A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
by Fred G. Zaspel
(This is from the endorsement by Michael Haykin):
“In some ways the acid test for Calvin’s political theology is the infamous trial of Michael Servetus. For many who have considered Calvin’s involvement in the trial and execution of Servetus, this event seriously damages the integrity of the Genevan reformer’s thought in their eyes. As Jonathan Moorhead capably shows, though, the case is much more complex. Moorhead’s monograph is an extremely helpful study of a significant event of the French Reformation and reveals how the history of such difficult and intricate events should be written.”
Table of Contents
1. Servetus’ Education and Publications
2. Servetus’ Arrest and Escape From Vienne
3. The Authority of John Calvin in Geneva
4. Servetus’ Arrest, Trial and Execution in Geneva
5. Final Considerations
Imperial law provided for the execution of heretics, and this sentence was supported and practiced virtually universally in European Christendom (Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox). Calvin supported it also. In fact, Servetus himself supported the death penalty for heresy (defined in his own way, of course). Servetus violated the law with his heresy and in fact anticipated his eventual execution for some years.
Servetus sought to advance his heresy in Basel and Strasbourg and was expelled. During a second visit to Basel Servetus was again arrested but was released again because of his recantation.
At some risk to himself, Calvin went to Paris to meet with Servetus publicly in order to convince him of his error, but Servetus failed to keep the appointment. Servetus was arrested in Vienne (Catholics) and was sentenced to death by burning, but he escaped. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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