On August 13, 1553, an Aragonese (in modern Spain) natural philosopher was arrested in Geneva, Switzerland. This man, Michael Servetus, was accused by religious leader (and de facto head of the Geneva Republic) John Calvin of heresy. Servetus was a leading scientific and religious thinker of his time – a period when the two were not thought of as different. In some of his early work, Servetus questioned a core doctrine of both the Catholic Church and the leading Protestant movements of his time – the eternal trinity. Servetus argued that since Jesus Christ was God-made-man, he, as the Son, could not have existed eternally. Rather, he had been part of God (the Father) originally. As such, the Trinity was flawed. This belief, which may seem a lot like hair-splitting to a modern audience, led Servetus to question the legitimacy of churches that taught this belief.
Because of this, Servetus quickly came to the attention of the Spanish Inquisition, which no one wants to have happen to them since you never know when to expect them! Servetus fled to one of the only places in Europe he thought he would be safe – the Protestant haven of Geneva. While there, Servetus eventually came to Calvin’s attention for teaching ideas that ran counter to Calvinism – Servetus was now a condemned heretic by two Churches! Before his arrest, however, Servetus was able to publish one last work that would guarantee his place his history. In his work The Restoration of Christianity, Servetus described, for the first time, the circulatory nature of blood-flow. Exactly what you were expecting from a theologian, right? Servetus was executed by burning at the stake in Geneva in October 1553 at only 29 or 30 years of age.
Featured Image. “Michael Servetus.” By Christian Fritzsch (author) born in about 1660, Mittweida, Bautzen, Sachsen, Germany. – http://mcgovern.library.tmc.edu/data/www/html/people/osler/MS/P000d.htm, Public Domain.
Source: The Michael Servetus Institute.