By Theodore Shoebat
It has been for centuries touted that John Wycliffe was some great hero, “the morning star of the Reformation,” as they praise him. They adulate and adore him as a type of opponent against Church despotism, and yet what they fail to realize is that he himself was a promoter of tyranny and demonic doctrines. We learn this by from the Council of Constance, the council that condemned him as a heretic.
And for those who say that we cannot use the Council as a source, because it was Catholic, why should we then use any council that was Catholic? Why should we then condemn Arius as a denier of the Trinity, since it was the Catholic Council of Nicaea that deemed him an antichrist. All of the works of the Arius were burned, and all of the statements we have of him were preserved by his Catholic opponents when they wrote against him. Why then should we use St. Athanasius as a source against Arius? He was indeed Catholic, and I am sure it could be said that he was “biased” against Arius (such is a popular form of argumentation).
All of Arius’ works are not here in their entirety, why should we believe that he held to the heretical statements attributed to him by Catholic bishops? This same fashion of debate is being used to defend Wycliffe, and I don’t see how one can abide by it, while accepting the Council of Nicaea’a attack against Arius. Why should Wycliffe be exempt and not Arius? It is really a hypocritical way of debate.
Wycliff propagated several heretical beliefs such as that at times “God must obey the Devil”.
Wycliffe limited God by asserting that He could not annihilate anything, and that He could only create a limited number of souls and not go beyond that number:
God cannot annihilate anything, nor increase or diminish the world, but he can create souls up to a certain number, and not beyond it. (1)
The war on marriage has been going on for centuries. It can be traced all the way to John Wycliff who said that those who copulated with others for material gain or to simply gratify their sexual desires, were having intercourse as actual married people:
People of former times would copulate with each other out of desire for temporal gain or for mutual help or to relieve concupiscence, even when they had no hope of offspring; for they were truly copulating as married persons. (2)
The devil works in increments, not entireties. He first begins with changing words, just as Wycliffe did. Homosexual marriage is only the attack on marriage showing a huge portion of its full manifestation, but its embryonic stage has Wycliffe as one of its pioneers. Wycliffe did not follow God, but the serpent in the garden, for he said:
Every person is God. Every creature is God. Every being is everywhere, since every being is God. (3)
He also affirmed that no one is under the obligation not to commit mortal sin, since the action was predestined and thus out of the person’s control; moreover, the person is also led by the Holy Spirit to commit mortal sin, and by extension, that person was chosen by God before his birth to be damned to hell:
A baptised child foreknown as damned will necessarily live long enough to sin in the holy Spirit, wherefore it will merit to be condemned for ever. Thus no fire can burn the child until that time or instant. I assert as a matter of faith that everything that will happen, will happen of necessity. Thus if Paul is foreknown as damned, he cannot truly repent; that is, he cannot cancel the sin of final impenitence by contrition, or be under the obligation not to have the sin. (4)
Like the social gospel heretics of today, Wycliffe taught that church leaders should not own any property,
It is against sacred scripture for ecclesiastics to have possessions. (5)
He believed that the people should have the right to steal money from a parish if their priest ever sinned:
The tithes are pure alms and parishioners can take these away at will because of the sins of their prelates. (6)
His extreme hatred against monasticism was so severe that Wycliffe exclaimed that whoever “gives alms to friars is thereby excommunicated. … Saints who have founded religious orders have sinned in so doing. Members of religious orders are not members of the Christian religion. …All religious orders alike were introduced by the devil.” (7)
This hatred of the monastics as greedy and deceptive, was also shared by Muhammad when he called for violence against Catholic monks, and the Christians who followed them; and he saw the Christians giving more adoration toward their monks and priests than to God and Christ:
Fight against them who believe not in God, nor in the last day, and forbid not that which God and his apostle have forgotten, and profess not the true religion, of those unto whom the scriptures have been delivered, until they pay tribute by right of subjection, and they be reduced low. The Jews say, Ezra is the son of God: and the Christians say, Christ is the son of God. This is their saying in their mouths: they imitate the saying of those who were unbelievers in former times. May God resist them. How are they infatuated! They take their priests and their monks for their lords, besides God, and Christ the son of Mary; although they are commanded to worship one God only: there is no God but he; far be that from him, which they associate with him! They seek to extinguish the light of God with their mouths; but God willeth no other than to perfect his light, although the idolaters be adverse thereto. O true believers, verily many of the priests and monks devour the substance of men in vanity, and obstruct the way of God. (Surah 9)
What is interesting to point out, is that Surah 9 (the passage just quoted), is used so frequently by people who want to expose Islam as violent, but what non of them ever mention, is that Surah 9 is an attack against the Catholic priesthood, and calling for open violence against it.
