Revelation 20:7-10
7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And FIRE came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.

Saint Augustine on Rev 20:7-10

The words, “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city,” do not mean that they have come, or shall come, to one place, as if the camp of the saints and the beloved city should be in some one place; for this camp is nothing else than the Church of Christ extending over the whole world. And consequently wherever the Church shall be,—and it shall be in all nations, as is signified by “the breadth of the earth,”—there also shall be the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and there it shall be encompassed by the savage persecution of all its enemies; for they too shall exist along with it in all nations,—that is, it shall be straitened, and hard pressed, and shut up in the straits of tribulation, but shall not desert its military duty, which is signified by the word “camp.”

The words, “And fire came down out of heaven and devoured them,” are not to be understood of the final punishment which shall be inflicted when it is said, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire;” (Matt 25:41), for then they shall be cast into the fire, not fire come down out of heaven upon them. In this place “fire out of heaven” is well understood of the firmness of the saints, wherewith they refuse to yield obedience to those who rage against them. For the firmament is “heaven,” by whose firmness these assailants shall be pained with blazing zeal, for they shall be impotent to draw away the saints to the party of Antichrist. This is the fire which shall devour them, and this is “from God;” for it is by God’s grace the saints become unconquerable, and so torment their enemies. For as in a good sense it is said, “The zeal of Thine house hath consumed me,” Ps. 119:9, so in a bad sense it is said, “Zeal hath possessed the uninstructed people, and now fire shall consume the enemies,” Isaiah 26:11. Saint Augustine's City of God and Christian Doctrine, pages 692-3


The "FIRE which came down from God out of heaven" was, once again, the Holy Spirit Himself as He moved through "the Reformers" whose ministry is commonly known as, "The fires of the Reformation" or simply, "Reformation fire." This Holy Ghost fire was the great rescue of true Christendom (Augustine's "City of God") which had become besieged by enemies on every side: militant physical enemies, (resurgent Islamists and atheists and the Golden Hordes of the Far East, et al), as well as ravenous ecclesiastical enemies (religious dictatorships of institutionalized heresy in high ecclesiastical office).

These Reformers, armed within by the Word of God and powered by the Spirit of God exherted ministerial powers that consumed the religious adversaries besieging the true Saints. The armies of Chrisenized nations found themselves invigorated to mount a successful resistance to the Islamic resurgence on the brink of breaking through to invade the Christian stronghold of Europe as they had done throughout Africa and Asia.  By their ministry, the fires of the Reformation, true believers in Christ & His simple Gospel exerted themselves anew to throw off the threats and retain the reign of the Saints granted them by God at Christ's Return around 70AD.  Three hundred years after the crowning of Hildebrandt as Pope (1073AD), John Wycliffe completed his doctorate in theology in 1373AD and began his ministry of reformation. John Wycliffe is lionized as, "The Morning Star of the Reformation."

1225-1274AD Thomas Aquinas

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas

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Depiction of St. Thomas Aquinas from The Demidoff Altarpiece by Carlo Crivelli


Thomas Aquinas


c. 28 January 1225 (Castle of Roccasecca, near Aquino, Italy)


7 March 1274 (Fossanova Abbey, Lazio, Italy)


Scholasticism, Founder of Thomism

Main interests

Metaphysics (incl. Theology), Logic, Mind, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics

Notable ideas

Five Proofs for God's Existence, Principle of double effect


Aristotle, Albertus Magnus, Paul the Apostle, Boethius, Eriugena, Anselm, Averroes, Maimonides, St. Augustine, Algazel, Avicenna, John of Damascus


Giles of Rome, Godfrey of Fontaines, Jacques Maritain, G. E. M. Anscombe, Meister Eckhart, John Locke, Dante, G. K. Chesterton

Thomas Aquinas, O.P.(also Saint Thomas Aquinas, Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino; c. 12257 March 1274) was an Italian Catholic priest in the Order of Preachers (more commonly known as the Dominican Order), a philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Universalis and Doctor Communis. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology.

Aquinas is held in the Catholic Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood (Code of Canon Law, Can. 252, §3). The works for which he is best-known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles. One of the 33 Doctors of the Church, he is considered by many Catholics to be the Catholic Church's greatest theologian and philosopher. Consequently, many institutions of learning have been named after him.



[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Aquinas was born around 1225 at his father Count Landulf's castle of Roccasecca in the kingdom of Naples, in the present-day Regione Lazio. Through his mother, Theodora Countess of Theate, Aquinas was related to the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Holy Roman emperors.[1] Landulf's brother Sinibald was abbot of the original Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino. The family intended for Aquinas to follow his uncle into that position. This would have been a normal career path for a younger son of southern Italian nobility.[1]

At the age of five, Aquinas began his early education at the monastery. When he was 16, he left the University of Naples, where he had studied for six years. Aquinas had come under the influence of the Dominicans, who wished to enlist the ablest young scholars of the age. The Dominicans and the Franciscans represented a revolutionary challenge to the well-established clerical systems of Medieval Europe.[1]

Aquinas's change of heart did not please his family. On the way to Rome, his brothers seized him and took him back to his parents at the castle of San Giovanni. He was held captive for a year so he would renounce his new aspiration. According to Aquinas's earliest biographers, the family even brought a woman to tempt him, but he drove her away. Finally, Pope Innocent IV intervened, and Aquinas assumed the habit of St. Dominic in his seventeenth year.[1]

His superiors saw his great aptitude for theological study. In late 1244, they sent him to the Dominican school in Cologne, where Albertus Magnus was lecturing on philosophy and theology. In 1245, Aquinas accompanied Albertus to the University of Paris, where they remained for three years. During this time, Aquinas threw himself into the controversy between the university and the Friar-Preachers about the liberty of teaching. Aquinas actively resisted the university's speeches and pamphlets. When the Pope was alerted of this dispute, the Dominicans selected Aquinas to defend his order. He did so with great success. He even overcame the arguments of Guillaume de St Amour, the champion of the university, and one of the most celebrated men of the day.[1]

Aquinas then graduated as a bachelor of theology. In 1248, he returned to Cologne, where he was appointed second lecturer and magister studentium. This year marks the beginning of his literary activity and public life.[1]

For several years, Aquinas remained with Albertus Magnus. Aquinas's long association with this great philosopher-theologian was the most important influence in his development. In the end, he became a comprehensive scholar who permanently utilized Aristotle's method.[1]

[edit] Career

In 1252, Aquinas went to Paris for his master's degree. He had some difficulty because the professoriate of the university was attacking the mendicant orders, but ultimately, he received the degree.

In 1256, Aquinas, along with his friend Bonaventura, was named doctor of theology and began to lecture on theology in Paris and Rome and other Italian towns. From this time on, his life was one of incessant toil. Aquinas continually served in his order, frequently made long and tedious journeys, and constantly advised the reigning pontiff on affairs of state.[1]

In 1259, Aquinas was present at an important meeting of his order at Valenciennes. At the solicitation of Pope Urban IV, he moved to Rome no earlier than late 1261. In 1263, he attended the London meeting of the Dominican order. In 1268, he lectured in Rome and Bologna. Throughout these years, he remained engaged in the public business of the Catholic Church.[2]

From 1269 to 1271, Aquinas was again active in Paris. He lectured to the students, managed the affairs of the Catholic Church, and advised the king, Louis VIII, his kinsman, on affairs of state.[3] In 1272, the provincial chapter at Florence empowered him to begin a new studium generale at a location of his choice. Later, the chief of his order and King Charles II brought him back to the professor's chair at Naples.[4]

All this time, Aquinas preached every day, and he wrote homilies, disputations, and lectures. He also worked diligently on his great literary work, the Summa Theologica. The Catholic Church offered to make him archbishop of Naples and abbot of Monte Cassino, but he refused both.[3]

It should be noted that, as a Dominican Friar, Aquinas was supposed to participate in the mortification process. He did not; a remarkable thing considering how devoted to his faith he was known to be. At his canonization trial, it became evident he did not practice such rites. "The forty-two witnesses at the canonization trial had little to report concerning extraordinary acts of penance, sensational deeds, and mortifications...they could only repeat unanimously, again and again: Thomas had been a pure person, humble, simple, peace-loving, given to contemplation, moderate, a lover of poetry". These endearing qualities helped him in his beatification. The witnesses praised Thomas for his rational thought.

St. Thomas Aquinas, by Fra Angelico
St. Thomas Aquinas, by Fra Angelico

Aquinas had a mystical experience while celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273. At this point, he set aside his Summa. When asked why he had stopped writing, Aquinas replied, "I cannot go on […] All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me."[citation needed] Later, others reported that Aquinas heard a voice from a cross that told him he had written well. On one occasion, monks claimed to have found him levitating. The twentieth century Catholic writer/convert G. K. Chesterton describes these and other stories in his work on Aquinas, The Dumb Ox, a title based on early impressions that Aquinas was not proficient in speech. Chesterton quotes Albertus Magnus' refutation of these impressions: "You call him 'a dumb ox,' but I declare before you that he will yet bellow so loud in doctrine that his voice will resound through the whole world."[5]

Aquinas had a dark complexion, large head and receding hairline, and he was of large stature. His manners showed his breeding, for people described him as refined, affable, and lovable. It was told that he was so fat that in order for him to reach food on the table, they had to cut a bay into the wood (citation in "Bildung: Alles was man wissen muss" from Schwanitz, also see other sources online and the biographies). He also suffered from endema and one eye was bigger than the other. In arguments, he maintained self-control and won over his opponents by his personality and great learning. His tastes were simple. He impressed his associates with his power of memory. When absorbed in thought, he often forgot his surroundings, but he was able to express his thoughts systematically, clearly, and simply. Because of his keen grasp of his materials, Aquinas does not, like Duns Scotus, make the reader his companion in the search for truth. Rather, he teaches authoritatively. On the other hand, he felt dissatisfied by the insufficiency of his works as compared to the divine revelations he had received.[4]

[edit] Death and canonization

In January 1274, Pope Gregory X directed Aquinas to attend the Second Council of Lyons. Aquinas's task was to investigate and, if possible, settle the differences between the Greek and Latin churches. Far from healthy, he undertook the journey. On the way, he stopped at the castle of a niece and there became seriously ill. Aquinas desired to end his days in a monastery. However, he was unable to reach a house of the Dominicans, so he was taken to the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova. After a lingering illness of seven weeks, Aquinas died on March 7, 1274.[4]

Dante (Purg. xx. 69) asserts that Aquinas was poisoned by the order of Charles of Anjou. Villani (ix. 218) quotes this belief, and the Anonimo Fiorentino describes the crime and its motive. But the historian Muratori reproduced the account of one of Aquinas's friends, and this version of the story gives no hint of foul play.[3]

Aquinas made a remarkable impression on all who knew him. He received the title doctor angelicas (Angelic Doctor).[4] In The Divine Comedy, Dante sees the glorified spirit of Aquinas in the Heaven of the Sun with the other great exemplars of religious wisdom.

In 1319, the Catholic Church began preliminary investigations to Aquinas's canonization. On July 18, 1323, Pope John XXII pronounced Aquinas's sainthood at Avignon.[4] In 1567, Pope Pius V ranked the festival of St. Thomas Aquinas with those of the four great Latin fathers: Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory.

Aquinas's Summa Theologica was deemed so important that at the Council of Trent, it was placed upon the altar beside the Bible and the Decretals.[6] Only Augustine has had an equal influence on the theological thought and language of the Western Catholic church. In his Encyclical of August 4, 1879, Pope Leo XIII stated that Aquinas's theology was a definitive exposition of Catholic doctrine. Thus, he directed the clergy to take the teachings of Aquinas as the basis of their theological positions. Also, Leo XIII decreed that all Catholic seminaries and universities must teach Aquinas's doctrines, and where Aquinas did not speak on a topic, the teachers were "urged to teach conclusions that were reconcilable with his thinking."

In 1880, Aquinas was declared patron of all Catholic educational establishments. In a monastery at Naples, near the cathedral of St. Januarius, a cell in which he supposedly lived is still shown to visitors. Aquinas's feast day was changed after Vatican II to January 28. Until then, and still observed by traditionalists, his feast day was on the day of his death, March 7. His remains were placed in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse in 1369. Between 1789 and 1974, they were held in Saint Sernin basilica of Toulouse. In 1974, they were returned to the Church of the Jacobins, where they have remained ever since.

[edit] Philosophy

Thomas Aquinas 17th century sculpture
Thomas Aquinas 17th century sculpture
"Nihil est in intellectu quod non sit prius in sensu." (Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses) – Aquinas's peripatetic axiom

The philosophy of Aquinas has exerted enormous influence on subsequent Christian theology, especially that of the Catholic Church, extending to Western philosophy in general, where he stands as a vehicle and modifier of Aristotelianism. Philosophically, his most important and enduring work is the Summa Theologica, in which he expounds his systematic theology of the quinquae viae.

[edit] Epistemology

Aquinas believed "that for the knowledge of any truth whatsoever man needs Divine help, that the intellect may be moved by God to its act." However, he believed that human beings have the natural capacity to know many things without special divine revelation, even though such revelation occurs from time to time, "especially in regard to [topics of] faith."[7] Aquinas was also an Aristotelian and an empiricist. He substantially influenced these two streams of Western thought.

[edit] Revelation

Aquinas believed that truth is known through reason (natural revelation) and faith (supernatural revelation). Supernatural revelation is revealed through the prophets, Holy Scripture, and the Magisterium, the sum of which is called "tradition". Natural revelation is the truth available to all people through their human nature; certain truths all men can attain from correct human reasoning. For example, he felt this applied to rational proofs for the existence of God.

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Though one may deduce the existence of God and His Attributes (One, Truth, Good, Power, Knowledge) through reason, certain specifics may be known only through special revelation (Like the Trinity). In Aquinas's view, special revelation is equivalent to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The major theological components of Christianity, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, are revealed in the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Scriptures and may not otherwise be deduced.

Special revelation (faith) and natural revelation (reason) are complementary rather than contradictory in nature, for they pertain to the same unity: truth.

[edit] Analogy

An important element in Aquinas's philosophy is his theory of analogy. Aquinas noted three forms of descriptive language: univocal, analogical, and equivocal.[8]

  • Univocality is the use of a descriptor in the same sense when applied to two objects.
  • Analogy, Aquinas maintained, occurs when a descriptor changes some but not all of its meaning. Analogy is necessary when talking about God, for some of the aspects of the divine nature are hidden (Deus absconditus) and others revealed (Deus revelatus) to finite human minds. In Aquinas's mind, we can know about God through his creation (general revelation), but only in an analogous manner. We can speak of God's goodness only by understanding that goodness as applied to humans is similar to, but not identical with, the goodness of God.[9]
  • Equivocation is the complete change in meaning of the descriptor and is an informal fallacy.

[edit] Ethics

Aquinas's ethics are based on the concept of "first principles of action."[10] In his Summa Theologica, he wrote:

Virtue denotes a certain perfection of a power. Now a thing's perfection is considered chiefly in regard to its end. But the end of power is act. Wherefore power is said to be perfect, according as it is determinate to its act.[11]

Aquinas defined the four cardinal virtues as prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. The cardinal virtues are natural and revealed in nature, and they are binding on everyone. There are, however, three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity. These are supernatural and are distinct from other virtues in their object, namely, God:

Now the object of the theological virtues is God Himself, Who is the last end of all, as surpassing the knowledge of our reason. On the other hand, the object of the intellectual and moral virtues is something comprehensible to human reason. Wherefore the theological virtues are specifically distinct from the moral and intellectual virtues.[12]

Furthermore, Aquinas distinguished four kinds of law: eternal, natural, human, and divine. Eternal law is the decree of God that governs all creation. Natural law is the human "participation" in the eternal law and is discovered by reason.[13] Natural law, of course, is based on "first principles":

. . . this is the first precept of the law, that good is to be done and promoted, and evil is to be avoided. All other precepts of the natural law are based on this . . .[14]

The desire to live and to procreate are counted by Aquinas among those basic (natural) human values on which all human values are based.

Human law is positive law: the natural law applied by governments to societies. Divine law is the specially revealed law in the scriptures.

Aquinas also greatly influenced Catholic understandings of mortal and venial sins.

Aquinas denied that human beings have any duty of charity to animals because they are not persons. Otherwise, it would be unlawful to use them for food. But this does not give us license to be cruel to them, for "cruel habits might carry over into our treatment of human beings."[15]

[edit] Theology

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Aquinas viewed theology, or the sacred doctrine, as a science, the raw material data of which consists of written scripture and the tradition of the Catholic church. These sources of data were produced by the self-revelation of God to individuals and groups of people throughout history. Faith and reason, while distinct but related, are the two primary tools for processing the data of theology. Aquinas believed both were necessary - or, rather, that the confluence of both was necessary - for one to obtain true knowledge of God. Aquinas blended Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine by suggesting that rational thinking and the study of nature, like revelation, were valid ways to understand God. According to Aquinas, God reveals himself through nature, so to study nature is to study God. The ultimate goals of theology, in Aquinas’ mind, are to use reason to grasp the truth about God and to experience salvation through that truth.

[edit] Nature of God

Aquinas felt that the existence of God is neither self-evident nor beyond proof. In the Summa Theologica, he considered in great detail five rational proofs for the existence of God. These are widely known as the quinquae viae, or the "Five Ways."

Concerning the nature of God, Aquinas felt the best approach, commonly called the via negativa, is to consider what God is not. This led him to propose five positive statements about the divine qualities:[16]

  1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and form.
  2. God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on account of God's complete actuality.
  3. God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically, intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of size and infinity of number.
  4. God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God's essence and character.
  5. God is one, without diversification within God's self. The unity of God is such that God's essence is the same as God's existence. In Aquinas's words, "in itself the proposition 'God exists' is necessarily true, for in it subject and predicate are the same."

In this approach, he is following, among others, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.[17]

[edit] Nature of the Trinity

Aquinas argued that God, while perfectly united, also is perfectly described by three interrelated persons. These three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are constituted by their relations within the essence of God. The Father generates the Son (or the Word) by the relation of self-awareness. This eternal generation then produces an eternal Spirit "who enjoys the divine nature as the Love of God, the Love of the Father for the Word."

This Trinity exists independently from the world. It transcends the created world, but the Trinity also decided to communicate God's self and God's goodness to human beings. This takes place through the Incarnation of the Word in the person of Jesus Christ and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (indeed, the very essence of the Trinity itself) within those who have experienced salvation by God.[18]

[edit] Nature of Jesus Christ

In the Summa Theologica, Aquinas begins his discussion of Jesus Christ by recounting the biblical story of Adam and Eve and by describing the negative effects of original sin. The purpose of Christ's Incarnation was to restore human nature by removing "the contamination of sin", which humans cannot do by themselves. "Divine Wisdom judged it fitting that God should become man, so that thus one and the same person would be able both to restore man and to offer satisfaction."[19]

Aquinas argued against several specific contemporary and historical theologians who held differing views about Christ. In response to Photinus, Aquinas stated that Jesus was truly divine and not simply a human being. Against Nestorius, who suggested that God merely inhabited the body of Christ, Aquinas argued that the fullness of God was an integral part of Christ's existence. However, countering Apollinaris' views, Aquinas held that Christ had a truly human (rational) soul, as well. This produced a duality of natures in Christ, contrary to the teachings of Arius. Aquinas argued against Eutyches that this duality persisted after the Incarnation. Aquinas stated that these two natures existed simultaneously yet distinguishably in one real human body, unlike the teachings of Manichaeus and Valentinus.[20]

In short, "Christ had a real body of the same nature of ours, a true rational soul, and, together with these, perfect deity." Thus, there is both unity (in his one hypostasis) and diversity (in his two natures, human and divine) in Christ.[21]

[edit] Goal of human life

In Aquinas's thought, the goal of human existence is union and eternal fellowship with God. Specifically, this goal is achieved through the beatific vision, an event in which a person experiences perfect, unending happiness by comprehending the very essence of God. This vision, which occurs after death, is a gift from God given to those who have experienced salvation and redemption through Christ while living on earth.

This ultimate goal carries implications for one's present life on earth. Aquinas stated that an individual's will must be ordered toward right things, such as charity, peace, and holiness. He sees this as the way to happiness. Aquinas orders his treatment of the moral life around the idea of happiness. The relationship between will and goal is antecedent in nature "because rectitude of the will consists in being duly ordered to the last end [that is, the beatific vision]." Those who truly seek to understand and see God will necessarily love what God loves. Such love requires morality and bears fruit in everyday human choices.[22]

[edit] Modern influence

Many modern ethicists both within and outside the Catholic Church (notably Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre) have recently commented on the possible use of Aquinas's virtue ethics as a way of avoiding utilitarianism or Kantian deontology. Through the work of twentieth century philosophers such as Elizabeth Anscombe (especially in her book Intention), Aquinas's principle of double effect specifically and his theory of intentional activity generally have been influential.

It is remarkable that Aquinas's aesthetic theories, especially the concept of claritas, deeply influenced the literary practice of modernist writer James Joyce, who used to extol Aquinas as being second only to Aristotle among Western philosophers. The influence of Aquinas's aesthetics also can be found in the works of the Italian semiotician Umberto Eco, who wrote an essay on aesthetic ideas in Aquinas (published in 1956 and republished in 1988 in a revised edition).

[edit] Other views

[edit] Sacraments

For Aquinas' writing justifying the sacraments, see Aquinas and the Sacraments.

[edit] Various topics

For Aquinas' discussion of the death penalty, usury, existentialism, and forced baptism of the children of Jews and other heretics, see Thought of Thomas Aquinas Part I.

