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The following is an accurate quote from a book entitled 'Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern' written by Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr. copyright 1994, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL - on page 202 MacArthur writes:
"Of course, the Catholic Church is by no means the only religious body guilty of atrocities. Martin Luther consented to the deaths of thousands in the Peasants' Revolt in sixteenth-century Germany. Many leading Reformers joined with the Catholics in calling for the deaths of Anabaptists. John Calvin sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus, an arch-heretic who was condemned by both Catholics and Calvinists for his anti-trinitarianism. Oliver Cromwell's Puritan armies treated Irish Catholics with appalling ruthlessness. Cromwell himself signed the death warrant when Charles I was executed. The Puritans in colonial Massachusetts executed four Quakers before laws making heresy a capital offense were repealed."

"Yet all those evils pale in comparison to the horrifying waves of tyranny and inhumanity carried out in the name of Roman Catholicism...."

I wish I could continue quoting from Dr. MacArthur's book, but I don't have a scanner and I would have to manually enter the text. Moreover, I think this book is well worth reading in its entirety.

According to an article by Dr. Michael Horton, written in 1992, entitled 'Was Geneva A Theocracy?', which can be found on this website, the historical records in the Servetus trial do not show John Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus." Dr. Horton claims the records show Calvin tried to have the court be lenient with Servetus and failing in this appeal, he tried to have them execute Servetus in a more humane manner.

Pilgrim and myself agree that both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur are notable and we agree both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur are Calvinists.

I have said the best way to determine the truth, as to whether or not John Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus", is to ask both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur to provide more pertinent information.

Pilgrim has disagreed with me. I can't speak for him, but I think he is saying he believes the best way to determine the truth is to examine the historical records.

The meaning of the word 'sanction' is: 1) To approve authoritatively; confirm; ratify 2) To countenance; allow.

If someone only consults the official records of the court in Geneva there may be no record of Calvin "sanctioning Servetus' burning." However, it's possible Dr. MacArthur has other records showing Calvin did "sanction the burning of Servetus." These other records may include letters Calvin wrote, sermons he gave, or a letter written by a personal friend of Calvin's documenting a conversation in which Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus."

All this would be mere speculation and conjecture if it were not for the facts that 1) Dr. MacArthur is a notable Calvinist and 2) he wrote his book two years after Dr. Horton wrote his article. Therefore, in the two years between the writing of the documents, evidence may have surfaced which wasn't available to Dr. Horton.

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?

God judges us by what is in our hearts. He knows our inner-most thoughts. We cannot correctly judge another, because we can only see what is on the surface. However, in the special cases of those who teach doctrine, Scripture tells us: "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV

I will not say I understand exactly and completely what Jesus is saying here, but He's essentially saying, "Beware of false Christian leaders (false prophets in sheep's clothing) and if even one instance of 'bad fruit' can be seen, the 'tree' is bad. If the 'tree' is good, then all the 'fruit' coming from the 'tree' is good.

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'."

Dr. MacArthur's book was directed at Catholics. His theme throughout was to tell Catholics not to trust Catholic doctrine, because Catholic leaders have continually exhibited bad fruit and don't show any remorse for their actions throughout history.

But, Dr. MacArthur also states that Protestant leaders, i.e. Luther, Calvin and Cromwell, also committed "atrocities" and says their deeds were "evil."

Does the fact that this 'fruit' was not as bad in any way exempt them from being a 'bad tree'? What Jesus said is, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit." It's clear to me it doesn't matter how bad the 'fruit', what matters is whether there is any 'bad fruit' at all.

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.

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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.

Only if we accept your definition of "good fruit", and uphold that the saved never commit further sin.


God bless,

william

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1 Corinthians 5:1-6
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. F11 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

Wow.. i wonder if Paul was a Christian?!?<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/scratchchin.gif" alt="" />

Michele

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See http://www.crownrights.com/books/calvin_servetus.htm (sorry, I don't know how to make this link clickable). Luther was an "anti-semite" too, which I can start to understand when I try to explain the wonders of the doctrines of grace to some of my Assemblies of God "friends."

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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.


