JOHN CALVIN WAS A MURDEROUS DICTATOR WHO HAD PEOPLE KILLED JUST FOR DISAGREEING WITH HIM!HOW CAN YOU SPEAK WELL OF SUCH AN EVIL MAN WHO MURDERED SERVETUS?WILL DURANT CALLED CALVIN THE DICTATOR OF GENEVA.HUNDREDEDS WERE EXECUTED.
There has been so much disinformation concerning John Calvin, that unravelling the malicious gossip, and in many cases, manufactured accusations, is quite a task.
I have visited Geneva on a number of occasions and have extensively studied the Reformation Museum, and the writings of John Calvin. I have also been a guest speaker at the Geneva Bible Institute and discussed Calvin’s writings and legacy extensively with Historians and Theologians.
Please see the attached: 'When All Men Speak Well of You' and 'A Heart Aflame and A Mind Renewed', two articles which I have written on this subject and which should go a long way in setting the record straight.
The fact is that John Calvin was never a political leader in Geneva. He was appointed by the City Council and was even exiled from the city for three years.
Of course, John Calvin exercised tremendous influence through his immense learning and teaching and preaching ministries. However, influence and persuasion is not the same thing as political dictatorship.
Yes, John Calvin was strict, and Yes he had high standards. However, speaking, for example, on the matter of the execution of Michael Servetus, it needs to be noted that Servetus was under sentence of death all over Europe. He had fled the death penalty from Roman Catholic controlled Europe, but of course Geneva regarded the crime of blasphemy no less seriously than Catholic areas did.
It is not fair, or balanced, to blame John Calvin alone for his death. Calvin was not a member of the Judiciary, nor even of the Prosecution. However, he was an expert witness on what constituted blasphemy.
Calvin did visit Servetus in prison and did attempt to win him to Christ. He also pleaded with the court for mercy in the sentence and opposed the death by burning.
It should also be noted that all over Europe, even the mildest of Reformers, such as Philipp Melanchthon, congratulated Geneva on dealing decisively with this reprobate blasphemer, Servetus. There was no controversy, or scandal, concerning his trial, or sentence. In fact it would have been a scandal if Geneva had not decisively dealt with this subversive blasphemer.
You quote from Will Durant, a known non-Christian, who is actually quite hostile to Christianity in his Civilisation series. One should not expect a balanced, or fair, assessment of Christians from Will Durant.
Noting the number of prosecutions, or executions, in Geneva during the time that Calvin was the minister at St. Peters, is not really relevant, considering that he was neither a magistrate, nor even a citizen of Geneva, at that time.
Geneva under Calvin was hardly oppressive - it became the premiere centre of refugees fleeing oppression. Women fled to Geneva to find sanctuary from abusive husbands, knowing that they would find justice there. Calvin’s Geneva had such a high standard of freedom of the press that publishing flourished there into the greatest concentration of printing in the world at that time.
I would encourage you to read the book: The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World – The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments - from the 16th through 18th Centuries, by Douglas Kelley, published by Presbyterian and Reformed in 1992. This deals with Geneva, Huguenot France, Scotland, England and Colonial America.
The Papacy identified John Calvin as the most dangerous threat to Catholicism.
There is no doubt that John Calvin stands out as one of the finest Bible scholars, one of the greatest systematic Theologians and one of the most profound religious thinkers in all of history. He was Bible-centred in his teaching, God-centered in his living and Christ-centered in his Faith.
The Institutes stands out as the finest textbook on Theology, Apology for the Protestant Faith, Manifesto for the Reformation and Handbook for Catechism. The Institutes is a weapon against heresy and a guide for Christian discipleship.
John Calvin’s ideas of religious toleration, representative government and constitutionalising the monarchy, established the rights and liberties of citizens. His Christian work ethic helped develop the most productive and prosperous societies in history.
May God abundantly bless, guide and strengthen you.
Yours for the fulfilment of the Great Commission
Dr. Peter Hammond