"Calvin was holding his power with difficulty, when in February, 1553, the elections, which for some years has been fairly balanced, turned decidedly in favor of his opponents. His fall seemed inevitabl, when he was rescued and put on the path to ultimate victory by the arrival in Geneva of Miguel Servetus...almost the same age as Calvin, and undoubtedly a man of great, though erratic, genius..To his thinking, the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity, the Chalcedonian Christology, and infant baptism were the chief sources of the corruption of the church...begun an exasperating correspondence with Calvin, whose Institutes he contemptuously criticised (sic)...However odious the trial and its tragic end may seem in retrospect, for Calvin it was a great victory."
Roger E. Olson:
"Calvin's Geneva wast to be a "godly city"--a theocratic republic that modeled on earth God's kingdom in heaven. At least that was Calvin's ideal and goal for Geneva. Many individuals and factions within the city resisted his authoritarian discipline, but Calvin repeatedly won in confrontations with them and managed to get his way by threatening to leave if the city did not support him...A strict lifestyle based on biblical law was imposed on the city, and offenders were severely punished and sometimes banished for loud partying or for openly criticizing Calvin. At least one heretic was burned at the stake in Geneva in 1553. Michael Servetus had been warned to stay away from the city by Calvin himself, but he had dared to come and sit in the church, listening to Calvin preach. Calvin wanted him beheaded as a more merciful punishment for his blatant denial of the Trinity, but the city council chose to burn him instead."
Bruce L. Shelley:
"During one low point in Calvin’s influence, in 1553, the brilliant but erratic Spanish physician Michael Servetus sought refuge in Geneva. Servetus was fleeing Catholic persecution for his heresy of denying the doctrine of the Trinity. He arrived in Geneva just as Calvin’s enemies were challenging his authority. While Calvin wanted a more merciful death than burning for the heretic, he did support the silencing of the ill-balanced thinker. Servetus was burned at the stake and many in later generations remembered Calvin primarily as “the man who burned Servetus.”
Another good text about the Calvin and Servetus affair is Calvin by Bruce Gordon published by Yale University Press. Gordon notes that Servetus' execution was a "defining confrontation" about Calvin's "handling of excommunication." (Gordon, pg. 212) Gordon goes on to say, "Calvin could be cruel to opponents, and he did not hesitate to persecute them, but there is nothing to suggest that he actively sought to kill them. Heresy, however, was the gravest of dangers..." (Gordon, pg. 217) Servetus was in Geneva and was being tried as a heretic.
We should note that the era of 1548 and 1555 contains some of the most severe struggles for Calvin and his Institutes of the Christian Religion which Servetus highly criticized. Servetus was quite the scholar and reformer. He was also the first European to describe the function of pulmonary circulation. Calvin knew that Servetus had already avoided the Inquisition once but would not be able to do so again. Although Calvin did not have control over Servetus' punishment directly he directly contributed to it in a number of ways. He was certainly cognizant of the punishment typically prescribed for this punishment. Indeed Servetus and others had been railing against putting heretics to death. He would be punished, and under the Justinian Code, burned at the stake. This was done on October 27, 1553.
When he showed up in Geneva Calvin alerted the authorities. Calvin would later contribute much to his death if not by ink alone and writing what he knew would mean certain death for Servetus. With his poor French Servetus would undergo a trial being tried as a heretic. Gordon notes here that "Calvin must have felt stalked by the Spaniard, who ranted against the Frenchman’s teaching on the Trinity, calling it three Gods and the work of antichrist. This time Calvin took action." (Gordon, pg. 218) There are many things in his writings that have not been touched by the "Reformation" so called or even Calvin himself. In fact, along with Restoration of Christianity Servetus had also sent thirty letters to Calvin without reply. Given the pre-history if Servetus was not killed it is likely that John Calvin would have lost power and influence in Geneva for good.
One does well to distinguish between the Reformation and Calvinism here since Calvin and Martin Luther did not agree. Luther was the very one who had begun the initial Reform with his 95 Theses on the Wittenburg Church door. Calvin would present his own "rigid dogmatism". Geneva and the Reformation era would have been a lot different if Calvin had not been able to retain power in these critical moments. Historians note that Servetus demanded Calvin be driven out of town. Calvin, although seen as being merciful, requested Servetus a merciful punishment or as some suggested, beheading. These were probably just feigned attempts of mercy since Calvin knew the laws better than anyone.
The early Christian writer Tertullian once said, "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church." That takes on a strange irony in the case of Michael Servetus. Calvin had purged his "godly city" and humanity of a scholar, scientist, and reformer that was brutally killed by the flames of the Inquisition and Calvin's brand of Reform.
