In his defense of John Calvin’s allowing Michael Servetus to be burned at the stake, J. Steven Wilkens says:
If one contends that Calvin was in error in agreeing with the execution of heretics then why is there not equal indignation against all the other leaders who supported and carried out and supported these measures elsewhere. None less than the honored Thomas Aquinas explicitly supported the burning of heretics saying, “If the heretic still remains pertinacious the church, despairing of his conversion, provides for the salvation of others by separating him from the church by the sentence of excommunication and then leaves him to the secular judge to be exterminated from the world by death.” (Summa Theologiae, IIaIIae q. 11 a. 3)
Which, to me, points out something rather chilling: Aquinas and Calvin are considered two of Christianity’s greatest theologians. What was wrong with their theology that it would promote this type of mindset?
If there is no radical change in Church orthodoxy from that time until today – if it is true that Christian doctrine is timeless (as many insist) – then isn’t that kind of frightening?