Calvin and Servetus

Below is a link to an interview I did last year,  on the Credo Podcast, hosted by Matthew Barrett, an interview that was prompted by my Calvin’s Tormentors. It’s been some months since I did the podcast, so I thought I would make sure that I added some items in case they didn’t make it to the final edits (though I don’t think the host would have cut anything). All-in-all, I great enjoyed my time with Prof. Barrett, and I wish him well in his efforts.

I hope you all enjoy it.

Did Calvin Murder Heretics?

The one point that I wish to make, as the itro to the interview implies I’m giving Calvin a pass, is that while Calvin had no vendetta leading up to Servetus’s arrival in Geneva, so that he’d go out of his way to persecute Servetus, nonetheless when he came to Geneva, Calvin bent his energies to make sure he never left alive. Calvin had already given such a warning to Servetus so that the Spaniard would not turn up in Geneva.

Once the trial had ended, the Magistrates of Geneva sent letters to the other Reformers, requesting their opinions on what should be done with Servetus. Calvin sent his own letters, encouraging them to return the harsh reply. In this regard, Calvin’s previous antipathy toward Servetus had turned to open and violent hostility.

This is the great black mark on Calvin in the whole affair.

There are, of course, other black marks to hold against Calvin, but these pertain to his doctrines and ideas, and of course are comments for another day.

About Gary Cyril Jenkins

Professor of History
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