1. Gordon, Bruce. Calvin. Copyright (c) 2009 by Bruce Gordon. Yale University Press
2. Servetus, Michael Restoration of Christianity : An English Translation of Chistianismi restitutio. (c) 2007 by Christopher A. Hoffman and Marian Hillar (translators) Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd.
3. atourette, S. Kenneth. A History of Christianity Volume 2: Reformation to The Present Copyright 1975 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Prince Press.
Gonzalez, L. Justo. The Story of Christianity Copyright 1984, 1985 by Justo L. Gonzalez. Prince Press. pg. 67
(Walker, Williston. A History of the Christian Church, (c) 1959 Charles Scribner's Sons. pg. 355, 356
Olson. E. Roger. The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform. (c) 1999 by Roger E. Olson. Printed by InterVarsity Press. pg. 409, 410
Dr. Dan Wallace's comments against the corporate election model have been referenced many times on the internet by various Calvinists as an authoritative critique of the view. Because of this we have asked our very own Dr. Brian Abasciano to take some time in his very busy schedule to write a reply. Dr. Abasciano, being one of the leading proponents of the model and thus an expert on the issue, agreed. Due to the informality of the original comments, Dr. Abasciano has attempted to reply in a similar fashion, but, in this writer's opinion, he remained absolutely thorough in his critique and correction of many of Dr. Wallace's comments. Here is his reply.
Excerpt from article,
Whether its laziness or the intentional furthering of a leftwing agenda, the facts remain: The media continue to promulgate the link between gay teen bullying and suicide among teens, failing to highlight other leading causes.
Read more: http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/erin-brown/2010/10/20/media-single-out-gay-bullying-reporting-teen-suicides#ixzz130U8xAvr
These facts are excerpts from Talmadge French's publication "The Oneness" printed by Voice & Vision Publications.
Biblical Fact #1: Jesus is the One God in His Totality. Jesus isn't another, second person, or only part of the Godhead.
Biblical Fact #2: Jesus declared: "I and the Father are One." Not two. Not separate. But One and the same--God in Flesh.
Biblical Fact #3: Jesus was God Himself made flesh--God as perfect man, with His own blood, redeeming lost humanity.
Biblical Fact #4: The Oneness of God--emphatically declared in the Old Testament--is reaffirmed in the New.
Biblical Fact #5: Jesus is the Great "I Am!" The One Lord God Jehovah of the Old Testament is revealed as Jesus in the New Testament.
Dr. Talmadge L. French holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ancient Language (Greek) and a Master of Arts degree in New Testament Theology. Dr. French is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Birmingham, England.
You can also purchase Dr. French's thesis work Our God is One here at Amazon.com
Beyond Opinion with author and editor Ravi Zacharias is an excellent apologetic resource. It is not your standard multi-author apologetic. Norm Geisler calls it “the best book of its kind in print”. J.P. Moreland says the book is “unique and stands in a class by itself.” William L. Craig says that “Ravi and his team” model for us the “relational-reality” approach to Christian Apologetics.
In the last chapter Zacharias states, “All reality is ultimately defined by…God who is a Being in relationship.” All relationships have to be based on the recognition of truth…Truth is that which corresponds to reality as it is, not necessarily as we construct it to be…the apologist does not, therefore, depend on one knockout argument but in the response to the real for which all ultimately search.” (pg. 333)
There are over 350 pages of material from other authors such as Alister McGrath, John Lennox, L.T. Jeyachandran, Amy Orr-Ewing, Sam Soloman, Michael Ramsden, et al. The bulk of the contributors are also part of RZIM or Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. The book is three parts and a conclusion.
Part one is about “Giving An Answer” where the difficult questions are addressed. Challenges from Postmodernism, Atheism, Youth culture, Islam, Eastern Religions, and Science are discussed. McGrath offers some salient thoughts on Atheism. He asks, “What can we learn from the growth of atheism in the last two centuries?” Before going on to answer he notes that rivals to Christian doctrine help to identify weakness, not in our doctrine, but in the “way Christian apologists have responded to challenges”. Atheistic philosophy has its origin in the classical world. The gods of Mount Olympus were fickle and jealous and Homers Iliad portrays the gods as being petty and vindictive. Mc Grath aptly notes, “Surely many began to wonder, the gods were meant to be better than this. One of the fundamental factors leading to the rise of atheism is a perception that belief in the divine does not lead to a morality that is clearly superior to that offered by secular culture.” (pg. 25)
In part one Beyond Opinion also seeks to address the questions behind the questions. Zacharias addresses the “Existential Challenges of Evil and Suffering.” He admits that “pain, suffering, and evil are indisputable realities” (pg. 178) yet “when a skeptic raises the question, he also smuggles in the Judeo-Christian worldview” (pg. 179). He also gives an honest discussion on the mystery, reality, universality, and complexity of evil. Zacharias does a good job at handling the existential challenges of our day.
