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Joined: 2005/7/8
Posts: 53

 The religious assassination of Michael Servetus

Greetings friends:

This is one of the crowning legacies of the man by whom many take pride in calling themselves by. The man that I'm refering to is none other than, Mr. John Calvin. The pre-meditated murder of Michael Servetus is wellknown and recorded for posterity. John Calvin wrote a letter to a friend that if Michael ever appeared in Geneva, that he would make sure that he would not leave it alive. I wonder if the Lord Jesus proscribed the burning of those considered heretics in the New Testament? What is even more incredible to me is to see his disciples and religious descendants white-wash his wickedness with all kinds of ridiculous reasonings for why he did what he did as if he were just in the murder of a man who happen to disagree with him. This is what happens in any religious man-made system when it is in control such as Calvinism; those who are of a different belief and understanding have to die. It was unfortunate though that Michael Servetus was not smart enough to avoid a fatal visit to Geneva where John Calvin presided as a sort of pope. Michael even came to a Church to hear John Calvin preach when he was apprehended by the authorities. John Calvin seemed to go into some sort of a religious ecstasy at the knowledge that now, finally, he would see his murderous desire fulfilled on Michael Servetus. John Calvin proposed that Michael Servetus should be executed with the sword (not because of any humane considerations), but he wanted the civil authorities to do so to make it seem to the public that Michael Servetus was an enemy of the state. But this suggestion was refused and Michael Servetus was instead burned at the stake proving to all who are willing to face the truth that this was a religious killing at the instigation of John Calvin. John Calvin jeered and derided with contemptuous joy at the sufferings of Michael Servetus as he cried out in the pangs of death. This shows the preditorial nature of a man-made religious institution when it is in control; those who disagree must suffer.

 2010/9/25 0:02Profile

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2077

 Re: The religious assassination of Michael Servetus

For the record I begin by forthrightly stating that I am by no means a calvinist. John Calvin is not my hero nor am I his follower or disciple. I may and do believe some of what he taught and believed which is according to the testimony of the Word of God. Many others would say the same and yet not call themselves calvinists either.

Although I have begun by stating the above most will assuredly ignore this and assume I am a calvinist. The very thing that they accuse calvin and calvinists of(i.e. a murderous spirit),they themselves are guilty of, as the hatred in their hearts foams out as they malign with malicious words and murder in their hearts.

Jimotheus says, "John Calvin seemed to go into some sort of a religious ecstasy at the knowledge that now, finally, he would see his murderous desire fulfilled on Michael Servetus. John Calvin proposed that Michael Servetus should be executed with the sword (not because of any humane considerations), but he wanted the civil authorities to do so to make it seem to the public that Michael Servetus was an enemy of the state."

Jimotheus also says, "John Calvin jeered and derided with contemptuous joy at the sufferings of Michael Servetus as he cried out in the pangs of death."

These two statements above are more than mere fabrications but rather outright lies to instigate more hatred toward this man Calvin and those who believe some of the truths this man promoted from the Word of God.

Swiss biographer Emanuel Stickelberger recounts Calvin's last words with Servetus, based upon firsthand accounts of their prison meeting, shortly before the latter's execution:

"Filled with emotion [Servetus], the other [Calvin] spoke lovingly to him,"Believe me, never did I have the intention to prosecute you because of some offense against me. Do you remember...", he spoke now with a tender voice and not in a tone of reproach, ", in danger of death, I wanted to meet you in Paris sixteen years ago in order to win you to our Lord? And afterwards when you were a fugitive was I not concerned to show you the right way in letters until you began to hate me because you were offended by my firmness? But let's not talk about me, nor of the past! Are you thinking of asking forgiveness of the everlasting God whom you have blasphemed on so many occasions? Are you thinking of being reconciled to the Son of God? If you deny that He became man as we are, you are destroying the bond of brotherly union which binds us to the Saviour, you are destroying our only hope . . .

Calvin looked expectantly into the eyes of the one doomed to death - now, now the moment must come in which the angels in heaven rejoice!

