Thursday, December 30

Wyclif: Yet To This Day

On this day in 1384, John Wyclif died of a stroke—but there would be no rest for his bones. Almost thirty years later, the Council of Constance condemned Wyclif's teachings and ordered his bones dug up and burned.

But of course, the burning of his bones would not end his influence.

Wyclif had been a leading scholar at Oxford, a chaplain to the King of England, and the benefactor of the powerful Prince John of Gaunt's patronage. He boldly spoke out against the pope, the organizational hierarchy of the Roman Church, and the corruption of the clergy. He criticized not only the organization of the medieval church but its theology as well. He believed the church should return to the Scriptures. Pastors should live lives of simplicity and holiness, shepherding the flock the Lord had given them.

In addition, under Wyclif's direction, the entire Bible was translated into English for the first time. The translation was completed by Wyclif's associates in 1395, eleven years after Wyclif's death. Though repeatedly condemned and burned by the authorities, copies of Wyclif's Bible continued to bring the truth of the Gospel to England for over a century. It greatly influenced William Tyndale and the translators of the King James Version.

John Foxe in his book of martyrs well described Wyclif's influence when he wrote, "though they digged up his body, burnt his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the Word of God and the truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn; which yet to this day doth remain."

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