Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Preterist Archive: Martin Luther's Attitude Toward The Jews

The Preterist Archive has resurrected one of my old papers: Martin Luther's Attitude Toward The Jews (2005).  I appreciate that! for the last few years, the paper has only been available via the Internet Archive. No, I'm not a Preterist (as the term is popularly understood), but the Preterist Archive does in fact have some very useful research and materials available, whatever one's eschatological underpinnings may be. I stand amazed at how long the site has been going and how often it's updated. It certainly appears to be a true labor of love on behalf of the site's owner.

The paper was a personal research project. The materials used at the time were largely those found in a number of libraries, particularly Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia).  Originally, the paper was hosted on Eric Svendsen's NTR.Min.org (still available via the Internet Archive). Svendsen took his site down some time around 2009-2010 (see my comments here).

Since 2005, there's been quite an online information explosion! I wonder what my paper would be like now if I were to compose it again. My position on Luther's attitude towards the Jews is still basically the same as that presented in 2005. However, over the years my position has changed as to whether or not Luther himself was an anti-Semite.

There have been a number of researchers who conclude Luther's later anti-Jewish tracts were written from a position different than current (or modern-day) Antisemitism. Luther was born into a society that was anti-Judaic, but it was not the current anti-Judaic type of society that bases it racism on biological factors. Luther had no objections to integrating converted Jews into Christian society. He had nothing against Jews as “Jews.” He had something against their religion because he believed it denied and blasphemed Christ. If one frames the issues with these categories, Luther was not Antisemitic.

Post World War II though, there has been much discussion about the nuances and etymology of the term Antisemitism. The contemporary use of the word "Antisemitism" does not typically have its distinction from anti-Judaism considered. The word now has a more broad meaning including anti-Judaism. The debate centers around whether the evolved use of the term is a significant step towards describing previous history or if it's setting up an anachronistic standard for evaluating previous history [see my entry here in regard to Eric Gritsch, Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism: Against His Better Judgment (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012)]. As I've looked at this issue from time to time, I'm thinking more along the lines of Gritsch's revised view rather than what I wrote back in 2005. I accept the modern definition of Antisemitism, and I think that it does include anti-Judaism. While Luther may have been primarily against the religion of Judaism, his harsh recommendations could have effected Jewish people as human beings as well. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Dr. Nathan Busenitz' course on Historical Theology from a Protestant/Reformation Viewpoint

This is the first of 25 lectures on Historical Theology from the early church up to the Reformation.  I have not listened to them all, but jumped around some; and still have a long way to go.  Overall, it looks really good.  See the side-bar on You Tube for the rest of the 25 lectures.  He also has a Part 2 of Reformation and forward Historical Theology course.  (see under the You Tube Page of The Master's Seminary)  I look forward to working through them.




Dr. Busenitz also has a book on Sola Fide, showing the earlier aspects and elements of the doctrine in church history before Luther.  Called "Long Before Luther".

Long Before Luther

PS. There is a also a course by Carl Trueman on the Reformation, there at the Master's Seminary (Founder: John MacArthur) You Tube Page, that even a Roman Catholic like Alan Ruhl admitted was excellent.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Calvin's Geneva: A rebellious father served four days in prison for insisting on naming his son Claude instead of Abraham

Here'a tidbit about John Calvin's Geneva floating around cyberspace:
Children were to be named after Old Testament characters. A rebellious father served four days in prison for insisting on naming his son Claude instead of Abraham (source).
Simply search the phrase "insisting on naming his son Claude" to see the extent of the spread of this information. Of the hits I came across, none were claiming John Calvin himself had a man put in prison for naming his son "Claude." Typically, it's presented as something like, "Laws and facts about Geneva Under Calvin’s Authority" (source). That is, the "Tyrant of Geneva" sent out his troops make arrests.  Let's take a close look at this fact and try to determine it's truth and John Calvin's involvement.

Documentation
I suspect the popularity of this fact finds its genesis in pop-historian Will Durant's book, The Reformation. Durant says,
To regulate lay conduct a system of domiciliary visits was established: one or another of the elders visited, yearly, each house in the quarter assigned to him, and questioned the occupants on all phases of their lives. Consistory and Council joined in the prohibition of gambling, card-playing, profanity, drunkenness, the frequenting of taverns, dancing (which was then enhanced by kisses and embraces), indecent or irreligious songs, excess in entertainment, extravagance in living, immodesty in dress. The allowable color and quantity of clothing, and the number of dishes permissible at a meal, were specified by law. Jewelry and lace were frowned upon. A woman was jailed for arranging her hair to an immoral height.34 Theatrical performances were limited to religious plays, and then these too were forbidden. Children were to be named not after saints in the Catholic calendar but preferably after Old Testament characters; an obstinate father served four days in prison for insisting on naming his son Claude instead of Abraham.35 Censorship of the press was taken over from Catholic and secular precedents, and enlarged (1560): books of erroneous religious doctrine, or of immoral tendency, were banned; Montaigne’s Essays and Rousseau’s Emile were later to fall under this proscription. To speak disrespectfully of Calvin or the clergy was a crime.36 A first violation of these ordinances was punished with a reprimand, further violation with fines, persistent violation with imprisonment or banishment. Fornication was to be punished with exile or drowning; adultery, blasphemy, or idolatry, with death. In one extraordinary instance a child was beheaded for striking its parents.37 In the years 1558-59 there were 414 prosecutions for moral offenses; between 1542 and 1564 there were seventy-six banishments and fifty-eight executions; the total population of Geneva was then about 20,000.38 As everywhere in the sixteenth century, torture was often used to obtain confessions or evidence.
35 Schaff, 492.
Durant provides a footnote, "Schaff, 492." This refers to Philip Schaff's multi-volume History of the Christian Church, specifically the volume on the Swiss Reformation. Schaff does record this incident:
A person named Chapuis was imprisoned for four days because he persisted in calling his child Claude (a Roman Catholic saint) instead of Abraham, as the minister wished, and saying that he would sooner keep his son unbaptized for fifteen years."1
1  Registers for April 27, 1546. Henry II. 429.
Earlier and related, Schaff noted the following also:
Parents were warned against naming their children after Roman Catholic saints who nourished certain superstitions; instead of them the names of Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Zechariah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah became common. (This preference for Old Testament names was carried even further by the Puritans of England and New England.)
Schaff provides a reference: "Registers for April 27, 1546. Henry II. 429." I'm uncertain which source he's using for the Registers of Geneva. I suspect he simply took information from the second source, "Henry II, 429." This refers to Paul Henry, Das Leben Johann Calvins des grossen Reformators, Volume 2, p. 429. The text states, 


An English translation of this text can be found here. The text states, 
The feeling of popular indignation was still further increased by an order which forbade the naming of children after the Roman catholic saints; among the most favorite names were those of Claudius and Balthazar, with which the people had associated certain superstitious ideas.t To heap insult on morality and religion was the order of the day.
t Picot, T. ii. pp. 413, 414. Regis. 1546, Av. 27. Chapuis was put in prison for having persisted in naming his child Claude, which the minister did not wish, but desired to call him Abraham.
"Picot, T. ii, pp. 413-414" appears to be a bibliographic error. The actual reference should be to volume 1, pp. 413-414. Picot mentions that the particular names in question were superstitiously believed to give long life ("...ils croyoient par là procurer une longue vie à ces enfans"). This appears to be the "superstitious ideas" mentioned by Paul Henry. 