[edit] Biographies

Many biographies of Aquinas have been written over the centuries, one of the most notable by G. K. Chesterton.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Philip Schaff, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953), vol. XI, p. 422.
  2. ^ Schaff, pp. 422-423.
  3. ^ a b c "Aquinas, Thomas", Encyclopædia Britannica (1911), pg. 250.
  4. ^ a b c d e Schaff, p. 423.
  5. ^ Fr. Placid Conway, O.P., Saint Thomas Aquinas (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1911), chapter 2.
  6. ^ Will Durant, The Age of Faith (Simon and Schuster, 1950), p. 978.
  7. ^ Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Question 109. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
  8. ^ R. C. Sproul, Renewing Your Mind (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 1998), p. 33.
  9. ^ Geisler, Norman L. (ed). Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI, 1999. p. 726.
  10. ^ Geisler, p. 727.
  11. ^ Summa, Q55a1.
  12. ^ Summa, Q62a2.
  13. ^ Louis Pojman, Ethics (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1995).
  14. ^ Summa, Q94a2.
  15. ^ Peter Singer. "Animals" in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy.
  16. ^ Peter Kreeft, Summa of the Summa (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), pp. 74-77, 86-87, 97-99, 105, 111-112.
  17. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, Aquinas, Thomas
  18. ^ Aidan Nichols, Discovering Aquinas (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), pp. 173-174.
  19. ^ Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas's Shorter Summa (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2002), pp. 228-229.
  20. ^ Aquinas 2002, pp. 231-239.
  21. ^ Aquinas 2002, pp. 241, 245-249. Emphasis is the author's.
  22. ^ Kreeft, p. 383.

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

  • Boland, Vivian (2007). St Thomas Aquinas: Continuum Library of Educational Thought. Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-8400-X.

[edit] External links

[edit] By Aquinas

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[edit] About Aquinas

NAME Thomas Aquinas
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Saint Thomas Aquinas (reverent form); Thomas of Aquin (alternate name); Aquino (alternate name); Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Universalis (title)
SHORT DESCRIPTION Philosopher and theologian
PLACE OF BIRTH Castle of Roccasecca, near Aquino, Italy
DATE OF DEATH 7 March 1274
PLACE OF DEATH Fossanova Abbey, Lazio, Italy

1320-1384AD John Wycliffe

From: http://www.bible-researcher.com/wyclif1.html

Schaff's account of Wyclif and the Lollards

The following is reproduced from Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910), volume 6 From Boniface viii to Martin Luther. A.D. 1294–1517, chapter 5: "Reformers before the Reformation."

§ 40. John Wyclif.

"A good man was there of religioun
That was a pore Persone of a town;
But rich he was of holy thought and werk;
He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
That Christes gospel trewly wolde preche.

This noble ensample to his shepe he gaf,
That first he wrought and after that he taught.

A better priest I trow that nowhere non is,
He waited after no pompe ne reverence;
Ne maked him no spiced conscience,
But Christes lore and his apostles twelve
He taught, but first he folwed it himselve."553


The title, Reformers before the Reformation, has been aptly given to a group of men of the 14th and 15th centuries who anticipated many of the teachings of Luther and the Protestant Reformers. They stand, each by himself, in solitary prominence, Wyclif in England, John Huss in Bohemia, Savonarola in Florence, and Wessel, Goch and Wesel in Northern Germany. To these men the sculptor has given a place on the pedestal of his famous group at Worms representing the Reformation of the 16th century. They differ, if we except the moral reformer, Savonarola, from the group of the German mystics, who sought a purification of life in quiet ways, in having expressed open dissent from the Church’s ritual and doctrinal teachings. They also differ from the group of ecclesiastical reformers, D’Ailly, Gerson, Nicolas of Clamanges, who concerned themselves with the fabric of the canon law and did not go beyond the correction of abuses in the administration and morals of the Church. Wyclif and his successors were doctrinal reformers. In some views they had been anticipated by Marsiglius of Padua and the other assailants of the papacy of the early half of the 14th century.

John Wyclif, called the Morning Star of the Reformation, and, at the time of his death, in England and in Bohemia, the Evangelical doctor,554 was born about 1324 near the village of Wyclif, Yorkshire, in the diocese of Durham.555 His own writings give scarcely a clue to the events of his career, and little can be gathered from his immediate contemporaries. He was of Saxon blood. His studies were pursued at Oxford, which had six colleges. He was a student at Balliol and master of that hall in 1361. He was also connected with Merton and Queen’s, and was probably master of Canterbury Hall, founded by Archbishop Islip.556 He was appointed in succession to the livings of Fillingham, 1363, Ludgershall, 1368, and by the king’s appointment, to Lutterworth, 1374. The living of Lutterworth was valued at £26 a year.

Wyclif occupies a distinguished place as an Oxford schoolman, a patriot, a champion of theological and practical reforms and the translator of the Scriptures into English. The papal schism, occurring in the midst of his public career, had an important bearing on his views of papal authority.

So far as is known, he confined himself, until 1366, to his duties in Oxford and his parish work. In that year he appears as one of the king’s chaplains and as opposed to the papal supremacy in the ecclesiastial affairs of the realm. The parliament of the same year refused Urban V.’s demand for the payment of the tribute, promised by King John, which was back 33 years. John, it declared, had no right to obligate the kingdom to a foreign ruler without the nation’s consent. Wyclif, if not a member of this body, was certainly an adviser to it.557

In the summer of 1374, Wyclif went to Bruges as a member of the commission appointed by the king to negotiate peace with France and to treat with the pope’s agents on the filling of ecclesiastical appointments in England. His name was second in the list of commissioners following the name of the bishop of Bangor. At Bruges we find him for the first time in close association with John of Gaunt, Edward’s favorite son, an association which continued for several years, and for a time inured to his protection from ecclesiastical violence.558

On his return to England, he began to speak as a religious reformer. He preached in Oxford and London against the pope’s secular sovereignty, "running about," as the old chronicler has it, "from place to place, and barking against the Church."559 It was soon after this that, in one of his tracts, he styled the bishop of Rome "the anti-Christ, the proud, worldly priest of Rome, and the most cursed of clippers and cut-purses." He maintained that he "has no more power in binding and loosing than any priest, and that the temporal lords may seize the possessions of the clergy if pressed by necessity." The duke of Lancaster, the clergy’s open foe, headed a movement to confiscate ecclesiastical property. Piers Ploughman had an extensive public opinion behind him when he exclaimed, "Take her lands, ye Lords, and let her live by dimes (tithes)." The Good Parliament of 1376, to whose deliberation Wyclif contributed by voice and pen, gave emphatic expression to the public complaints against the hierarchy.

The Oxford professor’s attitude had become too flagrant to be suffered to go unrebuked. In 1377, he was summoned before the tribunal of William Courtenay, bishop of London, at St. Paul’s, where the proceedings opened with a violent altercation between the bishop and the duke. The question was as to whether Wyclif should take a seat or continue standing in the court. Percy, lord marshal of England, ordered him to sit down, a proposal the bishop pronounced an unheard-of indignity to the court. At this, Lancaster, who was present, swore he would bring down Courtenay’s pride and the pride of all the prelates in England. "Do your best, Sir," was the spirited retort of the bishop, who was a son of the duke of Devonshire. A popular tumult ensued, Wyclif being protected by Lancaster.

Pope Gregory XI. himself now took notice of the offender in a document condemning 19 sentences from his writings as erroneous and dangerous to Church and state. In fact, he issued a batch of at least five bulls, addressed to the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishop of London, the University of Oxford and the king, Edward III. The communication to Archbishop Sudbury opened with an unctuous panegyric of England’s past most glorious piety and the renown of its Church leaders, champions of the orthodox faith and instructors not only of their own but of other peoples in the path of the Lord’s commandments. But it had come to his ears that the Lutterworth rector had "broken forth into such detestable madness as not to shrink from publicly proclaiming false propositions which threatened the stability of the entire Church." His Holiness, therefore, called upon the archbishop to have John sent to prison and kept in bonds till final sentence should be passed by the papal court.560 It seems that the vice-chancellor of Oxford at least made a show of complying with the pope’s command and remanded the heretical doctor to Black Hall, but the imprisonment was only nominal.

Fortunately, the pope might send forth his fulminations to bind and imprison but it was not wholly in his power to hold the truth in bonds and to check the progress of thought. In his letter to the chancellor of Oxford, Gregory alleged that Wyclif was "vomiting out of the filthy dungeon of his heart most wicked and damnable heresies, whereby he hoped to pollute the faithful and bring them to the precipice of perdition, overthrow the Church and subvert the secular estate." The disturber was put into the same category with those princes among errorists, Marsiglius of Padua and John of Jandun.561

The archbishop’s court at Lambeth, before which the offender was now cited, was met by a message from the widow of the Black Prince to stay the proceedings, and the sitting was effectually broken up by London citizens who burst into the hall. At Oxford, the masters of theology pronounced the nineteen condemned propositions true, though they sounded badly to the ear. A few weeks later, March, 1378, Gregory died, and the papal schism broke out. No further notice was taken of Gregory’s ferocious bulls. Among other things, the nineteen propositions affirmed that Christ’s followers have no right to exact temporal goods by ecclesiastical censures, that the excommunications of pope and priest are of no avail if not according to the law of Christ, that for adequate reasons the king may strip the Church of temporalities and that even a pope may be lawfully impeached by laymen.

With the year 1378 Wyclif’s distinctive career as a doctrinal reformer opens. He had defended English rights against foreign encroachment. He now assailed, at a number of points, the theological structure the Schoolmen and medieval popes had laboriously reared, and the abuses that had crept into the Church. The spectacle of Christendom divided by two papal courts, each fulminating anathemas against the other, was enough to shake confidence in the divine origin of the papacy. In sermons, tracts and larger writings, Wyclif brought Scripture and common sense to bear. His pen was as keen as a Damascus blade. Irony and invective, of which he was the master, he did not hesitate to use. The directness and pertinency of his appeals brought them easily within the comprehension of the popular mind. He wrote not only in Latin but in English. His conviction was as deep and his passion as fiery as Luther’s, but on the one hand, Wyclif’s style betrays less of the vivid illustrative power of the great German and little of his sympathetic warmth, while on the other, less of his unfortunate coarseness. As Luther is the most vigorous tract writer that Germany has produced, so Wyclif is the foremost religious pamphleteer that has arisen in England; and the impression made by his clear and stinging thrusts may be contrasted in contents and audience with the scholarly and finished tracts of the Oxford movement led by Pusey, Keble and Newman, the one reaching the conscience, the other appealing to the aesthetic tastes; the one adapted to break down priestly pretension, the other to foster it.

But the Reformer of the 14th century was more than a scholar and publicist. Like John Wesley, he had a practical bent of mind, and like him he attempted to provide England with a new proclamation of the pure Gospel. To counteract the influence of the friars, whom he had begun to attack after his return from Bruges, he conceived the idea of developing and sending forth a body of itinerant evangelists. These "poor priests," as they were called, were taken from the list of Oxford graduates, and seem also to have included laymen. Of their number and the rules governing them, we are in the dark. The movement was begun about 1380, and on the one side it associates Wyclif with Gerrit de Groote, and on the other with Wesley and with his more recent fellow-countryman, General Booth, of the Salvation Army.

Although this evangelistic idea took not the form of a permanent organization, the appearance of the poor preachers made a sensation. According to the old chronicler, the disciples who gathered around him in Oxford were many and, clad in long russet gowns of one pattern, they went on foot, ventilating their master’s teachings among the people and publicly setting them forth in sermons.562 They had the distinction of being arraigned by no less a personage than Bishop Courtenay "as itinerant, unauthorized preachers who teach erroneous, yea, heretical assertions publicly, not only in churches but also in public squares and other profane places, and who do this under the guise of great holiness, but without having obtained any episcopal or papal authorization."

It was in 1381, the year before Courtenay said his memorable words, that Walden reports that Wyclif "began to determine matters upon the sacrament of the altar."563 To attempt an innovation at this crucial point required courage of the highest order. In twelve theses he declared the Church’s doctrine unscriptural and misleading. For the first time since the promulgation of the dogma of transubstantiation by the Fourth Lateran was it seriously called in question by a theological expert. It was a case of Athanasius standing alone. The mendicants waxed violent. Oxford authorities, at the instance of the archbishop and bishops, instituted a trial, the court consisting of Chancellor Berton and twelve doctors. Without mentioning Wyclif by name, the judges condemned as pestiferous the assertions that the bread and wine remain after consecration, and that Christ’s body is present only figuratively or tropically in the eucharist. Declaring that the judges had not been able to break down his arguments, Wyclif went on preaching and lecturing at the university. But in the king’s council, to which he made appeal, the duke of Lancaster took sides against him and forbade him to speak any more on the subject at Oxford. This prohibition Wyclif met with a still more positive avowal of his views in his Confession, which closes with the noble words, "I believe that in the end the truth will conquer."

The same year, the Peasants’ Revolt broke out, but there is no evidence that Wyclif had any more sympathy with the movement than Luther had with the Peasants’ Rising of 1525. After the revolt was over, he proposed that Church property be given to the upper classes, not to the poor.564 The principles, however, which he enunciated were germs which might easily spring up into open rebellion against oppression. Had he not written, "There is no moral obligation to pay tax or tithe to bad rulers either in Church or state. It is permitted to punish or depose them and to reclaim the wealth which the clergy have diverted from the poor?" One hundred and fifty years after this time, Tyndale said, "They said it in Wyclif’s day, and the hypocrites say now, that God’s Word arouseth insurrection."565

Courtenay’s elevation to the see of Canterbury boded no good to the Reformer. In 1382, he convoked the synod which is known in English history as the Earthquake synod, from the shock felt during its meetings. The primate was supported by nine bishops, and when the earth began to tremble, he showed admirable courage by interpreting it as a favorable omen. The earth, in trying to rid itself of its winds and humors, was manifesting its sympathy with the body ecclesiastic.566 Wyclif, who was not present, made another use of the occurrence, and declared that the Lord sent the earthquake "because the friars had put heresy upon Christ in the matter of the sacrament, and the earth trembled as it did when Christ was damned to bodily death."567

The council condemned twenty-four articles, ascribed to the Reformer, ten of which were pronounced heretical, and the remainder to be against the decisions of the Church.568 The four main subjects condemned as heresy were that Christ is not corporally present in the sacrament, that oral confession is not necessary for a soul prepared to die, that after Urban VI.’s death the English Church should acknowledge no pope but, like the Greeks, govern itself, and that it is contrary to Scripture for ecclesiastics to hold temporal possessions. Courtenay followed up the synod’s decisions by summoning Rygge, then chancellor of Oxford, to suppress the heretical teachings and teachers. Ignoring the summons, Rygge appointed Repyngdon, another of Wyclif’s supporters, to preach, and when Peter Stokys, "a professor of the sacred page," armed with a letter from the archbishop, attempted to silence him, the students and tutors at Oxford threatened the Carmelite with their drawn swords.

But Courtenay would permit no trifling and, summoning Rygge and the proctors to Lambeth, made them promise on their knees to take the action indicated. Parliament supported the primate. The new preaching was suppressed, but Wyclif stood undaunted. He sent a Complaint of four articles to the king and parliament, in which he pleaded for the supremacy of English law in matters of ecclesiastical property, for the liberty for the friars to abandon the rules of their orders and follow the rule of Christ, and for the view that on the Lord’s table the real bread and wine are present, and not merely the accidents.569

The court was no longer ready to support the Reformer, and Richard II. sent peremptory orders to Rygge to suppress the new teachings. Courtenay himself went to Oxford, and there is some authority for the view that Wyclif again met the prelate face to face at St. Frideswides. Rigid inquisition was made for copies of the condemned teacher’s writings and those of Hereford. Wyclif was inhibited from preaching, and retired to his rectory at Lutterworth. Hereford, Repyngdon, Aston and Bedeman, his supporters, recanted. The whole party received a staggering blow and with it liberty of teaching at Oxford.570

Confined to Lutterworth, Wyclif continued his labors on the translation of the Bible, and sent forth polemic tracts, including the Cruciata,571 a vigorous condemnation of the crusade which the bishop of Norwich, Henry de Spenser, was preparing in support of Urban VI. against the Avignon pope, Clement VII. The warlike prelate had already shown his military gifts during the Peasants’ Uprising. Urban had promised plenary indulgence for a year to all joining the army. Mass was said and sermons preached in the churches of England, and large sums collected for the enterprise. The indulgence extended to the dead as well as to the living. Wyclif declared the crusade an expedition for worldly mastery, and pronounced the indulgence "an abomination of desolation in the holy place." Spenser’s army reached the Continent, but the expedition was a failure. The most important of Wyclif’s theological treatises, the Trialogus, was written in this period. It lays down the principle that, where the Bible and the Church do not agree, we must obey the Bible, and, where conscience and human authority are in conflict, we must follow conscience.572

Two years before his death, Wyclif received a paralytic stroke which maimed but did not completely disable him. It is possible that he received a citation to appear before the pope. With unabated rigor of conviction, he replied to the supreme pontiff that of all men he was most under obligation to obey the law of Christ, that Christ was of all men the most poor, and subject to mundane authority. No Christian man has a right to follow Peter, Paul or any of the saints except as they imitated Christ. The pope should renounce all worldly authority and compel his clergy to do the same. He then asserted that, if in these views he was found to err, he was willing to be corrected, even by death. If it were in his power to do anything to advance these views by his presence in Rome, he would willingly go thither. But God had put an obstacle in his way, and had taught him to obey Him rather than man. He closed with the prayer that God might incline Urban to imitate Christ in his life and teach his clergy to do the same.

While saying mass in his church, he was struck again with paralysis, and passed away two or three days after, Dec. 29, 1384, "having lit a fire which shall never be put out."573 Fuller, writing of his death, exclaims, "Admirable that a hare, so often hunted with so many packs of dogs, should die quietly sitting in his form."

Wyclif was spare, and probably never of robust health, but he was not an ascetic. He was fond of a good meal. In temper he was quick, in mind clear, in moral character unblemished. Towards his enemies he was sharp, but never coarse or ribald. William Thorpe, a young contemporary standing in the court of Archbishop Arundel, bore testimony that "he was emaciated in body and well-nigh destitute of strength, and in conduct most innocent. Very many of the chief men of England conferred with him, loved him dearly, wrote down his sayings and followed his manner of life."574

The prevailing sentiment of the hierarchy was given by Walsingham, chronicler of St. Albans, who characterized the Reformer in these words: "On the feast of the passion of St. Thomas of Canterbury, John de Wyclif, that instrument of the devil, that enemy of the Church, that author of confusion to the common people, that image of hypocrites, that idol of heretics, that author of schism, that sower of hatred, that coiner of lies, being struck with the horrible judgment of God, was smitten with palsy and continued to live till St. Sylvester’s Day, on which he breathed out his malicious spirit into the abodes of darkness."

The dead man was not left in peace. By the decree of Arundel, Wyclif’s writings were suppressed, and it was so effective that Caxton and the first English printers issued no one of them from the press. The Lateran decree of February, 1413, ordered his books burnt, and the Council of Constance, from whose members, such as Gerson and D’Ailly, we might have expected tolerant treatment, formally condemned his memory and ordered his bones exhumed from their resting-place and "cast at a distance from the sepulchre of the church." The holy synod, so ran the decree, "declares said John Wyclif to have been a notorious heretic, and excommunicates him and condemns his memory as one who died an obstinate heretic."575 In 1429, at the summons of Martin IV., the decree was carried out by Flemmyng, bishop of Lincoln.

The words of Fuller, describing the execution of the decree of Constance, have engraven themselves on the page of English history. "They burnt his bones to ashes and cast them into Swift, a neighboring brook running hardby. Thus this brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wicliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed the world over."

In the popular judgment of the English people, John Wyclif, in company with John Latimer and John Wesley, probably represents more fully than any other English religious leader, independence of thought, devotion to conscience, solid religious common sense, and the sound exposition of the Gospel. In the history of the intellectual and moral progress of his people, he was the leading Englishman of the Middle Ages.576

§ 41. Wyclif’s Teachings.

Wyclif’s teachings lie plainly upon the surface of his many writings. In each one of the eminent rôles he played, as schoolman, political reformer, preacher, innovator in theology and translator of the Bible, he wrote extensively. His views show progress in the direction of opposition to the medieval errors and abuses. Driven by attacks, he detected errors which, at the outset, he did not clearly discern. But, above all, his study of the Scriptures forced upon him a system which was in contradiction to the distinctively mediaeval system of theology. His language in controversy was so vigorous that it requires an unusual effort to suppress the impulse to quote at great length.

Clear as Wyclif’s statements always are, some of his works are drawn out by much repetition. Nor does he always move in a straight line, but digresses to this side and to that, taking occasion to discuss at length subjects cognate to the main matter he has in hand. This habit often makes the reading of his larger works a wearisome task. Nevertheless, the author always brings the reader back from his digression or, to use a modern expression, never leaves him sidetracked.

