Did John Calvin have Michael Servetus Executed?

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UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
113
#1
One of the first things that a Reformed person will face is the false narrative of anti-Calvinists regarding Michael Servetus.

The story is told in various ways.

However, the common story is that John Calvin murdered Michael Servetus. Some claim that he used green wood to burn Servetus at the stake.

The reality is that Michael Servetus intentionally placed himself into the hands of the Geneva Council by traveling through Geneva, and attending church at John Calvin's services. He did this, knowing full well that he was a wanted man.

Servetus was a heretic. He did not believe in the Triune God and taught other false things. There is some indication that he was involved in homosexuality, as well.

Over the years, Servetus tried to convert Calvin to his false belief system. Calvin discussed proper theology with him, but Servetus rejected it. Servetus wrote several letters to Calvin, criticizing orthodox teachings. He made himself a major pain in the butt and could be characterized as a stalker.

Servetus was wanted by the Roman Catholics and in areas other than Switzerland, as well.

So, Servetus was bold enough to travel to Geneva, and to attend John Calvin's church. He was recognized and thrown in jail. During the time he was in jail, Calvin encouraged him to repent of his heresies on a number of occasions.

Letters were sent to various other districts, to garner their view on what should be done with Servetus. In the end, the council decided to execute him. Calvin asked them to behead Servetus, but instead they chose to burn him.

Now, this may sound bad to us, but the reality is that it was commonplace at that time to execute heretics. Christians thought they were the kingdom of God on earth, so the separation between state and church was not so clear.

Despite popular myth, Calvin did not have him burned with green wood so the suffering would last longer. This is the type of mythology that is popularized by rabid anti-Calvinists like Dave Hunt.

Here is an audio that will give some support for these remarks:

https://thefreedthinker.podbean.com...story-matters-calvin-and-the-servetus-affair/

Despite this defense of John Calvin, I find the entire matter to be irrelevant. Either the Bible backs up the principles of Reformed theology, or it does not.

However, I will clearly state that there are many anti-Reformed people on this site who perpetuate errors regarding facts like this. Certain sectors of Christianity play the "telephone game". There is a hodgepodge of error and lies and misrepresentations which form common Christian "knowledge".

I strongly encourage people to read volumes on church history and educate yourself. Don't believe the folklore that passes for Christian history on this site. 2000 Years of Christ's Power by Nick Needham would be a great place to start. There is also a history of Christianity by Justo Gonzales that is decent, but I don't think it's detailed enough.

Whatever church history volumes you read, make sure you check out the reviews on Amazon, and see if there's a significant number of people who question the authors' integrity. Like anything else, historians can be biased in their views, too.
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
924
439
63
#2
Michael Servetus was a Puritan. He was burned at the stake, some say using green wood, so that the fires would last because green wood burns slowly.
John Calvin implored the Geneva Council, populated by many of his friends, to put Michael to death by the sword but the council refused.
October 27, 1553, Geneva burned Michael Servetus at the stake for blasphemy and heresy. From inside the flames and burning alive, Michael Servetus called repeatedly on Jesus, the Son of God for mercy.

How did this happen? One man, Michael Servetus preaching for a return to the purity of the faith, as a Puritan, burned at the stake for Heresy?
Because, in November of 1552 the Geneva Council declared Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion to be a "holy doctrine which no man might speak against." Disagreeing with Calvin’s view of God was a violation warranting the death penalty according to the way John Calvin interpreted Leviticus 24:16. [source John Calvin Killed Rival Theologians: Bad Bible Interpretation Justified It ]
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
113
#3
Michael Servetus was a Puritan. He was burned at the stake, some say using green wood, so that the fires would last because green wood burns slowly.
John Calvin implored the Geneva Council, populated by many of his friends, to put Michael to death by the sword but the council refused.
October 27, 1553, Geneva burned Michael Servetus at the stake for blasphemy and heresy. From inside the flames and burning alive, Michael Servetus called repeatedly on Jesus, the Son of God for mercy.