Conclusion
It is true that particular names for newborns were outlawed in Geneva during the Reformation period. The reason is alluded to above in the documentation. Negatively, in Geneva's reforming efforts, there was a concerted effort to have a complete rejection of Romanism and superstition. Positively, there was to be a concerted effort to promotion reformation. 

The name "Claude," particularly, was a troubling name. Here is the exact rule which was issued on November 22, 1546:


"Claude" was viewed as the name of an "idol," because, as the footnote states, "Claude was a name that had been popular in Geneva because of devotion to St. Claude, bishop of Bassancon and patron of the neighboring abbey of St. Claude, which attracted numerous Pilgrams." Picot and Henry state the name was superstitiously thought to bring long life.  But what of the person arrested? Scott Manetsch provides more information:



Here we find a few more details. The precise date was not April 27, 1546 (Schaff), but rather August 1546. A godparent requested the name "Claude" during a baptism ceremony. The minister though refused, and gave the child the name Abraham. The father then caused a public disruption during the ceremony, going as far to question the validity of the baptism.  Manetsch goes on to say, 


It's interesting that this severe rule the pastors of Geneva put in place was not arbitrary. They had an intended theological purpose, and took it quite seriously. The actual event that caused the arrest of Ami Chapuis was not simply a knock on his door placing him under arrest. Rather it was a disturbance at a public ceremony. Did the ministers of Geneva go too far with this rule? From a theological perspective given the time period, I'm not convinced they did. On the other hand, placing Chapius in prison for a few days does seem too harsh and too far, at least from my modern perspective. 

It's important to note specifically that the minster officiating the baptism ceremony was not John Calvin. Was Calvin in agreement with this rule? Certainly. As noted above in the legal document, Calvin was in favor of it, but the law  "only came into being after three months of vigorous discussion." So much for the power of the "Tyrant of Geneva." Yes, Calvin influenced this rule, yes there was an arrest, but it wasn't because Calvin declared it and everyone simply obeyed.  

I've not put forth a complete exhortation of Calvin. He did influence the rule on the the naming of children. Did he seek to have people arrested who violated this rule? I don't know. It appears to me that whichever minister was involved may have played a major part in the arrest.  One other thing that I'm not sure of: while Manetsch notes there were a number of "name" disputes, I've not come across any other child naming disputes that resulted in imprisonment.  The tendency is to view this imprisonment of Ami Chapuis as typical and daily in the life of Reformation Geneva. I've not come across any other similar Genevan cases.  

Friday, July 05, 2019

Calvin's Geneva: A woman was jailed for arranging her hair to an “immoral height"

Here'a  tidbit about John Calvin's Geneva floating around cyberspace:
A woman was JAILED FOR ARRANGING HER HAIR to an "immoral height" (source).
This fact can be found in some weird places. The Jehovah's Witnesses say: "John Calvin enacted laws specifying the color and type of clothing his followers might wear. Jewelry and lace were frowned upon, and a woman could be jailed for arranging her hair to an 'immoral height.”" On the opposite end of the spectrum, popular Christian author Philip Yancy references it in his best-seller, What's So Amazing about Grace?: "A father who christened his son Claude, a name not found in the Old Testament, spent four days in jail, as did a woman whose hairdo reached an 'immoral height'." Yancy directly links this incident to Calvin as an example of what occurs  "When the church has occasion to set rules for all society, it often veers towards the extremism Jesus warned against."

Most often though, the quote serves the "I hate all things John Calvin and Calvinism" movement. This contingent is not only cross-denominational, it includes heretical sects, world religions, atheists, humanists, etc. It appears to be something opposing groups agree on: John Calvin was an awful individual, in essence, a dictator,  proven by the fact that under his "rule," a woman was jailed for her the "immoral height" of her hair (whatever that means, as if Calvin was measuring hair height!). Let's take a close look at this fact and try to determine it's truth and John Calvin's involvement.

Documentation: Will Durant, The Reformation
I suspect the popularity of this fact finds its genesis in pop-historian Will Durant's book, The Reformation. The key phrase which distinguishes Durant as ground zero is the use of the phrase, "immoral height." As far as I can tell, he's the first to use this phrase in regard to this historical nugget. Durant says,


Durant provides a footnote right after the "immoral height" of the woman's hair:  "Villari, Savonarola, 491." Durant says this refers to "VILLARI, PASQUALE, Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola, N.Y., 1896." Here is Page 491 of that text. In context, Villari is not doing an in-depth study on Calvin or Geneva. He's simply mentioning Calvin in passing as a comparison to Savonarola. The comparison is intended to show (according to him) both suffered from fanaticism and intolerance. Villari states, 
Did not John Calvin live in the age of Leo X. and Francis I., and was he not a man of considerable culture, lofty genius, and iron strength of will? He too became the head of a republic, without, however, the merit of being its founder; and yet, while the declared champion of freedom and tolerance, he not only inflicted the severest punishments on all who committed blasphemy or worked on Sunday, but even cast women into prison for arranging their hair in an immodest fashion!1 Was it not he who, in the year 1553, had the innocent and ill-starred Servetus burnt to death at Geneva? It is no part of true historic criticism to put aside, when judging Savonarola, all remembrance of human passion and religious excitement.
1 In the Geneva Archives the Decree is still preserved by which a woman was sentenced to imprisonment, parce qu'elle n'avait pas les cheveux abattus. 
This was the sparse source Durant utilized. Villari claims it was John Calvin himself that "even cast women into prison for arranging their hair in an immodest fashion." Documentation is also provided: "In the Geneva Archives the Decree is still preserved by which a woman was sentenced to imprisonment." Notice Villari explains the Genevan records say explicitly, "parce qu'elle n'avait pas les cheveux abattus," but he leaves it to his readers to search out those records for this particular sentence! This is not meaningful documentation, particularly for his contemporaries. Even with our advantage of online search engines, this exact sentence typically hits only Villari's books. 

Also notice that Will Durant mis-cited  Villari. The English translation of Villari utilized by Durant does not say "immoral height," but rather, "immodest fashion." Villari's text was originally in Italian, not English. Villari's Italian text reads, "le donne per la poco modesta acconciatura dei loro capelli." "Immodest fashion" is an acceptable English translation. Why did Durant choose "Immoral height"? One pictures a Genevan woman with a 1950's beehive hairdo. True, the words "immodest" and "immoral" are related, but doesn't it seem Durant was trying to paint a darker picture of the event than what Villari wrote? The French text cited by Villari (parce qu'elle n'avait pas les cheveux abattus) does not say immoral height. The gist is that her was not hanging down.

