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Pierre Viret: A Forgotten Giant of the Reformation (Berthoud)

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Zurich Publishing

The Apologetics, Ethics, and Economics of the Bible

This little book bears with it a grand subject: the historical and literary resurrection of one of the major figures of the Reformation, the long forgotten Reformer of French-speaking Switzerland, Pierre Viret (1511-1571). Viret was a life-long companion of the better known figures of Guillaume Farel and John Calvin. After his studies in Paris where, amid the bonfires of the first martyrs of the French Reformation, he was won over to the renewed Evangelical Faith, Viret returned to his native country of Switzerland. Before the coming of John Calvin, Viret labored with Farel to establish the Reformation in Geneva. However his main ministry was for some twenty-three years in Lausanne. There he founded the first properly Reformed academy, later to be the model of the Genevan seminary. In 1559 he was exiled by the Bernese sovereign over Vaud for his defense of the local church’s disciplinary autonomy from the State. He then undertook a fruitful ministry in France, completing his life in Béarn where, under its famed queen, Jeanne d’Albret, he reorganized the nascent Reformed churches and established a new theological academy.

Viret, a man of great mildness and persistence – he was called “the Angel of the Reformation” – was a renowned preacher, evangelist, and theologian. A prolific author, his abilities in the fields of ethics, apologetics, and symbolic and pastoral theology puts him in lithe company with the great Reformers. His massive Christian Instruction in the Doctrine of the Law and the Gospel contains the finest exposition of the Ten Commandments brought out by the Reformation. His apologetics, based on the authority of God’s Word on every aspect of creation and the certitude that the meaning of all reality was given by God and revealed in His written and incarnate Word, leads his writings to have an incomparable freshness and present applicability.

Indeed, as this book briefly shows, Viret’s careful application of God’s Law to the economic realities of his day sheds light even on the financial issues of our troubled times.

The present renewal of interest in Pierre Viret’s indefatigable labors for the advancement of the Kingdom of God comes indeed at its proper time!


Table of Contents: 

  1. A Brief Biography of Pierre Viret
  2. Viret as Reformer
  3. Viret as Ethicist
  4. Viret as Apologist
  5. Viret as Economist
  6. Viret as Philosopher

Conclusion: Viret, A Biblical and Creational Thinker

Appendix: Bibliography of the French works of Pierre Viret