Remembering Wycliffe

Pastoral Reflections

When we think of the Reformation, quite often we immediately recall big names like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin. These were people who saw Reformation’s maturity in the 1500’s.

This week marks the anniversary of John Wycliffe’s trial, akin to Luther’s, in which he stood firm against the unbiblical practices of the medieval church. Like Luther, they ordered Wycliffe’s arrest following the trial.

John Wycliffe was the English voice of Reformation in the 1300’s. He died almost exactly 100 years before Martin Luther’s birth, therefore called by one historian, “the morning star of the Reformation.” He translated the Bible from Latin into English at a time when that was a dangerous move. He fought for Reformation, long before things fully materialized, fiercely proclaiming the fundamental authority of Scripture.

Historians tell us that Wycliffe’s writings influenced another early voice of the Reformation named Jan Hus, whose writings, in turn, impacted Martin Luther several decades later.

One thing the story of the faith teaches is the ongoing nature of it. Our eyes are so easily fixed on the present and our rationed input. We cannot always see the linkages that Christ makes with our rationed input within the grand plot. Parents worry if what they did was enough to hold their growing children in the faith. We pray and offer a word of encouragement to a struggling friend and wonder if it was helpful. But there are certain kinds of Kingdom plots that take strings of episodes faithfully lived.

Christ directs the drama. We play our parts in the assigned scenes. Sometimes when we try to measure our efforts against impacts made, we can be easily discouraged. But that is because our eyes are often set on the scenes, not the ongoing drama.