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Calvinists did not "invent" the Inquisition

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  • Calvinists did not "invent" the Inquisition

    "Burning at the stake" is something that often comes up as some sort of "gotcha!" criticism of Calvinism. Unfortunately for the critic using the argument, it is based on ignorance of history, and an ignorance of the Bible.

    Far from being a specific criticism of "Calvinism" per se, it is a belief that ALL of Christendom held at the time, and the only reason people in this forum don't likewise adhere to the teaching, is because they are enlightened enough to live in this century, rather than in the 12th-16th century.

    Here are some things to consider:

    1) The Inquisition, and "heretic burnings", started in the 12th century. Since most people claim that Calvinism was "invented" in the 16th century, it couldn't have POSSIBLY been invented by Calvinists. Indeed, it was something developed by the Roman Catholic church, and Protestantism simply "inherited" the practice.

    2) Many arrogant people claim they wouldn't have "gone with the flow". But consider this, until the time of the Reformers and the invention of the printing press, most people didn't have access to a Bible in their home. They were dependent on what their priests taught them over the pulpit. So they couldn't "study the Bible" to double check what the priests taught them.

    3) Even if you allegedly had access to a Bible, many (most?) people were illiterate back in day, and so couldn't even READ the Bible, to confirm what they were taught by the priests.

    4) America has a principle called "Separation of church and state". Medieval Europe did NOT have any such principle. And it is immoral to project modern principles upon a people who did not have them.

    5) America also has a principle called "free speech". Again, medieval Europe did not have any such "rights", and heretics were NOT "free" to proclaim their heretical teachings. It is wrong to pretend that 15th century Europe was the same as 21st century America. It wasn't.

    6) The Bible explicitly TEACHES that sinners are to be "put to death" (Lev. 20:9-16, 24:16-21, etc.). Even in the New Testament, in the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Jesus did NOT say, "Stoning is an improper sentence for adultery". The reason the woman was not stoned was because all the potential accusers (witnesses) were guilted into going away. It is very reasonable to conclude that if any of the witnesses had stuck around, Jesus would have approved of the punishment of stoning for sin. So it is NOT THE LEAST BIT UNREASONABLE to believe the Bible teaches that heretics are worthy to be executed.

    7) Many Calvinists were burned at the stake on accusations of "heresy", including Hus, Wycliffe, and potentially Luther, if he wasn't whisked away to Wartburg after appearing at the Diet of Worms. So it's silly of accusing Calvinists of "inventing" the practice, when they were the included as VICTIMS of the practice.


    It has been said many times, we "stand on the shoulders of giants". We have SO MUCH at our disposal that Christians of 500-800 years ago simply didn't have.

    - We have literacy;
    - We have access to Bibles in our homes (and on the internet);
    - We have 2000 years of Christian writings, who have ALREADY ADDRESSED just about all of the heresies available;
    - We have freedom to believe what we believe the Bible actually teaches, instead of being forced to believe what the church tells us to believe.

    We should be THANKFUL for what we have today.
    We are truly blessed by God.

    But what we should NOT be doing, is criticizing Christians of the past based on what they did NOT have, that we have today.
    And we should NOT be accusing Christians of today of things committed by people hundreds of years ago.
    "We are not to understand the other side; we are to discuss to expound the truth." -- A misguided apologist
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "The Law is a storm which wrecks your hopes of self-salvation,
    but washes you upon the Rock of Ages."
    -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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