burning-hereticsHumour aside, this is actually why I shy away from Calvinism and other ‘magisterial’ streams of Protestantism like Lutheranism, much as I respect them in other ways.

Lacking a nonviolent ethic, there is nothing within their theologies that precludes the burning of heretics, as history has demonstrated. That the burning is more verbal than physical these days is a vast improvement, but its still a problem as far as I am concerned.

I wonder though, has anyone ever attempted to formulate a nonviolent Calvinist ethic? I wonder if it is possible.

12 thoughts on “Burning Heretics

  1. Matt,
    Serious question. I don’t pretend to know all the differences between denominations and the subtleties of their subdenominations… but do you ever wonder if labelling ourselves and others that we are destined to push some further away from the revelation of Christ?
    Obviously I’m not talking about heretics themselves, I’m just wondering if it carries any weight when I say to people “No, I go to a [insert denom] church but I’m just a Christian”.

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  2. Hey Matt,
    I’ve been enjoying the reformed humour posts!
    Regarding your post here, I must admit I don’t quite understand what you are saying.
    Is it:
    a) Reformed theological frameworks have a degree of violence in them?
    b) Reformed theological frameworks don’t specifically denounce violence and therefore leave this option open?
    c) Something else?
    I ask as I have not found reformed theology to be inherently violent, and most of the people I have dealt with are not on a witch-hunt.
    By the way…I can’t figure out if there is a way of getting notification emails for follow up comments??

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  3. Lex, I am conscious of the potential for differences of opinion within Christianity to push some away, which is why I frequently make a point of highlighing how I see such differences as far less important than what unifies us, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox alike. It’s also why I hedge critiques like this with observations that “I respect them in other ways” as I did so above. Nevertheless I think it is important to acknowledge that there is diversity in Christianity, and this diversity is not always trivial. On the contrary, I frequently get many non-Christians expressing that they have been greatly encouraged by the counterpoint I provide to other branches of Christianity that they find quite oppressive. Now, you’ll notice I haven’t used the word “denomination” in any of this. That’s because there are multiple sources of diversity, denominationalism is just one of them, and this critique is more about theological movements birthed by the Reformation that are actually transdenominational. Nor am I calling anyone a heretic in all of this. I reserve the label for people who transgress the essentials. There are the essentials, the peripherals, and the important but non-essentials in between. This is about some in between stuff.

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  4. I am firstly saying (b) Reformed theology does not specifically denounce violence, and thus tends to accomodate violence when the social mood shifts that way.
    Not that I am not saying the Reformed tradition is alone in this. But I would like Reformed thinkers to think about it. The separation of church and state is not something the Reformed tradition seems to have any theological commitment to. There are theocratic sentiments bubbling away in fundamentalist Christianity. What might a Reformed response look like? Is the Reformed church going to sit on the sidelines? I would like to goad some sort of response.
    But, as you’ve wondered, there is also an element of (a) in that I and others I mix with do find Reformed theology does tend to be aggressive. I suspect some of this comes from the fact that Reformed theology is very tight. It does not seem to tollerate much deviation, even on what I would consider more minor matters.

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  5. Te he, does that mean you’re gonna give up listening to Tool now? They’re quite occult influenced you know. 🙂
    I liked this bit, “He [Driscoll] is to be seen in videos preaching in a Jesus teeshirt, symbolising the new compromise with culture…” LOL, complaining about teeshirts is cetainly what I mean by not tollerating much deviation.
    But the very fact that Driscoll is himself a Calvinist shows that Calvinism can stretch that far. His comments about cessationism are closer to what I am talking about. I am not sure even Driscoll could handle a discussion on Christian mediation.

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  6. Reading Dr. Masters’s article was quite interesting. He never really explained what was inherently “worldly” (and therefore sinful) about the music he denounces. All he says is that it is sensation-stirring and bodily and emotional feelings. Based solely on this information, I’m inclined to includet hat Masters — and perhaps all those he would consider “true Calvinists” — considers physical sensations and emotions inherently sinful themselves. If this is the case, no wonder his brand of Calvinism tends to eventually lead to violence. They are already metaphorically at war with their very own nature. What they describe doesn’t sound so much to me about redeeming humanity as destroying it and replacing it with the equivalent of Vulcans or andriods.
    I also find myself wondering how far Masters’s understanding of Calvinist theology ultimately deviates from a sort of Gnosticism.

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  7. Matt,
    No problem just thinking out loud, wasn’t aimed at your post specifically it was just a brainfart – I enjoy this type of humour always but some of it’s lost on me when it comes to doctrines – maybe I haven’t been exposed enough – I’m only 12 years old in Christ years.

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  8. Oh, it’s a fair question. I actually find these sorts of posts quite tricky. I am trying to prod without giving offense, but what one person takes as a prod another may take as a sledgehammer.

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  9. I’m hoping not to give up listening to Tool! I was aware of their occult connections, but it seems to be mainly Danny Carey their drummer…according to his website he bases is rhythms on certain occultic patterns. Tool’s lyrics certainly don’t espouse occultic things, certainly in an explicit way.
    Regarding the Jesus T-shirt…I have been eyeing off a cool Jesus Saves shirt with Jesus dressed as an Ice Hockey Goalie on Amazon, though I would resist the temptation to wear it when I preached!
    Also you mentioned Christian “mediation”…did you mean meditation?

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  10. You’re correct Jeff, it was a typo. I meant Meditation.
    As for the occult connections, the whole point of occultism is that it NOT be explicit. Occultists revel in the obscure. The rhythm patterns is one aspect (ask Ian Shannahan about burying symbology in musical timing! That guy is a genious) and have a close look through the looking glass into their 10,000 Days album. If my memory serves me right there is a Crowley tarot deck (only seen by the back of course), a Kaballistic tree of life, and more.
    And just as an aside, giving my ministry, don’t think my blog is all upfront either. I’ve left stuff for people with eyes to see.

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