But Servetus shook his head. Indeed, he spoke a different language now. Not one more unkind word could be heard from him. But he retracted nothing ..." (Calvin: A Life by Emanuel Stickelberger)

It is interesting to note -- as even Calvin's harshest critics admit – that while his good friend Farel accompanied Servetus to his execution, pleading with him to ask God's forgiveness and be reconciled, Calvin remained home . . .on his knees. Calvin was in prayer for the man who would have had him killed to make way for an anti-Christian revolution in Geneva. And, Calvin was not perplexing himself about whether Servetus was one of the elect,he was entreating Servetus to do something: repent and believe!

"The man of God has been charged with despotism. That is quite understandable: because he was an enemy of excess he has been made an enemy of freedom. No one opposed the ethical and social anarchy which threatened the sixteenth century,and which has infested every century that did not know how to defend itself against it, more resolutely. This courageous battle of Calvin is one of the greatest services he performed for freedom. For freedom has no more dangerous enemies than immorality and anarchy.Of course when it comes to the means to check these evils, he does not stand above his century, which in all communities with one accord attacked them with he heaviest penalties. One who errs in the knowledge of God is accountable to God alone. When man makes himself God's avenger, our conscience revolts. Three hundred years ago people had not advanced this far - the most superior spirits in some ways are always subject to human frailty. Nevertheless, during a famous affair when a wretched individual, whose doctrine threatened the community, stood before the secular court of Geneva, one lonely voice in all of Europe was raised on behalf of the accused, demanding mitigation of the sentence of Servetus. It was the voice of Calvin." (Merle D'Aubigné - History of the Reformation)

The testimony of the father of arminianism, by whose name the system calls itself, had this to say about the man John Calvin,

"Next to the study of the Scriptures, I exhort my pupils to pursue Calvin's commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms then Helmick himself, for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scriptures, and his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that handed down to us by the library of the Fathers. so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, as rather above all other men, that may be called an eminent gift of prophecy." (Jacobus Arminius)

Some more testimony of what the poster calls,"his[Calvin's] disciples and religious descendants"

The American historian Richard Bancroft called the Pilgrim Fathers "men of the same faith with Calvin." He also noted that "The Pilgrims were perfectly at one with the Calvinistic Churches in the Netherlands, and elsewhere."

For the more politically-minded and patriotic Americans,

John Endicott and John Withrop of Massachusetts; Thomas Hooker of Connecticut; John Davenport of the New Haven Colony; and Roger Williams of the Rhode Island Colony were all Calvinists. William Penn was a disciple of the Huguenots, the French Calvinists.

To list the names of those who'd not be ashamed to be called Calvinist would be too long a list and quite unnecessary. But in reply to the posters ignorant claims and derision of christians of this rank I'd but name a few of the prominent stalwarts of Christ's Kingdom,

C. H. Spurgeon - The Prince of Preachers
John Owen - The Prince of the Puritans
Jonathan Edwards
David Brainerd
William Carey
George Whitefield
John Bunyan

These would also agree with Calvin,

The Waldenses
John Wycliffe
John Huss
Jerome of Prague
William Tyndale
John Foxe
Thomas Bilvey
John Hooper
Thomas Cranmer
Nicholas Ridley
Hugh Latimer

Some Hymn-writers

John Newton
William Cowper
Augustus Toplady
Phillip Doddridge
Horatious Bonar
Isaac Watts

Some Commentators and writers

Matthew Henry
John Gill
Thomas Goodwin
Thomas Manton
John Brown
John Trapp
J. C. Ryle
Charles Simeon
Christopher Ness
Richard Sibbes
Robert Leighton
Jeremy Taylor
James Buchanan
Arthur Pink


Robert Murray M'Cheyne
D. Martin Lloyd-Jones
Christmas Evans
John Flavel
Benjamin Keach
Jeremiah Burroughs

Other Notables

Stephen Charnock
Thomas Chalmers
John Howe
John Ryland
Abraham Booth
Andrew Fuller
Alexander Carson
Augustus H. Strong
Charles Hodge
A. A. Hodge
B. B. Warfield
William G. T. Shedd
John A. Broadus
John Bradford

And a host of others

I will follow this post with some words of the accused in his own defense... John Calvin himself.

Bless God all ye His saints

 2010/9/25 9:00Profile

Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7497


Ezekiel 3: 18-21: (NASB)
18 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.

19“Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.

20“Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.

21“However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.”

Ezekiel 33:13: NASB

13 When I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered; but in that same iniquity of his which he has committed he will die

I am not aware that Jesus nor his disciples ever nullified this principle. Very serious principle - one that should evoke within us a sense of the Holiness of God.

