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


Quote of the day – William Bradford, pilgrim

2 Corinthians 12:9,10


And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


“The Pilgrims’ longtime governor would not have made a popular Thanksgiving Day speaker.  Unlike the succession of statesmen who flattered their audiences with purple prose, lauding their adopted ancestors for their unsurpassed wisdom and nobility, Bradford chose instead to underline their shortcomings.  The first colonists had survived and flourished, Bradford insisted in his history Of Plymouth Plantation, not because of their many strengths and virtues, but in spite of ‘all their weaknesses and infirmities.’  In emphasizing that truth, he gave greater glory to God and offered greater hope to us.”

Robert Tracy McKenzie, professor and chair of the Department of History at Wheaton College




“As Christians, our challenge is to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5), including our thinking about our national heritage. Thanksgiving is a good place to start.”

Faith and History

Yes, I’m still alive.

I hope to return to semi-regular posting with the new year, but it occurred to me just now that Thanksgiving is only two and a half weeks away, so I thought I would take the time to engage in some shameless self-promotion.

On the possibility that some of you might be interested in a book about the history of the holiday, I will be bold and suggest that you consider my own: The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us about Loving God and Learning from History.

The book came out in the fall of 2013 from Intervarsity Press, and it was a labor of love.  For years I had been gradually developing a new sense of vocation.  I believe that academic historians write too much for each other, leaving the public to learn about the past from pastors, talk-show hosts, rap musicians, and…

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A watchman urges us to speak in love

In closing I want to say that whatever your calling is in the Body of Christ I pray that you would take what is written in this tract to heart, and speak out at a time when it is not popular to do so. Those who have done so have reaped a harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God.

“I encourage you to do this especially if you are a pastor, evangelist, or in any position of leadership and have the God given opportunity to reach many. Speak not only to the Catholic people who are lost and need to hear the true gospel, but speak also on their behalf, speak for them who cannot speak for themselves. Tell your congregation that Roman Catholics need to be evangelized, and then teach your congregation how to evangelize the Roman Catholics.”

Proverbs 31:8,9

Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 3:17-18

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.


HT: Beth, “The Jesus of the Roman Catholic Church is not the Jesus proclaimed in God’s Word but rather, as Paul said, another Jesus.”