in their presuppositions. Ironically, in the historic debate against Erastianism by Presbyterians the argument was that church & state were distinct in Israel and now those that hold such a view are accused by fellow Presbyterians of being Erastian.
I would agree that in principle the Westminster Divines were not Erastian (and I agree with them). But in practice they were Erastian. They had to enforce church reforms with the sword (and approval) of the magistrate. Can't get more Erastian than that. What right does a magistrate have to control such things in the church? Who is Parliament to judge such things?

And as I showed from plenty of illustations, there was not a clear distinction between church and state. If there was, then Samuel was in clear violation, as was David and Elijah.

To appeal to OT kings as an example for our own magistrates completely ignores the OT kings role in the covenant of grace. Magistrates play no part in that covenant anymore with the ascension of King Jesus. This was a hermeneutical flaw in the Westminster Divines in trying to defend a seperation of church and state based upon Israel.
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
No, fornication itself was "punished" with marriage. To get to capital offense required some other circumstance in addition. Kinda like armed robbery has a certain penalty unless you kill someone while committing the crime.

CT

Lev 21:9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.
Deu 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
Deu 22:14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
Deu 22:15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
Deu 22:16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
Deu 22:17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
Deu 22:18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
Deu 22:19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
Deu 22:20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
Deu 22:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

You are of course right in saying that in most cases the penalty for fornication was marriage. However there were a couple of places where it could cost a woman her life.
God bless and keep you dear brother
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
Here is an example of the marriage penalty:
Deu 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
Deu 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

That would stop a lot of monkey business if that were followed today!:lol:
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Here is an example of the marriage penalty:
Deu 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
Deu 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

That would stop a lot of monkey business if that were followed today!:lol:
:agree:
You are not kidding! How much is 50 shekels in $us?
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Lev 21:9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.
Deu 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
Deu 22:14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
Deu 22:15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
Deu 22:16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
Deu 22:17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
Deu 22:18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
Deu 22:19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
Deu 22:20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
Deu 22:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

You are of course right in saying that in most cases the penalty for fornication was marriage. However there were a couple of places where it could cost a woman her life.
God bless and keep you dear brother
Um it seems that your counter only makes sense if you take the OT laws as arbitrary (sometimes the punishment is X or sometimes it is Y). In the case cited here, there was clear deception/fraud in view. The husband expected a virgin but found that his new wife was not one.

CT
 

puritan lad

Puritan Board Freshman
Puritans kill 20+ witches...

Atheists kill 100 million worldwide, (not counting millions more before they are even born).

Ask him to do the math ;)
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
During the Inquisition probably 30,000 to 300,000 "witches" were killed.

In Protestant Europe, a roughly similar estimate usually is found (in between the outragious claims of 9 million by Wiccans and just a few handfuls by Puritan sympathizers - who are also willing to doctor with unlikeable historic facts to exonerate their theocratic forefathers).


In England, in 1605 capital punishment was made the legal verdict.


Particularly in times of civil unrest - i.e. the entire period of the Reformation - communities seemed more willing to brand some as witches. Probably cultural divisions and a need to punish outsiders helped to sinfully influence church standards and led to a tolerance of such activites as witchhunting.

The Puritans who came to New England did not pioneer such ideas as were entertained at Salem, but were only acting according to already existent views in Europe.


In New England, though the civil gov't enacted the punishment, the church was very influential and many of the gov't posts were filled by men who also exercised high office in the ecclesiastical gov'ts at that time.