Elsewhere I've documented Will Durant's strong bias against John Calvin. Here we see that not only was Durant biased by his choice of words in quoting his secondary source, that secondary does not helpfully substantiate the information presented. The trail mapped out by Durant to uncover the historical truth turns out to be a dead end.

Other Considerations
There are clues from other sources to consider in determining whether or not Calvin or Geneva regulated women's hair. For instance, this source states,
It was then decreed that the taverns should be closed at nightfall, all games of dice and cards were forbidden, and every sort of blasphemy and swearing was to be punished by imprisonment. It would have been well if the reformers had been content to stop there, for the prisons were full of delinquents, but Calvin insisted on legislating on the subject of dress and personal adornment, and sins of vanity were punished, as if they belonged to the same category as theft and libel. The registers of the republic under date May 20, 1537, contain the following entry:—
"A married woman went out last Sunday with her hair hanging down more than it ought, which is a bad example and contrary to the Gospel preached. The mistress, the maids who accompanied her, and the woman who dressed her hair have been sent to prison."
Notice particularly, this author claims the woman had "hair hanging down more than it ought," the exact opposite of what Durant claimed. Now not only is Calvin arresting women for high hair, he's arresting them for long hair! The famous historian Leopold von Ranke likewise mentions a version of this story:
One of the chief causes of contention was the adorning of brides, the "plicatura capillorum," which the preachers, according to 1 Peter iii. 3, would not permit. In the Registries of the Republic, May 20, 1537, we find that the mother and female friends who were present when a bride appeared "avec les cheveux plus abattus qu'il en se doit faire," were also subjected to punishment. The new preachers placed themselves under an obligation to permit the benediction of the bride "en cheveux pendans."
I suspect that the "Registries of the Republic" being cited is this text:
“Une épouse étant sortie dimanche dernier avec les cheveux plus abattus qu'il ne se doit faire, ce qui est d'un mauvais exemple, et contraire à ce qu'on leur évangélise, on fait mettre en prison sa maitresse, les deux qui l'ont menée, et celle qui l’a coiffée.—Régistres, 20 Mai, 1537.
I believe the popular source for this French text utilized by these two writers may be to an 1850 biography of John Calvin. The date of May 20, 1537 appears to be an error from this biographer. The actual date was October 30, 1537. I suspect the biographer utilized this text, and made a simple copyist error. Karl Barth mentions this similar story along with the correct date and a helpful reference"


Barth documents this with CO 21, 216. This is referring to the multi-volume set, Joannis Calvini opera quae supersunt omnia. Volume 21, page 216 states:
The same text can be found in Registres du Conseil de Genève à l'époque de Calvin, Volume 2. So Durant got it both right and wrong.  He's right that a woman was arrested and imprisoned. He's wrong as to the specific details.

Conclusion
The Registers of Geneva do record at least one instance of the the regulation of hair style and subsequent imprisonment in 1537.  It appears to me that the woman's hair was was placed up, whereas the standard was to have hair hanging down.

Calvin arrived in Geneva in 1536, but the best records of the Genevan church didn't really begin until a decade later. What is available in the early years are fragments, which is where this information comes from. It appears the incident Durant was documenting (via Villari) was originally a fragment from October 30, 1537.

One thing that is missing from the context of the primary source fragment is reference to John Calvin having a woman arrested for her hair style. True, Calvin was an important voice in the life of the Genevan church. Was he directly responsible for the ordinance? This author claims some of these strict regulations (like the hair ordinance) "were already in existence" before Calvin got involved.  For this author, Calvin's fault was not making the ordinance, but rather calling on the Council to enforce those pre-existing laws. Was Calvin then directly responsible for having a woman imprisoned for a hairstyle in 1537? The context does not say that. The most one could argue is that Calvin may have influenced the incident.

How responsible then was Calvin for the regulations on hairstyle? The Reform movement in Geneva did not begin with Calvin, but it certainly grew exponentially under Calvin's influence. Calvin's biographer Thomas Henry Dyer paints a picture of Geneva as being not only liberal, but a bit wild previous to Calvin's arrival: "...it must be admitted that they were carried away to excess in Geneva, and that the greatest dissoluteness of manners prevailed." He argues that the morality of the city did require reform, but that the Reformers tried too quickly (they "should be extirpated all at once...") which led to some of the seemingly harsh recordings found in the Fragments. He refers specifically to the "hair" incident:
Marriage was ordered so be solemnised with as little show as possible. Instead of the joyous fete it had hitherto been, it was converted into a purely religious ceremony, and sanctified by a sermon. If the bride or her companions adorned themselves in a fashion contrary to what was evangelised, they were punished with imprisonment. 
From the same time period, there are the Articles Concerning the Organization of the Church and of Worship at Geneva 1537, probably the product of Calvin himself. There is nothing specific in this document about hair. There is nothing then that directly links Calvin to this incident. On the other hand, though written later, we do have Calvin's comments on 1 Peter 3:3. There Calvin comments,
3. Whose adorning. The other part of the exhortation is, that wives are to adorn themselves sparingly and modestly: for we know that they are in this respect much more curious and ambitious than they ought to be. Then Peter does not without cause seek to correct in them this vanity. And though he reproves generally sumptuous or costly adorning, yet he points out some things in particular,—that they were not artificially to curl or wreath their hair, as it was usually done by crisping-pins, or otherwise to form it according to the fashion; nor were they to set gold around their head: for these are the things in which excesses especially appear.
It may be now asked, whether the Apostle wholly condemns the use of gold in adorning the body. Were any one to urge these words, it may be said, that he prohibits precious garments no less than gold; for he immediately adds, the putting on of apparel, or, of clothes. But it would be an immoderate strictness wholly to forbid neatness and elegance in clothing. If the material is said to be too sumptuous, the Lord has created it; and we know that skill in art has proceeded from him. Then Peter did not intend to condemn every sort of ornament, but the evil of vanity, to which women are subject. Two things are to be regarded in clothing, usefulness and decency; and what decency requires is moderation and modesty. Were, then, a woman to go forth with her hair wantonly curled and decked, and make an extravagant display, her vanity could not be excused. They who object and say, that to clothe one’s-self in this or that manner is an indifferent thing, in which all are free to do as they please, may be easily confuted; for excessive elegance and superfluous display, in short, all excesses, arise from a corrupted mind. Besides ambition, pride, affectation of display, and all things of this kind, are not indifferent things. Therefore they whose minds are purified from all vanity, will duly order all things, so as not to exceed moderation. 
Notice also Calvin's comments in his commentary on 1 Tim. 2:9,
In like manner also women. As he enjoined men to lift up pure hands, so he now prescribes the manner in which women ought to prepare for praying aright. And there appears to be an implied contrast between those virtues which he recommends and the outward sanctification of the Jews; for he intimates that there is no profane place, nor any from which both men and women may not draw near to God, provided they are not excluded by their vices.
He intended to embrace the opportunity of correcting a vice to which women are almost always prone, and which perhaps at Ephesus, being a city of vast wealth and extensive merchandise, especially abounded. That vice is—excessive eagerness and desire to be richly dressed. He wishes therefore that their dress should be regulated by modesty and sobriety; for luxury and immoderate expense arise from a desire to make a display either for the sake of pride or of departure from chastity. And hence we ought to derive the rule of moderation; for, since dress is an indifferent matter, (as all outward matters are,) it is difficult to assign a fixed limit, how far we ought to go. Magistrates may indeed make laws, by means of which a rage for superfluous expenditure shall be in some measure restrained; but godly teachers, whose business it is to guide the consciences, ought always to keep in view the end of lawful use. This at least will be settled beyond all controversy, that every thing in dress which is not in accordance with modesty and sobriety must be disapproved.
Yet we must always begin with the dispositions; for where debauchery reigns within, there will be no chastity; and where ambition reigns within, there will be no modesty in the outward dress. But because hypocrites commonly avail themselves of all the pretexts that they can find for concealing their wicked dispositions, we are under the necessity of pointing out what meets the eye. It would be great baseness to deny the appropriateness of modesty as the peculiar and constant ornament of virtuous and chaste women, or the duty of all to observe moderation. Whatever is opposed to these virtues it will be in vain to excuse. He expressly censures certain kinds of superfluity, such as curled hair, jewels, and golden rings; not that the use of gold or of jewels is expressly forbidden, but that, wherever they are prominently displayed, these things commonly draw along with them the other evils which I have mentioned, and arise from ambition or from want of chastity as their source.
In both passages, Calvin mentions curled hair and vanity. Perhaps it was Calvin's influence that had this woman arrested and imprisoned? It appears that a hairdresser had dressed a woman's hair in such a way that she simply looked... too beautiful, which would be an an outward show of vanity in Calvin's mind. Without though any direct evidence, it's speculation at best that Calvin had anything to do with it.

