First off, simply put, "Nicely Done." to all you who have already posted.

But, I would like to look at the second part of the definition supplied for the word "sanctioned" which you say is "2) To countenance; allow." I would point out that sometimes we must allow what we do not agree with. So, wether or not Calvin sanctioned, your definition is ambiguous as I understand it, even if Calvin did sanction this death of a man who was a convicted criminal by their laws (or to put it simply, if Calvin upheld the death penalty) it may have been a matter of Calvin upholding the power of the local coart.

Also, I don't know who this Horton guy is, have't read his stuff yet, but do you hold Johnny Mac or his work as being of some higher quality? I point out that you said, "Pilgrim and myself agree that both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur are notable and we agree both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur are Calvinists." So, this guy is a doctor of something, he's notable and he's calvinist? You're saying the same thing of MacArthur but you're using MacArthur as a superior source? This does not make sense to me.

Also, "it's possible Dr. MacArthur has other records showing Calvin did" and "evidence may have surfaced which wasn't available to Dr. Horton." but you have no proof that Dr. MacArthur is using something other than the official records? That's speculation, so your case could be argued against on a topicality basis. Until this can be confirmed, even though these men may be of good report, your case is still a matter of speculation, their good names do not make their cases fact. *See my next objection*

"This is why I believe the best way to find out the truth is to ask both Dr. MacArthur and Dr. Horton to give us more information, i.e. the sources they used to write what they wrote. This seems to be very reasonable. Would you agree? "
Great, so why doesn't someone just look at their bibliography pages or e-mail them and ask?

Also, I love that you put this one in here, "We cannot correctly judge another, because we can only see what is on the surface." you point out that we cannot correctly judge someone b/c we are unable to see beyond the surface, and while I would love to argue that point and get more clarity, that's for another thread another time, BUT if we cannot see beyond the surface, how are we to judge the actions of John Calvin? We were not there, we did not know Calvin personally and as I understand it, we cannot know him through his writing's b/c he only wrote the institutes, right? So, how are we to judge the surface of Calvin if we cannot even see the full surface of Calvin?
Also, I really detest the liberal usuage of the word "judge" which while I use it here for the sake of ease, I really would like defined. Judge can be mean anything as light as "to libel and slander" to "Condemning the heretic to hell", clarification is greatly desired.

"What Jesus means by 'fruit' and 'tree' is debatable. One definition of 'fruit' is: "The outcome, consequence, or result of some action, effort, situation, etc.: the 'fruit of labor'." One definition of 'tree' is: A diagram or outline resembling a tree and showing family descent: a genealogical 'tree'." "
I just point out that "One definition" but that does not mean it is the entire or necessarily right definition of Fruit or Tree. As I understand the passage, Jesus is saying by way of a metaphor that a man's actions will speak about his character and that you will be able to judge how to approach him and act towards him.
Also, geneological charts are obviously not the correct rendering of the word trees here, otherwise you'd be saying, 'You will know this man by the outcomes and consequences of his family history chart.' If you're going to give a definition, give one that can actually be used in context, thank you.

"It's clear to me it doesn't matter how bad the 'fruit', what matters is whether there is any 'bad fruit' at all."
"bad" in the case of fruit is a matter of perspective, I personally don't see the upholding of a law (even a questionable one by my cultural standards (which would be an ethnocentric attitude on my part) as being evil). You argued earlier that we are finite creatures unable to judge beyond the surface. I tell you the truth, we cannot know what the continued allowence of a "arch-heretic" (that was even condemned by the Papacy) would have had upon society. In all likely hood lives were saved and grace was magnified the more by the death of this man, and besides, he's a heretic that had been confronted with the Gospel, if he was elect he'd have been saved, otherwise, he'd have gone to hell, by executing him it just saved someone else the trouble later by getting him there sooner. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Also, as if I needed to go on, it's common in debate and argument to admit and concede certain things so as not to appear completely arrogant and rude, and it surely cannot be a sin to point out a few historical facts which are easily learned. MacArthur was probably just showing that he doesn't consider the Reformers to be infallible.
Also, when did Oliver Cromwell become a major church leader??? Cromwell was a leader in a British revolution, this I know, but I've not read any treatise or book about the Christian religion or Christian living, I've never seen his systematic theology, so why are we talking about him??? Excuse me if I sound ignorant, I admit (though I admit that I"m to be a history major)modern history isn't my strong point, but how in the world does Cromwell come into all this?

"So the importance of determining whether or not John Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetes" has enormous implications. If Calvin did "sanction the burning of Michael Servetes", as alledged by the "notable Calvinist" Dr. John MacArthur, then our Lord warns you to beware of him. "
I think I've already made all the objections I need to make, except, as I recall my history, the 5 points were drawn from Calvin's teachings yes, but they were done so after his death to make arguing with the Arminians a little easier. Again, the 5 points are only 5 doctrine's we hold dear, there are others, and we cannot use the 5 points as a looking class through which we interpret all other doctrines. IF our theology is correct, then the 5 will go complimentry to all the other doctrines as they are in scripture, just as the 5 are taken directly from scripture.
Also, this doesn't have enormas implications, b/c we need to beware of everything we learn, we must make certain that we learn what is true and scriptural, that's a call to any true disciple. Only an fool pays no attention to the information he is learning.

This post was full of ifs and alledged's and all kinds of things that make it suspect, a case built on circumstantial evidense at best, hot air at the worst.
I, too, fail to see how the burning of one heretic can lead to the downfall of the truth, it cannot, the heretic got what we all deserve, and praise God that in His mercy He has spared us!

I'm certain there are other arguments to be made, I would greatly enjoy reading them, but this is about all I can think of at the moment.

God bless,

-Brother Luke