Europe was held in Rome’s iron grip for nearly a thousand years, from the departure of the New Testament teachings in the second century to the gradual formation of the church of Rome. Then its full ascendancy around the 6th century Europe came under its control. And into the 12th century when a revolt occurred against its teachings. This period has been called the “dark ages” of history. The countless changes introduced in the government and worship of the church served to render the New Testament completely ineffectual.
The reformation beginning in the sixteenth century represented a sincere effort on the part of Scholarly men to bring about a change. These scholarly men in their effects to bring about a reform within the framework of the Catholic church came to be known as the Reformation.
In their attempts to bring about a change these men separated themselves from the Roman church forming their own type of groups each with its own form of government and system of doctrines.
The reformation movement which brought about the eventual creation of new churchs, before unknown, this rivalry against the established Roman Catholic Church only resulted in a reform and not a return to New Testament teachings.
Some men known as reformers before the Reformation is presumed to of actually started are:
- John Wickliff, (1328 to 1384)
- John Hus, (1373 to 1415)
- Jerome Savonarola, (1452 to 1498)
John Wickliff was born in Yorkshire, England in 1328, and was called the “Morning Star of the Reformation” because of his efforts toward reforming the Roman Catholic Church. His greatest contribution was the translation of the bible and as he taught, that The Scriptures of the New Testament are the only guidelines of the Church.
The bible as he translated it was that he determined to give it to the people in the English language. He translated the Scriptures from the Vulgate sources say from Between 1382 and 1384. It has been thought that the New Testament was translated by him and the Old from Nicholas of Hereford.
He held that preaching was to be exalted, the papacy was not essential to the being of the Church, that the church is the congregation of the elect, that a priest cannot give remission of sin or of the punishment for sin, transubstantiation is not Biblical and that marriage is honorable for all men.
Wickliff beliefs caused the Pope to have a curse accompanied by excommunication upon him, but because he was Regarded highly in the court of England the pope couldn’t inflict bodily injury, but when upon his death circumstances were more favorable in England for the Roman church his remains were exhumed, they were tried and sentenced to burn at the stake, the ashes were collected and thrown into the River Swift.
The Roman Catholic Church in 1414 AD, condemned the reading of the bible translated by him.
John Hus, (1373 to 1415)
Came from a poor peasant family in Husinecz Czechoslovakia A Bohemian. living during the latter portion of
Wickliff’s life. Wickliff found that his greatest influence was at the city of Prague among the “Bohemian Brethren” and a most ardent disciple in Hus. In his native England his influence wasn’t that prominent.
Educated at the University of Prague, he received his Master of Arts degree from that institution in 1396, then becoming rector of the University after being ordained to the priesthood In 1401. Hus has an open rebellion against the sale of indulgences of which Pope John XXIII in 1411 pushed for.
Tiem, dean of Passau, made his way to Prague and opened the sale of indulgences. Hus opposed that money payments for indulgences could not give forgiveness of sin by punishment. Holding that the Pope had no right to use physical force and Because of this opposition, Hus was excommunicated by the Pope and ordered to appear before the Council of Constance.
The Roman Emperor urged Hus to go to Constance, promising a “safe-conduct, but upon his arrival there, he was cast into prison where he was held for seven months. July 6, 1415, Hus was accompany to the cathedral of Constance. Where he was kept waiting outside the doors until mass was completed.
He was then admitted to the hearing but not to make a defense, as he had thought, but had to listen to a sentence pronounced upon him as a church outcast and criminal. The bishop of Lodi preached from Romans 6:6 and then he was taken out of the cathedral and burned at the stake.
Jerome Savonarola, (1452 to 1498)
He was born at Ferrara, Italy. Described by Philip Schaff as the “most imposing preacher of the Middle Ages and one of the most noteworthy preachers of righteousness since Saint Paul.”
His father being a physician hoped that his son would follow him in the practice of medicine, but at the age of 23, he entered the Dominican monastery as a monk. He wrote a letter to his father explaining the reason of his decision.
“I could not endure any longer the wickedness of the blinded people of Italy, virtue I saw was despised. everywhere the vices were exalted and held in honor.”
In 1491 in Florence he became famous as rejecting the moral degeneration of his day. He was looked on in high respect in the city and within five years his popularity was demonstrated by the vast numbers that flocked to hear him preach. He considered himself a messenger appointed by God to announce judgment upon the iniquities
of the people and pursued that fast with great vigor.
Papal opposition to Savonarola came about more for political than religious reasons. In denouncing the misrule of the Pope the Pope excommunicated him and demanded that he be punished. He was arrested and tortured in April 1498 and a month later he was hanged and his body burned and the ashes were thrown into the Arno River in Florence.