Addendum
 Here's an interesting article: Untangling history: What hair and hairstyles meant in 16th and 17th-century Europe. The author states:
In early modern Europe, dress was regulated by “sumptuary laws”. These regulations set out who could wear what and when, according to a hierarchy of privileges believed to be accorded by god. Some of the laws related not just to clothing but also to hair. 
-snip-
In some areas, the Reformation made extravagant excesses a subject of discussion and attempted to regulate clothing in regard to new aesthetics of piety and morals of modesty.
-snip-
Early modern European cities enacted laws that defined the privileges and duties of different groups. Noblemen, clerics and peasants, for example, were expected to dress and behave in certain ways: what was appropriate for one group was inappropriate for another. In the wake of the Reformation, people were expected to comply with new rules on dress – but, as always, there were some who were determined to test the limits of authority.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

John Calvin Had 58 People Executed in Geneva?

Here's a John Calvin tidbit found on a number of web-pages:
From 1541 to 1546, John Calvin caused 58 people to be executed and seventy six were exiled. His victims ranged in age from 16 to 80 (source).
In this snippet, John Calvin is painted as being the direct cause for fifty-eight executions, including young adults as well as the elderly. Various versions of these facts can be found across the Internet. For instance, a web-page hosting Fr. Leonel Franca's Calvin the Tyrant of Geneva states these statistics were the result of the "the religious persecutions of Calvin." A website dedicated to biographies states the executions and banishments were all due to religious beliefs: "In the first five years of John Calvin's rule in Geneva, 58 people were executed and 76 exiled for their religious beliefs." Encyclopedia.com says Calvin "acted as a virtual dictator from 1541 until his death," then shows the following results of this dictatorship:
There were some ugly moments in theocratic Geneva. During these years 58 people were executed and 76 banished in order to preserve morals and discipline. Like most men of his century, the reformer was convinced that believing wrongly about God was so heinous a crime that not even death could expiate it.
These are only a few examples of the dissemination of this information. Many more could easily be provided. Did Calvin actually have fifty-eight people executed? Was Calvin having people executed due to his religious intolerance? Were the Genevans being lined up like a row of Servetus's, being executed at the whim of the dictator John Calvin, simply because they defied his theology? Let's take a closer look.

Documentation
The majority of web-pages using these facts do not provide documentation. Many are simply of the "I hate John Calvin" ilk. There are though a few reputable English sources that do mention these facts. For instance, the old Catholic Encyclopedia repeats the same facts, but does not provide helpful documentation.  Probably the most reputable English source (and perhaps that which helped popularize the information) is Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church. Schaff states,
The official acts of the Council from 1541 to 1559 exhibit a dark chapter of censures, fines, imprisonments, and executions. During the ravages of the pestilence in 1545 more than twenty men and women were burnt alive for witchcraft, and a wicked conspiracy to spread the horrible disease. From 1542 to 1546 fifty-eight judgments of death and seventy-six decrees of banishments were passed.4 During the years 1558 and 1559 the cases of various punishments for all sorts of offences amounted to four hundred and fourteen — a very large proportion for a population of 20,000.
4. According to Galiffe, as quoted by Kampschulte, I. 425.
First, Schaff  says his information came from "The official acts of the Council from 1541 to 1559." What was "the Council"? That's not an easily explained answer, for Geneva's legal system was complicated. Schaff explains it here. I have an explanation of it here. On a fundamental level: the "official acts of the Council" does not mean the official acts of the Genevan church or John Calvin. Certainly religion was infused into Genevan polity, but the "Council" does not mean "church council." Second, it does not appear that Schaff actually consulted this source. Rather, he provides a footnote to his chosen source: "According to Galiffe, as quoted by Kampschulte." Since it appears that the later was that which Schaff ultimately utilized, let's treat it first. According to Schaff, "Kampschulte"refers to:
F. W. Kampschulte (a liberal Roman Catholic, Professor of History at Bonn, died an Old Catholic, 1872): Joh. Calvin, seine Kirche und sein Staat in Genf.  Leipzig, 1869, vol. I. (vols. II. and III. have not appeared).  A most able, critical, and, for a Catholic, remarkably fair and liberal work, drawn in part from unpublished sources. (source)
Here then is Kampschulte's comment which Schaff utilized:


This appears to be Schaff's primary source for this information. It's basically a repeat of the bald facts of fifty-eight executions and seventy-six banishments. What is revealing is that Kampschulte does not go as far as saying Calvin directly caused the execution of fifty-eight people (as if Calvin was in a courtroom looking at the accused and passing the verdict: "take him away for execution"). Rather, Kampschulte insinuates it was Calvin's overall preaching influence on the Genevan judicial system which caused it. Schaff, a careful scholar, made sure to document where the information originated from, noting that Kampschulte himself relied on a source for this information: Galiffe-


"Galiffe" refers to Jean-Barthelemy Galiffe. Interestingly, particularly in light of his favorable comments about Kampschulte,  Schaff notes Galiffe was a Protestant scholar "but very hostile to Calvin and his institutions, chiefly from the political point of view").  "Nouvelles" refers to his book, Nouvelles pages d’histoire exacte soit le procès de Pierre Ameaux, Genève. Page 97 states,


This text basically says the same thing, that during the period in question there were fifty-eight executions and seventy-six banishments. There is an admission though that the statistics in questions were compiled by Galiffe, using the Registers of the Council of Geneva from the period in question. The bones are finally gaining some meat: Galiffe  goes on to provide actual data to back up his statistics. The data for the executions begins on page 100.  He says thirty were men, twenty-eight were women. Of these, thirteen people were hanged, ten were decapitated,  and thirty-five burned alive. Of these fifty-eight executions, twenty were for ordinary crimes: murder, robbery, counterfeit money, forgery, political offenses, etc.  These twenty people were men. The other thirty-eight did involve women, and they were cases involving questioning through torture, most notably in regard to the spread of the plague. There were also some involving witchcraft and divination, but almost all of them were in regard to the spreading of the plague.

