Currently Reading: Did Calvin Murder Servetus?


Michael Servetus

Michael Servetus

Written by Standford Rives, Esq. , published 2008 is about 606 pages long.

Controversial and sure for a bashing from Calvinist. This is free ebook available from Thoroughly researched -with a lot of footnotes.

I will give my review when I finished it. However-it’s main theses is that Calvin haunted,prosecuted and have Servetus s executed because (from page 40 or 62 of the ebook) :

The printed text dealt with Calvin’s doctrine on infant baptism. 

Calvin believed an infant should be baptized, and this effectuates 

thereby entry of the child into the New Covenant.  Servetus’ 

handwritten note said: “Anyone who says one can be justified with-

out faith in Jesus has a demon.”  Servetus was an adamant sola-

fidist in the footsteps of the young Luther.  And by rejecting 

infant baptism, Servetus meant to uphold sola fide.

Proof this was the insult that particularly angered Calvin is 

that two years later, after Calvin deposited the original document 

with the Inquisitor’s office at Vienne, France, and hence it was no 

longer available to Calvin, he could still loosely quote it from 

memory. Calvin says in his Defensio of 1554 that Servetus “wrote 

with his own hand that the faith of demons reigned at Geneva; that 

we had no church nor God there; because, that by the baptizing of 

infants, we did disown Christ.”  In this 1554 exaggerated para-

phrase, we can still see the “has a demon” quote from documents 

Calvin had sent to the Inquisition at Vienne, France in March 1553, 

but which were only retrieved in 17479 by the scholar D’Artigny. 

Servetus’ harsh words were a sore and bitter pill that Calvin never 

forgot nor forgave. It is obviously what caused Calvin to remain 

angry with Servetus over the span of many years. The pursuit of 

Servetus unto death has no other primary explanation than revenge 

over personal insults made by Servetus of Calvin. ”

And that the accususation regarding being “antitrinitarian” is just meant to make sure that Servetus gets the capital punishment for blasphemy. The Justinian Codex is not in effect in Geneva and Servetus ‘sin’ is heresy-not blasphemy which Calvin keeps obfuscating before the Little Council.

This is damning evidence against Calvin. He is really truly just a  man-and not our Lord. But we should not throw his doctrine out immediately-but we must be cautious in using his words in explaining and maintaining it. We must remain within Scriptural bounds-especially about double predestination or reprobation.


Servetus Documentary

Servetus Documentary


15 responses to “Currently Reading: Did Calvin Murder Servetus?

  1. Standford Rives

    Thank you for getting the main points of the book. I hope you find the rest of interest.

    • May you please give me some of your background-theological,religious or whatever-for I am sure I will asked by my Reformed brothers and friends regarding this-you know-being objective and all that. But I find your book hardhitting-but due to the many notes and references-I cannot easily ignore it. Maybe you can add some reviews by a pro and con writer on your website. Thanks for sharing your book-it is enlightening-in fact so convincing that I need to check other sources through google book.

  2. Hi Ravro
    My view is Jesus is the divine Word of God, and Son of God. I am fairly traditional, although unexpectedly by studying Servetus’ points, I think I would not use the word Trinity, although I would not deny its reality either. That’s not the point of this book. Rather, I was troubled by doctrines my reformed pastor told me that God directs evil. It has been my unswerving passion to call this idea to account. I know Calvin teaches this, and this has influenced many of my reformed friends at the church I attended for over 10 years to continue in what I concluded was blasphemy. As you read Did Calvin Murder Servetus?, you will see my view toward the end is that this doctrine on evil by Calvin easily can explain his rationalization of hating and killing Servetus. It is my personal goal to cause this doctrine on evil to wither, and why I examined Calvin’s fruit so carefully in order that my friends no longer trust Calvin when he teaches something so evidently wrong.

    • I agree with you. I came to the conclusion that not all Calvin teaches is pure unadulterated teaching of the SCriptures. Though many of my friends and mentors will highly praised Calvin as exegete-I think it is his doctrine of covenantal baptism (infant baptism) that soured him and tainted his views-especially his Cosntantinian view of society and its implications-which is heresy-hunting and death forthe heretics. I became recently a New Covenant adherent (believer’s baptism and its implications) and still maintain the five points-but I am wary of formulations that are too extreme (Like of Beza, later Calvin,PRC and Supralapsarianism) . I am in the middle of re-assesing limited atonement. Though I believe that Jesus death’s intention cannot be atonement-I still see that it is not unworthy that His grace will be superfluous if He still acted for the whole world.

      But check this . It is a great help for me in seeing how God uses evil in this world -and there is not only one view regarding Sovereignity.

      Can we go on further online correspondence? Send me your email here in my blog-then I will not approve it for release-I will use it privately? I need a foil for my thoughts.

  3. Standford Rives

    Hi Ray
    Here is my email in the ‘leave a comment’ header.
    I believe God can and does use evil. Yet, that is different than saying God causes and orders and ordains Satan, and all evil. I demonstrate Calvin appended “but God remains above every taint” but this is just a deceptive means of inducing people to blaspheme God. I have a chapter entiled “The Hole in Calvin’s Conscience” to consider this point.

  4. Standford,

    I was wondering why Calvin’s book in defense of
    Servetus hasn’t been translated into English.

    It seems like his detractors would want this. It would also put to rest any question about quotes attributed to him from that book, e.g. the one about spitting in people’s faces.

