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Wycliffe The Morning Star of The Reformation (Ecumenical)
Reformation SA ^ | Peter Hammond

Posted on 10/06/2008 12:05:28 AM PDT by Gamecock

In the 14th Century, Oxford was the most outstanding university in the world, and John Wycliffe was its leading theologian and philosopher.

The Black Death ( Bubonic Plague), which killed a third of the population of Europe, lead Wycliffe to search the Scriptures and find salvation in Christ.

THE KING’S CHAMPION

As a professor at Oxford University, Wycliffe represented England in a controversy with the Pope. Wycliffe championed the independence of England from Papal control. He supported King Edward III’s refusal to pay taxes to the Pope. (It was only one step away from denying the political supremacy of the Pope over nations to questioning his spiritual supremacy over churches). The royal favour which Wycliffe earned from this confrontation protected him later in life.

Wycliffe’s patron and protector was John of Gaunt. This English prince was the most powerful political figure in the late 14th Century, England. Gaunt, known in his day as the Duke of Lancaster, was effectively the Prime Minister of England during the last years of the 50-year reign of his then senile father, King Edward III. Gaunt was “a wise diplomat, a bold soldier, the epitome of chivalry, hard on his enemies and always faithful to what he believed was best for England.” In 1399 Gaunt’s son ascended the throne as King Henry IV.

ALL AUTHORITY IS UNDER GOD

In Wycliffe’s book Civil Dominion, he maintains that the ungodly have no right to rule. All authority is granted by God. But God does not grant any authority to those who are in rebellion against Him. Those who rule unjustly are in breach of the terms under which God delegates authority. So wicked rulers have forfeited their right to rule. In fact, all of those who lead blatantly sinful lives forfeit their rights in this world.

CORRUPTION DISQUALIFIES LEADERS

Wycliffe also taught that the clergy of his time were so corrupt that the secular authorities had the right to confiscate their properties. The Roman church at that time owned about one third of all land in England, claimed exemption from taxation, yet the Pope claimed the right to tax the English – to finance his own wars!

Wycliffe maintained that the English government had the God-given responsibility to correct the abuses of the church within its realm and to remove from office those churchmen who persisted in their corruption and immorality.

SERVANT LEADERSHIP AND SACRIFICE

Wycliffe taught that our personal relationship with God is everything. Character is the fundamental basis of any leadership. He emphasised apostolic poverty, insisting that those who claimed to sit on Saint Peter’s chair should, like the Apostle, be without silver or gold. To Wycliffe, those who claimed to follow the Apostles, should live poor and humble lives spent in the service of the Church, setting an example of holiness. Therefore the Pope of Rome should be a shepherd of the flock and a preacher who brings men to Christ. Wycliffe denounced the worldliness and luxury of the Popes and the spiritual bankruptcy of the office of pope. The papacy had departed from the simple Faith and practice of Christ and His disciples. Wycliffe wrote: “Christ is truth, the Pope is the principle of falsehood. Christ lived in poverty, the Pope labours for worldly magnificence. Christ refused temporal dominion, the Pope seeks it.”

CHRIST ALONE IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH

In his book The Power of the Papacy published in 1379, Wycliffe argues that the papacy is an office instituted by man, not God. No pope’s authority could extend to secular government. The only authority that any pope may have would depend upon him having the moral character of the Apostle Peter. Any pope who does not follow Jesus Christ is the anti-Christ.

Wycliffe proclaimed that “Christ alone is the Head of the Church.”

UNBIBLICAL PRACTICES CONDEMNED

And the Church on earth Wycliffe defined as the whole wonder of the elect, those chosen by God. The Church is the body of Christ, a unity that knows nothing of popes, hierarchies, monks, friars, priests or nuns. Nor can the salvation of the elect be effected by masses, indulgences, penance, or any other devices of priestcraft. There is nothing in the Bible about transubstantiation, pardons, absolutions, worship of images, the adoration of saints, the treasury of merits laid up at the reserve of the Pope, the distinction between venial and mortal sins or confession to a priest. Compulsory confession Wycliffe considered “the bondage of the anti-Christ.”

Wycliffe declared that the reading and preaching of God’s Word “is of more value than the administration of any sacrament.”

GOD’S LAW IS SUPREME

In a letter written by Wycliffe to Pope Urban VI he maintained: “The Gospel of Christ is the body of the Law of God, Christ is true God and true man…the Roman pontiff is most bound to this Law of the Gospel…Christ’s disciples are judged…according to their imitation of Christ in their moral life…Christ was the poorest of men during the time of His pilgrimage…He eschewed all worldly dominion…never should any of the faithful imitate the Pope himself nor any of the saints except in so far as he may have imitated the Lord Jesus Christ…the Pope should leave temporal dominion to the secular arm…God…has always taught me to obey God rather than men.”