How did this happen? One man, Michael Servetus preaching for a return to the purity of the faith, as a Puritan, burned at the stake for Heresy?
Because, in November of 1552 the Geneva Council declared Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion to be a "holy doctrine which no man might speak against." Disagreeing with Calvin’s view of God was a violation warranting the death penalty according to the way John Calvin interpreted Leviticus 24:16. [source John Calvin Killed Rival Theologians: Bad Bible Interpretation Justified It ]
Some of the remarks here are simply not true, and come from guys like Dave Hunt.

I am sure Dave Hunt got them from anti-Reformed source documents, but they have been refuted after examining other accounts.

I would suggest listening to the audio.

Also, I would recommend that folks research the reputation of those who write the source materials. As a former member of a cult, I realized that their distorted view of church history relied on heretical source materials.

Servetus was an Anabaptist, and Anabaptists were a mixed lot. Some were clearly heretical, and Servetus denied the Trinity and was an annihilationist. He also held similar beliefs as the cult I belonged to, as a young man, including claiming he was restoring the true faith.

I don't think you can call him a Puritan.

I also mentioned that he was likely a homosexual. That was an issue that came up during the proceedings.

Heresy and homosexuality were crimes against the state at that time.

I really like this audio by Tyler Vela. He doesn't whitewash Calvin, but he doesn't engage in misrepresentations. He is a former atheist and is now an evangelical Christian. I think he is a pretty impartial person for doing this sort of analysis.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
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#4
I have also heard individuals claim that John Calvin had the hands of children cut off for theft. My understanding is that is a false claim too.
 

CharliRenee

Member
Staff member
Nov 4, 2014
4,609
5,263
113
#5
You wanna know one big problem I have with Calvin...

No, you don't? Dang you, lol.

Yes..ok here is my answer...

I have listened to calvinist talk more about John Calvin and His teachings than they do about Christ and His teachings. I was recently listening to a pastor at a convention praising Him, going on and on about how amazing Calvin was. I find that disturbing.

Glorifying King James or John Calvin seems like a waste of time when we could be glorifying Christ and His word.
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
27,117
5,643
113
#6
You wanna know one big problem I have with Calvin...

No, you don't? Dang you, lol.

Yes..ok here is my answer...

I have listened to calvinist talk more about John Calvin and His teachings than they do about Christ and His teachings. I was recently listening to a pastor at a convention praising Him, going on and on about how amazing Calvin was. I find that disturbing.

Glorifying King James or John Calvin seems like a waste of time when we could be glorifying Christ and His word.
The problem I have with Calvinists is that they say everything that happens has been set in motion/ordained by God but then they will turn around and complain about things people do as if they were not set in motion/ordained by God. This is clearly contradictory! According to the Calvinist view, it must logically follow that God is not only the author of evil, but that God ordains people to oppose Calvinism.
 

CharliRenee

Member
Staff member
Nov 4, 2014
4,609
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#7
According to the Calvinist view, it must logically follow that God is not only the author of evil, but that God ordains people to oppose Calvinism < very interesting... hmmmm, good point. 🤔
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
113
#8
You wanna know one big problem I have with Calvin...

No, you don't? Dang you, lol.

Yes..ok here is my answer...

I have listened to calvinist talk more about John Calvin and His teachings than they do about Christ and His teachings. I was recently listening to a pastor at a convention praising Him, going on and on about how amazing Calvin was. I find that disturbing.

Glorifying King James or John Calvin seems like a waste of time when we could be glorifying Christ and His word.
The real issue there is that anti-Reformed people attack John Calvin as a tactic on a regular basis. John Calvin and the Servetus affair is actually irrelevant to the doctrines of grace.

But that is one of their first lines of defense.

I agree that glorifying Jesus is the focus of biblical Christianity, but at the same time, anti-Reformed people address the Calvin/Servetus affair as a primary tactic. It has been brought up to me by at least two individuals in the month or so I've been here.