In part two the authors attempt to internalize some questions and answers, in order to see how they play out in a more practical sense. This part of the book discusses The Trinity, The Role of Doubt and Persecution in Spiritual Transformation, and Idolatry, Denial, and Self-Deception: Hearts on Pilgrimage through the Valleys. In part three, Zacharias takes a more practical look at apologetics and examining the Church’s Role in apologetics as well as the development of the mind. He concludes with an article on “Apologetics for Today” which discusses the purpose of the book and the model of apologetics utilized by Beyond Opinion.
Overall, Beyond Opinion is a great resource that any Christian can use to bring others into a relationship with Jesus, our Lord and God. It will be a great addition to any bookshelf.
* To my non-Trinitarian or Oneness Pentecostal readers I should mention the article by L.T. Jeyachandran (hereon LTJ) entitled “The Trinity As A Spiritual Paradigm for Spiritual Transformation”. In this article, one should note that LTJ assumes the Trinity. This must be done in order to suggest that God is three persons in loving communion with one another from eternity. He also notes that “our emphasis on devotion to God tends to be an individualistic one” much like the pursuits of Eastern religions. LTJ does not try to prove this rather he points to the charlatans of what is seen as true spirituality today. In this article, as in many before this one, Trinitarians note that the Trinity is believed but rarely preached. Most Trinitarians do not have a Trinitarian model of worship and other Trinitarians have admitted that most people do not think of God as a Trinitarian should. LTJ suggests that the Triune God has been revealed, not from the beginning, but “at discrete points in time revealing the plurality of the persons in the Godhead.” (pg. 233) He points to the relational qualities of God as a personal being as a sign that God as a relational being is only possible in the “trinitarian understanding of God.” (pg. 238).
The latter is debatable. This argument attempts to make our existence parallel with that of God’s ontological existence. Ironically, this type of methodology is rejected by a Trinitarian when discussing the Trinity’s subordination of Christ. God is love and God alone is the righteous judge. He needs no other.
God is personal and is a relational being. The Trinitarian model however is not the ONLY plausible model but is likely very unnecessary. God has eternally loved humanity, the Church and the Son of God. The Trinitarian model is redundant and superfluous at this point. The love that Christ Himself exhibited best demonstrates the genuine love of God. It was self-giving, sacrificial, for others. It does not need reciprocation or demand it active among a community of eternal persons–it is unconditional love. The Trinity does not prove God is love nor does love prove God is a Trinity. God is an eternal, relational, loving being who also has power, wisdom, and knowledge before He created the worlds. God was powerful enough, wise enough and knowledgeable enough to create, ex nihlo, before He created.
The Historical Jesus: Five Views is a compilation of five contributors – Robert M. Price, John Dominic Crossan, Luke Timothy Johnson, James D.G. Dunn, and Darrell L. Bock. Their positions and responses cover 300 pages of theological diversity on the person and historicity of Jesus Christ.
Price would be the far left view here suggesting that “quite likely there never was any historical Jesus .” (pg. 55). Crossan will respond with “I simply agree with vast swaths” of Prices’ argument. Johnson, Dunn, and Bock will take a much more conservative position affirming the existence of the historical Jesus. In fact, Johnson says, “Price gets Jesus to the vanishing point by the simple expedient of denying all the evidence that makes him visible.” (pg. 89) Dunn acts surprised that “there are still serious scholars who put forward the view that the whole account of Jesus’ doing and teaches are a later myth…” Bock notes that “even the Jesus Seminar saw around 20 percent of the Jesus material as going back to Jesus, using a very skeptical employment of such principles.” (pg. 100) The mythological view is a complete failure because it reads later literature and concepts back into 1st Century culture. The life of Jesus and the Gospels must be interpreted in light of being a 1st Century Jewish male.
