Dialogue on Jihadist & 16th Century Calvinist Iconoclasm (vs. David Scott)

Dialogue on Jihadist & 16th Century Calvinist Iconoclasm (vs. David Scott) October 7, 2013
Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht – Protestant  Iconoclasm still in evidence [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license]




This exchange is derived from a discussion about a link I posted on Facebook (9-27-13): an article entitled, “Islamists Burn Statues and Crosses in Syrian Churches.” I made a remark when I posted it: “If they keep this up they’ll be as bad as the early Calvinist iconoclasts who smashed stained glass, statues (including of Jesus), crucifixes, even organs, ridiculously whitewashed walls . . .” That didn’t go down well with Dave Scott, a Protestant Facebook friend, so we had a vigorous discussion about it, and I challenged him to back up one of his particular (rather outrageous) claims (haven’t heard back on that, as of this writing, ten days later). His words will be in blue.

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Of course there’s no mention in this thread of how like Jesus the RC authorities were at the same time. Statues and buildings can be rebuilt but no excuse for murder from either side. I think what radical Islamism proposes, in terms of destruction, far exceeds the anti-idolatry zeal of the Proddies.  

Even that is debatable. Catholicism has survived in places like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq, whereas it is virtually nonexistent in places like Sweden [1% of the population], Denmark [less than 1%], Norway [1.6%], and other long-since Protestantized countries. So Protestants were more successful in wiping it out locally (and even often more intolerant) than Muslims have been.

Only in England can we see the abomination of a man who simply held the faith that was the norm in England for a thousand years, having his heart torn out while he is still alive, and intestines slowly extracted from his body . . .

Which is why we should be healing rather than justifying the past … old skins etc.

I was simply noting a fact of what Calvinists did to Catholic churches (Catholics — or even Lutherans — weren’t going around decapitating statues of Christ, etc.). Our churches and monasteries were also stolen by the thousands by the Protestants (especially in England). Luther himself lived in an old convent, for heaven’s sake. Nice free rent there . . .

Just statues man, really. There were no Protestant ‘extras’ to destroy so it’s a bit one-sided in its possibility. What was worse was the atrocities on both sides.

You miss the point again. I made a simple comparison to the historical fact that the early Calvinists used to do exactly what the jihadists are doing now (i.e., what was mentioned in this article). They murdered, too (the Anabaptists, who were simply taking the Protestant principle of private judgment and supremacy of the conscience to a further extent than Calvin and Luther did).

Catholics killed folks, too (of course, ho-hum). But again, I submit that there is more manifest hypocrisy for Protestants to do so because of:

1) the myth that they were supposedly “tolerant” in a way that Catholics supposedly were not.

2) the myth that they were “reformers” of the inexorably, irredeemably corrupt Catholic Church (that had forsaken the gospel and adopted Pelagisnism, etc. etc., ad nauseum) and were, thus, supposedly of a much higher spiritual caliber (which Luther denied many times).

3) their recent origin, that made it ridiculous for them to claim to be preeminent authorities on anything, let alone agents of God’s wrath, etc.

I miss the point? No, I think you decontextualise because you’re trying to elucidate the wrongs of Calvinism but history does not happen in a vacuum. I’m not bothered about “myths” but re 1, I think if you were to count numbers you’d find that Protestants were relatively more tolerant.

re 2 no, they were men caught in their time, trying to do a better job than a ‘decadent’ central Church was doing at the time in terms of raising the standard.

re 3 again, the Holy Spirit is crucial, time and tradition can be rendered useless and idiotes agrammatos can be elevated. God does the elevating.

My query is whether either denomination acted as Jesus would have had them act and that both have done the Gospel a disservice in many ways …. and, crucially, have advanced it in many good ways too.

“So Protestants were more successful in wiping it out locally” – or the people were more disposed to the Protestant form of ministry. One could say the same of a lack of Protestantism in some Southern European countries and thereby liken the RC authorities to religious fanatics.

Yep, they fanatically wiped out the paganism that preceded Catholicism in those areas: a bit different from wiping out apostolic Christianity.

Survival may have meant dhimmitude in the countries you mention – the Protestants may not have been recognised as “Christians” and executed instead.

Neither has attained Jesus’ standard in behavior, for sure (which we would fully expect, given biblical teachings about the sinfulness of men). But the Catholic Church alone has maintained apostolic doctrine and morality in their fullness, which suggests an extraordinary protection from the Holy Spirit and outpouring of God’s grace that is singular (though not exclusive).

. . . and thereby has drifted further and more abhorrently from its revealed truth?

“Only in England can we see the abomination of a man who simply held the faith that was the norm in England for a thousand years, having his heart torn out while he is still alive, and intestines slowly extracted from his body . . .” a reference to?

Hanging, drawing, and quartering. See massive documentation on my web page: “Protestantism: Historic Persecution and Intolerance.

As for “only in England” … I have my doubts !

Dave ‘they’ also fanatically wiped out millions of people who didn’t agree with them … that is the historical context. The LORD is broad-shouldered enough to cope with any denomination that honours Him.

OK Dave, you’ve published – but how selective have you been?

Extremely selective. I dealt solely with Protestant atrocities, precisely because we rarely if ever hear about them. I was “balancing the record”: as I have explained countless times when I get this garden-variety objection.

How objective have you been?

In reporting the facts, pretty objective (in expressing my disdain for all this, not at all). But as I said, I was deliberately documenting Protestant stuff.

HDQ precedes Protestantism – it’s how Wallace died. It was, if you wish, an RC practice – personally I think it has nothing to do with Jesus.

St. Edmund Campion (as an example), was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on December 1, 1581, during Elizabeth’s reign. He was a martyr along with at least 311 others in her reign that I have documented.  