I. As a Schoolman.— Wyclif was beyond dispute the most eminent scholar who taught for any length of time at Oxford since Grosseteste, whom he often quotes.577 He was read in Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome and other Latin Fathers, as well as in the medieval theologians from Anselm to Duns Scotus, Bradwardine, Fitzralph and Henry of Ghent. His quotations are many, but with increasing emphasis, as the years went on, he made his final appeal to the Scriptures. He was a moderate realist and ascribed to nominalism all theological error. He seems to have endeavored to shun the determinism of Bradwardine, and declared that the doctrine of necessity does not do away with the freedom of the will, which is so free that it cannot be compelled. Necessity compels the creature to will, that is, to exercise his freedom, but at that point he is left free to choose.578

II. As a Patriot.—In this role the Oxford teacher took an attitude the very reverse of the attitude assumed by Anselm and Thomas à Becket, who made the English Church a servant to the pope’s will in all things. For loyalty to the Hildebrandian theocracy, Anselm was willing to suffer banishment and à Becket suffered death. In Wyclif, the mutterings of the nation, which had been heard against the foreign regime from the days of William the Conqueror, and especially since King John’s reign, found a stanch and uncompromising mouthpiece. Against the whole system of foreign jurisdiction he raised his voice, as also against the Church’s claim to hold lands, except as it acknowledged the rights of the state. He also opposed the tenure of secular offices by the clergy and, when Archbisbop Sudbury was murdered, declared that he died in sin because he was holding the office of chancellor.

Wyclif’s views on government in Church and state are chiefly set forth in the works On Divine Lordship (De dominio divino) and On Civil Lordship (De dominio civili), and in his Dialogus.579 The Divine Lordship discusses the title by which men hold property and exercise government, and sets forth the distinction between sovereignty and stewardship. Lordship is not properly proprietary. It is stewardship. Christ did not desire to rule as a tenant with absolute rights, but in the way of communicating to others.580 As to his manhood, he was the most perfect of servants.

The Civil Lordship opens by declaring that no one in mortal sin has a right to lordship, and that every one in the state of grace has a real lordship over the whole universe. All Christians are reciprocally lords and servants. The pope, or an ecclesiastical body abusing the property committed to them, may be deprived of it by the state. Proprietary right is limited by proper use. Tithes are an expedient to enable the priesthood to perform its mission. The New Testament does not make them a rule.

From the last portion of the first book of the Civil Lordship, Gregory XI. drew most of the articles for which Wyclif had to stand trial. Here is found the basis for the charge ascribing to him the famous statement that God ought to obey the devil. By this was meant nothing more than that the jurisdiction of every lawful proprietor should be recognized.

III. As a Preacher.— Whether we regard Wyclif’s constant activity in the pulpit, or the impression his sermons made, he must be pronounced by far the most notable of English preachers prior to the Reformation.581 294 of his English sermons and 224 of his Latin sermons have been preserved. To these discourses must be added his English expositions of the Lord’s prayer, the songs of the Bible, the seven deadly sins and other subjects. With rare exceptions, the sermons are based upon passages of the New Testament.

The style of the English discourses is simple and direct. No more plainly did Luther preach against ecclesiastical abuses than did the English Reformer. On every page are joined with practical religious exposition stirring passages rebuking the pope and worldly prelates. They are denounced as anti-christ and the servants of the devil as they turn away from the true work of pasturing Christ’s flock for worldly gain and enjoyment. The preacher condemns the false teachings which are nowhere taught in the Scriptures, such as pilgrimages and indulgences. Sometimes Wyclif seems to be inconsistent with himself, now making light of fasting, now asserting that the Apostles commended it; now disparaging prayers for the dead, now affirming purgatory. With special severity do his sermons strike at the friars who preach out of avarice and neglect to expose the sins of their hearers. No one is more idle than the rich friars, who have nothing but contempt for the poor. Again and again in these sermons, as in his other works, he urges that the goods of the friars be seized and given to the needy classes. Wyclif, the preacher, was always the bold champion of the layman’s rights.

His work, The Pastoral Office, which is devoted to the duties of the faithful minister, and his sermons, lay stress upon preaching as the minister’s proper duty. Preaching he declared the "highest service," even as Christ occupied himself most in that work. And if bishops, on whom the obligation to preach more especially rests, preach not, but are content to have true priests preach in their stead, they are as those that murder Jesus. The same authority which gave to priests the privilege of celebrating the sacrament of the altar binds them to preach. Yea, the preaching of the Word is a more precious occupation than the ministration of the sacraments.582

When the Gospel was preached, as in Apostolic times, the Church grew. Above all things, close attention should be given to Christ’s words, whose authority is superior to all the rites and commandments of pope and friars. Again and again Wyclif sets forth the ideal minister, as in the following description:

"A priest should live holily, in prayer, in desires and thought, in godly conversation and honest teaching, having God’s commandments and His Gospel ever on his lips. And let his deeds be so righteous that no man may be able with cause to find fault with them, and so open his acts that he may be a true book to all sinful and wicked men to serve God. For the example of a good life stirreth men more than true preaching with only the naked word."

The priest’s chief work is to render a substitute for Christ’s miracles by converting himself and his neighbor to God’s law.583 The Sermon on the Mount, Wyclif pronounced sufficient for the guidance of human life apart from any of the requirements and traditions of men.

IV. As a Doctrinal Reformer.— Wyclif’s later writings teem with denials of the doctrinal tenets of his age and indictments against ecclesiastical abuses. There could be no doubt of his meaning. Beginning with the 19 errors Gregory XI. was able to discern, the list grew as the years went on. The Council of Constance gave 45, Netter of Walden, fourscore, and the Bohemian John Lücke, an Oxford doctor of divinity, 266. Cochlaeus, in writing against the Hussites, went beyond all former computations and ascribed to Wyclif the plump sum of 303 heresies, surely enough to have forever covered the Reformer’s memory with obloquy. Fuller suggests as the reason for these variations that some lists included only the Reformer’s primitive tenets or breeders, and others reckoned all the younger fry of consequence derived from them.

The first three articles adduced by the Council of Constance584 had respect to the Lord’s Supper, and charged Wyclif with holding that the substance of the bread remains unchanged after the consecration, that Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar in a real sense, and the accidents of a thing cannot remain after its substance is changed. The 4th article accuses him with declaring that the acts of bishop or priest in baptizing, ordaining and consecrating are void if the celebrant be in a state of mortal sin. Then follow charges of other alleged heresies, such as that after Urban VI. the papacy should be abolished, the clergy should hold no temporal possessions, the friars should gain their living by manual toil and not by begging, Sylvester and Constantine erred in endowing the Church, the papal elections by the cardinals were an invention of the devil, it is not necessary to salvation that one believe the Roman church to be supreme amongst the churches and that all the religious orders were introduced by the devil.

The most of the 45 propositions represent Wyclif’s views with precision. They lie on the surface of his later writings, but they do not exhaust his dissent from the teachings and practice of his time. His assault may be summarized under five heads: the nature of the Church, the papacy, the priesthood, the doctrine of transubstantiation and the use of the Scriptures.

The Church was defined in the Civil Lordship to be the body of the elect, — living, dead and not yet born, — whose head is Christ. Scarcely a writing has come down to us from Wyclif’s pen in which he does not treat the subject, and in his special treatise On the Church, written probably in 1378, it is defined more briefly as the body of all the elect (congregatio omnium predestinatorum). Of this body, Christ alone is the head. The pope is the head of a local church. Stress is laid upon the divine decree as determining who are the predestinate and who the reprobate.585

Some persons, he said, in speaking of "Holy Church, understand thereby prelates and priests, monks and canons and friars and all that have the tonsure, though they live ever so accursedly in defiance of God’s law." But so far from this being true, all popes cardinals and priests are not among the saved. On the contrary, not even a pope can tell assuredly that he is predestinate. This knows no one on earth. The pope may be a reprobate. Such popes there have been, and it is blasphemy for cardinals and pontiffs to think that their election to office of itself constitutes a title to the primacy of the Church. The curia is a nest of heretics if its members do not follow Christ, a fountain of poison, the abomination of desolation spoken of in the sacred page. Gregory XI Wyclif called a terrible devil (horrendus diabolus). God in His mercy had put him to death and dispersed his confederates, whose crimes Urban VI had revealed.586

Though the English Reformer never used the terms visible and invisible Church, he made the distinction. The Church militant, he said, commenting on John 10:26, is a mixed body. The Apostles took two kinds of fishes, some of which remained in the net and some broke away. So in the Church some are ordained to bliss and some to pain, even though they live godly for a while.587 It is significant that in his English writings Wyclif uses the term "Christian men" instead of the term "the faithful."

As for the papacy, no one has used more stinging words against individual popes as well as against the papacy as an institution than did Wyclif. In the treatises of his last years and in his sermons, the pope is stigmatized as anti-Christ. His very last work, on which he was engaged when death overtook him, bore the title, Anti-christ, meaning the pope. He went so far as to call him the head-vicar of the fiend.588 He saw in the papacy the revelation of the man of sin. The office is wholly poisonous (totum papale officium venenosum). He heaped ridicule upon the address "most holy father." The pope is neither necessary to the Church nor is he infallible. If both popes and all their cardinals were cast into hell, believers could be saved as well without them. They were created not by Christ but by the devil. The pope has no exclusive right to declare what the Scriptures teach, or proclaim what is the supreme law. His absolutions are of no avail unless Christ has absolved before. Popes have no more right to excommunicate than devils have to curse. Many of them are damned (multi papae sunt dampnati). Strong as such assertions are, it is probable that Wyclif did not mean to cast aside the papacy altogether. But again and again the principle is stated that the Apostolic see is to be obeyed only so far as it follows Christ’s law.589

As for the interpretation of Matthew 16:18, Wyclif took the view that "the rock" stands for Peter and every true Christian. The keys of the kingdom of heaven are not metal keys, as popularly supposed, but spiritual power, and they were committed not only to Peter, but to all the saints, "for all men that come to heaven have these keyes of God."590 Towards the pope’s pretension to political functions, Wyclif was, if possible, more unsparing. Christ paid tribute to Caesar. So should the pope. His deposition of kings is the tyranny of the devil. By disregarding Peter’s injunction not to lord it over God’s heritage, but to feed the flock, he and all his sect prove themselves hardened heretics.

Constantine’s donation, the Reformer pronounced the beginning of all evils in the Church. The emperor was put up to it by the devil. It was his new trick to have the Church endowed.591 Chapter after chapter of the treatise on the Church calls upon the pope, prelates and priests to return to the exercise of spiritual functions. They had become the prelates and priests of Caesar. As the Church left Christ to follow Caesar, so now it should abandon Caesar for Christ. As for kissing the pope’s toe, there is no foundation for it in Scripture or reason.

The pope’s practice of getting money by tribute and taxation calls forth biting invective. It was the custom, Wyclif said, to solemnly curse in the parish churches all who clipped the king’s coins and cut men’s purses. From this it would seem, he continued, that the proud and worldly priest of Rome and all his advisers were the most cursed of clippers and cut-purses, for they drew out of England poor men’s livelihoods and many thousands of marks of the king’s money, and this they did for spiritual favors. If the realm had a huge hill of gold, it would soon all be spent by this proud and worldly priest-collector. Of all men, Christ was the most poor, both in spirit and in goods, and put from him all manner of worldly lordship. The pope should leave his authority to worldly lords, and speedily advise his clergy to do the same. "I take it, as a matter of faith, that no man should follow the pope, nor even any of the saints in heaven, except as they follow Christ."592

The priests and friars formed another subject of Wyclif’s vigorous attack. Clerics who follow Christ are true priests and none other. The efficacy of their acts of absolution of sins depends upon their own previous absolution by Christ. The priest’s function is to show forgiveness, already pronounced by God, not to impart it. It was, he affirmed, a strange and marvellous thing that prelates and curates should "curse so faste," when Christ said we should bless rather than reprove. A sentence of excommunication is worse than murder.

The rule of auricular confession Wyclif also disparaged. True contrition of heart is sufficient for the removal of sins. In Christ’s time confession of man to man was not required. In his own day, he said, "shrift to God is put behind; but privy (private) shrift, a new-found thing, is authorized as needful for the soul’s health." He set forth the dangers of the confessional, such as the unchastity of priests. He also spoke of the evils of pilgrimages when women and men going together promiscuously were in temptation of great "lecherie."593 Clerical celibacy, a subject the Reformer seldom touched upon, he declared, when enforced, is against Scripture, and as under the Old Testament law priests were allowed to marry, so under the New Testament the practice is never forbidden, but rather approved.

Straight truth-telling never had a warmer champion than Wyclif. Addressing the clergy, he devotes nearly a hundred pages of his Truth of Scripture to an elaboration of this principle. Not even the most trifling sin is permissible as a means of averting a greater evil, either for oneself or one’s neighbor. Under no circumstances does a good intention justify a falsehood. The pope himself has no right to tolerate or practice misrepresentation to advance a good cause. To accomplish a good end, the priest dare not even make a false appeal to fear. All lying is of itself sin, and no dispensation can change its character.594

The friars called forth the Reformer’s keenest thrusts, and these increased in sharpness as he neared the end of his life. Quotations, bearing on their vices, would fill a large volume. Entire treatises against their heresies and practices issued from his pen. They were slavish agents of the pope’s will; they spread false views of the eucharist; they made merchandise of indulgences and letters of fraternity which pretended to give the purchasers a share in their own good deeds here and at the final accounting. Their lips were full of lies and their hands of blood. They entered houses and led women astray; they lived in idleness; they devoured England.595

The Reformer had also a strong word to say on the delusion of the contemplative life as usually practised. It was the guile of Satan that led men to imagine their fancies and dreamings were religious contemplation and to make them an excuse for sloth. John the Baptist and Christ both left the desert to live among men. He also went so far as to demand that monks be granted the privilege of renouncing the monkish rule for some other condition where they might be useful.596

The four mendicant orders, the Carmelites, Augustinians, Jacobites or Dominicans, and Minorites or Franciscans gave their first letters to the word Caim, showing their descent from the first murderer. Their convents, Wyclif called Cain’s castles. His relentless indignation denounced them as the tail of the dragon, ravening wolves, the sons of Satan, the emissaries of anti-christ and Luciferians and pronounced them worse than Herod, Saul and Judas. The friars repeat that Christ begged water at the well. It were to their praise if they begged water and nothing else.597

With the lighter hand of ridicule, Chaucer also held up the mendicants for indictment. In the Prologue to his Canterbury Tales he represents the friar as an—

... easy man to yeve penaunce,
Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce
For unto a powre order for to give
Is signe that a man is well y-shrive.

His wallet lay biforn him in his lappe
Bretful of pardoun come from Rome all hoot,
A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot
Ne was ther swich another pardonour
For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer [pillow]
Which that, he seyde, was our Lady’s veyl:
And in a glas he hadde a pigges bones.

Skeat’s ed., 4:7, 21.

If it required boldness to attack the powerful body of the monks, it required equal boldness to attack the medieval dogma of transubstantiation. Wyclif himself called it a doctrine of the moderns and of the recent Church (novella ecclesia). In his treatise on the eucharist, he praised God that he had been delivered from its laughable and scandalous errors.598 The dogma of the transmutation of the elements he pronounced idolatry, a lying fable. His own view is that of the spiritual presence. Christ’s body, so far as its dimensions are concerned, is in heaven. It is efficaciously or virtually in the host as in a symbol.599 This symbol "represents" (vicarius est) the body.

Neither by way of impanation nor of identification, much less by way of transmutation, is the body in the host. Christ is in the bread as a king is in all parts of his dominions and as the soul is in the body. In the breaking of the bread, the body is no more broken than the sunbeam is broken when a piece of glass is shattered: Christ is there sacramentally, spiritually, efficiently (sacramentaliter, spiritualiter et virtualiter). Transubstantiation is the greatest of all heresies and subversive of logic, grammar and all natural science.600

The famous controversy as to whether a mouse, partaking of the sacramental elements, really partakes of Christ’s body is discussed in the first pages of the treatise on the eucharist. Wyclif pronounces the primary assumption false, for Christ is not there in a corporal manner. An animal, in eating a man, does not eat his soul. The opinion that the priest actually breaks Christ’s body and so breaks his neck, arms and other members, is a shocking error. What could be more shocking (horribilius), he says, than that the priest should daily make and consecrate the Lord’s body, and what more shocking than to be obliged to eat Christ’s very flesh and drink his very blood. Yea, what could be thought of more shocking than that Christ’s body may be burned or eructated, or that the priest carries God in bodily form on the tips of his fingers. The words of institution are to be taken in a figurative sense. In a similar manner, the Lord spoke of himself as the seed and of the world as the field, and called John, Elijah, not meaning that the two were one person. In saying, I am the vine, he meant that the vine is a symbol of himself.

The impossibility of the miracle of elemental transmutation, Wyclif based on the philosophical principle that the substance of a thing cannot be separated from its accidents. If accidents can exist by themselves, then it is impossible to tell what a thing is or whether it exists at all. Transubstantiation would logically demand transaccidentation, an expression the English Reformer used before Luther. The theory that the accidents remain while the substance is changed, he pronounced "grounded neither in holy writt ne reson ne wit but only taughte by newe hypocritis and cursed heretikis that magnyfyen there own fantasies and dremes."601

Another proof of Wyclif’s freedom of mind was his assertion that the Roman Church, in celebrating the sacrament, has no right to make a precise form of words obligatory, as the words of institution differ in the different accounts of the New Testament. As for the profitable partaking of the elements, he declared that the physical eating profits nothing except the soul be fed with love. Announcing it as his expectation that he would be set upon for his views, he closed his notable treatise on the eucharist with the words, The truth of reason will prevail over all things.

Super omnia vincit veritas rationis.

In these denials of the erroneous system of the medieval Church at its vital points, Wyclif was far in advance of his own age and anticipated the views of the Protestant Reformers.

§ 42. Wyclif and the Scriptures.

Wyclif’s chief service for his people, next to the legacy of his own personality, was his assertion of the supreme authority of the Bible for clergy and laymen alike, and his gift to them of the Bible in their own tongue. His statements, setting forth the Scriptures as the clear and sufficient manual of salvation, and insisting that the literal sense gives their plain meaning, were as positive and unmistakable as any made by Luther. In his treatise on the value and authority of the Scriptures, with 1000 printed pages,602 more is said about the Bible as the Church’s appointed guidebook than was said by all the medieval theologians together. And none of the Schoolmen, from Anselm and Abelard to Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus, exalted it to such a position of preëminence as did he. With one accord they limited its authority by coördinating with its contents tradition, that is, the teachings of the Church. This man, with unexcelled precision and cogency, affirmed its final jurisdiction, as the law of God, above all authorities, papal, decretist or patristic. What Wyclif asserts in this special treatise, he said over again in almost every one of his works, English and Latin. If possible, he grew more emphatic as his last years went on, and his Opus evangelicum, probably his very last writing, abounds in the most positive statements language is capable of.

To give the briefest outline of the Truth of Scripture will be to state in advance the positions of the Protestant Reformers in regard to the Bible as the rule of faith and morals. To Wyclif the Scriptures are the authority for every Christian tenet. They are the Law of Christ, the Law of God, the Word of God, the Book of Life. They are the immaculate law of the Lord, most true, most complete and most wholesome.603 All things necessary to belief for salvation are found in them. They are the Catholic faith, the Christian faith, the primal rule of human perfection, the primal foundation of the Christian proclamation.

This book is the whole truth which every Christian should study.604 It is the measure and standard of all logic. Logic, as in Oxford, changes very frequently, yea, every twenty years, but the Scriptures are yea, yea and nay, nay. They never change. They stand to eternity.605 All logic, all law, all philosophy and all ethic are in them. As for the philosophy of the pagan world, whatever it offers that is in accord with the Scriptures is true. The religious philosophy which the Christian learns from Aristotle he learns because it was taught by the authors of Scripture.606 The Greek thinker made mistakes, as when he asserted that creation is eternal. In several places Wyclif confesses that he himself had at one time been led astray by logic and the desire to win fame, but was thankful to God that he had been converted to the full acceptance of the Scriptures as they are and to find in them all logic.

All through this treatise, and in other works, Wyclif contends against those who pronounced the sacred writings irrational or blasphemous or abounding in errors and plain falsehoods. Such detractors he labelled modern or recent doctors (moderni novelli doctores). Charges such as these would seem well-nigh incredible, if Wyclif did not repeat them over and over again. They remind us of the words of the priest who told Tyndale, 150 years later, "It were better to be without God’s laws than to be without the pope’s." What could be more shocking, exclaimed Wyclif, than to assert that God’s words are false.607

The supreme authority of the Scriptures appears from their contents, the beneficent aim they have in view, and from the witness borne to them by Christ. God speaks in all the books. They are one great Word of God. Every syllable of the two Testaments is true, and the authors were nothing more than scribes or heralds.608 If any error seem to be found in them, the error is due to human ignorance and perverseness. Nothing is to be believed that is not founded upon this book, and to its teachings nothing is to be added.609

Wyclif devotes much time to the principles of biblical exposition and brushes away the false principles of the Fathers and Schoolmen by pronouncing the "literal verbal sense" the true one. On occasion, in his sermons, he himself used the other senses, but his sound judgment led him again and again to lay emphasis upon the etymological meaning of words as final. The tropological, anagogical and allegorical meanings, if drawn at all, must be based upon the literal meaning. Wyclif confessed his former mistake of striving to distinguish them with strict precision. There is, in fact, only one sense of Scripture, the one God himself has placed in it as the book of life for the wayfaring man.610 Heresy is the contradiction of Scripture. As for himself, Wyclif said, he was ready to follow its teachings, even unto martyrdom, if necessary.611

For hundreds of years no eminent teacher had emphasized the right of the laity to the Word of God. It was regarded as a book for the clergy, and the interpretation of its meaning was assumed to rest largely with the decretists and the pope. The Council of Toulouse, 1229, had forbidden the use of the Bible to laymen. The condemned sects of the 12th and 13th centuries, especially the Waldenses, had adopted another rule, but their assailants, such as Alanus ab Insulis, had shown how dangerous their principle was. Wyclif stood forth as the champion of an open Bible. It was a book to be studied by all Christians, for "it is the whole truth." Because it was given to the Church, its teachings are free to every one, even as is Christ himself.612

To withhold the Scriptures from the laity is a fundamental sin. To make them known in the mother-tongue is the first duty of the priest. For this reason priests ought always to be familiar with the language of the people. Wyclif held up the friars for declaring it heresy to translate God’s law into English and make it known to laymen. He argued against their position by referring to the gift of tongues at Pentecost and to Jerome’s translation, to the practice of Christ and the Apostles who taught peoples in their native languages and to the existence in his own day of a French translation made in spite of all hindrances. Why, he exclaims, "should not Englishmen do the same, for as the lords of England have the Bible in French, it would not be against reason if they had the same material in English." Through an English Bible Englishmen would be enabled best "to follow Christ and come to heaven."613 What could be more positive than the following words?

Christian men and women, old and young, should study closely the New Testament, and no simple man of wit should be afraid unduly to study in the text of holy Writ. The pride and covetousness of the clerics is the cause of their blindness and heresy and it prevents them from truly understanding holy Writ. The New Testament is of full authority and open to the understanding of simple men, as to the points that be most needful to salvation.

Wyclif was the first to give the Bible to his people in their own tongue. He knew no Hebrew and probably no Greek. His version, which was made from the Latin Vulgate, was the outgrowth of his burning desire to make his English countrymen more religious and more Christian. The paraphrastic translation of books which proceeded from the pen of Richard Rolle and perhaps a verse of the New Testament of Kentish origin and apparently made for a nunnery,614 must be considered as in no wise in conflict with the claim of priority made for the English Reformer. In his task he had the aid of Nicolas Hereford, who translated the Old Testament and the Apocryphal books as far as Baruch 3:20. A revision was made of Wyclif’s Bible soon after his death, by Purvey. In his prologue, Purvey makes express mention of the "English Bible late translated," and affirms that the Latin copies had more need of being corrected than it. One hundred and seventy copies of these two English bibles are extant, and it seems strange that, until the edition issued by Forshall and Madden in 1850, they remained unprinted.615 The reason for their not being struck off on the presses of Caxton and other early English printers, who issued the Golden Legend, with its fantastic and often gruesome religious tales, was that Wyclif had been pronounced a heretic and his version of the Scriptures placed under the ban by the religious authorities in England.

A manuscript preserved in the Bodleian, Forshall and Madden affirm to be without question the original copy of Hereford himself. These editors place the dates of the versions in 1382 and 1388. Purvey was a Lollard, who boarded under Wyclif’s roof and, according to the contemporary chronicler, Knighton, drank plentifully of his instructions. He was imprisoned, but in 1400 recanted, and was promoted to the vicarage of Hythe. This preferment he resigned three years later. He was imprisoned a second time by Archbishop Chichele, 1421, was alive in 1427, and perhaps died in prison.

To follow the description given by Knighton in his Chronicle, the gift of the English Bible was regarded by Wyclif’s contemporaries as both a novel act and an act of desecration. The irreverence and profanation of offering such a translation was likened to the casting of pearls before swine. The passage in Knighton, who wrote 20 years after Wyclif’s death, runs thus:

The Gospel, which Christ bequeathed to the clergy and doctors of the Church — as they in turn give it to lay and weaker persons — this Master John Wyclif translated out of the Latin into the Anglican tongue, not the Angelic tongue, so that by him it is become common, and more open to the lay folk and to women, knowing how to read, than it used to be to clerics of a fair amount of learning and of good minds. Thus, the Gospel pearl is cast forth and trodden under foot of swine, and what was dear to both clergy and laity is now made a subject of common jest to both, and the jewel of the clergy is turned into the sport of the laity, so that what was before to the clergy and doctors of the Church a divine gift, has been turned into a mock Gospel [or common thing].616

The plain meaning of this statement seems to be that Wyclif translated at least some of the Scriptures, that the translation was a novelty, and that it was thought that English was not a proper language for the embodiment of the sacred Word. It was a cleric’s book; and profane temerity, by putting it within the reach of the laity, had vulgarized it.

The work speedily received reprobation at the hands of the Church authorities. A bill presented in the English parliament, 1391, to condemn English versions, was rejected through the influence of the duke of Lancaster, but an Oxford synod, of 1408, passed the ominous act, that upon pain of greater excommunication, no man, by his own authority, should translate into English or any other tongue, until such translation were approved by the bishop, or, if necessary, by the provincial council. It distinctly mentions the translation "set forth in the time of John Wyclif." Writing to John XXIII, 1412, Archbishop Arundel took occasion to denounce "that pestilent wretch of damnable memory, yea, the forerunner and disciple of anti-christ who, as the complement of his wickedness, invented a new translation of the Scriptures into his mother-tongue."617

In 1414, the reading of the English Scriptures was forbidden upon pain of forfeiture "of land, cattle, life and goods from their heirs forever." Such denunciations of a common English version were what Wyclif’s own criticisms might have led us to expect, and quite in consonance with the decree of the Synod of Toulouse, 1229; and Arundel’s reprobation has been frequently matched by prelatical condemnation of vernacular translations of the Bible and their circulation down to the papal fulminations of the 19th century against Bible societies, as by Pius VII, 1816, who declared them "fiendish institutions for the undermining of the foundation of religion." The position, taken by Catholic apologists, that the Catholic hierarchy has never set itself against the circulation of the Scriptures in the vernacular, but only against unauthorized translations, would be adapted to modify Protestantism’s notion of the matter, if there were some evidence of only a limited attempt to encourage Bible study among the laity of the Catholic Church with the pages of Scripture open before them. If we go to the Catholic countries of Southern Europe and to South America, where her away has been unobstructed, the very opposite is true.

In the clearest language, Wyclif charged the priestly authorities of his time with withholding the Word of God from the laity, and denying it to them in the language the people could understand. And the fact remains that, from his day until the reign of Elizabeth, Catholic England did not produce any translations of the Bible, and the English Reformers were of the opinion that the Catholic hierarchy was irrevocably set against English versions. Tyndale had to flee from England to translate his New Testament, and all the copies of the first edition that could be collected were burnt on English soil. And though it is alleged that Tyndale’s New Testament was burnt because it was an "unauthorized" translation, it still remains true that the hierarchy made no attempt to give the Bible to England until long after the Protestant Reformation had begun and Protestantism was well established.

The copies of Wyclif’s and Purvey’s versions seem to have been circulated in considerable numbers in England, and were in the possession of low and high. The Lollards cherished them. A splendid copy was given to the Carthusians of London by Henry VI, and another copy was in the possession of Henry VII. Sir Thomas More states distinctly that there was found in the possession of John Hunne, who was afterwards burnt, a Bible "written after Wyclif’s copy and by him translated into our tongue."618 While for a century and a half these volumes helped to keep alive the spirit of Wyclif in England, it is impossible to say how far Wyclif’s version influenced the Protestant Reformers. In fact, it is unknown whether they used it at all. Some of its words, such as "mote" and "beam" and "strait gate," which are found in the version of the 16th century, seem to indicate, to say the least, that these terms had become common property through the medium of Wyclif’s version.619 The priceless heirloom which English-speaking peoples possess in the English version and in an open Bible free to all who will read, learned and unlearned, lay and cleric, will continue to be associated with the Reformer of the 14th century. As has been said by one of the ablest of recent Wyclif students, Buddensieg, the call to honor the Scriptures as the Word of God and to study and diligently obey them, runs through Wyclif’s writings like a scarlet thread.620 Without knowing it, he departed diametrically from Augustine when he declared that the Scriptures do not depend for their authority upon the judgment of the Church, but upon Christ.

In looking over the career and opinions of John Wyclif, it becomes evident that in almost every doctrinal particular did this man anticipate the Reformers. The more his utterances are studied, the stronger becomes this conviction. He exalted preaching; he insisted upon the circulation of the Scriptures among the laity; he demanded purity and fidelity of the clergy; he denied infallibility to the papal utterances, and went so far as to declare that the papacy is not essential to the being of the Church. He defined the Church as the congregation of the elect; he showed the unscriptural and unreasonable character of the doctrine of transubstantiation; he pronounced priestly absolution a declarative act. He dissented from the common notion about pilgrimages; he justified marriage on biblical grounds as honorable among all men; he appealed for liberty for the monk to renounce his vow, and to betake himself to some useful work.

The doctrine of justification by faith Wyclif did not state. However, he constantly uses such expressions as, that to believe in Christ is life. The doctrine of merit is denied, and Christ’s mediation is made all-sufficient. He approached close to the Reformers when he pronounced faith "the supreme theology" (fides est summa theologia), and that only by the study of the Scriptures is it possible to become a Christian.621

Behind all Wyclif’s other teaching is his devotion to Christ and his appeal to men to follow Him and obey His law. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the name of Christ appears on every page of his writings. To him, Christ was the supreme philosopher, yea, the content of all philosophy.622

In reaching his views Wyclif was, so far as we know, as independent as any teacher can well be. There is no indication that he drew from any of the medieval sects, as has been charged, nor from Marsiglius and Ockam. He distinctly states that his peculiar views were drawn not from Ockam but from the Scriptures.623

The Continental Reformers did not give to Wyclif the honor they gave to Huss. Had they known more about him, they might have said more.624 Had Luther had access to the splendid shelf of volumes issued by the Wyclif Society, he might have said of the English Reformer what he said of Wessel’s Works when they were put into his hands. The reason why no organized reformation followed Wyclif’s labors is best given when we say, the time was not yet ripe. And, after all the parallelisms are stated between his opinions and the doctrines of the Reformers, it will remain true that, evangelical as he was in speech and patriotic as he was in spirit, the Englishman never ceased to be a Schoolman. Luther was fully a man of the new age.

Note. – The Authorship of the First English Bible. Recently the priority of Wyclif’s translation has been denied by Abbot Gasquet in two elaborate essays, The Old English Bible, pp. 87–155. He also pronounces it to be very doubtful if Wyclif ever translated any part of the Bible. All that can be attempted here is a brief statement of the case. In addition to Knighton’s testimony, which seems to be as plain as language could put it, we have the testimony of John Huss in his Reply to the Carmelite Stokes, 1411, that Wyclif translated the whole Bible into English. No one contends that Wyclif did as much as this, and Huss was no doubt speaking in general terms, having in mind the originator of the work and the man’s name connected with it. The doubt cast upon the first proposition, the priority of Wyclif’s version, is due to Sir Thomas More’s statement in his Dialogue, 1530 (Works, p. 233). In controverting the positions of Tyndale and the Reformers, he said, "The whole Bible was before Wyclif’s days, by virtuous and well-learned men, translated into English and by good and godly people, with devotion and soberness, well and reverently read." He also says that he saw such copies. In considering this statement it seems very possible that More made a mistake (1) because the statement is contrary to Knighton’s words, taken in their natural sense and Huss’ testimony. (2) Because Wyclif’s own statements exclude the existence of any English version before his own. (3) Because the Lollards associated their Bible with Wyclif’s name. (4) Because before the era of the Reformation no English writer refers to any translating except in connection with Wyclif’s name and time. Sir Thomas More was engaged in controversy and attempting to justify the position that the Catholic hierarchy had not been opposed to translations of the Scriptures nor to their circulation among proper classes of the laity. But Abbot Gasquet, after proposing a number of conjectural doubts and setting aside the natural sense of Knighton’s and Arundel’s statements, denies altogether the Wycliffite authorship of the Bible ascribed to him and edited by Forshall and Madden, and performs the feat of declaring this Bible one of the old translations mentioned by More. It must be stated here, a statement that will be recalled later, that Abbot Gasquet is the representative in England of the school of Janssen, which has endeavored to show that the Catholic Church was in an orderly process of development before Luther arose, and that Luther and the Reformers checked that development and also wilfully misrepresented the condition of the Church of their day. Dr. Gasquet, with fewer plausible facts and less literature at command than Janssen, seeks to present the English Church’s condition in the later Middle Ages as a healthy one. And this he does (1) by referring to the existence of an English medieval literature, still in MSS., which he pronounces vast in its bulk; (2) by absolutely ignoring the statements of Wyclif; (3) by setting aside the testimonies of the English Reformers; (4) by disparaging the Lollards as a wholly humble and illiterate folk. Against all these witnesses he sets up the single witness, Sir Thomas More.
The second proposition advocated by Dr. Gasquet that it is doubtful, and perhaps very improbable, that Wyclif did anything in the way of translating the Bible, is based chiefly upon the fact that Wyclif does not refer to such a translation anywhere in his writings. If we take the abbot’s own high priest among authorities, Sir Thomas More, the doubt is found to be unjustifiable, if not criminal. More, speaking of John Hunne, who was burnt, said that he possessed a copy of the Bible which was "after a Wycliffite copy." (Eadie, I. 6O sqq.); Westcott (Hist. of the Eng. Bible.), Gairdner (who discusses the subject fairly in his Lollardy, I. 101–117), Capes (pp. 125–128), F. D. Matthew (in Eng. Hist. Rev., 1895), and Bigg (Wayside Sketches, p. 127 sq.) take substantially the position taken by the author. Gasquet was preceded by Lingard (Hist. of Eng., IV. 196), who laid stress upon More’s testimony to offset and disparage the honor given from time immemorial to Wyclif in connection with the English Bible.
How can a controversialist be deemed fair who, in a discussion of this kind, does not even once refer to Wyclif’s well-known views about the value of a popular knowledge of the Scriptures, and his urgency that they be given to all the people through plain preaching and in translation? Dr. Gasquet’s attitude to "the strange personality of Wyclif" may be gotten from these words (Old Eng. Bible, p. 88): "Whatever we may hold as Catholics as to his unsound theological opinions, about which there can be no doubt, or, as peace-loving citizens, about his wild revolutionary social theories, on which, if possible, there can be less," etc.

The following are two specimens of Wyclif’s versions:

MATT. VIII. 23–27. And Jhesu steyinge vp in to a litel ship, his disciplis sueden him. And loo! a grete steryng was made in the see, so that the litil ship was hilid with wawis; but he slepte. And his disciplis camen nigh to hym, and raysiden hym, sayinge, Lord, saue vs: we perishen. And Jhesus seith to hem, What ben yhee of litil feith agast? Thanne he rysynge comaundide to the wyndis and the see, and a grete pesiblenesse is maad. Forsothe men wondreden, sayinge: What manere man is he this, for the wyndis and the see obeishen to hym.

ROM. VIII. 5–8. For thei that ben aftir the fleisch saueren tho thingis that ben of the fleisch, but thei that ben aftir the spirit felen tho thingis that ben of the spirit. For the prudence of fleisch: is deeth, but the prudence of spirit: is liif and pees. For the wisdom of fleische is enemye to God, for it is not suget to the lawe of God: for nether it may. And thei that ben in fleisch: moun not please to God.

§ 43. The Lollards.

Although the impulse which Wyclif started in England did not issue there in a compact or permanent organization, it was felt for more than a century. Those who adopted his views were known as Wycliffites or Lollards, the Lollards being associated with the Reformer’s name by the contemporary chroniclers, Knighton and Walsingham, and by Walden.625 The former term gradually gave way to the latter, which was used to embrace all heretics in England.

The term "Lollards" was transplanted to England from Holland and the region around Cologne. As early as 1300 Lollard heretics were classed by the authorities with the Beghards, Beguines, Fratricelli, Swestriones and even the Flagellants, as under the Church’s ban. The origin of the word, like the term Hugenots, is a matter of dispute. The derivation from the Hollander, "Walter Lollard," who was burnt in Cologne, 1322, is now abandoned.626 Contemporaries derived it from lolium (tares), and referred it to the false doctrine these sectarists were sowing, as does Knighton, and probably also Chaucer, or, with reference to their habit of song, from the Latin word laudare, to praise.627 The most natural derivation is from the Low German, lullen or einlullen, to sing to sleep, whence our English lullaby. None of the Lollard songs have come down to us. Scarcely a decade after Wyclif’s death a bull was issued by Boniface IX, 1396, against the "Lullards or Beghards" of the Low Countries.

The Wycliffite movement was suppressed by a rigid inquisition, set on foot by the bishops and sanctioned by parliament. Of the first generation of these heretics down to 1401, so far as they were brought to trial, the most, if not all, of them recanted. The 15th century furnished a great number of Lollard trials and a number of Lollard martyrs, and their number was added to in the early years of the 16th century. Active measures were taken by Archbishop Courtenay; and under his successor, Thomas, earl of Arundel, the full force of persecution was let loose. The warlike bishop of Norwich, Henry Spenser, joined heartily in the repressive crusade, swearing to put to death by the flames or by decapitation any of the dissenters who might presume to preach in his diocese. The reason for the general recantations of the first generation of Wyclif’s followers has been found in the novelty of heresy trials in England and the appalling effect upon the accused, when for the first time they felt themselves confronted with the whole power of the hierarchy.628

In 1394, they were strong enough to present a petition in full parliament, containing twelve Conclusions.629 These propositions called the Roman Church the stepmother of the Church in England, declared that many who had priestly ordination were not ordained of God, took up the evils growing out of enforced celibacy, denied Christ’s material presence in the eucharist, condemned pilgrimages and image-worship, and pronounced priestly confession and indulgences measures invented for the profit of the clergy. The use of mitres, crosses, oil and incense was condemned and also war, on the ground that warriors, after the first blood is let, lose all charity, and so "go straight to hell." In addition to the Bible, the document quotes Wyclif’s Trialogus by name.

From about 1390 to 1425, we hear of the Lollards in all directions, so that the contemporary chronicler was able to say that of every two men found on the roads, one was sure to be a Lollard.630 With the accession of Henry IV of Lancaster (1399–1413), a severe policy was adopted. The culminating point of legislation was reached in 1401, when parliament passed the act for the burning of heretics, the first act of the kind in England.631 The statute referred to the Lollards as a new sect, damnably thinking of the faith of the Church in respect to the sacraments and, against the law of God and the Church, usurping the office of preaching. It forbade this people to preach, hold schools and conventicles and issue books. The violators were to be tried in the diocesan courts and, if found guilty and refusing to abjure, were to be turned over to the civil officer and burnt. The burning, so it was stipulated, was to be on a high place where the punishment might be witnessed and the onlookers be struck with fear.

The most prominent personages connected with the earliest period of Wycliffism, Philip Repyngdon, John Ashton, Nicolas Hereford and John Purvey, all recanted. The last three and Wyclif are associated by Knighton as the four arch-heretics.

Repyngdon, who had boldly declared himself at Oxford for Wyclif and his view of the sacrament, made a full recantation, 1382. Subsequently he was in high favor, became chancellor of Oxford, bishop of Lincoln and a cardinal, 1408. He showed the ardor of his zeal by treating with severity the sect whose views he had once espoused.

John Ashton had been one of the most active of Wyclif’s preachers. In setting forth his heretical zeal, Knighton describes him as "leaping up from his bed and, like a dog, ready to bark at the slightest sound." He finally submitted in Courtenay’s court, professing that he "believed as our modur, holy kirke, believes," and that in the sacrament the priest has in his hand Christ’s very body. He was restored to his privileges as lecturer in Oxford, but afterwards fell again into heretical company.632

Hereford, Wyclif’s fellow-translator, appealed to Rome, was condemned there and cast into prison. After two years of confinement, he escaped to England and, after being again imprisoned, made his peace with the Church and died a Carthusian.

In 1389, nine Lollards recanted before Courtenay, at Leicester. The popular preacher, William Swynderby, to whose sermons in Leicester the people flocked from every quarter, made an abject recantation, but later returned to his old ways, and was tried in 1891 and convicted. Whether he was burnt or died in prison, Foxe says, he could not ascertain.

The number suffering death by the law of 1401 was not large in the aggregate. The victims were distributed through the 125 years down to the middle of Henry VIII’s reign. There were among them no clergymen of high renown like Ridley and Latimer. The Lollards were an humble folk, but by their persistence showed the deep impression Wyclif’s teachings had made. The first martyr, the poor chaplain of St. Osythe, William Sawtré, died March 2, 1401, before the statute for burning heretics was passed. He abjured and then returned again to his heretical views. After trying him, the spiritual court ordered the mayor or sheriff of London to "commit him to the fire that he be actually burnt."633 The charges were that he denied the material presence, condemned the adoration of the cross and taught that preaching was the priesthood’s most important duty.

Among other cases of burnings were John Badby, a tailor of Evesham, 1410, who met his awful fate chained inside of a cask; two London merchants, Richard Turming and John Claydon at Smithfield, 1415; William Taylor, a priest, in 1423 at Smithfield; William White at Norwich, 1428; Richard Hoveden, a London citizen, 1430; Thomas Bagley, a priest, in the following year; and in 1440, Richard Wyche, who had corresponded with Huss. Peter Payne, the principal of St. Edmund’s College, Oxford, took refuge in flight, 1417, and became a leader among the Hussites, taking a prominent part as their representative at the Council of Basel. According to Foxe there were, 1424–1480, 100 prosecutions for heresy in Norwich alone. The menace was considered so great that, in 1427, Richard Flemmyng, bishop of Lincoln, founded Lincoln College, Oxford, to counteract heresy. It was of this college that John Wesley was a fellow, the man who made a great breach in the Church in England.

The case of William Thorpe, who was tried in 1397 and again before Arundel, 1407, is of interest not only in itself, but for the statements that were made in the second trial, about Wyclif. The archbishop, after accusing Thorpe of having travelled about in Northern England for 20 years, spreading the infection of heresy, declared that he was called of God to destroy the false sect to which the prisoner belonged, and pledged himself to "punish it so narrowly as not to leave a slip of you in this land."634 Thorpe’s assertion that Wyclif was the greatest clerk of his time evoked from Arundel the acknowledgment that he was indeed a great clerk and, by the consent of many, "a perfect liver," but that many of the conclusions of his learning were damned, as they ought to be.

Up to the close of the 14th century, a number of laymen in high position at court had favored Wycliffism, including Sir Lewis Clifford, Sir Richard Stury and Sir John Clanvowe, all of the king’s council, Sir John Cheyne, speaker of the lower house, the Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Erpingham and also the earl of Salisbury.635 This support was for the most part withdrawn when persecution took an active form. With Sir John Oldcastle, otherwise known as Lord Cobham from his marriage with the heiress of the Cobham estate, it was different. He held firm to the end, encouraged the new preachers on his estates in Kent, and condemned the mass, auricular confession and the worship of images. Arundel’s court, before which he appeared after repeated citations, turned him over to the secular arm "to do him to death." Oldcastle was imprisoned in the Tower, but made his escape and was at large for four years. In 1414, he was charged with being a party to an uprising of 20,000 Lollards against the king. Declared an outlaw, he fled to Wales, where he was seized three years later and taken to London to be hanged and burnt as a traitor and heretic, Dec. 15, 1417.636 John Foxe saw in him "the blessed martyr of Christ, the good Lord Cobham."

It is a pleasant relief from these trials and puttings-to-death to find the University of Oxford in 1406 bearing good testimony to the memory of its maligned yet distinguished dead, placing on record its high sense of his purity of life, power in preaching and diligence in studies. But fragrant as his memory was held in Oxford, at least secretly, parliament was fixed in its purpose to support the ecclesiastical authorities in stamping out his doctrine. In 1414, it ordered the civil officer to take the initiative in ferreting out heresy, and magistrates, from the Lord chancellor down, were called upon to use their power in extirpating "all manner of heresies, errors and lollardies." This oath continued to be administered for two centuries, until Sir Edward Coke, Lord High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, refused to take it, with the name Lollard included, insisting that the principles of Lollardy had been adopted by the Church of England.637

Archbishop Chichele seemed as much bent as his predecessor, Arundel, on clearing the realm of all stain of heresy. In 1416 he enjoined his suffragans to inquire diligently twice a year for persons under suspicion and, where they did not turn them over to the secular court, to commit them to perpetual or temporary imprisonment, as the nature of the case might require. It was about the same time that an Englishman, at the trial of Huss in Constance, after a parallel had been drawn between Wyclif’s views and those of the Bohemian, said, "By my soul, if I were in your place I would abjure, for in England all the masters, one after another, albeit very good men, when suspected of Wicliffism, abjured at the command of the archbishop."638

The "heresy" also penetrated into Scotland; James Resby, one of Wyclif’s poor priests, being burnt at Perth, 1407, and another at Glasgow, 1422. In 1488, a Bohemian student at St. Andrews, Paul Craw, suffered the same penalty for heresy.639 The Scotch parliament of 1425 enjoined bishops to make search for heretics and Lollards, and in 1416 every master of arts at St. Andrews was obliged to take an oath to defend the Church against them.

Between 1450–1517, Lollardy was almost wholly restricted to the rural districts, and little mention is made of it in contemporary records. At Amersham, one of its centres, four were tried in 1462, and some suffered death, as William Barlowe in 1466, and John Goose a few years later. In 1507, three were burnt there, including William Tylsworth, the leading man of the congregation. At the crucial moment he was deserted by the members, and sixty of them joined in carrying fagots for his burning. This time of recantation continued to be known in the district as the Great Abjuration. The first woman to suffer martyrdom in England, Joan Broughton, was burnt at Smithfield, 1494, as was also her daughter, Lady Young. Nine Lollards made public penance at Coventry, 1486, but, as late as 1519, six men and one woman suffered death there. Foxe also mentions William Sweeting and John Brewster as being burnt at Smithfield, 1511, and John Brown at Ashford the same year. How extensively Wyclif’s views continued to be secretly held and his writings read is a matter of conjecture. Not till 1559 was the legislation directed against Lollardy repealed.

Our knowledge of the tenets and practices of the Lollards is derived from their Twelve Conclusions and other Lollard documents, the records of their trials and from the Repressor for over-much Blaming of the Clergy, an English treatise written by Dr. Pecock, bishop of Chichester, and finished 1455. Inclined to liberal thought, Bishop Pecock assumed a different attitude from Courtenay, Arundel and other prelates, and sought by calm reasoning to win the Lollards from their mistakes. He mentioned the designation of Known Men — 1 Cor. 14:38, 2 Tim. 2:19 — as being one of old standing for them, and he also calls them "the lay party" or "the Bible Men." He proposed to consider their objections against 11 customs and institutions, such as the worship of images, pilgrimages, landed endowments for the church, degrees of rank among the clergy, the religious orders, the mass, oaths and war. Their tenet that no statute is valid which is not found in the Scriptures he also attempted to confute. In advance of his age, the bishop declared that fire, the sword and hanging should not be resorted to till the effort had been made "by clene wit to draw the Lollards into the consent of the true faith." His sensible counsel brought him into trouble, and in 1457 he was tried by Archbishop Bouchier and offered the alternative of burning or public recantation. Pecock chose the latter, and made abjuration at St. Paul’s Cross before the archbishop and thousands of spectators. He was clothed in full episcopal robes, and delivered up 14 of his writings to be burnt.640 He was forced to resign his see, and in 1459 was, at the pope’s instance, remanded to close confinement in Thorney Abbey. His Repressor had been twice burnt in Oxford.

There seems to have been agreement among the Lollards in denying the material presence of Christ in the eucharistic bread and in condemning pilgrimages, the worship of images and auricular confession. They also held to the right of the people to read the Scriptures in their own tongue.641 The expression, God’s law, was widely current among them, and was opposed to the canon law and the decisions of the Church courts. Some denied purgatory, and even based their salvation on faith,642 the words, "Thy faith hath saved thee," being quoted for this view. Some denied that the marriage bond was dependent upon the priest’s act, and more denied the scriptural warrant and expediency of priestly celibacy.643

Lollardy was an anticipation of the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and did something in the way of preparing the mind of the English people for that change. Although professed by many clerics, it was emphatically a movement of laymen. In the early Reformation period, English Lutherans were at times represented as the immediate followers of Wyclif. Writing in 1523 to Erasmus, Tonstall, bishop of London, said of Lutheranism that "it was not a question of some pernicious novelty, but only that new arms were being added to the great band of Wycliffite heretics."644


553. Often supposed to be a description of Wyclif.

554. Fasciculi, p. 362.

555. Leland’s Itinerary placed Wyclif’s birth in 1324. Buddensieg and Rashdall prefer 1330. Leland, our first authority for the place of birth, mentions Spresswell (Hipswell) and Wyclif-on-Tees, places a half a mile apart. Wyclif’s name is spelled in more than twenty different ways, as Wiclif, accepted by Lechler, Loserth, Buddensieg and German scholars generally; Wiclef, Wicliffe, Wicleff, Wycleff. Wycliffe, adopted by Foxe, Milman, Poole, Stubbs, Rashdall, Bigg; Wyclif preferred by Shirley, Matthew, Sergeant, the Wyclif Society, the Early English Text Society, etc. The form Wyclif is found in a diocesan register of 1361, when the Reformer was warden of Balliol College. The earliest mention in an official state document, July 26, 1374, gives it Wiclif. On Wyclif’s birthplace, see Shirley, Fasciculi, p. x sqq.

556. A Wyclif is mentioned in connection with all of these colleges. The question is whether there were not two John Wyclifs. A John de Whyteclyve was rector of Mayfield, 1361, and later of Horsted Kaynes, where he died, 1383. In 1365 Islip, writing from Mayfield, appointed a John Wyclyve warden of Canterbury Hall. Shirley, Note on the two Wiclifs, in the Fasciculi, p. 513 sqq., advocated the view that this Wyclif was a different person from our John Wyclif, and he is followed by Poole, Rashdall and Sergeant. Principal Wilkinson of Marlborough College, Ch. Quart. Rev., October, 1877, makes a strong statement against this view; Lechler and Buddensieg, the two leading German authorities on Wyclif’s career, also admit only a single Wyclif as connected with the Oxford Halls.

557. So Lechler, who advances strong arguments in favor of this view. Loserth, who is followed by Rashdall, brings considerations against it, and places Wyclif’s first appearance as a political reformer in 1376. Studien zur Kirchenpol., etc., pp. 1, 32, 35, 44, 60. A serious difficulty with this view is that it crowds almost all the Reformer’s writings into 7 years.

558. John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, was the younger brother of the Black Prince. The prince had returned from his victories in France to die of an incurable disease.

559. Chron. Angl., p. 115 sq.

560. Gee and Hardy, p. 105 sqq.

561. Fasc., pp. 242-244.

562. Chron. Angl., p. 395; also Knighton, II. 184 sq.

563. Fasc., p. 104.

564. See Trevelyan, p. 199; Kriehn, pp. 254-286, 458-485.

565. Pref. to Expos. of St. John, p. 225, Parker Soc. ed.

566. Sicut in terrae visceribus includuntur aëret spiritus infecti et ingrediuntur in terrae motum, Fasc., p. 272.

567. Select Engl. Works, III. 503.

568. Gee and Hardy, pp. 108-110.

569. Select Engl. Writings, III. 507-523.

570. Fasc., pp. 272-333. See Shirley, p. xliv.

571. Latin Works, II. 577 sqq.

572. Fasc., p. 341 sq.; Lechler-Lorimer, p. 417, deny the citation. The reply is hardly what we might have expected from Wyclif, confining itself, as it does, rather curtly to the question of the pope’s authority and manner of life. Luther’s last treatment of the pope, Der Papst der Ende-Christ und Wider Christ, is not a full parallel. Wyclif was independent, not coarse.

573. 2 The most credible narrative preserved of Wyclif’s death comes from John Horn, the Reformer’s assistant for two years, and was written down by Dr. Thomas Gascoigne upon Horn’s sworn statement. Walden twice makes the charge that disappointment at not being appointed bishop of Worcester started Wyclif on the path of heresy, but there is no other authority for the story, which is inherently improbable. Lies were also invented against the memories of Luther, Calvin and Knox, which the respectable Catholic historians set aside.

574. Bale, in his account of the Examination of Thorpe, Parker Soc. ed., I. 80-81. The biographies of Lewis, Vaughan, Lorimer and Sergeant give portraits of Wyclif. The oldest, according to Sergeant, pp. 16-21, is taken from Bale’s Summary, 1548. There is a resemblance in all the portraits, which represent the Reformer clothed in Oxford gown and cap, with long beard, open face, clear, large eye, prominent nose and cheek bones and pale complexion.

575. A part of the sentence rans, Sancta synodus declarat diffinit et sententiat eumdem J. Wicleff fuisse notorium haereticum pertinacem et in haeresi decessisse ... ordinat corpus et ejus ossa, si ab aliis fidelibus corporibus discerni possint exhumari et procul ab ecclesiae sepultura jactari. Mansi, XXVII. 635.

576. 2 Green, in his Hist. of the Engl. People, passes a notable encomium on the "first Reformer," and the late Prof. Bigg, Wayside Sketches, p.131, asserts "that his beliefs are in the main those of the great majority of Englishmen to-day, and this is a high proof of the justice, the clearness and the sincerity of his thoughts." The Catholic historian of England, Lingard, IV. 192, after speaking of Wyclif’s intellectual perversion, refers to him, "as that extraordinary man who, exemplary in his morals, declaimed against vice with the freedom and severity of an Apostle."

577. Op. evang., p. 17, etc., De dom. div., p. 215, etc., De dom. civ., 384 sqq., where the case of Frederick of Lavagna is related at length.

578. Hergenröther, II. 881, speaks of Wyclif’s system as pantheistic realism and fatalism, D. Lehrsystem des Wiclif ist krasser, pantheistischer Realismus, Fatalismus u. Predestianismus.

579. The De dom. civ. and the De dom. div., ed. for the Wyclif Soc. by R. L. Poole, London, 1885, 1890. See Poole’s Prefaces and his essay on Wyclif’s Doctrine of Lordship in his Illustrations, etc., pp. 282-311. TheDialogus, sive speculum ecclesiae militantis, ed. by A. W. Pollard, 1886.

580. Salvator noster noluit esse proprietarie dominans, sed communicative, p. 204.

581. Loserth, Introd. to Lat. sermones, II., p. xx, pronounce their effect extraordinary. The Engl. sermons have been ed. by Arnold, Select Engl. Works, vols, I, II, and the Lat. sermons by Loserth, in 4 vols.

582. Evangelizatio verbi est preciosior quam ministratio alicujus ecclesiastici sacramenti, Op. evang., I. 375. Predicatio verbi Dei est solemnior quam confectio sacramenti, De sac. scr., II. 156. See also Arnold, Engl. Works, III. 153 sq., 464;Serm. Lat., II. 115;De scr. sac., II. 138.

583. Debemus loco miraculorum Christi nos et proximos ad legem Dei convertere. De ver., I. 90; Op. evang., I. 368.

584. See Mansi, XXVII., 632-636, and Mirbt, p. 157 sq.

585. De dom. civ., I. 358. Ecclesia cath. sive Apost. est universitas predestinatorum. De eccles., ed. by Loserth, pp. 2, 5, 31, 94, Engl. Works, III. 339, 447, etc.

586. De eccles., 5, 28 sq., 63, 88, 89, 355, 358, 360.

587. Engl. Works., I. 50.

588. The condemnatory epithets and characterizations are found in the Engl. Works, ed. by Matthew, De papa, pp. 458-487, and The Church and her Members, and The Schism of the Rom. Pontiffs, Arnold’s ed., III. 262 sqq., 340 sqq., the Trialogus, Dialogus, the Latin Sermons, vol. II., and especially the Opus evangelicum, parts of which went under the name Christ and his Adversary, Antichrist. See Loserth’s introductions to Lat. Serm., II. p. iv sq., and Op. evang., vol. II.; also his art. Wiclif’s Lehre, vom wahren, undfalschen Papsttum, Hist Ztschrift, 1907, and his ed. of the De potestate papae. In these last works Loserth presents the somewhat modified view that when Wyclif inveighed against the papacy it was only as it was abused. The De potestate was written perhaps in 1379. His later works show an increased severity.

589. Lat. Serm., IV. 95; De dom. civ., 366-394; De ver. scr., II. 56 sqq.; Dial., p. 25; Op. evang., I. 38, 92, 98, 382, 414, II. 132, III. 187; Engl. Works, II. 229 sq., etc.

590. Op. evang., II. 105 sq.; Engl. Works, I. 350 sq.

591. De ver., I. 267; Engl. Works, III. 341 sq.; De Eccles., 189, 365 sqq.; Op. Evang., III. 188.

592. Engl. Works, III. 320. Letter to Urban VI., Fasc. ziz., p. 341; Engl. Works, III. 504-506.

593. His De eucharistia et poenitentia sive de confessione elaborates this subject. See also Engl. Works, I. 80, III. 141, 348, 461.

594. De eccles., p. 162; De ver. scr., II. 1-99. Omne mendacium est per se peccatum sed nulla circumstantia potest rectificare, ut peccatum sit non peccatum, De ver., II. 61.

595. Engl. Works, III. 420 sqq.; Op. evang., II. 40; Lat. serm., IV. 62, 121, etc.

596. See the tract Of Feigned Contemplative Life in Matthew, pp. 187, 196; De eccles., p. 380; Lat. Serm., II. 112.

597. Lat. serm., II. 84; Trial., IV. 33; Engl. Works, III. 348; Dial., pp. 13, 65, etc.

598. Ab isto scandaloso et derisibili errore de quidditate hujus sacramenti, pp. 52, 199.

599. Corpus Chr. est dimensionaliter in coelo a virtualiter in hostia ut in signo. De euchar., pp. 271, 303. Walden, Fasc. ziz., rightly represents Wyclif as holding that "the host is neither Christ nor any part of Christ, but the effectual sign of him."

600. De euchar., p. 11; Trial., pp. 248, 261.

601. De euch., pp. 78, 81, 182; Engl. Works, III. 520.

602. De veritate Scripturae, ed. by Buddensieg, with Introd., 3 vols., Leip., 1904. The editor, I. p. xci, gives the date as 1387, 1388. Wyclif starts out by quoting Augustine at length, I. 6-16. The treatise contains extensive digressions, as on the two natures of Christ, I. 179 sqq., the salutation of Mary, I. 282 sqq., lying, II. 1-99, Mohammedanism, II. 248-266, the functions of prelates and priests, III. 1-104, etc.

603. lex domini immaculata ... verissima, completissima et saluberrima, I. 156.

604. Illum librum debet omnis christianus adiscere cum sit omnis veritas, I. 109, 138.

605. I. 54. Aliae logicae saepissime variantur ... logica scripturae in eternum stat.

606. I. 22, 29, 188. Christianus philosophiam non discit quia Aristotelis sed quia autorum scripturae sac. et per consequens tamquam suam scientiam quo in libris theologiae rectius est edocta.

607. I. 151, 200, 394, 408; Lat. serm., 179; De eccles., 173, 318, etc.

608. Tota scrip. est unum magnum Verbum Dei., I. 269. Autores nisi scribae vel precones ad scrib. Dei legem. I. 392. Also I. 86, 156, 198, 220 sqq., III. 106 sqq., 143.

609. Falsitas in proposito est in false intelligente et non in Scrip. sac., p. 193. Nulli alii in quoquam credere nisi de quanto se fundaverit ex script. I. 383. De civ. dom., p. 394.

610. De ver., 114, 119, 123. Sensus literalis script. est utrobique verus, p. 73. Solum ille est sensus script. quem deus et beati legunt in libro vitae qui est uni talis et alteri viatoribus, semper verus, etc., p. 126.

611. Oportet conclusiones carnis et seculi me deserere et sequi Christum in pauperie si debeam coronari, I. 357. Also II. 129-131. In view of the above statement, it is seen how utterly against the truth Kropatschek’s statement is, Man wird den Begriff Vorreformatoren getrost in die historische Rumpelkammer werfen können, we may without further thought cast the idea of Reformers before the Reformation into the historical rag bag. The remark he makes after stating how little the expression sola scriptura meant in the mouths of mediaeval reformers. See Walter In Litzg., 1905, p. 447.

612. Illum librum debet omnis Chriatianus adiscere cum sit omnis veritas. De ver., I. 109. Fideles cujuscunque generis, fuerint clerici vel laici, viri vel feminae, inveniunt in ea virtutem operandi, etc., pp. 117, 136. Op. evang., II. 36.

613. Matthew, Sel. Works, p. 429 sq.

614. The text pub. Cambr., 1902 and 1905, by Anna C. Paues: A Fourteenth Engl. Bible Vs.

615. The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal Books, in the earliest English Versions made from the Vulgate by John Wycliffe and his Followers. 4 vols., Oxford, 1850. The work cost 22 years of labor. It contains Purvey’s Prologue and an exhaustive Preface by the editors. Purvey’s New Test. had been printed by John Lewis, London, 1781, and reprinted by Henry Baber, Lond., 1810, and in the Bagster English Hexapla, Lond., 1841. Adam Clarke had published Wyclif’s version of the Canticles in his Commentary, 3rd vol., 1823, and Lea Wilson, Wyclif’s New Test., Lond., 1848.

616. Commune aeternum. It is hard to give the exact rendering of these words. Knighton goes on to refer to William of St. Amour, who said of some that they changed the pure Gospel into another Gospel, the evangelium aeternum or evangelium Spiritus sancti. Knighton, Chronicle, II. 151 sq.

617. Novae ad suae malitiae complementum Scripturarum in linguam maternam translationis practica adinventa. Wilkins, III. 350.

618. More’s Works, p. 240, quoted by Gairdner, I. 112.

619. See Forshall and Madden, p. xxxii, and Eadie, pp. 90-94.

620. Buddensieg, Introd. to De ver., pp. xxxii, xxxviii.

621. See De ver. scr., I. 209, 212, 214, 260, II. 234. He made a distinction between the material and formal principles when he spoke of the words of Christ as something materiale, and the inner meaning as something formale. Buddensieg, p. xlv, says Wyclif had a dawning presentiment of justifying faith. According to Poole, he stated the doctrine in other terms in his treatment of lordship. Rashdall, Dict. Natl. Biog., LXIII. 221, says that, apart from the doctrine of justification by faith, there is little in the teachings of the 16th cent. which Wyclif did not anticipate.

622. Summus philos., immo summa philosophia est Christus, deus noster, quem sequendo et discendo sumus philosophi. De ver. scr., I. 32.

623. De ver. scr., I. 346 sqq. See Loserth, Kirchenpolitik, pp. 2, 112 sq. Buddensieg, De ver. scr., p. viii, says, Was er war wissen wir, nicht wie er es geworden. We know what he was, but not how he came to be what he was. See, for a Rom. Cath. judgment, Hergenröther-Kirsch, II. 878, who finds concentrated in Wyclif the false philosophy of the Waldenses and the Apocalypties, of Marsiglius and Ockam.

624. Melanchthon, in a letter to Myconius, declared that Wyclif was wholly ignorant of the doctrine of justification, and at another time he said he had foolishly mixed up the Gospel and politics.

625. In 1382 Repyngdon was called Lollardus de secta Wyclif, and Peter Stokes was referred to as having opposed the "Lollards and the sect of Wyclif," Fasc., 296. Knighton, II. 182, 260, expressly calls the Wycliffians Lollards, Wycliviani qui et Lollardi dicti sunt.

626. Fredericq, I. 172. A certain Matthew, whose bones were exhumed and burnt, is called Mattaeus Lollaert. Fred., I. 250. For documents associating the Lollards with other sectarists, see Fred., I. 228, II. 132, 133, III. 46, etc.

627. So Jan Hocsem of Liége, d. 1348, who in his Gesta pontiff. Leodiensium says, eodem anno (1309) quidam hypocritae gyrovagi qui Lollardi sive Deum laudantes vocabuntur, etc. Fred., I. 154. Chaucer, in his Prologue to the Shipman’s Tale, says: This loller here wol prechen us somewhat / He wolde sowen some difficulte / Or sprenge cokkle in our clene corn.

628. Cheyney, p. 436 sqq.

629. Gee and Hardy, pp. 126-132. Fasc., pp. 360-369. See Gairdner, I. 44-46

630. Knighton, II. 191.

631. De comburendo haeretico, Gee and Hardy, pp. 133-137.

632. Knighton, II. 171 sqq., gives the recantation in English, the Fasc., p. 329, in Latin. John Foxe’s accounts of the Lollard martyrs are always quaintly related. Gairdner is the fullest and best of the recent treatments. For his judgment of Foxe, see I. 159, 336 sqq. He ascribes to him accuracy in transcribing documents. The articles in the Dict. of Natl. Biog. are always to be consulted.

633. Gee and Hardy give the sentence and the Fasc. the proceedings of the trial. It is a matter of dispute under what law Sawtré was condemned to the flames. Prof. Maitland, In his Canon Law, holds that It was under the old canon practice as expressed in papal bulls. The statute De comburendo was before parliament at the time of Sawtre’s death.

634. The proceedings are given at great length by Foxe and by Bale, who copied Tyndale’s account. Sel. Works of Bp. Bale, pp. 62-133.

635. Walsingham, II, 244; Knighton, II. 181; Chron. Angl., p. 377.

636. Walsingham, II. 328, says he was hung as a traitor and burnt as a heretic. Usk p. 317 , reports he "was hung on the gallows in a chain of iron after that he had been drawn. He was once and for all burnt up with fierce fire, paying justly the penalty of both swords." The Fasciculi give a protracted account of Sir John’s opinions and trial. Judgments have been much divided about him. Fuller speaks of him "as a boon companion, jovial roysterer and yet a coward to boot." Shakespeare presents him in the character of Falstaff. See Gairdner, I. 97 sq.

637. Summers, p. 67.

638. Loserth, Wiclif and Hus, p. 175.

639. Mitchell: Scottish Reformation, p. 15.

640. Among these works was the Provoker, in which Pecock denied that the Apostles had compiled the Apostles’ Creed. See Introd. to Babington’s Ed. of the Repressor in Rolls Series, and art. Pecock in Dict. Natl. Biog., XLIV. 198-202.

641. Knighton, II. 155, complains of the Lollards having the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue. Such a translation he said the laity regarded as melior et dignior quam lingua latina.

642. So Walsingham, II. 253.

643. Summers, p. 60, speaks of an unpublished Lollard MS. of 37 articles which deal with clerical abuses, such as simony, quarrelling, holding secular offices, oaths, the worship of images, the eucharist and papal authority.

644. Trevelyan, p. 349.

Literature and sources

For §§ 40–42. John Wyclif.—I. The publication of Wyclif’s works belongs almost wholly to the last twenty-five years, and began with the creation of the Wyclif Society, 1882, which was due to a summons from German scholars. In 1858, Shirley, Fasc., p. xlvi, could write, "Of Wyc’s Engl. writings nothing but two short tracts have seen the light," and in 1883, Loserth spoke of his tractates "mouldering in the dust." The MSS. are found for the most part in the libraries of Oxford, Prag and Vienna. The Trialogus was publ. Basel, 1525, and Wycliffe’s Wycket, in Engl., Nürnberg, 1546. Reprinted at Oxford, 1828.—Latin Works, ed. by the Wyclif Soc., organized, 1882, in answer to Buddensieg’s appeal in the Academy, Sept. 17, 1881, 31 vols., London, 1884–1907.—De officia pastorli, ed. by Lechler, Leipzig, 1863.—Trialogus, ed. by Lechler, Oxford, 1869.—De veritate sac. Scripturae, ed. by Rudolf Buddensieg, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1904.—De potestate papae, ed. by Loserth, London, 1907.—Engl. Works: Three Treatises, by J. Wyclffe, ed. by J. H. Todd, Dublin, 1851.—*Select Engl. Works, ed. by Thos. Arnold, 3 vols., Oxford, 1869–1871.—*Engl. Works Hitherto Unprinted, ed. by F. D. Matthew, London, 1880, with valuable Introd.—*Wyclif’s trans. of the Bible, ed. by Forshall and Madden, 4 vols., Oxford, 1850.—His New Test. with Introd. and Glossary, by W. W. Skeat, Cambridge, 1879.—The trans. of Job, Pss., Prov., Eccles. and Canticles, Cambridge, 1881.—For list of Wyclif’s works, see Canon W. W. Shirley: Cat. of the Works of J. W., Oxford, 1865. He lists 96 Latin and 65 Engl. writings.—Also Lechler in his Life of Wiclif, II. 559–573, Engl. trans., pp. 483–498.—Also Rashdall’s list in Dict. of Nat. Biog.—II. Biographical.—Thomas Netter of Walden, a Carmelite, d. 1430: Fasciculi zizaniorum Magistri Joh. Wyclif cum tritico (Bundles of tares of J. Wyc. with the wheat), a collection of indispensable documents and narrations, ed. by Shirley, with valuable Introd., Rolls Ser., London, 1858.—Also Doctrinale fidei christianae Adv. Wicleffitas et Hussitas in his Opera, Paris, 1532, best ed., 3 vols., Venice, 1757. Walden could discern no defects in the friars, and represented the opposite extreme from Wyclif. He sat in the Council of Pisa, was provincial of his order in England, and confessor to Henry V.—The contemporary works given above, Chron. Angliae, Walsingham, Knighton, etc.—England in the Time of Wycliffe in trans. and reprints, Dept. of Hist. Univ. of Pa., 1895.—John Foxe: Book of Martyrs, London, 1632, etc.— John Lewis: Hist. of the Life and Sufferings of J. W., Oxford, 1720, etc., and 1820.—R. Vaughan: Life and Opinions of J. de Wycliffe, 2 vols., London, 1828, 2d ed., 1831.—V. Lechler: J. von Wiclif und die Vorgesch. der Reformation, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1873.—*Engl. trans., J. W. and his Engl. Precursors, with valuable Notes by Peter Lorimer, 2 vols., London, 1878, new edd., 1 vol., 1881, 1884.—*R. Buddensieg: J. Wiclif und seine Zeit, Gotha, 1883. Also J. W. as Patriot and Reformer, London, 1884.—E. S. Holt: J. de W., the First Reformer, and what he did for England, London, 1884.—V. Vattier: J. W., sa vie, ses oeuvres et sa doctrine, Paris, 1886.—*J. Loserth: Hus und Wiclif, Prag and Leipzig, 1883, Engl. trans., London, 1884. Also W.’s Lehre v. wahrem u. falschem Papsttum, in Hist. Zeitschrift, 1907, p. 237 sqq.—L. Sergeant: John Wyclif, New York, 1893.—H. B. Workman: The Age of Wyclif, London, 1901.—Geo. S. Innes: J. W., Cin’ti.—J. C. Carrick: Wyc. and the Lollards, London, 1908.—C. Bigg, in Wayside Sketches in Eccles. Hist., London, 1906.—For other Biogg., see Shirley: Fasciculus, p. 531 sqq.—III. J. L. Poole: W. and Movements for Reform, London, 1889, and W.’s Doctr. of Lordship in Illustr. of Med. Thought, 1884.—Wiegand: De Eccles. notione quid Wiclif docuerit, Leipzig, 1891.—*G. M. Trevelyan: Engl. In The Age Of W., London, 2d ed., 1899.—Powell and Trevelyan: The Peasants’ Rising and the Lollards, London, 1899.—H. Fürstenau: J. von W.’s Lehren v. d. Stellung d. weltl. Gewalt, Berlin, 1900.—Haddan and Stubbs: Councils and Eccles. Docts.—Gee and Hardy.—Stubbs: Constit. Hist., III. 314–374.—The Histt. of Capes, Green and Lingard, vol. IV.—The Histt. of the Engl. Bible, by Eadie, Westcott, Moulton, Stoughton, Mombert, etc.—Matthew: Authorship of the Wycliffite Bible, Engl. Hist. Rev., January, 1895.—Gasquet: The Eve of the Reformation, new ed., London, 1905; The Old Engl. Bible and Other Essays, London, 1908.—R. S. Storrs: J. Wyc. and the First Engl. Bible in Sermons and Addresses, Boston, 1902. An eloquent address delivered in New York on the 500th anniversary of the appearance of Wyclif’s New Test.—Rashdall in Dict. of Natl. Biog., LXIII. 202–223.—G. S. Innis: Wycliffe Cinti.

For § 43. Lollards.—The works noted above of Knighton, Walsingham, Rymer’s Foedera, the Chron. Angliae, Walden’s Fasc. ziz., Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Also Adam Usk: Chronicle.—Thos. Wright: Polit. Poems and Songs, Rolls Ser., 2 vols., London, 1859.—Fredericq: Corp. inquis. Neerl., vols. I.-III.—Reginald Pecock: The Repressor of overmuch Blaming of the Clergy, ed. by Babington, Rolls Ser., 2 vols., London, 1860.—The Histt. of Engl. and the Church of Engl.—A. M. Brown: Leaders of the Lollards, London, 1848.—W. H. Summers: Our Lollard Ancestors, London, 1904.—*James Gairdner: Lollardy and the Reform. in Engl., 2 vols., London, 1908.—E. P. Cheyney: The Recantations of the Early Lollards, Am. Hist. Rev., April, 1899.—H. S. Cronin: The Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards, Engl. Hist. Rev., April, 1907.—Art. Lollarden, by Buddensieg in Herzog, XI. 615–626.—The works of Trevelyan and Forshall and Madden, cited above, and Oldcastle, vol. XLII. 86–93, and other artt. in Dict. of Nat. Biog.

1369-1415AD John Hus

From: http://thekingdomcome.com/john_hus

John Hus

Introduction to John HusThe name John Hus is not well known to many modern day non-Reformed Protestants but perhaps we can think of Hus as the proto-type Martin Luther. Indeed, much of the situation was the same with Hus as it would be with Luther except the catalyst for Hus seemed to be the turmoil being caused by men who were competing to claim the office of Pope. Hus, the master of Charles University in Prague Czechoslovakia at first attempted to remain neutral in the fight but as time went on it was looking more & more like the entire papal system & perhaps Roman Catholicism itself was a wrong representation of Christianity.

Hus drew heavily from the English Reformer, John Wycliffe, sometimes preaching Wycliffe's writings verbatim. Hus continued to become more bold with his admonishment of the Church, bringing up the same objections uttered by Wycliffe & that would be uttered by Luther over 100 years later. With an eery parallel to Luther's trial before the Emperor, Hus was also invited to come make his case before the Emperor but unlike Luther Hus ultimately was not protected. Even though the Emperor protested, Hus was arrested & imprisoned by the Church authorities.

During the lengthy trial where Hus was not allowed to make a defense but only to recant, even the Emperor eventually thought it more acceptable to put Hus to death for the sake of peace. Hus would be burned at the stake in 1415, yet the Reformation could not be thwarted.


1452-1498AD Girolamo Savonarola

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girolamo_Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola

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Girolamo Savonarola by Fra Bartolomeo, c. 1498.
Girolamo Savonarola by Fra Bartolomeo, c. 1498.

Girolamo Savonarola (September 21, 1452May 23, 1498), also translated as Jerome Savonarola or Hieronymus Savonarola, was an Italian Dominican priest and leader of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for religious reform, anti-Renaissance preaching, book burning, and destruction of what he considered immoral art. He vehemently preached against what he saw as the moral corruption of the clergy, and his main opponent was Pope Alexander VI. He is sometimes seen as a precursor of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, though he remained a devout and pious Roman Catholic during his whole life.

His religious actions have been compared to those of the later Jansenists, although theologically many differences exist.



[edit] Early years

Savonarola was born in Ferrara, the capital of an independent Duchy.

In his youth he studied the Bible, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Aristotle. Savonarola initially studied at the University of Ferrara, where he appears to have taken an advanced Arts degree. His stance against morally corrupt clergy was initially manifested in his poem on the destruction of the world entitled De Ruina Mundi (On the Downfall of the World), written at the age of 20. It was at this stage that he also began to develop his moral voice, and in 1475 his poem De Ruina Ecclesiae (On the Downfall of the Church) displayed his contempt of the Roman Curia by terming it 'a false, proud whore'.

Statue of Savonarola in his birthplace, Ferrara, Italy.
Statue of Savonarola in his birthplace, Ferrara, Italy.

[edit] Florence

Savonarola became a Dominican friar in 1475, during the Italian Renaissance, and entered the convent of San Domenico in Bologna. He immersed himself in theological study, and in 1479 transferred to the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Finally in 1482 the Order dispatched him to Florence, the ‘city of his destiny’. Savonarola was lambasted for being ungainly, as well as being a poor orator. He made no impression on Florence in the 1480s, and his departure in 1487 went unnoticed. He returned to Bologna where he became 'master of studies’.

Savonarola returned to Florence in 1490 at the behest of Count Pico della Mirandola. There he began to preach passionately about the Last Days, accompanied by visions and prophetic announcements of direct communications with God and the saints. Such fiery preachings were not uncommon at the time, but a series of circumstances quickly brought Savonarola great success. The first disaster to give credibility to Savonarola’s apocalyptic message was the Medici’s family weakening grip on power due to the French-Italian wars. The flowering of expensive Renaissance art and culture paid for by wealthy Italian families now seemed to mock the growing misery in Italy, creating a backlash of resentment among the people. The second disaster was the appearance of syphilis (or the “French pox”), possibly brought back by sailors from the New World, which was a running epidemic and as deadly as the plague. Finally the year 1500 was approaching which brought about a mood of millennialism. Thus for many people the Last Days had arrived and Savonarola was the prophet of the day.

His Church of St. Mark was always crowded to excess during his celebrating holy Mass and his sermons. Savonarola was not an academic theologian. He did not proclaim theological theories or difficult teachings. Instead, he preached that Christian life involved being good, practicing the virtues, rather than carrying out displays of excessive pomp and ceremonies. He did not seek to make war on the Church of Rome. Rather, he wanted to correct the transgressions of worldly popes and secularized members of the Papal Curia.

Painting of Savonarola's execution in the Piazza della Signoria.
Painting of Savonarola's execution in the Piazza della Signoria.

Lorenzo de Medici, the previous ruler of Florence and patron of many Renaissance artists, was also a former patron of Savonarola. Eventually, Lorenzo and his son Piero de Medici became one of the targets of Savonarola’s preaching.

After Charles VIII of France invaded Florence in 1494, the ruling Medici were overthrown and Savonarola emerged as the new leader of the city, combining in himself the role of secular leader and priest. He set up a rather modern democratic republic in Florence. Characterizing it as a “Christian and religious Republic,” one of its first acts was to make sodomy, previously punishable by fine, into a capital offence. Homosexuality was previously tolerated in the city, and many homosexuals from the elite left Florence. His chief enemies were the Duke of Milan and Pope Alexander VI, who issued numerous restraints against him, all of which were ignored.

In 1497, he and his followers carried out the Bonfire of the Vanities. They sent boys from door to door collecting items associated with moral laxity: mirrors, cosmetics, lewd pictures, pagan books, immoral sculptures (which he wanted to be transformed into statues of the saints and modest depictions of biblical scenes), gaming tables, chess pieces, lutes and other musical instruments, fine dresses, women’s hats, and the works of immoral and ancient poets, and burnt them all in a large pile in the Piazza della Signoria of Florence.[1] Many fine Florentine Renaissance artworks were lost in Savonarola’s notorious bonfires — including paintings by Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo Buonarroti, which are said to have been thrown on the pyres by the artists themselves, though there are some who question this claim.

Florence soon became tired of Savonarola because of the city’s continual political and economic miseries, where God did not seem to intervene to come to the city's aid, and the Last Days did not seem to come about despite the city government's insistence that the Apocalypse was near to fulfillment.

During his Ascension Day sermon on May 4, 1497, bands of youths rioted, and the riot became a revolt: dancing and singing taverns reopened, and men again dared to gamble publicly.

[edit] Excommunication and execution

On May 13, 1497, the rigorous Father Savonarola was excommunicated by Pope Alexander VI, and in 1498, Alexander demanded his arrest and execution. On April 8, a crowd attacked the Convent of San Marco; a bloody struggle ensued, during which several of Savonarola’s guards and religious supporters were killed: he surrendered along with Fra Domenico da Pescia and Fra Silvestro, his two closest associates. Savonarola was faced with charges such as heresy, uttering prophecies, sedition, and even other crimes, called religious errors by the Borgia pope.

During the next few weeks all three were tortured on the rack. All three signed confessions; the torturers spared only Savonarola’s right arm, in order that he might be able to sign his confession, which he did sometime prior to May 8. On that day he completed a written meditation on the Miserere mei, Psalm 51, entitled Infelix ego, in which he pleaded with God for mercy for his physical weakness in confessing to crimes he believed he did not commit. On the day of his execution, May 23, 1498, he was still working on another meditation, this one on Psalm 31, entitled Tristitia obsedit me.[2]

On the day of his execution he was taken out to the Piazza della Signoria along with Fra Silvestro and Fra Domenico da Pescia. The three were ritually stripped of their clerical vestments, degraded as "heretics and schismatics", and given over to the secular authorities to be burned. The three were hanged in chains from a single cross; an enormous fire was lit beneath them; they were thereby executed in the same place where the Bonfire of the Vanities was lit, and in the same manner that he had condemned other criminals himself during his own reign in Florence. Jacopo Nardi, who recorded the incident in his Istorie della città di Firenze, wrote that his executioner lit the flame exclaiming, “The one who wanted to burn me is now himself put to the flames.” Luca Landucci, who was present, wrote in his diary that the burning took several hours, and that the remains were several times broken apart and mixed with brushwood so that not the slightest piece could be later recovered, as the ecclesiastical authorities did not want Savonarola’s followers to have any relics for a future veneration of the rigorist preacher they considered a Saint. The ashes of the three were afterwards thrown in the Arno beside the Ponte Vecchio.[3]

Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, also witnessed and wrote about the execution. The Medici subsequently regained control of Florence.

A plaque commemorates the site of Savonarola’s execution in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence.
A plaque commemorates the site of Savonarola’s execution in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence.

[edit] Character and influence

His religious actions have been compared to those of the later 17th and 18th century Jansenists, although theologically many differences exist. Savonarola did produce a theological doctrine on salvation, and faithfully adhered to even minor theological definitions of the papal Magisterium. However Savonarola's call to simplicity in church interior and his rigorous moral stances have been compared to those of Jansenists. Also the insistence on the immediate danger of hell and the fewness of the elect can be considered to be a similarity.

After Savonarola's death, a secret Catholic group known as the Piagnoni sprang up in Florence to preserve his memory, organized into a sort of Catholic guild. Franciscan Friars were prominent among the Piagnoni, and they briefly re-appeared in 1527 when they once again overthrew the Medici, but through intervention of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation it was brought to an end in 1530 at the Battle of Gavinana and the Medici were restored to power.

Savonarola left many admirers throughout Europe, in particular among religiously pious humanists who valued his deep spiritual convictions. Erasmus, who refused to become a Protestant is said to have remained Catholic due to the lecture of Savonarola.

In the twentieth century, a movement for the canonization of Frà Savonarola began to develop within the Roman Catholic Church, particularly among Dominicans, with many judging his excommunication and execution to have been unjust. His potential beatification and canonization is opposed by many Jesuits, who consider Savonarola's (secular) conflict with the papacy to have been an intolerable crime.[4]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Macey, p. 75.
  2. ^ Macey, p. 28.
  3. ^ Macey, pp. 30–1.
  4. ^ NCR Online.

[edit] References

  • Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, James Lawson, Warner Press, 1911, pp. 73–84.
  • Bonfire Songs: Savonarola's Musical Legacy (1998), Patrick Macey, Clarendon Press, Oxford
  • New York Times, Savonarola, Second Lecture of the Course by Dr. Lord at Association Hall, January 10, 1871, pp. 2–3.

[edit] Further reading

[edit] Fictionalizations

  • The novel Romola by George Eliot features Savonarola as a central character.
  • The novel The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason makes extensive references to Savonarola.
  • The novel The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant makes extensive references to Savonarola.
  • In Natahan Combs' The Burning of Girolamo Savonarola 2006 film, Savonarola deplores the way history has treated him and his legacy. Includes a reenactment of the Bonfire of the Vanities.
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's The Palace, a novel of the Comte st. Germain, features Savonarola and his Bonfire of the Vanities
  • The novel I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis also features Savonarola as a central character.
  • The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi, by Jacqueline Park, features Savonarola as a rather menacing character.
  • The novel The Jamais Vu Papers, by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin, features Savonarola as a character in the dream world, perpetually burning, and father to scientist Imogene Savonarola.
  • The short story, "Savonarola Brown" by Max Beerbohm features a spoof play about Savonarola.
  • The novel The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone describes Michelangelo's brother as a later-regretful disciple of Savonarola and the effect of Savonarola on the Medici family. It also describes how Savonarola was eventually assassinated and hung upside down a la Mussolini.
  • The novel The Magus by John Fowles refers to Savonarola's confinement prior to his execution, "Sometimes rooms seem to imbibe the spirit of the people who have lived in them- think of Savonarola's cell in Florence".

[edit] External links

1472-1553AD Lucas Cranach

From: http://thekingdomcome.com/lucas_cranach

Lucas Cranach: The Reformation's Artist

Lucas Cranach:  The Reformation's ArtistThe Reformation not only took full advantage of the invention of the printing press but the Reformation also had it's own graphic artist to help capture the moments & personalities of that important era in church history -- Lucas Cranach (a.k.a. Lucas Cranach the Elder to distinguish him from his also artistically successful son of the same name) -- Cranach did not merely paint pictures but was closely involved in the Reformation as he was even a "witness" at Martin Luther's wedding & was "godfather" to the Luther's first born child.

Cranach's art was dramatically affected by the Reformation as we can see before 1517 (the year Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Church door in Wittenberg) he mainly painted depictions of the Virgin Mary & other such traditionally Roman Catholic themes. But after 1517 the object of his art was to capture salvation themes, such as sin & grace, Adam & Eve & Gospel accounts. Cranach also has provided & preserved for us many profiles of the Reformers including portraits of Luther, Luther's parents, & Katie von Bora, Luther's wife.

So between the remarkable providential timing of the Reformation at the invention of the printing press, add to that Lucas Cranach's abilities to capture the important tone & personalities of that time.


1483-1586AD Martin Luther: taught a 70-1070AD Millennium and a 1073-1739AD Satan's Release

Martin Luther, Luther Bible,

Preface to the Book of Revelation.

(I am confident Luther wrote here the opinion of many Reformers).


"While all this is happening, there comes, in Revelation 20:7, the stirrup cup 

Gog and Magog, the Turks, the red Jews, whom Satan, who has been 

bound for a thousand years and, after the thousand years, is loose again, 

brings up; but they are soon to go with him into the lake of fire. For it is 

our opinion that this picture, which is separate from the preceding, has 

been put in because of the Turks, and that the thousand years are to begin 

at the time when this book was written, and that at that time the devil was 

bound; though the reckoning need not hold out to the very minute. After 

the Turks, the Last Judgment follows quickly, at the end of this chapter, as 

Daniel 7:7 also shows."



"Luther struck the key-note of this anti-popery exegesis. He had at first a very low opinion of the Apocalypse, and would not recognize it as apostolic or prophetic (1522), but afterward he utilized for polemic purposes (in a preface to his edition of the N. T. of 1530). He [Martin Luther] dated the one thousand years (Revelation 20:7) with Augustin from the composition of the book [of Revelation], and the six hundred and sixty-six years from Gregory VII., as the supposed founder of the papacy, and understood Gog and Magog to mean the unspeakable Turks and the Jews. As Gregory VII. was elected pope 1073, the anti-Christian era ought to have come to an end A.D. 1739; but that year passed off without any change in the history of the papacy."

(Excerpted from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Luther, with Augustin, dated Rev 20:1-10’s “1000 Years” from “the composition of the book [of Revelation] to the year 1073AD, when Gregory VII was elected Pope. Luther then expected an anti-Christian era (Rev 20:3 & Rev 20:7-9 period of Satan’s release) to extend from 1073AD to 666 years later. I do not see how Luther got 666 years for the period of Satan's release, but I can see how he might calculate 1073AD to be the end of the 1000 Year Millennium - that makes Augustin and Luther's Millennium from that last great defeat at Masada in 73AD to a literal 1000 years later when Gregory VII became Pope in 1073AD. Martin Luther had sound reasons for regarding Gregory VII as a harbinger of dark times. This Pope Gregory VII greatly vaunted papal claims to extraordinary heights, layed the groundwork for launching the Crusades, which in turn provoked foreign invaders, who brought Black Death Plague with them, etc., inaugurating the Dark Age that ended with the heavenly fires of the Reformation/Rennaissance/Discovery of the New World/Modern Era. I agree with Martin Luther, (1483-1546AD), that he was living at the end of the period of Satan's Brief Release that followed. Rev 20:1-10's "1000 years"

"Another important division of historical interpreters is into Post-Millennarians and Pre-Millennarians, according as the millennium predicted in Revelation 20 is regarded as part or future. Augustin committed the radical error of dating the millennium from the time of the Apocalypse or the beginning of the Christian era (although the seer mentioned it near the end of his book), and his view had great influence; hence the wide expectation of the end of the world at the close of the first millennium of the Christian church. Other post-millennarian interpreters date the millennium from the triumph of Christianity over paganism in Rome at the accession of Constantine the Great (311);"

(Excerpted from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)


["Radical error" or not is open to debate. (Philip Schaff went on to embrace historical Preterism, noting his own change of doctrinal position in later editions of this work.) But without argument, St. Augustin dated Rev 20:1-10’s “1000 Years” from the time of the writing of Revelation ("The Apocalypse" in Latin) or the beginning of the Christian era to the end of the first millennium of the Christian church. This view was so widely held during the Middle Age that there was wide expectation of the end of the world at 1000AD, the close of the first millennium of the Christian church. I agree with St. Augustin, (354-430AD), that he was living near the middle of Rev 20:1-10's "1000 years."



MILLENNIUM : Latin MILLE, thousand + Latin ANNUS, year




From: http://thekingdomcome.com/martin_luther

Martin Luther

What more can be said about Martin Luther? Many know him as the German monk who in 1517 supposedly nailed 95 points of contention to a church door in Wittenberg Germany, which would in turn be remembered as the spark of the Reformation. Or we could talk about Luther's hymn writing abilities, hymns which are even sung to this day (see here). We could talk about the various "catechisms" (instruction books) that Luther penned or helped to author. We could talk about his effect on the social & political structure of Europe which would in turn influence the "freedoms" much of the world currently enjoys. But perhaps we might recall Luther for his famous speech while on trial & told to recant or retract his teachings:


"Unless I shall be convinced by the testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear reason ... I neither can nor will make any retraction, since it is neither safe nor honourable to act against conscience." (Some accounts conclude the speech with: "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."). -- Luther before the "Diet of Worms"


Other people may also credit Luther for the bringing out the biblical concept of "justification by faith alone" but even that was not soley Luther's finding but was something that was clearly in Scripture & had been taught by others even before Luther.

Perhaps I could talk about little known quirks or Luther trivia but at this point I would rather the reader spend more time than would possible in an introductory article on Martin Luther. Please follow the various links & read up on this heritage of the Christian faith. Any non-Roman/Greek Orthodox Catholics should understand this heritage, for at one time to be a "Protestant" was synonmous with being a Reformed Christian.

Martin Luther is NOT the founder of Protestantism or Reformed Christianity anymore than we can say Paul is the founder of Christianity. We are NOT trying to urge men to say, "I am of Paul & I am of Apollos...or of Luther or of Arminius" -- however knowing one's heritage helps them to understand where they came from, why they have the culture they have. Our modern Christianity didn't just pop from a box but has gone through both good & bad formations. In that same way, while Luther contributed some great things to the Church he also gave us some bad things.

Spend some time getting to know the Martin Luther of history & not just the Luther of hype.





Martin Luther claimed he was living during the period of Satan's Release AFTER the 1000 year Millennium of the Middle Age

(Excerpts from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Notable portions highlighted in yellow, comments by ProphecyHistory.com in italics with light blue highlighting). (MILLENNIUM : Latin MILLE, thousand + Latin ANNUS, year)

"Luther struck the key-note of this anti-popery exegesis. He had at first a very low opinion of the Apocalypse, and would not recognize it as apostolic or prophetic (1522), but afterward he utilized for polemic purposes (in a preface to his edition of the N. T. of 1530). He [Martin Luther] dated the one thousand years (Revelation 20:7) with Augustin from the composition of the book, and the six hundred and sixty-six years from Gregory VII., as the supposed founder of the papacy, and understood Gog and Magog to mean the unspeakable Turks and the Jews. As Gregory VII. was elected pope 1073, the anti-Christian era ought to have come to an end A.D. 1739; but that year passed off without any change in the history of the papacy."


[Luther, with Augustin, dated Rev 20:1-10’s “1000 Years” from “the composition of the book [of Revelation] to the year 1073AD, when Gregory VII was elected Pope. Luther then expected an anti-Christian era (Rev 20:3 & Rev 20:7-9 period of Satan’s release) to extend from 1073AD to 666 years later. I do not see how Luther got 666 years for the period of Satan's release, but I can see how he might calculate 1073AD to be the end of the 1000 Year Millennium - that makes Augustin and Luther's Millennium from that last great defeat at Masada in 73AD to a literal 1000 years later when Gregory VII became Pope in 1073AD. Martin Luther had sound reasons for regarding Gregory VII as a haringer of dark times. This Pope Gregory VII greatly vaunted papal claims to extraordinary heights, layed the groundwork for launching the Crusades, which in turn provoked foreign invaders, who brought Black Death Plague with them, etc., inaugurating the Dark Age that ended with the heavenly fires of the Reformation/Rennaissance/Discovery of the New World/Modern Era. I agree with Martin Luther, (1483-1546AD), that he was living at the end of the period of Satan's Brief Release that followed Rev 20:1-10's "1000 Years" ~ PH.com]



(Excerpts from Schaff's History of the Church, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Notable portions highlighted in yellow, comments by ProphecyHistory.com in italics with light blue highlighting). (MILLENNIUM : Latin MILLE, thousand + Latin ANNUS, year)

1484-1531AD Huldrych Zwingli

From: http://thekingdomcome.com/Huldrych_Zwingli

Huldrych Zwingli: The Swiss Luther

Huldrych ZwingliHuldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli didn't like to be compared to Martin Luther because unlike many of Luther's contemporaries, Zwingli advocated Reform completely independent of Luther's influence.

Indeed, Zwingli's distaste of the Roman Catholic Church was triggered not initially by theological issues but more political. The issue was that Zwingli was very much a nationalist, proud of his Swiss heritage & opposed the practice of the Pope utilizing Swiss military to protect Rome. Zwingli found it appalling that his countrymen had to resort to becoming foriegn soldiers just to make a living. He felt the Church was using & abusing the Swiss. Even to this day, the Vatican utilizes "Swiss Guards" or mercenaries as sort of the Papal version of secret service.

Zwingli too had spent time as a Swiss mercenary for Rome but by 1520 he started attacking not only that practice but many other practices including the same things as Luther opposed; indulgences, fasting, & celibacy, among other things. Again, all of this independent of Luther's influence.

Zwingli's reforms in Switzerland were as extensive if not more radical than the German & English reforms.

Some distinctions of the Zwinglian reforms were:

  • Abolished priestly chanting & instruments as a form of music in Church
  • No icons/images in Church
  • Dissolved convents (for nuns & priests)
  • Approved of civil war, if necessary to bring about reforms
  • Lord's Supper/Communion is a memorial (not real blood & body)

It was Zwingli's advocacy of a theocratic system & in contrast to Luther's position that the "sword is only granted to the State & not to the Church" (see here) that would eventually be the death of Zwingli.

On Oct 9th 1531, marching in front of his army against the Swiss Roman Catholic states (the Roman Catholics joined together for a suprise attack on Zurich) was felled that very day.

A little known figure to many of today's Christians, Zwingli perhaps is more in line with the Anabaptist tendencies of many modern-day Reformed Christians. From the infamous meeting at Marburg where Luther & Zwingli disputed over the nature of the Lord's supper, to Zwingli's Bible translation (see Froschau Translation), to his theocratic concepts Zwingli contributed greatly to the Reformation in Switzerland & beyond.


1494-1536AD William Tyndale

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyndale

William Tyndale

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Tyndale redirects here. For other uses, see Tyndale (disambiguation).

William Tyndale

Protestant reformer and Bible translator
Bornc. 1494
Gloucestershire, England
near Brussels, Belgium

William Tyndale (sometimes spelled Tindall or Tyndall; pronounced /ˈtɪndəl/) (c. 14941536) was a 16th century Protestant reformer and scholar who translated the Bible into the Early Modern English of his day. Although a number of partial and complete Old English translations had been made from the 7th century onward, and Middle English translations particularly in the 14th century, Tyndale's was the first English translation to work 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.

Much of Tyndale's work eventually found its way into the King James Version (or "Authorised Version") of the Bible, published in 1611, which, as the work of 54 independent scholars revising the existing English versions, is to a large extent based on Tyndale's translations.



[edit] Biography

Tyndale was born around 1494, possibly in one of the villages near Dursley, Gloucestershire. Within his immediete family, the Tyndales were also known at that period as Hychyns (Hitchins), and it was as William Hychyns that Tyndale was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford (now part of Hertford College). Tyndale's family had migrated to Gloucestershire within living memory of his birth, quite probably as a result of the Wars of the Roses, and it is known that the family derived from Northumberland but had more recently resided in East Anglia. Tyndale's uncle, Edward, was receiver to the lands of Lord Berkeley and it is this fact that provides evidence of the family's origin. Edward Tyndale is recorded in two genealogies[1] as having been the brother of Sir William Tyndale, KB, of Deane, Northumberland, and Hockwald, Norfolk, who was knighted at the marriage of Arthur, Prince of Wales to Katherine of Aragon. Tyndale's family was therefore derived from Baron Adam de Tyndale, a tenant-in-chief of Henry I (and whose family history is related in Tyndall).

Tyndale was admitted to the Degree of Bachelor of Arts at Magdalen Hall in 1512, the same year he became a subdeacon. He was made Master of Arts in July 1515, three months after he had been ordained into the priesthood[citation needed]. The MA degree allowed him to start studying theology, but the official course did not include the study of scripture. This horrified Tyndale, and he organised private groups for teaching and discussing the scriptures[citation needed].

He was a gifted linguist (fluent in French, Greek, Hebrew, German, Italian, Latin, Spanish and of course his native English) and subsequently went to Cambridge (possibly studying under Erasmus, whose 1503 Enchiridion Militis Christiani — "Handbook of the Christian Knight" — he translated into English). It is also believed that he met Thomas Bilney and John Frith at Cambridge[citation needed].

Tyndale became chaplain in the house of Sir John Walsh at Little Sodbury in about 1521, and tutor to his children. His opinions involved him in controversy with his fellow clergymen, and around 1522 he was summoned before the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester on a charge of heresy[citation needed].

Soon afterwards, he had already determined to translate the Bible into English: he was convinced that the way to God was through His word and that scripture should be available even to common people. 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]

Tyndale left for London in 1523 to seek permission to translate the Bible into English and to request other help from the Church. In particular, he hoped for support from Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, a well-known classicist whom Erasmus had praised after working with him on a Greek New Testament; but the bishop, like many highly-placed churchmen, was uncomfortable with the idea of the Bible in the vernacular and told Tyndale he had no room for him in his household.[4] Tyndale preached and studied "at his book" in London for some time, relying on the help of a cloth merchant, Humphrey Monmouth. He then left England under a pseudonym and landed at Hamburg in 1524 with the work he had done so far on his translation of the New Testament. He completed his translation in 1525, with assistance from Observant friar William Roy.

In 1525, publication of his work by Peter Quentell in Cologne was interrupted by anti-Lutheran influence, and it was not until 1526 that a full edition of the New Testament was produced by the printer Peter Schoeffer in Worms, an imperial free city then in the process of adopting Lutheranism.[5] More copies were soon being printed in Antwerp. The book was smuggled into England and Scotland, and was condemned in October 1526 by Tunstall, who issued warnings to booksellers and had copies burned in public[citation needed].

Following the publication of Tyndale's New Testament, Cardinal Wolsey condemned Tyndale as a heretic and demanded his arrest[citation needed].

Sculpted Head Of William Tyndale from St Dunstan-in-the-West Church London
Sculpted Head Of William Tyndale from St Dunstan-in-the-West Church London

Tyndale went into hiding, possibly for a time in Hamburg, and carried on working. He revised his New Testament and began translating the Old Testament and writing various treatises. In 1530, he wrote The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII's divorce on the grounds that it was unscriptural and was a plot by Cardinal Wolsey to get Henry entangled in the papal courts. This resulted in the king's wrath being directed at him: he asked the emperor Charles V to have Tyndale apprehended and returned to England[citation needed].

Eventually, Tyndale was betrayed to the authorities. He was seized in Antwerp in 1535, betrayed by Henry Phillips, and held in the castle of Vilvoorde near Brussels.[6]

He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell's intercession on his behalf. Tyndale was strangled and his body burned at the stake, according to John Foxe in October.[7] The records of Tyndale's imprisonment suggest the date might have been some weeks earlier.[8]

Tyndale's final words, spoken "at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice", were reported as "Lord! open the King of England's eyes."[9]

[edit] Printed works

Most well known for his translation of the Bible, Tyndale was an active writer and translator. Not only did Tyndale's works focus on the way in which religion should be carried out, but were also greatly keyed towards the political arena.

"They have ordained that no man shall look on the Scripture, until he be noselled in heathen learning eight or nine years and armed with false principles, with which he is clean shut out of the understanding of the Scripture."

In response to a critical John Bell[citation needed], Tyndale echoed this sentiment

"If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the Scripture than thou doest."[10]

Year PrintedName of Work
1525The New Testament Translation (incomplete)
1526*The New Testament Translation (first full printed edition in English)
1526A compendious introduccion, prologe or preface vnto the pistle off Paul to the Romayns
1528The parable of the wicked mammon
1528The Obedience of a Christen Man[11] (and how Christen rulers ought to govern...)
1530*The five books of Moses [the Pentateuch] Translation (each book with individual title page)
1530The practyse of prelates
1531The exposition of the fyrste epistle of seynt Jhon with a prologge before it
1531?The prophete Jonas Translation
1531An answere vnto sir Thomas Mores dialoge
1533?An exposicion vppon the. v. vi. vii. chapters of Mathew
1533Enchiridion militis Christiani Translation
1533The souper of the Lorde
1534The New Testament Translation (thoroughly revised)
1535The testament of master Wylliam Tracie esquier, expounded both by W. Tindall and J. Frith
1536?A path way into the holy scripture
1537The byble, which is all the holy scripture Translation (only in part Tyndale's)
1548?A briefe declaration of the sacraments
1573The whole workes of W. Tyndall, John Frith, and Doct. Barnes, edited by John Foxe
1848*Doctrinal Treatises and Introductions to Different Portions of the Holy Scriptures
1849*Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures Together with the Practice of Prelates
1850*An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue, The Supper of the Lord after the True Meaning of John VI. and I Cor. XI., and William Tracy's Testament Expounded
1964*The Work of William Tyndale
1989**Tyndale's New Testament
1992**Tyndale's Old Testament
ForthcomingThe Independent Works of William Tyndale
*These works were printed more than once, usually signifying a revision or reprint. However the 1525 edition was printed as an incomplete quarto and was then reprinted in 1526 as a complete octavo.
**These works were reprints of Tyndale's earlier translations revised for modern-spelling.

[edit] Legacy

In translating the Bible, Tyndale introduced new words into the English language, and many were subsequently used in the King James Bible:

  • Jehovah (from a transliterated Hebrew construction in the Old Testament; composed from the tetragrammaton YHWH and the vowels of adonai: YaHoWaH)
  • Passover (as the name for the Jewish holiday, Pesach or Pesah),
  • Atonement (= at + onement), which goes beyond mere "reconciliation" to mean "to unite" or "to cover", which springs from the Hebrew kippur, the Old Testament version of kippur being the covering of doorposts with blood, or "Day of Atonement".
  • scapegoat (the goat that bears the sins and iniquities of the people in Leviticus Chapter 16)

He also coined such familiar phrases as:

  • let there be light
  • the powers that be
  • my brother's keeper
  • the salt of the earth
  • a law unto themselves
  • filthy lucre
  • it came to pass
  • gave up the ghost

Some of the new words and phrases introduced by Tyndale did not sit well with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, using words like 'Overseer' rather than 'Bishop' and 'Elder' rather than 'Priest', and (very controversially), 'congregation' rather than 'Church' and 'love' rather than 'charity'. Tyndale contended (citing Erasmus) that the Greek New Testament did not support the traditional Roman Catholic readings.

Contention from Roman Catholics came from real or perceived errors in translation. Thomas More commented that searching for errors in the Tyndale Bible was similar to searching for water in the sea.[citation needed] And charged Tyndale's translation of Obedience of a Christian Man with having about a thousand falsely translated errors.[12] Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall of London declared that there were upwards of 2,000 errors in Tyndale's Bible. Tunstall in 1523 had denied Tyndale the permission required under the Constitutions of Oxford (1409), that were still in force, to translate the Bible into English.

In response to allegations of inaccuracies in his translation in the New Testament, Tyndale wrote that he never intentionally altered or misrepresented any of the Bible in his translation, and would never do so.[citation needed]

While translating, Tyndale controversially followed Erasmus' (1522) Greek edition of the New Testament. In his Preface to his 1534 New Testament ("WT unto the Reader") he not only goes into some detail about the Greek tenses but also points out that there is often a Hebrew idiom underlying the Greek. The Tyndale Society adduces much further evidence to show that his translations were made directly from the original Hebrew and Greek sources he had at his disposal. For example, the Prolegomena in Mombert's William Tyndale's Five Books of Moses show that Tyndale's Pentateuch is a translation of the Hebrew original.

Of the first (1526) edition of Tyndale's New Testament, only three copies survive. The only complete copy is part of the Bible Collection of Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart. The copy of the British Library is almost complete, lacking only the title page and list of contents. Another rarity of Tyndale's is the Pentateuch of which only nine remain.

[edit] Impact on the English Bible

The Bible in English +/-
Old English (pre-1066)
Middle English (1066-1500)
Early Modern English (1500-1800)
Modern Christian (1800-)
Modern Jewish (1853-)

The men who translated the Revised Standard Version in the 1940s noted that Tyndale's translation inspired the great translations to follow, including the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560, the Bishops' Bible of 1568, the Douay-Rheims Bible of 1582–1609, and the King James Version of 1611, of which the RSV translators noted: "It [the KJV] kept felicitous phrases and apt expressions, from whatever source, which had stood the test of public usage. It owed most, especially in the New Testament, to Tyndale."[citation needed]In fact many of the scholars today believe that such is the case with Joan Bridgman who makes the comment in the Contemporary Review "He[Tyndale] is the mainly unrecognised translator of the most influential book in the world. Although the Authorised King James Version is ostensibly the production of a learned committee of churchmen, it is mostly cribbed from Tyndale with some reworking of his translation."

Many of the great English versions since then have drawn inspiration from Tyndale, such as the Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version. Even the paraphrases like the Living Bible and the New Living Translation have been inspired by the same desire to make the Bible understandable to Tyndale's proverbial ploughboy.[citation needed]

[edit] Memorials

There is a memorial to Tyndale in Vilvoorde, Belgium (15 minutes north of Brussels by train), where he was executed. It was erected in 1913 by Friends of the Trinitarian Bible Society of London and the Belgian Bible Society.[13] There is also a small William Tyndale Museum in the town, attached to the Protestant church.[14]

A bronze statue by Sir Joseph Boehm commemorating the life and work of Tyndale was erected in Victoria Embankment Gardens on the Thames Embankment, London in 1884. It shows his right hand on an open Bible, which is itself resting on an early printing press.

The Tyndale Monument, was erected in 1866 on a hill above his supposed birthplace, North Nibley.

A number of colleges, schools and study centres have been named in his honour, including Tyndale House (Cambridge), Tyndale University College and Seminary (Toronto), the Tyndale-Carey Graduate School affiliated to the Bible College of New Zealand, William Tyndale College (Farmington Hills, Michigan), and Tyndale Theological Seminary (Shreveport, Louisiana, and Fort Worth, Texas).

[edit] Liturgical commemoration

By tradition Tyndale's death is commemorated on October 6.[15] There are commemorations on this date in the church calandars of members of the Anglican Communion, initially as one of the "days of optional devotion" in the American Book of Common Prayer (1979)[16], and a "black-letter day" in the Church of England's Alternative Service Book[17]. The Common Worship that came into use in the Church of England in 2000 provides a collect proper to 6 October, beginning with the words:

"Lord, give your people grace to hear and keep your word that, after the example of your servant William Tyndale, we may not only profess your gospel but also be ready to suffer and die for it, to the honour of your name; ..."

See too the List of Anglican Church Calendars.

Tyndale is also honored in the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as a translator and martyr the same day.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ John Nichol, Literary Anecdotes, Vol IX: Tindal genealogy; Burke's Landed Gentry, 19th c editions, 'Tyndale of Haling'
  2. ^ Lecture by Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB MA (Oxon) STL LSS
  3. ^ Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Chap XII
  4. ^ Tyndale, preface to Five bokes of Moses (1530).
  5. ^ Joannes Cochlaeus, Commenataria de Actis et Scriptis Martini Lutheri (St Victor, near Mainz: Franciscus Berthem, 1549), p. 134.
  6. ^ John Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1570), VIII.1228 (Foxe's Book of Martyrs Variorum Edition Online).
  7. ^ Foxe's kalender. Foxe gives 6 Ocotber as the date of commemoration (left-hand date column), but gives no date of death (right-hand date column).
  8. ^ Arblaster, Paul (2002). An Error of Dates?. Retrieved on 2007-10-07.
  9. ^ John Foxe, Actes and Monuments (1570), VIII.1229 (Foxe's Book of Martyrs Variorum Edition Online).
  10. ^ Foxe, Acts and Monuments
  11. ^ http://www.godrules.net/library/tyndale/19tyndale7.htm
  12. ^ Dialogue Concerning Heresies
  13. ^ Le Chrétien Belge, October 18, 1913; November 15, 1913.
  14. ^ museum.com
  15. ^ David Daniell, “Tyndale, William (c.1494–1536),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004); online edition, ed. Lawrence Goldman, October 2007. Accessed December 18, 2007.
  16. ^ Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book (New York: Seabury press, 1981), pp. 43, 76-77
  17. ^ Martin Draper, ed., The Cloud of Witnesses: A Companion to the Lesser Festivals and Holydays of the Alternative Service Book, 1980 (London: The Alcuin Club, 1982).

[edit] Further references

  • Adapted from J.I. Mombert, "Tyndale, William," in Philip Schaff, Johann Jakob Herzog, et al, eds., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1904, reprinted online by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Additional references are available there.
  • David Daniell, William Tyndale, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • William Tyndale, The New Testament, (Worms, 1526; Reprinted in original spelling and pagination by The British Library, 2000 ISBN 07123-4664-3)
  • William Tyndale, The New Testament, (Antwerp, 1534; Reprinted in modern English spelling, complete with Prologues to the books and marginal notes, with the original Greek paragraphs, by Yale University Press, 1989 ISBN 0-300-04419-4)
  • This article includes content derived from the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1914, which is in the public domain.
  • Paul Arblaster, Gergely Juhász, Guido Latré (eds) Tyndale's Testament hardback ISBN 2-503-51411-1 Brepols 2002
  • Day, John T. "Sixteenth-Century British Nondramatic Writers" Dictionary of Literary Biography 1.132 1993 :296-311
  • Foxe, Acts and Monuments
  • Cahill, Elizabeth Kirkl "A bible for the plowboy", Commonweal 124.7: 1997
  • The Norton Anthology: English Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. New York: New York, Eighth Edition, 2006. 621.

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1499-1552AD Katharina Luther and other women of the Reformation

From: http://thekingdomcome.com/katie_von_bora


Katie von Bora

Katie von BoraThere is a phrase used that "behind every good man is a good woman" -- this phrase couldn't be any more true than for Katharina von Bora the wife of Martin Luther. But who is this woman? Perhaps this is the first time you have ever heard her name.

When Katie was age 5 her mother died and her father remarried, after which Katie was sent away to live in a convent (with nuns). She later transferred to another convent where at age 16 she took vows to become a nun. At about age 20, the now educated, Latin-reading Katie was being influenced by the writings of the Reformers -- especially Luther. She & a few other nuns desiring to leave the convent secretly contacted Luther, since leaving or assisting anyone leaving their vows was punishable by death.

Tradition has it, Luther arranged for the women to be smuggled out of the convent in fish barrels on a wagon that made routine deliveries to the convent. The runaway nuns were then arranged to be married -- many to former monks. Katie however did not like the various potential husbands with which she was matched & rather held out that perhaps Luther himself would marry her.

Finally, on June 25 1525 Luther married Katie. Katie immediately became a fine example of the Proverbs 31 wife but nor was she merely a housemaid but was active in the many discussions Luther would entertain at the house -- discussions which would later be recorded by some of his students & come to be known as "The Table Talk" as these discussions would happen at the meal table.

Katie lived only 6 years beyond Luther & those years after Luther's death were tragic for Katie as several wars raged, & the Black Plague was upon Europe. She eventually died most likely due to injuries she suffered in a wagon accident.

Luther & Katie's marriage became the model for much of not only marriage life among the Reformed but also in most of Europe. Luther lovingly called Katie, "My Lord Katie", humorously expressing her charge over the house details. Katie, like many women of the theologians quietly contributed to the Reformation.



Women of the Reformation

Katharina von Bora Kurfuerstin Elisabeth von Brandenburg Elisabeth von Brandenburg Walpurga Bugenhagen Barbara Cranach
Elisabeth Cruciger Katharina Falk Argula von Grumbach Katharina von Mecklenburg Katharina Melanchthon
Ottilie Müntzer Ursula von Münsterberg Anna Rhegius Anna Zwingli


1509-1564AD John Calvin

From: http://thekingdomcome.com/john_calvin

John Calvin


John CalvinI have purposely placed John Calvin at the end of this series commemorating the Protestant Reformation not only because I have been presenting the various personalities in somewhat chronological order of influence but also because now-a-days so many people erroneously use the terms "Reformed" & "Calvinism" interchangeably. But it is neither fair to Calvin or to all the other Reformers to simply identify the Reformed perspective by one man’s name.

Before we address that further, let us explore John Calvin the man.

Like Martin Luther before him, Calvin originally studied to be a lawyer but instead turned his attention toward Christ & understanding the Bible. He would soon be running from the Roman Catholic authorities after it was rumored that he was the author behind a Reformist speech given by one of his friends. He fled France disguised as a farmer. He wandered parts of Europe for three years under assumed names until finally arriving in Geneva Switzerland in about 1536. He’d only meant to stay one night in Geneva but the local Reformers convinced him to remain. Here, Calvin would marry the widow of an Anabaptist.

What the other Reformers like John Wycliffe, John Hus, & Martin Luther did to bring forth the ideas of the Reformation, Calvin did to systematize these ideas especially as preserved in his enduring work called The Institutes of the Christian Religion. It is his ability to concisely relate the “big picture” of the Bible that has caused Calvin to be respected by Christians who desire to also see the over all “system” of the Bible & is also the main cause of disrespect from Christians who'd rather revel in vagaries, piece-meal proof-texting, & emotional platitudes. It is Calvin’s practice of “exegeting” the text rather than the practice of allegory or excessive reliance upon commentary which was prevalent in Calvin’s day, even among some Reformers. (Exegete means: revealing the true meaning by considering context, audience relevancy, grammatical & historical consideration, & typology)

Calvin is actually greatly credited with saving the Reformation from extinction as the various factions were becoming so doctrinally discombobulated that Calvin’s systematic approach was just the thing that was needed to hold the fledgling Protestants together. Calvin’s “Institutes” were published in several editions & translated into almost all the European languages & utilized in the Protestant universities. Due to this contribution, the term “Calvinism” is often used synonymously with the term “Reformed”, though Calvin himself certainly did not institute the term & would no doubt strongly reject its original use, but now terms are terms & ought not be considered vanity to so use, for it is not the man that is being followed but the systematic example.

Though Calvin never met Luther (being 25 years younger than Luther), he did however have extensive contact & correspondence with Luther’s companion & perhaps closest friend, Phillip Melanchthon.

Though it is not the scope of this brief overview of Calvin to go into detail about his influence on Geneva & the political situation of the city, we will acknowledge that Calvin was more of a theological leader than a municipal leader, though during that time such roles were often intertwined & thus when modern people look back at some of the situations we may wince at those events. However, with specific mention of the so-called Michael Servetus execution, which some people now ignorant of history claim was by the command of Calvin, the fact is that Servetus was already condemned by several authorities under numerous grounds & Calvin did all he could to decrease the punishment doled out not by Calvin but by the municipal court of Geneva. Indeed, the Servetus trial lasted two whole months & Calvin never appeared at the trial to condemn Servetus. However, even considering the times in which those events unfolded, I have grappled over the severity of the sentence & can only think that when in a time when men lived such short life spans (average age of natural death at the time was about 60 years), & in societies where entire cities & nations came under sway, an erroneous ideology was more destructive than it would ever be in the present day. How many men & women fell for the Nazi ideology for example? I am reminded then of the verse:

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mt 16:26 & Mk 8:36)

Entertaining destructive doctrines such as those being spread by men like Servetus were soul destroying & could affect a larger group of people than such today, YET I am NOT trying to justify the actions of the Geneva Council, but merely trying to understand it “exegetically” rather than with knee-jerk 21st century ego-centric emotionalism.

Lastly, I would like to touch on the so-called Five Points of Calvinism” (aka “The Doctrines of Grace” or “T.U.L.I.P.”). This again is a somewhat misapplied term since Calvin was dead for over 50 years before these points were officially articulated. Like many of the foundational Christian teachings, it took an attack on the precept for it to be clearly formulated in response. That is to say, the so-called Five Points of Calvinism were ALREADY forgone conclusions & understood by almost all Protestants – it was not until a man named Jacob Arminius (a former Reformed Protestant) & his followers abandoned their Protestant faith & attacked its biblical foundation that the Reformers had to articulate this aspect. The Five Points of Calvinism (which was not the original name) were actually given in response to the the Arminians’ “Five Articles of Remonstance”. So, neither Calvin nor the Reformers themselves sat around as often-depicted making up “dogma” to impose upon others. Rather, theological debate/contention MUST come when one person or group proposes a belief at odds with the Bible. (See 1 Cor 11:19 & 2 Thes 2:15 wherein you will see the need & purpose of these contentions) We are NOT supposed to just sit around & accept anything & everything being espoused by people calling themselves "Christians" -- beliefs have affect & consequence & should be considered in light of not mere friendly "opinion" or "feeling" but in light of Scripture. Some of the worse ideologies the world has seen have come about due to unchallenged propositions -- especially those propositions that have been put forth either in a dear & "friendly" manner or a populous-unifying manner. Truth is truth regardless how it makes us "feel".

John Calvin’s contribution to our Christian heritage should not be overlooked, yet the man was so humble that he requested no fanfare in his dying days but simply to be buried quietly with a grave marker bearing only his initials.



1602-1675AD John Lightfoot taught 70-1070AD Millennium & Little Season from 1073AD through Lightfoot's own times

from Harmony of the New Testament, 1654
from last paragraph of page 364 through page 365

After the thousand years are expired, Satan is let loose again, and falls to his old trade of deceiving the nations again, ver. 8. Zohar hath this saying: "It is a tradition, that, in the day, when judgment is upon the world, and the Holy Blessed God sits upon the throne of judgment, then it is found that Satan that deceives high and low, he is found destroying the world, and taking away souls." When the Papacy began, then heathenism came over the world again, and Satan as loose and deceiving as ever: then idolatry, blindness, deluding oracularities and miracles as fresh and plenteous as before: from the rising of the gospel among the Gentiles these had been beaten down, and Satan fettered and imprisoned deeper and deeper every day: and though his agent, Rome, bestirred itself hard to hold up his kingdom, by the horrid persecutions it raised, yet still the gospel prevailed, and laid all flat. But when the Papacy came, then he was loose again; and his cheatings prevailed, and the world became again no better than heathen. And if you should take the thousand years fixedly and literally, and begin to count either from the beginning of the gospel in the preaching of John; or of Peter to Cornelius, the first inlet to the Gentiles; or of Paul and Barnabus their being sent among them,--the expiring of them will be in the very depth of Popery: especially begin them from the fall of Jerusalem, where the date of the Gentiles more peculiarly begins, and they will end upon the times of pope Hidebrand [1073AD] ; when if the devil were not let loose, when was he?

He calls the enemies of the church, especially antichrist, "Gog and Magog;' the title of the Syro-Grecian monarchy, the great persecutor. [Pliny mentions a place in Coelosyria, that retained the name Magog.] So that John, from old stories and copies of great troubles, trancribeth new, using known terms from Scripture, and from the Jews' language and notions, that he might better be understand. So that this chapter containeth a brief of all the times from the rising of the gospel among the Gentiles, to the end of the world, under these two suns,--first, the beating down of idolatry and heathenism in the earth, till the world was become Christian; and then the Papacy arising doth heathenize it again. The destruction of which is set down, ver. 9. by fire from heaven, in allusion to Sodom, or 2 Kings, i. 10. 12; and it is set close to the end of the world: the devil and the beast [imperial Rome], and the false prophet [papal Rome], are cast into the fire and brimstone, ver. 10; where John speaks so, as to show his method, which we have spoken of. "The devil was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are:"




Rebels or Reformers?

From: http://thekingdomcome.com/rebels_or_reformers


Rebels or Reformers

Andreas KarlstadtThomas MuntzerAs even in our own day so too during the Reformation did some men not only want to reform or fix broken aspects but some men desired to uproot everything & create whole new concepts which they claim are a return to the "primitive" or first-century Church. Some of these men & groups during the Reformation were Andreas Karlstadt, Thomas Muntzer, the so-called Zwickau prophets, & perhaps to some degree the early Anabaptists.

This element of the Protestant Reformation is sometimes called the "Radical Reformation" & were highly apocalyptic in their teachings. Another aspect common with the radcials was a bent toward anarchy.


Andreas Karlstadt

Karlstadt had a direct link to Martin Luther as Karlstadt was the archdeacon of the Theology Dept. of the Wittenberg University where Luther studied. Karlstadt was the man who introduced Luther to the writings of Augustine & awarded a doctorate to Luther.

Before Luther would take his historical piligrimage to Rome which would in turn spark Luther to write his 95 Theses, Karlstadt also went to Rome & returned to write a 151 point theses against the corruptions of the Roman Catholic Church.

Karlstadt also (as is little known) during the Reformation published the most German pamphlets second only to Luther. Karlstadt's pamphlet's appealed even more to the common man than did Luther's.

Distinguishing aspects of Karlstadt's teachings are:

  • No Clergy-Laity class (a true concept of the "priesthood of the believer")
  • No images/icons used in worship
  • Believer's Baptism (confessing person only, not infants)
  • Lord's Supper/Communion is a memorial (allowing common people to take on own)

Karlstadt's influence on Luther, the Zwinglians, the Anabaptists & the Reformation as a whole is greatly under appreciated.



Thomas Muntzer

Thomas Muntzer unlike Karlstadt did not have any original direct link to Luther though was influenced by the teaching of Luther & Karlstadt during his stay in Wittenberg from 1517-1519. In 1519, Luther did recommend Muntzer to be a pastor in a church at Zwickau Saxony. However, within a year authorities in Zwickau expelled him from the city. Muntzer like the other radicals (aka "enthusiasts") was apocalyptic & even fancied himself as the "new Daniel".

Muntzer was initially received in the various cities to which he traveled but once his teaching became known (especially as it differed with most of the Reformers), he was quickly ran out of town. After several attempts to set up a communistic theocratic government in the various towns to which he traveled, Muntzer along with his companion Henry Pfaiffer was successful in setting up their idealic yet fatalistic government in the town of Muhlhausen from which Muntzer led 8000 men in a battle against "political & spiritual oppression" -- this battle was the waning battle of what had been part of the "Peasant's Revolt", a temporary class war sparked not only by radicals such as Muntzer but even unwittingly precipitated by the teachings of Luther & other Reformers. Muntzer's army would be defeated & he would be beheaded.


Distinguishing aspects of Muntzer's teachings are:

  • Continued Revelation (much like modern pentecostals)
  • Communistic/Socialistic concepts
  • Rejection of Reformed concept of "original sin"

Muntzer seems to be an example of what happens to men who fancy themselves lone-wolf Reformers, wanna-be prophets (Daniels) that try to implement their agenda without consultation with the Church at large. Indeed, an example of the dangers of simply uprooting everything as if God isn't sovereign & hasn't the ability to lead His Church through the course of history even where it seems the Church is failing.




Zwickau Prophets

The so-called Zwickau prophets were comprised of Nicholas Storch, Thomas Dreschel and Mark Thomas Stübner. Their teachings were similar to Muntzer (as they received much from Muntzer's time in Zwickau) & had influence on Karlstadt. The Zwickau prophets much like modern "mystics" reject intellectual-based theology to the point of advocating that the study of theology is a form of idolatry.

Hearing of the exciting reforms going on in Wittenberg, Storch & Stübner traveled there while Luther was hiding from the Roman Catholic authorities in Wartburg Castle. The Zwickau prophets were able to influence Karlstadt wherein Karlstadt took on himself more of the apocalyptic tone. Shortly after, Luther returned to Wittenberg & was able to refute the "spiritualizing" of the Zwickau prophets by instead teaching the supremacy of biblical authority -- Scripture is the only guide to God's nature, character, & will. After this defeat, the Zwickau prophets moved on, teaching their proto-pentecostalism to other towns.

Distinguishing aspects of the Zwickau prophet's teachings are:

  • Anti-intellectualism
  • Holy Spirit led spiritualism (no Bible needed)
  • Imminent apocalypse

It is clear that the Zwickau prophet's were the forerunners to "inner-light" anti-theological Christians even of our own day who have disdain for theological learning.





The origin of the group called the Anabaptists is often debated but one thing that can be said, is that they clearly were either influenced by or shared common views with men such as Karlstadt, Muntzer, Storch & other "radical reformers". The Anabaptists typically came from the lesser to non-educated class of people & thus the anti-intellectualism message of the radical reformers was appealing. Without the need to rely on actually reading the Bible, Anabaptists could hold a mystical, spiritualized faith.

We know the descendants of the Anabaptists through such groups as the Amish, the Quakers, the Mennonites, Seventh-Day-Adventists, some Baptists, & even some elements of the so-called Emergent Church.

Distinguishing aspects of the Anabaptists teachings are:

  • Believer's Baptism (confessing adults/age of accountability children only)
  • Mystic/Spiritualistic/Idealists
  • Total Pacifism
  • Anti-Doctrinal

Much of the Anabaptist mindset can be seen in "anti-biblicistic" Christians today who advocate "experiential" or "relational" Christianity over a solidly Scriptural & theological Christianity. Anabaptistic concepts still seem to appeal to persons either too lazy or too uneducated to actually handle the Word of God. -- I do not mean this to sound arrogant as I too do not believe faith is solely an intellectual matter, yet having a relationship, be it with a mortal person or Christ does require an amount of knowing the character, nature, & will of the object & for Christ that only can be known via the intense reading of Scripture.

So, I leave it to the reader to decide if these men were rebels or reformers. Did they contribute worthwhile to the over all advancement of the Christian faith or did they detract from it?