John Wycliff - RR135A1

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: John Wycliff
Course: Course - English History
Subject: Subject:History
Lesson#: 1
Length: 0:59:44
TapeCode: RR135A1
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

From any study of the Middle Ages, it is possible to paint a picture, and an accurate one, that would be so moving and so beautiful that we would all feel that it is wrong not to be a Catholic. On the other hand, it’s also possible to paint a picture so devastating in its horror and thoroughly true, that would make us the most violent kind of anti-Catholic. The period, of course, was a very long one. It lasted for centuries; and during the course of that time, naturally a great deal happened up and down that represented a great variety of practices and standards. The Catholic Church, as we know it today, or have known it, is not the same church as that of the medieval era; it is a product of the Council of Trent. Now, the church from the Council of Trent on is now drawing to an end; and that the Second Vatican Council has, in effect, denied the Council of Trent.

Tonight we begin our study in a period to the 14th Century, when the church was in serious decline. Unbelief was rampant. Men had come to regard the church as a place for ambition to have its way of power and advancement; and as a result, the corruption of the church was very great. Our particular concern is with England: England as an area of a movement that began at that time, but has still not spent its force. Indeed, we may say that our concern with it is that the full force of it is yet to come. There were people in England at that time deeply concerned with the corruption of the church. Just a few years before the era that we shall deal with—that of John Wycliff (wick lif), or Wycliff (wy clif), each pronunciation is acceptable—the Bishop of Lincoln was a man named Robert Grosseteste, a very fine scholar and writer. And Robert Grosseteste, in speaking of the extensive corruption—the moral, financial, doctrinal corruption in the church—declared that the seat of it was in Rome, and in the papacy. The church had become deeply given to quibbling over trifles, and overlooking essentials. [00:03:38]

Moreover, there was no longer the same zeal, whereby...[edit]

Moreover, there was no longer the same zeal, whereby men once thronged into the monasteries and into the priesthood. To gain recruits for the ordinary functions of the church required all kinds of dishonesty. For example, consider this, coming from one of the highest churchmen of the day, one of the most brilliant scholars, a very godly man, Richard FitzRalph, the Archbishop of Armagh, in Ireland; and he denounced the kidnapping of small boys by the friars, who took them away to rear them as friars; and here is an account from his writing: On going out … this is a summary of what he wrote … on going out from his end of the street, the archbishop met with a respectable English gentleman, who had made a journey to Avignon (the papacy had its seat then not in Rome, but in Avignon), for no other purpose but to obtain from the courier the surrender of his son, whom the begging friars of Oxford had inveigled last Easter, though yet only a boy 13 years old. When the father hurried to Oxford to rescue him, he was only permitted to speak with his son under the eyes of several monks. And FitzRalph, archbishop of Armagh, says, “What is this but man-stealing, a crime worse than cattle-stealing, which is a penal offense; and this with mere children before they have come to years of discretion.” [00:05:49]

Moreover, there was an externalism of a most amazing...[edit]

Moreover, there was an externalism of a most amazing sort: as long as you conformed in some of the externals, you are a good churchman, no matter how reprobate a character you might be. Thus, G. G. Coulton, one of the greatest medievalist scholars, has said, and I quote (and this statement which he is quoting—Coulton—comes from a Catholic priest, who became a cardinal), “If a priest lets his hair grow or adopt lay dress, he is cast into prison and severely punished. If he drinks in a brothel or frequents a harlot, or plays the dice or defiles other men’s wives, or never touches a religious book; yet, he is a pillar of the church. I do not excuse his change of dress, but I do blame this preposterous judgment.” This is the kind of thing that was corroding the church. As long as one maintained the forms, as long as one didn’t break the rules, what one believed and what one’s moral character were made no difference. As a result, there was a growing bitterness among the people, the common people in particular, at the corruption in the church. And as a consequence of this, the people were alienated from the nobility and the royalty, which did nothing about the growing corruption, and from the church. [00:08:11]

The result was, in England, the Peasants’ Revolt...[edit]

