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Bush to be rebuked by conservative Christians
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wikipedia sources a book called The Heretics, but one of the different sources I found tells a somewhat different story of Calvin. Another source agrees with this account.

Quote:
The secular officials were unable to establish that Servetus was an immoral disturber of the public peace. Nevertheless, he made damaging theological statements in the course of a written debate with Calvin. The Council of Geneva, after receiving the advice of churches in four other Swiss cities, convicted Servetus of antitrinitarianism and opposition to child baptism. Calvin asked that Servetus be mercifully beheaded. The Council insisted he should be burned at the stake.


It seems that at least in this case, Calvin did not see the need for burning a heretic at the stake.

By the way, one of those damaging theological statements, besides the renunciation of the trinity, was an affirmation of pantheism that went quite far.

Quote:
He held that God was present in and constitutive of all creation. This feature of Servetus' theology was especially obnoxious to Calvin. At the Geneva trial he asked Servetus, "What, wretch! If one stamps the floor would one say that one stamped on your God?"

Calvin asked if the devil was part of God. Servetus laughed and replied, "Can you doubt it? This is my fundamental principle that all things are a part and portion of God and the nature of things is the substantial spirit of God."


Servetus' split with the fundamentals of Christianity agreed upon by the most Lutheran and Catholic denominations alike was quite complete.

Quote:
Servetus rejected the doctrine of original sin and the entire theory of salvation based upon it, including the doctrines of Christ's dual nature and the vicarious atonement effected by his death. He believed Jesus had one nature, at once fully human and divine, and that Jesus was not another being of the godhead separate from the Father, but God come to earth.


In other words, the guy was way out there. Personally, I have trouble understanding the meaning of Christianity without original sin. Why would God come to Earth if there were no need to redeem man? Servetus' philosophy seems to have more in common with Highlander than the spirit of mainstream Christianity.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Calvin asked that Servetus be mercifully beheaded. The Council insisted he should be burned at the stake.


OK. I may have overstated Calvin's appreciation of the virtues of burning at the stake with this example. The mere fact that the Council had the option of ordering death by burning is outrageous. I don't have any history book on 16th Century Geneva, but it seems apparant that other people were burned there. You do agree that Calvin's domination of Geneva created the political atmosphere where someone could be burned alive for his beliefs, don't you? In that sense, Calvin bears a share of the responsibility.

Quote:
Servetus' split with the fundamentals of Christianity agreed upon by the most Lutheran and Catholic denominations alike was quite complete.


And for this he deserved death--either by burning or the axe?


Quote:
heretical teachings also tended to cause schisms and conflict that resulted in bloodshed and divisions that could tear a state apart.


I did enjoy that comment. It reminded me of an incident that happened years ago when I was teaching high school. One day after class I was at my desk correcting papers when John, a former student came in. He was in college and taking a course in logic. He had an editorial with him that he said he couldn't understand and asked if I could help him. The editorial was justifying tossing gays out of the military because they were a security risk. (This was around the time of 'don't ask, don't tell'.) John said what confused him was that the if the military didn't say it was illegal, then gays wouldn't be a security risk because no one could blackmail them. He said the editor's position seemed illogical, so could I explain it to him.

I was able to say, "John, you are not confused. The editor (and the military) are being illogical. They are blaming the victim."

John's mom called later that evening. She said John was so happy. He'd been thinking he was too stupid to understand but now he'd finally realized that even editors can be stupid.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya-ta Boy wrote:
Quote:
Calvin asked that Servetus be mercifully beheaded. The Council insisted he should be burned at the stake.


OK. I may have overstated Calvin's appreciation of the virtues of burning at the stake with this example. The mere fact that the Council had the option of ordering death by burning is outrageous. I don't have any history book on 16th Century Geneva, but it seems apparant that other people were burned there. You do agree that Calvin's domination of Geneva created the political atmosphere where someone could be burned alive for his beliefs, don't you? In that sense, Calvin bears a share of the responsibility.


Actually, the other sites dispute that claim, too. They say Calvin was not in high favor with the Council at the time, to say the least. Calvin did serve as the prosecutor, though. This accounted for the arrogance of Servetus, who thought he could just hurl insults at Calvin in response. At least according to these sites. Although it's generally recognized that Calvin did encourage burning others at the stake, just not Servetus.

Anyway, I don't think that it helps to burn anyone at the stake. But Calvin definitely defended the practice in one of his works. He used the same argument I made above, that to kill these people would be to save many souls. The problem with that argument is that Servetus' writings were already published. Calvin would have to both kill Servetus, and burn all extant writings, and even then, one of his disciples could continue. It doesn't seem either logical or just to me. Simply excommunicating Servetus would have been enough. Maybe some ridicule on top of that, but burning people at the stake is very nasty and can often prove counter-productive. So, to your second question, Servetus definitely didn't deserve death, but I think like Socrates, his defiant stand accompanied by a weak defense provoked it, the only difference being that in Socrates' case this result was intended.

I agree that gays are the victim in the situation you described. I do not see how they are a security risk. But heretics are not simple victims in the same way. As it was, it was a different time, and you cited a few wars that were partially ignited by schismatics. Because of prevailing wisdom, we have freedom of the press, which means that all differing opinions are offered, and there is no single one that stands out because of the enormous volume of media in total. Also, America itself, I believe is a special situation for a variety of reasons. In Europe after the Reformation, Church and State were tied together. In England it was illegal, for example, under the Corporation Act of 1661 and Test Act of 1673, for Protestant Dissenters and Catholics to hold office. This was not a matter of simple bigotry, for if one was not loyal to the Anglican Church, one's loyalty to England was suspect.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mostly we are arguing on the same side. Very Happy
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Mostly we are arguing on the same side.


This happens, but I just wanted to talk about history. So...
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
This happens, but I just wanted to talk about history. So...


Oh, OK. I can do that. Smile

The part of your posts that 'get me' is the idea of killing someone for their own good.

I'm familiar with that idea from reading about the Inquisition. I can understand it on an intellectual level, but my gut just screams when I read it. It is the ultimate example of patronizing self-righteousness. Totalitarians adopt it when they set themselves up to create their idea of utopia.

16th Century Europe is as close to hell on earth as any time I've read about. Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists were all utopians and woe to anyone in the neighborhood who had a deviant idea. (I always thought the Anabaptists sounded like they were more fun.) They were all way too quick with the thumbscrew, boot, strapado and match for my taste.

The topic at hand is really the right of the majority vs the right of the minority. There has just been another battle over that issue in the US Senate. One of the distinguishing features of the modern world is the belief that minorities do have rights.

My questions for you then are:
a) how far does the right of the majority extend?

or if you want to keep it more historical:
b) Was France better off when the Edict of Nantes was in force, but they had the heretical Huguenots or after it was revoked and they had state-imposed religious uniformity?
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