I must admit: I know little about John Wycliffe. Ignorant, too? Here’s a little background… and some reasons why you should care about what the man said:
John was an English scholar who many consider to be a proto-reformer–he was reforming the church before guys like Luther and Calvin came in. He thought people should have a personal relationship with scripture so he translated the Bible into English. He challenged the perception that clerical office could be a mark of holiness–instead insisting that personal piety was a better measure. And John insisted that a rich and comfortable church could not fulfill its mission in the world. His teachings continued to gain traction following his death in 1384. 30 years later, the Roman Catholic Church decided to make a statement regarding Wycliffe, so they had his body exhumed and burned at the stake. How’s that for legacy?
- “The Bible is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
- “The higher the hill, the stronger the wind: so the loftier the life, the stronger the enemy’s temptations.”
- “Englishmen learn Christ’s law best in English. Moses heard Gods law in his own tongue; so did Christ’s apostles.”
- “We are under God’s power, and we can do nothing but by the power of God, and woe shall hereafter be to us if we abuse this power.
- “All Christian life is to be measured by Scripture; by every word thereof.”
- “It is not good for us to trust in our merits, in our virtues or our righteousness; but only in God’s free pardon, as given us through faith in Jesus Christ.”
- “I believe that in the end truth will conquer.”
- “The gospel alone is sufficient to rule the lives of Christians everywhere…any additional rules made to govern men’s conduct added nothing to the perfection already found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- “Every righteous man is lord over the whole sensible world.”
- “Since all charity begins at home, it would be the work not of charity but of fatuity to direct the alms of the Realm abroad when the Realm itself is in need of them.”
- “Crown and cloth maken no priest, nor emperor’s bishop with his words, but power that Christ giveth; and thus by life have been priests known.”
- “I am ready to defend my convictions even unto death. I have followed the Sacred Scriptures and the holy doctors.”