Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Morning Star of the Reformation

A popular Roman Catholic tactic is to claim Luther was a doctrinal innovator. Since Luther’s doctrinal beliefs are without precedent, his claims should be rejected (or so the argument goes).

An immediate observation is that this merely assumes the Scriptural evidence is in favor of Catholicism. However, we will dispense with the Scriptural matter, as that is not our focus, and proceed to the matter of the post-Scriptural historical record; the idea that Luther was doctrinally novel with respect to church history suffers from a serious defect—it is irreconcilable to historical facts. The Reformation, bursting forth as it did in the sixteenth century, was part of a tradition of earlier reformers who, like many of the prophets of the Old Testament, were crushed under the obstinacy of the reigning religious authorities.

This essay will sketch a brief biography of one such early reformer, John Wycliffe, with particular attention paid to a few of his more significant doctrinal positions. As will be shown, Wycliffe’s experience with the corruption of the Catholic Church led him to some of the same moral and doctrinal conclusions Luther would endorse some 130 years later. Indeed, that “John Wycliffe and his followers anticipated many of the key-doctrines of Protestantism has never been in dispute.”1 Some of these moral and doctrinal conclusions include: a preference for the authority of Scripture over and against papal primacy, a move toward Sola Fide, a rejection of transubstantiation, and a concern for a vernacular translation of Scripture.

Wycliffe’s Early Life, Education at Oxford and Political Career

John Wycliffe (c. 1324-1384), who is perhaps best known for inspiring vernacular translations of Scripture, was an Oxford educated professor who strongly denounced the moral and spiritual failings of fourteenth century Catholicism. The similarities in his work and life to later Protestant reforms have earned him the exemplary title “Morning Star of the Reformation.”

His early life is shrouded in mystery. This is due not only to Wycliffe’s lack of autobiographical materials, but also to the posthumous treatment the early reformer received at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). Here Wycliffe was officially declared a heretic and his body ordered to be exhumed and burned with his works. The embarrassment caused by this event to his staunchly Catholic family was of no small consequence, and all traces of his life and work were subsequently erased from his town of origin.2

What we do know is that Wycliffe was born c. 1324 somewhere in Yorkshire, England. He later came to Oxford, eventually earning not only a doctorate, but widespread recognition for his rigorous logic and scholarly learning.3 His interests, however, were not limited to academia; he left Oxford in 1371 to serve the interests of British royalty, first as a diplomat, and later as a polemicist.4

His service to the crown left him disillusioned with the political process, which, at the time, was deeply wedded to the affairs of the Church. To help finance his war with Milan, Pope Gregory XI had demanded 100,000 florins from England, in addition to a regular tribute already being paid. Wycliffe initially participated in these negotiations and refused to bow to Gregory’s demands, but his uncompromising stance eventually had him removed from the discussions. After his removal, his fellow diplomats were bribed with “prestigious and lucrative offices in the English Church,” and they signed a treaty giving enormous concessions to Gregory.5

This marked the end of Wycliffe’s direct participation in the political process and he returned to Oxford to write and preach about the various reforms he thought the Church so desperately needed. Since Wycliffe targeted the hypocritical opulence of the clergy, he earned friends within the ranks of royalty, who wished to use his theological arguments for their own ends and devices. This, however, earned him the attention of the Gregory XI, who eventually condemned many of his criticisms and repeatedly attempted to have him brought to trial.6

Wycliffe’s View of Scripture as the Final Authoritative Norm

In the same year the Great Schism (1378-1417) began, Wycliffe published The Truth of Sacred Scripture. This treatise contained principles quite similar to the later Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura. Wycliffe’s view of authority had developed such that he “sought to ground all his reforms in the authority of Scripture, arguing that it is the highest authority for every Christian. It provides the test of all Church councils and of the claims of religious experience.”7

The Great Schism not only raised Wycliffe’s view of Scripture, but served to further diminish the legitimacy of the papacy in his eyes:
At this time, his position also grew more radical. The scandal of the Great Schism encouraged this, and he began teaching that the true church of Christ is not the pope and his visible hierarchy, but rather the invisible body of those who are predestined to salvation—a point he drew from Saint Augustine of Hippo. Although it is impossible to know exactly who has been predestined, there are indications that many ecclesiastical leaders are in truth reprobate. Towards the end of his life, Wycliffe declared that the pope was among those who were probably reprobate.8
Heiko Oberman has also argued that Wycliffe held to the scholarly concept of Tradition I.9 (Tradition I has been summed as: “Scripture was the sole source of revelation; that it was the final authoritative norm of doctrine and practice; that it was to be interpreted according to the regula fidei.”10) Whether Tradition I squares completely with the later doctrine of the Reformers, Wycliffe’s views, especially in light of his writings on the papacy, can safely be claimed as much closer to the later Reformers and incompatible with the then prevailing view of Roman primacy.11

