Monday, September 20, 2010

Servetus, Calvin, etc.

Amazon sends me advertisements based on my purchases. A few days ago they sent me a notification for the following:

Thirty Letters to Calvin, Preacher to the Genevans: And Sixty Signs of the Kingdom of the Antichrist and His Revelation Which Is Now at Hand [Hardcover]Michael Servetus (Author), Christopher A. Hoffman (Translator), Marian Hillar (Translator) $109.95 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping. Details Pre-order Price Guarantee. Learn more. This title has not yet been released.You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Wow, only $109.95 to read the letters of a heretic. If it were cheaper, I'd probably pick it up.

Various web pages note Servetus sent Calvin around thirty letters. One thing the book doesn't appear to do is include any letters written from Calvin back to Servetus. That would be quite interesting, to see the exchanges between the two. The author has written others books on Servetus.

The last book on Servetus I purchased was entitled, Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. This book is much cheaper, you can probably find used copies of it for under twenty bucks. I read the book a few years ago, and I recall it being sympathetic to Servetus and less than charitable to Calvin. Chapter 11 documents some of their exchanges. Overall, the book does provide a helpful popular account and biography of Servetus.

Servetus also now has his own fan club: The Servetus International Society. I haven't checked to see if he's got a Face book page. It's an interesting webpage- including conferences, a newsletter, excerpts from his writings, and even a discussion board. Their goal is to "foster the spirit of Humanism, tolerance of ideas and respect for the rights of the individual by promoting and preserving the Servetus Heritage as intellectual giant, model of integrity and standard-bearer in the struggle for freedom of conscience."

Recently I've begun reading Calvin again. I pulled out my old copy of John Calvin's Sermons on Ephesians. Say what you want to about Calvin, the man was indeed brilliant. Calvin spent an incredible amount of time preaching. His sermons are quite readable. It's obvious he had the ability to communicate clearly to his congregation. Calvin is said to have preached without notes or written record. It was only after some of the Genevans realized this that they began to take notes and transcribe his sermons. Calvin reviewed many of them, but never revised them. All together, there were forty-eight bound volumes of Calvin's sermons. The Library of Geneva had them, but slowly lost track of some of them. By 1805, what volumes they had were said to be taking up too much room and were sold to local booksellers.

As far as I can tell, most of these sermons grom the Ephesians volume are not on-line. However, a few from this volume are:

(1) Ephesians 1:1–3
(2) Ephesians 1:3, 4
(3) Ephesians 1:4–6
(4) Ephesians 1:7–10
(5) Ephesians 1:13, 14
(6) Ephesians 1:15–18
(7) Ephesians 1:17, 18
(8) Ephesians 1:19–23

Here's a section from what I read last night.

The second point is the assurance of our salvation. The papists say that we must doubt it and that we can come to God only with a hope that he will receive us; but to assure ourselves of it—that we ought not to do, for that would be too great a presumption. But when we pray to God, we must call him Father, at least if we are the scholars of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he has taught us to do so.

Now, is it at a venture that we call him Father, or are we sure of it in ourselves that he is our Father If not, then there would be nothing but hypocrisy in our prayers, and the first word that we utter would be a lie. The papists then never know what it is to pray to God, seeing that they cannot be assured of their salvation. But (as we shall see in the third chapter especially) the Scripture shows that to pray to God rightly, we must have belief in Jesus Christ, which gives us confidence, and upon that confidence we by and by conceive boldness. Be that as it may, we must not be hesitant nor yet doubt, but we must be thoroughly resolved and persuaded in ourselves that God counts us as his children. And how may that be but by embracing his mercy through faith, as he offers it to us in his gospel, and by assuring ourselves also that we are grounded in his eternal election? For if our faith should depend upon ourselves, surely it would soon slip from us; and it might be shaken off, if it were not maintained from above. And although we are kept or preserved by faith, as St. Peter says [I Pet. 1:5], yet it is God who keeps us. If, then, our faith were not grounded in God’s eternal election, it is certain that Satan might pluck it from us every minute. Though today we were the most steadfast in the world, yet we might fail tomorrow. But our Lord Jesus shows us the remedy to strengthen us against all temptations in that he says: You do not come to me of yourselves, but the heavenly Father brings you to me; and since I have taken you into my keeping, be no more afraid, for I acknowledge you as the inheritance of God my Father, and he that has given me charge of you and put you into my hand is stronger than all [Jn. 10:28—29]. We see, then, that besides setting forth God’s glory, our salvation also is assured by God’s eternal predestination, which ought to be sufficient reason to move us to consider what St. Paul says of it in this place.


Constantine said...

Amen, and amen!

Imagine that, the first pope believed that you cannot lose your salvation!

If only he had had a Magisterium to get him straight!

Thanks for the post, James.


David Waltz said...

>>Imagine that, the first pope believed that you cannot lose your salvation!>>

"But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1 - ASV)

=="Denying even the absolute Master who bought them" implies that these heretics also deny and reject much else as God is called δεσπότης, so Christ is called the same. Peter has twice called Christ God in the most significant way (1:1, 2). But Pter said: "our God and Savior," "our God and Lord"; and here he says: "the Despotes who bought them." Read Trench regarding the difference between δεσπότης and κύριος. A man is the former to his slaves, the latter to his wife (1 Pet. 3:6, Sarah) and his children. From the former we have our word "despot," which is used in a rather evil sense. When it is applied to God the term stresses their absolute, unrestricted power. but the addition "who bought them" conserves the fullest soteriological sense. Christ bought them at the tremendous price of his blood to be his own, forever. Despite his absolute might and this act of purchase and ransoming these are men who "deny," disown, repudiate "even" him. They challenge his, absolute power; they ungratefully scorn his buying them. Ingrate rebels!

Here we have an adequate answer to Calvin's limited atonement: the Sovereign, Christ, bought with his blood not only the elect but also those who go to perdition. (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of I and II Epistles of Peter, the three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude, Augsburg Publishing House, 1966, p. 305.)==

Seems even the "brilliant" get some things wrong...

Grace and peace,


David Waltz said...

Ooops...typo: change "Pter" to "Peter".

Jae said...

"Recently I've begun reading Calvin again."

Me too...

Calvin on the interpretation of Scripture:

"We admit therefore, that ecclesiastical pastors are to be HEARD JUST LIKE CHRIST HIMSELF." Calvin's Letter to Sadoleto (Calvini Opera 5:404)

Calvin on Baptism:

"...In baptism, God, REGENERATING us, engrafts us into the society of his church and makes us his own by adoption". Institutes of the Christian Religion (4.17.1)

I wonder if modern protestants could even utter these blasphemies.