You are hereThe Right to Heresy

The Right to Heresy

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By Virgil - Posted on 05 April 2006

by Virgil Vaduva
He killed fifty-seven people; banished seventy-six. Confiscated property of political and theological enemies; took power by public revolt and despotism; he ruled with an iron fist. Iste Gallusthat Frenchman – was the first reference to him in official books and records of Geneva, but his name was Jehan Calvin; an incredible attorney, stellar theologian, a tyrant and a murderer.

The Context

Dieu m’a fait la grace de declarer ce qu’est bon et mauvais – God has been gracious enough to reveal unto me good and evil.” – John Calvin

Without a doubt, our detractors will accuse of us being mean-spirited and unnecessarily rough in our treatment of Calvin, but what needs to be well outlined first is the context in which this conversation takes place. While I have many very good friends who openly subscribe to the doctrine of Calvinism, it has been my personal experience that many Calvin-ists display a very disturbing sense of self-righteousness and characteristics ranging from lone defender of the Elect, truth and the very essence of the Gospel of Christ to acknowledgement of a unique and lonely existence as God’s sheep in the midst of wolves and enemies. While these are not necessarily bad characteristics, they appear to take an overly negative and proprietary tone when Calvinists take them on.

The issue becomes even more disturbing in many instances when conversations and theological disagreements stray from theology and venture into the territory of deep personal attacks, obsessive behavior, stalking and public outbursts and wishes of personal destruction for those who disagree with them. Like their Maitre, many Calvinists view themselves proudly as the one and only defenders of Truth; and as they do so, they not only bear the name of their master by proudly calling themselves Calvin-ists but follow him in action too by actively rooting for the physical and spiritual harm of those who choose to differ in doctrinal matters.

By no means is this a Calvinist-only manifestation for sin permeates all men; however this does seem to be in my opinion – and the opinions of many I have consulted – a more common characteristic of Calvinists. Indeed, it seems as if many Calvinists wish to mirror their Maitre not just in doctrine but in all other actions, just as the tyrant himself forced his doctrine on the whole of Geneva, too often under the threat of excommunication and death. Is was quite normal for Calvin to get violently sick when he encountered theological dissent, with his stomach becoming severely and nervously affected by opposition, so much so that he would not sleep and eat and would often vomit bile. Such was the way Calvin handled disagreements, often dispatching threats of eternal fire with his warning letters to detractors.

And without a doubt, this will be perceived as a personal attack by our Calvinist friends who will likely take this honest and truthful criticism of their master as criticism of Christ himself, but I am not the one carrying the name of a man such as Calvin, nor am I afraid as Calvin’s contemporaries were, because God has blessed us with life in a country where we can freely speak our minds regarding both political and theological matters, and thankfully, no Calvinistic tyrant can climb the ladder of power and like Servetus, burn me at the stake, slowly, over matters of doctrine.

May it be as it will, I pray that however this message is perceived, it is perceived as coming from my heart, and may the outcome be on the heads of those choosing to ignore history, and those who choose to hide it because they shamefully equate “doctrine” with “Gospel” and because they seemingly choose to put the name of Calvin above that of Christ, perhaps not openly, but certainly in their action.

So the purpose of this article is not to insult or cause harm to any of my brothers, but rather to evoke the power of facts and history in regards to a man they hold in high esteem, and perhaps rightly so since Calvin was an illustrious theologian, attorney and politician, having had a great effect on the Reformation and the Christian world since his own time. But if illustriousness, political power and legal skill brings a man in accord with God’s will and brings justification for evil actions, then many men, including Nero, Hitler and Lenin would have been justified before God for their evil. And indeed, evil is what Calvin has done while reigning in Geneva. Evidently, killing heretics was so insidious that it came naturally at the time of Calvin; rarely was the death penalty opposed, and it never occurred to Christians as far as we can see that suppression of thought should be viewed as immoral and un-Christian. However, justifying the many executions and killings in Geneva with a Biblical framework is inexcusable regardless of the year and social context in which they take place, especially if we are to believe the Scripture to be the timeless, unchanging and inerrant Word of God.

So since the purpose of this article is to reveal history as it was, I ask you the reader to patiently read this not-too-lengthy analysis of Calvin and his actions in Geneva. There are many things covered, many names mentioned, so your patience may be required.

That Frenchman

In the 1500s, Luther’s Reformation swept Europe quickly and brought about not just religious change, but a thirst for political freedom and independence. Many people recognized that just as the Catholic Church has little power and sway over the individual’s freedom, neither did the noblemen and un-elected princes of Europe. In Germany, the peasants revolted against the rich landowners out of sheer poverty and desperation, and they were slaughtered by the thousands. Ironically, Luther wanted no part of the political changes that came about as a result of his actions. Regarding the peasants Luther wrote: "They should be knocked to pieces, strangled and stabbed, secretly and openly, by everybody who can do it, just as one must kill a mad dog!" [1]

Tumult and excitement spread across the known world, and Geneva, a city state at the time, was no exception. After a few years of Catholic killing and bashing, the Catholic faith has been completely and utterly eliminated from public life in Geneva, thus on a spring Sunday in 1536, on May 21, all men, women and children of the burghers of Geneva gathered in the town square and raised their hands declaring that from this day forward they would all live exclusively “selon l’evangile et la parole de Dieu.” – By the gospel and the word of God.

This was the environment in which Calvin rose to power and notoriety, and because the Reformation was often brought to fruition through violence and destruction, the post-Reformation years were often confusing and seeped in despair for the commoners like the citizens of Geneva. The authority of the Catholic Church was missing, and the theological and political void was so strong that many local governments and states were desperate to prevent a total collapse of order and justice. And in this environment Calvin happened to visit Geneva at the age of twenty-seven. Having already written his famous Institutio, Calvin was a well-known theologian and was well-received by Farel the preacher, a man who was credited for driving the Catholics out of Geneva.

Farel talked Calvin into staying in Geneva, and on September 5, 1536, the city officially allowed “iste Gallus” – that Frenchman (Gaul) – to take on the responsibilities of a preacher of the gospel. So minor and normal was this action that the secretary taking minutes did not even bother to find out the name of Calvin; he was only known as that Frenchman. [2] Having been trained in the best seminaries and law schools of Europe, Calvin was one of the most educated men of his time. He was a brilliant and calculated attorney, a careful and impassionate theologian and truly put the whole of his heart into whatever work he was involved in; we are told that he would often sleep three or four hours each night, with his light burning among the Genovese homes hours before the city would wake up for its daily work.

Within three months, Calvin has created a detailed Catechism or Creed for the city of Geneva, and he submitted it to the City Council with the insistence that there could be no separation between spiritual and political matters, and that the city should immediately adopt it as law, down to the letter.[3] Calvin and Farel’s proposed creed did not only outline matters of faith, but they were in essence State laws, and the City Council, while not educated on matters of theology, initially agreed to the demands but later recognized this as an attempt to usurp the democracy of Geneva and refused to continue their support for Calvin and Farel over many complaints from the citizens.[4] Furthermore, because of continuous political pressure coming from Calvin’s faction, in 1538 the city retracted Calvin and Farel’s powers to excommunicate. As retaliation, at the Easter service, Calvin refused to distribute the Lord’s Supper to the entire city of Geneva, so the Council banned Calvin from the pulpit. The confrontation came to the two factions, sword in hand, facing each other in the middle of the St. Pierre Cathedral on Easter Sunday, where Calvin and his supporters forced their way against the wishes of the City Council. Bloodshed was barely averted, and eventually both Calvin and Farel were expelled from Geneva.

It was not until three years later when Calvin’s supporters gained a majority in the City Council and decided to invite Calvin back as their preacher that Calvin accepted supreme power in Geneva under some very strict conditions; he was to put forth an interpretation of the Gospel after which political, social and judicial structure would be defined. This manifested later through the creation of the Consistory, which was essentially a judicial court in which men appointed by Calvin, and Calvin himself would handle various offenses brought before them. These offenses could range from daily matters of morality such as dancing and singing, to doctrinal and theological matters which often resulted in banishment, confiscation of property and even death. It was rare that the Consistory opposed Calvin; in fact doctrinal matters were almost always deferred to Calvin and were left up to his own judgment. While Calvin was adamant to explain that Consistory decisions involved the entire group, it is now historically evident that he had a large amount of political sway over the members of the Consistory. There is in fact only one recorded instance I was able to discover in which the Consistory disagreed with Calvin over punishment, and that is in the case of a man named Troillet who refused to accept the doctrine of Predestination and refused to punish the man despite Calvin’s vociferous recommendations.[5]

Calvin’s Rule

“…bete indomptable et feroce…une ordure…- wild and ferocious beast…a refuse…” – John Calvin describing mankind in Institutio.