In this letter Wycliffe also refers to the “deceitful counsel…malicious counsel…anything contrary to the Law of the Lord” as “anti-Christ.”

SCRIPTURE ALONE IS OUR AUTHORITY

In 1378, Wycliffe completed the book The Truth of Holy Scripture. In it he wrote: “Holy Scripture is the pre-eminent authority for every Christian and the rule of faith and of all human perfection…it is necessary for all men, not for priests alone…Christ and His Apostles taught the people in the language best known to them…therefore the doctrine should not only be in Latin, but in the vulgar tongue…the more these are known the better…believers should have the Scriptures in a language which they fully understand.” Wycliffe taught that Scripture contains everything that is necessary for our salvation. All other authorities must be tested by the Scripture. “Christ’s Law is best and enough, and other laws men should not take, but as branches of God’s Law.”

TRANSLATING THE SCRIPTURES

Therefore Wycliffe supervised a handful of scholars at Oxford in the translation of the Latin Bible into the English language. This was the very first translation of the entire Bible into the English language. The only source that Wycliffe’s translators had to work with was a Latin hand written manuscript of a translation made 1000 years previously.

Wycliffe is called “the father of English prose” because of the clarity and effectiveness of his writings and sermons, which did much to unify and shape the English language.

THE LOLLARDS EVANGELISE ENGLAND

From Oxford, Wycliffe trained and sent out “poor priests” (the Lollards) into the fields, villages and churches, to preach in the marketplaces, to read and sing the Scriptures in English and to win people for Christ. These itinerant evangelists became a tremendous power in the land as they spread the knowledge of the Scriptures throughout England.

PERSECUTION FROM PAPAL PHARISEES

As a result of these activities and teachings, one Pope issued five bulls against John Wycliffe for “heresy”. The Catholic Church tried him three times, and two popes summoned him to Rome. However, Wycliffe wisely refused each summons and the political protection of the Duke of Lancaster kept Wycliffe alive and free. He was never imprisoned.

His followers, however were hunted down, expelled from Oxford and mercilessly persecuted. To get an idea of the scandal and controversy engendered by Wycliffe’s Reformation, we should note what was written by Henry Knighton, a Catholic chronicler: “Christ gave His Gospel to the clergy…but this master John Wycliffe translated the Gospel from Latin into the English…common to all and more open to the laity and even to women…and so the pearl of the Gospel is thrown before swine and trodden under foot…the jewel of the clergy has been turned into the jest of the laity…has become common.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Arundel, said: that “pestilent and most wretched John Wycliffe, of damnable memory, a child of the old devil, and himself a child or pupil of anti-Christ…crowned his wickedness by translating the Scriptures into the mother tongue!”

THE BIBLE IN ENGLISH – BANNED

A synod of clergy in 1408 decreed: “It is dangerous…to translate the text of Holy Scripture…we decree and ordain that no-one shall in future translate on his authority any text of Scripture into the English tongue or into any other tongue, by way of book, booklet or treatiese. Nor shall any man read, in public or in private, this kind of book, booklet or treatiese, now recently composed in the time of the said John Wycliffe…on the penalty of the greater excommunication.”

EARTHQUAKE INTERRUPTS ANATHEMAS

In 1382, at a church council called by Archbishop Courtenay, 24 of Wycliffe’s teachings were condemned. During that council there was an earthquake. Wycliffe and the Lollards interpreted the earthquake as a sign of God’s displeasure with the corrupt and un-Biblical Roman clergy.

ROME VS JERUSALEM

Wycliffe scorned the idea that because Peter died in Rome, therefore every Bishop of Rome is to be set above all of Christendom. By the same reasoning, he noted that the Muslim Turk might conclude that because they controlled Jerusalem where Christ died, their Mullah has power over the Pope!

WHO CAN FORGIVE SINS?

Wycliffe attacked the corruptions, superstitions and abuses of the friars and monks. He exposed their supposed powers to forgive sins as fraudulent. “Who can forgive sins?” Wycliffe taught: “God alone!” Christ alone is the Head of the Church and God alone can forgive sins.

PREPARATION FOR REFORMATION

Wycliffe’s field workers (the Lollards) helped to prepare the way for the English Reformation (in the 16th Century) by reading, preaching and singing the Scriptures in English in marketplaces, fields and homes throughout the land.

TURNING THE TABLES

Summoned to appear before a church council, Wycliffe rebuked the bishops for being “priests of Baal, selling blasphemy and idolatry in the mass and indulgences.” He then walked out of the assembly and refused a summons from the Pope. When Wycliffe was excluded from teaching in Oxford, he withdrew to the congregation at Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he devoted himself to writing during his few remaining years.