Crossan says we must go back to the Jesus who is “a Galilean Jew within Judaism within the Roman Empire” (pg. 105) before we could ever know if he existed or not. This is true and the historical background data is pivotal. It seems as though Crossan himself fails to remove his presuppositions and ideals in the 21st Century. For example, Johnson commends Crossan but goes on to point out the modernized conception of Jesus emerging in such statements as, “John had a monopoly but Jesus had a franchise.”(See pg. 118; 126) Dunn suggests that Crossan is characterizing the setting in order to provide a backdrop for what he really wants to say. Dunn points out Crossan’s selective motif’s such as the dominating them of kingdom presence as well.
Johnson challenges us to learn the human Jesus. He calls us to examine the historical reading of the Gospels and Jesus. He sees the Gospel’s as excellent evidence to the humanity, and therefore existence, of Jesus. The Jesus “whom we engage and come to know as a human character in the canonical Gospels is also the historic Christ.” (pg. 177)
Dunn begins with “Remembering Jesus” and how the historical quest for Jesus has lost its way. He points out that the error in the historical quest has had three flaws since its inception. He puts these into three protests followed by a proposal. Protest one is against the “assumption that ‘the Christ of Faith’ is a perversion of the ‘historical Jesus’”. Protest two is against the assumption that “the only way to understand both the relation of the traditions in the Synoptic Gospels and the earliest transmission of the Jesus tradition is in literary terms” and proposing we give more attention and seriousness to the oral phase of the Jesus tradition. He concludes that it is “probably that the earliest transmission of the Jesus tradition was by word of mouth.” (pg. 211)
Bock writes about the Historical Jesus. He says that the study for the historical Jesus quest “began as a project of the Enlightenment to strip Jesus of the doctrinal layers allegedly said to be tied to him by the early church, so that only a historical Jesus should remain.” (pg. 250) Bock does a great job of laying down facts about the historical knowledge of Jesus as well as the way he and others viewed him in the text of Scripture itself. Bock and Dunn’s arguments differ since one stressed oral tradition and the other the historical literature and data. The believer should bear in mind however that both are valid forms of understanding the historical Jesus and the early formation of the Gospels themselves.
IVP Academics has done a great job in providing this book as a valuable resource. It was edited by J.K. Beilby and P.R. Eddy. Reading this book is a great way to jump right into the quest for the Historical Jesus. I recommend it for any bookshelf.
John 8:58, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. ESV
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ESV
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis presents us with a trilemma. Given the data about the life and self-understanding of Jesus one must conclude whether or not He is a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. There is a fourth dilemma – Legend.
There are those who believe that the Scriptures and Christ are developed legend. They are embellished stories. They try to suggest that supernatural elements in the Bible are simply extensions of that myth that “developed between the death of Christ and the time the gospels were written in the second century.” 
Since the early 19th Century there has been an incredible attack on Scriptures and the person of Jesus Christ. God has been removed from our culture and has nothing really to do with the daily lives of millions of people who have shelved Him until Science, philosophy, or modern opinion decides that Christ is indeed relevant again.
An early 19th Century philosopher, Friedrich Neitzche, stated, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” —Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125
For Nietzche the Will to Power was the ultimate reality. His concept of the will to power applies to all living things, suggesting that even the struggle to survive is a secondary drive and less important than the desire to expand one’s power. The power gained by human will. To Nietzche all the constructs of society were mere power grabs. Government, education, religion were all tools of the powerful simply hungry for more power.
Our society has bought into such thinking. Culture has trained us to be skeptics, critics, and Gnostics. Society says that things are uncertain and that there is no real right or wrong way. Things such as trust or truth are now illusions to mankind and IF WE CANNOT TRUST WE CANNOT FIND TRUTH. This is our dilemma. These are our times. Depression, anxiety, or suicide are all by-products of hopelessness. A feeling of uncertainty. Yet, in this dilemma we can find hope.
Each of us are presented with a choice today. To live as though Jesus is a legend or Lord? To live as a practical atheist acting as though God does not exist or that He would have nothing to do with our daily lives. To live as though He is really just a good man, a fine prophet whose stories have only been embellished.
The reality is that the Scriptures, Jesus, and Christianity are rooted firmly in reality. This is what caused Peter to say, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16) KJV
The reality is that Christianity is rooted in reality. The Bible is not a story of fiction and myth and Jesus truly lived, died, and was raised on the third day. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that such characters as the High Priest Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate were real people during the times of Jesus. Tacitus, Seuetonius, and Josephus all refer to Jesus or Christianity in some way.
Cornelius Tacitus (ca. AD 55–120) was a Roman historian who lived through the reigns of over a half dozen Roman emperors. He has been called the ‘greatest historian’ of ancient Rome.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas, another Roman historian made one reference to Jesus and one to Christians. Suetonius was the chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian (AD 117–138), this provided him access to the imperial records.