All in all..an embarrassing and dark time in the history of New England...and I think that theologies sympathetic to theocracy had a hand in these events.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
During the Inquisition probably 30,000 to 300,000 "witches" were killed.
And many of those were never "witches" to begin with...merely healers (the equivalant of a village doctor) and midwives. Some of these played on ppl's superstition (sometimes simply to uplift their patients hopes or thinking), making them "witchy". However, most were accused of "witchcraft" for the simply fact that they were women with herbal or some form of medical knowledge...the bigger part being that they were WOMEN. Others were female business owners...again, their being FEMALE made them easy targets. The church had the idea, much like the taliban, that women were evil and the cause of evil. Men's words could be listened to, a woman's never, unless it suited their purposes. There were also those that were accused for various other reasons, men or other women wanting to be rid of certain women for their own reasonings (just as with medicine and business above...but also for other reasons) and those accused because they were prostitutes or fornicators (very common in a time of castles, dowrys, many knights that would rape and pillage anyhow, and a royal court that didn't exactly lead the nation in setting a good example of moral behaviour.


The Following are portions taken from the paper
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses
A History of Women Healers
by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English
Witches lived and were burned long before the development of modern medical technology. The great majority of them were lay healers serving the peasant population, and their suppression marks one of the opening struggles in the history of man's suppression of women as healers.

The other side of the suppression of witches as healers was the creation of a new male medical profession, under the protection and patronage of the ruling classes. This new European medical profession played an important role in the witch-hunts, supporting the witches' persecutors with "medical" reasoning:

".... Because the Medieval Church, with the support of kings, princes and secular authorities, controlled medical education and practice, the Inquisition [witch-hunts ] constitutes, among other things, an early instance of the "professional" repudiating the skills and interfering with the rights of the "nonprofessional" to minister to the poor." (Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness)

The witch-hunts left a lasting effect: An aspect of the female has ever since been associated with the witch, and an aura of contamination has remained—especially around the midwife and other women healers. This early and devastating exclusion of women from independent healing roles was a violent precedent and a warning: It was to become a theme of our history.


But three central accusations emerge repeatedly in the history of witchcraft throughout northern Europe: First, witches are accused of every conceivable sexual crime against men. Quite simply, they are "accused" of female sexuality. Second, they are accused of being organized. Third, they are accused of having magical powers affecting health—of harming, but also of healing. They were often charged specifically with possessing medical and obstetrical skills. First, consider the charge of sexual crimes. The medieval Catholic Church elevated sexism to a point of principle: The Malleus declares, "When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil." The misogyny of the Church, if not proved by the witch-craze itself, is demonstrated by its teaching that in intercourse the male deposits in the female a homunculus, or "little person," complete (my note: this is possibly where the anabaptists get that Christ was fully God and never man, they believe that he took nothing from Mary, that He only APPEARED human) with soul, which is simply housed in the womb for nine months, without acquiring any attributes of the mother. The homunculus is not really safe, however, until it reaches male hands again, when a priest baptises it, ensuring the salvation of its immortal soul.

Witch-healers were often the only general medical practitioners for a people who had no doctors and no hospitals and who were bitterly afflicted with poverty and disease. In particular, the association of the witch and the midwife was strong: "No one does more harm to the Catholic Church than midwives," wrote witch-hunters Kramer and Sprenger.

The Church itself had little to offer the suffering peasantry:

"On Sundays, after Mass, the sick came in scores, crying for help,—and words were all they got: "You have sinned, and God is afflicting you. Thank him; you will suffer so much the less torment in the life to come. Endure, suffer, die. Has not the Church its prayers for the dead?" Jules Michelet, Satanism and Witchcraft)

When faced with the misery of the poor, the Church turned to the dogma that experience in this world is fleeting and unimportant. But there was a double standard at work, for the Church was not against medical care for the upper class. Kings and nobles had their court physicians who were men, sometimes even priests. The real issue was control: Male upper class healing under the auspices of the Church was acceptable, female healing as part of a peasant subculture was not.

