Where is the love of God in Calvinism?
Calvin: Politician and Persecutor
As has been sufficiently demonstrated in the previous two articles, Calvin borrowed much of his theology from the “Father of Roman Catholic Theology,” Augustine. Through Augustine, Calvin became persuaded of the need to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. When he rose to power in Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin desired to build God’s kingdom through political maneuvering and persecution—methods approved by Augustine and practiced by Rome.
The Despotism of Geneva
Calvin sought to force his “form” of Christianity upon the citizens of Geneva. Today, “Reconstructionists” view Geneva as an ideal model for the Christianizing of America.
John Calvin sought to force the citizens of Geneva to obey his standards by a system of in-home visits by authorities. According to Will Durant, these officials “questioned the occupants on all phases of their lives. Calvin’s law specified the permissible color and quantity of clothing and the number of dishes allowable at a meal. Jewelry and lace were frowned upon. A woman was jailed for arranging her hair to an immoral height.”
Calvin instituted a demanding censorship of the press, banning books with which he disagreed. To speak disrespectfully of Calvin or his preachers was a crime that could be punishable by banishment.
Fornication was punishable by exile or drowning. Adultery, blasphemy, and idolatry were punishable by death. Contrary to these teachings the bible says:
A child was beheaded for striking his parents. Psalm 127:3-5 (KJB) “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
In one year, there were 414 trials for moral offenses. Between 1542 and 1564 there were 26 banishments and 58 executions. The total population was under 20,000.
Isaiah 43:25 (KJB) “ I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”
John Calvin’s Dictatorial Authority
John Calvin established and codified the civil law of Geneva. He levied his brand of Christianity with floggings, imprisonments, banishments, and burnings at the stake.
He has been called the “Protestant Pope.” Church historian Philip Schaff:
It was a glaring inconsistency that those who had just shaken off the yoke of popery as an intolerable burden should subject their conscience and intellect to a human creed; in other words, substitute for the old Roman popery a modern Protestant popery.
Calvin’s control was universal and absolute.
Calvin was involved in every imaginable aspect of city life: safety regulations to protect children, laws against recruiting mercenaries, new inventions, the introduction of cloth manufacturing, and even dentistry. He was consulted not only on all important state affairs but also on the supervision of the markets and assistance for the poor.
Calvin established a confession of faith and made adherence to it mandatory for all citizens. Will Durant:
All the claims of the popes for the supremacy of the church over the state were renewed by Calvin for his church. Calvin was as thorough as any pope in rejecting individualism of belief; this greatest legislator of Protestantism entirely repudiated that principle of private judgment with which the new religion had begun. In Geneva, those who could not accept it would have to seek other surroundings. Persistent absence from Protestant services or continued refusal to take the Eucharist was a punishable offense.
Several Additional Examples of Persecution
Jerome Bolsec disagreed with Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, stating, “those who pose it an eternal decree of God by which He has ordained some to life, and the rest to death make of Him a tyrant.” For these words, he as banished from Geneva.
John Trolliet criticized Calvin’s Institutes stating that Calvin had made God the “author of sin.” The court decreed that “thence forward no one should dare to speak against this book (Institutes) and its doctrine.”
Jacques Gruet, having been accused of placing a placard on Calvin’s pulpit calling him a “gross hypocrite,” suffered torture twice daily for thirty days. After finally confessing, he was tied to a stake, his feet nailed to it, and his head cut off.
A visiting Lutheran minister praised the “weekly investigations into the conduct, and even the smallest transgressions, of the citizens” of Geneva!
Calvin sentenced arch-heretic Miguel Serveto to death for two counts of heresy: Unitarianism and rejecting infant baptism!
Stay tuned for Part 4 – Calvin, Arminius, and the Church Counsels