Controversial Cartoons and the Conversion of Europe – Part 1

Jan Huss of Prague (1373-1415)

One of those powerfully influenced by the teachings and writings of Wycliffe was Jan Huss of Prague, Bohemia.  Huss was a student ‘of peasant stock’ (says Houghton in Church Sketches, BOT) and then later became Rector of the University of Prague. He was not only impacted by Wycliffe’s books but also by two cartoons which he saw.

One showed the Lord Jesus wearing a crown of thorns and the pope beside Him wearing a crown of gold.  The other showed the Lord Jesus saying to a poor woman, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’ and then the pope selling indulgences to the poor.

These satirical and comical visual images motivated him and he began preaching, teaching and writing after the style of Wycliffe.  The church authorities denounced him as a heretic and burnt both his and Wycliffe’s books.

He was excommunicated by the pope in 1410 and later arrested and summoned before a tribunal.  The trial was a terrible sham in which Huss was hardly allowed to speak.  He was accused of proclaiming himself the fourth person of the Trinity.  And he was then duly condemned as a heretic.

Apart from the outrage of the accusations, there is an irony here in that one of the aspects of reform that Huss had taught was that the church should not be permitted to execute someone on the basis of heresy. He, of course, didn’t imagine that he would be tried as one. (Tudor Jones, The Great Reformation, IVP, p.18)

To be continued…

© 2008 Lex Loizides

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One thought on “Controversial Cartoons and the Conversion of Europe – Part 1

  1. Alex Dobbs May 1, 2013 / 5:26 am

    In Jon Huss’s story, it is cool to see how it only took Wycliffe’s writings and 2 cartoons in order to change his life as they motivated him to passionately preach the gospel. This reminds me of how my access to Christian authors as well as the bible has been pivotal in shaping and growing me as a committed disciple of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for how fortunate and wealthy I am in comparison to the rest of the world. I am very lucky to have grown up in a country and family where I have recieved an above par education and have been able to learn how to read and write, study the bible and other Christian writings, which have breathed life into me. This article has reminded me of the countless scores of children who are less fortunate than I am and therefore will not even have an education or more importantly learn about Jesus. It also makes me sad that the institution of the Catholic Church, which works in the name of God, once was an agent that kept many people from recieving an education (i.e. becoming literate) and also kept many people from the Kingdom of heaven.

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