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Elijah of the Alps: The Story of William Farel, the Swiss Reformer (Blackburn)

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William Farel (1489-1565) was a French evangelist, and a founder of the Reformed Church in the cantons of NeuchGtel, Berne and Geneva, and the Canton of Vaud Switzerland. He is most often remembered for having persuaded John Calvin to remain in Geneva in 1536, and for persuading him to return there in 1541, after their expulsion in 1538. Together with Calvin, Farel worked to train missionary preachers who spread the Protestant cause to other countries, and especially to France.

Farel was a fiery preacher and an energetic critic of the Roman Catholic Church. In the earliest years of the Reformation in France, he was a pupil of the pro-reform Catholic priest, Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples. While working with Lefevre in Meaux, he came under the influence of Lutheran ideas and became an avid promoter of them. He was forced to flee to Switzerland because of controversy that was aroused by his writings against the use of images in Christian worship.

The opposition of the bishop forced him to leave Geneva in 1532, but he returned in 1533 to lead a public disputation in favor of the Reformation. The people declared in favor of Farel and his colleagues, and in 1535 the town council formally proclaimed the adoption of the Reformation. Farel entreated Calvin to assist in the organization of the new Protestant republic. The two men drew up a statement of doctrine and immediately instituted widespread reform of church practices. These measures were too sudden and too strict to be generally accepted, and Calvin and Farel were forced to leave Geneva in 1538. Farel went to Basel and then to NeuchGtel, where he worked unceasingly for the return of Calvin to Geneva, which he achieved in 1541. Throughout his life he remained a confidant and consultant of Calvin

Interesting to note that as Calvin's friend, Farel was a promoter of Lutheran ideas in his youth. Today Calvinism and Lutheranism are two complete separate denominations, but Farel's relationship with both would show they had more in common than what is shown today.