John Wyckliffe: Morning Star of the Reformation by J. Parnell McCarter
It behooves Christians today to become well acquainted with the writings of John Wyckliffe (also spelled Wycliffe), the "Morning Star of the Reformation". Whether on justification through faith alone (sola fide), divine grace and predestination, the authority of scripture alone (sola scriptura), the identity of the Papal Man of Sin, etc., John Wyckliffe proclaimed the Biblical doctrines that would come to mark the Protestant Reformation. Even Roman Catholic scholar Steve Weidenkopf, a lecturer of Church History at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College, has acknowledged that Wyckliffe taught such doctrines as sola fide and sola scriptura, such as in his lecture transcribed at http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-real-story-of-reformation-guest-on.html :
so, he wasn't the first individual who actually, uh, furthered these, er, proposed these doctrines. There were
what we like to call in history the proto-Protestants. There were heretics
before him, one in
For example, here is what Wyckliffe wrote on the topic of justification:
“Trust wholly in Christ; rely altogether on His sufferings; beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by His righteousness. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation. There must be atonement made for sin according to the righteousness of God. The person to make this atonement must be God and man.”
The website http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/moversandshakers/john-wycliffe.html has a helpful article on Wyckliffe that includes the above quote and an outline of his life and impact. Here is what that article includes:
"'He wrote against the doctrine of transubstantiation: "The bread while becoming by virtue of Christ's words the body of Christ does not cease to be bread." He challenged indulgences: "It is plain to me that our prelates in granting indulgences do commonly blaspheme the wisdom of God." He repudiated the confessional: "Private confession … was not ordered by Christ and was not used by the apostles." He reiterated the biblical teaching on faith: "Trust wholly in Christ; rely altogether on his sufferings; beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by his righteousness." Believing that every Christian should have access to Scripture (only Latin translations were available at the time), he began translating the Bible into English, with the help of his good friend John Purvey."
There is also a helpful library of his writings at: http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/wyclife-tracts-and-treatises-of-john-de-wycliffe . And there is also: https://archive.org/stream/writingsofrevere00wycl#page/n7/mode/2up .
Given the prophecy in the Book of Revelation, we ought not be surprised that there was after 70 AD 1260 "wilderness years" of the Church before the birth of John Wyckliffe, when simple gospel light was to a great extent hidden in much darkness, and possessed by few like the church and nation of the Waldensians, with their confession outlined in the Nobla Leycon (see http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2010/07/nobla-leycon.html ). As we read there:
"Then were the Saints persecuted, and
those that were just and good;
Then they prayed unto the Lord with cries and tears,
That He would come down on earth and save this World:
For all mankind was in the way of perdition.
Then sent God the Angel to the noble Virgin of royal Descent,
Who sweetly saluted her according to the command of Him that sent him,
And after said unto her, fear not Marie,
For the Holy Ghost shall overshadow thee;
Thou shalt bear a Son whom thou shalt call Jesus,
He shall save his People from their sins...
if we will love Christ, and know his Doctrine,
We ought to watch, and read the Scripture..."
We can be thankful for the gospel light proclaimed by John Wyckliffe.