Anticipation of Sola Fide

Although Wycliffe’s doctrine precedes Luther’s in many ways, the connection is less clear with Sola Fide.12 However, as Bruce Shelley explains, Wycliffe can still be said to have at least anticipated the Reformer’s later articulation:
The long-range significance of Wyclif’s teaching on dominion lies in its link with the Reformation. It was the English reformer’s way of emphasizing the spiritual freedom of the righteous man. He is a professor of ‘a dominion founded on grace.’ ‘God gives no lordship to his servants without first giving Himself to them.’ Every man, therefore, priest or layman, holds an equal place in the eyes of God. This personal relation between a man and God is everything; character is the one basis of office. The mediating priesthood and the sacrificial masses of the medieval church are no longer essential. Thus Wyclif anticipates Luther’s doctrine of justification by faith alone. Both men destroy the medieval barriers between the individual and God.13
The Rejection of Transubstantiation

As he neared the end of his life, Wycliffe began to question the doctrine of Transubstantiation.14 He came to rejected it because it was:
a denial of the principle manifested in the incarnation. When God was joined to human nature, the presence of the divinity did not destroy the humanity. Likewise, what takes place in communion is that the body of Christ is indeed present in the bread, but without destroying it. In a ‘sacramental’ and ‘mysterious’ way, the body of Christ is present in communion. But so is the bread.15
Here is where Wycliffe was most controversial, as his views contradicted the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). Many then dismissed him as heretical, although he still officially died in communion with the Church. As mentioned above, it was not until the later Council of Constance that he was condemned.

A Translation for the Commoner

Like Luther, Wycliffe was concerned with providing a translation of Scripture that the common person could read. While the extent to which he was directly involved in the process is unknown, “we need have no qualms about referring to the Wycliffite Bible, for it was under his inspiration and by his friends and colleagues that the work was done.”16

Gonzâles explains Wycliffe’s rationale for a commoner’s translation and the subsequent inspiration it gave his followers:
According to Wycliffe, it is true that Scripture is the possession of the church, and that only the church can interpret the Bible correctly. But this church that owns Scripture is the body of all who are predestined, and therefore the Bible ought to be put back in their hands, and in their own language. It was because of this claim that Wycliffe’s followers, after his death, saw to it that the Bible was translated into English.17
While Wycliffe’s translation was not based on Greek or Hebrew manuscripts (but the Latin Vulgate), the spirit of Luther’s later vernacular translation is still quite apparent.

_____________________________
1 Arthur Dickens, The English Reformation (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), 46.

2 William Estep, Renaissance and Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1986), 59.

3 Justo Gonzâles, The Story of Christianity, Volume I: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation (New York: HaperCollins Publishers, 1984), 346.

4 Ibid., 346.

5 Estep, Renaissance and Reformation, 63.

6 Ibid., 61.

7 Anthony Thiselton, Hermeneutics: An Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 125.

8 Gonzâles, The Story of Christianity, 347.

9 Heiko Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), 371-378.

10 Keith Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001), 85.

11 Cf. John Wycliffe, On the Truth of the Holy Scripture, trans. Ian Christopher Levy (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute, 2001).

12 Cf. Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 180-187.

13 Bruce Shelly, Church History in Plain Language (Word Publishing, 1995), 226.

14 Ralph Keen, The Christian Tradition (Lanham: MD, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008), 176-177.

15 Gonzâles, The Story of Christianity, 347.

16 F.F. Bruce, History of the Bible in English (Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press, 1979), 13.

17 Gonzâles, The Story of Christianity, 347.

39 comments:

Jordan Cooper said...

This is a topic which really interests me. Have you read any of works by Wyclif himself, and if so, what would you recommend?

Edward Reiss said...