Let me paraphrase your quote slightly to show the absurdity of this statement:

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“So the importance of determining whether or not Paul sanctioned the stoning of Stephen has enormous implications. If Paul did “sanction the stoning of Stephen, as alleged by the noteable writer of Acts”, Dr Luke, then our Lord warns you to beware of him.”

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Good one, Dave! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bif.gif" alt="" />


Kyle

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I recommend you take a look at this website: What Love Is This? Though it is addressed more particularly to Dave Hunt's book, What Love Is This?, it has some information about the Servetus affair that is pertinent.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:39 PM.

Kyle

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Yes it was a good one. Also with 1saved's reasoning, I guess we could conclude that King David is in hell right now. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bif.gif" alt="" />

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I originally posted this email under the "Covenant Succession" thread, because 1Saved insisted that my pastor and boss was some how giving a negative treatment to John Calvin for the death of Servetus. It looks as though the moderators, or 1Saved himself, started a new thread with this as the topic. Because he again mis-cites John from an appendix in his book "Reckless Faith" I wanted to make sure that those who stumble across this thread would read what I responded to 1Saved at the other thread.

I am not absolutely sure why John Mac is being involked in this discussion, but seeing that I personally work for the guy here at his radio ministry, I just wanted to comment upon this statement from his book.
The section is from an appendix on the changing nature of Roman Catholicism. John is establishing how, through out all of church history, there is a history of persecution. I would add, that the persecution of dissenting "heretics" was due to more of a state/church monstrosity of the time, but that is neither here nor there. Suffice it to say, John is simply establishing that even though Protestant Christians, individuals we hold up as heroes of the faith, and rightly so, had their share of doing bad things in the name of Christianity, they had nothing on the RCC. John goes on to say that the persecution carried out by Protestants "pale in comparison to the horrifying waves of tyranny and inhumanity carried out in the name of Roman Catholicism." John is only setting up an historical contrast.

Now, where I am a bit lost is with why John MacArthur mentioning John Calvin sanctioning Servetus's death is relevant. Are you saying, George, that John is implying that Calvin was not a Christian? Or that he has nothing worthy of his rightful honor as a tremendous contributor to Christianity and Christian thought? That would be a difficult point to establish seeing that Dr. MacArthur gave a series of lectures on the importance of preaching at the seminary chapel a few years ago, and he used John Calvin as his primary model and example of how we should preach.

Granted, John is not a Calvinist in the sense that Pilgrim mentioned, but Calvin is one of John's spiritual heroes and he would never tell anyone not to read Calvin just because Calvin helped establish charges in the trial and death of Servetus.

By the way, not to excuse Calvin; Servetus's death was a horrific crime, but if you know anything about Servetus and his angry, stalker like personality, especially toward Calvin, he sort of had it coming.


With that re-posted, I might ask George - 1saved - a question: What relevance does Calvin's involvement with Servetus have on how we understand predestination, election, the atonment, etc? I always find it slightly amusing that any time Calvinism is involved in a discussion, at some point the anti-Calvinist antagonist will drag out the burned corpse of Michael Servetus as to why the Five points of Calvinism are heretical and should be rejected. But what bearing does the death of Servetus have on understanding what the Bible teaches on the nature of salvation? How does Servetus's unjust death change the exegesis of Romans 9 or Ephesians 1 or 1 John 2:2 for that matter? It is illogical to suggest that Calvin's involvement with Servetus nullifies the Bible's teaching on the doctrines of grace as Calvin taught in his theology and his followers continued to teach after his death. This is similar logic employed by anti-Bush haters who think Bush's drunkedness in college 30 years ago has some connection to American military policy in Iraq today. Maybe you can answer these questions George before Joe posts you back.

Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
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Brother Fred,

Thank you so much for your reply, as it has reinforced the testimony of Dr. MacArthur in his book "Reckless Faith."

I want you to be assured that I greatly admire Dr. MacArthur as a Bible teacher and acknowledge him as my brother in Christ. That said, I also want to tell you that I do not agree with everything Dr. MacArthur writes, but I do agree with a great majority of what he teaches.

