Having rebuked the religious corruptions, and preached the gospel amongst the ordinary folk of England, John Wycliffe’s most significant attainment was the translation of the whole Bible into the English language so that all could freely read it. He translated from the Latin version, the only text available to him.
Despite the obvious limitations of his translation, for the first time people could read the Scriptures for themselves. At long last the Bible was out!
Although his relationship with Oxford University ended unhappily, he was forced to leave in 1381, surely John Wycliffe is that University’s greatest bestowal to the modern world.
He died peacefully after a stroke in 1384
Alas! The story doesn’t quite end there. Dr. Donald Roberts, writing for Christian History Magazine, tells us, ‘In 1415 the Council of Constance burned John Hus at the stake, and also condemned John Wycliffe on 260 different counts.
The Council ordered that his writings be burned and directed that his bones be exhumed and cast out of consecrated ground. Finally, in 1428, at papal command, the remains of Wycliffe were dug up, burned, and scattered into the little river Swift.’ (Donald Roberts, John Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation, CH Mag Issue.3)
But it was too late – the Bible, the Living Word of God was out. The Bible was confidently declared to be the only infallible guide for faith and practice. Wycliffe and his Lollards declared the Bible to be above church, popes and priests and what a change was about to break over Europe!
© 2008 Lex Loizides