Michael Servetus (1509/11-1553) was a Spanish theologian who was executed at the command of Protestant reformer John Calvin in Geneva. He was a very well-rounded man. Besides being a theologian he was the first European to correctly describe pulmonary circulation. He also studied math, astronomy, meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine, jurisprudence, foreign languages and poetry. In other words, he was a real over-achiever, the kind who got wedgies in school.
As a theologian he got himself into severe trouble with both Catholics and Protestants by denying the Trinity, a foundational Christian doctrine. Servetus made a major miscalculation which caused him his life. Since his denial of the Trinity got him in hot water with Rome, he decided to go to Geneva where he figured that Calvin, also an enemy of Rome, would welcome him with open arms. In reality Calvin welcomed him with an even warmer greeting. He had him burned at the stake.
Servetus, who lived in Vienne, sent Calvin's book back with marginal notes. Calvin responded by writing back: "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." Things escalated from there.
Meanwhile back in Vienne, Catholic authorities arrested Servetus for heresy but he managed to escape. So, of all the places he could have gone to, what city does Servetus pick? Uh, Geneva. OK, to quote Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York City, "When I make a mistake, it's a beaut!" Not only that, but on 13 Aug 1553, he decides to attend a sermon by Calvin. He was immediately arrested, imprisoned and had his possessions confiscated.
- Calvin College: The Servetus Controversy http://www.calvin.edu/meeter/resources/servetus.htm
- Wikipedia: Michael Servetus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Servetus
© 2016 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.