With Calvin back in charge, Geneva was now on its way to infamy. Willingly subjecting itself to the worst kind of theocratic ruling, the citizens of Geneva were about to learn the value of freedom the hard way. The Elders in the Consistory were becoming very busy enforcing Calvin’s draconian regulations, so much so that well-established Church holidays like Christmas were banished. Incense, statues, paintings, music, the organ and even the church bells were destroyed or banished from use. In fact, the Elders of Geneva were allowed to randomly inspect all citizens at will. Grown men were tested on the memorization of prayers and women’s dresses were felt by the fingers of the Elders – if they had dangerous slits and frills, if they were too short and too long. They measured the hairdos of women to see if it was too high or too low, counted the rings on their fingers, and the pairs of shoes in their closets. They enforced dietary regulations to prevent one from indulging with too much meat, and to ensure that jams and sweets were not hidden in the kitchen; bookshelves were searched for any books not approved by the Consistory, and servants were questioned apart from the masters to ensure that truth was being told. No one was allowed to “make music” or enjoy anything that remotely resembled pleasure, and when Calvin was preaching, house visitations were made “where some slothful wretch was lying in bed instead of seeking edification from Master Calvin’s sermon.” [6]

But to be true to history, we should cover all of the actions of Calvin’s minions should there be enough paper and space allowing us to do so. Church informers would carefully watch the service to make sure that no citizen arrived or left late. They prowled the banks of Rhone to prevent late-night caressing and ransacked visitor’s luggage in inns and hotels for anything that would corrupt Geneva. Every letter that entered or left the city was opened. But perhaps the worst of the offence against freedom was that many citizens took on the unofficial role of “spy” that if a Genovese traveled to Paris or Lyons, he was just as much subject to the Elders’ enforcement as if he was still in Geneva. Truly, this sends shivers down my spine, because it rings true the Communist years spent in Romania where five out of every ten people were Communist informers and would turn in anyone and everyone would dare speak against the government.

But why stop there? Tailors were forbidden to create garments considered too extravagant by Calvin. Girls were not allowed to wear silk until they were fifteen, and women were never allowed to wear velvet clothing. Gold, silver, lace, golden hair, visible buttons, ornaments, curled hair, lace, gloves, carriages, meals with twenty or more people, parties, sweets, candied fruits, game, pastries, present giving, entering an inn, serving a meal without a prayer, printing books, sculptures, psalm-singing, naming children with non-Biblical names, and lastly, criticism of Calvin or his writings, were all strictly prohibited and severely punishable by the Consistory.

Death in Calvin’s Geneva

Il est criminel pour mettre des hérétiques à la mort. Faire une extrémité de eux par le feu et l'épée est opposée à chaque principe de l'humanité. – It is criminal to put heretics to death. To make an end of them by fire and sword is opposed to every principle of humanity.” – John Calvin, Institutio [7]

While Calvin’s ascension to power in Geneva is both fascinating and deeply disturbing, the moral policing of Geneva is in fact not where Calvin’s enforcement power stopped. Thanks to the detailed record-keeping, we know the outcome of many of the practical aspects of Calvin’s theology and the methods of punishment, death often being not overlooked in the process. Let us take a look at just a few of the incidents listed in the minute-book:

  • A man smiled while attending a baptism: three days in prison.
  • A man slept during Calvin’s sermon: prison.
  • Some men ate pastries for breakfast: three days on bread and water.
  • Two men played skittles: prison.
  • Two men played dice for a quarter-bottle of wine: prison.
  • Man refused the name Abraham for his son: prison.
  • Blind fiddler played a dance: expulsion.
  • Man praised Castellio’s Bible translation: expulsion.
  • A girl went skating; a widow threw herself on her husband’s grave: ordered to penance.
  • Some youngsters stuck a bean into the cake: 24 hours bread and water.
  • A citizen said “Monsieur Calvin – Mister Calvin” rather than “Maitre Calvin – Master Calvin”: prison.
  • Two peasants discussing business matters coming out of church: prison.
  • Man singing “riotously” in the street: expulsion.
  • Two boatmen brawling: execution for both.
  • Two boys behaving indelicately: burning at the stake, sentence commuted.
  • Some men laughing while Calvin was preaching: three days in prison.
  • Young girl insulted her mother: bread and water.
  • Young boy called his mother a devil and threw a stone at her: public whipping and suspended by his arms to a gallows as a sign that he deserved death.
  • Sixteen year old boy threatened to hit his mother and was condemned to death. Because of his youth, his punishment was changed to banishment after public whipping.

It seemed that with every sentence handed out, the Consistory was becoming more and more violent until death became an acceptable punishment for those who personally criticized Maitre Calvin. A man named Jacques Gruet was racked and executed for simply calling Calvin a hypocrite and for atheism.[8] As adultery was punishable by imprisonment before Calvin’s arrival to Geneva, it was now punishable by death. A woman by the name of Anne Le Moine who supposedly committed adultery with Antoine Cossonez faced death together with her partner in crime. After both being severely tortured, they admitted to the charges of adultery and they were both executed; she was drowned in the Rhone and he was decapitated.[9] Two other citizens of the best families in Geneva, Heinrich Philip and Jacques le Nevue were also beheaded at the orders of the Consistory for adultery.[10]

While these punishments may seem in line with the contemporary lifestyle and the judicial systems of the day, there was no harsher punishment than of those who publicly criticized Calvin and challenged his social and theological positions. Thus a man who challenged predestination was severely flogged and expelled and a book printer who railed at Calvin had his tongue perforated with a red-hot iron and kicked out of Geneva. A woman named Copa de Ferrara was banished from Geneva within twenty four hours “or she will lose her head.” This was because she “uttered heretical expressions against Calvin and the Consistory.” In the two years of 1558 and 1559 alone, there were four hundred and fourteen such trials regarding heresies against Calvin and the Consistory.[11]

As in any dictatorial and tyrannical society, those running the affairs of the government often exclude themselves from the requirements, responsibilities and the laws to which the citizens are bound. In 1542 and 1545, the plague struck the city of Geneva. But under these dire circumstances in which the citizens were dying by the thousands, Calvin’s strict rules went straight out the window. The same Consistory that insisted that “under pain of punishment every sick person must within three days summon a divine to his bedside” was now nowhere to be found. Calvin himself and his minions strictly refused to see any of the sick and were careful to stay out of danger. Not one single volunteer except Sebastian Castellio who was the school’s rector offered to be at the bedside of the dying and Calvin instructed his servants to declare him “indispensable” saying that “it would not do to weaken the whole Church in order to help a part of it.”[12]

Ironically, many Catholic priests during these very same times gladly risked and even gave their lives in order to console the dying citizens of other cities like Marseilles and Vienna. The same preachers who have been demanding the highest sacrifice from the Genovese were now carefully staying away from those truly in need; thus due to the discontent of the people, the Consistory put on quite a spectacle: “Some destitute fellows were seized and tortured until they admitted having brought plague into the town by smearing the door-latches with an ointment prepared from devil’s dung.”[13] Calvin fully endorsed these false charges and claimed from his pulpit that the “sowers of the plague” did a very good job and that as a punishment the Devil himself dragged an atheist Genovese out of his bed and tossed him into Rhone, all in broad daylight.

No better description of Calvin’s reign in Geneva can be used than that of Audin’s who writes: “There is but one word heard or read: Death. Death to every one guilty of high treason against God; death to every one guilty of high treason against the State; death to the son that strikes or curses his father; death to the adulterer; death to heretics. During the space of twenty years, commencing from the date of Calvin’s recall, the history of Geneva is a bloody drama, in which pity, dread, terror, indignation, and tears, by turns, appear to seize upon the soul. At each step we encounter chains, thongs, a stake, pincers, melted pitch, fire, and sulphur. And throughout the whole there is blood. One imagines himself in Dante’s Hell, where sighs, groans, and lamentations continually resound.” [14]

But while we may all marvel at the severity of punishment in relation to the crime, nothing comes close to the killing of Michael Servetus, a Spanish doctor, a refugee from the Spanish and French inquisitions and the hunting and persecution to the death of Sebastian Castellio, a friend and pupil of Calvin.

Sebastian Castellio and the Freedom of Conscience

If Christ himself came to Geneva, he would be crucified. For Geneva is not a place of Christian liberty. It is ruled by a new pope, but one who burns men alive, while the pope at Rome at least strangles them first.” – Sebastian Castellio in his response to Calvin’s Defense of the Christian Faith

About two hundred years after Calvin, when discussing the life and events surrounding Castellio and Calvin, Voltaire wrote: “We can measure the virulence of this tyranny by the persecution to which Castellio was exposed at Calvin’s instance – although Castellio was a far greater scholar than Calvin, whose jealousy drove him out of Geneva.”[15] Indeed, Voltaire seems to have understood the matters at hand very well, and if there ever was a spiritual hero to hold up, especially for us Preterists, Sebastian Castellio is certainly someone to behold and admire.

Born in 1515, Castellio was educated at the University of Lyons in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Having been educated also in German and Italian, he quickly became one of the most learned men of his time, speaking a large number of languages, and having vast knowledge of theology and astronomy. Having experienced the Catholic Inquisition in Lyons and being forever changed after seeing heretics being burned alive, he adopted the ideas of the Reformation and found himself soon attracted to Strasbourg where Calvin was exiled at the time. Castellio made a very strong impression on Calvin after only one meeting; therefore after Calvin’s return to Geneva, he was offered the position of rector at the newly created school in Geneva and the position of preacher in Vandoeuvres.

