Church History Forum: calvin and did he persecute christians

calvin and did he persecute christians QUESTION from mark ford June 14, 2001 I realize this isnt a Catholic Church history ? but in a chat room i was involved in a discussion involving a calvinst and i tried to point out both sides had persecuted heretics in their own view. This person gave a history of Michael Servius(sp) and how Calvin tried to save then and never persecuted any other people or groups.....one is this correct i thought he had attacked the ana-baptist and what is the true history here? I understand if u dont want to post this ? but i would appreciate a private response if possible. Thanks Mark Ford
ANSWER by Q & A Staff on June 17, 2001 Dear Mark,
I don't know any specifics about Calvin's dealings with the Anabaptists, but I can tell you the following.
John Calvin (1509-64) went to Geneva for the first time in 1536. After being expelled in 1538, he returned in 1541 and remained there until his death in 1564. Geneva at the time was a self-governing city-state, somewhat like the city states of Italy at the time. He turned the city of Geneva into something of a totalitarian Calvinist state, though he never specifically advocated violent revolution in order to overthrow Catholic government.
Among the acts of Calvin as the supreme spiritual and temporal power in Geneva during his lifetime were: the imprisonment of Ami and Franchequine Perring for dancing at a wedding, the prohibition against baptism of children whose names were not approved by Calvin, and the beating of a woman who had been praying at the grave of her dead son.
Towards the end of his life, Calvin, in his commentaries on the Book of Daniel, did seem to support the violent overthrow of princes who were bad. It was this comment by Calvin that was used by his successor Theodore Beza (1519-1605) and the extremely revolutionary Calvinists in France to bring about the first of six religious wars in France in 1562. In this war, the Calvinists, in response to being disallowed public worship, went on the rampage in the cities of Orleans, Angers, and Rouen, among others, destroying statues and committing sacrilege, with the approval of Beza.
(I should make a comment on the apparently restrictive laws against public worship against Calvinists at this time. It must be remembered that the Calvinists had already abolished the Mass and ruined Catholic Churches wherever they had gained power, and the French did not want a repeat.)
So in conclusion, while Calvin himself for most of his life did not advocate violent revolution, he did appear to change towards the end and his followers were advocating violent revolution even before his death.
Thanks, Mark.
God bless, .
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