The Pre-Reformation: Wycliffe and Huss
Joshua 1:8 - This scroll of Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall continually see it in your mind, meditating day and night, so that you may carefully guard doing what is written in it; as a result you will make your way prosperous, and you will have success in your battle plans. (Josh 1:8 G Strawbridge translation)
The circumstances of the late medieval Church which involved massive corruption created a hunger for ideas of religious freedom, free grace, a free church and free state. These seeds were planted in John Wycliffe’s day (mid 1300s). The Western (Roman) Church had lost credibility with the Babylonian Captivity, when Pope Boniface VIII had a controversy with Philip IV of France (1302). Boniface VIII proclaimed absolute papal authority, saying that it "is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff.” Philip hired thugs to have Boniface VIII imprisoned and beaten to death. Then Clement V, commanded by Philip IV, moved to France (1309-1377). Gregory XI moved the papacy back to Rome in 1377 and died. Urban VI was elected, deposed as an apostate, and then Clement VII followed as pope. This led to the Great Schism (1378-1417) with three popes claiming papacy at the same time. People began questioning the absolute authority of the Church, and especially the pope. The Reformation in England and Europe was preceded by the work of the proto-Reformer, John Wycliffe (1320s-1384), as well as the classical school of John Colet (1467-1519).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more