The result was, in England, the Peasants’ Revolt. The peasants felt they were being ground down to nothing and destroyed, and with reason. It was a time of tremendous wealth, because the nobility and the royalty were gouging the poor and destroying them. Feudalism, as a vital force, had died a few years before, and the lords no longer felt the responsibility towards those who were on their estates that they had in the previous century; and as a result, they were ruthless. The gap between high and low was just incredible. No one has ever written a history of plumbing, but it would be interesting, because we’d have many surprises in it. Thus, Richard II in this era in his palace—and incidentally we don’t know too much about things, because so much has been destroyed; castles were military places, and they didn’t have the conveniences that the houses of lords in London and the palaces had, and those have all disappeared virtually; the castles have survived—but Richard II, for example, in his palace had hot and cold flowing water, and baths where you could turn on your hot water tap and your cold water tap. But if you went out and saw the life of the common people, it would be primitive to the ninth degree. There was this total gap: they were two peoples, almost, alien to one another. [00:10:08]

The Norman lords who had come over with William the...[edit]

The Norman lords who had come over with William the Conqueror, their families had long before died out, so that none of the old Norman lords still survived. True, some of their daughters who had intermarried into the other families, the Anglo Saxon families, carried on the Norman blood. But the significant thing is the Normans came over as a French-speaking people. Now that was 1066, and our period to the time of Wycliff is the 1300’s, a long time away—four centuries. But in this era, the nobility had become French-speaking, although they were not Normans; they were Englishmen. Why?—because they did not want to be associated with the common people. English was the language for the cattle, and they spoke French. This was the language of the family to emphasize their separateness.

As a result, the bitterness was intense, and the Peasants’ Revolt broke out. A poor priest, John Ball, together with Wat Tyler, was the leader of the revolt, and its bitterness was intense. It aimed at killing all lords, all gentlemen, all great churchmen; at burning all the tax rolls and title deeds; and securing the person of the king, capturing him, and compelling him to rule according to their wishes. Their slogan, which is to this day well-known, was: When Adam delved, and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?—when Adam delved, and Even span, who was then the gentleman? The revolt was put down rather brutally and bloodily under Richard II, who was the young king. Wycliff, although he did not favor a revolution, plainly stated his sympathies were with the common people and those who revolted, because their grievances were so severe. [00:13:16]

The condition of the day was a fearful one...[edit]

The condition of the day was a fearful one. Among the common people there was still a great deal of paganism: the surviving fertility cults with their sexual rites and practices. Among the people in the court, the poets and the writers, there was a great deal of cynicism and skepticism. The great poet of the court of Richard II was Chaucer; and although Chaucer echoes enough of the faith of the day, behind the façade of faith, there is a vein of cynicism in Chaucer. Basically, Chaucer shows that he believes more in what he calls the goddess Fortuna, a Roman goddess, than in the God of scripture. Now, Fortuna—“fortune” in English—meant fortune or chance, luck or chance; and it was very clear that luck or chance was more important in Chaucer’s thinking than God. Moreover, in one of his poems he says, and I quote, “A thousand times have I heard men tell that there is joy in heaven and pain in hell; and I accord well that hit is so. But natheless, yet will I well also that there is none dwelling in this country that either hath in heaven or hell ye be”; that is, none has ever been in heaven or hell, so how do we really know this is true. Incidentally, I said “hit” for “it,” and that was the way it was: the “h” is dropped from the word “it”. It was originally there. [00:15:39]

Into this age came a man, of whom we know less than...[edit]

Into this age came a man, of whom we know less than we would like to know. We don’t know his birth date. It could have any time from 1320 to 1328; he died in 1384: John Wycliff, a priest and mainly a scholar, an Oxford scholar. This was the era of the Black Death, the Plague. This was the era a few years before him in 1302, when Boniface VIII had issued to the Papal Bull Unam Sanctam, which declared the total claims of the papacy over church and state, over every area of life. Wycliff is best known for his translation of the Bible, which was done under his leadership by himself, and one or two associates, in the years 1382 to 1384, the final version. He was spared in his lifetime, because there were a few powerful lords who, for their own reason, liked some of the things he had to say.

