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Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Grateful to Know

My previous post referred to my having left a certain message board. And as I often do after leaving such a place, I keep checking back for a while to see how debates in progress have turned out, as some kind of “closure” I suppose. And for the most part my decision to leave was easily confirmed as the right one. But yesterday a new “Thanksgiving” thread appeared that deserved exposure, not only for harboring such un-Christian speech, but for confirming also that followers of men really do take on the characteristics of their leaders.

On this Thanksgiving Day in the US, one would expect to see Calvinists at least be somewhat conciliatory toward those they consider their intellectual and spiritual inferiors, but instead they displayed the same kind of gloating and hatred characteristic of their founder John Calvin concerning his detractors. The thread begins here and isn’t too long at the moment, but as you read you get the idea: “All you anti-Calvinists are celebrating Calvinism, ha ha ha!”

Amen - Happy Thanksgiving! The pilgrims were Calvinists indeed!! Hope all of my arminian friends remember that while they are eating turkey tomorrow.... “Behe’s Boy” (Note: the thread makes no distinction between “pilgrim” and “Puritan”.)
And I should point out that this particular Calvinist is one of the few there who at least admits that Arminians can possibly be considered Christians. So this only shows the futility of having tried to reason with them. And tempting as it would be, I won’t go back there to give them a history lesson on those lovely, Christ-like Puritans. Instead, I’ll do it here. These are excerpts from an article on Anne Hutchinson:
Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643) was one of the most prominent women in colonial America, noted for her strong religious convictions, and for her stand against the staunch religious orthodoxy of 17th century Massachusetts. She was a Puritan whose religious ideas were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma created a schism in the Boston church which threatened to destroy the Puritans’ religious experiment in New England. Creating the most challenging situation for the ruling magistrates and ministers during her first three years in Boston, she was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony with many of her followers.
Hutchinson’s visits with others led to discussions along the lines of the conventicles in England, and soon she was hosting meetings, twice a week, with those who wanted to discuss Cotton’s sermons, and hear her explanations and elaborations.[33][34] Her meetings for women became so popular that soon she had to organize meetings for men as well, and she was hosting 60 or more people per week.[23] In time, Hutchinson began to give her own views on religion, espousing that “an intuition of the Spirit,” and not good works, was the only valid proof of one’s election by God.[33] Often her spiritual interpretation differed widely from the learned and legalistic reading offered from the Puritan Sunday pulpit. In particular, Hutchinson constantly challenged the standard interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve, which was a vital text for the Puritans, and key to the doctrine of original sin. This biblical story was regularly cited to assign special blame to women as the source of sin and to justify the patriarchal structure of Puritan society.[35] Hutchinson’s following increased, and soon included the young Governor of the colony, Harry Vane.[33] Others, particularly merchants and craftsmen, were attracted by Hutchinson’s ideas of the disassociation of the state of a man’s soul and his outward behavior.[33]

Since Hutchinson had a personal concern for women’s lack of rights and the racial prejudice against Native Americans, she also applied her personal interpretation of the principles of the Bible to those social concerns. Furthermore, she openly challenged some of the moral and legal codes that the Puritans held, as well as the authority of the clergy, something that would weigh against her later on.[36] Increasingly, the ministers opposed Hutchinson’s meetings, on the ostensible grounds that such “unauthorized” religious gatherings might confuse the faithful. Hutchinson paid no attention to her critics; when they cited the biblical texts on the need for women to keep silent in church, she countered with a verse from Titus stating that “the elder women should instruct the younger.[35]

Ultimately, Hutchinson was brought to civil trial by the General Court in November 1637, presided over by Governor John Winthrop, on the charge of ”traducing the ministers.“ The Court included both government officials and Puritan clergy. She was 46 at the time and apparently advanced in pregnancy. Nevertheless, she was forced to stand for many hours for two days before a board of male interrogators as they tried desperately to get her to admit her secret blasphemies. They accused her of violating the fifth commandment–to ”honor thy father and mother“–accusing her of encouraging dissent against the fathers of the commonwealth. It was charged that by attending her gatherings women were being tempted to neglect the care of their own families.[35]
Hutchinson was called a heretic and an instrument of the devil. In the words of one minister, ”You have stepped out of your place, you have rather been a husband than a wife, a preacher than a hearer, and a magistrate than a subject.“ In late 1637 she was condemned to banishment by the Court ”as being a woman not fit for our society“.[57] She was put under house arrest to await her religious trial.
I’ll skip the details of her eventual move to a Dutch settlement at Split Rock, where she and most of her children were massacred by the Siwanoy Indians. I want instead to highlight the Puritans’ reaction:
The reaction in Massachusetts to Hutchinson’s death was predictably harsh. The Reverend Mr. Weld wrote, ”The Lord heard our groans to heaven, and freed us from our great and sore affliction...I never heard that the Indians in those parts did ever before this commit the like outrage upon any one family or families; and therefore God’s hand is the more apparently seen herein, to pick out this woeful woman...“[89] Peter Bulkley, the pastor at Concord wrote, ”Let her damned heresies, and the just vengeance of God, by which she perished, terrify all her seduced followers from having any more to do with her leaven.“[90] Winthrop wrote, ”Thus it had pleased the Lord to have compassion of his poor churches here, and to discover this great impostor, an instrument of Satan so fitted and trained to his service for interrupting the passage [of his] kingdom in this part of the world, and poisoning the churches here...“[91] Further, he wrote, ”This American Jezebel kept her strength and reputation, even among the people of God, till the hand of civil justice laid hold on her, and then she began evidently to decline, and the faithful to be freed from her forgeries...“[91]
Like father, like son, eh? Calvin gloated over his part in having Servetus executed for disagreeing with him, and his spiritual descendants carried on the tradition of their father in gloating over the violent death of another dissenter. It was because of their actions and excommunication of Hutchinson that she was killed, and they were quite proud of themselves. Is this not a partial fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction in John 16:1-3?
I have told you these things so that you will not walk into a trap, for they will expel you from fellowship. Yet the time is coming when whoever kills you will think they’re serving God, and they will do these things to you because they knew neither me nor my father.
Those men certainly put the “grim” in Pilgrim. And these are the sorts of people today’s Calvinists gloat are ”the reason for the season“.

I for one am very grateful today, not only to be out of that hate-infested board, but to know that I was truly free to accept the free gift of salvation from God through nothing but faith in the crucified and risen Jesus, so that I could be adopted as God’s child and be with him forever. In spite of all that Calvinism teaches, the truth is that God does reach out to every human being, and in his sovereignty he allows each one to either take his hand or slap it down. Rather than the Stockholm Syndrome Calvinistic gratitude of being spared for no apparent reason from the torture decreed for others, Arminians can be truly grateful for the offer God makes through Jesus and honestly encourage others to accept it as well.

Of course I’m grateful to God for much more: my family, health, the opportunity to communicate online, and to live in these truly prophetic times. The counting of our blessings during the times of darkness and struggle are often what keep us from succumbing to despair. Having a purpose and goal in life, especially one that transcends it, is something only those in Christ can really have, because Jesus’ resurrection from the dead assures us that we too will live eternally. This doesn’t mean we never have to ”shake the dust from our feet" and leave toxic environments, but only that God has something more for us to do and we only need to watch and wait for it.

Posted 2011-11-24 under Calvinism, behavior, women, hypocrisy, debate, misogyny