Peter Cheltschizki

Peter Cheltschizki (A.D. 1390-1452) – Peter Cheltschizki, or Peter of Chelcic, like John Huss, was born in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). So it is easy to see that he was influenced by Huss and Wycliff. He was not only a devoted Christian, but also a political leader and author in the 15th century from about 1420-60. Cheltschizki became the literary founder of the United or Bohemian Brethren, being their source of ideas and plans, taking his strong stand on following the Bible. He emphasized the New Testament as the exclusive and final source to know the will of God, and encouraged people to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. His teachings included ideas later adopted by the Moravians, Anabaptists, Quakers, and Baptists. He was the first pacifist writer of the Renaissance, predating Erasmus and Menno Simons by nearly 100 years. He produced 56 known works, but the majority remain unpublished and inaccessible except in the original manuscripts.

We don’t know much about his personal life (some historians have called him a serf, an independent farmer, a squire, a nobleman, a cobbler), but we can certainly learn from the work which came from his pen. Although the writings of many influential believers of this time were burned along with their authors, Cheltschizki’s Net of Faith, written in 1440 survived. In it he showed how the apostles treated all people as equals, and considered Christ as the only head of the church. It was in this book that he argued that the emperor and the pope were the two great whales that burst the net of faith. Here is a little from that book:

“Nothing else is sought in this book but that we, who come last, desire to see the first things and wish to return to them in so far as God enables us. We are like people who have come to a house that has been burnt down and try to find the original foundations. This is the more difficult in that the ruins are grown over with all sorts of growths, and many think that these growths are the foundation, and say, “This is the foundation” and “This is the way in which all must go,” and others repeat it after them. So that in the novelties that have grown up they think to have found the foundation, whereas they have found something quite different from, and contrary to, the true foundation. This makes the search more difficult, for if all said, “the old foundation has been lost among the ruins,” then many would begin to dig and search for it and really to begin a true work of building upon it, as Nehemiah and Zerubbabel did after the destruction of the temple. It is much more difficult now to restore the spiritual ruins, so long fallen down, and get back to the former state, for which no other foundation can be laid than Jesus Christ, from whom the many have wandered away and turned to other gods and made foundations of them.”