Title: Institutions of 'Christian' Repression Credit: Craig Young Comment Tuesday 30th November 2004 - 12:00pm1101769200 Article: 504 Rights
Given that theonomists base their belief in religious dictatorship on Calvin's Geneva in the sixteeenth century, I thought it might be instructive to investigate the extent of repression that occurred in that theocracy during his period of peak influence. Calvin ruled Geneva for over twenty years (1541-1561). He pressured its General Council to revamp civil legislation, and most biographers note that Calvin's regime imposed strict conformity on that city's hapless inhabitants. It is fascinating that the Reformed Church-dominated 'Campaign Against Civil Unions' has the gall to whinge about imaginary 'hate speech' bans that haven't even reached the select committee stage yet. In 1545, Pierre Ameaux couldn't practice free speech after he dared criticise the minister in question. In 1546, Calvin banned dancing, and tried to ban consumption of alcohol in favour of streetfront cafes, but irritated Geneva's citizens, so he was forced to back down on the latter issue. In 1547, though, events took a darker turn. Jacques Gruet, a vocal dissenter, was beheaded for robust libel, and in 1550, his derelict Genevan home was searched for suspected scabrous atheist literature, which was duly burnt. In 1553, Calvin's regime committed their most condemned atrocity, which was the incineration of Michael Servetus, an 'heretical' Unitarian. Never mind that Servetus was a pioneering medical scholar, whose cardovascular studies might have saved untold lives if Calvin's dictatorship hadn't resorted to religious persecution and execution. In 1566, Giovanni Valentinis Gentilis, another Unitarian, was burnt to death in Berne, after Calvin's anti-Unitarian theological stance was adopted within that community. True, Catholic France was just as repressive, as its massacre of Huguenots (French Protestants) proved in 1583. However, brutal religious persecution does not excuse countervailing brutal religious persecution, denial of religious freedom and capital punishment on the basis of denial of free speech. What about homosexuality? In 1555, Calvinist judges held that even unsuccessful gay passes warranted the death penalty, whether through incineration or hanging or drowning as a mode of execution. Four gay French Huguenot refugees were drowned, as was a lesbian, on the basis that the late Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's legal code prescribed capital punishment for lesbians and gay men alike, in 1568. As New Zealand theonomists/Christian Reconstructionists fell under Greg Bahnsen's heinous influence in the eighties, it might be instructive to see what Bahnsen himself had to say about us. Bahnsen cited sixteenth and seventeenth century Calvinist documents that prescribed capital punishment for homosexuality and did so approvingly, in his book on the subject of lesbian and gay rights (1978). In a Reconstructionist journal article (1994), he repeated that extremist position. During the intervening period, Bahnsen's Reformed Church ministerial acolytes argued that homosexuality warranted the death penalty, during the heat of battle against homosexual law reform in 1985/86. In the late nineties, the guilty parties left the Reformed Church of New Zealand ministry, although their General Synod left the door open for continuing theonomist involvement within the shrinking sect. Gary ("Garnet") Milne needs to come clean. Are there any theonomists/Christian Reconstructionists from his own sect involved within his Campaign Against Civil Unions? How many Christian Reconstructionists/ theonomists are still active within the Reformed Church of New Zealand? He advocates recriminalisation of male homosexuality. Does Milne agree with Christian Reconstructionist/theonomist ideology or not? Recommended Reading: Greg Bahnsen: Homosexuality: A Biblical View: Baker Books: Grand Rapids: 1978. Greg Bahnsen: "In the Shadow of Sodom: Does the Bible Really Say What We Thought About Homosexuality?" Christianity and Society 4:2: (April 1994): Louis Crompton: Homosexuality and Civilisation: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachuesetts: 2003. Wulfert de Greef (ed) Writings of John Calvin: Grand Rapids: Baker Books/Apollos: 1993. Leonard Goldstone: Out of the Flames: London: Century: 2003. [Contemporary biography of Michael Servetus' death and persecution at the hands of Calvin's regime, and his pioneering cardiovascular work.] John Haverland "Theonomy: What Have We Learnt?" in Dirk Vanderpyl (ed) Trust and Obey: A Denominational History of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand: Hamilton: Reformed Church Publishing: 1994. Craig Young - 30th November 2004    
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