“Whenever we hear news of a mass shooting, we expect the shooter’s life to follow a certain kind of biographical script. Perhaps he’s long suffered from mental instability. Perhaps he’s from a troubled home, with a long history of suspect behavior. Deprived of purpose and meaning, he’s drawn to dark thoughts and evil places. The pattern of radicalization is clear — evil actors are drawn to broken men, and broken men are prone to evil deeds. ….
This news hit home not just because the shooter is a Christian from a Christian family — and not just because he comes from an Evangelical church — but because he comes from my faith tradition. The OPC is a close cousin to my denomination, the much larger Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We’re both from the Protestant Reformed tradition, we’re both broadly Calvinist, and congregants often move from one to the other with ease. I have friends in the OPC.
So, what should Christians — specifically, Reformed Christians — do with this news?
Ever since we learned more about the shooter’s identity, an online fight has been brewing in Christian circles. The Washington Post tells a part of the story today, framing the conflict as a debate between those who believe the church has nothing to answer for versus those who “call for a moment of reckoning.”
Put me in the category of those who believe the shooting should be an alarm bell.
Let me be clear: Barring unexpected or highly unusual revelations, the alarm bell isn’t over the theology of the church or the illegitimacy of the teaching of the church. No reasonable person can survey OPC theology (or the theology of its Reformed cousins) and think for one moment that it countenances white supremacy, anti-Semitism, or white nationalism. No reasonable person could sit in the pews of any mainstream OPC church and think such a thing.
Blah blah blah …
John Earnest was an interesting mass shooter in at least one respect: I’ve never seen an evangelical mass shooter quote the Bible back at these Judeo-Christian Boomers and say, “My God understands why I did what I did.” It’s like he was throwing down the gauntlet at them:
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:24-25).
“I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham […] Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not” (John 8:37-45).
“For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins away: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Revelation 3:9).
Certainly, this is a new development.
The vast majority of White Nationalist mass shooters tend to be atheists or pagans or racial materialists who are lashing out to bring on the RAHOWA. Earnest attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church. It has been an awfully long time since we had Presbyterian terrorists.
What did John Calvin himself, who was the leading man of the Reformed tradition, have say about these issues? Did John Calvin sound anything at all like David French? What did John Calvin think about violence in the defense of the Reformed faith? Was John Calvin a cuckservative?
“[Women] will confess well enough with their lips that they must be in submission. It seems to them, however, that unless they enjoy total control, complete credence, and are part of every deliberation, then they are being subjected to insult and disdain.” John Calvin
“If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.” Deuteronomy:17:2-7
“The words, indeed, seem to be of wider application, i e, that no man should marry a wife, except of his own kindred; but the meaning of the law is to be sought from the cause which led to its enactment. Moreover, there is no doubt but that promiscuous marriages are here forbidden, in so far as they confound the order of hereditary rights.” Calvin’s commentary on Numbers 36
“No5 This decree also commends modesty in general, and in it God anticipates the danger, lest women should harden themselves into forgetfulness of modesty, or men should degenerate into effeminacy unworthy of their nature. Garments are not in themselves of so much importance; but as it is disgraceful for men to become effeminate, and also for women to affect manliness in their dress and gestures, propriety and modesty are prescribed, not only for decency’s sake, but lest one kind of liberty should at length lead to something worse. The words of the heathen poet are very true: (97) What shame can she, who wears a helmet, show, Her sex deserting?” Wherefore, decency in the fashion of the clothes is an excellent preservative of modesty.” John Calvin’s commentary on Deuteronomy 22:5
“But, in the first place, we must observe, that the Evangelists do not speak of events known in their own age. When the ancestry of Joseph had been carried up as far as David, every one could easily make out the ancestry of Mary. The Evangelists, trusting to what was generally understood in their own day, were, no doubt, less solicitous on that point: for, if any one entertained doubts, the research was neither difficult nor tedious.Besides, they took for granted, that JOSEPH, AS A MAN OF GOOD CHARACTER AND BEHAVIOR, HAD OBEYED THE INJUCTION OF THE LAW IN MARRYING A WIFE FROM HIS OWN TRIBE.” John Calvin
“…. delightful to every one is his native soil, and it is also delightful to dwell among one’s own people.” John Calvin Calvin’s Commentary – Jeremiah 9:2
“If princes demand that we turn from honor of God, if they force us into idolatry or superstition, then they have no more authority over us than frogs and lice do.” John Calvin
“Mules are the ADULTEROUS offspring of the horse and the ass. Moses says that Anah was the author of this connection. But I do not consider this as said in praise of his industry; for the Lord has not in vain distinguished the different kinds of animals from the beginning. But since the vanity of the flesh often solicits the children of this world, so that they apply their minds to superfluous matters, Moses marks this unnatural pursuit in Anah, who did not think it sufficient to have a great number of animals; but he must add to them a degenerate race produced by unnatural intercourse. Moreover, we learn hence, that there is more moderation among brute animals in following the law of nature, than in men, who invent vicious admixtures.” ~ John Calvin on Genesis 36:24
