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John Wycliffe

QUESTION: How did John Wycliffe suffer persecution?


John Wycliffe, born a native of Yorkshire, England, studied at Oxford University, where he majored in scholastic philosophy and theology. He began teaching at Oxford and became known as a brilliant scholastic theologian and one of the most respected debaters of his time. However, his views opposed the practices and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Many of the prelates, friars, priests, and bishops turned against him and his followers.

This occurred at a time when organized religion had become depraved and corrupted. People gave lip service to the things of God, but they denied Him by their lifestyles. Early Christians were often persecuted and martyred by those of the secular world, but John Wycliffe faced persecution from those who claimed to be serving in the name of Christ.

Wycliffe disagreed on the following points: 1. The Holy Eucharist, after the consecration by a priest, is not the actual body of Christ. 2. The Church of Rome is not the head of all churches; nor did Peter have any more power given him by Christ than to the other apostles. 3. The pope has no more keys to the church than any other in the priesthood. 4. The Gospel by itself is a rule sufficient to rule the life of every Christian person on the earth, without any other rule. 5. All rules that are made to govern religious people add no more perfection to the Gospel of Jesus Christ than does white color to a wall. 6. Neither the pope nor any other prelate should have prisons in which to punish transgressors.

Wycliffe was commanded by church authorities to stop teaching his doctrines, but that did not stop him. He continued to teach the truth with more boldness. He was brought before the council several times, but he never stopped being faithful to God's Holy Word. He was continually harassed and threatened, even banished for a time, but he was able to return to the parish at Lutterworth and become the parish priest. John Wycliffe died in his sleep on December 31, 1384 at the age of fifty-six.

His supporters removed all of the statues and icons from his church in honor of his doctrines and teachings. Thirty-one years later, the Council of Constance removed his remains from their place of burial, burned them, and threw the ashes into the river. They felt that this would put an end to his teachings, but Wycliffe's doctrines could not be destroyed because they were based on God's Word.

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