But he had a great deal of hostility, as we shall see. After his death in 1428, his body was dug up and burned, at the orders of Pope Martin V. Before his death in 1382, twenty-four articles of Wycliff’s doctrine were condemned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a group of churchmen, who were loyal to the pope. A meeting was called (really had no official status), in which the Archbishop made sure that only those who were loyal to the pope would be present; and the twenty-four articles were cited and they were condemned. Now, I’m going to read these articles. One of them may be a surprise to you—we will come to it much later—but you will see how these were articles which Huss, John Huss, picked up in Bohemia; and then Luther from Huss and Cramer; then, from Luther. So, they returned to England much later. [00:18:43].

1. That the material substance of bread and of wine remains, after the consecration, in the sacrament of the altar (denying transubstantiation).

2. That the accidents do not remain without the subject, after the consecration, in the same sacrament.

3. That Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar identically, truly and really in his proper corporeal presence.

4. That if a bishop or priest lives in mortal sin he does not ordain, or consecrate, or baptize.

5. That if a man has been truly repentant, all external confession is superfluous to him or useless.

6. Continually to assert that it is not founded in the gospel that Christ instituted the mass.

7. That God ought to be obedient to the devil (I’ll explain that later).

8. That if the pope is foreordained to destruction and a wicked man, and therefore a member of the devil, no power has been given to him over the faithful of Christ by anyone, unless perhaps by the Emperor.

9. That since Urban VI, no one is to be acknowledged as pope; but all are to live, in the way of the Greeks, under their own laws.

10. To assert that it is against sacred scripture that men of the Church should have temporal possessions.

11. That no prelate ought to excommunicate anyone unless he first knows that the man is excommunicated by God.

12. That a person thus excommunicating is thereby a heretic or excommunicate.

13. That a prelate excommunicating a clerk who has appealed to the king, or to a council of the kingdom, on that very account is a traitor to God, the king and the kingdom.

14. That those who neglect to preach, or to hear the word of God, or the gospel that is preached, because of the excommunication of men, are excommunicate, and in the Day of Judgment will be considered as traitors to God.

15. To assert that it is allowed to anyone, whether a deacon or a priest, to preach the word of God, without the authority of the Apostolic See, or of a Catholic bishop, or of some other which is sufficiently acknowledged. [00:21:09]

16. To assert that no one is a civil lord, no one is a bishop, no one is a prelate, so long as he is in mortal sin.

17. That temporal lords may, at their own judgment, take away temporal goods from churchmen who are habitually delinquent; or that the people may, at their own judgment, correct delinquent lords.

18. That tithes are purely charity, and that parishioners may, on account of the sins of their curates, detail these and confer them on others at their will.

19. That special prayers applied to one person by prelates or religious persons, are of no more value to the same person than general prayers for others in a like position are to him.

20. That the very fact that anyone enters upon any private religion whatever, renders him more unfitted and more incapable of observing the commandments of God.

21. That saints who have instituted any private religions whatever, as well of those having possessions as of mendicants, have sinned in thus instituting them.

22. That religious persons living in private religions (by that, he means convents and monasteries) are not of the Christian religion.

23. That friars should be required to gain their living by the labor of their hands and not by mendicancy (begging).

24. That a person giving alms to friars, or to a preaching friar, is excommunicate; also the one receiving.

Now, we shall return to the significance of these in a moment, as we develop the ideas of Wycliff; but you can see why in these articles that were condemned, they felt so strongly about Wycliff. He was striking at the foundations of the church, as it had developed. [00:23:14]

Now, turning to Wycliff’s thinking, first, with regard...[edit]

Now, turning to Wycliff’s thinking, first, with regard to the doctrine of grace, he emphatically declared that grace is the gift of God, and that it is grace that produces faith in us; but faith is not man’s act: it is the gift of God and an aspect of grace. Moreover, he said, faith is not merely feeling; it is feeling and knowledge, so that one who is ignorant does not have faith, because knowledge is inseparable from faith. He denied the doctrine of the merits of the saints and the whole of the paraphernalia that was basic to the development of the church in its day.