“But the notion that what ails the world [inseparably from sin] is confusion had much practical value for Calvin … Thus, when Calvin associated disorder with obscurity, he could conceive of correcting it by sharpening the contours of the various entities composing the world; once one thing has been clearly distinguished, physically or conceptually, from others, it can be assigned its proper place in the order of things … Thus he abominated ‘mixture,’ one of the most pejorative terms in his vocabulary; mixture in any area of experience suggested to him disorder and unintelligibility. He had absorbed deeply not only the traditional concern for cosmic purity of a culture that had restricted mixture to the sublunary realm but also various Old Testament prohibitions. Mixture, for Calvin, connoted ‘adulteration’ or ‘promiscuity,’ but it also set off in him deep emotional and metaphysical reverberations. He repeatedly warned against ‘mixing together things totally different.’ … The positive corollary of Calvin’s loathing of mixture was his approval of boundaries, which separate one thing from another. He attributed boundaries to God Himself: God had established the boundaries between peoples, which should therefore remain within the space assigned to them … ‘Just as there are in a military camp separate lines for each platoon and section,’ Calvin observed, ‘men are placed on the earth so that each nation may be content with its own boundaries.’” (William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait, p.34-35)
“Clearly then, Biblical law is designed to create a familistic society, and the central social offense is to strike at the life of the family. Adultery is thus placed on the same level as murder, in that it is a murderous act against the central social institution of any healthy culture. Unpunished adultery is destructive of the life of the family an of social order. On the part of the wife, it is treason to the family and introduces an alien loyalty to the home, as well as an alien seed.” (RJR, Institutes, The 7th comm., p.395)
“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent”. -John Calvin
19And Lamech took unto him two wives. We have here the origin of polygamy in a perverse and degenerate race; and the first author of it, a cruel man, destitute of all humanity. Whether he had been impelled by an immoderate desire of augmenting his own family, as proud and ambitious men are wont to be, or by mere lust, it is of little consequence to determine; because, in either way he violated the sacred law of marriage, which had been delivered by God. For God had determined, that “the two should be one flesh,” and that is the perpetual order of nature. Lamech, with brutal contempt of God, corrupts nature’s laws. The Lord, therefore, willed that the corruption of lawful marriage should proceed from the house of Cain, and from the person of Lamech, in order that polygamists might be ashamed of the example.” John Calvin
“Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.” John Calvin
“Prosperity inebriates men, so that they take delights in their own merits.” ~ John Calvin
“Now, we see, as in a camp, every troop and band hath his appointed place, so men are placed upon earth, that every people may be content with their bounds, and that among these people every particular person may have his mansion. But though ambition have, oftentimes raged, and many, being incensed with wicked lust, have passed their bounds, yet the lust of men hath never brought to pass, but that God hath governed all events from out of his holy sanctuary. For though men, by raging upon earth, do seem to assault heaven, that they may overthrow God’s providence, yet they are enforced, whether they will or no, rather to establish the same. Therefore, let us know that the world is so turned over through divers tumults, that God doth at length bring all things unto the end which he hath appointed.” John Calvin Calvin’s Comm. on Acts 17:26
“I have had much conversation with many Jews—I have never seen either a drop of piety or a grain of truth or ingenuousness—nay, I have never found common sense in any Jew.” —John Calvin, Commentary on Daniel 2:44
I’m one of the people who gave David French such a hard time back during the 2016 election. As the living embodiment of a sanctimonious virtue signaling cuckservative loser, he was one of our favorite whipping boys. I still have fond memories of roasting him and watching his meltdowns. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
I make no apologies either for skewering David French during the 2016 election. I had nothing to do with harassing him online or in real life. I just find it ironic the experience of trolling left such an impression on him. If he thought that was bad, can you imagine what John Calvin would have said about him? What would John Calvin have said about Nancy French carrying on a year long sexual affair with her family pastor and writing about that disgrace in The Washington Post or adopting a black child from Ethiopia and showing her off at CPAC 2012 in an “I only cry when Democrats hold me” t-shirt?
Has it occurred to David French what Geneva was like in John Calvin’s life under the Genevan Consistory? Has he thought about what France was like for Calvin’s followers during the French Wars of Religion? What about during the Thirty Years’ War? Calvinism has been tamed in 21st century America, but the legitimate article in Europe was nothing like it has become in our own times.
Note: Even as a Lutheran, I enjoy reading John Calvin. The real John Calvin sounds nothing like these Judeo-Christian Boomers.