I happened to post this on another forum just today:

"In light of these developments, it is clear that the Wittenberg reformation was characterized by a direct engagement with scholasticism. Although both Luther and Karlstatd were unquestionably aided in this matter by the newly developed humanist textual and philological techniques, it seems that Luther employed the hermeneutics of the late medieval period in his biblicalexegesis, during which he gradually broke from the soteriological framework of the via moderna. In other words, Luther's theological breakthrough must be regarded as a development within, rather than a radical break with, the framework lf late medieval thought. Although it is fashionable to speak of 'Luther's Copernican Revolution', which substituted a theocentricity for the medieval anthropocentricity, the suggestion of such a radical discontinuity (implicit in the use of the term 'revolution') cannot be sustained. The 'theocentricity' in question was characteristic of the schola Augustiana moderna in the later medieval period, with which Luther may have been familiar, and with which he certainly exhibits at least some degree of continuity. Far from breaking with the medieval theoligical tradition, Luther may be regarded as merely adopting a somewhat different position within its compass."

The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation, Alister McGrath pp 199

Viisaus said...

"As he neared the end of his life, Wycliffe began to question the doctrine of Transubstantiation.14 He came to rejected it because it was:

a denial of the principle manifested in the incarnation. When God was joined to human nature, the presence of the divinity did not destroy the humanity."


So it seems that Wycliffe anticipated us in considering the RC dogma as smacking of Monophysitism or semi-Monophysitism:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/02/is-transubstantiation-monophysite.html

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Jordan Cooper writes:

Have you read any of works by Wyclif himself, and if so, what would you recommend?

I am only acquainted with Wycliffe through secondary literature.

As far as primary sources, it would depend on what aspects of his thought you're interested in. While I've outlined some of his more theological and pastoral concerns, Wycliffe is also known for his highly influential philosophical contributions. You might find the following article useful in narrowing your focus in terms of what ideas and works of his you'd like to study in more detail:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wyclif/

John Bugay said...

Hi Matthew -- Welcome to Beggars All, and thanks for this wonderful picture of Wycliffe. As I mentioned to you, I think the threads that tie in with Wycliffe's thoughts and teachings will be a fascinating way to tie the Reformation into the earlier church, and even to the earliest church. I'm looking forward to learning more about him.

James Swan said...

Heiko Oberman has also argued that Wycliffe held to the scholarly concept of Tradition I.9 (Tradition I has been summed as: “Scripture was the sole source of revelation; that it was the final authoritative norm of doctrine and practice; that it was to be interpreted according to the regula fidei.”

Here's an interesting quote:

Alister McGrath: Whatever the origins of the ‘two source’ theory may have been, the late medieval tradition unquestionably included representatives of a school which insisted that ‘there are many truths which are necessary for salvation which are neither contained in scripture, nor which are necessary consequences of its contents’.
Alister E. McGrath, The Intellectual Origins of the European Reformation (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1987), p. 146.

James Swan said...

Although Wycliffe’s doctrine precedes Luther’s in many ways, the connection is less clear with Sola Fide.12 However, as Bruce Shelley explains, Wycliffe can still be said to have at least anticipated the Reformer’s later articulation


The trick is this: historical theology develops the way Rome says it does. The infallibility of the magisterium underlies their approach to history. They determine how doctrine develops, and how God's revelation is to be understood. Consider Mary's Assumption. Catholic historian Ludwig Ott:

"The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus-narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing. The first Church author to speak of the bodily ascension of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours' " Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp. 209-210

Luther's exposition of sola fide is exegetical, while the assumption isn't. I have no problem with an exegetical development of doctrine- think of Granville Sharp's rule for example. The Romanists though don't have any rule with "development"- they can take facts or leave them, and interpret Tradition however they want to. It doesn't matter that the Assumption lacks early wittness, or that its early witness is from a spurious source. But now Luther, well, he was awful.

Lvka said...

So there's not a 1,500 year gap between Christ and Protestantism, it's only a 1,300 year gap between them! Take that, Catholics! :D

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

So there's not a 1,500 year gap between Christ and Protestantism, it's only a 1,300 year gap between them! Take that, Catholics! :D

So you admit the essay was successful? That would be a stunning concession given the characteristic obstinacy of those lay-apologists who typically argue against Protestantism.

(I suspect you're merely being dismissively sarcastic, but I still hold out hope.)

Of course, I reject a "1,300 year gap" as well, even on the simple grounds that Wycliffe's ideas are drawn from earlier Christian thinkers and fathers.