Then, with regard to the Bible, he declared, and I quote, “Scripture alone is of absolute authority.” Now, this was a revolutionary doctrine in his day, because one of the prominent doctors of divinity of his day, a friar, Brother Claxton, held, and I quote, “Holy scripture is a false heresy.” Well, that is shocking to us, but it does indicate how far the church had gone to disavow scripture. So that, Wycliff said of the doctors and churchmen of his day, and I quote, “These modern satraps shut up the kingdom of heaven, because they persecute in many ways the true meaning of holy scripture and its professors, so that they say in the schools that holy scripture is utterly false.” Now, Wycliff knew what he was talking about: he was a doctor, a professor at Oxford. Then he added, “Therefore, they oppose the turning of the gospels into the vulgar tongue, so as to hide their baseness.” They don’t want the Word of God translated, because it will reveal their wickedness. [00:26:02]

Now, we come to a very important aspect of Wycliff...[edit]

Now, we come to a very important aspect of Wycliff’s doctrine. We’ll leave the Bible for a time, and we will return to it. You’ll see why the Bible was central to Wycliff’s system, when you understand his doctrine of dominion. This is so important and so revolutionary, that you can see why there was the horror of Wycliff down through the centuries as an anarchist, a communist; every kind of name was applied to him. As a matter of fact, Wycliff is still popular with some radicals, who don’t know much about him, because they say he was a communist; after all, he was accused so much of being that, they’re sure he must have been one. What was Wycliff’s doctrine of dominion, or lordship? The word, dominion, which he took over from the Latin, had at that time the double sense or meaning of authority and ownership; both aspects: authority and ownership. Now, God, Wycliff taught, is the universal dominus: d-o-m-i-n-u-s, the Latin; the universal dominus, or Lord. All men, he said, hold all things as a feudal grant from God, a beneficium—again a Latin legal term of the day. Now, you see, what Wycliff was doing was to take feudalism, which had real origins in Christian faith, and teach out of the language of feudalism the doctrine of scripture: God is the Lord, the feudal Lord of all creation; all things are under Him; all men hold everything as a beneficium from God. Now, in feudalism, every beneficium implies a corresponding service; and if you do not discharge that service, you forfeit the beneficium. [00:28:39]

This was the legal theory of the Declaration of Independence...[edit]

This was the legal theory of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is a good Wycliffite document, because the relationship of George III to the colonies was as a feudal lord, a feudal king. He had violated the charter; therefore, he had forfeited his lordship. Now, this is what the Declaration of Independence is about: it’s good Wycliffite doctrine. There’s one scholar, Paul, who wrote a book some years ago, in which he held that the Wycliffite influence was basic in the forming of the United States; and I would say there is good evidence for it. Now, if all men hold their beneficium from God; and every beneficium implies corresponding services to God and to men under you, bad men thus have no rightful possession of anything. That was Wycliff’s radical conclusion. Well, you can imagine the shock that kind of a doctrine carried. His answer, however, was: not revolution; that is not the way. He said we must obey authorities, even if they are demonic; the godly must obey Satan here; God must obey the devil, as it were; the people, God, must obey the devil. And this got shortened into the popular expression of Wycliff’s position among the common people: “Well, in times like these, God must obey the devil.” This is what they meant by it. [00:31:14]

Now, his thesis was...[edit]

Now, his thesis was: the way of God is not the way of the devil; force and revolution are not to be used. The wicked, he said, have power, but not dominion. Even tyrants have to be obeyed in the Lord; but when we obey these tyrants, we do it because they have power; and we know they do not have dominion, and we witness to them that they do not have dominion. In other words, they have neither ownership or authority; all they have is power. Well, what’s happened to dominion? Oh, said Wycliff, the righteous man has dominion, although he does not always have the power to put that into practice. Hear this sentence from him: “Every righteous man is lord over the whole sensible world.” He has the dominion; and therefore, he has a duty under God to reorder, to reconstruct all things in terms of rightful dominion. Now, how does he do that? Well, Wycliff, as we saw, was the translator of the Bible. His word for the Bible—he didn’t say scripture; he didn’t say Holy Bible—he said God’s Law, or God’s law-book. That was his term for the Bible—God’s Law. To disregard the law of God was to forfeit dominion. [00:33:37]

Therefore, it was necessary to know the Bible, the...[edit]