Conclusion
The statistic of fifty-eight executions strongly appears to find its genesis from Galiffe. It was he that went through the old Genevan registers and counted. Galiffe was no fan of Calvin. Read Schaff's description of Galiffe here. See also this descriptionRichard Stauffer points out that Galiffe was from an "old Genevese family" extremely bitter towards Calvin "not only as a foreigner, but also as an intruder and usurper in the life of the old city." Stauffer includes him as presenting a picture of Calvin in which the Reformer isn't recognizable. Schaff notes that the Galiffe's (father and son scholars) viewed Geneva as "independent and free" until Calvin came along.  In Galiffe's presentation, the emphasis is that whatever evils may have been present in Geneva, Calvin made them much worse once he arrived.

It appears to me that Galiffe's research suffers from the logical error of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Everything that happened in Geneva once Calvin arrived was the fault of John Calvin. As far as I can tell from going through Galiffe's research, there is not a direct line of evidence that Calvin "caused fifty-eight people to be executed." Nor is their a direct line of evidence that those executed suffered for theological reasons or for some disagreement with Calvin's theology. Most telling is that twenty of the number were executed for the ordinary sort of crimes that were punishable during this time period. These executions were not something out of the ordinary in western Europe during this time period.

But what about those other thirty-eight who died as the result of questioning through torture?  The Genevan judical system operated like other sixteenth century judicial systems: through the process of inquisition. Robert Kingdon explains,
The basic principle of this system is a procedure known as inquisition process. It assumes that the real truth of any criminal charge is most likely to emerge from intensive, and repeated questioning of the parties involved.  
Kingdon details the entire process that operated in Geneva, much of which preceded Calvin's arrival. He points out that during the progressive process of questioning, the Genevan system allowed for torture along with the interrogation. It was a detailed horrible process, a process not invented by Calvin, but not repudiated by Calvin either. it was the established judicial system of the day, a system that Calvin accepted as being part of the government, not the church. One would wish that Calvin repudiated the system, but he did not. That he didn't repudiate it settles the matter for many that are opposed to Calvinism. Others, like myself, try to put people in their historical contexts and understand them in the world they lived in. 

Most interesting is that the event of the plague in Geneva appears to play a strong factor in many of these executions, not Calvin's theology.  There was a pervading fear that swept through Geneva when the plague hit, causing hysteria. Why was the plague here? Who is causing it? There were accusations against people of being deliberate plague spreaders, and these people wound up as victims of the inquisition process. Satan and those who were his sorcerers in Geneva were said to also actively be spreading the plague. Calvin, of course, was certainly in favor of having these people stopped as well.  A helpful overview can be found in Bernard Cottret's, Calvin, a Biography, pp. 178-181. He points out:


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Luther's High Regard for John Calvin?

What did Martin Luther think of John Calvin? Here's a curious comment from the Table Talk in which Luther appears to consider Calvin highly:
NOT all are able to bear tribulations alike; for, if an human creature were merely flesh without bones, then the body would fall into a lump, or bunch; the bones and sinews do keep up the flesh, etc. Even so it is in the Christian congregation. some must be able to bear a blow of the devil; as we three, Philip Melanchthon, John Calvin, and myself; therefore we pray continually in the church ; for it is prayer that must do the deed.
Now that's quite a compliment! Or is it? Maybe not. The original sources say something different.

Documentation
It bears repeating that the Table Talk is not actually something Luther wrote. It's a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students published after his death. It often falls on deaf ears when I point out to detractors that Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. The Table Talk, therefore, contains something Luther may have said, but not necessarily

This particular comment comes from the oldest English edition of the Table Talk:


Here's where it becomes tedious and tricky, but necessary, to understand Luther's alleged mention of John Calvin in this utterance. This version of the Table Talk was translated from German into English by Captain Henry Bell (1652): Dris Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia: Or, Dr Martin Luther's Divine Discourses at His Table, etc. This English version of Luther's second-hand comments begins with a strange (and at times seemingly fictional) tale of how Captain Bell came across the Table Talk (found here). The saga begins with the destruction of Luther's Table Talk due to persecution from the Papacy and Empire, but one copy managed to be hidden away, fortunately discovered before being destroyed. In a flowery tale, Bell describes why and how he translated it¾ at the prompting of an angelic vision ¾ along with the perils of getting it published. Preserved Smith's critical study of Luther's Table Talk refers to Bell's account as "such a tissue of mistakes and improbabilities that it is hardly worth serious criticism,and also, "The whole thing has the air of being invented to heighten the interest of the translation." On the other hand, Gordon Rupp scrutinized Bell's story in his book, The Righteousness of God (New York: The Philosophical Library, Inc., 1953), pp. 56- 77, and deems aspects of Bell's story plausible. Even if the background story has elements of fiction, this does not necessarily deem Bell's work inferior or suspect (that will be discussed below). The book is an actual translation of Luther's Table Talk and has served the English speaking world for hundreds of years, particularly in its revision by William Hazlitt..

When the German text of the Table Talk is consulted for the quote under scrutiny, here is what appears:


One doesn't need to know German is to see that the name "John Calvin" does not appear in the text. Rather, the text says "ich, Philippus Melanchthon und Doctor Pommer." Was "Doctor Pommer" simply another way of referring to John Calvin. No. "Doctor Pommer" refers to Luther's associate, Johannes Bugenhagen (1485–1558), of Pomerania, whom Luther dubbed, " Doctor Pomeranus."

Conclusion
Luther was not referring to John Calvin in this Table Talk quote. Why did Captain Bell insert Calvin's name?  According to Rupp, Bell may have have made changes to the German text when translating into English to appease the Parliamentary committee that examined the translation. I've documented one of these changes before: Bell's translation has Luther admitting his error of the real presence in the Lord's Supper! Note these words from the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons in Bell's edition:



I suspect Bell's insertion of Calvin's name was similar to doctoring Luther's theology on the Lord's Supper.     

Addendum #1
Some years back I put together Luther and Calvin... Friends or Enemies? There isn't much in the record in regard to Luther's view of Calvin. In the entry I present the sparse few mentions of Calvin in Luther's writings.