So, the issue is forced upon Reformed individuals because it is a primary point of attack, especially due to Dave Hunt and Leighton Flowers, and their attacks.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
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#9
The problem I have with Calvinists is that they say everything that happens has been set in motion/ordained by God but then they will turn around and complain about things people do as if they were not set in motion/ordained by God. This is clearly contradictory! According to the Calvinist view, it must logically follow that God is not only the author of evil, but that God ordains people to oppose Calvinism.
Actually I agree that God ordains people (and Satan) to oppose Reformed theology.

The reason is that defending their faith strengthens the resolve of Reformed people and makes them think deeper about their theology.

And, I think the same thing in regards to Christianity in general. It furthers the goals of the Gospel for believers to be persecuted. Those who are false believers abandon the faith upon severe persecution, thereby purifying the Church. It is also a witness to unbelievers for believers to suffer for their faith.

Persecution is actually a good thing for the faith.

In fact, it caused the Christians to spread out into various areas of the world when a persecution in Judea occurred, and this took the gospel to new areas.

So I would agree with you on that point.

I disagree that God is the author of evil, but he did ordain that Adam's sin would occur. He didn't cause Adam to sin, but he allowed it and it furthers his goal. One, mankind learns that they should have obeyed God, and that sin only results in death and suffering. Two, it allows for the full display of God's attributes, including his hatred for sin and his grace and mercy. Hatred for sin, in the fact that all sin is punished, and God's grace and mercy, in the fact that God himself atones for sin on the Cross.

But, you have to be able to think flexibly to understand how God decreed all of these things. He didn't actively decree some of the events, but he passively decreed them. He could have avoided sin by simply not creating either man or angels, but the end result will not be as glorifying to Him if he had done this.

So many people cannot reason past the end of their noses to discover these truths, though.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
113
#10
Satan and his persecutions are almost like shadow-boxing, as well. Satan will be defeated, but the fact that God allows his shadow-boxing to occur strengthens the elect. Victory is assured for the elect, though.
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
27,117
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#11
I agree that God's will encompasses the aspect of permission, but doesn't the Calvinist view move beyond that?

Thank you for your very reasonable response :)

My understanding is that God's will is permissive, moral, and sovereign :)
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
113
#12
Michael Servetus actually claimed that Satan was a manifestation of God, besides denying the Trinity.

He held a pantheistic view of God.

He was a crazy man.

It's funny how anti-Reformed people want to defend him. I guess in our day, where professing Christians can say just about anything with no repercussions, his execution seems rather harsh. I don't blame them for executing him.

This isn't God's world, though, so false teachings are of little concern.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
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#13
I agree that God's will encompasses the aspect of permission, but doesn't the Calvinist view move beyond that?

Thank you for your very reasonable response :)

In my view (an fyi) God's will is permissive, moral, and sovereign :)
It depends on the particular Reformed person, I suppose.

I'm pretty sure that my view would be very normal.

God decrees in both passive and active senses. If he doesn't actively decree something, he passively decrees it. Therefore, he is sovereign regardless of whether he actively decrees something or passively decrees it.

I don't believe in double predestination, but that the same time, I believe that God passes over the non-elect. This is a passive decree, for example.

The opposite view is equal ultimacy, which states that God actively decrees both the salvation of the elect, and the reprobation of the non-elect.

I don't think non-Reformed people would care for either my view or equal ultimacy, though. Knowledgeable Reformed people usually consider equal ultimacy to be a heresy.
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
27,117
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#14
It's funny how anti-Reformed people want to defend him. I guess in our day, where professing Christians can say just about anything with no repercussions, his execution seems rather harsh. I don't blame them for executing him.