In fact, when I first was saved in September, 1996, I received the bulk of my doctrine from the teaching of Dr. MacArthur while listening to his radio program "Grace To You" every morning while going to work on WMBI.

I have heard his 6-part tape message entitled "The Way To Heaven" and agree with every thing John said. I also recommend his 8-part tape message entitled "True Worship." I highly recommend these teachings of Dr. MacArthur for everyone to listen to and would suggest to every minister they be required listening within their church. I also liked Dr. MacArthur's tapes entitled "Show Me Your Faith", which is his expositional commentary of the Book of James. There are other teachings of Dr. MacArthur I could recommend, but I'll time out before I can finish.

I also recommend Dr. James M. Boice as a Bible teacher. I also do not agree with everything he wrote.

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The saved are dead to sin as they have been crucified to Christ. Their sin debt has been fully paid by the blood sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus. Praise His Holy name.

Read carefully what I wrote. The passage in Matthew 7:15 was given to us to help us determine whether a Christian religious leader is/was a false prophet or a true prophet of God. What did the leader's 'fruit' say about him? That is the question.

I'm not talking about followers, I'm talking about leaders. Dr. MacArthur exhibits good fruit, but he is a Calvinist. The leader of the Calvinist doctrine was John Calvin and it's his fruit we should examine to see if there was even one example of bad fruit.

You should also examine the 'fruit' of men like Augustine, Luther, Arminius, Cromwell, Wesley, Whitefield, Scofield, etc. I did not include them in the original post, but the same argument applies to them as well.

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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

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Thank you so much for your reply, as it has reinforced the testimony of Dr. MacArthur in his book "Reckless Faith."

(Fred) How exactly? I pointed out that you are totally misusing John's quote to some how libel the character of John Calvin as a Christian man. That was not John's intention at all.

Quote
Read carefully what I wrote. The passage in Matthew 7:15 was given to us to help us determine whether a Christian religious leader is/was a false prophet or a true prophet of God. What did the leader's 'fruit' say about him? That is the question.

I'm not talking about followers, I'm talking about leaders. Dr. MacArthur exhibits good fruit, but he is a Calvinist. The leader of the Calvinist doctrine was John Calvin and it's his fruit we should examine to see if there was even one example of bad fruit.

(Fred) So what you are trying to set up is that John Calvin was lost and a false prophet? Let us pretend that John Calvin never existed, how would you understand Romans 9, Ephesians 1? Are men dead in sin and with no ability to come to faith in Christ unless God work in their hearts first? Or would you deny that? Whether or not John Calvin was a Christian is irrelevant to our understanding of the Bible and what it reveals regarding the saving work of Christ and God's saving grace.

For some reason, you are under the impression that if you can demonstrate that Calvin was a false teacher, then Calvinism is wrong and we all here at this board have errant views of election, the atonement, etc. But the truth of the matter is that Calvin's character has no bearing upon what the Bible teaches regarding salvation. And besides, John Calvin was not the leader of the Calvinist doctrine that bears his name. That system of theology didn't come around until 40 years or more after his death, and it was a needed response to the heresies of the Arminian Remonstrance. Please do some reading in Church history. The Christians of the time didn't suck these beliefs out of their thumbs.

Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
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Michele,
Are you agreeing that Servetus should have been burned to death for teaching what he taught? Do you also agree with the Calvinists who executed the followers of Arminius after the trial at the Synod of Dort?
If you do, what Scripture can you cite to support your position, other than this in 1 Corinthians? Paul doesn't say execute them. He said to turn them over to Satan. Have you some confirmation that the Holy Spirit has taught you correct exegesis of the passage you quote? Can you say you asked God and he told you "turn them over to Satan" means execute them?
Before you answer this, I'd like to remind you that Scripture prohibits women from teaching. Yes, you're allowed to have your own opinion and as you know I have agreed with you in the past, but on this issue I cannot agree.

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1Saved,
It would be helpful if you could list the names of those Arminian individuals who were supposedly executed by the Synod of Dort.
Again, we need to know why those pronouns are important to Ephesians 1. Any word from Joe yet?

Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
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