Sandra Miller

 2010/9/25 11:37Profile

 Re: The religious assassination of Michael Servetus

"The burning of Servetus - let it be said with utmost clarity - was a deed for which Calvin must be held largely responsible. It was done in spite of Calvin, as some over-ardent admirers of his are wont to say. He planned it beforehand and maneuvered it from start to finish. It occurred because of him and not in spite of him. Aftere it had taken place Calvin defended it, with every possible and impossible argument." Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, p. 51.

View of non-Calvinist historians is unanimous.
non-Calvinist Lutheran historian, John Mosheim *1694-1755), judged in favor of Servetus. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8, p. 684.

The English Historian Gibbon said, "I am more deeply scandalized at the single execution of Servetus than at the hecatombs which have blazed in the Auto da Fes of Spain and Portugal. The zeal of Calvin seems to have been envenomed by personal malice and perhaps envy." Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 3, p. 314.

Baptist historian William Jones, who acknowledges "many doctrinal sentiments in common with Calvin", said: "I strenuously deprecate every attempt to palliate the enormity of Calvin's conduct." William Jones, The History of the Christian Church. vol. 2, pp. 238, 239

Calvinists that acknowledge John Calvin's guilt.

When all is understood, admirers of Calvin must still look upon it with shame. John Thomas McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism, p. 347

In our judgment Calvin was guilty of sin. John Bratt, Teachings of Calvin, p. 41

There can be no doubt that Calvin beforehand, at the time, and after the event, explicitly approved and defended the putting him to death, and assumed the responsibility of the transacation. William Cunningham, Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, pp, 316-317

Gregg Singer says of Calvin, "However much Calvin respected Augustine and the other early Fathers, he looked beyond them to the Scriptures which were, for him, the infallible rule of faith and practice." Singer, John Calvin, His Roots and Fruits, p. 7

"Therefore, Calvin's conduct in the matter of Servetus is inexcusable if what the Calvinists say about him is true, for no Calvinist today would hardly advocate that the persecution of "heretics" was scriptural - whether by the State or the Church". Laurence M. Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, p. 100

From Calvin himself:

I hope the sentence of death will at least be passed upon him; but I desire that the severity of the punishment may be mitigated. Letter from Calvin to Farel, August 20, 1553, in Calvin, Letters p. 159

He will be led forth to punishment to-morrow. We endeavored to alter the mode of his death, but in vain. Why we did not succeed, I defer for the narration until I see you. Calvin quoted in Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8, p. 783

However, the reason for this was that Calvin wanted Servetus executed as an offender against the State. Hughes, in seeking to exonerate Calvin, informs us that "the death penalty was imposed by the civil authorities." Philip E. Hughes, The Register of the Company of Pastors of Geneva in the Time of Calvin. p. 18

The historian Leonard Verduin, writing for the Calvin Foundation, explains why: "Calvin wanted Servetus eliminated as an offender against the civil order. Death by fire was for offenders in the area of religion. Hence, Calvin's concern in the matter." Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Step-Children, p. 52

Verduin further comments on Calvin's "plea of mercy",

Some have tried to make something of the fact that, late in the trial of Servetus, Calvin put forth an effort to have the man destroyed in some other way than by fire. However, the fact that Calvin was not opposed to exterminatio in the case of Servetus, merely against the proposed mode. Death by fire had been the punishment for heretics for more than a millennium, and Calvin, realizing that death for heresy was becoming questionable in the public mind, would have preferred execution by a means in which the sedition aspect rather than the heresy aspect of the man's deliction would stand out. In Calvin's mind, the one still implied the other - heresy implied sedition. Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Sarasota: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1976, p. 207

"If carried out, Calvin's plea would ensure escaping the blame for the deed, not proving that he was being merciful, as some of Calvin's defenders attempt to prove." Laurence M. Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, p. 96

"It is truly ironic that Servetus was burned in effigy by the Catholics and in actuality by the Protestants." Laurence M. Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, p. 91

Michael Servetus' last words were: "O Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have pity on me!" Michael Servetus, quoted in Bainton, Hunted Heretic, p. 153

 2010/9/25 13:10

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4529


Hi Savannah...


