What could a Christian theologian from the 1500s have in common with fanatical bearded jihadis today? Besides fanaticism and facial hair? They share the same worldview and don’t forget our worldview determines our actions.
I was reading this article in Sputnik this morning, “Horrors of ISIL Fatwas and Decrees Laid Bare” and thought “John Calvin.” You see, ISIL metes out severe punishments for such crimes as owning Apple products and incorrectly putting the trash out.
John Calvin, who was the theocratic dictator of Geneva for 23 years until his death in 1564, micromanaged morality as well; church attendance was mandatory and closets were searched for unsuitable apparel. For heresy, disagreeing with his interpretation of the Bible:
“76 persons were banished from Geneva, and 58 killed. One year, charges were brought against 14 witches who conspired with Satan to bring the plague to Geneva, the Council burned them all.”
“Calvinists often focused on the old Testament of the Bible, therefore many of their children were named for Bible characters. One father was commanded to name his son Abraham, he preferred the boy be named Claude, for this sin he spent four days in jail.”
“First came reprimand, then fines, imprisonment, or banishment. Fornicators might be exiled or drowned. Adulterers, blasphemers and idolaters were killed. One child was beheaded for striking his parents. As was the general custom, confessions were obtained by torture.”
A dissident named Severtus said that Calvin’s “notion that God had predestined some to burn forever in hell regardless of their guilt,” was itself blasphemy. “Interpreting the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13, Servetus taught that faith is good, but love is better. He accurately described Judea (modern day Israel) as a barren country; this was deemed heresy, because the Bible described Judea as a land flowing with milk and honey.” He was, of course, convicted of heresy and requested beheading instead of burning alive.
Calvin declined that request, because people are evil and those who are right must wield iron control or the whole train will run off the rails. And that’s how John Calvin, whose worldview still afflicts vast swathes of American Christians, is like ISIL.