From: Way of Life Literature, The Protestant Persecutions
JOHN CALVIN IN GENEVA WAS A PERSECUTOR
1. Calvin enforced Christian doctrine and principles at the point of the sword. In October 1563, the Geneva government burned to death Michael Servetus for heresy. Servetus held unitarian views and was definitely a false teacher, but the New Testament nowhere instructs the churches to kill false teachers. Servetus’ death sentence was supported not only by Calvin, but also by Melanchthon in Germany and Bullinger in Geneva and by other Protestant leaders who were consulted about the case.
2. Other men were also put to death under Calvin’s tenure. “So entirely was he in favour of persecuting measures, that he wrote a treatise in defence of them, maintaining the lawfulness of putting heretics to death; and he reduced these rigid theories to practice, in his conduct towards Castellio, Jerom Bolsee, and Servetus, whose fates are too generally known to require being here repeated. At the council of Geneva, 1632, Nicholas Anthoine was condemned to be first hanged and then burned for opposing the doctrine of the Trinity…” (J.J. Stockdale, The History of the Inquisitions, 1810, p. xxviii).
3. In the days of King Edward VI of England, Calvin wrote a letter to Lord Protector Somerset and urged him to put Anabaptists to death: “These altogether deserve to be well punished by the sword, seeing that they do conspire against God, who had set him in his royal seat” (John Christian, A History of the Baptists, Vol. 1, chap. 15).
4. Historian John Christian observes that Calvin “was responsible in a large measure for the demon of hate and fierce hostility which the Baptists of England had to encounter.”
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