The wise woman, or witch, had a host of remedies which had been tested in years of use. Many of the herbal remedies developed by witches still have their place in modern pharmacology. They had pain-killers, digestive aids and anti-inflammatory agents. They used ergot for the pain of labor at a time when the Church held that pain in labor was the Lord's just punishment for Eve's original sin. Ergot derivatives are the principal drugs used today to hasten labor and aid in the recovery from childbirth. Belladonna—still used today as an anti-spasmodic—was used by the witch-healers to inhibit uterine contractions when miscarriage threatened. Digitalis, still an important drug in treating heart ailments, is said to have been discovered by an English witch. Undoubtedly many of the witches' other remedies were purely magical, and owed their effectiveness—if they had any—to their reputation. (my note: more than like, their abilities earned the the reputation of having "magical" powers by the ignorance of the peasants...regardless if the healer was a "witch" or not).
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
About three comments to this thread:

1. Chris Rhoades was never answered. He raised the question as to general equity. He was mocked. People invented scriptures to ridicule him, but he was never answered. Score 1.

2. While many theonomists, Gary North and Greg Bahnsen, have argued that they would *not* put witches to death, I would at least urge a caution that we not judge the Bible and say we don't like the parts that modern culture rejects. And before you say, almost like a dispensationalist, "That was for the Old Testament," I refer you again to the "general equity" clause. That clause DEMANDS the application of this law. I didn't make it up. Confession did. So, at least * try * to answer Chris on confessional lines.

3. Let's bring this issue up to date: instead of witches, insert "satanists" or "santiera cult" members. Instead of harmless incantations, subsitute molesting/raping, torturing virgins all in the name of their religion. Now, how would you as a magistrate punish them? Remember, you have to respect their right to worshp according to their conscience.

And if anyone can find where Greg Bahnsen said the "church" should punish these crimes, I will concede the debate on behalf of all theonomists. If you cannot find this, and yet continue to make these claims, I will call you on slander.
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
The question first, Jacob, would be how would you first determine these ppl to be witches or satanists? By their own declarations, by deeds (and which ones), or by accusation.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
consequential ethics. Finding our situation in redemptive history, our situation in our context, the present facility of general revelation (e.g., new insights in application of legal theory, etc).

In other words, applying the law to our current situation. For example, and few people think of this, the general equity expired in the state of Israel. Remember the flying ax-head, accidental killing? What if you don't have an axehead? What about a sickle-blade? Does that count as general equity?

General equity = applying the underlying principle to our current situation.

Mrs Colleen: that's a good question, but given my example, an easy one. I can post newspaper reports from where the Santiera Cult raped and butchered virgins, all in the name of religion and freedom of conscience, of course. That's modern day witchcraft carried to its logical and moral conclusion.

I will now propose a counter-thesis. These evil, intolerant witch-burning puritans--their theology and worldview set the foundation for civil liberty. Had we followed the Klinean "common-grace" ethic, we would have a brutal tyranny. Not because the common-grace advocates would be in power, far from it (they are retreatist by definition), but that "common-grace ethic," left undefined, lacks the necessary logical force to stop a Stalin.

In our post-Nietszche age, a vague, undefined common-grace ethic cannot logically stop the "will to power." A logical locomotive does not stop because someone yells stop.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
My above move was a crowbar. Here comes the pile-driver.

I just finished reading Dr Spykeman's essay advocating principled pluralism n God and Politics: Four Views. Suffice to say, and Andrew and Chris R. will agree with me on this, every other view represented (theonomy, National Confessionalism, Christian America) buries his essay.

For principled pluralism to work, certain values must be imposed on those who in some way do not share those values. Should fringe Satanic cults who practice human sacrifice be protected? If the pluralists answers no he denies his own position.

On April 12, 1989, the pluralist attempt to skirt that dificult question lost all credibility and came face-to-face with the ugliness of pagan society. The front-page headlines of every major paper reported that authorities had dug up a number of mutilated human corpses, the vicious results of the religious ritual practiced by a Mexican offshoot of the Santeria culti satanic sacrifices. The problem posed to common grace ethic men is not simply a matter of hypothetical and tritling intellectual games. Real Satanists murder real people in real subservience to their real religious choices. Now then, should the civil magistrate respect this religious ritual of Santeria? Or should he rather in good (but morally prejudiced) conscience follow Christian values in giving a civil response to satanic sacrifice?

