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The Guy with the Fist

Tough guy! William Farel. The Rocky of the Reformation. He’s the one on the Geneva Wall whom the sculptors decided to depict with a Bible in one hand and a clenched fist in the other. Says that respected church historian Philip Schaff:

“Farel’s work was destructive rather than constructive. He could pull down, but not build up. He was a conqueror, but not an organizer of his conquests; a man of action, not a man of letters; an intrepid preacher, not a theologian. He felt his defects, and handed his work over to the mighty genius of his young friend Calvin. In the spirit of genuine humility and self-denial, he was willing to decrease that Calvin might increase. This is the finest trait in his character.”

Sounds like a bit like John the Baptist, and a bit like Elijah, and a lot like James, one of those sons of thunder. But yet wise enough to know what to do when the hard work of clearing and ploughing was done. Which is why he “used his fist” on Calvin to stay in Geneva.

God has all sorts in his ministry workforce. Some are knights and some are rooks. Some are nose-tackles and some are quarterbacks. King David had his strong men, like Benaiah, who stepped into a snowy pit one day to rid the camp of a dangerous lion. The Son of David too has his strongmen, and William Farel was one of them. And what shall we say, but God give us more.

DM 17th October 2017


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