Fun Facts From Church History: Geneva Asks Zurich for Its Opinion on Servetus

Calvin arguing with the first Emergent- Servetus

Calvin arguing with the first Emergent- Servetus

This letter was written and sent to Zurich by the Geneva City Council on 22 September 1553 and concerns the Servetus affair-

To the Burgomaster and Council of Zürich.
Geneva, September 22, 1553.

High and mighty Lords!—We know not if your Lordships are aware that we have in hand a prisoner, Michael Servetus by name, who has written and had printed a book containing many things against our religion. This we have shown to our ministers; and, although we have no mistrust of them, we desire to communicate the work to you, in order that, if it so please you, you may lay it before your clergy, together with the replies and rejoinders that have been made in connection therewith. We therefore pray you to be good enough to submit the documents now sent to your ministers and request them to give us their opinion of their merits, to the end that we may bring the business, to which they refer, to a close.*

Zurich, its clergy led by Bullinger and its council willing to accept his theological judgment, gave Geneva the green light (though Bullinger urged again and again that Servetus be persuaded of the error of his ways- if at all possible).  The cancer must be removed lest the entire body die.

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*Willis, R., M. D. (1877). Servetus and Calvin: a study of an important epoch in the early history of the reformation (p. 448).