C. H. Spurgeon - The Prince of Preachers
John Owen - The Prince of the Puritans

I don't know if even these men would have liked being referred to as "the prince of..." in regard to their ministry. In addition, we would really need to look at the teachings of ALL of these men before we align them up with John Calvin. After all, many of these men sharply disagreed with many of their various doctrinal views (at least, in practice). For instance, John Bunyan would hardly be considered a "Calvinist" in the modern connotation of the word (especially if you read PILGRIM'S PROGRESS or GRACE ABOUNDING).

The point?

John Calvin was just a man who had a few interesting theories. These theories are still being discussed and debated today. His behavior, as recorded in history, was quite dark and sometimes sinister. Still, he was just a man with his own theories and opinions about certain theological issues with which some people agree and some people disagree.


 2010/9/25 13:23Profile

Joined: 2005/7/8
Posts: 53



Thank you for posting the true history concerning John Calvin, and not the white-washed version of those who want to cover up the fact that John Calvin the pope of Geneva was in fact, a murder. It is totally irrelevant how I personally feel about John Calvin. This does not in any way change the facts concerning who this individual was, and his blood-lust for those who opposed him. It doesn't matter how I comb my hair; how I brush my teeth; what cologne I wear; what my shoe size is, nothing about me has nothing to do with the facts of history. It doesn't matter what my motives are when it comes to the truth of the matter. Secondly, I do not care about any list of great preachers who call themselves, "Calvinist." That is between them and God. I was simply pointing out the fact that many choose to refer to themselves by this man's name, and that I found it unfortunate in light of the true history behind Geneva's most famous religious figure.
ccchhhrrriiisss: I appreciate you comments on this as well. Your reply was sharp, and straight to the whole point. I want to say also that I am not an, Arminian, nor do I care to be. These names and titles will mean nothing on the day of Judgment. But I will say this for Mr. Arminius; he never had anyone who disagreed with him assassinated. John Calvin said after the death of Michael Servetus,

"Many people have accused me of such ferocious cruelty that (they allege) I would like to kill again the man I have destroyed. Not only am I indifferent to their comments, but I rejoice in the fact that they spit in my face."


"Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt."

And hear is one of the most damning statements from the pen of John Calvin himself. THIS IS FROM HIS OWN PEN;

"Honour, glory, and riches shall be the reward of your pains; but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels, who stir up the people to revolt against us. Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard."

This is a recorded statement from Calvin on the Servetus affair is a 1561 letter from Calvin to the Marquis Paet, high chamberlain to the King of Navarre.

So, let the record show that what I have posted is not, "lies" as some may accuse.

 2010/9/25 13:58Profile

Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7497


One of the most tragic things that happened during the Reformation is how the reformers themselves had their opponents martyred and felt they were doing God's service, namely Martin Luther King and Ulrich Zwingli.

The irony of it all is that it appears God used Luther and Zwingli to bring about revival in Europe. And that in behaviors Luther and Zwingli were not a whole lot better then the Catholics!

One can see in retrospect how God will use people, especially those with sinful behaviors to further his kingdom.

One can debate until doomsday about the contribution these men made to the God's affairs but to what avail? God is the judge of men and I am content to leave it at that.

Sandra Miller

 2010/9/25 14:26Profile

Joined: 2010/8/30
Posts: 449
Paradise, California

 Re: The religious assassination of Michael Servetus

Greetings friends: This is one of the crowning legacies.....

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8


 2010/9/25 16:16Profile


btw, it is Martin Luther. MLK wasn't born until the last century.

The irony of it all is that it appears God used Luther and Zwingli to bring about revival in Europe. And that in behaviors Luther and Zwingli were not a whole lot better then the Catholics!

So you truly believe that though Luther and Zwingli were monsters, they were great bearers of the true faith?

Could you say such a thing about the apostles? God forbid. Luther was a flaming heretic. As was his enemy Zwingli.

They were not ministers of revival unless you are talking about revival of dangerous heresy.

 2010/9/25 16:24


Thank you for posting the true history concerning John Calvin, and not the white-washed version of those who want to cover up the fact that John Calvin the pope of Geneva was in fact, a murder.

So why would anyone consider themselves a "Calvinist"?

Why would anyone be proud to be a part of the reprobate sect of King Henry VIII?

Why would anyone be honored to be called by the name of the anti-Semite heretic and blasphemer Luther?

Can one Lilly be found in this mud puddle?

 2010/9/25 16:27

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