All was well for Castellio and Calvin in Geneva until Castellio decided to do a full translation of the Bible into his native language, French. While an extremely noble goal, Castellio in his innocence failed to anticipate the opposition he would receive from Calvin in this simple task. Because Calvin required all books printed in Geneva to be approved by him, Castellio had to meet with Calvin in order to secure permission to print his Bible and seek his endorsement. Sadly, Calvin already endorsed a French translation done by a relative so Castellio’s Bible was inconveniently interfering with his publishing enterprise, and Calvin was quite irritated with his pupil’s endeavor. In a letter to Viret, Calvin wrote: “Just listen to Sebastian’s preposterous scheme, which makes me smile, and at the same time angers me. Three days ago he called on me, to ask permission for the publication of his translation of the New Testament.” [16]

Calvin issued a blanket denial to Castellio’s request; he would only grant permission with the provision that Calvin would be the first to read the translation and have veto power to make any changes he considered necessary. This was in line with Calvin’s view of himself as inerrant and perhaps even divinely inspired. In a dramatic contrast to Calvin’s attitude, later on Castellio would humbly admit in the preface to his Bible translation that he did not fully understand the Bible, that he viewed it as a hard-to-understand book and that he could only offer his own interpretation of the text, not a certainty and inerrant commentary on it.

Sebastian Castellio

Castellio attempted to compromise and offered Calvin the most he could offer without offending him: he offered to read the manuscript aloud at any time that was best for Calvin and take all the advice from Calvin regarding the translation, but again, his offer was rejected without any explanation. It was after this disappointing meeting that Sebastian was appointed by the City Council unanimously on December 15, 1543 to the office of preacher. But since the appointment was done without Calvin’s approval, it was soon reversed at Calvin’s opposition. In a letter to Farel, Calvin wrote: “There are important reasons against this appointment. To the Council I merely hinted at these reasons, without expressing them openly. At the same time, to avert erroneous suspicion, I was careful to make no attack on his reputation, being desirous to protect him.”[17]

Ambiguous words coming from Calvin, ambiguous enough that nobody on the Council could make any sense of, so much so that Castellio challenged Calvin to appear before the Council and explain what the “important reasons” again his appointment as preacher were. It turns out that these important reasons consisted of two disagreements over vague theology. Castellio declared that the Song of Solomon was insulting through the presentation of breasts who are “like two fawns that are twins of a roe” thus was not a sacred, but a profane poem; secondly he explained the descent of Jesus into hell slightly different than Calvin. Those two points of disagreement were quoted by Calvin as disqualifying Sebastian from the office of minister of the Gospel. Yet again, this confirms the absolute tyranny Calvin perpetrated upon the citizens of Geneva, considering his own interpretation of the Scripture as ultimate and inerrant truth, therefore demonizing anyone even slightly disagreeing with him.

Calvin and Castellio’s disagreements widened even more when during a public meeting, Castellio rose to his feet and proclaimed that clergy should no longer hide behind the Scripture and be held to the same standards they demand of others: “Paul was patient, but we are extremely impatient. Paul suffered injustice at the hands of others, but we persecute the innocent.” [18] How often have we Preterists heard this very same argument being made in our own defense, and how often have we also been attacked under the pretenses of “Paul condemned Hymenaeus therefore we also condemn you?” Castellio himself recognized the difference between Paul and Calvin and did not hesitate to point out that Calvin was not Paul, was not inerrant, and lacked the authority to make decisions and judgment calls as Paul did.

Calvin was finally fed up with him and charged Castellio with the crime of “undermining the prestige of the clergy.” Castellio’s profession was over. He asked the Council to relieve him of his duties and asked for the following dismissal letter: “That no one may form a false idea of the reasons for the departure of Sebastian Castellio, we all declare that he has voluntarily resigned his position as rector at the College, and up till now performed his duties in such a way that we regarded him worthy to become one of our preachers. If, in the end, the affair was not thus arranged, this is not because ay fault has been found in Castellio’s conduct, but merely for the reasons previously indicated.” [19]

After Castellio left Geneva, he lived in abject poverty, barely being able to provide even the most basic needs for himself and his family. He found himself often tutoring and proofreading for little money, and often did physical labor by digging ditches for food. Indeed, being one of the most learned and intelligent men of his time, an equal to Calvin, he was unable to find a job to match his qualifications, mostly because no one would hire someone that was on Calvin’s bad side and in order to avoid upsetting Geneva. But soon enough, Castellio would settle in Basle with a job at the local university. He would be quiet for a few years, until something atrocious upset him to no end. And nothing upset Castellio more than the heartless execution and outright murder of Michael Servetus.

The Murder of Michael Servetus

"He declares himself ready to come hither if I wish him to; but I will not pledge my faith to him; for if he did come here, I would see to it, in so far as I have authority in this city, that he should not leave it alive." – John Calvin in a letter to Farel, seven years before the execution of Servetus.

There are very few inequities in the world that equal that of the early Reformed church spilling the blood of tens of thousands of heretics and sinners, and if one of these individuals should be identified above the others – should we be forced to choose – Miguel Servetus is perhaps the most striking of them all. Servetus was a Spanish man having one important thing in common with Calvin: he was also on the run from the Inquisition. While his education certainly did not match that of Calvin and Castellio, Servetus was also a very educated man in the historical context of the Reformation. In what Stefan Zweig describes a “Don Quixotic” style, Servetus was a man to challenge all things established; Luther, Zwingli and Calvin were certainly not revolutionary enough for him. So Don Quixotic was Servetus in his approach to theology that at the ripe age of twenty, he proudly declared that the Council of Nicea made the wrong decision regarding the doctrine of Trinity; and so zealous was Servetus about his ideas that he traveled to Strasbourg and Basle to meet with several of the leaders of the Reformation, like Martin Bucer, Capito and Johannes Oecolampadius to convince them that the Reformation needs to get its doctrine on Trinity “right.”

Michael Servetus

Of course, Servetus in his innocence greatly miscalculated. The Reformed preachers were furious with him. Bucer denounced Servetus from his pulpit as “a child of the devil.” Zwingli wrote about the “criminal Spaniard, whose false and evil doctrine would, if it could, sweep away our whole Christian religion” and Oecolampadius kicked him out calling him a “blasphemer and a man possessed.” [20] But while this would discourage and rightly warn any person from further pursuing this line of action, Servetus became even more motivated to spread his ideas.

When he was twenty two years old, he published his first book De Trinitatis erroribus libri septera declaring both Protestants and Catholics mistaken in their doctrine; as a result, calls for his death on both sides became louder and louder. Bucer wrote that he deserved “to have the guts torn out of his living body” and the Catholic Inquisition actively started to hunt him down. Eventually, Servetus ended up assuming aliases under which he taught medicine (in Paris) and eventually became the personal doctor of the Archbishop of Vienne, taking on the name Michel de Villeneuve.

Having a hard time keeping himself from espousing “heresies,” Servetus found a way to contact Calvin in Geneva. The two of them started to exchange a large number of letters, Servetus being always on the offensive, trying to convince Calvin of the error of Trinity. While at first Calvin patiently pointed out the theological errors, he grew more and more annoyed and angry with Servetus’ insistence and correspondence. The last straw was then Servetus sent Calvin a copy of Institutio with corrections written in the margins. In a letter to Farel, Calvin describes his contempt for Servetus: “Servetus seizes my books and defiles them with abusive remarks much as a dog bites a stone and gnaws it… I care as little for this fellow's words as I care for the hee-haw of a donkey.” [21]

Rather than realizing the deadly danger he was in, Servetus continued to send Calvin letters, culminating with a copy of his not-yet-printed manuscript Christianismi Restitutio (Restoration of Christianity or The Payback of Christianity) a play on words off Calvin’s book Institutio. Finally, this seems to have been the time when Calvin decided that Servetus will die, and this is when he wrote to Farel that if Servetus even comes to Geneva, he will not walk out alive.[22]

The next several years were marked by silence from both Calvin and Servetus, until Geneva’s spies in Vienne discovered the true identity of the Archbishop’s doctor. As I learned of Calvin’s next course of action, I was blown away by the outright attempt to assassinate Servetus. Since Servetus was out of Calvin’s reach, Calvin decided to throw his opponent to the jaws of the Inquisition. At his request, one of Calvin’s subjects in Geneva wrote a letter to his fanatic Catholic cousin in Lyons. On February 26, 1553 the letter dispatched to Antoine Arneys reveals the true name of the Archbishop of Vienna’s doctor, even including fragments from his newly published books. This was a calculated move, and rightly so, Calvin counted on Antoine to immediately take the letter to the Catholic authorities, which is what happened exactly. But perhaps to Calvin’s disappointment, Servetus had friends in high places; by the time the inquisitors made it to Vienna, his printing press, copies of his books and any incriminating documents were all gone, and the Archbishop vowed for his own doctor, that he was a man to be trusted.

