[Viret] thus combines theological, moral, philosophical, sociological, economic, literary and historical analysis in an astonishingly unified and differentiated system of thought. He thus refuses all gnostic dualism, every kind of that binary opposition, so common today in Christian and secular thinking, between creation and redemption, between theology and culture, between morality and economics, between society and God, between grace and law, and so forth. Where we often think exclusively in binary termes, his thought functions both in an antithetical (good versus evil, truth against error) and in a complementary manner (all aspects of created reality are related, are interconnected). It is this balance between unity and diversity in his thinking which makes his writings, after more than four hundred years, so refeshingly actual.42


The greatest evil that can be imagined is when the public purse is impoverished and individual men wealthy. This is an evident sign that the commonwealth is in an unhealthy condition, that public policy is in weak and incapable hands and that the state is under the domination of thieves and bandits who make of it their prey.43


What we must first discuss is the following question: Are such increases in gabelles and tailles [that is, in "value added taxes"] in the first place legitimate? This question I raise not only from the perspective of God’s Law, but from that of ordinary civil legislation. For no human law worthy of the name can free Princes from themselves submitting to the rule of law and justify their enacting whatever law they please, thus laying on the backs of their subjects whatever burden they wish. For even if their subjects were nothing more than chattel-slaves, some kind of equity must even then regulate the relation between such serfs and their lord. . . . Since the beginning, this tyrannical system of universal taxation has never decreased but has rather constantly grown. For princes and nobility alike never consider the ordinary revenues and taxes at their disposal as a necessary limitation to their style of life, to their projects and to their ambitions. Rather they only consider the fulfillment of the ambition they cherish, not examining whether their actual revenues are able to sustain such utopian dreams.… To satisfy their excessive ambitions they then look to ways of increasing their taxes and revenues.44

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42 Ibid., page 33

43 Berthoud, A Comprehensive Faith, page 104

44 Pierre Viret, Le monde à l’empire et le monde démoniacle fait par dialogues, p. 277

Lausanne Cathedral
Lausanne, Switzerland

Books Available

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

Pierre Viret by Jean-Marc Berthoud