John Wycliffe and the Protestant Reformation

In the city of Worms in Germany, there is a monument to the Protestant Reformation, which includes Peter Waldo of France, Jan Hus of Bohemia, and John Wycliffe of England. But standing above them all is Martin Luther of Germany. Luther was famously called to the assembly of Worms in 1521 by the Roman Catholic Church to answer the charges against him of heresy, for forty-one of his ninety-five theses. History remembers Martin Luther (1483-1546) as the one who started the Protestant Reformation. Yet credit for it all must go to John Wycliffe (1328-1384). Luther and also Jan Hus (1369-1415) owe their ideas to Wycliffe. This includes the notion that the practice of indulgence was a doctrine and a commandment of men rather than of God. Even the criticism of Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) against the doctrine of transubstantiation was first made by Wycliffe.

John Wycliffe was a teacher at Oxford University, and also a rector and priest of Lutterworth. Wycliffe was the first of the “Bible-men”, someone who considered the Word of God and the Gospel more important than any ceremony or tradition of Christendom. What Wycliffe sought to do was provide a Bible in the vernacular so that everyone could read scripture, not merely the privileged clergy who were schooled in Latin. He had the right idea but not the proper source material. Wycliffe translated the Bible from Latin to Middle English. Since the Latin had long been corrupted, Wycliffe’s Bible was not quite correct.

It would take the fall of Constantinople in 1453, which brought long-forgotten Greek manuscripts of the New Testament to Europe, and also the scholarly brilliance of Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) of Rotterdam, to produce the Textus Receptus, the foundation of a correct New Testament. As for the Old Testament, Jews have long preserved the accuracy of the Masoretic Text.

When Thomas Linacre (1460-1524), a teacher at Oxford who taught Erasmus, read the New Testament in Greek for the first time, he famously said, “Either this is not the Gospel, or we are not Christians!” In 1526, William Tyndale (1494-1536) stood on the shoulder of Wycliffe, and completed an English translation of the Textus Receptus of Erasmus. For his work, Tyndale was burnt at the stake as a heretic by the Catholic Church. With his dying breath, Tyndale prayed to God that he would open the eyes of the king of England. Tyndale was executed a few years after Henry VIII had married Anne Boleyn. The offspring of that marriage, Elizabeth I, made England firmly Protestant, defeating even the Catholic and mighty Spanish Armada of 1588 despite the odds: “Flavit et Dissipati Sunt”, “He blew with his winds, and they were scattered”. And so in 1611, and by the authority of King James I of the United Kingdom, a Presbyterian by upbringing, and with the help of the Puritans and the Anglicans of England, the work that Wycliffe had started was completed. In 1769, the KJV was re-spelt to suit modern English. So, today, the Word of God is available in the English language.

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Mark 13:31

Now, behold, one of the consequences of the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, 1962-65, is that the sermon or homily of a mass must henceforth be in the vernacular rather than in Latin. This is precisely what Wycliffe and Tyndale had asked for. So, in the end, which of the two sides prevailed? Catholics or Protestants?

Wycliffe died of a stroke, as did Luther.

About Martin Luther, it should be remembered that he once described James as “an epistle of straw” because the writings of James contradicted his own theology. This was dangerously close to, if not precisely, blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, an unforgivable offence (ref. Matthew 12:31-32).

… All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Matthew 12:31-32

Luther even wanted to downgrade the status of Revelation, putting it among “disputed books”, simply because he could not understand Revelation.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

Though Luther was not burnt at the stake, Tyndale was.

Tyndale of England was a true martyr of Jesus Christ.

Likewise, the followers of Wycliffe, in England during the 14th and 15th centuries, were also persecuted and burnt at the stake by the Catholic Church. Wycliffe’s followers, gathered mostly from among the poor, were derogatorily called Lollards.

One century before Wycliffe, Peter Waldo (1140-1218) of Lyon, in France, started a movement that history remembers as the Waldensians. This group also rejected the Catholic doctrines of indulgences and transubstantiation, and even purgatory. As such, it could be said that the seeds of the Protestant Reformation were sown as early as the 12th century, and in France. Like the Lollards after them, the Waldensians were mostly poor. Consequently, they became known as “the Poor of Lyon”.

Among the future “kings and priests” of Christ will be the poor, and maybe some who were rich.

The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them.

1 Samuel 2:7-8

One famous Lollard that was rich was a contemporary of Henry V, king of England. John Oldcastle was a boon companion, or drinking buddy, of Prince Hal, before Prince Hal was crowned Henry V. On many occasions, they both got sloshed together. William Shakespeare’s fictional character John Falstaff was based on him.

In the 2019 Netflix movie “The King”, John Falstaff is said to have been killed at Agincourt. Historically, this was not so.

Oldcastle was executed for rebelling against the king. Oldcastle was a Lollard, and though he was persecuted and declared a heretic by the Catholic Church, his friendship with Henry V protected him. Oldcastle’s mistake was to openly rebel against the king.

The Lollard rebellion of 1414 could not succeed because the Textus Receptus was not yet ready.

Furthermore, the rebellion of 1414 was not in sync with the will of God, the LORD of hosts. You see, England, through Henry V and technology of the English longbow, was to punish France at Agincourt one year later. Agincourt (1415) together with Poitiers (1356) and also Crécy (1346) had to systematically cut down the knights of France, for among them were the Templars and their kind that had escaped the wrath of King Philip IV of France (1268-1314) – the same Templar organisation of Isaiah 23, the knights who secretly became Satanists when they were in Jerusalem at Al Aqsa mosque.

Historical accuracy aside, the story of Henry V in Netflix’s The King is interesting because Hal is somebody suddenly given a “crown”.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Revelation 1:6-7

And when he is given this power over his nation, he remarks, “Now you will be watched over by an altogether different king” (ref. 1).

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Revelation 2:26-27
Trailer of The King (2019)


1. “The King Final Trailer”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svVykTznk9Q, youtube.com