The following is an accurate quote from a book entitled 'Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern' written by Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr. copyright 1994, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL - on page 202 MacArthur writes:
"Of course, the Catholic Church is by no means the only religious body guilty of atrocities. Martin Luther consented to the deaths of thousands in the Peasants' Revolt in sixteenth-century Germany. Many leading Reformers joined with the Catholics in calling for the deaths of Anabaptists. John Calvin sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus, an arch-heretic who was condemned by both Catholics and Calvinists for his anti-trinitarianism. Oliver Cromwell's Puritan armies treated Irish Catholics with appalling ruthlessness. Cromwell himself signed the death warrant when Charles I was executed. The Puritans in colonial Massachusetts executed four Quakers before laws making heresy a capital offense were repealed."

"Yet all those evils pale in comparison to the horrifying waves of tyranny and inhumanity carried out in the name of Roman Catholicism...."

I wish I could continue quoting from Dr. MacArthur's book, but I don't have a scanner and I would have to manually enter the text. Moreover, I think this book is well worth reading in its entirety.

According to an article by Dr. Michael Horton, written in 1992, entitled 'Was Geneva A Theocracy?', which can be found on this website, the historical records in the Servetus trial do not show John Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus." Dr. Horton claims the records show Calvin tried to have the court be lenient with Servetus and failing in this appeal, he tried to have them execute Servetus in a more humane manner.

Pilgrim and myself agree that both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur are notable and we agree both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur are Calvinists.

I have said the best way to determine the truth, as to whether or not John Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus", is to ask both Dr. Horton and Dr. MacArthur to provide more pertinent information.

Pilgrim has disagreed with me. I can't speak for him, but I think he is saying he believes the best way to determine the truth is to examine the historical records.

The meaning of the word 'sanction' is: 1) To approve authoritatively; confirm; ratify 2) To countenance; allow.

If someone only consults the official records of the court in Geneva there may be no record of Calvin "sanctioning Servetus' burning." However, it's possible Dr. MacArthur has other records showing Calvin did "sanction the burning of Servetus." These other records may include letters Calvin wrote, sermons he gave, or a letter written by a personal friend of Calvin's documenting a conversation in which Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetus."

All this would be mere speculation and conjecture if it were not for the facts that 1) Dr. MacArthur is a notable Calvinist and 2) he wrote his book two years after Dr. Horton wrote his article. Therefore, in the two years between the writing of the documents, evidence may have surfaced which wasn't available to Dr. Horton.

This is why I believe the best way to find out the truth is to ask both Dr. MacArthur and Dr. Horton to give us more information, i.e. the sources they used to write what they wrote. This seems to be very reasonable. Would you agree?

God judges us by what is in our hearts. He knows our inner-most thoughts. We cannot correctly judge another, because we can only see what is on the surface. However, in the special cases of those who teach doctrine, Scripture tells us: "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV

I will not say I understand exactly and completely what Jesus is saying here, but He's essentially saying, "Beware of false Christian leaders (false prophets in sheep's clothing) and if even one instance of 'bad fruit' can be seen, the 'tree' is bad. If the 'tree' is good, then all the 'fruit' coming from the 'tree' is good.

What Jesus means by 'fruit' and 'tree' is debatable. One definition of 'fruit' is: "The outcome, consequence, or result of some action, effort, situation, etc.: the 'fruit of labor'." One definition of 'tree' is: A diagram or outline resembling a tree and showing family descent: a genealogical 'tree'."

Dr. MacArthur's book was directed at Catholics. His theme throughout was to tell Catholics not to trust Catholic doctrine, because Catholic leaders have continually exhibited bad fruit and don't show any remorse for their actions throughout history.

But, Dr. MacArthur also states that Protestant leaders, i.e. Luther, Calvin and Cromwell, also committed "atrocities" and says their deeds were "evil."

Does the fact that this 'fruit' was not as bad in any way exempt them from being a 'bad tree'? What Jesus said is, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit." It's clear to me it doesn't matter how bad the 'fruit', what matters is whether there is any 'bad fruit' at all.

So the importance of determining whether or not John Calvin "sanctioned the burning of Michael Servetes" has enormous implications. If Calvin did "sanction the burning of Michael Servetes", as alledged by the "notable Calvinist" Dr. John MacArthur, then our Lord warns you to beware of him.