This isn't God's world, though, so false teachings are of little concern.
I can't say I ever really heard of him before. I am more interested in what is true than in studying all kinds of falseness and error, including those who promote such things. Though it can be shocking when one first learns of the extent of the abuses perpetrated in the name of Truth and Christ, it soon becomes apparent that humans fall short and there are none righteous, no not one, so human nature is at fault once again. Still, for you to say you do not blame them for executing him? What happened to love your enemy and do good to those who persecute you? That is what Christ taught, after all :)
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
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#15
Servetus said he agreed he should be put to death if he was convicted for heresy, but called for the death penalty for Calvin if he was found innocent. It is obvious that Servetus was guilty of heresy, therefore he was put to death. I think he actually wanted to be a martyr anyways. He got his wish.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
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#16
I can't say I ever really heard of him before. I am more interested in what is true than is studying all kinds of falseness and error, including those who promote such things. Though it can be shocking when one first learns of the extent of the abuses perpetrated in the name of Truth and Christ, it soon becomes apparent that humans fall short and there are none righteous, no not one, so human nature is at fault once again. Still, for you to say you do not blame them for executing him? What happened to love your enemy and do good to those who persecute you? That is what Christ taught, after all :)
Their historical context is that they were the kingdom of God, and needed to enforce proper orthodox theology.

Therefore, I don't blame them for putting him to death. It was understandable.

Additionally, there are situations where dealing with your enemy in wartime is a practical necessity.

For instance, the initial motivation for the Crusades related to the Muslims, who were conquering Eastern lands and enslaving Christians. Christian children were used as soldiers to fight against other Christians as the Muslim plague grew.

Do I have any issue with Eastern Christians fighting against the Muslims? No. Nor would I have an issue if Christians in the USA fought against Muslim encroachment in the future.

In our society, I don't think we should put heretics to death, but their situation was different. There was no separation between Church and State in sacral systems. Within that context, spreading heresy was as immoral as sexual immorality or murder. I personally think that spreading heresy is more dangerous than either of those, because it can affect spiritual life. I don't know how many would view a heretic as being a person who could lead individuals to damnation.

I am Reformed so I don't think this happens ultimately to any of the elect, but at the same time, God uses both means and ends, and expects us to behave in a manner that protects the helpless.

By the way, if someone threatened my family, I would have no issue with shooting them. I would feel bad about it, perhaps, and it would be traumatic, but it needed to be done. It's like putting a mad dog to death. Same thing with heretics in their society. The government was in charge not only of physical well-being but spiritual well-being since it was a sacral system.

Maybe they should have banished him, but my guess is he would have found some way to return. He wasn't the sort of guy who gave up easily.
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
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#17
Here's a question though..which is more important to protect against?

Threats to our physical well-being or threats to our spiritual well-being?

Or, more specifically, threats to the spiritual well-being of children who have not came to faith yet?

If someone is a heretic, and is spreading false doctrine, in a society which is sacral, then isn't it appropriate to eliminate this threat?

Heresy in ancient Israel was punished by death, and this was a sacral system. Since the sacral system was in effect for a while in Europe, wouldn't it be just as appropriate to punish heresy by death?

I am pretty sure theonomists would agree with that reasoning, but few others would.

I'm not saying it's right, but it would be nice to live in a society where unbelievers did not exist. However, that isn't what God has ordained, and even within the church, tares are allowed to grow with the wheat. In fact, that is what God wants.

Still, Michael Servetus' execution doesn't disturb me very much. He knew better than to do what he did, and he intentionally flaunted his activities.
 

Whispered

Well-known member
Aug 17, 2019
924
439
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#18
Some of the remarks here are simply not true, and come from guys like Dave Hunt.

I am sure Dave Hunt got them from anti-Reformed source documents, but they have been refuted after examining other accounts.

I would suggest listening to the audio.

Also, I would recommend that folks research the reputation of those who write the source materials. As a former member of a cult, I realized that their distorted view of church history relied on heretical source materials.

Servetus was an Anabaptist, and Anabaptists were a mixed lot. Some were clearly heretical, and Servetus denied the Trinity and was an annihilationist. He also held similar beliefs as the cult I belonged to, as a young man, including claiming he was restoring the true faith.

I don't think you can call him a Puritan.

I also mentioned that he was likely a homosexual. That was an issue that came up during the proceedings.

Heresy and homosexuality were crimes against the state at that time.

I really like this audio by Tyler Vela. He doesn't whitewash Calvin, but he doesn't engage in misrepresentations. He is a former atheist and is now an evangelical Christian. I think he is a pretty impartial person for doing this sort of analysis.