This enraged Calvin even more. He directed his Genovese friend to write yet another letter to his Catholic cousin, this time showing surprise at the fact that the first was turned over to the authorities, but also including incriminating letters from Servetus to Calvin, written in his own handwriting. Ironically, Calvin even lied later when denying that he had anything to do with the letters sent out to the Inquisitors. But as Zweig rightly asks, how did a citizen of Geneva get his hands on Calvin’s personal letters, and at last, why did this man, named Trie write: “I was so importunate as to declare that if Monsieur Calvin would not help me, the reproach of bringing an unwarrantable charge would attach to me, unless he handed over to me the confirmatory material I enclose.” [23]

Trie’s own letter proves Calvin to be not just a liar, but a man bent on the physical destruction of his theological detractors. How I tremble thinking of the cold-blooded, calculated steps taken by Calvin to ensure the death of Servetus; but disappointment was again to come soon to Geneva. After Servetus was arrested based on his letters to Calvin, good fortune smiled on him again – he soon escaped from prison and for whatever reason he found necessary, in August 1553 he entered Geneva and got a room at “The Rose.” And if coming to Geneva was not bad enough, he immediately went to St. Pierre’s Sunday morning service where Calvin immediately recognized him and had him arrested after the service.

Proudly and wishfully writing to a friend before the trial and before any evidence was brought to light Calvin said “I hope that the verdict will call for the death penalty.” [24] But if the spectacle involving Servetus could even be called a trial, Calvin refused Servetus even the most basic human requirements. Servetus was chained into a dark room at the mercy of devouring fleas and was left to sleep in his own filth without any change of clothing. Treated worse than a petty criminal, he petitioned the City Council for better conditions: “Fleas are devouring me; my shoes are torn to pieces; I have nothing clean to wear…I beg of you, for the love of Christ, not to refuse me what you would give to a Turk or a criminal. Nothing has been done for to fulfill your orders that I should be kept clean. I am in more pitiful condition than ever. It is abominably cruel I should be given no chance of attending to my bodily needs.[25]

It is apparent that even when the City Council tried to intervene and better the condition in which Servetus was imprisoned, someone intervened and ensured that the orders of the Council were ignored. What possible cruel conscience would allow for such horrible punishment and imprisonment of a man over matters of theology?

Furthermore, the conditions in which Servetus was imprisoned also affected his temperament, so much so that during the trial, he would let his temper get the best of him rather than deal with the questions at hand, although many of the questions were related to his private affairs, such as his sexual life and had little to do with the charges of heresy.

Eventually, on October 27, 1553, at eleven in the morning, Servetus was brought out of his prison cell and was taken to Champel, “there to be burned alive, together with the manuscript of his book.” Falling of his knees, Servetus begged the City Council to execute him instead by the sword, admitting that under the agony of the fire he “may repudiate the convictions of a lifetime.” This last request was refused, and purposefully, the pieces of wood setup for burning were chosen to be half-green rather than dry, so they would burn slower and cause more agony. The manuscript of his book which he mailed to Calvin seven years earlier was tied around his neck, and a crown of leaves soaked in sulfur was placed on his head.

After the executioner lit the fire, Servetus screamed “Jesus, Son of everlasting God, have pity on me!” Farel, who accompanied him every step, mockingly noted that should Servetus have called on “Jesus, the Eternal Son” he would have been saved, but the wording of his last cry proved his theological error and eternal damnation.

It is without a doubt that the execution of Servetus was one of the darkest moments in the history of Christianity. I have read every excuse on Calvin’s behalf, from blaming the City Council alone, to blaming Servetus himself for his own death; not once did Calvin take responsibility for arresting and killing a man who committed no crime in Geneva, and history itself shows that most likely, the killing of Servetus was a premeditated and cold-blooded affair.

And this is where Sebastian Castellio becomes enraged at Calvin’s outrageous and murderous actions. Responding to Calvin’s vain attempts to defend his actions and shift blame to the City Council, Castellio started writing under the name Martinus Bellius. In his Manifesto on Behalf of Toleration, Castellio appealed to a host of Church Fathers, and contemporary theologians. Rather than using masterful words to convince the audience, Castellio used opinions of theologians regarding tolerance. From St. Augustine, St. Jerome and St. Chrysostom to Luther, Franck and Erasmus all opinions quoted were against death and torture of heretics. Calvin’s own words from Institutio were quoted: “It is unchristian to use arms against those who have been expelled from the Church, and to deny them rights common to all mankind.” [26]

Castellio masterfully demonstrated how the word “heretic” is subjective to each group of people; to the Catholics, a Protestant was a heretic, and to Protestants, a Catholic was a heretic. He plainly concludes: “When I reflect on what a heretic really is, I can find no other criterion than that we are all heretics in the eyes of those who do not share our views.” If there is a man to admire for his cunning logic and theological common sense in the 1500s, Castellio meets and surpasses my expectations. Demonstrating that peaceful living can only take place when we control our intolerance of other opinions, Castellio put forth the very first thesis for a world in which various theological, political and social opinions can peacefully coexist.

Often Calvin is credited by some Calvinists with the very invention of democracy and freedom. Far be it from me to believe such a claim. If anything, we have seen that Calvin was a tyrant and a dictator. Rather Castellio and even Servetus should be the ones credited with the ideas of religious tolerance and freedom; and if anything, we can observe from the behavior and outright hatred coming from Calvin’s followers that Calvin-ism encourages anything but love and tolerance of those who believe and think differently.

Dedicated and with endless energy, Castellio continued his quest to demonstrate Calvin’s guilt in regards to Servetus. He set forth to write Contra libellum Calvini. Being well acquainted with Calvin, he took a line of reasoning from which Calvin could not escape. Using Geneva’s own minutes as evidence, he showed that the only charge of which Servetus was guilty was that “the Spaniard interpreted the Bible independently and arbitrarily, leading him to other conclusions than those of Calvin’s ecclesiastical doctrine.”

Castellio writes: “Calvin, however, taking for granted his own infallibility, regards his views as right and the views of anyone who may differ from his as wrong…who appointed Calvin judge concerning what is true and what is untrue? Of course, Calvin tells us that every writer who does not say aye to his aye, and no to his no, is an evilly disposed person. He therefore demands that those who differ from him shall be prevented, not only from writing, but also from speaking, the implications being that he alone is entitled to expound what he regards as right.” [27]

Sadly, because of Calvin’s power and Geneva’s influence, Castellio’s magnificent book was never published for another fifty years; there seems to be no English translation of the work. I will see to it that through my effort, or that of a translator, Castellio’s Contra libellum Calvini will soon become available in English, so that others may benefit from the work of this obscure but most excellent theologian. Being one of the first to espouse freedom of the conscience, toleration, mercy and understanding among believers, Castellio is often ignored in Christian circles dominated by Calvin’s theology; perhaps this is due to the fact that generally speaking, with a few exceptions, Calvin’s way of handling discord appeals well to certain individuals who mostly label themselves as Calvinists. This is true especially within Preterism, where Calvinist Preterists seem to be utterly unable to tolerate anything different or at odds with their own theological notions; furthermore they go above and beyond simple disagreement, actively rooting for the physical and spiritual destruction of their opponents.

Just as Calvin allowed only one opinion in Geneva, his opinion, such are those carrying his name still today. They hate, scorn, mock, destroy, kick, scream and attack anyone and everyone who chooses to think independently from them, be it on small theological matters, or drastic differences such as Trinity, Universalism and Predestination. Should we all be back in the 1500s Geneva, without a doubt they would be standing at Calvin’s side, warming their hands by our burning bodies; ironically, they do all this while actively professing Preterism, something Calvin would consider an outrageous heresy worthy of the most abominable torturous death in his Geneva. While it is not surprising, it is ironic and sad that of all critics, Preterists would take the unilateral attitude of Calvin and be so ready to condemn others over their differences. It is in accordance to history and the freedom of conscience first professed by Castellio and Servetus that I also profess my right to heresy.

I dedicate my work and research for this article to Miguel Servetus, Sebastian Castellio, Socrates, Galileo, Jesus and all the other “heretics” who lost their lives in their quests to reveal and unfold Truth before the world.


[1] Martin Luther, Against the Thievish and Murderous Hordes of Peasants, 1524

[2] The Geneva Council kept detailed minutes of all their meetings. They can all be found in the city archives and on various Internet websites.

[3] Calvin and Farel’s Creed was to be read at St. Pierre’s Cathedral every Sunday “until the people understood it.” As Calvin wrote, “We easily succeeded in obtaining that the citizens should be summoned by tens, and swear to adopt the confession, which was done with much satisfaction.” Those who refused to adopt the confession lost their citizenship rights.

[4] Complaints from the citizens of Geneva intensified when Farel refused to use unleavened bread for the Lord’s Supper, and refused to observe Christmas, New Year, Annunciation and Ascension. The city of Berne was consulted on this matter and ruled against Farel.