Addendum #2
The Table Talk utterance under scrutiny can be found in WATR 3:36, and was not included in LW 54. Hazlitt though included an English revision.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Luther: I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer

A recent email asks,

I know you love chasing sources for Luther quotes. I know he's widely quoted as saying "I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer", but I can't find a source for it. I thought I'd flick you an email to see if you've ever tried tracking a source for this one down. Have you?

If you Google search it, you'll get numerous hits. This source from 1896 states,
Martin Luther, upon being asked one time by a friend what his plans were for the following day, replied, "Work, work from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer" (c.f.  18711880).
Other variants of this rendering state, "Work, work, from morning until late at night. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer." One lengthier variation reads,
Martin Luther famously said, "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business, I cannot go without spending three hours daily in prayer."
Spurgeon Not Luther?
So where did this quote come from? There were a flurry of variants and usages of it in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. I suspect the quote was popularized via the publication of C.H. Spurgeon's writings. Note this secondary source quoting Spurgeon:
PRAYING AND WORKING. I Like that saying of Martin Luther, when he says, "I have so much business to do to-day, that I shall not be able to get through it with less than three hours' prayer." Now, most people would say, "I have so much business to do to-day, that I have only three minutes for prayer; I cannot afford the time." But Luther thought that the more he had to do, the more he must pray, or else he could not get through it. That is a blessed kind of logic: may we understand it! "Praying and provender hinder no man's journey." If we have to stop and pray, it is no more hindrance than when the rider has to stop at the farrier's to have his horse's shoe fastened; for if he went on without attending to that it may be that ere long he would come to a stop of a far more serious kind.—C. H. Spurgeon.
There were a number of sources similarly citing this snippet from Spurgeon. The snippet  appears to come from Spurgeon's sermon 1865 sermon, Degrees of Power Attending the Gospel (pdf).  The date  of the sermon is relevant in trying to determine where Spurgeon took the quote from. Spurgeon's primary language was English. During this time period, there was only a limited pool of Luther's writings available in English. I think it's safe to rule out Spurgeon reading Luther in German; Spurgeon's education was limited, and I don't think he knew German. This is not to imply that Spurgeon was not intelligent or intellectual. I've read that he may have had a photographic memory. This website states, "Spurgeon had no formal education beyond Newmarket Academy, which he attended from August 1849 to June 1850, but he was very well-read in Puritan theology, natural history, and Latin and Victorian literature." Christian History says he was tutored in Greek and "his personal library eventually exceeded 12,000 volumes." Spurgeon's autobiography states his study of Latin began in 1845. So, it's possible Spurgeon could have read Luther in Latin.  

I suspect though,  Spurgeon was simply working from memory in his sermon and not citing Luther directly.  The quote, as has been popularized, may simply be Spurgeon's recollection of what he recalls reading Luther to have said.

Conclusion
I have not found any evidence that Martin Luther penned or uttered the exact words of the variants posted above. Interestingly,  Luther's Table Talk does say,
"I have every day enough to do to pray" (source
"I," said Luther, "have every day enough to do to pray; and when I lay me down to rest and sleep, and pray the Lord's Prayer, and afterwards take hold of two or three sentences out of the Bible, and so take my sleep, then I am satisfied." (source)  (source)
This could very well be what Spurgeon was recalling, coupled with the fact that Luther was known to spend much time in prayer.  I found this review helpful: Martin Luther on Prayer. The author presents a detailed look on Luther's view on prayer. It's probably the case that Luther did not utter this saying, but it would in fact be in harmony with his view of prayer.

Did Luther really pray three hours a day? According to Luther's friend Viet Dietrich, he did. Writing to Melanchthon in 1530, Dietrich wrote: "Nullus abit dies, quin ut minimum tres horas, easque studiis aptissimas in orationibus ponat." He goes on to describe Luther's prayers (source):


Addendum
This is a revision of an earlier blog entry. The original can be found here.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Did Calvin Think Monasticism was Holy and Legitimate?

It's hard to imagine a time in which monasticism was one of the hottest topics of the day. The pens of the Reformers were busy attacking this well-established societal institution, intending to tear it to shreds. Like the other magisterial Reformers, John Calvin was highly critical of monasticism. He presented a lengthy exposition against it in his Institutes, referring to its adherents as "hooded sophists" who put forth fabrications and blasphemy (IV.13.14). Part of his argumentation though is curious; he hearkens back, with seeming approval, to a golden age of monasticism found in the ancient church. He then uses this ideal era of monasticism to pummel what he saw as the corrupted current strain that was provoking such intense societal controversy.

Take a moment to read Calvin's positive assessment of early monasticism found in The Institutes IV.13.8-9. He utilizes and summarizes a lengthy passage from Augustine which describes an almost Utopian monastics life: a group of people denying "the allurements of this world" spending their time "living in prayers, readings, and discussions, not swollen by pride, not disorderly through stubbornness, nor livid with envy." They lack possessions, but do so in such a was so as to not burden anyone else. They eat only what they need so as to distribute the leftovers to the needy. "Many do not drink wine, yet they do not think themselves defiled by it; for they most humanely provide it for the weaker brethren, and those who without it cannot attain bodily health; and they fraternally admonish some who foolishly refuse it lest out of vain superstition they become weaker rather than more holy." "They meet in and aspire together toward one love. To offend against it is considered as wicked as to offend against God himself." These are only a few of the points made by Augustine via Calvin. (Calvin is summarizing Augustine, see NPNF IV, 59 f).

What's so wrong with this way of life? If a group of people want to live together to strive for these spiritual ideals, what harm could there possibly be? Wasn't even Calvin here admitting that monasticism was at one time a good and holy enterprise?  Not necessarily. Calvin presented this exercise in compare and contrast as an apolgetic argument, "lest anyone should defend present-day monasticism on the grounds of its antiquity" (IV.13.8):
I merely wish to indicate in passing not only what sort of monks the ancient church had but what sort of monastic profession then existed. Thus intelligent readers may judge by comparison the shamelessness of those who claim antiquity to support present monasticism (IV.13.10).
By this comparison of ancient and present-day monasticism I trust I have accomplished my purpose: to show that our hooded friends falsely claim the example of the first church in defense of their profession—since they differ from them as much as apes from men (IV.13.16).
Doesn't this apologetic argument though beg the question of the validity of the monastic way of life? Given the positive description of the earlier presented monasticism (that Calvin himself brought up!), shouldn't the Reformers have simply put more effort into reforming monasticism back to its purer state? For Calvin, it seems like a blatant contradiction: the old generation of monks had noble ideals and a quest for holiness. Today's batch of monks are soaked in corruption, therefore the monasteries must go. This simply doesn't follow logically and it seems quite at odds with reforming the church.

