To Die for a Doctrine
HE WAS born in Tudela, Spain, about 1511. He studied medicine in Paris and later practiced in several French cities. He is renowned for his contribution in connection with the discovery of the pulmonary-circulation system.
Yet, for much of his adult life he was forced to live as a fugitive, even changing his name. On August 13, 1553, on his way to Italy, he stopped at Geneva, Switzerland. He was recognized, arrested and, on August 14, was put on trial for his life, at the instance of Protestant reformer John Calvin. The decision? Guilty! The sentence? Death! So on October 27, 1553, in the outskirts of Geneva, he was burned at the stake.
Who was he? Michael Servetus. Of what was he guilty? Murder? Extortion? Some other heinous crime? No, he was executed as a heretic because he denied Christendom’s orthodox doctrine of “the most Holy Trinity.”
To this day the Trinity is a subject of controversy. For example, American evangelist Billy Graham claims: “The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is fully God, and in no way is inferior to God the father.” On the opposing side, several years ago in the classified section of The Denver Post a Pentecostal minister offered $1 million (U.S.) to anyone who could find the doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible. He labeled the Trinity as man-made philosophy “that is incongruous and incomprehensible.”
‘But what difference does it make?’ you may wonder. ‘Does it really matter what you believe?’ Yes, it does. Why? Because Jesus Christ said: “Eternal life means knowing you as the only true God, and knowing Jesus your messenger as Christ.” (John 17:3, An American Translation) Our everlasting welfare is dependent upon our accurately knowing “the only true God.” So which is the truth? Is Jesus Christ “the Son of God” or God the Son? There is a big difference!