John Calvin Personally Admits to Killing Servetus

, posted by Ben Henshaw

Calvin apologists take different approaches to defending their theological hero with regards to the Servetus execution. One such approach is to say that Calvin was not culpable for the killing of Servetus, since he did not personally have the power or authority to put him to death. Unfortunately, for the Calvin apologist who takes this approach, Melanchthon and Calvin (who makes use of Melanchthon’s pronouncement in his own defense) would disagree. Calvin writes,

Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster. (emphasis mine)

Therefore, Calvin was proud to take personal credit for “purg[ing] the church of so pernicious a monster [as Servetus].”

Writing in 1561 to the Marquis Paet (chamberlain to the King of Navarre), Calvin said,

Honour, glory, and riches shall be the reward of your pains; but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels [Anabaptists and others] , who stir up the peoples to revolt against us. Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard. (emphasis mine)

Therefore, Calvin was proud to take personal credit for having “exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard.”

So much for that defense.

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