Regarding the Belief that John Calvin 'Murdered' Servetus
Our "ill-informed"  Arminian friends, like Ante Pavkovic , Dan Barker , Jimmy Swaggart (1935-)  and Tom Lessing , love to accuse John Calvin (1509-1564) of "murdering" Michael Servetus (1509-1553).
In the words of Tom Lessing:
"It is a man made doctrine and the sad thing is that this man was a mass murderer. Whoever in his right mind would support any present day serial killer who is apprehended and put in jail or hanged for his atrociities? Would you? And yet Calvinists support John Calvin?" 
Before I respond, let me make one thing very clear: Most modern-day Calvinists, like myself, do NOT support Calvin in all he believed and did. We simply agree with five of his confessions, namely Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and the Perseverance of the Saints.
In other words, we have no problem 'disowning' Calvin, while still agreeing with much of what he said - in very much the same way, as we would condemn the atrocities of King David, King Saul, and Moses, to name but a few, while not tearing Exodus, First and Second Chronicles and First and Second Kings from our Bibles.
The Heresies of Michael Servetus
Servetus rejected the Divinity of Christ [2|9], the Doctrine of the Trinity [2|9] and Infant Baptism ; while endorsing Astrology [2|9], Pantheism  and Semi-Pelagianism .
The Arrogance of Michael Servetus
Servetus referred to the Catholic Pope as the "vilest of all beasts, most brazen of harlots" ; and Calvin as "the Pope of Protestantism" , "a sorcerer, which should be imprisoned, [and] banished from Geneva" 
The Loathing of Michael Servetus
As a direct result of his heresies and insults, Servetus was loathed by both, Catholics and Protestants.
The Legal Penalty for Heresy
During the early 1500s, both Public Law and dominant sentiment, demanded the Death Penalty for heresy.
Both Calvin and Servetus, "was raised in an era, when heretics could normally be put to death ... something which the Catholic Church has done since the Fourth Century" .
Servetus's Support of the Death Penalty
Servetus himself believed, "that incorrigible obstinacy and malice deserved death before God and men" :
In his twenty-seventh letter to Calvin, "Christianismi Restitutio", on page 656, he writes:
"Hoc crimen est morte simpliciter dignum, et apud Deum et apud homines." 
He speaks there of the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, who were "incorrigibiles, in malitia obstinati" .
Calvin refers to this admission of Servetus, and charges him with inconsistency. 
Calvin's Dislike of the Death Penalty
Calvin, however, did not approve of this penalty, and as a result pleaded for banishment.
Convicted by the French Inquisition
Servetus was first convicted for heresy, by the French Inquisition. However, he managed to escaped.
Calvin Warned Servetus Against Geneva
Calvin warned Servetus not to come to Geneva, because he would not be welcomed by either, the Church or the Geneva City Council.
Servetus Ignored Calvin's Warning
Servetus ignored Calvin and traveled to Geneva anyway.
Servetus Arrested, Tried and Sentenced
Servetus was arrested and given a fair trial that lasted almost two months.
During his trial, "Servetus claimed that Calvin was a heretic" , who "should be banished from Geneva and his property given to Servetus" .
The Geneva City Council, consisting mainly of Libertines opposed to Calvin, called him as a witness against Servetus.
Servetus was sentenced to be burned at the stake.
Servetus would have been convicted even if Calvin had not been called as a witness.
Calvin Pleaded for Alternate Execution
Calvin pleaded with the City Council to employ a more painless form of execution, namely decapitation.
Unfortunately, the Geneva City Council refused Calvin’s pleas.
Servetus Burned at Champel
On the 27th of October, 1553, Servetus was burnt at Champel with the approval of all the Reformers, as well as the Catholic Church.
Servetus was the only heretic ever executed for blasphemy in Geneva under Reformed auspices.
Some folks have pointed out, that Calvin 'admitted to killing Servetus'.
In the words of Tom Lessing:
"Grant Swart's rebuttal of Calvin and his murderous activities is not very convincing. I can quote you many things he said, admitting that he had killed Servetus." 
In 1561 Calvin supposedly wrote to the Marquis Paet, High Chamberlain to the King of Navarre:
"Honour, glory, and riches shall be the reward of your pains; but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels [Anabaptists and others], who stir up the peoples to revolt against us. Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard." 
There is, however, "some question as to its authenticity" , since the letter it came from is said to be riddled with "historical inconsistencies" .
In 1562, nine years after Servetus' execution, Calvin defended his actions against the reproaches of Baudouin, saying:
"Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster." 
Yes, "Calvin never regretted the part he played in the case of Servetus, any more than a puppet prosecutor regrets the part he played in securing the punishment of a notorious criminal" .
In conclusion, "if we consider Calvin’s course in the light of the sixteenth century, we must come to the conclusion that he acted his part from a strict sense of duty and in harmony with the public law and dominant sentiment of his age, which justified the death penalty for heresy and blasphemy, and abhorred toleration as involving indifference to truth. Even Servetus admitted the principle under which he suffered; for he said, that incorrigible obstinacy and malice deserved death before God and men." 
IF you are reading this off-line, please visit us on-line to view the embedded videos.
1. Tom Lessing. In Response to a Facebook Wall Post by Somerset Morkel (Facebook; 11 January 2013) ✔
2. Grant Swart. The Truth About Calvin and Servetus (For the Love of His Truth; 22 May 2012) ✔
3. John Calvin Personally Admits to Killing Servetus (Arminian Perspectives; 7 August 2009)
4. Calvin and Servetus History of the Christian Church. Volume VIII: Modern Christianity, The Swiss Reformation (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
5. William Wileman. Calvin and Servetus (Banner of Truth)
6. VIDEO: James White. Calvin and Servetus: Dan Barker Twists History (Alpha and Omega Ministries/YouTube; 21 April 2009)
7. VIDEO: Calvin & Servetus, The Truth, By James White. John Piper Apologizes For (YouTube; 13 February 2012)
8. VIDEO: Dr. James E. McGoldrick. The John Calvin - Michael Servetus Affair (YouTube; 19 December 2009)
9. VIDEO: Was John Calvin a Murderer? (YouTube; 6 August 2009)
10. Michael Servetus. Christianismi Restitutio p. 656
11. John Calvin. Opera, VIII. p462.
12. John Calvin (Studies In Reformed Theology; 17 January 2013)
13. John Calvin: Murderer? (For the Love of His Truth; 4 May 2013)
For more information on the Calvin-Servetus Incident, please visit the unofficial Calvin-Servetus Archives at For the Love of His Truth; or simply run a SOHO Search.
11-12.01.2013 / 17.01.2013 / 06.05.2013