Posts Tagged 'Michael Servetus'

What to Do About Unrepentant Murderers in the Church?

For a few years, I was raised Calvinist. Even today I would consider myself “Reformed,” in certain idiosyncratic senses that pleases no Reformed people I know. But something that always bothered me about “Calvinist theology” was “Calvin the man,” and the fruit his life bore–namely, that he and his theocracy in Geneva killed people with whom they disagreed, over moral and theological matters. Hat-tip to my Presbymergent friend Adam Walker Cleaveland, “Jarrod McKenna has written a very interesting post entitled “Orthodoxy and heretics like Calvin?” which is worth your attention, especially if you claim the Reformed tradition as your tribe.” It is a great article. Whaddaya think?

I have a question for my many Presbyterian (and Reformed Baptist, et al) friends: Would Calvin be allowed to be an elder in one of your churches today? If not, how much (or, I should say “in what ways?”) can we learn from the notoriously, unrepentantly violent in our churches?

Of course Calvin and his followers weren’t the only killers-in-the-name-of-Jesus, and sure there were nuances. But bottom line, Servetus (among others, I’ve heard) was killed. What implications does this (and the contemporary verbally-violent character assassination that often characterizes contemporary Christendom) have for our witness as peace-makers?


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