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Who was Michael Servetus?

Abbreviated Chronology

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September 29, 1509 or 1511 Born in Villaneuva de Sijena, Spain

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1522 or 1524 Sent to University of Zaragoza or Lerida (age 13)

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1525 or 1526 Sent to University of Toulouse (age 16) 3 yrs to study Law

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1526 Entered service of Juan de Quintana, Franciscan friar and doctor of University of Paris

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October 1530 Visited Johannes Oecolampedius in Basel

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May 1531 In Strassburg; Met Martin Bucer and Fabricius Capito

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July 1531 Published book, De Trinitatis erroribus

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1532 Published pamphlet, Dialogorum de Trinitate libro duo plus treaties, De lustitia regni Christi capitulaa quatuor

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1534 In Paris studying medicine; also as professor of mathmatics

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1546 Describes pulmonary circulation in Christianismi restitutio

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January 1553 Completed printing of Christianismi restitutio

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April 4, 1553 Imprisoned in Vienne

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June 17, 1553 Escapes from prison

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August 13, 1553 Imprisoned in Geneva

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October 27, 1553 Burned at the stake in Geneva by John Calvin

The first time I was introduced to Michael Servetus, I was a student at ABI, in St. Paul, MN. I suppose that my spiritual life was a little lukewarm? At any rate, there were some services that attendance was required and others that it wasn't. I had begun to find excuses to miss the non-required services, it usually started out as homework, and then progressed to skating, going to the mall, etc. It was on a non-required Tuesday night Bible study when I decided to go on down to Church. I arrived late and had barely sat down when Bro. Sabin began his study. His opening statement was: "In 1553, Michael Servetus was burned at the stake for what I am going to teach to you tonight." I really don't remember much else that was said that night. The Spirit was working in my heart. How could I say that I loved the truth, if I looked for ways to avoid hearing it? Would I die for the truth? Would I live for the truth? It's easy to say you'd die for it when you live in country where you enjoy religious freedom and feel free to proclaim your belief. But what about living for God every day. To truly die out to self? I guess this is one of the reasons I have been drawn to study a little bit about him. Also, later while at ABI, our class did a drama on the trial and death of Servetus entitled, "Oneness Martyr." I acted in the drama (Germain Colladon, attorney for the prosecution) and assisted with some of the research for the drama and found myself intrigued by it.

Servetus was truly a remarkable man. His genius extended to many fields of human endeavor: jurisprudence, mathematics, meteorology, geography, astrology, philosophy, medicine, theology, and Biblical criticism, listed in increasing order of his preference. In speaking of his knowledge, it was said, "Servetus was in intellectual endowments undoubtedly the peer of the greatest men of his century." "He remains one of the greatest minds in human history, one who contributed to universal culture."

Servetus had two brothers. One was a notary like their father, and the other was a Catholic priest who later was used to try and lure Servetus to the inquisition. In 1558 to appease the disgrace of heterodoxy of it famous member, the Serveto family erected an altar in the parish church of Villaneuva.

Servetus education began at an early age, especially in languages, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He first read the Bible at age 15 and by age 20, had dissected it in its original languages, and compared it to the teachings of the Church Fathers and wrote the book, "On the Errors of the Trinity." When I consider my educational advancements, and those of our generation, it seems we are too preoccupied with entertainment, (TV, video, sports, playstations, etc) to truly progress academically!

We live in a world where people doubt their beliefs and believe their doubt! To find someone who will truly stand for their belief is a rarity! To be saved from the stake Servetus only had to state, "Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God." Instead his last words were: "Jesus Christ, Son of the eternal God." He remained true to his convictions even in the face of the flames. While I may not agree with every detail of Servetus teachings, by making the stand he did, he championed for us today the beginning of freedom of conscience. Some of the very principles that our great nation was founded on!

 

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ęCopyright 2001 Randall D. Hughes