My favorite iconoclast

2 Kings 22


Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 

2 Kings 23

24 Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord25 Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

Alongside Josiah the king, William Farel is. He was an ardent preacher of reform, debater of Catholic priests, man of action and loyal friend. He came from Dauphiny, a part of France that had been under the influence of the Waldensians and he later came to influence the Waldensians. 

Guillaume (William) Farel – c’est lui !


Who is a Real Reformer? Meet William Farel.

Pulpit & PEN

“Consider this lengthy excerpt made available by the PRCA . . .

We are told by his contemporaries that he was rather short, always carrying about a gaunt look, and possessing a red and somewhat unkempt beard. He reminded those who saw him of the rough appearance of an Elijah. He was fiery and forceful, not given to the use of tact, impulsive in his actions and preaching, and one who roared against papal abuses. As zealous as he had once been for Romish practices, so zealous and fierce did he become as a promoter of Reformation causes. He was a man who prepared the way for others, for he could break down, but lacked the gifts to build up. He was no theologian, and he left no significant works which contributed to Reformation thought; he was rather the man who with mighty blows tore down the imposing structure of Roman Catholicism.”


John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor

w. Robert Godfrey

“The successful reform of the church in Geneva had occurred only a few months before Calvin arrived in the city. Farel recognized that he did not have the skills to consolidate the reforms in Geneva and to organize the new Reformed church there. When he heard that the young Calvin was in the city, he thought this might be just the man the church needed. He knew of Calvin’s Institutes and admired not only its theology but also its remarkable balance and organization. So Farel went to Calvin and appealed to him to stay in Geneva and help the young church.

“Calvin declined, saying that he was heading for Strasbourg to study and write. Farel would not take no for an answer. Calvin wrote about his recollection of that conversation with Farel many years later in his preface to the Psalms commentary:

Farel detained me at Geneva not so much by counsel and exhortation as by a dreadful curse which I felt to be as if God had from heaven laid his mighty hand upon me to arrest me .  .  . He proceeded to utter the imprecation that God would curse my retirement and the tranquility of my studies which I sought if I should withdraw and refuse to help when the necessity was so urgent. By this imprecation I was so terror-struck that I gave up the journey I had undertaken . . .”

At the age of seventy-five, and in weak health, William Farel made the journey to visit John Calvin as he lay dying.

Under William’s fiery influence John had trembled, Genevans had smashed Catholic property (idols), Geneva’s enslavement to superstition had ended, and John had given up his desire for a quiet scholarly life of relative ease for the life of a dedicated minister of the Gospel and pastor.

Because of William’s God-given labors,

“The palace of the [Catholic] bishop, with fine irony, became a prison.”

The Lord gave him this much-needed work to do:

“. . .the work of the plowman who was called to hack down the trees, clear away the underbrush, and do the hard work of plowing; others would come, more gentle than he, and sow the seed.”


Chapter 24: William Farel: Fiery Evangelist of the Reformation

Portraits of Faithful Saints
by Herman Hanko


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