Though we are not sure of the date of his birth, he was reared in northern England and only emerges from the medieval mists as a student at Oxford. He secured his doctor’s degree in 1372 and rose immediately to prominence as the leading professor at the university. He became involved in the contemporary debate over "dominion" or "lordship" over men. One side held that only the Pope, through divine right because of his innate state of grace, could rightfully have dominion over the affairs of men. Others held that lordship depended more upon the individual’s own state of grace and not the mediator of the Church. Wycliffe added an important idea. He argued that the English government had the divine responsibility to correct the abuses of the church in its realm and to relieve of office those churchmen who persisted in sin. The state could even seize the property of corrupt church officials. Thus, in 1377 the Pope condemned the Oxford reformer’s teaching. Through time, Wycliffe became even more radical in his assessment of the church and its need for reform. The conception of the papacy as a political force striving for the mastery of men by political means was anathema to Wycliffe. Eventually his support dwindled to a small minority at Oxford. First, the chancellor and a small council condemned his doctrines and forbade him to lecture. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury followed with another council that condemned ten of Wycliffe’s doctrines as heretical. By 1382 the reformer was effectively silenced at Oxford. Yet before his defeat at Oxford Wycliffe had found support to translate the Bible into the language of craftsmen and peasants, so he led a handful of scholars at Oxford in the translation of the Latin Bible into the English language and copied the methods of St. Francis and the friars. Wycliffe, though driven from the university, was left to close his days in peace at his parish at Lutterworth. He died there in 1384.
[tags]BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Wycliffe, John-Wycliffe, Reformation[/tags]