Therefore, it was necessary to know the Bible, the law of God. When he issued his Bible, he wrote a preface to it; and this is what he declared: “This book is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” You’ve heard that, haven’t you? It was stolen, without credit, and misused by Abraham Lincoln, because he dropped God’s Law from the picture in his use of it. I don’t know whether Bob Ingram knows it, but he’s a good Wycliffite; and his book is a good Wycliffite book; but you can see the point. This is why Wycliff dedicated himself to getting the Bible out in the language of the people, because it was his calling, he felt, to get that word out, so that the people could exercise dominion: government of the people, by the people, and for the people; how?—in terms of God’s Law. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God; therefore, the gates of grace God opened up through His Word; dominion was opened up by the Word; therefore, to reconstruct society required the Word. [00:35:39]

Thus, you have here John Wycliff, who has been called...[edit]

Thus, you have here John Wycliff, who has been called the Morning Star of the Reformation by some; the man who preached salvation by the grace of God; and who also preached sanctification by the Law, declaring that this is the way, this is how we will rebuild England. He held, moreover, to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, as you would naturally expect, and to predestination. He was so anti-papal that he did hold to the supremacy of the king over the clergy, and to a churchly state. You might say that the church of England, as it was set up under Henry VIII and Edward VI, is a Wycliffite-type of institution. Now, how much Wycliff was responsible for that, we don’t know. His influence has never been properly studied. But John Wycliff had very definitely unleashed something. He began a movement that called for the reordering of all things, in terms of the Law of God; that declared authority and ownership,

rested in grace; and that dominion belonged to those who were the saints of God: every righteous man is lord over the whole sensible world. In other words, what he was saying is that Christ is King of creation and king over the earth; and we are heirs in Christ. Every righteous man, therefore, is lord over the whole sensible world. He cannot exercise that dominion apart from scripture. [00:38:26]

The remarkable thing is that...[edit]

The remarkable thing is that—although within a generation the Wycliff influenced died, as far as scholars were concerned, and the nobility—it persisted. In the next generation, Sir John Oldcastle, one of the nobility, led a rebellion. He was a Wycliff follower, but he was not obeying Wycliff in this respect. And they were badly defeated, and the Wycliffite influence was wiped out, as far as the nobility and the clergy were concerned. Besides, neither the nobility nor the clergy liked the idea of dominion being forfeited by bad character, because a good character was a rarity among them. But what happened was this: a movement developed called the Lollard movement. It’s not what they called themselves; they were the people of God; but the Lollards went down to the lowest level with the Bible, and they circulated the Bible. They were down on the lowest level, so that they were virtually unknown to the king and his court, and to the bishops and archbishops. They vaguely knew that there was Lollardism somewhere down in the lower levels, but it wasn’t anything they could touch. [00:40:16]

It went into Scotland, also...[edit]

It went into Scotland, also; and it paved the way for the Reformation in Scotland. In fact, the first Scottish translation of the Bible was simply a translation of a Wycliff bible. They were poor people, and they didn’t know the original languages; but they had Wycliff’s bible, and they translated it into Gaelic for the Scotch people. It was a secret movement. It persisted from the 1300’s on, century in and out. It had a powerful influence on Puritanism. It had a powerful influence on Scotland and the Scottish Reformation. There are those who hold that it had a powerful influence on the forming of America. People were aware of its existence. The only time they concerned themselves with it was when occasionally someone or people of any consequence would become involved in it. In the century after Thomas Hoakley, the poet, in a course of an anti-Lollard poem, wrote, as follows: “Hit is unkindly for a knight that should a king’s castle keep, to babble the Bible day and night, in resting time, when he should sleep.” It was regarded as something beneath the dignity of a knight or a gentleman to have anything to do with the Bible and with Lollard ideas; but it did not perish. It is still with us today. [00:42:33]

Thus, in an era of social ferment, the Black Death...[edit]

Thus, in an era of social ferment, the Black Death, revolution, tremendous upheavals in England and abroad, Wycliff’s answer was: dominion, by means of God’s Law—the scripture; give the scripture to the people that the grace of God may work in their hearts unto salvation; and then, by means of God’s law-word, they may exercise dominion and establish, thereby, a Christian renewal. We owe so much to Wycliff. His emphasis on God’s Law was very important to the idea of supremacy of law. He was a great contributor to that principle. We are, all of us, here today spiritual heirs of John Wycliff. The future belongs to him. There is no question, but while there are, perhaps, details in the system of John Wycliff that we could not agree with, because he was talking in the language of the day; and some of the scholastic realism (we won’t bother to go into it) sometimes influenced his language and his thinking, in the essentials, Wycliff was right. And if there’s any future for man—and under God, we believe that the future is ours, under God—it will be in terms of the kind of thinking John Wycliff did.

