by Robert Booth
Have you ever heard of the man who died and was buried? Yes, that is normal. Here is what is not normal about John Wycliffe: 44 years after he died, his bones were dug out of the ground and burned!
A Man of the Scriptures
John Wycliffe was born sometime in the 1320s. Receiving a good education, he taught for some time. He grew increasingly frustrated with the church's selling of indulgences and practice of simony. Simony is the buying and selling of high church offices.
Wycliffe came to believe that the scriptures are the only reliable guide to the truth about God. He preached and wrote that Christians should rely on the Bible rather than on the teachings of popes and clerics. This of course made the Pope and church angry. Believing that Scripture should be able to be read by the common individual, he began to translate the Scriptures into English.
Burned for Believing the Bible
Although he died in 1384 due to a stroke, his teachings continued to spread to such a point that the church believed something needed to be done about it. In 1415, the Council of Constance declared Wycliffe a heretic and banned his writings, effectively both excommunicating him retroactively and marking him an early forerunner of Protestantism. He would later be known as the "Morning Star of the Reformation."
The Council further wrote that Wycliffe’s works should be burned and his remains removed from consecrated ground. This order, confirmed by Pope Martin V, was carried out in 1428, thirteen years after the Council, and forty-four years after his death. Wycliffe’s corpse was exhumed and burned. His ashes were cast into the river.
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