Michael Servetus

Michael Servetus
was a devout Roman Catholic born of nobility and educated at Paris. At the youthful age of twenty, he wro
te and published the anti-Trinitarian book, On the Errors of the Trinity. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church deemed it heretical. Consequently, Servetus was in danger of being arrested by state-church authorities and either imprisoned or executed as an alleged heretic.

Servetus was a brilliant man who excelled as a linguist, editor, translator of classics, biblical exegete, and theologian. He was also briefly a university mathematics professor, inventor, and pioneer in geography. To avoid religious persecution, Servetus became a physician, changed his name to Dr. Michel de Villeneuve, and had a successful medical practice for many years in Vienna. He discovered and wrote about the pulmonary circulation of the blood a century before it was recognized by the medical community. Some historians regard this as his greatest achievement.

But when Michael Servetus was forty-two years of age, he published a larger book in his real name entitled The Restitution of Christianity. It got him arrested by the Catholic Inquisitors in Geneva, Switzerland. Then the pastors of Geneva, led by the leading Bible teacher of the Protestant Reformation, John Calvin, indirectly interrogated Servetus theologically for about two months and condemned him as a heretic worthy of death. The two main charges brought against Servetus were his opposition to infant baptism and the doctrine of the Trinity. He was tried by the state and executed by burning at the stake in a public demonstration on October 27, 1553, only for these two charges. His execution became a catalyst for the subsequent Age of Enlightenment, religious tolerance, and biblical criticism. Although Calvin objected to burning and preferred hanging as the means of execution, for the rest of Calvin's life he defended his role in the condemnation and execution of Servetus.

   
Yet, Michael Servetus in his writings affirms Jesus’ virgin birth, miracles, sinlessness, atoning death, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and future return. He even insists that Jesus is God, yet renders him subordinate in essence to God the Father. And he correctly states that the Christian apologists of the second and third centuries did too. Philip Schaff, a strong Trinitarian and eminent church historian, wrote of Michael Servetus’ demise. He describes it as “the most thrilling tragedy in the history of the Reformation.” He adds, “it is evident that he worshipped Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.”

The Restitution of Jesus Christ is so titled because of Servetus' book The Restitution of Christianity, which also began publication on September 29th, but in 1552. The word "restitution" means "the act of restoring to a person some thing or right of which that person has been unjustly deprived," which, in this case, is Jesus' true identity.

The images on the front cover of The Restitution of Jesus Christ are symbolic. The three t's in the word "Restitution" refer to Jesus' cross in the middle and the crosses of the two thieves (really murderers) crucified on either side of him. The falling blood droplets represent Jesus' shed blood. The ascending flames signify Michael Servetus being burnt at the stake. The blood droplets falling down through the fire to the name "Servetus the Evangelical" indicate that both Michael Servetus and Kermit Zarley are figuratively covered in the blood of Jesus and thereby belong to him.


 
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