This past March (2016), a good friend of mine recommended a book to me, Out of the Flames, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. Not only is this book one of the best books I have read this year, it probably will fall into the category of one of the greatest books that I have read in my lifetime. The subject matter of the book is “the remarkable story of a fearless scholar, a fatal heresy, and one of the rarest books in the world.” It is the story about Michael Servetus who was one of the most brilliant men that has ever lived. Not only was Servetus a theologian, he was also a scientist and was one of the first to discover the pulmonary circulation of the blood through the lungs but he also wrote a book that cost him his life.
One of the reasons that I believe this book is so important is not only for the content of the book but also who wrote it. It is written by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, a husband and wife team, who are not theologians. This is important because of the subject matter they write about concerning Michael Servetus and his battle with one of the most sadistic souls who has ever lived, John Calvin. The Goldstones are primarily book collectors and write about antiquarian books which are books that are very rare and usually very old. One of the book’s descriptions states that the Goldstones are interested in the “enduring legacy of books.” Because they are not theologians or church historians they have a tendency to write their book about Servetus without the normal bias that comes against Servetus by so many of the church historians, theologians, and religious philosophers who do undertake the task of writing about the conflict between Servetus and Calvin. In fact, I have read before various accounts by authors who generally come from a Reformed bent and it appears to me that before they ever get their thoughts off the ground, Servetus is under a severe thrashing.