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The Apologetics, Ethics and Economics of the Bible

Author: Jean-Marc Berthoud (Lausanne, Switzerland)


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 Viret, amid the bonfires of first martyrs of the French Reformation, was won over to the renewed Evangelical Faith, and 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 33 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, ending his life in Béarn where, under its famed queen, Jeanne d’Albret, he reorganized the nascent Reformed Churches and set up a new theological academy.

Viret, a man of great mildness and persistence – he was called “the Angel of the Reformation” – was in his own time 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 of 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, his careful application of God’s Law to the economic realities of his time sheds light even on the financial issues of our troubled times. The present renewal of interest in Pierre Viret’s indefatigable labours for the advancement of the Kingdom of God comes indeed at its proper time!


  • CHAPTER 1: Brief Life of Pierre Viret
  • CHAPTER 2: Pierre Viret's Place in the Reformation
  • CHAPTER 3: Viret as Ethicist
  • CHAPTER 4: Viret as Apologist
  • CHAPTER 5: Viret as Economist
  • CONCLUSION: The Spirit of Viret's Thinking
  • APPENDIX: Bibliography of the French Works of Pierre Viret


Pierre Viret: A Forgotten Giant of the Reformation is anticipated to come to press fall of 2009.

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Author: Pierre Viret

Translator: Arthur-Louis Hofer (Lausanne, Switzerland)


Christian Instruction in the Doctrine of the Law of the Gospel was completed by Viret in 1564 and is without doubt his magnum opus, comparable to Calvin’s Institutes.

  • VOLUME ONE – Brief and diverse Summaries and Catechisms of the Christian doctrine (containing an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed); and Instruction against the objections that men make concerning their own salvation; adjoined is an ample exposition of the Law, containing the decrees and canons of the first and general Council of the Church.

  • VOLUME TWO – Exposition of the Law of God, and the doctrine of the Christian Faith, concerning the true knowledge and service of God; and the Trinity of the persons in the unity of the divine essence and in the manifestation of the former in the creation both of the universe and the world, and in His providence over all creatures, and principally over human nature; and touching the fall of the human race, and the birth and growth and ordinary state both of the true and false Church.

  • VOLUME THREE – Declaration of the doctrine of divine providence, concerning the blessings and curses which occur ordinarily in the world, and the predestination of men; and the manifestation of God in the work of redemption of the human race, and by the revelation of the Gospel, containing the decrees and canons of the second general Council.


Viret’s works (over 50 books) were written in the sixteenth century, and were penned in a style of French comparable to King James English. Because of the plethora of differences existing between sixteenth century and modern French, an expert in old French must first edit Viret’s works in order to update the archaic language to that in common usage today. After this process is completed, the books may then be translated into English.

Arthur-Louis Hofer (Lausanne, Switzerland) has done a masterful job in the editing and updating of both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Viret’s Christian Instruction into modern French. He is currently engaged in editing Volume 3, the final volume of this exceptional theological work.


The work of translating Volume 1 from modern French into English has been proceeding for well over a year. Andrew Muttitt of Scotland is currently employed with this work, and hopes to complete this first volume by the end of the year.

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The Catechism of Pierre Viret is a small volume, dedicated solely to the Reformer’s Larger Catechism as contained in Volume One of his Christian Instruction. This catechism, written in the form of a dialogue between two individuals, is an easy-to-read, informal means of studying the basics of the Christian Faith. Viret’s down-to-earth, simplistic style of treating deep theological truths makes this book beneficial to both the newest convert and the deepest theologian.


The Catechism of Pierre Viret is anticipated to come to press spring of 2011.


General Biographies

Jean Barnaud, Pierre Viret, sa vie et son oeuvre [Pierre Viret, His Life and Work] (Saint-Amans: 1911)

Henri Vuilleumier, Notre Pierre Viret [Our Pierre Viret] (Lausanne: 1912)

The only substantial study of Viret's theology is written by a Roman Catholic:

Georges Bavaud, Le réformateur Pierre Viret [Pierre Viret, Reformer] (Labor et Fides, Geneva, 1986, 311 pages)

On the general history of the sixteenth century church in the Canton of Vaud:

Henry Vuilleumier, Histoire de l´Eglise réformée du Pays de Vaud sous le régime bernois [History of the Reformed Church in the Pays of Vaud under the Bernese Regime], Tome Premier, L´Age de la Réforme (Lausanne, 1927, 782 pages).

Michel Campiche, La réforme en Pays de Vaud [The Reformation in the Pays of Vaud] (L´Aire, Lausanne, 1985)

Michael W. Bruening, Calvinism’s First Battleground. Conflict and Reform in the Pays de Vaud, 1528-1559 (Springer, Dordrecht, 2005).

Lausanne Cathedral
Lausanne, Switzerland

Books Available

Pierre Viret The Angel of the Reformation by R.A. Sheats

Pierre Viret by Jean-Marc Berthoud