I’ve just had the pleasure of completing Pierre Viret: The Angel of the Reformation by R. A. Sheats. This is the finest specimen of a spiritual biography that I can recall reading in recent memory. Here are 6 reasons why I recommend that you read it.
1. It is an action-packed, page-turning thriller. From conflicts with Romanists, Protestant magistrates trying to control the church, & ignorant parishioners, to empoisonment, to illness, to blessed fruit, to a surprisingly gentle character in the face of opposition, capture, and imprisonment, I just couldn’t put this book down. The action is non-stop.
2. It is well-written. Sheats writes with an effusiveness and expressiveness of style that can only come from being immersed in 16th century French literature for months without end. Her English prose ebbs, flows, and punches.
3. It is doxological. As a spiritual biography should be, it glorifies God in all things. This book will drive you to your knees in thanks to God for His mighty acts in history.
4. It fills in important historical gaps. Pierre Viret (1511-1571) is a name that is largely forgotten, but it clearly should not be. Viret, along with the more famous Calvin and Farel together formed the triumvirate. These three pastors worked closely together, were dear friends, and were used mightily in French-speaking Switzerland.
5. Pierre Viret is an inspirational figure. Dauntless, courageous, always loving, gentle, and pastoral. Here are some notable quotes from the author: “If Farel was the Peter of the French Reformation, and Calvin was the Paul, without a doubt Viret was the John.” “The only thing that holds me to my post is Him. –Pierre Viret”
6. The beautiful glossy color photographs on location in Switzerland and France. They made me want to go visit all those places. Now, I have to someday. Honestly.
I won’t say that you must read it. I will only say that if you don’t, you’re really missing out.
Read my expanded book review on the Ordained Servant Online.