The answer to this Calvin conundrum is to read the entire context! In The Institutes, Calvin's argumentation is lengthy and detailed (at times, in  my opinion top-heavy). One has to press through from IV.13.8-9 all the way up to IV.13.16 to come across what John T. McNeil's translation heads as "Considerations Against Ancient Monasticism":
Meanwhile, I frankly admit that even in that ancient form which Augustine commends there is something that I do not like very much. I grant that they were not superstitious in the outward exercise of a quite rigid discipline, yet I say that they were not without immoderate affectation and perverse zeal. It was a beautiful thing to forsake all their possessions and be without earthly care. But God prefers devoted care in ruling a household, where the devout householder, clear and free of all greed, ambition, and other lusts of the flesh, keeps before him the purpose of serving God in a definite calling. It is a beautiful thing to philosophize in retirement, far from intercourse with men. But it is not the part of Christian meekness, as if in hatred of the human race, to flee to the desert and the wilderness and at the same time to forsake those duties which the Lord has especially commanded. Though we grant there was nothing else evil in that profession, it was surely no slight evil that it brought a useless and dangerous example into the church (IV.13.16).
Calvin made a related argument in IV.14.14 in arguing against the monasticism of his day:
The facts themselves tell us that all those who enter into the monastic community break with the church. Why? Do they not separate themselves from the lawful society of believers, in adopting a peculiar ministry and a private administration of the sacraments? If this is not to break the communion of the church, what is?
Calvin wasn't looking to the alleged golden age of monasticism to reform it or return it to its former state of glory. It's not simply that the earlier way of monastic life was pure and holy and now needed reformation. Calvin's argument was first a demonstration that the monks of his day were nothing at all like the the monks of old ("they differ from them as much as apes from men").  Then, for Calvin, despite all the positives of monasticism's golden age, it was the monastic fundamental of a lifelong retreat from society and family that discredits it as a way of life.

Addendum
There is nothing new under the sun, and the wheel has been reinvented! After writing this entry, I came across R. Scott Clark's 2014 blog essay, Did Luther And Calvin Favor Evangelical Monasticism? Clark critiqued an article by "Greg Peters, Associate Professor of Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University," entitled, The New Monasticism Gets Older. Clark covered the same territory I did and arrived at the conclusion I did.  Clark says,
Peters has turned a minor, passing concession, a fine and even technical historical point, into a more general, if qualified, endorsement of monasticism. This reading of Calvin (and Luther) should be criticized.
-snip-
If evangelicals want to flee to monasteries, that is their business but if they try to take Luther and Calvin with them, they will find themselves saddled with unhappy guests in the new evangelical monastery.
My entry was similarly provoked by an article in which it was being argued Calvin favored earlier monasticism.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Christ's Condemnation of Sardis (Revelation 3) Was a Condemnation of the Reformation?

Was John Calvin a Christian? Here's a snippet from a discussion board in which evidence was presented that John Calvin was not a Christian. I did not expect this answer!

Originally posted by James Swan
What is your evidence that Calvin was not a Christian?
He was a Christian all right .. he "had a name that lives but are dead." (Rev 3:1, Sardis) This is what Christ thought of the Reformation churches. They had the name b/c they believed the gospel but they were dead because they didn't obey it (Acts 2:38) nor did they teach others to obey it. They went to the opposite extreme from the Catholics. They wouldn't do anything in order to be saved.

skypair


"He was a Christian all right" is intended to be understood sarcastically. The point being made is that John Calvin was not a "Christian" because he lived in a time period prophetically described in Revelation 3:1-6! I never expected that answer.

The Sardis = Reformation churches has its roots in a theology known as Dispensationalism. As their paradigm goes, Revelation 2-3 is a prophetic description of future generations of church history beyond the writing of these chapters. The seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3 correspond to seven distinct periods of church history. Here's a basic chart of how it works out:

Let's review Revelation 3:1-6.
To Sardis. 1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis, write this: “‘The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says this: “I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not watchful, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come upon you. However, you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. “‘“The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels.  “‘“Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

Clarence Larkin (1850-1924)
I was curious as to who first came up with this peculiar interpretation. A number of people point to Baptist pastor, Clarence Larkin, particularly his commentary on Revelation (1919) (pdf).  The author states,
This interpretation of the “Messages to the Seven Churches” was hidden to the early Church, because time was required for Church History to develop and be written, so a comparison could be made to reveal the correspondence. If it had been clearly revealed that the Seven Churches stood for “Seven Church Periods” that would have to elapse before Christ could come back, the incentive to watch would have been absent. 
While the character of these Seven Churches is descriptive of the Church during seven periods of her history, we must not forget that the condition of those churches, as described, were their exact condition in John's day. So we see that at the close of the First Century the leaven of “False Doctrine” was at work in the Churches. The churches are given in the order named, because the peculiar characteristic of that Church applied to the period of Church History to which it is assigned. It also must not be forgotten, that, that which is a distinctive characteristic of each Church Period, does not disappear with that Period, but continues on down through the next Period, and so on until the end, thus increasing the imperfections of the visible Church, until it ends in an open Apostasy, as shown on the chart--“The Messages to the Seven Churches Compared with Church History.”
To summarize Larkin, that the seven churches represented future spiritual church history was "hidden to the early church," so they would maintain "the incentive to watch" for the coming of Christ. Larkin's interpretation though is slippery:  these seven churches, while unfolding in seven distinct periods, exist in some form throughout the entirety of church history. In other words, all seven churches exist at all times! Larkin goes on to state specifically of the  Sardis / Reformation parallel:
The Church at Sardis was called a “Dead Church” though it had a name to live. That is, it was a “Formalistic Church,” a church given over to “formal” or “ritualistic” worship. It had the “Form of Godliness without the power.” The meaning of the word “Sardis” is the “escaping one,” or those who “come out” and so it is an excellent type of the Church of the Reformation Period.
By the Reformation we mean that period in the history of the Christian Church when Martin Luther and a number of other reformers protested against the false teaching, tyranny and claims of the Papal Church. This Period began about A. D. 1500. The condition of affairs in the realm dominated by the Papal Church became intolerable, and came to a crisis when Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517 A. D., nailed his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. From that date the Reformation set in. But it was more a struggle for political liberty than a purely Christian or religious movement.
It had the advantage of encouraging and aiding the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, that had hitherto been a sealed book, the revival of the Doctrine of “Justification by Faith,” and a reversion to more simple modes of worship, but the multiplication of sects only led to bitter controversial contentions, that, while they threw much light on the Word of God, interfered greatly with the spiritual state of the Church, until it could truthfully be said, “That she had a name to live and was dead.”
While the reformers swept away much ritualistic and doctrinal rubbish they failed to recover the promise of the Second Advent. They turned to God from idols, but not to “wait for His Son from the Heavens.” The “Sardis Period” extended from A. D. 1520 to about A. D. 1750.
Larkin's Sardis-Reformation church is a "formalistic" or "ritualistic" church. I suspect he means it was too similar to the practices of the Roman church. Perhaps it also is reflective of his move from the Episcopal church to a Baptist church. Elsewhere he asserts that the Baptists are, more-or less, the true descendants of the apostolic church:
Almost all the Anti-papist denominations date, either directly or indirectly, from the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The Protestant Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian Churches, came out from the Roman Catholic Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church came from the Protestant Episcopal Church. The Baptists, however, do not date from the Reformation. Though Anti-papists, they are not, in the technical and historical sense of the word, “Protestants,” though they have ever protested, and do now protest, against the heresies and abominations of the Romish Church.
-snip-
The Baptists claim to have descended from the apostles.
It is true that the line of descent cannot always be traced. Like a river, that now and then in its course is lost under the surface of the ground, and then makes its appearance again, the Baptists claim that, from the days of the apostles until the present time, there have not been wanting those persons, either separately or collected into churches, and known under different names, who, if now living, would be universallylly recognized as Baptists.
Larkin says the Reformation church was "more a struggle for political liberty than a purely Christian or religious movement." Larkin is correct that the Reformation also saw a struggle for political liberty. There were political power struggles with the papacy and empire long before Luther came on the scene, and yes,  the Reformation certainly played its role in the centralization of countries. To say though the Reformation was "more of a struggle for political liberty" ignores the fact that religion and politics were so intertwined that those people during this time period probably would not make such a dichotomy.