In 1428, 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, by order of the Pope, the bones of Wycliffe were dug up and burned. As one historian commented: “They burned his bones to ashes and cast them into the Swift, a neighbouring brook running close by. Thus the brook conveyed his ashes to the Avon, the Avon into the Severn, the Severn into the narrow seas and they into the main ocean. And so the ashes of Wycliffe are symbolic of his doctrine, which is now spread throughout the world.”

Wycliffe was the father of the Reformation – its morning star. Wycliffe’s writings and example inspired Huss and Luther.

Bibliography: - d'Aubigne, J.H. Murle - The Reformation in England, Banner of Truth Edinburgh, 1963 - Foxe, John - The Book of Martyrs, 1563 - Fountain, David - John Wycliffe, The dawn of the Reformation, Mayflower Christian Books, South Hampton, 1984 - Houghton, S.M. - Sketches from Church History, Banner of Truth, 1980 - Kuiper, B.K. - The Church in History, Eerdmans. 1964 - Scott, Otto - The Great Christian Revolution, The Reformer Library, Winsor, 1995. - Stevenson, William - The Story of the Reformation, John Knox Press, Richmond, 1959 - Woodbridge, John - Great Leaders of the Christian Church, Moody, Chicago, 1988


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: reformation; reformationday2008; wycliffe

1 posted on 10/06/2008 12:05:29 AM PDT by Gamecock
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...
GRPL Ping

First in a series leading up to Reformation Day!


2 posted on 10/06/2008 12:15:31 AM PDT by Gamecock (Life is to short for bad theology.)
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To: Gamecock; All
GOOD MORNING SAINTS!

ANOTHER LEADER,SAME ERA.

William Tyndale (sometimes spelled Tindall or Tyndall; pronounced /ˈtɪndəl/) (c. 1494 – 1536) was a 16th-century Protestant reformer and scholar who translated the Bible into the Early Modern English of his day. While a number of partial and complete Old English translations had been made from the seventh century onward, and Middle English translations particularly during the 14th century, Tyndale's was the first English translation to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, and the first to take advantage of the new medium of print, which allowed for its wide distribution. In 1535 Tyndale was arrested, jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde outside Brussels for more than a year, tried for heresy and treason and then strangled and burnt at the stake. Foxe describes an argument with a "learned" but "blasphemous" clergyman, who had asserted to Tyndale that, "We had better be without God's laws than the Pope's." In a swelling of emotion, Tyndale made his prophetic response: "I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, I will cause the boy that drives the plow in England to know more of the Scriptures than the Pope himself!" [2][3]

SORRY,IF I JUMPED AHEAD BROTHER.

3 posted on 10/06/2008 1:08:01 AM PDT by alpha-8-25-02 ("SAVED BY GRACE AND GRACE ALONE")
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To: Gamecock

A great debt is owed honest and brave men like Wycliff. As his experience shows, a champion of the Scriptures will find his fiercest enemies amongst those calling themselves Christian.


4 posted on 10/06/2008 1:35:41 AM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: count-your-change

Yup.

And we are promised that will happen.


5 posted on 10/06/2008 1:55:08 AM PDT by Gamecock (Life is to short for bad theology.)
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To: alpha-8-25-02

***SORRY,IF I JUMPED AHEAD BROTHER***

Never apologize for anything you post on “my” threads. Your comments are always most welcome!


6 posted on 10/06/2008 1:56:19 AM PDT by Gamecock (Life is to short for bad theology.)
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To: Gamecock

The history of the Age of Wycliff demonstrates that England was not particularly cozy with the Pope even before the Tudors. The sad fact is that prior to Rowan Williams and Gene Robinson, the Church of England was getting along with the Pope better than it had in a thousand years.


7 posted on 10/06/2008 4:03:29 AM PDT by bobjam
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To: Gamecock
Wycliffe taught that Scripture contains everything that is necessary for our salvation. All other authorities must be tested by the Scripture. “Christ’s Law is best and enough, and other laws men should not take, but as branches of God’s Law.”

It seems to me that the truth of this was lost when Christianity merged with the state and became a political entity. America is exceptional in part because a state religion was never established.

Thanks for the thread, nice read.

8 posted on 10/06/2008 6:43:25 AM PDT by wmfights (Believe - THE GOSPEL - and be saved)
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To: wmfights

“It seems to me that the truth of this was lost when Christianity merged with the state and became a political entity. America is exceptional in part because a state religion was never established.”

During the Age of Wycliff, the Church was an integral part of government just as the military and the treasury. It had been that way since Constantine the Great. On paper it is still that way in England. The state Church ended in France in 1789, Russia in 1917 and Germany in 1918.