  5. I should have said in the previous posting:

    “in defense of Servetus’ killing”

  6. Brian S. Baker

    All I can say is that “Did Calvin Murder Servetus?” is a fantastic book and it is well documented with over 900 footnotes. I knew Calvin murdered Servetus way back in the late 70’s but this book is excellent!

    • I am still a 5-point Sovereign Grace Adherent. Though the fact that Calvin premeditated and plan Servetus death as a heretic because of his comment regarding infant baptism-still shocks me. I have the whole Institutes with me and the commenatries and some of his writiings-and now I don’t look and read at it the same way after I read this book. Are you an Arminan or middle-of-the-road Christian?

  7. Providential1611

    Calvin had murder and hate in his heart. There is no way a man in this state, which according to John is a state of darkness and death, could have clearly seen the truth about the things of God. His doctrines are as dark and ungodly as his life and actions. Sadly, Calvin was an intolerant heretic, blasphemer and murderer. There is no softening what I say or white-washing it. Jacob Arminius was the precious shining light of that time AND he demonstrated he fruit of the spirit and great patience throughout his life, even though Calvinists lied about him constatntly and persecuted him. He chose to abide in the Vine, which is Christ, and walked in the Spirit, unlike Calvin and his followers, who were some of the meanest, petty, spiteful “christians” in history. Only Papist behaved worse.

    • I am a Calvinist. Not that I follow the five points because John Calvin taught it-but because the Scriptures taught. If Calvin was intentional in his hate and ill will against Servetus (which led to his sentence) then he is culpable/ guilty of murder in his heart.
      If he died -with this sin- unrepentant -then he is liable to the fires of hell. Much of the evidences culled by the author points to it-but I cannot say convincingly and with finality regarding this matter. I am not God -neither are you. Let us be reticent and prudent about the eternal state of person/s. We live now in more tolerant and enlighten times-where heresy is no longer a social and political threat to the established order and the physical existence of the church.
      However his doctrines or teachings which was derived from the Bible always points to the graciousness of God’s grace and the depravity of man-whoever it may be. Those doctrines does not excuses man because he is now a sinner-in fact Arminianism does. Arminianism wants man to be not responsible to his depravity because he is already a sinner.Arminius and his disciples wants him to be free without regard to the flaw in his nature-in so far that he can and will willingly accept or reject God’s supposed overture of prevenient grace. He is also free to be in and out of the state of salvation.
      If modern chrsitians faults calvinism with rigidity and dourness- I will say that modern day Arminians are too naive to trust man’s heart for his salvation. All i can say-I believe-but Lord help my unbelief. We can only remain faithful because of the sovereign grace of God. And we will always show the proof of our election because his grace works in us.
      I understand your fear and trepidation-brother-But this teachings and doctrines is meant to guard the trurh that Grace is grace. Are you afraid of that-if you are in the arms of the Savior? Greatfulness is the proper response for these.

  8. Hi Ray,
    The moral aim of my book was not to call into account the five points. Instead, there is one doctrine that caused Calvin’s contemporary pastors at Berne and Bullinger in Zurich to say blasphemy was being spoken. It was Calvin’s doctrine on evil. Calvin taught that God directs and is not passive about evil. It is in the Institutes. I challenged the pastor and my Reformed colleagues bluntly on this point. They each came back, and told me they believed it. I concluded that the only way to justify this was Calvin’s books had a greater authority in their minds than Scripture. James tells us that God neither tempts anyone to evil, nor can be tempted to evil. For a full discussion, see page 433 et seq of my book, “The Hole in Calvin’s Conscience.” I never discuss the 5 pts, but Calvin’s doctrine on evil is indeed abominable. PS I never say Calvin was lost. I don’t know. I say if he died in the state of mind he had at various points, then the Bible says an unrepentant murderer is damned. God bless.

  9. I am not responding to you Stan but Providential1611. He states “His doctrines are as dark and ungodly as his life and actions. Sadly, Calvin was an intolerant heretic, blasphemer and murderer”-thereby connecting his heart condition with his doctrines. You might be right about some pastors or Reformed believers -for them Calvin is a saint. I know now better since I am also not for statist infant baptism which was the real cause of the ill will of Calvin (being called a demon or with demon spirit) towards Servetus. I am not so sure what drives Calvin regarding this. Was he afraid that Catholics and conservative Protestants -like Zwingli will marginalized Geneva if they believed in believer’s baptism? I believe in the 5 points because I think it safeguards grace as grace-and not mere response of God towards some remaining goodness in man.
    Personally I see myself God -in his mind letting man takes his course after the fall of man-and then reacting through history intervening in the lives of men -when he saves and transforms them. In the end -the Lord Jesus will be glorified as he shows that it is really Him the hope of every man. But the fall out are not all men will be saved. There is a necessity for it-though not iron clad. So I am infralapsarian. Through a short study of the Gospel of John I realized that God’s glory is reflected in glorifying the Son-the Son’s glory centers upon his real rescue and intervention in the lives of specific men and women.

  10. Was David saved? Yes because we know it by hindsight. But during his sin of murder and adultery-if we were there-he is not a real believer. But that is in the Old Covenant.
    There are better things promised in the New Covenant. Jesus is the guarantor for it. Can a true believer sin impudently and irresponsibly? Hope not! The Lord’s name is blasphemed by such arrogance.
    And yet I know -we, believers -are not perfect either. Sin is still sin-whether small or big. We do need his constant guarding in our lives.

  11. maybe we need to define evil-as is used by the Bible and by Calvin and by his followers?

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