You bear false witness against a man that was burned at the stake with the deplorable remark, "...he was likely a homosexual." ? When that was not why he was killed.
How awful of you. How terribly insensitive to make such a charge against a man who died screaming to Jesus for mercy from the flames that ate him alive.


How about this account? John Calvin was not pure as the driven snow in this affair. He did not ask that Servetus be spared, he asked that Servetus be afforded a milder death, by the sword, rather than the flames.

On the handling of Michael Servetus by John Calvin

19 Friday Apr 2013


One of the frequent arguments against Calvinism is John Calvin’s handling of the heretic Michael Servetus. The theology shouldn’t be looked down upon based on the actions whom it is named after though. (Calvin’s theology is not unique or original to Calvin, but rather he summed it up well.) Instead it should be weighed against the Bible. However, few seem to understand Calvin’s role regarding the heretic Servetus, or understand exactly why Servetus was executed.

I’ve had this note sitting in my computer for some time, though I didn’t write it I think it is valuable to share.


Short Version: 1. Calvin was not a citizen of Geneva, so did not have
the authority to kill or order the execution of Servetus 2. Calvin
risked his life to press Servetus to recant of his heresy, and press
for a milder death That (2b) did not happen, proves (1).

Long Version: Servetus was a heretic. He wrote a book in 1530 titled
“On the Errors of the Trinity.” To provide one quote, Servetus called
the Trinity “a three-headed Cerberus, a dream of Augustine, and an
invention of the devil.” One of the most famous church historians
Schaff, called Servetus “the most audacious and even blasphemous
heretic of the sixteenth century.”

Calvin responded in detail to many letters from Servetus, where
Servetus was trying to convince Calvin that the Trinity is unbiblical.
Calvin stopped replying as Servetus became insulting. Servetus then
went to Geneva with the intention of overthrowing Protestantism with
heresy. Servetus was arrested, given a 2 month trial, and found guilty
of blasphemy. The civil court found Servetus guilty, sentancing him
“to be burned alive, at a slow fire, till his body he reduced to a
cinder.”

Calvin pressed for a milder death; “I hope that Servetus will be
condemned to death, but I desire that he should be spared the cruelty
of the punishment” – John Calvin (a letter to Farel, 20.8.1553 &
“Tomorrow Servetus will be led out to execution. We have done our best
to change the kind of death, but in vain. I shall tell thee when we
meet why we had no success.” – John Calvin (a letter to Farel,
26.10.1553). Moreover, Calvin pleased with him to repent (risking his
own life to do so): “Would that we could have obtained a retractation
from Servetus” – Calvin & “I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do
I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold
you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity.” – John Calvin.

It was not a case of “Calvin thought the Mormon who lives down the
street should be killed”. It was “Calvin believed that an arroagant
heretic who despite warnings, came to Geneva to cause chaos in soceity
and overthrow and drive out the established religion and replace it
with damnable heresy, should be given a fair trial and pleaded with to
repent. If he came to Geneva to carry out his agenda, and did not
repent after a 2 month trial, then and only then, should he be put to
death in as less pain as possible.” Calvin supported ‘a’ death
Servetus, but Calvin himself did not give or carry out the punishment.


Here is what Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the
History of the Church at Oxford University, says about Calvin and
Servetus:

“Calvin was as clear as the Roman Catholic inquisitors in Lyon or the
papal Antichrist in Rome that Servetus must die. The Genevan city
authorities determined that the heretic’s fate should be the
traditional one of burning at the stake, and although Calvin would
have preferred a more mercifully summary method of execution, he did
not oppose the burning on October 27, 1553. Quite apart from his own
feeling that Christendom was under threat, there was a political
consideration: To show mercy would be to show weakness, and that would
encourage his enemies in Geneva just at a moment when they hoped to
triumph. He had ensured that there had been careful international
soundings among Protestants about the sentence: after all, the
legality of Geneva burning someone who had merely been passing through
the city was not immediately obvious.” — “The Reformation,” (Viking,
2004), p.238.