I also reject the idea that such a gap, even if it did exist, is somehow deeply problematic for Protestantism or refutes its core doctrines or some such thing. As we've previously discussed, 2 Kings 22:8-13 shows how historical "gaps" lasting generations are not only possible, but completely acceptable. But sometimes it is useful to address a popular argument on its own terms.

Lvka said...

There was no millennial gap in Judaism prior to either king Josiah or Saint Elijah.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

There was no millennial gap in Judaism prior to either king Josiah or Saint Elijah.

If you've conceded that gaps are acceptable, you've undercut a massive line of argumentation against Protestantism. Now all you're left with is an arbitrary rejection of gaps longer than those we see in the Old Testament; you don't have grounds to say that a "millennial gap" is unacceptable. Indeed, the very principle of 2 Kings 22:8-13 is that historical succession is completely unnecessary in order to be faithful to God and His Scriptures.

Lvka said...

Did the Priests and Levites in the Jerusalem Temple, for instance, ceise their God-ordained services in the period before Josiah or Elijah? Did Judaism ceise? (So why are you setting up false hopes for yourself?)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

Did the Priests and Levites in the Jerusalem Temple, for instance, ceise their God-ordained services in the period before Josiah or Elijah? Did Judaism ceise? (So why are you setting up false hopes for yourself?)

2 Kings 22:13 says that generations of Jews failed to obey God. Even if we concede your gratuitous assertion that the temple services continued unabated, that has nothing to do with the issue of historical continuity of belief. The "gap" is still there, despite your attempted equivocation on the term "Judaism."

Lvka said...

Yes, Mat, I honestly doubt that the Jewish faith (and all that is entailed therein) disappeared for "generations" before Josiah -- that's why I've asked you those simple specific questions you now so conveniently avoid responding to -- I don't see those 'missing generations' in the 21 chapters prior to 2 Kings 22... do you? Does anyone? Where are they?

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

Yes, Mat, I honestly doubt that the Jewish faith (and all that is entailed therein) disappeared for "generations" before Josiah

Then you honestly doubt the Word of God, for 2 Kings 22:13 says precisely that; Josiah's fore-fathers failed to obey the commands of God, even losing the physical texts of Scripture. And the deplorable history of Israel in 2 Kings suggests just as much even without specific reference to 2 Kings 22:13.

You are, of course, welcome to make an argument against this position (as opposed to the gratuitous assertions you so frequently employ).

Lvka said...

Mat, what I'm trying to say is that I think you fell into what you Protestants call "eisegesis".. your interpretation of one verse runs counter to the previous two dozen chapters..

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

your interpretation of one verse runs counter to the previous two dozen chapters..

Are you going to make an argument for that assertion?

If not, I think we are done here.

Lvka said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew D. Schultz said...

I deleted your comment, Lvka. Until you're ready to make an argument, instead of just throwing out unsubstantiated assertions, I will continue to delete your comments in this thread.

Lvka said...

I stand in awe of your impotent rage..

Matthew D. Schultz said...

It's not rage, Lvka.

And I'm not sure how you're in any position to know how I feel about deleting your comments.

I've set the bar fairly low for discourse in this thread. But instead of meeting it, you keep posting complaining and insulting comments irrelevant to the argument on the table. Until you're ready to act in a mature, grown-up manner, I will continue to delete them.

Lvka said...

Well.. the key word was impotent, not rage..


What we see in the fourth and last book of kings is a constant struggle (starting with Solomon himself, the third king of Israel) between Jewish monotheism and pagan idolatry: Josiah's cleansing succeeds Manasseh's defiling, which itself succeeds Hezekiah's cleansing (during the time of the Holy Prophet Isaiah), etc. What we DON'T see however, is a generation-long annihilation of Judaism: I'm sorry, that just doesn't happen. -- The same in the history of the Church, with the struggles against Arianism or Iconoclasm, for instance.. but the Church never went away, nor was in hiding (otherwise history wouldn't have recorded the struggle: you can't have a struggle if it's only one party.. you need at least two people in the ring to have a fight)

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

Well.. the key word was impotent, not rage..

Don't push your luck.

What we see in the fourth and last book of kings is a constant struggle (starting with Solomon himself, the third king of Israel) between Jewish monotheism and pagan idolatry: Josiah's cleansing succeeds Manasseh's defiling, which itself succeeds Hezekiah's cleansing (during the time of the Holy Prophet Isaiah), etc. What we DON'T see however, is a generation-long annihilation of Judaism: I'm sorry, that just doesn't happen.

