Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Lollards

The Lollards grew out of the reform movement of John Wycliffe. They (not Wycliffe) translated the first Engish Bible, and they turned 14th century England upside down with their preaching and kingdom witness. Although persecuted, they continued as an underground movement right up to the Reformation.

"Wycliffe’s influence lived on in England through his disciples, who were called Lollards by the Catholics. Wycliffe had always argued the authority of Scripture over the authority of the Church. One of the great accomplishments of the Lollards was their translation of the first English Bible. Although this first English Bible is popularly credited today to Wycliffe himself, the actual translating was done by his disciples and friends.

Initially, the Lollards included many persons of wealth and power in their ranks. Still heavily influenced by the Constantinian Hybrid, in 1394 the Lollards presented a pamphlet to the English Parliament asking it to reform the Church. Yet, their proposed reforms are an interesting mixture of Augustinian and kingdom teachings. They attacked priestly celibacy, holy water, prayers for the dead, pilgrimages to Rome, prayers and offerings to crosses and images, and confession to priests. They called for an end to the practice of the pope or his bishops performing all ordinations in England.

They also attacked the practice of clergymen occupying both governmental and spiritual offices at the same time, saying:

“To have the king and bishop in one person, prelate and judge in temporal causes, curate and officer in secular office, puts any kingdom beyond good rule. This conclusion is clearly proved because the temporal and spiritual are two halves of the entire Holy Church. And so he who has applied himself to one should not meddle with the other, for no one can serve two masters.”

So like Wycliffe, the Lollards did not have a complete understanding of the gospel of the kingdom. They wanted secular and religious offices separated, but they still saw the secular and religious powers together constituting the “entire Holy Church.” God’s kingdom was still married to the state.

Nevertheless, after Wycliffe’s death, the Lollards moved further from Augustinian theology and closer to the kingdom gospel. For example, despite their imperfect understanding of the kingdom, the Lollards could see that war was inconsistent with Christianity:

“Manslaughter in war, or by pretended law of justice for a temporal cause, without spiritual revelation, is expressly contrary to the New Testament, which indeed is the law of grace and full of mercies. This conclusion is openly proved by the examples of Christ’s preaching here on earth, for he specially taught a man to love his enemies, and to show them pity, and not to slay them. The reason is this: (generally speaking) when men fight, love is forgotten after the first blow. And whoever dies without love goes down the straight road to hell. “And beyond this, we know well that no clergyman can by Scripture or lawful reason remit the punishment of death for one mortal sin and not for another. But the New Testament is the law of mercy. And it prohibits every kind of manslaughter. For the Gospel says: “It was said to them of old, ‘thou shalt not kill.’” ...[The crusaders] deserve ill thanks from the King of Peace. For it is by humility and patience that the faith is multiplied. Christ Jesus hates and threatens men who fight and kill, for he says, ‘He who smites with the sword shall perish by the sword.’”

As might be guessed, Parliament did not institute these Lollard articles. In fact, within a few decades, the crown and the Catholic Church united in an attempt to completely eradicate the Lollards. The Catholic powers hunted down the Lollards ruthlessly, and many of them were burned at the stake. Others recanted their doctrines when faced with torture and death. The survivors were driven underground. The Lollards continued to meet, but in secret. Their simple meetings emphasized Bible study and preaching of the Word.

After the Lollard movement lost the support of the king and nobility, it began to take on many of the characteristics of the medieval kingdom movements. Their numbers were now almost exclusively made up of tradesmen, peasants, and the urban poor. The Catholic Church could never eradicate them, and so the Lollards were still around when the Reformation reached England."

© From The Kingdom that Turned the World Upside Down
http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Lollards.html

9 comments:

thekingpin68 said...

In fact, within a few decades, the crown and the Catholic Church united in an attempt to completely eradicate the Lollards.

This type of reaction is why Christians should never want a theocracy in existence in the West, unless it is without a doubt ruled by Christ and his culminated Kingdom with his resurrected saints. Critics of Christianity that think most Christians want a theocracy in the current age sometimes fail to realize that many Biblical Christians would certainly end up being persecuted and even killed under a theocracy. This is because that with a very tight church/state, the political system inevitably ends up corrupting church doctrine and practice and those who disobey the church are considered to be disobeying the state in treason.

Russ:)

Fideism? Please check thekingpin68

jeleasure said...

Hey Jeff,
I do not seem to have a lot of time these past days. I had to get a fresh post on my blog. So, yesterday I spent about five hours on an idea and turned out a new item.

You have put so much material out in the last few days, I can't keep up. I'll read some this evening.

By the way, will you consider putting "Journaling For Growth" on your Favorite Sites. I have your "Thoughts and Theology" on all three of mine. And, even though I am marketing "Love One Another", "Journaling For Growth" is my way of keeping "Love One Another" recent.

Thanks,
Jim

jeleasure said...

O.K. Jeff,
I read about the Lollord's.
Honestly, I do not know what to say.
On one hand, corruption is a possibility. However, how has the church stopped Government from being corrupt? We are slowly losing our rights. The Government in this country is allowing society to push adversity at Christianity. Children are not allowed to pray aloud in school dining halls. They are being told they can not speak of Jesus, God and Christianity. The Government is going to support the homosexual agenda. As soon as those church congregassions who have "progressive" members vs. Evangelical members can, they will demand the ministry use a black highlighter and never speak of homosexuality. They may even commission their own Bible to be printed and used in their churches. Four percent of people who call themselves Christians are encouraging the homosexual agenda and wining.

On the other hand, I don't agree that Wycliff had a misunderstanding of the Gospel. Are Christians supposed to completely refrain from encourageing Government? If that were the case, as it nearly is here in the States, Government would silence the Christian's ability to voice what God desires. A nation whose God is the Lord is blessed of Him.

Jeff said...

Russ,

Good point.

Jeff said...

Jim,

We are slowly losing our rights. The Government in this country is allowing society to push adversity at Christianity. Children are not allowed to pray aloud in school dining halls. They are being told they can not speak of Jesus, God and Christianity. The Government is going to support the homosexual agenda. As soon as those church congregassions who have "progressive" members vs. Evangelical members can, they will demand the ministry use a black highlighter and never speak of homosexuality.

I agree. This country is becoming more and more ungodly.

Are Christians supposed to completely refrain from encourageing Government?

I would say no.

A nation whose God is the Lord is blessed of Him.

Amen. And it seems that, as we draw further away from God, He is slowly withdrawing His hand of blessing from us, as a nation.

Jeff said...

Jim,

By the way, will you consider putting "Journaling For Growth" on your Favorite Sites.

Done. And thank you for linking with me.

jeleasure said...

Thanks Jeff,
I also considered whether or not I was staying on the topic of your "Lollords" blog item.
I feel as if I was and at the same time, I felt as if I were drifiting. I think it is because I was applying Lollord philosophy against today's troubles with church and state.
Jim

Jeff said...

Jim,

No problem. 'Drift' all you want.

Jeff said...

Jim,

I also added a link just now to your "Love One Another Study Guide" blog site.