The Iron Pen #56
"...graven with an iron pen and lead..." Job 19:24
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
THE POWER OF THE BIBLE
R. A. Torrey
Our Biblical Heritage John Wycliffe
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Forsothe God so louede the world, that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in to him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lyf. John 3:16 (Wycliffe Bible 1382)
"To Wyclif we owe, more than to any one person who can be mentioned, our English language, our English Bible, and our reformed religion," said Professor Montagu Burrows in his 1881 lecture series. He is right. John de Wycliffe was born in the early 1330s in a small English village called Wycliffe-on-Tees in Yorkshire, England. He has been called Morning Star of the Reformation because he believed and preached doctrines that were advanced 100 years later by the Reformers. For John Wycliffe, the Bible was the sole authority for all of life, and Christ was the only way of Salvation. He wrote, "Holy Scripture is the preeminent authority for every Christian, and the rule of faith and of all human perfection." Concerning Salvation he wrote, "Foras much as the Bible contains Christ, that is all that is necessary for salvation, it is necessary for all men, not for priests alone. It alone is the supreme law that is to rule Church, State and Christian life, without human traditions and statutes."
To be sure, his stands for the Word of God brought him into conflict with the ecclesiastical establishment of his day. He was charged with heresy, tried three times by the English ecclesiastical establishment and more. But he refused to compromise his biblical stand. He wrote:
"Those Heretics who pretend that the laity need not know Gods law but that the knowledge which priests have had imparted to them by word of mouth is sufficient, do not deserve to be listened to. For Holy Scriptures is the faith of the Church, and the more widely its true meaning becomes known the better it will be. Therefore since the laity should know the faith, it should be taught in whatever language is most easily comprehended Christ and His apostles taught the people in the language best known to them."
You must understand that for the medieval Englishman the Bible was a closed book. The Bible was only accessible to the learned or elite of society. Even then, in pre-printing press days, Bibles were large volumes hand written in Latin. Many clergy never saw an entire Bible and even if they did, only a few could read it. Wycliffe was determined to change all that, because he saw they were not being taught the truth of the Bible, that Christ alone was the head of the Church and the only way of salvation. Therefore he translated the Latin Bible into the English language. For the first time the English people had an opportunity of reading the Bible in their own language. In addition Wycliffe trained lay preachers, called Lollards, to read and preach the Bible to the people. This raised the ire of the ecclesiastical leaders who outlawed Wycliffes Bible, his books and pamphlets and lay preachers. But, the preaching, teaching and reading of the Bible by common people changed lives, despite the "law." So ecclesiastical leaders took harsher steps to curtail the spread of the Word in the language of the people. William Sawtry became the first Lollard martyr. Many more were to follow. Even though John Wycliffe died at home in bed on New Years Eve 1384 A.D., the English Catholic Church held such resentment for him and his work that they dug up his body 44 years later, burned his bones, and scattered the ashes into the river Swift. They wanted to do away with him and his teachings once and for all! But as church historian Thomas Fuller put it "This brook (Swift) has conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over."
Point To Ponder
I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatever.
--Sir Isaac Newton
God & Country
We have staked the future of American civilization upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.