If this testimony by a leading historian of the Reformation is
dismissed because MacCulloch is an agnostic (which he is), then
perhaps the following testimony by Carl Trueman will be more
acceptable:

“That John Calvin burned Michael Servetus in Geneva is certainly true
but hardly the whole truth. Attention to the life and times of
Servetus reveals that he was wanted by Catholics as much as
Protestants, and that Calvin tried to have his mode of execution
changed to beheading as a small act of mercy. Without pardoning Calvin
or lessening the nastiness of what happened, Calvin’s actions were
simply not exceptional by the standards of the time, a point that
should temper our judgment of him.” — Ligonier Ministries on-line
article, “Fallacious History” by Carl Trueman at
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/fallacious-history/

Or perhaps Carl Trueman’s bold statement in his “History and
fallacies” (Crossway, 2010) p. 189:

“That Calvin was buried in an unmarked grave tells us much about how
he viewed his own significance in the grand scheme of things; and that
he was chief prosecutor of Michael Servetus tells us all we need to
know about how much Calvin himself valued original and unique
contributions to theology in his day.”

Fallacious History by Carl Trueman

Credits to Jonathan Williams for the first part and George S. Whitten for the second.
 

Magenta

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2015
27,117
5,643
113
#19
Their historical context is that they were the kingdom of God, and needed to enforce proper orthodox theology.
Both sides contended that they were in possession of proper theology :oops:

The real problem with Calvinism as I see it is that it promotes the idea that God will forever after punish those who refuse to make a choice that was never put before them. My understanding is that Jesus is drawing all to Him, and that the invitation is open to all, as a "whosoever will" believe. Yes, God draws and makes it possible, I do not contest that :)
 

UnitedWithChrist

Well-known member
Aug 12, 2019
1,126
567
113
#20
You bear false witness against a man that was burned at the stake with the deplorable remark, "...he was likely a homosexual." ? When that was not why he was killed.
How awful of you. How terribly insensitive to make such a charge against a man who died screaming to Jesus for mercy from the flames that ate him alive.


How about this account? John Calvin was not pure as the driven snow in this affair. He did not ask that Servetus be spared, he asked that Servetus be afforded a milder death, by the sword, rather than the flames.

On the handling of Michael Servetus by John Calvin

19 Friday Apr 2013


One of the frequent arguments against Calvinism is John Calvin’s handling of the heretic Michael Servetus. The theology shouldn’t be looked down upon based on the actions whom it is named after though. (Calvin’s theology is not unique or original to Calvin, but rather he summed it up well.) Instead it should be weighed against the Bible. However, few seem to understand Calvin’s role regarding the heretic Servetus, or understand exactly why Servetus was executed.

I’ve had this note sitting in my computer for some time, though I didn’t write it I think it is valuable to share.


Short Version: 1. Calvin was not a citizen of Geneva, so did not have
the authority to kill or order the execution of Servetus 2. Calvin
risked his life to press Servetus to recant of his heresy, and press
for a milder death That (2b) did not happen, proves (1).

Long Version: Servetus was a heretic. He wrote a book in 1530 titled
“On the Errors of the Trinity.” To provide one quote, Servetus called
the Trinity “a three-headed Cerberus, a dream of Augustine, and an
invention of the devil.” One of the most famous church historians
Schaff, called Servetus “the most audacious and even blasphemous
heretic of the sixteenth century.”

Calvin responded in detail to many letters from Servetus, where
Servetus was trying to convince Calvin that the Trinity is unbiblical.
Calvin stopped replying as Servetus became insulting. Servetus then
went to Geneva with the intention of overthrowing Protestantism with
heresy. Servetus was arrested, given a 2 month trial, and found guilty
of blasphemy. The civil court found Servetus guilty, sentancing him
“to be burned alive, at a slow fire, till his body he reduced to a
cinder.”

