John Wycliffe 1331-1384
Born at Hipswell, N Yorks. Died Lutterworth, Leics.
Trained as professor of theology and philosophy.
Became parish priest of Lutterworth
He became a leading scholar in Oxford, as well as a priest, but gradually became a proto-protestant, denouncing the power, wealth and corruption of the church. He was protected by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, which is why he survived so long. Some years after he died, the pope demanded his body be dug up, burned and dumped in the river.
One of his chief opponents was William of Rimington, prior of Sawley Abbey, and Chancellor of Oxford University.
Wycliffe wrote De Civili Dominio saying that the Church should not own swathes of property, its leaders being wealthy and powerful men, but that the kings and princes alone should have these.
Wycliffe had come to regard the scriptures as the only reliable guide to the truth about God and maintained that all Christians should rely on the Bible rather than the teachings of popes and clerics. He believed in the predestined elect (well before Calvin!). He rejected the concept of purgatory, and disapproved of clerical celibacy, pilgrimages, the selling of indulgences and praying to saints. He attacked transubstantiation.
Translated the New Testament from the Latin into English (Nicholas Hereford translating the Old Testament). His writing went on to affect John Huss of Bohemia...and Martin Luther.
- 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.
- 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 God's law in his own tongue; so did Christ's apostles.
- No man is to be credited for his mere authority's sake, unless he can show Scripture for the maintenance of his opinion.
- This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
- Do not let friars enter your wine cellars for fear they will bless every barrel and change the wine into blood.
- The laity ought to understand the faith, and since the doctrines of our faith are in the Scriptures, believers should have the Scriptures in a language familiar to the people, and to this end the Holy Ghost endued them with knowledge of all tongues.