T.H.L. Parker calls 1553–1554 Calvin’s “fateful years.” According to Parker, this was when “two large storms blew from different quarters and raged simultaneously.” One was Calvin’s battle with the libertines; the other was the infamous Servetus affair.
The Genevan air was charged in the Fall of 1553. It was September 3 when the confrontation with the libertines reached its climax, and it was October 26-27 when Michael Servetus was condemned and burned at the stake.
First, the libertines.
A pack of unregenerate Genevans—also members of the church in Calvin’s magisterial (and non-credobaptist) context—stirred up the trouble. Despite their love of license and open embrace of immo…