The generational period in question is longer since it includes the reign of Amon, who succeeded Manasseh. God says that Manasseh and Amon committed such egregious sins that they were worse than the Canaanites, and that they successfully convinced the nation to join them in their evil (2 Kings 21:9, 11 and 20). And here is an account of just what this evil entailed (emphasis mine):

For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them.

He built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, "In Jerusalem I will put My name."

For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD.

He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger.

Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD said to David and to his son Solomon, "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever.
-2 Kings 21:3-7

If this alone is what Josiah is referring to when he says his "fathers" failed to obey the law, how can you say that Judaism still survived during that time-frame?

-- The same in the history of the Church, with the struggles against Arianism or Iconoclasm, for instance.. but the Church never went away, nor was in hiding (otherwise history wouldn't have recorded the struggle: you can't have a struggle if it's only one party.. you need at least two people in the ring to have a fight)

That the whole history of the Old Testament monarchy is a "struggle" does not necessarily mean that every part of that history involved struggles at every point. 2 Kings 21:1-9 gives no indication that there was any successful resistance to the evil reign of Manasseh or the reign of Amon. Indeed, how could there be, given that Manasseh killed innocent people seemingly without hesitation:

Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; besides his sin with which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD. - 2 Kings 21:16

In the unlikely event that there was any true belief during the reign of Manasseh or the reign of Amon, it was most likely hiding away. But that's exactly the picture Protestants are denied painting with respect to Church history.

Lvka said...

I didn't say "succesful resistance".. I merely pointed out to you that there was a constant struggle, and the verse you've offered points out just that.. it was the same for the early Church: countless bloody martyrdoms, yet the Church was neither hidden nor invisible nor destroyed.


One such resistance were the Temple priests, who obviously weren't exactly "thrilled" by Manasseh's defiling of the Holy Place with pagan images, and who used the first opportunity available to offer the Book of the Law to the new king, Josiah, through the hands of their High Priest Hilkiah, and which king responded favorably to their expectations, by cleansing the Temple and destroying the high-places of pagan idols, along with the priests of Baal, who rivaled the Jerusalem Priesthood of YHWH.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka writes:

I didn't say "succesful resistance"..

Use whatever terms you'd like; just remember you said God's people "never went away, nor was in hiding." That is what I was describing, and that is the claim to which you will be held.

One such resistance were the Temple priests, who obviously weren't exactly "thrilled" by Manasseh's defiling of the Holy Place with pagan images, and who used the first opportunity available to offer the Book of the Law to the new king, Josiah, through the hands of their High Priest Hilkiah

That's fine speculation. Now how would you demonstrate this from the text of 2 Kings? As it stands, the descriptions of Manasseh and Amon give no evidence that the priests held out. And 2 Kings 22:1-8 reads like the Scriptures were discovered ten years into Josiah's reign and only in the course of repairing the damaged and neglected temple.

John Bugay said...

Lvka, keep in mind that you are a guest here, and quite frequently your impertinent insinuations are just not very helpful at all. Matthew's mistake was just trying to interact with one of your jokes on your terms, and you blew it out of proportion.

If you want to try to make legitimate contributions, some of us have been willing to be patient with you. But that doesn't always have to be the case. If you're going to get insulting, we don't need that here at all.

scotju said...

Wycliffe was a heretic, plain and simple. He was under the influence of the Bogomil heresy that was from Bulgaria. "Heresy and the English Reformation" by Georgi Vasilev shows that Wycliffe/Lollard doctrines and those of the Bogomils/Cathars were basically the same. All of these groups were dualist in their teaching. Even though Vasilev is sympathetic to the Bogomils, he places statements made by Wycliffe and the Bogomils side by side and shows they believed in the same doctrines. The book goes on to show that Bogomilism had a great influence on Tyndale, Milton, and the Waldensians. So if your wanting to claim your "morning star" as your spiritual ancestor, you got to claim himm with his Bogomil warts too.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

scotju, if you have quotations, or even just citations, from Vasilev's work, I would appreciate being able to see them.

So if your wanting to claim your "morning star" as your spiritual ancestor, you got to claim himm with his Bogomil warts too.

In what sense do you think I have to claim these "warts"? The purpose of this essay was to identify some major points of continuity between Wycliffe and the later Reformers. I don't see how that is overturned or diminished in any significant manner by what you've written here. For example, the Roman Catholic denomination is content to repeatedly quote Origen in the Catechism to support its beliefs, and this despite his problematic theology. Would you characterize its use of Origen in the same manner as you've characterize my use of Wycliffe?

scotju said...