If I think that you, as a Church, are corrupt and not properly feeding me Jesus then if I try to go somewhere else but that’s not an option because ‘you’ are everywhere else ten what is wrong with seeking the LORD in an assembly that is free from the politicking and excesses of the time?

If the LORD was not with it it would have failed after a very short time.

That’s disproven by the rapid success of Islam when it began: overtaking Christianity in most of the places where it spread.

Islam is not bearing the LORD’s name or claiming to be authoritative on Him. He would have snuffed out Protestantism if it was contra His Grace. 

He doesn’t have to. It has largely snuffed itself out, by its perpetual process of becoming liberal and forsaking its own historic doctrines over time.

as the RC Church had done in its time … and continues to do so in some of its branches. Selective polemic again Dave – your prerogative because its your your thread.

But what is true in it (and that is a lot of it) is blessed by God. It’s just sad that so much error is also taught in the name of Protestantism.

Islam exists by virtue of His permissive will as it does not advance the Gospel.

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“Dave ‘they’ also fanatically wiped out millions of people who didn’t agree with them … that is the historical context.”

Great. Prove that from reputable historians. Thank you.

Define “reputable” … ones that advance your theories?

One who is renowned among his peers in his field. Good luck! I don’t envy your task at all. But we all wait with baited breath.

Don’t wait “with baited breath” …. or with sarcasm, or first person plural since the latter makes you appear …. well, you fill in the blank

Since you have a head start on the subject matter … try [link]. I’ve just downloaded it and will go looking for lacunae myself. 

Now get to work and document how Catholics killed “millions” who disagreed with them.

As to your ‘command’/exhortation perhaps you should research the RC killings and I’ll do the Protestant ones – planks from own eyes perhaps – more pleasing to the LORD? … and done in a spirit of confession and reconciliation?

Nice try at diversion. You made the claim about my Church; now back it up or shut up about that and never say it again. If it’s true, you can document it from historians. If it isn’t, you have borne false witness, which is serious sin.

Aggressive Dave, and it was not diversion but maybe your declination was. Is it “your” Church or is it the LORD’s. [?]

I am God! Didn’t you know that? I couldn’t have possibly meant it in any other sense, such as, e.g., “I am a member of this Church; it is my Church.”

False witness can also be a sin of omission, no? Are you saying there were no RC atrocities? 

You don’t read very well. Scroll up.

I read okay Dave, I also re-iterate, as do you. Of course I got the sense – doh ! 

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Were they more or less extensive than the Protestant ones? The RC Church is not made more righteous by Protestant atrocities and vice versa – both are to our shame. 

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Yes Dave, I live here, I know of the wars here and in Europe – we still have legacies of it.

I’m sure there are Catholics martyrs just like there were Protestant ones – did the Church of Rome behave radically differently? = No.

I have no problem with you elucidating Protestant atrocities especially if your target audience is unaware of them. Maybe in Europe we’re a bit more versed in the atrocities of both/either sides because of the legacies we have lived with.

However in a post about Islam, you could have said Christian atrocities or at least delineated the different rationales.

Considering iconoclasm itself, there ain’t much. The Muslims picked up their iconoclasm from Monophysites and other heretics who had adopted that false notion. Calvinists later picked up the same motifs and revived them.

1) Muslims smash statues and crosses because they don’t believe an image can represent God or bring His actions to mind.

2) Calvinists smashed statues and crosses (and don’t have statues in their churches or crucifixes) because they don’t believe an image can represent God or bring His actions to mind.

Not much difference there that I can see. The immediate rationale is the same. I have talked to Calvinists today who think that crosses are idols. I wrote a paper about it: “Calvin, Zwingli, and Bullinger Regarded Statues of Christ and Crucifixes as Idols (Calvin Also Rejected Bare Crosses)”.

Calvin also thought musical instruments in church were idols (this is why Calvinists smashed organs; fortunately Bach was a Lutheran).

Destroying Christ’s reputation was not the Protestant agenda.

Correct. They only went after statues or stained glass that portrayed our Lord, who is the “icon of the invisible God”, and crucifixes that recall to mind what He did for all of us, so that we can be saved. For these guys, those were bad things, and that is wickedness: calling good evil.

Not as wicked as killing people who differed from you.

No kidding. No one is saying it was. That was never the topic of this thread (which is iconoclasm).  

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I don’t know if some historian could actually prove how many churches were smashed like this by Calvinists compared to the Muslims. We know that many thousands of Catholic churches were subjected to it in the 16th century. There had to be more church buildings in Europe at that time compared to in Egypt and Syria now, where Christians are a tiny minority. So that being the case, Calvinists likely (I would guess) destroyed (in the iconoclastic sense) more in sheer numbers.

Calvinists stole churches after they smashed all the best art in them, whereas Muslims usually destroy them altogether, but sometimes they convert them to mosques (e.g., Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, that I have a picture of on the top of my Facebook author page).

I’m not condoning vandalism – which is what it was … and many spiritual places were destroyed in Scotland and Ireland. However, idols/statues can always be rebuilt, recarved …. unless you’ve got the gift of Resurrection then neither side should have been killing anyone which if either side had … then I doubt they would have done as they did.

Context Dave – which came first -the ‘desecration’ of idols/statues or the killings?

Must go – happy to parley a bit later !

Have a good one.

[the debate continued on vigorously in the comments of my Facebook cross-posting of it; we were joined by Anglican Church historian Edwin Tait, who agreed with my protest against the ridiculous notion of “millions” being murdered by Catholics. I discovered that Dave Scott’s initially posted source in favor of his contentions was not a historian at all, and was a young earther. Hardly impressive . . . ] 

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