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Posts Tagged ‘Theocracy’

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1563) French
reformer
Martin Luther was the lightening of the Protestant Reformation and Calvin provided its thunder.
Born as John Cauvin few theologians have had more influence on Western Christian thought and culture than he. He was only eight when Luther nailed the 95 theses upon a Wittenburg church door. Within 30 years he would come to spearhead the reformation. Born to a Roman Catholic family of means, Calvin was schooled in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, philosophy, and law in Paris, Orleans and Bourges. When John went to Paris the reformation was very much in the air and his conversion was anathema to Church and state. He took refuge in Switzerland from where he became the voice for a new moral order. He was at first expelled from Geneva but the city was fated to have him for better or worse. Fiercely doctrinaire he was God’s ‘angry man who spoke harshly on every lapse he found there.

Around 1533 he had what he later described as “conversion,” and by 1534 religion had become foremost in his writing and work. In Basel in 1536 Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion, a six-chapter catechism that grew to 80 chapters by its final edition in 1559. It is widely regarded as the clearest, most systematic treatise of the Reformation. Calvin’s is the most famous presentation of the much debated doctrine of predestination: that God decided, before creating the world, who will and will not be saved. After years as a minister, writer and leader in Geneva and then Strasbourg, Calvin returned to Geneva and resumed efforts to make the city a model Christian community, in part through tight restrictions on individual and social behavior and by the scrutiny (and punishment) of citizens by church and civil authorities. Thus Calvin’s name is often connected with grim moral austerity and denial of pleasure, though this is probably an unfair oversimplification of his theology. Calvin’s influence went as far as Scotland via John Knox and also to the New Word where Jonathan Edwards was America was his follower.
In 1559 Calvin founded what is now the University of Geneva… A prolific writer, Calvin differed from Luther on key theological points, including the nature of the Lord’s Supper. The two were a generation apart and never met… Some scholars attribute capitalism to Calvinism’s influence. Among the first was Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) Hi teachings seemed to assure a richman that wealth was part of God’s plan and a virtue rather than a sin. ‘In God we trust’is on every cent that for GOP come to mean ‘In God and Mammon we trust.’

Calvin married Idelette de Bure in 1540; she died in 1549. Their only child, Jacques (1542), died as an infant.
One blot on his otherwise austere life was the 1553 trial, conviction and death by burning of Michael Servetus for heresy.

benny

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Hung Hsui-Chuan January 1, 1814 – June 1, 1864)
He was the son of a village headman of the Hung clan of the Hakka tribe. As a child he was precocious( he was able to recite the Four Classics after five or six years) but with no means to advance himself. He became a tutor to other children in his village and continued to study privately. He took the local preliminary examinations and came first, but at the age of 22 in 1836, he realized his further progress to enter the government service was blocked. Success in examinations required a bribe to the examiners. Thwarted in his ambition he fell ill. In a delirious state he saw visions that he was taken to the ‘Thirty-Third Heaven and the Venerable-in-Years gave him a mission to destroy the demon worshippers on the earth. When Hung had recovered from his fever he was altogether a new man. A chance encounter in Canton with Christian missionaries from London Missionary Society,  gave him new direction.  While reading the book of Genesis his earlier vision took on new significance. The Venerable –in Years of his dream had become the Creator of heaven and the earth. His curious theology was a mixture calculated to win over most supporters. (Do we not see similar mix and match of doctrines in many of the cults around us?
As luck would have it the Opium War (1839-1842) broke out around this time and it showed the hated Manchu regime was almost on its last legs. Manchus were Manchurian Tartars, foreigners while south of the Yangtse there were many who yearned for bringing back the defunct Ming rule.
The Taiping Rebellion was spearheaded by a school teacher who saw visions and who knew his time and place. By any standard this episode was as extraordinary as it was disastrous for the land where Hung intended to usher in Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace or ‘Taiping Tien-Kuo’ .
As a consequence of acting on his vision, more people are said to have perished than in the WWI, either by death in action or massacre or by starvation resulting from the foraging armies of one who called himself Tien Wang or Heavenly King. Heavenly visions unfortunately can only be attempted on the earth by wading knee deep in violence as his life amply demonstrates.

Where there is no vision people perish; so would they if they conceal theirs in someone else’s vision. I have a vision myself to live my life reasonably well, neither too rich nor poor. Well my vision is still keeping me. I trust not another to take care of my vision as I would. Another may turn out to be a crook or downright cuckoo.
benny

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