Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Original Reformer

In my World History class I came across this little known church leader
John Wycliffe lived almost 200 years before the Reformation, but his beliefs and teachings closely match those of Luther, Calvin and other reformers. As a man ahead of his time, historians have called Wycliffe the "Morning star of the Reformation."

Born in the 1300s, Wycliffe criticized abuses and false teachings in the Church. In 1382 he translated an English Bible—the first complete European translation done in nearly 1,000 years. The Lollards, itinerant preachers he sent throughout England, inspired a spiritual revolution.

But the Lollardy movement was short-lived. The Church expelled Wycliffe from his teaching position at Oxford, and 44 years after he died, the Pope ordered his bones exhumed and burned. Intense persecution stamped out his followers and teachings. It would be hundreds of years before men like Martin Luther resurrected the reforms of which Wycliffe dreamed.
This got me thinking: What if Martin Luther King Jr. (or any leader) was born just decades earlier? Would the world have ready for his message? So I guess it takes two things to be a great leader, talent and luck.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the two things it also takes to be a great poker player. Minus the luck part.
    Seriously though, excellent point. Wycliffe really did get the short end of the stick when it came to reformation. Some people would argue that Luther's comparitive success was due to his royal backing from Frederick the Wise. Furthermore, Luther might have gotten some more credibility from the fact that he was an internal reformer (an early Puritan, if you will) rather than a Lollard type who was going to get burned (literally). Think of this in a legal sense as constitutional law vs. inquisitio law.
    Good post.


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