And btw, if any of you read World Magazine, a year ago they did an article on the re-rise of the Santiera cult.
 

Blue Tick

Puritan Board Graduate
I think I might have woke up this morning a little sensitive. If I'm over-reacting, please forgive me and let me know. With that being said...Ultimately the question of what we are to do with witches, if anything, should be answered by Scripture or by good and necessary consequence from Scripture. What I attempted was to show a clear command from Scripture for us to begin working through. I also put up a relevant confessional document regarding judicial laws to help us as a guide...

I have no problem getting hit right between the eyes with an argument or even feirce rhetoric. Ad homs generally slide off my back (getting better at taking them anyway...) - but what I'm sensitive about this morning is the method you used by inventing new Scriptures or manipulating them to make your argument. You could just have easily made the argument without doing that. I assume you doing it for rhetorical force and I understand the thrust of the argument. Out of reverence for the Word it just struck me a little off. Again, I may just being overly sensitive - and if so, please correct me and forgive me.

______________

OK...now for dealing with the actual argument. I believe you are begging the question on the category that you are putting witchcraft in. You are assigning it in the category of unbelief. You are exactly right - if it was indeed that. We are not to punish unbelief. We are to evangelise and disciple it. We send missionaries, not executioners.

However - God placed it in the context of judicially punishable offences. We are to punish/kill murderers. Not because of their unbelief but for their crime. We should still share the gospel with them of course! I would argue that the command to punish/kill witches would fall in the category of all the other capital punishment crimes rather than unbelief.

To show that witches shouldn't be punished today one would:
1. Have to show that we should not punish OT crimes today - but then one would have to differentiate hermeneutically between murder, rape, etc. - by showing scripture repealing the necessity.
2. Provide redemptive-historical changes that do away with it.
3. Provide a general equity of the verse above out of Exodus 22 that means to not punish at all.

:handshake:
Chris, this is well said. I look forward to the rebuttals.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Mrs Colleen: that's a good question, but given my example, an easy one. I can post newspaper reports from where the Santiera Cult raped and butchered virgins, all in the name of religion and freedom of conscience, of course. That's modern day witchcraft carried to its logical and moral conclusion.
I'm not so sure it is so easy. It seems to me that the unproven allegations levied against the Santiera Cult is a modern day witch hunt if you'll pardon the expression. I do believe there is sufficient evidence to convict them of witchcraft but not rape or murder.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If anyone was raping and murdering people in the name of religion, why not just judge them for the rape and murder?





Jacob, you keep making phrases like, Satanists who practice human sacrifice or cults that practice rape and molestation....



This weakens your arguments.

Whether the perpetrator went by the name of Jew, Christian or Satanist, they would be punished for the crime.


I could say, Pentecostals who practice theft. Yes, these should be punished too. Not for being Pentecostals but for being thieves.



Thus, they wouldn't be punished for "witchcraft" but would be punished for the offenses which they did.






Too.... a matter of historical debate....

Which group was more responsible for the civil freedoms of American today, those that followed "puritanical" beliefs or those that were baptistic, congregational and/or independant?




The choice does not need to be either a form of theonomy such as the above represented or "Klinean Intrusionist ethics". One can value the law immensely but still deny that we should kill witches.





Again from Thirdmill:

John Frame has noted that the New Testament church "fulfills the Old Testament theocracy" (Barker 1990, 95). In applying the Old Testament laws to the church, Paul did not apply them exactly as they were applied in the Old Testament. For instance, In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul addresses a situation where a man is living with his father's wife. According to Old Testament law, the man and the woman should receive capital punishment (Leviticus 20:10). However, this was not recommended by Paul. Rather, the proper punishment of this crime for Paul is excommunication (vv. 2, 13).[/I]

Above we have the Apostle Paul's interpretation of General Equity.


It seems that Roger Williams has more to do with religious liberty than Governor Endicott.
 
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