Even though "the reformers swept away much ritualistic and doctrinal rubbish" they failed to emphasize the second coming of Christ. One wonders how much Reformation history Larkin was actually aware of, particularly the details of Luther's theology. Luther was convinced he was living on the verge of the end of history, and this belief heavily fueled his later polemics. Many of the radicals were also convinced it was the end of the world.

Larkin says, "the multiplication of sects only led to bitter controversial contentions, that, while they threw much light on the Word of God, interfered greatly with the spiritual state of the Church." In every period of church history, there have been controversies, some leading to extreme divisions. Even in the earliest period of church history (the New Testament church), there were divisions: there were those who followed their favorite teacher Paul, Apollos, Peter, 1 Cor. 1:10-17), there were the Judaizers in Galatians, and then there were various Gnostic sects that rose up early in the church. Within some of these broad groups, there were also various sects and divisions (particularly those within Gnosticism). According to Larkin's own interpretive grid, he's simply wrong. Generally speaking, the "multiplication of sects" is not a blatant characteristic of the sixteenth century. In the Reformation period, there were basically six broad groups: the Roman church, the Orthodox church, the Lutheran church, the Reformed church, the Anglican church and the radicals. Certainly, each in this broad grouping had divisions (Luther himself claimed "there is no other place in the world where there are so many sects, schisms, and errors as in the papal church"). Simply compare the Reformation period of church history to post-Reformation time periods.

What strikes me as most absurd about Larkin's comments is his view that the Reformation churches positively circulated the Bible, revived justification by faith, and had "more simple modes of worship," but because there were controversies and "the multiplication of sects" these trump these positives! Think on this for a moment: reviving the very heart of Christianity, the Gospel and the Scriptures (sola fide and sola scriptura) is, according to Larkin, the characteristics of a dead church!


Conclusion
Yes, I did respond to Calvin's detractor, but it didn't go beyond this last reply:

Originally posted by skypair View Post
You really don't need to be dispie to see the churches laid out (though if helps). Clarence Larkin first noticed the progression and even assigned dates to the eras of the church development. It looks like you have read the portion about Sardis. Notice what Jesus told them "Remember how you first heard, and received, and REPENT!" How and when did they first receive? Pentecost where the church began!!!
Whatever people are being referred to in Revelation 3:1-3, the text indicates they were Christians, so this passage does not demonstrate John Calvin or the Reformers were not Christians (recall, I asked you for your evidence that Calvin was not a Christian). In fact, after the rebuke of 3:1-3, there were members of Sardis that "had not defiled their garments" and were "worthy." Even though I disagree with your "eras of the church" hermaneutic, If I were to grant it's hypothetical credulity, it would be just as fair to say Revelation 3:4 refers to John Calvin and the Reformers.

Originally posted by skypair View Post
He didn't teach "repentance unto life." (Acts 11:18, 2:38, 26:20) Repentance unto life means repent and receive eternal life.
Calvin on Acts 11:18
The word repentance alone is expressed in this place, but when he addeth unto life, it appeareth plainly that it is not separated from faith. Therefore, whosoever will rightly profit in the gospel, let him put off the old man, and think upon newness of life, (Ephesians 4:22) that done, let him know for a certainty that he is not called in vain unto repentance, but that there is salvation prepared for him in Christ. So shall it come to pass, that the hope and assurance of salvation shall rest upon the free mercy of God alone, and that the forgiveness of sins shall, notwithstanding, be no cause of sluggish security.

Calvin on Acts 2:38
And we must also note this, that we do so begin repentance when we are turned unto God, that we must prosecute the same during our life; therefore, this sermon must continually sound in the Church, repent, (Mark 1:15) not that those men may begin the same, who will be counted faithful, and have a place already in the Church; but that they may go forward in the same; although many do usurp the name of faithful men, which had never any beginning of repentance. Wherefore, we must observe this order in teaching, that those which do yet live unto the world and the flesh may begin to crucify the old man, that they may rise unto newness of life, and that those who are already entered the course of repentance may continually go forward towards the mark. Furthermore, because the inward conversion of the heart ought to bring forth fruits in the life, repentance cannot be rightly taught unless works be required, not those frivolous works which are only in estimation amongst the papists, but such as are sound testimonies of innocence and holiness.

Calvin on Acts 26:19-20
Conversion, or turning unto God, is joined with repentance, not as some peculiar thing, but that we may know what it is to repent. Like as, also, on the contrary, the corruption of men and their frowardness is nothing else but an estranging from God. And because repentance is an inward thing, and placed in the affection of the heart, Paul requireth, in the second place, such works as may make the same known, according to that exhortation of John the Baptist: "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance," (Matthew 3:8). Now, forasmuch as the gospel calleth all those which are Christ's unto repentance, it followeth that all men are naturally corrupt, and that they have need to be changed. In like sort, this place teacheth that these men do unskillfully pervert the gospel which separate the grace of Christ from repentance,


Originally posted by skypair View Post
Calvin believed in "faith alone," right?
For a refresher, see this link.

Originally posted by skypair View Post
He taught FAITH ALONE -- MONERGISTIC salvation -- where man cannot save himself by anything that he does.Do you realize how many false churches can be started by faith alone in what we believe alone??
False churches "can be started" just as easily without "monergistic salvation" or "what we believe alone" ...Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science, Black Hebrew Israelites, Branch Davidians, etc.

Originally posted by skypair View Post
What is really amazing about salvation is that God answers your prayer of repentance from "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (Psa 34:18) IMMEDIATELY! You will feel the burden of sin lifted from you conscience and the Holy Ghost come into your heart .. and it will give you "joy unspeakable,... Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your soul." (1Pet 1:8-9)
Calvin has stated,

"...to confess to God privately is a part of true repentance that cannot be omitted. For there is nothing less reasonable than that God should forgive those sins in which we flatter ourselves, and which we hypocritically disguise lest he bring them to light."

and also:

"Now if it is true - a fact abundantly clear-  b(a) that the whole of the gospel is contained under these two headings, repentance and forgiveness of sins, do we not see that the Lord freely justifies his own in order that he may at the same time restore them to true righteousness by sanctification of his Spirit?"

In conclusion: what proof do you have that Calvin was not a Christian?