[5] The Troillet case in 1552 came about after strong public reaction to the banishment of Jerome Bolsec, who also spoke against predestination. The negative public reaction motivated the Consistory to refuse punishment when predestination was publicly criticized – William Gilbert, Renaissance and Reformation, Lawrence, KS: Carrie, 1998, Ch. 14.

[6] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 57.

[7] This phrase appeared only in the first edition of Institutio and was later erased by Calvin in subsequent editions.

[8] Phillip Schaaf, History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII, Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.

[9] Robert N. Kingdon, Adultery and Divorce in Calvin’s Geneva, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 1995, pp. 123.

[10] Paul Henry, D.D., The Life and Times of John Calvin, The Great Reformer, Vol. I, pp. 360.

[11] Ibid. pp. 448.

[12] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 70.

[13] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 71.

[14] Vincent Audin, Life of Calvin, ch. XXXVI. 354, Am. ed.

[15] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 89.

[16] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 79.

[17] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 82.

[18] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 86.

[19] When Castellio asked to be dismissed as a preacher in Vandoeuvres over his differences with Calvin, he asked for a letter from the City Council to prevent Calvin from manufacturing charges later on. The letter can be found today in the Basle Library.

[20] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 104.

[21] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 102.

[22] The entire paragraph in question from Calvin’s letter to Farel is: “Servetus wrote to me lately, and besides his letter sent me a great volume full of his ravings, maintaining with incredible presumption in the letter that I shall there find things stupendous and unheard of till now. He declares himself ready to come hither if I wish him to; but I will not pledge my faith to him; for if he did come here, I would see to it, in so far as I have authority in this city, that he should not leave it alive.”

[23] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 112.

[24] Walter Nigg, The Heretics, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1962, pp. 328.

[25] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 124.

[26] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 152.

[27] Stefan Zweig, The Right to Heresy: Castellio against Calvin, Boston, The Beacon Press, 1951, pp. 175.

Other Related Articles:

  • Preterism and Calvinism: The Philosophical Argument, Part 1
  • Preterism and Calvinism: The Historical Argument, Part 2
  • Preterism and Calvinism: The Scriptural Argument, Part 3
  • valensname's picture


    Thank you for the reply.

    I'm aware of what you discussed in the above post and also of "withdrawing of fellowship" in the NT but I was more curious of the how, the process of it, and the how comes, reasons for it, in the Catholic Church. Excommunicate is not a biblical term, it maybe a Latin term, I'm not sure, so I was wondering more about this doctrine.


    Parker's picture

    Hi Glenn.

    Excommunication in the Catholic Church pertains to Catholics. Obviously, we don't excommunicate non-Catholics. For more information, see: Excommunication

    I. General Notions and Historical Summary;
    II. Kinds of Excommunication;
    III. Who Can Excommunicate?
    IV. Who Can Be Excommunicated?
    V. Effects of Excommunication;
    VI. Absolution from Excommunication;
    VII. Excommunications Now in Force.

    valensname's picture

    Thanks Parker.


    alberto's picture

    Parker, I was raised Catholic. I, too, used to worship a piece of bread that a priest had "transubtantiated" into Jesus Christ. You know the ritual called "Benediction"? It is where this piece of bread is put into a big brass thing (the monstrance) that looks like a sunburst, with a little glass door to put the "Jesus" (the piece of bread) into, so that we schoolchildren could kneel down befor it and WORSHIP it and PRAY to it.

    Anybody who preaches or teaches that this bread is NOT THE ACTUAL BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST would be subject to excommunication.

    You are rather eloquent, and make some good points, Parker. But you know very well that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is the ONLY TRUE CHURCH, and to be excommunicated from it is to be excommunicated from Jesus Christ.

    Needless to say, I don't see it that way, and I haven't knelt down and prayed to a wafer of bread in many a year, and I thank the real Jesus Christ for it.

    albert burke

    Parker's picture

    Hi Alberto.

    That Jesus makes himself really present in the sacrament of the covenant body and blood is a great mystery; but there is no question that he does this:

    Matt 26:26-28
    Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant"

    1 Cor 10:16-18
    Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?...Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?

    1 Cor 11:27-29
    Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord...he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

    For sure, this teaching caused many of the disciples to fall away. The mystery of Christ's presence in the eucharist is great:

    John 6:51-56, 60,66
    I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat? So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him....Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?...As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore

    Yes, Alberto, God really makes Himself present in the sacrament that He himself instituted.

    As to the "Church" issue you raised, Catholics are only pointing to real history. The Catholic Church was really there in the first century--and the Church at Rome never ceased to exist from the time it was founded by actual apostles to this very day. Its just an historic fact. Protestant denominations have no origins prior to the 1600s, so we know their denominations weren't started by actual apostles back in the first century. It's not so much a matter of faith as one of history. God bless my protestant brothers, for sure! But so far as I know, protestant denominations do not claim or attempt to prove that their group was founded by an actual apostle of the first century.

    Christ's blessings to you,

    alberto's picture

    Dear Parker, it does not please me to ridicule another man's beliefs, even if they are Muslims or Jehovah's witnesses.

    But I paid my dues. I went to Catholic grade school, was an altar boy (never molested, either), knew the Mass in Latin, and could ring the bells, and I went on to a Jesuit high school.

    Dear brother, I urge you to pray the prayer that Paul prays in the first chapter of Ephesians until you get a revelation of what the scriptures you quoted really mean. I say to you with all confidence that you will, one day, have to adjust to the Truth--for Jesus is the Truth--in this life or in eternity.

    Read 2 Cor 13:5, and you will see where Jesus really is, if God opens the eyes of your understanding. I pray that He does.

    He is not in a piece of bread--He is in you.

    Peace and love, in Him.

    albert burke

    Parker's picture

    Dear Alberto,

    Of course Jesus is in you and me. But according to scripture, God also makes himself present in the God-ordained activities he himself sanctioned for the New Covenant. God really is present to bestow grace and forgiveness through the activity of baptism which He sanctioned. He really is present through the covenant meal which He sanctioned. God doesn't sanction lifeless things that are of no effect and optional for men. Scripture plainly says these things (and others) are part of God's redemptive actions. To deny it is to deny what is plainly, repeatedly stated in scripture.

    Paul does not deny in Ephesians what he boldly proclaims in 1 Corinthians. Namely, that the eucharist is the body and blood, the sacrifice of God and the altar of God:

    1 Cor 10:16-18
    Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?...Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?

    1 Cor 11:27-29
    Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord...he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

    God is indeed in the activities he himself institutes.

    Christ's grace to you, Alberto.

    Kyle Peterson's picture

    So is God present within the water we use to baptize?

    Parker's picture

    God, in and by the Holy Spirit, makes himself present at the objective activity (sign) that he himself commanded. In that God-ordained activity, He confers grace to sanctify people.

    Kyle Peterson's picture

    That's a lot different than saying wine turns into Christ's blood.

    Parker's picture

    Kyle: That's a lot different than saying wine turns into Christ's blood.

    Parker: It is Christ's body and blood, as Paul taught:

    1 Cor 10:16-18
    Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?...Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?

    1 Cor 11:27-29
    Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord...he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord

    But that's quite another topic from the one on Calvin.

    Jamie's picture

    I don't understand anyway, why Christians would want to call themselves something by a mans name. (Calvinist) And I especially would not want any part of something that was lead by a tyrant and murderer. Whatever time of history you live in,thats just wrong. Thats not what Christianity is about. Great article Virgil! As I said, he reminds me of another famous Romanian figure in history! (you know who!)

    alberto's picture

    Virgil, The piece was well-composed, well-expressed, and well-researched. To some, it was not well-received.

    I applaud your courage.

    I, for one, am grateful for the information. It is helpful, in this day, to innoculate oneself against the same kind of thinking that led Calvin down the road of hubris and demogoguery.

    albert burke

    chef's picture

    Brother Parker schribed:
    …“Scripture says governments have the right to execute the lawless (Acts 25:11; Rom 13:4-7). Furthermore, God himself had commanded that little mercy be given to those that transgressed the law. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses." (Heb 10:28). Calvin was seeking a code of civil law that took cues from scripture with regard to execution of the lawless”…

    Brother Parker:
    The scriptures which you provided are not in support of your premise “…Governments have the right…”. Many who were murdered by the Catholic Church (the state, by proxy) were innocent of “evil doing”. When we compare and observe the Mosaic Law, by your own observation, it requires two or three witnesses for any conviction of a capital crime, and then the punishment is carried out by the accusers. One point about your scriptural reference;it says “Let all persons”. This includes the State,as well as you and I (James 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge 12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

    Your criticism of the use "Presentism," is itself "unjust judgment". Even Paul admonishes us to Judge according to the Law of Christ [1 cor 6]. God’s Laws and judgments are the same today, yesterday and forever. As well, He shows no partiality when He judges. So why would you advocate not judging the past by Christ’s standard. Can we not call evil, “evil” and good, “good” regardless of the dispensation?

