Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Calvin, Servetus, and Arminius

Arminians typically assail the role of Calvin in the execution of Servetus. And they use this as a guilt-by-association tactic. But that raises an interesting question.

Arminius studied in Geneva. Indeed, he studied under Beza–Calvin’s handpicked successor.

Moreover, here’s what the Belgic Confession has to say about the duties of the civil magistrate:

“And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word” (Article 36).

Isn’t that a recipe for the persecution of heretics? As a Dutch-Reformed minister and theology prof., isn’t Arminius complicit in that system?


  1. And yet he never murdered anyone.

  2. And neither did Calvin.


    "And yet he never murdered anyone."

    I know it's hard for Arminians to be logical, but give it a try. There was no separation of church and state in 17C Holland. It was a theocracy. Arminius was both an employee of the church as well as an employee of the state. He was therefore complicit in the policies of the church and state which he voluntarily served. This isn't hard to figure out. Try again.