Protestants who admire Wycliffe, and who at the same time reference Augustine, should have a difficult time in doing so, since Wycliffe declared Augustine to be a damned heretics simply for the reason that he owned property and was a monastic:
“Augustine, Benedict and Bernard are damned, unless they repented of having owned property and of having founded and entered religious orders; and thus they are all heretics from the pope down to the lowest religious.” (8)
And like the socialists of Russia and Mexico, Wycliffe wrote in the university of Oxford, a thousand page treatise calling for the confiscation of church property. He believed in state persecution against Catholic parishes, in that the government should have the power to, at will, confiscate the property of the Church. He even went so far as to say that a governor who does not seize the property of the Church will be burn in eternal hellfire:
The lord pope and bishops and all religious or simple clerics, with titles to perpetual possession, ought to renounce them into the hands of the secular arm. If they stubbornly refuse, they ought to be compelled to do so by the secular lords. There is no greater heretic or antichrist than the cleric who teaches that it is lawful for priests and Levites of the law of grace to be endowed with temporal possessions. The clerics who teach this are heretics or blasphemers if ever there were any. Temporal lords not only can take away goods of fortune from a church that is habitually sinning, nor is it only lawful for them to do so, but indeed they are obliged to do so under pain of eternal damnation. (9)
I am sure all of the people who are against “big government” would have a huge problem with this.
He insisted that the state should seize the property of the Church if the prelates are living in habitual sin. Such is the language of tyrants; for the state, greedy for the people’s money, could easily accuse any priest or bishop of sin as a pretext to stealing his possessions.
Wycliffe’s insistence on the state confiscating church property is reminiscent to what the violent rebels of the French Revolution subscribed to, and when they unleashed their infamous Reign of Terror on France, this is exactly what they did, and they did not hesitate to use seemingly moral reasons in their rapine. They saw the Church as greedy and a tyrannical, and they expressed such sentiments when they massacred Catholics for protecting their priests. His teachings would eventually lead to the sort of violence witnessed in 18th century France.
In 1381 a mob, influenced by Wycliffe and led by Wat Tyler, marched to London where they seized Simon of Sudbury, archbishop of Canterbury, dragged him out of his chapel and like Muslims decapitated him. King Richard II with two hundred guards confronted Tyler. The criminal spat at the king’s feet, and in accordance with Wyclif’s teachings, demanded that the state confiscate all church lands and proscribe all dioceses but one. He resisted arrest, then one of the king’s men slew him with a sword and that ended the revolt.
In 1382, Nicholas Hereford, a disciple of Wycliffe and a partner in the Wyclif Bible, preached a sermon in 1382 at St. Fridewide’s Church in Oxford declaring that Simon of Sudbury was “justly slain” by the mob. (10) He believed this because Simon dared to question ‘the infallible Wycliffe,’ as we are told by the historian, Anthony A. Wood:
Nicholas Hereford, master of divinity, did favour Wycliffe in all things, and said openly that Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, was justly killed, because he would have rebuked Wycliffe, and said also that there could be found no falsity in any of his doctrines. (11)
Heresies remain in the hearts of the people for generations, but the teachings of the Church Fathers are forgotten like pedals dissipate through the transient winds.
(1) The Council of Constance, session 15, 49
(2a) Council of Constance, session 15, 15
(2) The Council of Constance, session 15, 16
(3) The Council of Constance, session 15, 53-55
(4) The Council of Constance, session 15, 57-58
(5) Council of Constance, session 8, 10
(6) Council of Constance, session 8, 18
(7) Council of Constance, session 8, 20, 22-23, 45, ellipses mine
(8) Council of Constance, session 8, 44
(9) The Council of Constance, session 15, 41-43. See also The Council of Constance, in Edward Peters, Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, ch. x, pp. 275
(10) Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. iii, ch. xi, pp. 440-441
(11) Anthony A. Wood, The History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford, b. 1, Dom. 1382