Let us pray. Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Who of Thy grace and mercy has raised up men like John Wycliff, we give thanks unto Thee, that Thy Word spoken through him does not return unto Thee void, but shall accomplish Thine ordained purpose, that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. We thank Thee, our Father, that though the wicked in our day have power, great power, they have neither lordship, authority, nor ownership; that these things are ours in Christ Jesus. Make us bold, therefore, to claim our inheritance in His name, and to shake the things that are, so that the things which cannot be shaken might remain. Thou has given unto us, O Lord, Thy Word, the Word that shook us and made us in Jesus Christ a new people; and the Word that shall shake this generation and the generations to come. We wait on Thee, our Father, and we act in terms of Thy calling. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes? [00:46:26]

[Questioner] Well, there’s two...[edit]

[Questioner] Well, there’s two. In regards to that quotation Abraham Lincoln used, saying he misused it; I recall reading where some man in the early part of the 19th century, {unclear} about 30 years or so before the Civil War, made that statement; and it was supposed to have been the source where Abraham Lincoln got it. Now, it’s possible that statement was quoted many times and used without religious context from Wycliff’s time up to Abraham Lincoln’s time. It may have been, more or less, a common, uh, not a common, but, uh …. Abraham Lincoln could have gotten it from any source, from a contemporary.

[Rushdoony] Yes, he could have. Right, except in that day, when they knew more, you see, being more church-oriented than we are now, and more scholarly in their preaching, they knew more about Wycliff than people do now. And they were more familiar with Wycliff’s work and the preface to his bible. So, in any case, Lincoln’s use of it was a very serious misuse of it. And I suspect that Lincoln probably knew the origin of it, because Lincoln was a very well-read man. And, you see, once you take it out of the context, it becomes an affirmation of democracy; but in the context, it’s an affirmation of the sovereignty of God and His Word. It becomes diametrically opposite to its original meaning. [00:48:19]

[Questioner] Do you think he might have read Wycliff...[edit]

[Questioner] Do you think he might have read Wycliff?

[Rushdoony] Yes, I think they were much more familiar with Wycliff then, than they are now. You see, at that time, they had deeper roots in the past, and this sort of thing was more commonly read; and having trained in the law, he would have a knowledge or the origin of such concepts. You see, Blackstone and others, the law books would have carried references to Wycliff’s statement, which had passed into the English language. It was in that era that it became secularized.

[Questioner] I guess {unclear} to that famous quotation that John Kennedy is supposed to have made about not what your country can do for you, and all that; that, incidentally, is a quotation from Khalil Gibran’s Mirror of the Soul. It’s taken by one of these writers—just take it right out.

[Rushdoony] Yes. That sort of plagiarism is not uncommon.


[Questioner] I just, uh …. Who was Lollard?

[Rushdoony] Oh, that was the name for the movement which developed.

[Questioner] What, who, what it named after?

[Rushdoony] That escapes me. I did know, and it just kind of slipped my mind. But the Lollard movement was very influential in Scotland, as well as in England. And while not all Lollards were Wycliffites, in that many of them were very simple, ignorant people and had no knowledge of much more than just the bare Bible, the whole Lollard movement was started as the result of Wycliff’s emphasis on the Bible. You see, Wycliff’s emphasis on the Bible was, in some respects, far more thoroughgoing than that of Luther, because he emphasized it as the total plan for life in this world. And we can’t understand, as we’ll come to see subsequently, the particular relevance and importance—the centrality of England in history, subsequently—without seeing the working out of this influence, this emphasis. Something different was beginning to develop in England.

Yes? [00:51:19]

[Questioner] May I ask a question off the subject?...[edit]

[Questioner] May I ask a question off the subject?

[Rushdoony] Alright.

