Happy Be-Lated Reformation Day 2012! I hope you set time aside this past Wednesday to remember the cause of truth and to acknowledge those who have sacrificed everything for the sake of the gospel of grace and religious liberty (see What Protestants Believe).
No, I didn’t forget Reformation Day this year. I was unable to post as Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power for 3 days. Today, Abraham’s Seed is back up to 100%, by the grace of God.
My 2010 Reformation Day post featured the Morning Star of the Reformation, John Wycliffe. This year, I’d like to build on brother Wycliffe’s ministry and shift our focus to Bohemia.
In the late 1300s the nations of England and Bohemia were linked by inter-family marriages of the respective royal families creating a kinship between the two nations. University students from England flowed to Prague to study at the great university there and took Wycliffe’s ideas (or rather the Bible’s teaching) with them. Additionally, numerous Czechs studies in England and learned of Wycliffe’s teaching which was a hot topic in those days. Among those influenced by the power of the Scriptures was professor and soon-to-be preacher and rector of Prague University’s Bethlehem Chapel, Jon Hus.
The Archbishop of Prague was directed by the Pope to stamp out these new ‘heresies’, burn all of Wycliffe’s books, and stop Bible preaching. Hus refused to stop preaching and as a result, Hus was excommunicated (with little effect) from the church in 1411. Hus taught that the church was the company of all the elect in Christ, whose head was Christ not the Pope, and he attacked the sale of indulgences used by the Pope to fund an ambitious war against Naples. Hus opposed obedience to the Pope where the Pope was acting for his own personal profit and political interests rather than the interests of Christ’s Church. In such matters, Hus believed, the Pope and the church should be held against the standard of God’s infallible Word.
Hus was promised an opportunity to defend his views at the council of Constance in 1415 and was promised ‘safe conduct’ (protection) by the Roman Emperor. When Hus reached Constance, however, Roman authorities went back on their word and had him arrested and tried. To Hus’ false accusers he exclaimed, “I appeal to Jesus Christ, the only judge who is almighty and completely just. In his hands I place my cause…” Hus was convicted on false charges and was sentenced to be mercilessly burned at the stake unless he recanted his views. Knowing that a recantation would condemn all his fellow believers in Prague, Brother Hus stood firm and died the martyrs death on July 6, 1415. Hus was overheard quoting Scripture and praying for his enemies as he burned.
God is my witness that the evidence against me is false. I have never thought nor preached except with the one intention of winning men, if possible, from their sins. In the truth of the gospel I have written, taught, and preached: today I will gladly die.
The Bohemian reformation did not die with Hus, however. His fellow Bible believers were attacked by that antichristian popes and emperors on numerous occasions by failed crusades designed to end Bible Christianity in Bohemia. By the grace of God, small numbers of Bible believers remained in tact until the time of Luther and the wider Protestant Reformation.
For reference see my prior reformation day posts: