Refuter of the Trinity doctrine: Spanish theologian Michael Servetus

The Catholic Herald (a UK publication) under the predictable title Heretic of the week: Michael Servetus, today published this interesting piece. History records that the famous and much celebrated Evangelical Christian John Calvin had poor Michael Servetus put to death for his adherence to tawheed (monotheism). He was burned at the stake.


Michael Servetus (1509-1553) was a Spanish theologian, scientist and scholar, who had a talent for meeting the rich and famous, and an ultimately unfortunate knack for annoying them.

He was born in Villanueva de la Sigena, Aragon, to a family of lower nobility. As a young boy, he studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew under Dominican Friars, and then went to the University of Toulouse. He then entered the employment of a Franciscan friar, Juan de Quintana, who in 1530 became confessor to Emperor Charles V. The imperial entourage toured through Germany and Italy, arriving at Bologna for Charles’s coronation by Pope Clement VII. The pontiff’s splendid household disgusted Servetus, who shortly thereafter left the imperial service, and declared for the new “Reformed” religion.

Of course, that new religion seemingly had as many forms as it had adherents: Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and many others were all proclaiming their own views very strongly. Servetus joined the throng of voices, rejecting infant baptism, predestination and the Trinity. Roundly condemned on all sides, he kept writing pamphlets. But in 1533 he went to Paris to study medicine. Five years later, he went to Vienne, from whence he also wrote religious tracts and corresponded with Calvin. Initially friendly, the tone of this correspondence grew increasingly shrill as their disagreements multiplied. Calvin at last broke it off and resolved that Servetus would have to die if he ever fell into Calvin’s hands.

Servetus’s pseudonymous anti-Trinitarian tracts were finally linked to him, and in 1553, the Inquisition connected him to his work. He was arrested but managed to escape and headed to Geneva. But instead of refuge, Servetus found himself again arrested; and Calvin had him burned at the stake. Oddly enough, in Transylvania, the British Isles and New England, the Unitarian churches all arose from disaffected Calvinists, as though giving Servetus the last laugh.


Categories: Catholic, Death, God, John Calvin, Theology

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10 replies

  1. I wonder if the Calvin apologist Ken is going to drop by and give us the usual drivel about Calvin’s (ahem) “attempts” to save Servetus’ life.

  2. ” John Calvin had poor Michael Servetus put to death for his adherence to tawheed (monotheism)”

    Servetus did not adhere to Tahweed. If anything, he was a modalist — he believed that the Father and the Son are just God manifesting himself in different ways (like modern day Oneness Pentecostals). He would have been condemned as a heretic in Islamic lands.

    An excerpt from his ‘ON THE ERRORS OF THE TRINITY’

    ““I do not separate Christ from God more than a voice from the speaker or a beam from the sun. Christ is the voice of the speaker. He and the Father are the same thing , as the beam and the light, are the same light. There is therefore a tremendous mystery in the fact that God may be united with man and the man with God. It is a surprising wonder that God has taken for himself the body of Christ in order to make his special dwelling.”

  3. This is also very good and balanced on the Servetus affair.

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