Matt, Vasilev book shows Wycliff's ideas were just rehashed Bogomil dualism. Chapter 4, John Wycliff and the Dualists, shows JW and the Bogomils believed in the following:the Devil as the master and creator of the world, the incarnation of the sols of angels in hman bodies, the rejection of transubstantiation, rejection of confessing to a priest, sinner priests have no right to officiate, ( Wycliff added that earthly rulers who sinned lost their right of property and power), the Catholic Church is fornicatress, (the old whore of Babylon nonsence), rejection of excommnication, rejection of oaths, rejection of litrgy, rejection of indulgences, criticism of the se of the cross and icons, and the se of heretical Bible translations with heretical interpetations of the same. If you are going to claim JW as your great hero, you're going to have to except the fact that he was a dualist pagan, and that Huss, Tyndale, Milton and other reformers were led into heresy by his influence. Some continuity! As for Origen, we quote only what is orthodox in his writings in the catechism. Wycliff totally rejected the true faith for the dualist heresy. That's why his bones were burned after his death, along with many of his writings. Oh Matt, buy Vasilev's book. It could open your mind.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

scotju writes:

If you are going to claim JW as your great hero

Thanks for your inaccurate, mocking description of how I view Wycliffe.

As for Origen, we quote only what is orthodox in his writings in the catechism.

And so too have I drawn on Wycliffe to the extent that he foreshadows Protestantism.

Oh Matt, buy Vasilev's book. It could open your mind.

That presumes it's closed. I'm not sure how you're in a position to know the state of my mind.

I'm also not sure why I should buy Vasilev's book given the reviews it has received:

His proposal is, in fact, a rather old one and largely discredited, and Vasilev does cite frequently from many nineteenth and early twentieth-century works. Essentially, Vasilev argues that the dualist traditions of Eastern European Bogomilism and French Catharism were foundational influences upon currents of English reform in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. It is clear from his subtitle that Vasilev does not have the English Reformation more broadly in mind. The long-term significance of Lollardy has been convincingly circumscribed by recent scholars. The overall impact of Tyndale, whom Vasilev links flimsily to Bogomilism through Lollardy, was marginal except with regard to his biblical translations. Likewise, Langland and Milton are limited case studies.

Much of Vasilev’s work rests dubiously on isolating textual parallels and ‘almost perfect coincidences and astonishing similarities’ in reforming outlook (27). Indeed, similarities such as vernacularism and the rejection of certain Catholic liturgical doctrines and practices cannot be denied. However, it is a fallacy to base an argument solely on the combination of chronology and similarity without any other external proofs. Vasilev establishes none of those adequately. Furthermore, none of the quotations he parallels are all that striking in their similarity, and they amount either to superficial equivocation or the underestimation of a common inheritance of biblical themes.

An example of a free use of biblical themes is the Fall and binding of Satan and Christ’s harrowing of hell, which figure prominently in Bogomil literature and are found in Wyclif, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. However, even if the sources of Langland and Milton’s poems are partly apocryphal, these themes have biblical origins that do not necessitate any extreme dualistic assumptions.


www.equinoxjournals.com/RRR/article/download/4465/4445

Perhaps that is why none of the historical sources I consulted in my study of Wycliffe ever mentioned such influences on his theology.

John Bugay said...

Matthew, that's a great response.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ah, where would the world have been now without the “light” of such men as these? ;)

We'd still be listening to the idolatrous mass in Latin, unable to read the Scriptures in our own languages, and seeking salvation through the works-based false-gospel known as Roman Catholicism.

scotju said...

I read the review of "Heresy" by the Wheaton professor. I'm not impressed. All it is is just a denial based on his Protestantism, not a examination of the facts. I found a link to a review on Vasilev's site www.bogomilism.eu/ that had a more balanced review of the book from the Toronto Slavic Qarterly. It gives a fair critique of "Heresy" mentioning both it's flaws and virtues. Mr Tanner, the reviewer, says it's a"thought-provoking and well documented study of isses of great importance for late medieval and early modern England."

Matthew D. Schultz said...

scotju writes:

I read the review of "Heresy" by the Wheaton professor. I'm not impressed. All it is is just a denial based on his Protestantism, not a examination of the facts.

