1320 – 1384
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No preacher ever regarded the condition of the people more sincerely or set about to help them more persistently than did John Wycliffe. Mingling among the common people, he developed an understanding for the poor. In a day when monks and friars were neglecting the ministry to the poor, Wycliffe’s attitude was one of a shepherd rather than a hireling. Like Jesus in Galilee, John Wycliffe preached to the poor and lost the favor of those in high places. He opposed their blind worship of something they did not understand while the priests made their understanding darker and their ignorance greater.
Wycliffe’s purpose was to bring to the common people the truth that the way of salvation lay through an understanding of spiritual light. In his preaching, he sought to develop an understanding of the Bible and its message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Convincingly he confronted his listeners with the demands of the Christian life. John Wycliffe’s message was one of hope and salvation in the midst of poverty, corruption, and misery.
In answer to the question, “How must the Word of God be preached?” Wycliffe once answered, “Appropriately, simply, directly, and from a devout, sincere heart.”
Finally prohibited by the Bishop of London from preaching, Wycliffe confined himself to writing and translating the Bible from Latin to English. Thirty-one years after his death, the Church ordered all his books burned, his bones dug up and burned, and his ashes scattered on the Thames River.