Forgiving John Calvin

Wow! I spent 20 minutes researching church history because I just attended the First United Presbyterian Church which is only a block from my house. I almost did not attend because when I looked at their beliefs, they were a reformed church and it said that John Calvin was one of the people who influenced this church. I realized that I really hated John Calvin, who preached predestination–that God had decided who, before they were even born, would go to heaven.

I also realized that I was not following Jesus by hating John Calvin. The reason I did not like him, in addition to the fact that I think his teachings are opposite from what Jesus taught, was that he was instrumental in Michael Servetus death–because John thought Michael was a heretic. But I can see that John Calvin was doing the best he could, and he really didn’t want Servetus to suffer, but he also thought that Servetus was leading people astray.  I officially now forgive you, John Calvin, and please forgive me for hating you.

I finally checked out Servetus, and found that he had a lot of beliefs in common with the Anabaptists , the peace loving, radical Christians who include such people as the Amish, Mennonites and Church of the Brethren.  Then I was lead to investigate Peter Chelcicky, a Bohemian Christian who influenced the Anabaptists.  My grandfather was a Bohemian, and I have always been happy to have that as a part of my heritage, because good King Wenceslas was Bohemian, and he was a very nonviolent king.  Okay, it took me 6 minutes to write all this, and my final point is this:

I ended up going to the church, feeling very welcomed, enjoyed the service immensely and was moved deeply by the sermon, music, organ playing scripture reading and everything. The co-pastors, a husband a wife team, welcomed me warmly, and I even got to share with the woman pastor some of my radical beliefs like reincarnation and such. She did not raise an eyebrow, so to speak, and welcomed me to speak at more length with her.  I also was glad to hear that Jane Stitt and her parents attend this church. She had expressed gratitude towards this congregation for her participation in a civil disobedience action which lead to her going to jail.

I love my home fellowship at Resurrection Church, but sometimes I feel a need to stay home on Sundays to have time to myself for introspection, reflection and maybe even some hiking and other self-care.  I think when I do stay home, I am going to be visiting this church–and maybe on Wed. nights as well. Thank you First Presbyterian Church for your gracious hospitality.

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2 thoughts on “Forgiving John Calvin

  1. Another thing Servetus had in common with the Anabaptists is that both Catholics and Protestants of those days considered them heretics subject to death. The crime of the Anabaptists is that they believed in and practiced adult baptism. Hundreds were executed for their beliefs, often by drowning. Reading church history often makes me wonder how they could even have considered themselves Christian.

    In any event, it’s great that you found a nice welcoming local church. I hope it is a blessing to you and you to it.

    All best wishes for a joy-filled Christmas season!

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