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Servetus & Calvin


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Calvin could not and would not have any other God than Him who gives
us life, who has ransomed us, and who sanctifies us — the Father, God
above us; the Son, God for us; the Holy Ghost, God in us. This threefold
relation with God, which Scripture revealed to him and which entirely
satisfied his inward longings, forced him to recognize a difference in God;
but on the other hand, unity being essential to the Deity, he was bound to
maintain it at any cost, and he thus felt himself constrained to embrace the
idea of a divine Trinity. Against this doctrine Servetus leveled his bitterest
sarcasms. The Spaniard rejected what he denominated an ‘imaginary
Trinity;’ he called those who believed in it ‘tritheists,’ or even atheists,
and abused them in coarse language. ‘Jesus is man,’ he said; ‘the Godhead
was communicated to Him by grace, but He is not God by nature. The
Father alone is God in that sense.’ He invited Calvin to a conference;
puffed up and charmed with his own system, he fancied himself certain to
convince the reformer, and flattered himself with the hope of making him
his fellow-laborer.

History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, vol. 3 p. 94;

Book 4 chapter 8


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Servetus on Trial

The scene revealed the man to his judges. The blasphemies which he avowed, and not less the haughtiness
with which he defended himself, shocked and revolted them. The Trinity he styled "a three-headed
Cerberus," a hell-hound." Some of the suppositions he made to discredit the Incarnation were simply
indecent, and we pass them by. "If the angels," he said, "were to take the body of asses, you must allow
they would be asses and would die in their asses' skins. So too you must allow that, on your supposition
being right, God himself might become an ass, and the Holy Spirit a mule. Can we be surprised if the Turks
think us more ridiculous than mules and asses?" Calvin truly divined the deeper error beneath these—the
denial of a personal God—that is, of God. "His frenzy was such," says the Reformer, writing to Farel,
"that he did not hesitate to say that the Divinity dwells even in devils. The Godhead is essentially
communicated to them as it is to wood and to stones." "What, unhappy man," replied Calvin, "if any one
treading upon this floor should say to you that he was treading your God under his feet, would you not be
scandalized at such an assertion?" He answered, "I, on the contrary, do not doubt but that this footstool, or
anything else which you may point out, is the substance of God." When it was again objected to him, "Then
will the devil actually be God," he answered with a peal of laughter, "And can you doubt it?"

Wylie, History of Protestantism, book 14, chapter 19.

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