How Calvin helped create Unitarianism

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Nazaroo, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    How Calvin helped create Unitarianism


    Originally, the scattered and vague notions that later amalgamated and rigidified into Unitarianism were just that. Ignorance, confusion, religious questions raised when the Bible first became available in the common languages of ordinary people. This was of course inevitable and expected. What was unusual, was that a group of core-issues would become a lightning-rod and in some sense a rallying-point around which dissatisfied intellectuals, independents, and social movers would collect and congeal, under the name "Unitarianism".

    [​IMG]


    While many factors contributed to the phenomenon, one stunning and burning incident did more in the next 4 centuries to promote Unitarianism than any other: The murder of Servetus by Calvin.

    Here is an excerpt from Heretics, by Jonathan Wright (NY, 2011) p. 200 fwd:
    "Servetus

    Shortly after midday on Oct. 27, 1553, Michael Servetus was marched throught the city gates of Geneva [Switzerland], headed for Champel Hill. His heretical meditations on the Trinity had been denounced as "impious blasphemies and insane errors, wholly foreign to the word of God". A guard of mounted archers, robed clergymen and magistates, and much of Geneva's citizenry acompanied the 42 yr. old Spaniard. They would soon witness one of the 16th century's most notorious executions. Servetus was bound to a stake with iron chains, a crown of twigs and sulfur was placed on his head, and sticks of green wood - intended to burn more slowly and thus prolong his suffering - were lit. By some accounts, Servetus let out a cry: "Misericordia, misericordia. Jesus have compassion upon me." A copy of his infamous book - Christianismi Restitutio - burned beneath his feet.
    For more than two decades Michael Servetus had been artfully evading those who sought his downfall. At only 20 years of age he had published a book that launched a theologically confused but full-throated assault on the cherished Christian doctrine of the Trinity: the belief in one God as three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - joined in mystical union, and all three responsible for our salvation. Puzzlingly, Servetus had boldly put his name to this most controversial of tracts (his printer had sensibly remained anonymous), but when inquisitorial proceedings were launched against him, Servetus did not hesitate to adopt a pseudonym. In his new guise as Michel de Villeneuve, he fled to Paris to study mathematics and medicine. A second, and third, career ensued, in which he served time as a proofreader in Lyon and, with some audacity, worked as the personal physician to the princes of the church (including the archbishop of Vienne) he had so offended.
    He remained at the theological maverick, however, and in 1545 he made the fateful decision to strike up a correspondence with the great reformer of Geneva, John Calvin. As we've seen, Calvin's theology was itself unfeasibly radical - it exploded centuries of Christian thought about salvation, grace, and predestination - but Calvin was never anything other than a devoted believer in the Trinity. As such, he despised Michael Servetus, and when occasion arose he set about to destroy him. When Servetus's Christianismi Restitutio (a more mature anti-Trinitarian work) was published in 1553, the French authorities arrested him and declared him a heretic. It is likely that it was Calvin who informed his Catholic enemies that they had a covert Unitarian in their midst: a curious, some would say disreputable, moment of cross-confessional cooperation in a century of religious strife. Again however, Servetu made good his escape. Early one morning he scaled the wall of the prison garden in Vienne and headed of to Italy: all that was left to the infuriated French authorities was to burn Servetus in effigy.
    Bizarrely, and catastrophically, Servetus decided to stop off at Geneva en route. Since he had arrived on Sunday, he even took the risky step of going to see John Calvin preach in one of the city's churches. Calvin, out of theological distaste and in order to reassert his waning political influence, engineered Servetus' arrest and trial. A boisterous examination of Servetus' opinions followed, in which the heretic was charged with spreading "endless blasphemies", calling the baptism of children "an invention of the devil", and even studying the detested Koran "in order to controvert and disprove the doctrine and religion that the Christian churches hold." Worst of all, he had allegedly described the Trinity as a "three-headed devil, like to Cerberus, whom the ancient poets have called the dog of hell, a monster."
    Servetus' guilt was established to the satisfaction of the city's Lesser Council and, while Geneva sought the advice of other Swiss cities about how best to proceed, Servetus languished in prison. He complained endlessly about his plight, "the lice eat me alive", he informed the city magistrates, "my clothes are torn, and I have nothing for a change, neither a jacket nor a shirt"; realizing that his prospects were bleak, he pleaded that he might be killed in as humane a way as possible. It was commonly supposed that the true martyr would endure his final agonies with unworldy serenity. Servetus feared that, if the flames began to lick, he would respond with a distinct lack of courage. As we have seen, his requests fell on deaf ears.

