The Trial of the 16th Century Calvin and Servetus by Jonathan Moorehead


In stock

CFP.  lfpb.  96pp.

A faithful examination of the role of John Calvin in the execution of Michael Servetus.

The execution of Michael Servetus (1511–53) is one of the most debated events in the life of John Calvin (1509–1564). It has left an indelible stain on his reputation, and unfortunately, the retelling of the story is often dependent on the historian’s relationship to Calvinism.

Jonathan Moorhead here seeks to give a faithful narrative of the role of John Calvin in the execution of Michael Servetus. He examines the life of Servetus, with emphasis given to his education, publications, and relationship with John Calvin. Moorhead also gives attention to the role of Calvin in Servetus’ arrests, trials, and execution.

Understanding the extent of Calvin’s power in Geneva at the time of the trial is critical to understanding the events, as is the context of executing heretics throughout history, and in particular, in the 16th Century.

This book will challenge readers to think critically about the ethics of telling history, the standards of properly judging previous generations, and the benefits of this study for the building up of the Body of Christ.

  1. Servetus’ Education and Publications
  2. Servetus’ Arrest and Escape from Vienne
  3. The Authority of John Calvin
  4. Servtus’ Arrest, Trial and Execution in Geneva
  5. Final Considerations
  6. Conclusion


In some ways the acid test for Calvin’s political theology is the infamous trial of Michael Servetus. For many who have considered Calvin’s involvement in the trial and execution of Servetus, this event seriously damages the integrity of the Genevan Reformer’s thought in their eyes. As Jonathan Moorhead capably shows, though, the case is much more complex. Moorhead’s monograph is an extremely helpful study of a significant event of the French Reformation and reveals how the history of such difficult and intricate events should be written.

Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

Additional information

Weight144 g
Dimensions13.8 × 0.8 × 21.2 cm
PublisherChristian Focus
AuthorsMoorhead, Jonathan