John Wycliff (1324-1384) – Probably best known for his work of translating the Bible into English, John Wycliff also was a man who wasn’t afraid to speak to the issues of his day. Especially when it came to the teachings of the Roman church. On political issues he would often get caught in the middle of other people’s battles being one of the leading scholars at Oxford University. However, it was his questions about spiritual matters that got him into the most trouble.
In 1300′s England there was much resentment over the way the Roman church grabbed for power and wealth. Wycliff’s study of the Scriptures led him to question the unbiblical practice of selling indulgences (official letters from the Church that were supposed to pardon sin), the superstitious worship of saints and relics, the church’s “right” to temporal power and wealth, and even the church’s view of the Eucharist (the bread and wine supposedly becoming the flesh and blood of Jesus). He also wrote that, “Forasmuch as the Bible contains Christ, that is all that is necessary for salvation, it is necessary for all men, not for priests alone.”
This did not set well with the leaders of the Church in Rome. In 1377 his writings were banned and ordered burned. But that did not stop the opposition. Wycliff was stripped of his position at Oxford and forbidden to express his view. However, his ideas swiftly spread throughout Europe, and he has become known as “The Morning Star of the Reformation.” John Wycliff died of a stroke on December 31, 1384. Thirty-one years later he was ex-communicated by the Roman church and his bones were dug up, burned, and the ashes scattered on the Swift River.