The Great-Grandfather of the Reformation (Caleb Cangelosi)

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, let us not forget that there were reforming efforts in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ long before Martin Luther played the carpenter and nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517. These forerunners of the Reformation did not live in what we now know as Germany, yet the influence of at least two upon Luther - and so on the Protestant church as we know it today - was not insignificant. Indeed, if Luther is the father of the Reformation, then it would be appropriate to say that a Czechoslovakian (John Hus) was its grandfather, and an Englishman (John Wycliffe) was its great-grandfather. We do well to remember briefly the story of Wycliffe's influence, through Hus, upon Luther's work of reformation. John Wycliffe is called the "Morningstar of the Reformation" for good reason. Born sometime around the year 1330 in northern England, he studied at Oxford University, becoming a fellow of Merton College in 1356 and a Master of Balliol College in 1360. In 1361 he was ordained as a parish priest, but he spent most of the next twenty years studying for his doctorate and teaching at Oxford. In 1381, due to the controversial nature of his writings (especially his books On Civil Dominion, On the Church, On the Eucharist, and On the Truth of Sacred Scripture), he was forced to leave Oxford and retire to his parish of Lutterworth, where he preached until he died on December 31, 1384. Wycliffe's teachings were harbingers of the fuller Reformation to come. He viewed the Scriptures as the final authority for the Christian: "Forasmuch 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." He believed in preaching the Bible to the people of God in language they could understand, and in translating the Bible...

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