Pierre Viret: The Angel of the Reformation – Reviewed by Kevin Rau

Kevin Rau assisting in the Seminary library.

Kevin Rau assisting in the Seminary library.

Kevin Rau, who has been helping me in the PRC Seminary library now for several months, is also an avid reader. I don’t believe a week has gone by that he has not taken home a book he has seen while putting books away on the shelves. A good reader is Kevin. And a good writer, for he has also contributed to the Young Calvinists’ blog.

Sheats_pierre_viret-2012After his latest read, I asked him if you would be willing to write a short review of it for this blog, and he not only consented, he sent me one tonight! So, that’s what we post this evening, for the benefit of all of you.

Thank you for this, Kevin. It is a fine, brief introduction to a lesser-known Reformer – Pierre Viret.

God uses many people to reform His church. Some of these people, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin are really well known, whereas others are more obscure.

Pierre Viret is one of these lesser known individuals. He was born on May 6,1531 in Orbe, Switzerland and was converted to Protestantism during his college years. God used his preaching to convert his own parents, among other people. I recently came across this man while working in the Protestant Reformed library and found out that he was an influential figure in the Swiss Reformation. I learned more about him by reading a book entitled: Pierre Viret: The Angel of the Reformation by R.A. Sheats (Zurich Publishing, 2012, 323 pp., hardcover).

This title comes from the peaceful disposition that he had in spite of facing illness, the death of his first wife and a daughter as well as church controversies. He had many enemies, especially when he tried to reclaim the power of excommunication from the state and take it to the church. In spite of this he was acknowledged to be a godly man, even by his enemies. “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).

This is an interesting book that shows Pierre Viret’s life and his long ministry, as well as his close relationships with John Calvin and William Farel. He displayed sound, biblical theology. The chapters are mostly short, yet informative. I recommend this book to anyone interested in a lesser-known Reformer that God used to build His church in Switzerland and France.

From the publisher’s website you will also find this brief description of the book and its author:

Pierre Viret (1511-1571), the son of a tailor, was born in the town or Orbe, eighteen miles north of Lausanne, Switzerland. Though raised in obscurity, he grew to become a crucial Reformed leader during the infancy of the Protestant Reformation in Frnch Switerzerland. Viret, together with his closest associates John Calvin and William Farel, formed the Swiss Triumvirate, the three leading Reformers in the French-speaking world. Know as the Angel of the Reformation because of extraordinary Christian character and temperament, Viret was a model pastor during his ministry in Lausanne, Geneva, and France. Most of his ministry was served in Lausanne where he developed the Lausanne Academy. That institution would later relocate and become the Genevan Academy. after almost thirty years’ ministry in Lausanne and Geneva, Viret spent his last ten years in fruitful ministry in France as the leader of the French Reformed Church. His theological output was immense, with over forty books to his credit. In his day he was a leading authority on political theory, applied Biblical law, economics, and apologetics.

This publication, undertaken in honor of the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Pierre Viret, marks the first time of the availability of a full biography of Pierre Viret to the English speaking world. In this biography R.A. Sheats brings to light the fascinating history and life of this important early reformer of the Protestant Reformation. Also contaminating [sic] a lengthy chronology of Viret’s life, a detailed listing of his books, and over sixty pages of illustrations and maps, Pierre Viret: the Angel of the Reformation will be an excellent tool for researchers, scholars, and those interested in the Swiss and French Reformation.

Author  R.A. Sheats resides in Florida. She is currently engaged in the translation of Pierre Viret’s original works from 16th century French into modern English.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you Kevin!


  2. Hello Kevin, and thank you!


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