[Questioner] {unclear} I have here a short history of Milton. And there was one paragraph that caught my attention: “meanwhile, he was teaching a small school for the children of well-to-do friends; so when he wrote about ‘education’ he knew what he was writing.” Now, do we have this? I mean, this is part of our heritage {unclear} on education?

[Rushdoony] Yes, we have his writings on it.

[Questioner] Does he have anything to say that, you know, {unclear}.

[Rushdoony] Uh, I don’t think that was his best area. He didn’t have as much to contribute there, as elsewhere in anything new. He did emphasize classical education a little more than we would. He did emphasize a thorough and scholarly training very heavily, but he didn’t have as much to contribute there, as in other areas.

Any other questions? Let me just comment one thing further. Because of Wycliff, this is why Puritanism, although it’s called Calvinism, was never the same as Calvinism on the continent. It was different; so that some have said, “Well, was it really Calvinism?” It did believe the same things, but it was a radically different movement, so that whether it was in England, or Scotland, or in the Americas, the Reformed faith had a different dimension—was not the same. And, of course, the reason is the background of John Wycliff. He gave it a particular emphasis and a particular direction that was unique.


[Questioner] Did Wycliff use the same books as are in the King James?

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes. It’s the same, basically, and his translation did have some influence on the later translators. Of course, now it would be very difficult for us to read, because the English is so old fashioned; but the Wycliff bible lasted in its influence for centuries. [00:54:13]

[Questioner] I just was curious, because if its anti...[edit]

[Questioner] I just was curious, because if its anti-Roman, and the Roman bible now has a lot of books –

[Rushdoony] Yes, oh yes. The Apocrypha is in the Catholic editions, but it is not in the Wycliff bible. In fact, the Apocrypha was not given the place it now has in Catholic thought, until the Council of Trent, long after Wycliff.

[Questioner] Was the Saint James version –

[Rushdoony] King James.

[Questioner] – was the King James before or after Wycliff?

[Rushdoony] It was after. It was in the early 1600’s, and Wycliff’s came in the late 1300’s.

[Questioner] Reverend Rushdoony, why did all this conflict with the Roman church have to be mainly in England? Outside of Luther, there was no real strong opposition on the continent to the church?

[Rushdoony] Yes, there was.

[Questioner] Was there?

[Rushdoony] Oh yes, there was great conflict everywhere. There was conflict in France to a great degree. In fact, Calvin came out of France and the Huguenots. There was conflict in central Europe, John Hass in Bohemia. There was conflict in Italy and in Spain. There was conflict in Ireland. The independent church of Ireland, which had been in the early centuries the most powerful, and a great church, until the 12th Century was independent from and hostile to Rome; and it lingered on in Wales perhaps a little longer in its independence. They had their own bishop in Armagh, as against the Archbishop of Dublin, whom the pope appointed. So there was conflict just everywhere. [00:56:18]

[Questioner] But did they lead to major changes? They...[edit]

[Questioner] But did they lead to major changes? They didn’t lead to major changes in the church, as they did in England, or as Martin Luther did. These were definite breaks with the church.

[Rushdoony] Well, there were major changes in the Middle Ages; they were gradually conquered –

[Questioner] Or separations, I should say.

[Rushdoony] Well, Gallicanism in France led to a separate Church of France, like the Church of England, with a nominal connection with the pope for centuries. And, the break did not end, really and finally, until after Napoleon, or with Napoleon. So, the church was semi-independent for centuries in France. In Spain, the kings gained a great deal of independence from the Vatican. They remained Roman Catholic, but they retained the right to name their own bishops, and so on; and this still prevails. Franco has named the bishops, rather than the Vatican. Now, lately, I understand, this is being changed. This was true in Austria, too. So there were conflicts, and the power of the papacy was broken under Charles V, to a great degree. The rebellion took a different form in the different countries; it depended on the politics. The Reformation in some of the countries was put down rather bloodily, but this is not to say there weren’t major protests.

Any other questions?

Well, if not, our time is up. And next week, we shall consider the reforms, the movement, under Richard III as a second step in this move towards reconstruction, in terms of Christian faith, that was taking place in England. Now, this, under Richard III was very short in its time span, but extremely important; very, very important for us to know and to understand. So, we’ll go to Richard III next week, and then we’ll go on to Cromwell and Milton. We are adjourned. [00:59:11]