Then you didn't read the review carefully. Whiting analyzed factual, logical and methodological errors in Vasilev's work. There's no evidence his critical review is "just a denial based on his Protestantism." In fact, all your baseless judgment proves is that you are the one predisposed to dismiss problematic evidence based on your theological preference for Catholicism.

I found a link to a review on Vasilev's site www.bogomilism.eu/ that had a more balanced review of the book

The book suffers from outdated scholarship. There's a reason Vasliev primarily cites supporting sources from around a century ago; it seems no modern scholars who study the subject agree with him. I don't see how your counter-review addresses this or any of the other problems Whiting raised. Indeed, the Toronto Slavic Quarterly merely asserts as true the very positions Whiting is criticizing. You have not moved the debate any further; you have only reasserted that the book is successful in its analysis without dealing with the substance of Whiting.

Lvka said...

John,

y r u so shocked that Totally Depraved and wholly unregenerated individuals such as myself r behaving so badly, when God made us this way, and predestined our evil actions from all eternity?

[Seriously, it's hard for me to take all the punches and slaps on the face as gracefully as Christ did: redemption is a process, and I'm just taking baby-steps here.. so please bear with me..]


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Mat,

Amon's reign lasted only two years:
it can hardly be counted as a second "generation", as you seem to imply..

I also think it weird to believe that the Priests, who were among the most zealous and religious people in Israel, and whose entire lives were dedicated to the service of God, all of a sudden became happy to embrace paganism and praise the desecration of their Temple..(?) -- it makes no sense.. and I think my reading of the Biblical data to be down-to-earth logical and plausible.

Lvka said...

Mat,

You can feel free to compare, if you don't believe me, the duration and intensity of Manaseh's reign and persecution, with those of the Communist regime:

churches destroyed or desecrated, priests imprisoned & exterminated, preaching prohibitted, religion severely oppressed, imposition of state-atheism, forced work on sundays, etc. -- but even with sermonless services on the sundays in which they weren't forced to work, the faith survived: communism, however, didn't.

John Bugay said...

Lvka wrote: y r u so shocked that Totally Depraved and wholly unregenerated individuals such as myself r behaving so badly, when God made us this way, and predestined our evil actions from all eternity?

[Seriously, it's hard for me to take all the punches and slaps on the face as gracefully as Christ did: redemption is a process, and I'm just taking baby-steps here.. so please bear with me..]

Do you consider yourself wholly unregenerate?

I have not noticed that anyone is punching or slapping you here.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Lvka,

John was giving you a warning. Instead of respecting and acknowledging it, you've responded with a caricature of Reformed theology, acting as if your behavior is expected and excusable, and implying we have no right to moderate it. You then implied we've been repeatedly insulting you in the same way Christ was insulted. Do I need to remind you that you are a guest here and that your participation in this thread is a privilege, not a right?

As for our dialogue, I didn't imply Amon as a "second generation." You did not account for his reign, and thus ignored the significant aspects of it, so I added it into the discussion.

You write:

I also think it weird to believe that the Priests, who were among the most zealous and religious people in Israel, and whose entire lives were dedicated to the service of God, all of a sudden became happy to embrace paganism and praise the desecration of their Temple..(?) -- it makes no sense.. and I think my reading of the Biblical data to be down-to-earth logical and plausible.

Where's the evidence that they were "among the most zealous and religious people in Israel" at the time? Why do you consistently refuse to argue for your assertions?

Any why are you changing your argument? What happened to defending your statement that the priests "used the first opportunity available to offer the Book of the Law to the new king, Josiah, through the hands of their High Priest"?

I've set a low bar for discussion here, yet you keep violating it. There's an extent to which I don't mind if your arguments are faulty; I appreciate someone who at least attempts to give some arguments in support of his position and makes a good-faith effort of interacting with and understanding his opponent's beliefs. You give no such evidence, consistently asserting and shifting to new assertions without giving meaningful refutations or arguments. That's disrespectful, and I don't post on Beggars All to promote that kind of behavior, nor do I think it a good use of time to regularly respond to it. You can post in the next thread I do, but please refrain from additional posts on this topic. You have exhausted your opportunities to at least attempt interaction with my arguments on 2 Kings 22:8-13.

If you refuse to heed this request, your posts will be deleted.

And if you don't like the general standard of making arguments in support of your assertions and/or can't comply with it in future threads, simply have the decency not to complain about it in public and move on to other threads of which I am not the author, either on this blog or another.