Calvin pressed for a milder death; “I hope that Servetus will be
condemned to death, but I desire that he should be spared the cruelty
of the punishment” – John Calvin (a letter to Farel, 20.8.1553 &
“Tomorrow Servetus will be led out to execution. We have done our best
to change the kind of death, but in vain. I shall tell thee when we
meet why we had no success.” – John Calvin (a letter to Farel,
26.10.1553). Moreover, Calvin pleased with him to repent (risking his
own life to do so): “Would that we could have obtained a retractation
from Servetus” – Calvin & “I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do
I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold
you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity.” – John Calvin.

It was not a case of “Calvin thought the Mormon who lives down the
street should be killed”. It was “Calvin believed that an arroagant
heretic who despite warnings, came to Geneva to cause chaos in soceity
and overthrow and drive out the established religion and replace it
with damnable heresy, should be given a fair trial and pleaded with to
repent. If he came to Geneva to carry out his agenda, and did not
repent after a 2 month trial, then and only then, should he be put to
death in as less pain as possible.” Calvin supported ‘a’ death
Servetus, but Calvin himself did not give or carry out the punishment.


Here is what Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the
History of the Church at Oxford University, says about Calvin and
Servetus:

“Calvin was as clear as the Roman Catholic inquisitors in Lyon or the
papal Antichrist in Rome that Servetus must die. The Genevan city
authorities determined that the heretic’s fate should be the
traditional one of burning at the stake, and although Calvin would
have preferred a more mercifully summary method of execution, he did
not oppose the burning on October 27, 1553. Quite apart from his own
feeling that Christendom was under threat, there was a political
consideration: To show mercy would be to show weakness, and that would
encourage his enemies in Geneva just at a moment when they hoped to
triumph. He had ensured that there had been careful international
soundings among Protestants about the sentence: after all, the
legality of Geneva burning someone who had merely been passing through
the city was not immediately obvious.” — “The Reformation,” (Viking,
2004), p.238.

If this testimony by a leading historian of the Reformation is
dismissed because MacCulloch is an agnostic (which he is), then
perhaps the following testimony by Carl Trueman will be more
acceptable:

“That John Calvin burned Michael Servetus in Geneva is certainly true
but hardly the whole truth. Attention to the life and times of
Servetus reveals that he was wanted by Catholics as much as
Protestants, and that Calvin tried to have his mode of execution
changed to beheading as a small act of mercy. Without pardoning Calvin
or lessening the nastiness of what happened, Calvin’s actions were
simply not exceptional by the standards of the time, a point that
should temper our judgment of him.” — Ligonier Ministries on-line
article, “Fallacious History” by Carl Trueman at
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/fallacious-history/

Or perhaps Carl Trueman’s bold statement in his “History and
fallacies” (Crossway, 2010) p. 189:

“That Calvin was buried in an unmarked grave tells us much about how
he viewed his own significance in the grand scheme of things; and that
he was chief prosecutor of Michael Servetus tells us all we need to
know about how much Calvin himself valued original and unique
contributions to theology in his day.”

Fallacious History by Carl Trueman

Credits to Jonathan Williams for the first part and George S. Whitten for the second.
Regarding the charge that Servetus was a homosexual:

At his trial, Servetus was condemned on two counts, for spreading and preaching Nontrinitarianism, specifically, Modalistic Monarchianism, or Sabellianism, and anti-paedobaptism (anti-infant baptism).[29] Of paedobaptism Servetus had said, "It is an invention of the devil, an infernal falsity for the destruction of all Christianity."[30] In the case the procureur général (chief public prosecutor) added some curious-sounding accusations in the form of inquiries—the most odd-sounding perhaps being, "whether he has married, and if he answers that he has not, he shall be asked why, in consideration of his age, he could refrain so long from marriage."[28] To this oblique imputation about his sexuality, Servetus replied that rupture (inguinal hernia) had long since made him incapable of that particular sin.

Regarding your articles, I would agree with the vast majority of it, but I don't think "Calvin burned Servetus" like Trueman claims.

It was the Geneva Council that executed him.

The rest seems accurate, though.

Ligonier Ministries is a sound organization, but I don't think it's accurate to attribute his death to Calvin specifically. Calvin was not the head of the Geneva Council who rendered the judgment.