[Milton-L] piercing word
Daniel W. Doerksen
dwd at unb.ca
Sat Jan 10 21:27:58 EST 2009
Since I have spent much of my career writing about Calvinism as it relates
to sixteenth- and seventeenth English literature (including Milton), I was
of course fascinated to read the New York Times article on Mark Driscoll by
Molly Worthen. The author shows some awareness of Calvin and his tradition
beyond the cliches, such as by recognizing that people of Driscoll's church
"care about the arts, living out a long Reformed tradition that asserts
Christ's mandate over every corner of creation."
However some of Worthen's statements about Calvin are inaccurate. To say
that he "had heretics burned at the stake" is misleading in two ways,
because Calvin was involved (and only indirectly) in only one such burning,
that of Servetus, and he protested in vain against that method of
execution. (So much also for his being an absolute dictator in Geneva.) One
should see even that event in context, because Servetus had just escaped
receiving the same fate from the Roman church in France. It was a bloody
century, during which the "saintly" Thomas More actively worked to secure a
number of burnings of heretics.
The following is also misleading: When some church members opposed
Driscoll's plans to consolidate this pastor's power, he preached, "They are
sinning through questioning." Molly Worthen here responds: "John Calvin
couldn't have said it better himself." But John Donne praised Calvin (whom
he quoted a hundred times in his sermons) for his undogmatic readings of
Scripture. And Randall Zachman in a recent book says Calvin taught that
teachers including himself "must ... be ready and willing to listen to the
instruction of others throughout their lives, because God has not revealed
the fullness of his wisdom to any individual."
At 01:32 PM 1/10/2009, you wrote:
>A story of interest, I think, re: Christian Doctrine, Calvinism, etc.
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Daniel W. Doerksen
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