    In the cases of many of the martyrs the were charged with fallacious charges, were any their “crimes” were against “Nature” (Rom 1-2)?

    (Acts 25:11; Rom 13:4-7)
    Rom 13:3-7
    4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. 5 Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

    Acts 25:11-12
    11 "If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar." 12 Then when Festus had conferred with his council, he answered, "You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go."

    Chef Tony

    MichaelB's picture

    "I recommend that the Commentaries of Calvin be read. For I affirm that in the interpretation of the Scriptures Calvin is incomparable, and that his Commentaries are more to be valued than anything that is handed to us in the writings of the Fathers -- so much so that I concede to him a certain spirit of prophecy in which he stands distinguished above others, above most, indeed, above all."

    Jacobus Arminius

    Virgil's picture

    Mike, that's a very good quote, but it is also an excellent attempt to totally sidestep the issue. In fact, Calvin's commentaries are "distinguished," but I have little interest in what Arminius thought, and I can tell you with certainty that Calvin was no inerrant, inspired prophet of God.

    mazuur's picture

    Not to mention, he missed the boat on many of the doctrines he is responsible for.



    MichaelB's picture

    Hey Virgil - you ever "banish" anyone from Planet Preterist ??? =)

    mazuur's picture

    And you are equating that to what....burning people at the stake?



    MichaelB's picture

    I didn't "equate" it to anything. Banishment is banishment. Look at the opening sentence in the article.

    Sam's picture

    Mike, Bingo....

    Virgil, be kind, man....ask Roderick back

    Sam Frost

    Kyle Peterson's picture

    I'd be interested in knowing when this comment was written - before or after Calvin started murdering people.

    And as far as being a prophet, I think its safe to say that Jacobus wasn't a preterist.

    MichaelB's picture

    LOL Kyle =) Probably not a Preterist =)

    You would think, by this article, that we couldn't find one Arminian in the whole world that ever did a bad thing...

    Which raises the point...What fallacy is Virgil using when he tries to equate "Cavinists" of today with the character of John Calvin.

    Where does any Calvinist ever put John Calvin ahead of God.

    If we were "just like our master" Virgil would be dead already =) If indeed Calvin was as evil as Virgil says and if Calvinists indeed followed our "master".

    Calvin vs. Servetus,
    by J. Steven Wilkins

    In the year 1553 an event occurred which would forever blacken the reputation of Calvin in the eyes of an ungodly world. In that year a heretic named Michael Servetus entered Geneva after fleeing from France after being condemned for his heresy there and escaping from prison in Vienna. He was seen in the streets of Geneva and arrested on August 13. This trouble he had brought upon himself by his book which denied the existence of the Trinity as well as the practice of infant baptism. Though the former is clearly a more serious error than the latter, the latter position identified Servetus with the hated Anabaptists who had spread the revolutionary ideas of socialism and communism. Why Servetus came to Geneva is not clear though the Reformer Wolfgang Musculus wrote that he apparently thought that Geneva might be favorable to him since there was so much opposition to Calvin.

    On August 21, the authorities in Geneva wrote to Vienna asking further information on Servetus. The authorities in Vienna immediately demanded his extradition to face charges there. At this the Genevan city council offered Servetus a choice: he could either be returned to Vienna or stay in Geneva and face the charges against him. Servetus, significantly, chose to remain in Geneva.

    The trial began and as it progressed, it became evident that the authorities had two choices: banish Servetus or execute him. They sent to their sister cities Berne, Zurich, Schaffhausen and Basle for their counsel. The counsel from each city was the same: execute the heretic. The method of burning alive was chosen. Calvin intervened to appeal for the more quick and merciful beheading as the method of execution but the council refused and on October 26, 1553, Michael Servetus was executed.

    It is strange that this incident should bring such odium upon Calvin and another example of the hatred of orthodox Christianity that it has. The facts are that mass executions were carried out in other places throughout this time. After the Peasants' War in Germany, after the siege of Munster, during the ruthless period of Roman Catholic dominance in Elizabethan England. Even as late as 1612 the authorities in England burned two men who held views like those of Servetus at the behest of the bishops of London and Lichfield. Thirty-nine people were burned at the stake for heresy between May of 1547 and March of 1550. The 16th century was not a time of great tolerance of heresy in any place in Europe.

    If one contends that Calvin was in error in agreeing with the execution of heretics then why is there not equal indignation against all the other leaders who supported and carried out and supported these measures elsewhere. None less than the honored Thomas Aquinas explicitly supported the burning of heretics saying, "If the heretic still remains pertinacious the church, despairing of his conversion, provides for the salvation of others by separating him from the church by the sentence of excommunication and then leaves him to the secular judge to be exterminated from the world by death." (Summa Theologiae, IIaIIae q. 11 a. 3)

    Furthermore, Servetus was the only individual put to death for heresy in Geneva during Calvin's lifetime. Strange indignation it is that men focus upon this one and virtually ignore the hundreds executed in other parts of the world.

    Further still, it must be remembered that Calvin's role in this entire matter was only that of expert witness at the trial. The idea that Calvin was "the dictator of Geneva" is utterly unfounded in fact. Calvin was never allowed to become a citizen of Geneva. He was technically among the habitants — resident legal aliens who had no right to vote, no right to carry weapons, and no right to hold public office. A habitant might be a pastor or teacher if there was no Genevan citizen who was qualified for the position. This is why Calvin was allowed to be pastor of the church there. But he was always denied access to the decision-making machinery.

    The only place where Calvin could have exerted significant influence was in the Consistory. But the Consistory was completely bypassed in this entire matter by the council apparently in an effort to demonstrate that they were far more concerned for holiness and purity than Calvin (and some of the people) had thought. They sought thus to shut Calvin out of this matter as much as possible.

    Why then all the outrage at Calvin? Simply because of who he was and what he taught. The world can live with Romanism and Arminianism, it cannot abide the truth of the Reformed faith. For this reason Calvin and Calvinism have been the enemies of the world and will be till the world ends.

    Flakinde's picture

    You would think, by this article, that we couldn't find one Arminian in the whole world that ever did a bad thing...

    Actually Michael, you are the one committing the fallacy called tu quoque when you bring Arminius or other individuals to the discussion.

    I think Virgil made it clear that he is not analyzing doctrine in the light of a person's personal behaviour, which would be ad hominem. He is merely comparing attitude to attitude, that's all.

    If one contends that Calvin was in error in agreeing with the execution of heretics then why is there not equal indignation against all the other leaders who supported and carried out and supported these measures elsewhere.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, Aquinas would be in the same boat if what you say about him is indeed true, as well as any other. Cool with that?

    Alexander Rodríguez

    MichaelB's picture

    Hi Alexander - I don't know that I would be committing the "tu quoue" ie "you also" fallacy here...

    Tu Quoque is a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser. This is a classic Red Herring since whether the accuser is guilty of the same, or a similar, wrong is irrelevant to the truth of the original charge.

    This is really not a "tu quoque" since Virgils argument is that Reformed people are inherently meaner.

    I didn't excuse the charge against Calvin with the "you also". I provided an article regarding another perspective on the Servetus issue.

    The "you also" was merely to point out that Calvinists are not inheritantly any meaner than any other Christian.

    Flakinde's picture

    Hello Michael,

    "This is really not a "tu quoque" since Virgils argument is that Reformed people are inherently meaner."

    You see, I didn't get that conclusion anywhere in Virgil's article. I saw mainly facts about Calvin's life. As a matter of fact, he wrote:

    "By no means is this a Calvinist-only manifestation for sin permeates all men; however this does seem to be in my opinion – and the opinions of many I have consulted – a more common characteristic of Calvinists." (1st sentence, 5th paragraph down).

    As I said in a previous comment, I have also observed the same with most Calvinists with whom I have interacted with, but neither Virgil nor I are generalizing, nor saying that ALL "Reformed people" are this or that. None of us would be so stupid to do something like that.

    Thus, while Virgil is speaking about Calvin's life, and how that might influence the followers of his theology and ideology to mimick his behaviours (whether the historical facts are straight or not is irrelevant at this point, this is what most understood he was talking about), when you respond "well, other people are bad too", or "Arminians are bad too", that is a tu quoque... and as I pointed out, it was preceded in Virgil's article.

    I will leave this point here, you can have the last word on this point if you feel like defending yourself (I don't mean to imply I was in offense mode, I hope you don't take it that way). However, I would be more interested in seeing others more informed than I, deal with the historical veracity of Virgil's exposition, Vs. the points you brought up.

    Blessed in His rest,

    Alexander Rodríguez

    Kyle Peterson's picture

    From my personal study and readings on the history of Geneva I must ferevently disagree with the author's spin on Calvin vs. Servetus which you pointed out.

    When you read the letters and testimonies of what went on in that city it becomes quite evident that Calvin was running the show. When the council attempted to overturn Calvin's decisions, Calvin and his brute squad would quickly change their minds.

    Parker's picture

    The article, while informative, fails on a few counts. After a quick opening comment on the error of "Presentism," I will defend the right of the State to self defense and capital punishment--for this is the crux of the issue, contextually and historically speaking.