    The context of Servetus' execution is all important. By 1553, the rigors of John Calvin's regime were already well known. Nowhere was the concept of a controlled, magisterial Reformation more in evidence. During the 1540s and 1550s, as much as 7 percent of Geneva's population (a startlingly high proportion) was brought before its ecclesiastical tribunal, the Consistory: Protestantism's very own Inquisition.
    Some offenders had done nothing more heinous than play cards or don extravagant clothing. Others were adulterers, blasphemers, and religious dissidents, many of whom received punishments - ranging from excommunication, to banishment, to execution - that even by the standards of the 16th century were unusually severe. It was all part of Calvin's plan to reform the morality of the city he hoped to turn into a Protestant paradise.
    Pierre Ameaux criticized Calvin's penchant for employing French preachers in Geneva's churches. As punishment, he was made to parade through the city's streets in a hair shirt, begging for forgiveness. Valentin Gentilis held theological views that Calvin found unappetizing, and was made to undergo the humiliation of publicly burning his own books. And yet, even in this oppressive climate, the particularly gruesome death fo Micheal Servetus stands out.

    One contemporary, the French theologian Sebastian Castellio (1515-1563), found the whole episode deeply shameful. For Castellio, the execution was an unforgivable act of tyranny. He began to wonder if the very notion of persecuting heretics was not a betrayal of the entire Christian cause. Just what were heretics, Castellio asked: simply "those with whom we disagree". And while you might detest the people with whom you quarreled, it really wasn't appropriate to torture and kill them. Force and violence had no role to play in the arena of religious belief because the truth could not be hammered into people's minds. Persuasion was endlessly more efficient than coercion.
    Castellio asked his Christ a rhetorical question. "I beg you in the name of your Father, do you now command that those who do not understand your precepts be drowned in water, cut with lashes to the entrails, dismembered by the sword, or burned at a slow fire?" Did Christ approve of these things being done in his name? "Are they your vicars who make these sacrifices?" Of course not. "O plashemous and shameful audacity of men, who dare to attribute to Christ that which they do by the command and the instigation of Satan."
    The subsequent adjudication has been ferocious too. Servetus' execution is an event that has continued to haunt the people of Geneva. In 1909 an expiatory monument was erected on the site fo Servetus' execution. It can still be visited today, where the Avenue de la Rosarie meets the Avenue de Beau-Sejour. Its inscription dutifully pays tribute to John Calvin - "our great reformer" and theman who, after all, made Geneva into one of the most influential cities in Europe - but it also apologizes for the death of Servetus as an odious crime against liberty of conscience. In fact, this was only the most recent outpouring of sympathy for Michael Servetus."



    (to be continued...)
     
  2. Nazaroo

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    How Calvin helped create Unitarianism (cont.)

    "Throughout the 19th century - when notions of religious freedom were very much in vogue - there had been a frenzied competition to see who could erect the most elaborate monument in his memory, or write the most adoring account of his deeds. It became fashionable to refer to Champel Hill, where Servetus was broiled alived, as a second Golgotha.
    The truth is that someone like Castellio was very unusual. His condemnation of the Servetus affair won a wide readership and there was a good deal of grumbling about going so far as killing a fellow, if idiosyncratic, Protestant. That, so it was averred, was what Catholics did. Nonetheless, most contemporaries, if they complained at all, only worried about the specific circumstances of Servetus' treatment. Killing him was perhaps a little harsh, and killing him in such a way was a public relations disaster (and, for the record, Calvin himself suggest that Servetus be beheaded - a much less excruciating way to meet your maker). The execution was seen as a scandal across Protestant Europe. Hardly anyone doubted that he had to be silenced and punished, however. The events in Geneva in 1553 have grabbed the headlines for five centuries. Thanks to Castellio's reaction, they are routinely invoked as one of the steps on the road to religious toleration, but in the context of the 16th century Servetus' execution only represented the most extreme articulation of a prevailing logic. Protestantism, in places like Calvin's Geneva, had won the day. It was in charge, and, in the interests of social order and theological respectability, it felt obligated to hammer out its orthodoxies and strike down its heretical enemies."
    The importance of Wright's notes here in our view center around his insight into how the torture/murder of Servetus actually drove people away from Calvin and the Trinitarian camp, now perceived as 'yet more Roman Catholic tyranny' and swung public opinion toward religious tolerance of heretical opinion, which was now perceived of as a far lesser social evil than wrongful torture and murder.

