were the Reformers murderers?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by SolaSaint, May 2, 2011.

  1. SolaSaint

    SolaSaint
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    I just read an article concerning the execution of Michael Servetus in Geneva back in the 1500's around the time of the Reformation. He was a heretic denying the Trinity and other reformed doctrines. However he was buned at the stake and John Calvin had a part in this. Many well known reformers agreed that he was a heretic. I never knew this of Calvin. Was it common practice by the reformed brothers to execute heretics? I know the Roman Catholic Church executed many but I never knew of this terrible marks against Calvin and others of this time.

    Does this change your view of Calvin and other reformers? It does me! How could Christ rule their hearts by convincing them to burn people at the stake for disagreeing about doctrine? For a long time now I have held these men in high regard for their strong stance upon the truths of scripture. I'm going to have to rethink what I believe about the reformed doctrines if the men who started it all were that evil in the heart. does this effect any of you in the same way?
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    Calvin took great steps to attempt to distance himself from Servetus' execution, but when one considers the broader historical picture of Calvin's biography it is clear that he had the means and ability to stop the execution if he so chose. He clearly didn't.

    If Servetus isn't a convincing case there are others from John Calvin's time as the Michael Corleone of Geneva. I would be careful saying "murder" as opposed to church/state (the two are inseparable in Geneva) sanctioned execution.

    Think also of other Reformers like Zwingli who died in battle against other Christians. The Anabaptists were frequent targets of persecution and executions and specifically from Zwingli himself.

    Times were different then.

    Some of Calvin's punishments of his detractors range from the comical to the severe...very different times.
     
  3. SolaSaint

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    From what I've read I didn't get the idea that Calvin was trying to distance himself from the execution, but there seems to be confusion on what really did happen from all the sources available.
     
  4. Zenas

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    I'm no fan of Calvin but you shouldn't judge him by his participation in the burning of a heretic. As Preachinjesus just said, "Times were different then." A couple of dozen Puritans were tried and executed in New England for the alleged practice of witchcraft. Thousands of slave owners in the South were devout Christians but thought nothing of the incongruity between owning slaves and the teachings of Christ.

    It would be an interesting study to research why and how we came to realize things like murder for heresy are just as wrong as murder for any other purpose.
     
  5. Allan

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    While John C. was the one who notified authorities (he was already a heated opponent in the issue), and Sev was taken after he was finished preaching. John C. did try to get the sentence lessened to beheading (I think). However John Calvin, did not sentence the man, nor was he able to turn nor over turn any decision. However the fact does remain he knew exactly what would happen when he went and told the authorities.

    However it has been said those were different times, and remember also that the early reformers, were trying to 'Reform' the Roman Catholic Church, not become separate and thus some of it's way continued on with the reformed groups, eventually most being weeded out.. such as executions for opposing cardinal views of the Christian faith. They, like us are products of our time. That is not an excuse but a fact. It was the way it was, and had been so for several hundred years under church/state rule
     
  6. drfuss

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    The Reformers were breaking new ground in separating from the RCC which was the established church for centuries. THe Reformers carried over many of the RCC practices. Allowing sanctioned excutions was probably one of them. The Reformers also carried over infant baptism, sinless Mary, and the evervirgin Mary. Even John Wesley (many years later) carried over most of those when he left the Church of England.

    We need to give the Reformers some slack; they had been thourghly indoctrinated by the RCC.
     
  7. glazer1972

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    Both the RCC and the the early Protestant Churches were guilty of abuses.
     
  8. ReformedBaptist

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    I always thought it as what happens when Christians begin to blur the distrinction between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world.
     

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