    First, it is a grevious error to judge past states and histories based on present standards and views. This error--one committed here by the misleading contextualization given in the piece--is known as Presentism, or, "the application of current ideals, morals, and standards to historical figures and events." Presentism is a false rhetorical strategy used to demonize past events and people based on present ways of thinking and living. To quickly illustrate this error, consider: Calvin's actions compared to life in the year 2006 seem barbaric to most modern folk. But compared to Moses and the moral code God gave through him, Calvin's codes are mild and are at least as ethical as those practiced by Moses and the Hebrew people. Therefore, we see how fruitless it is to engage in presentism as this article does.

    Next, the true issue at stake here has to do with the right of the State to self-defense, even to the point of war and capital punishment. Any modern person that believes that the State has the right of self defense, even to the point of war and capital punishment (whether by war or lethal injection), can properly begin to understand the situation with Calvin, the Inquision, and even the current death-penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui for his plotting in 9/11. That is, any modern person that agrees that the state has this right to self-defense, even up to the point of using lethal force, is already close to understanding both Calvin and the Inquisition with regard to the use of exile and capital punishment in their times.

    It is fact that the Roman Catholic Church never shed any blood at any time during the Inquisition. Rather, the Church excommunicated. At that point, the states of that time which believed that such men were a danger to the society exiled or killed those subversives for treason. (Note: the crime of treason is *still* punishable by death in most modern states.) While the popes routinely advised state rulers against capital punishment for such subversives, the decision was ultimately and properly the the jurisdiction of the state. The states thus routinely exiled and/or killed traitors.

    Does the state have the right to kill in self defense? Yes. Should this right be severely restrained? Yes. The Catholic Church has always pushed for such restraint, arguing that the state's use of imprisonment and/or exile protects the citizenry equally well while leaving open the possibility of the reform/conversion of the criminal. Note that the Catholic Church's "Just War" theology seeks to restrain the lethal use of force by states while acknowledging some wars are just and necessary.

    In conclusion, it is unethical to seek to judge Calvin by present-day standards and apart from a proper historical context in which to understand the facts presented. It is likewise hypocritical for any modern person who believes the state has the right to lethal self-defense to judge Calvin too quickly.

    mazuur's picture


    Hog wash! There is a huge difference between the State defending itself against someone who is coming to kill you (the people it is defending), and to kill someone who disagrees with you theologically.

    The Catholic Church was just as guilty as Calvin.



    Parker's picture


    The state has the right to exile and even execute men guilty of treason. This was the proper context for the actions of those states in Calvin's day.

    As for the Catholic Church, they only excommunicated. THEN, if the states were pro-Christianity, they would subsequently try those men as traitors and subversives against the society and would exile or execute them. States that were not pro-Christian would do nothing to them. That is the proper historical context in which to understand this discussion.

    Kyle Peterson's picture

    Proving that the worst kind of state government is a Theocracy.

    Being executed as a traitor because you don't believe in a Trinity?


    Parker's picture

    Hey Kyle.

    As normally understood, a person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. In Calvin's day, the oath of loyalty for the citizenry involved the pledge to preserve and protect Christianity against antichristian forces. Thus, traitors against that oath were exiled and even sometimes executed. That is the proper historic context in which to understand this discussion of Calvin.

    I bet even you would "exile" from your home or environment any person that might seek to teach your children away from the faith--the faith that you deem necessary for eternal happiness and acceptance with God. I know for a fact that this is the basis of Virgil's strong feelings about home schooling. Virgil knows that the unbeliving will try to teach his kids away from the faith. And he's right -- it's a serious threat that requires separation. By extension, people that seek to undermine the system of a nation's law and codes must also be dealt with through separation (via imprisonment, exile, or death). Most Christian parents practice this every day on a micro level. Governments practice this on the macro, "state" level.

    Hope that helps you get your head around the proper context of this discussion.


    Virgil's picture

    Parker, that has to be the lamest excuse I have heard so far on behalf of Calvin. I think Rich rightly pointed out that you are defending Calvin not because you care about him and his principles, but because you have a stake in defending the same murderous actions of the Catholic Church of which you yourself are a member.

    And just for the record, Servetus was not charged with treason. He was charged with fact there were 40 individual charges filed against Servetus. Furthermore, the international law at the time prohibited a state from arresting and executing the citizen of another state when that citizen committed no crime while visiting the state. Servetus was in Geneva for less than a day and caused no injury or crime to anyone in that city. Calvin broke the very laws which you are now quoting in his much for taking stuff out of context.

    And again for the record, here are all the official charges against Servetus, and treason appears nowhere among them:

    Parker's picture


    I have a stake in defending the actual historic context. Truth is at stake, and you are mischaracterizing history.

    Heresy was the worst kind of treason since it subverted the citizenship oaths of that time that mandated the protection and preservation of Christianity. In other words, to openly attack the mainstream understanding of Christianity in that time would have been considered an act of treason against THE SOCIETY. Jews and muslims were famous for such subversions. The Church was often called upon to investigate such people and make a determination of excommunication. In the case where a person was excommunicated, the state then treated the person as a threat to the society, a traitor against the people. The state then carried out the punishment of exile, imprisonment, or execution. Today's states have different defintions of what constitutes treason against the society, but most include the punishment of death for it.

    Virgil's picture

    Heresy was the worst kind of treason since it subverted the citizenship oaths of that time that mandated the protection and preservation of Christianity.

    Parker, you are very imaginative, but again, you are making things up. Servetus was not charged with treason, he was charged with heresy, read the charges against him, I even provided a link. Just because you say that he was charged with treason, do not make it so...the charges survived to this day written on them if you are that interested in "truth." You are manufacturing charges up in order to justify the fact that the Catholic church also killed thousands of innocent people for the same reasons.

    Killing a man over heresy was OK 500 years ago, but it is not ok now, because the society decides so? I thought the Scripture was the guide of the Christian...Sola Scriptura goes right out the window...forget "thou shall not kill" - or is it what Parker said that we should be concerned with, and if heresy equals treason, than heresy equals death?

    Nice, but I am not falling for your justification of murder bud. Nero also passed laws stating that Christianity was a treasonous matter, so it was perfectly legal for him to murder thousands of Christians because it was totally acceptable in the first century to do so. I don't hear you defending Nero, or do I?

    Also, if killing heretics was OK, why did the Catholic Church apologize for the killing of heretics during the Inquisition? Why apologize for the same thing that Calvin did if it was perfectly legal to do it?

    Parker's picture


    Heresy was considered a betrayal of state oaths. Public officials were bound under state oaths to protect and preserve Christianity. In the same way, the citizens were requred by virtue of their citizenship to preserve and protect Christianity. Therefore the act of subverting Christianity openly was legally criminal--a crime against the state. And the state quickly acted to execute, imprison, or exile such people. Our modern view on treason enforces the same punishments for similar actions of perceived betrayal--even non-violent betrayal!

    You are engaging in unethical presentism here. You are seeking to malign Calvin based on modern standards that make Calvin seem monsterously barbaric. Yet your own article admits: "these punishments may seem in line with the contemporary lifestyle and the judicial systems of the day." Yes indeed, they were in line with the political and judicial codes of that time. You should not try to distance yourself from this fact simply to further your campaign against Calvinist preterists with whom you have a grudge. That's unethical.

    And again, the Catholic Church never shed blood. Never. It excommunicated. The States that had laws on the books to preserve and protect Christianity then took such ones and imprisoned, exiled, or executed them. The state has the right to do this! States do this all the time for one reason or another. But in those days, good citizenship involved upholding Christianity.

    At that time, heresy was a betrayal of oaths of citizenship--oaths designed to protect and preserve Christianity. And of course, if treason (violation of state oaths) is rightly punishable by death or exile at all, then it was right for the state to punish heretics with similar actions in their time. Take your own family as an example. You separate your kids out of the public schools and call for the state-enforced downfall of public schools because you see them as a threat to the Christian education of your children. Same idea. Only, your actions are at the family level whereas states have to enforce policies at the state level using various means (even lethal means when necessary).

    Next, when the state acts to execute men in times of war or for acts of treason, the state is NOT breaking the 10 commandments on killing. Personal vengeance is prohibited by the 10 commandments, not law enforcement by a state. States have the right to use force (even lethal force) for the protection of their societies. You may want to deny this since such power can be overused or abused by tyrants, but states have this right from God himself. When the state executes a traitor, they are acting within their legal right. The state has the right to conduct law enforcement (even when the state laws involve religious concepts).