    In essence, those living in the 19th century perceived religious authorities generally to be tyrannical, despotic, and probably ignorant concerning religious truth. It became recognized that freedom of expression was essential to actual scientific progress and the increase of knowledge.

    Nazaroo
     
  3. annsni

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    Good heavens - Calvin did not murder Servetus.
     
  4. webdog

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    Maybe I missed it, but I'm not seeing the guilt of who murdered servetus as the point in the OP.

    ...but for the record the jews still maintain they didn't murder Jesus :)
     
  5. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    You have got to be kidding me.....:laugh:
     
  6. Salty

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    EWF
    I know this is off topic, but why did you have to quote the entire OP?
     
  7. preacher4truth

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    Not one thing in nazaroos "cut and paste" proved his premise in the OP. Then I read his take on all of it, his 2 lines, and that's supposed to prove the OP?

    Respectfully, I don't think so.

    The OP made it sound like his excerpt would prove it. It didn't even come close. Neither did his follow-up.

    :sleep:
     
  8. preacher4truth

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    'cause he liked the picture. :tongue3:
     
  9. Nazaroo

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    Good heavens. He did.
    And there is more to it than that.
    It wasn't a murder of opportunity,
    but it was planned, cold-blooded, murder and torture.
    Calvin's little performance of wishing Servetus was only beheaded, is as phoney as a 3-dollar bill.

    It is likely however, that Servetus went to Calvin's part of town
    for the very reason of confronting him with the accusation of Calvin's betrayal of him to the French Roman Catholics,
    which was actually documented.
    Instead of repenting, Calvin arrested his accuser.

    Calvin was a cowardly betrayer and murderer, and also a tyrant.

    He was as "Roman Catholic" in his treachery as they come,
    and he falls under the same category as those who killed Huss.
     
  10. annsni

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    So prove that Calvin murdered Servetus.
     
  11. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Your right....shouldnt have. I just found the whole thing offensive but I will edit in the future.
     
  12. billwald

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    Servetus was warned that if he returned to Geneva he would be killed. He should be included on the "worst case of suicide" list and the Darwin Award list
     
  13. Nazaroo

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    History is based on probabilities, not "proof".
    Historical sciences use contemporary testimony and the opinion of other historians (peer review).

    Anyway, I'm not Calvin's judge.
    As a Christian, I am only supposed to look at his fruits,
    and know the tree, in order to avoid it.
    Bad trees don't produce good fruit.
    And good trees don't produce both good and bad fruit,
    in the sense that Jesus means the metaphor.

    My interest is not in Calvin at all. I wouldn't even bother to read his stuff, after what I already know.

    My interest is only in trying to find the historical forces and account for the near-total apostasy of the entire British nation by the end of the 19th century.

    So far, I've traced it backward to the Unitarians, who operated from the 1780s to the 1880s, and finally destroyed Britain's greatest treasure, the King James Bible. While their mutilation and substitution of the NT with the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical text of the 4th century was a failure at first, they convinced the populace at large that the Bible was full of errors and couldn't be trusted. The British people never recovered from the betrayal of the Anglicans [edit] responsible, Westcott, Hort, Schaff, Ellicott, Ezra Abbott, etc.

    It took another generation to really pound the Bible into the ground, with Metzger's [edit] NRSV, which erased all the prophecies of the Messiah in the OT.

    But the question is, how did the Unitarians acquire the numbers and political strength to do such damage?

    The answer is in the bad behaviour of the Trinitarians like Calvin, who betrayed a man to be burned alive publicly in order to assert a draconian 'law and order' policy on Geneva.

    This so shocked and disgusted most of Europe, both Protestant and Catholic, that the Trinitarians lost all credibility and the Unitarian ranks swelled beyond what they deserved.

    Basically, the Trinitarians, being their own worst enemies, let the most foolish heretics get the upper hand in winning hearts and minds, and this was the worst disaster for Christianity since the Inquisition.
     
    #13 Nazaroo, Jun 25, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2011
  14. Earth Wind and Fire

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    "My interest is not in Calvin at all. I wouldn't even bother to read his stuff, after what I already know."


    Ohhhhhhhh Boy! You've just discredited your whole argument right there brother by not even bothering to qualify what you "Think" you know! So therefore, you go forward with reckless abandon & slander the man without definitive proof to support your claims.....Nice, very nice.:tear:
     
  15. Nazaroo

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    A man was burned alive at the stake, on the instigation of Calvin.

    Thats a historical fact.

    "By their fruits ye shall know them."

    After that, Calvin is [edited].

    The civil leaders of Geneva were a pack of hoodlums, thugs, murderers, criminal monsters, psychopaths.
    In clear proof that only evil comes from evil, Switzerland looked after all Hitler's cash for him,
    and helped to hide and launder the stolen goods and gold etc. plundered by the rape of Europe,
    provided an escape channel to South America for the highest Nazis and international war-criminals,
    protected the criminal money of Odessa,
    and continues to launder international drug cartel money today.
    Welcome to Switzerland.

    [​IMG]

    These people were no better than the leaders of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.
    I suppose you'll be calling bike-gangs saints next.
     
    #15 Nazaroo, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2011
  16. Nazaroo

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    The Inquisitions (1022-1826 = 800 yrs)
    The Inquisition - The Galileo Project
    The Inquisition - Jewish Virtual Library
    Brief History of the Inquisition (with Chronologies)
    Intro to Inquisition Fordham edu
    Secret Files of the Inquisition - pbs.org

    Inquisition FAQ - Bede's Library
    Inquisition - RC apologetic, Fr. W. G. Most

    The REAL Inquisition - T. F. Madden
    The Inquisition in Peru - against "Judaizers"...
    Inquisition Records: Confessions - Bp. Pamiers
    History of Inquisition - H. C. Lea vol.1

    Rare Spanish Inquisition Documents U. Notre Dame
    History of Torture - documentary
     
    #16 Nazaroo, Jun 26, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2011
  17. Nazaroo

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    A man begged to be released, and was burned alive, screaming.

    And thats now a suicide?


    I'm glad you're not a police investigator.

    Maybe you should seek a job as a lawyer.
     
  18. BobinKy

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    Nazaroo...

    Interesting hypothesis. Love the graphics.

    ...Bob
     
  19. quantumfaith

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    Nazaroo,

    As if you have not already noticed, you have pardon the pun "ignited" the passions of those who hold to reformational theology. You will most certainly be faced with accusations that this is false, most likely followed by claims that you were not there, or that the execution was out of the hands of Calvin. I personally am not a historian,, but I know many, most of which are not "theological historians", who shared with me in some form the accuracy of what you have shared. All in all, it is "water under the bridge". It is now set before us today, to read, study and research saturated with prayer and meditation the principles and truths of Scriptures and then seek to live them out in an intentional missional manner.

    Blessings
     
  20. Nazaroo

    Nazaroo
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    A big AMEN to your reasoned, generous and gentle-spirited approach.

    I will also turn to prayer again over this.

    I still cannot feel that burning a man alive is a small thing,
    whether it happened 300 years ago or 3 minutes ago.
    I cannot at the moment find any possible way to reconcile
    the teachings and warnings of Jesus our Lord,
    with any kind of excuses for behavior of this kind (torture/murder).

    One of the biggest selling-points in my view for Protestantism,
    vs. Romanism, was the eventual rejection of hysterical torture etc.,
    in favor of common sense and the presumption of innocence.

    peace
    Nazaroo
     

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