9 posted on 10/06/2008 1:25:58 PM PDT by bobjam
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To: Gamecock; alpha-8-25-02; count-your-change; bobjam; wmfights
I'm a big fan of the Wycliffe Bible. The medieval lexicon makes you see things and understand things in a new way. I read it often; it's fascinating.
10 posted on 10/06/2008 2:28:48 PM PDT by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: Gamecock

Bookmarked. Great stuff (and fascinating history, too)! Thanks for posting!


11 posted on 10/06/2008 2:42:04 PM PDT by TonyRo76 (American by birth. Patriot by choice. Christian by grace.)
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To: bobjam
During the Age of Wycliff, the Church was an integral part of government just as the military and the treasury. It had been that way since Constantine the Great.

Exactly.

As a result, anyone who disagreed with the state religion's interpretation, or practices, was therefor a traitor as well as a heretic. It didn't matter whether the prevailing views were correct or not.

12 posted on 10/07/2008 6:00:10 AM PDT by wmfights (Believe - THE GOSPEL - and be saved)
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp

1 In the bigynnyng was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word.
2 This was in the bigynnyng at God.
3 Alle thingis weren maad bi hym, and withouten hym was maad no thing, that thing that was maad.
4 In hym was lijf, and the lijf was the liyt of men; and the liyt schyneth in derknessis,
5 and derknessis comprehendiden not it.
6 A man was sent fro God, to whom the name was Joon.
7 This man cam in to witnessyng, that he schulde bere witnessing of the liyt, that alle men schulden bileue bi hym.
8 He was not the liyt, but that he schulde bere witnessing of the liyt.
9 There was a very liyt, which liytneth ech man that cometh in to this world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was maad bi hym, and the world knew hym not.
11 He cam in to his owne thingis, and hise resseyueden hym not.
12 But hou many euer resseyueden hym, he yaf to hem power to be maad the sones of God, to hem that bileueden in his name; the whiche not of bloodis,
13 nether of the wille of fleische, nether of the wille of man, but ben borun of God.
14 And the word was maad man, and dwellyde among vs, and we han seyn the glorie of hym, as the glorie of the `oon bigetun sone of the fadir, ful of grace and of treuthe.


13 posted on 10/08/2008 2:28:52 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: bobjam

Actually, especially in England’s case, the Church was more like a competing foreign government, than a part of the English crown. They assessed taxes, had their own court system for all clerics (priests, monks, nuns, etc) and most importantly the Roman Church was the single biggest land owner—which was the measure of wealth in pre-industrial society. Hence the Roman Church was far and away the wealthiest and most powerful institution throughout the Middle Ages....constantly in conflict to the political power brokers as well.

Wycliff’s English Lollards went to Bohemia due to political connections between the two kingdoms of the day—and influenced John Hus, before the Church burned him alive, and the Czech Reformation was crushed militarily by Roman Catholic forces, in the mid 15th Century.

Although Luther reached his conclusions on reformation of the Church independently of Hus (from 100 years before...and only about 100 miles away) when Luther did later read Hus (in the 1530s, I believe) he discovered much theology in common... (Similarly, Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, reached his reformational ideas independent of either Luther or Hus...and I think the same could be said of Calvin). All were Bible scholars par excellance....and all reached similar conclusions.

What-da-ya-know?


14 posted on 10/08/2008 2:44:32 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: Gamecock
Amazing:

In 1428, 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, by order of the Pope, the bones of Wycliffe were dug up and burned. As one historian commented: “They burned his bones to ashes and cast them into the Swift, a neighbouring brook running close by. Thus the brook conveyed his ashes to the Avon, the Avon into the Severn, the Severn into the narrow seas and they into the main ocean. And so the ashes of Wycliffe are symbolic of his doctrine, which is now spread throughout the world.”

Wycliffe was the father of the Reformation – its morning star.

15 posted on 10/08/2008 3:00:07 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
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To: wmfights

“As a result, anyone who disagreed with the state religion’s interpretation, or practices, was therefor a traitor as well as a heretic. It didn’t matter whether the prevailing views were correct or not”

Throughout post-Roman Europe, established churches- Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant alike- enjoyed the advantages, funding and protection that came with their backing by the aristocratic governments. The King was head of the Church of England, the Kaiser was head of the German Lutheran Church, the Czar ran the Church of Russia, the Hapsburg Emperor could exercise vetos in Conclave and the Cardinals came from the leading families of Italy. When the aristocratic system was finally thrown down in World War I, these churches suddenly found themselves completely on their own and without extensive government backing for the first time since the days of Emperor Diocletian. Contrast that with America, where churches have operated independently of government since the 17th century. Today they know how to survive and flourish on their own while the Church of England can’t even enforce its own doctrine.


16 posted on 10/08/2008 6:17:34 PM PDT by bobjam
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