    Marty's picture

    Wow...I've been a lurker for quite a while on this site and have not been compelled to join a discusion until today. Parker, your reasoning and insistent accusation of "unethical presentism" seems to be stretching the historical scenario a little. As Virgil has pointed out, our standard is not society, no matter what age one lives in. It is the scripture and the standard Jesus Christ set for us this side of the cross. Not only that but the standard God set up from the beginning...Loving your neighbor as yourself. Lev.19:18 and repeated and demonstrated again by Jesus Christ. As the book also says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
    Calvin had NO excuse to behave as a tyrant as he did no matter what age he lived in. He established a regime of intimidation and fear which was an unholy, unbiblical regime.
    Also saying the Catholic church only excommunicated but never executed is the same as saying the Jewish establishment did not kill Jesus , the Romans did in order to uphold the law. We all know that was a ruse by the priests to keep their hands clean of His blood. What you just said about the Catholic church is the same pretentious argument.
    The church universal is a living breathing body. There was an infancy, a childhood, an adolescence (I consider that the reformation age), and hopefully one day to reach maturity and unity in love. We can forgive the immature actions of bygone ages and not repeat those mistakes. We must continue to grow and mature rather than remain stagnant in adolescence. Who wants to live with a teenager that never grows up? Those are the kind of men who are divorced, angry, bitter and pathetic and make life miserable for those around them.
    That's my two cents! I feel a little strongly about this issue because I was recently labeled a heretic in a Sunday School adult class by a devout Calvinist for reading Romans 11:32 aloud. Oops! :)

    Virgil's picture

    That's my two cents! I feel a little strongly about this issue because I was recently labeled a heretic in a Sunday School adult class by a devout Calvinist for reading Romans 11:32 aloud. Oops! :)

    Marty, all these passages that suggest universal atonement mix with Calvinism like oil mixes with water.

    What a wonderful exhortation you made here, and I like your comparison. We are so much still "the early Church" in our immaturity as far as understanding theology. Maybe 10,000 years from now Christians will look back and smile over our petty disagreements and say "how far we've come." :)

    Marty's picture

    Maybe 10,000 years from now Christians will look back and smile over our petty disagreements and say "how far we've come." :)

    I truly believe that will be true, Virgil, because we can look back and do that even today! Thanks for your kind comments and all your insights.

    davo's picture

    Parker: And again, the Catholic Church never shed blood. Never. It excommunicated. The States that had laws on the books to preserve and protect Christianity then took such ones and imprisoned, exiled, or executed them.

    So are you really trying to say in times past there was always a so-called separation between Church and State carte blanche and that such "shedding of blood" was totally devoid of the hands of the Romish hierarchy???

    Parker's picture

    So are you really trying to say in times past there was always a so-called separation between Church and State carte blanche and that such "shedding of blood" was totally devoid of the hands of the Romish hierarchy???

    Correct. In states where no state laws required men to uphold and preserve Christianity, those excommunicated by the Catholic Church continued to live freely in their states with all normal rights of citizenship. They continued to be free to carry on their campaigns against Christianity with no physical opposition from law enforcement whatsoever. The Church does not shed blood. Period. It excommunicates only.

    But in Europe, many states DID have laws on the books to uphold and protect Christianity (which they have the right to create and enforce for themselves). When an excommunication took place in those states, the state authorities would round up such men and exile, imprison, or execute them as criminals, as traitors against the society. The popes did not like capital punishment (and still don't), and routinely petitioned rulers to spare heretics from the death penalty. But the state has its own rights and kings would often ignore the popes' wishes.

    mazuur's picture


    Me stating that the Pope and his office is unbiblical is not treason. Back then I would have been executed for such statements. And spear me this crap the Church only excommunicated people for such crimes. You can lie and convince yourself the Catholic Church wasn't responsible for many murderous acts, but not me.

    That is your whole reason for coming to the defense of Calvin, is it not? You don't really care about Calvin, you are merely trying to give justification for the Catholic Church's murderous actions? Of course I could be wrong. Have before.



    Parker's picture


    You would have only been excommunicated by the Catholic Church for your open protest. Then, if you lived in a state that had no official laws protecting Christianity, you would have lived perfectly free.

    On the other hand, if you lived in a state where the oath of citizenship involved preserving and protecting Christianity, that state might have subsequently tried you as a traitor and either exiled you, imprisoned you, or executed you. That's the way it worked. That's what actually happened. Get it straight.

    mazuur's picture


    that is not what happened. But even if it had (which it isn't), the states that did have the laws to "protect Christianity" would have had their laws defined and enforced by the will of the Church. Thus, it is still the Church who would have been responsible.



    Parker's picture


    Although Christians in U.S. political offices have the power to create laws that could potentially reflect Christian tenets, that is not at all the same as saying the Church is running the government. And in fact, the popes often tried to persuade kings NOT to give capital punishment to heretics! Rulers like Ferdinand of Spain often ignored the counsel of the popes.

    For example, Pope Sixtus IV openly worked against the Spanish Inquisition. Sixtus was unhappy with the excesses of the Inquisition and took measures to suppress abuses.
    The Pope disapproved of the extreme measures being taken by King Ferdinand and categorically disallowed their spread to the kingdom of Aragon. He alleged that the Inquisition was a cynical ploy by Ferdinand and Isabella to confiscate the Jews' property. Despite all this, Ferdinand continued to resist direct Papal influence in his lands and used strong-arm tactics against the Pope. The only power the popes have *ever had* is the power of influence and persuasion. Nothing more. State leaders regularly ignored such advice and influence, though not always.

    Church and state have always been separate entities with separate leaderships and separate jurisdictions--popes never had state governmental authority. The "separation of Church and State" doctrine that is emerging today is a ruse by pagans to take over the country and destroy Christians. We need *greater* --not less-- cooperation between churches and the state today! We need Christian presidents, governors, judges and congressional leaders, and we need them now.

    mazuur's picture


    you are smoking some serious stuff.

    I'm done as no matter what is stated you will only believe what you want.



    Parker's picture

    Rich, admit it. You don't know Catholic teaching or history as well as you'd like everyone to think you do.

    Have you finished thinking through the fact that Catholics existed all throughout AD 30 to AD 300 (and down to this very day) and that the list of Popes goes all the way back, successor by successor, to St. Peter? Where were the Baptists in AD 1300? Where were the Methodists in AD 1500? Where was the Assembly of God in AD 800? Where was your denomination, Rich?

    : )

    God bless,

    mazuur's picture

    Man, you are high.

    My denomination is Christian. Been around from the day people started following Christ (Acts 11:26). So, using your argument, since I can trace the title of my church before yours that makes my Church the one and only “real” Church. Sorry Parker, you're out.

    Making a play with words means nothing. In the first century the Church was referred to as "The Way" (Acts 19:9,23; 24:14,22). So, I guess since that isn't the title of your sect, your church isn’t the real deal either. I also see the title "Church of God" (Acts 20:28, 1 Cor. 1:2; 10:32) used in the NT for certain Churches. I see “church of the Laodiceans” (Col 4:16). I see “church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess. 1:1). I see “church of the living God” (1 Tim 3:15). I see “church of the firstborn” (Heb 12:23). Hey, what do you know? The followers of Jesus were also referred to as “Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). Seems strange but I just can't seem to find the term "Catholic" used in the NT to refer to the follows of Christ or His Church. Maybe it has something to do with the true meaning of the word “Catholic”. Catholic merely meant Universal. Thus, any person who was/is a Christian is part of the Universal (Catholic) Church. Today Catholic is a term to refer to a sect or denomination of all its glorious blasphemous practices.

    Praise God for rising up individuals like Luther to challenge your Church's blasphemous teachings in light of Scripture even in the face of dearth. Give Him even more praise for his work in providing all men with a copy of His word so man is no longer at the mercy of evil corrupt blood soaked Popes. I hate to tell you but the followers of “The Way, the “Nazarenes”, the “Christians” (Acts 11:26), members of the “Church of God”, the “Church of Laodicea”, and the “Church of the Firstborn”, are all part of the whole…the Universal (Catholic) Church.

    What blows my mind is you actually think and believe all the crap you just spewed as some form of solid argument. wonder you belong to the Catholic Church. I will give you this though. They have trained you well is the art of spin. You should run for Congress.

    And this one, "Popes goes all the way back, successor by successor, to St. Peter? LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!! You have fallen for the big pile of CRAP!!!




    Parker's picture

    My denomination is Christian. Been around from the day people started following Christ (Acts 11:26).

    It is not. Your denomination is Baptist, or Church of Christ, or Methodist, or Lutheran or some other group whose origins date back no earlier than the 1600s. My "denomination," however, dates back in real history to the apostles (Church of Rome--see in your Bible). That's an historic reality, Rich. You can't get around it.

    So, I guess since that isn't the title of your sect, your church isn’t the real deal either.

    Rich, look in your bible and see "The Church of Rome" right there after the Book of Acts. That Church never, ever, disappeared! It continued in unbroken existence unto this very day. Deal with the facts, Rich. The fact that your denomination didn't originate anywhere near an actual apostles back in the first century has serious ramifications. The Church of Rome, however, was founded by actual, first-century apostles.

    And this one, "Popes goes all the way back, successor by successor, to St. Peter?

    The list of popes is solid history supported by real historic facts and documents. Do your homework as you view the list of successors of the Church of Rome:

    List of Popes:

    mazuur's picture


    You crack me up. You just keep on swallowing.

    Have a good day.



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