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus was born in AD 37 or 38 and died in AD 97. Josephus was a Pharisee by the age of 19. Early on Josephus was a soldier and even fought against the Romans. Later, however, he would become the court historian for Emperor Vespasian.
We also have P52 which is a fragment of the Gospel of John dating from the first century (John Rylands papyrus library). Here is a picture below.
The resurrection of Christ:
“The appearances of Jesus and His resurrection are as well authenticated as anything in ancient literature…there can be no doubt that they occurred, and that the main reason why Christians became sure of the resurrection in the earliest days was just this. They could say with assurance, “We have seen the Lord.” They knew it was he!” ~British theologian Michael Green
Here is a quick list of proofs for the Resurrection:
1. The empty tomb.
2. Sudden transformation of frightened and uncertain disciples into bold proponents of the Resurrection for which they would die.
3. The claim that the church was the Body of Christ.
4. The transformation of the Christ-hater Saul, to the Christ-lover Paul.
5. A hermeneutical conviction by the early church which correlated the death, burial and resurrection of Christ with Old Testament Messianic references.
6. The inability of the Jewish leaders to disprove the Resurrection event.
7. The use of Sunday or worship on the “first day” instead of the Sabbath.
8. The conversion of James, the brother of Christ, who originally opposed the teachings of his brother.
9. An A.D. 117 account by Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrneans:
“For I know that after His resurrection also He was still possessed of flesh, and I believe that He is so now. When, for instance, He came to those who were with Peter, He said to them, “Lay hold, handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.” And immediately they touched Him, and believed, being convinced both by His flesh and spirit. For this cause also they despised death, and were found its conquerors. And after his resurrection He did eat and drink with them, as being possessed of flesh, although spiritually He was united to the Father.” Ch. III
10. The theme of the Resurrection of Christ and the believer’s future resurrection are interwoven throughout the New Testament.
11. The Romans were very good at what they did. There are many appearances and eyewitness of Christ after the crucifixion being resurrected from the dead. (See Matthew 28:8-10, 16-20; Luke 24:13; John 20:11-29 and Acts 1:1-11).
The fact that Jesus was no mere mortal is what caused doubting Thomas to behold the nail prints in the hands of our risen Lord and confess, “My Lord, and My God!” (John 20:28)
Phil. 2:5-11 KJV 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The humility of Christ is what we are to take on. Christ, being the form of God, did not see equality with God a thing to be grasped because HE IS GOD! To become a man, God condescended to the form of a humble servant. God has given Him a name “highly exalted” that is “above every name” and the name by which every knee will one day bow. So, that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is “Lord”.
Lord, here signifies supremacy as Lord over every person and thing. The name of God in the Old Testament is YHWH (Exodus 3:14-15) and Jesus is the continuing revelation of the name of YHWH. Indeed, Jesus or Yehshua means: YHWH is salvation. (See John 8:58, Hebrews 13:8)
The Problem with Jesus:
The problem with Jesus is that He cannot be simply a good man. He cannot be a mere prophet. No mere man forgives sin, heals the sick, raises the dead, uses the divine name of God for Himself, and challenges His skeptics to destroy His body which will be raised again after three days. As doubting Thomas noted a common Christian confession is that Jesus is "Lord" and "God". Jesus then presents us with a dilemma.
“You are driving down the highway when you encounter a sign that read, “Dangerous curve ahead.” Immediately you are confronted with making a choice. One, you can observe the warning and slow down. Two, you can ignore the warning and maintain your rate of speed. Or, three you can defy the warning and speed up. Whatever response you exercise, you will not change the truth of the sign. The curve remains dangerous, regardless of whether you acknowledge the fact or not.”
Faith in Jesus is more than mere mental assent. Faith in Christ is trust in Christ. Reliance in Christ. Confidence in Christ. Note Matthew 9:1-8:
1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee... Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Here the man sick of the palsy shows us what it means to trust in Christ, to place our faith in Christ. He arose. He trusted the words of Jesus “Arise, take up thy bed…”. He arose. Jesus is alive and He is my Lord and my God. The message of Scripture and the person and life of Christ militates against our culture while simultaneously offering us hope. Trust. Showing us the way.
Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996, c1986). A general introduction to the Bible. Includes indexes. Includes a short-title checklist of English translations of the Bible (chronologically arranged). (Rev. and expanded.) (159). Chicago: Moody Press.
Greenlee, J. H. (1992). An exegetical summary of Philippians (Php 2:11). Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics.