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Biographies of John Wycliffe and John Huss (Essay Sample)


The instructions required one to write brief biographies of both John Wycliffe and John Huss.


Biographies of John Wycliffe and John Huss
Calvin and Luther are examples of well-known reformers who were not the first to ascend against the Roman Catholic Church. Amongst the culture at large, there was a developing unease with the papacy's manhandling of power. John Wycliffe and John Huss were one of the first to publically vocalize this aversion and confront the Church. Popularly known as ‘pre-reformers’, their inspirational lives and bold faith in the face of death would prove to outlive them through their writings and be largely responsible for ushering in the age of the Protestant Reformation.
John Wycliffe
On 1329, John Wycliffe was conceived in Yorkshire, England and passed away in Lutterworth, Leicestershire December 31, 1384. He was a man of numerous gifts and accomplishments. He was a religious and social reformer, a scholar, and a logician. He is notable for his straightforward ministerial convictions and exercises against the Church of Rome. Additionally, he is the first to have made an interpretation of the Bible into the vernacular English, an interpretation known as Wycliffe's Bible.
Since he was conceived in a rich family, Wycliffe went to Oxford University in 1346. He was an understudy with many interests. He exceeded expectations in the natural sciences and arithmetic. Additionally, he was very keen in the domain of religious philosophy, ministerial law, and philosophy. Oxford had a solid and enthusiastic political culture which was similar to most colleges. The two most mainstream "nations", or political gatherings, that existed were the Borealis and the Australes. Wycliffe was part of the Borealis, the nation “in which the prevailing tendency was to seek a reduction in Papal power.” His unease with papal power most likely grew during these years and put him on the path to become the influential reformer that he would go on to be. He knew that the best way for him to have influence in society was by getting involved in politics. So he did just that after receiving his doctorate in theology in 1371.By the end of his education, theology and philosophy were his specialties and he was the best at Oxford and Europe altogether.[J.Losereth. “John Wycliffe: English Reformer; Bible Translator.”/biowycliffe.htm#15 (accessed April 30, 2017).] [Caleb Cangelosi. “The Mouth of the Morningstar: John Wycliffe’s Preaching and the Protestant Reformation.” Puritan Reformed Journal 06, no. 2 (July 2014): 187-215. (Accessed April 30, 2017).] [Donald L. Robert. “John Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation.” /history/issues/issue-3/john-wycliffe-and-dawn-of-reformation.html (accessed April 30, 2017).]
Political Activities and Attack on the Church
He left for Lutterworth where he began attacking the church in the public platform through his writings. In 1378 he published a set of political treatises entitled Tractatus de civili dominio and De dominio divino libri tres. In these literature texts, Wycliffe laid out specific views on how the papal power was widespread and its nature. Wycliffe makes it clear that he thought that the papacy should not have supreme primatial power and that their decisions should be subject to questioning if it stands in opposition with the Scriptures. He sealed his fate as a permanent enemy of Rome when he boldly went on to state that the Church was in sin and that she “ought to give up its possessions and return to evangelical poverty.” This “launch(ed) a firestorm of controversy, initially involving Gregory XI, Urban VI, and John of Gaunt over Wycliffe’s fierce anti-paplism”[Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "John Wycliffe", accessed April 30, 2017, /biography/John-Wycliffe.] [Stephen E. Lahey. "Wyclif on Rights." Journal of the History of Ideas 58, no. 1 (1997): 1-20. (accessed April 30, 2017).]
Wycliffe’s outspoken presence brought his name to the forefront of public conscience and threatened the papacy. They were enraged that he would dare challenge them and speak out against their ‘God-given’ authority. Pope Gregory XI took swift action and demanded that Wycliffe be arrested and condemned as a heretic. This call went unanswered because of the favor he had won with the king, parliament, and people at large. The imperial powers knew that Wycliffe would be their greatest ally so they kept him close and used his expertise in ecclesiastical matters to win political battles against the papal powers.
After this event, he went into seclusion and devoted himself to a period of serious study of the Scriptures to prepare for his second fleet of attacks. He came out with a series of well thought out and deliberate assault on the convictions and practices of the congregation. The church’s doctrine of transubstantiation is what Wycliffe started off with. He thought it was idolatrous and scripturally baseless. Wycliffe put in writing that, “The bread while becoming by virtue of Christ’s words the body of Christ does not cease to be bread.” Wycliffe then moved onto speaking out against the practice of indulgences and confessions. The publication all his works in public tainted the credentials of the papacy. With his astute mind and poignant words, he made sure to clearly express how he felt about the wrongdoings of the church. As one writer put it, “a couple of essayists have condemned their adversaries' conclusions and infrequently, doubtlessly, the rivals themselves, all the more extensively.” Wycliffe had no fear of the powers the Church had to destroy him. He had a clear conscience that what he was doing was right before God.[J. Losereth. “John Wycliffe: English Reformer; Bible Translator.” /biowycliffe.htm#15 (accessed April 30, 2017).] [Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, “Introduction,” 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 212.] [Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "John Wycliffe", accessed April 30, 2017, /biography/John-Wycliffe.]
Wycliffe’s Bible
During Wycliffe’s time, the Bible was only available in Latin while the language of the people was English. This chasm was deliberately established because the Church thought it would be disastrous to give the lay people the right to interpret for themselves. The Church claimed that “the Scriptures (would become) vulgar... So th...
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