Faithful Heroes: John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism. His translation of the Vulgate, a late 4th Century Latin translation, into Middle English is now known as Wycliffe’s Bible.

He was born sometime in the mid 1320s in Yorkshire, England. By his early 20s, he was moved to Oxford, with which he would be closely connected the rest of his life.

In 1356, he finished his arts degree from Merton College. He became Master of Balliol College and took up a nearby church.

In 1374, he went to St. Mary’s Church in Leicestershire, where he would stay the remainder of his life.

The politics of the day led to his conflict with the Catholic church. After being forbidden to speak further on the conflict, he wrote a paper that the excommunicated should be allowed to appeal to the king.

The attacks on Pope Gregory XI grew even more extreme. Wycliffe became only more determined in his beliefs and devoted himself to his writings.

Wycliffe used the scriptures as the only reliable guide to the truth about God, which went again church policy at the time. He often argued the scriptures as the authoritative center of Christianity.

He began to work with other ministers to translate the Bible into English. While it is known this was his imitative, it is unknown how much of the Bible he actually translated.

John Wycliffe

While saying Mass in the parish church on December 28, 1384, he suffered a stroke and died before the year was over.

He was declared a heretic by the Council of Constance on May 4, 1415 and his writings were banned. This effectively excommunicated him and it was decreed his works should be burned. His body was exhumed, burned and his ashes cast into the River Swift.

Many of his ideas and philosophies let to the great reformation and the forming of the protestant church.

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