John Wickliffe — from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

As mentioned in my last post on this subject, Constantine the Great stopped the persecutions for 1,000 years until John Wickliffe. However, it was through the doings of Constantine that the church became corrupted by the Romans as they successfully mixed the church with the evil Roman government (as they were corrupted by Babylonian influence by which much idolatry was introduced).

So it was, with this background, John Wickliffe came on the scene. This biblical scholar from England, the Lord raised up to detect and combat all the Pope’s false doctrine. Indeed, he had a challenge since the Pope managed to keep the true gospel and all of the bible out of the hands of the people. They did know the name of Christ, but they knew nothing of the apostle’s doctrine, such as justification by faith, the liberty of the Christian, the strength of sin, etc. Instead, the Pope’s main teaching was of ceremonies and traditions.

So it was, seemingly, that John Wickliffe alone took great pains to protest this false teaching of the Pope openly in the schools. And he was somewhat supported by the King—at least at first.

Oh, Wickliffe was a bold fellow, not afraid of the Papacy in the least. Here are a few points of Wickliffe’s sermons:

  • The holy eucharist is not the very body of Christ.
  • The church of Rome is not the head of all churches.
  • The Gospel is a rule sufficient of itself, without any other rule.
  • The Pope ought not to have prisons to punish transgressors.

Wickliffe, for his sermons, was commanded by the bishops to keep silence, but it was written that “he burst out afterward much more fiercely.” And he for his boldness got “the goodwill and favour of certain noblemen… [and] the common people.”

Then, in 1377, Pope Gregory, sent a letter (a bull) to the university of Oxford (where Wickliffe arrived from and taught at) and rebuked them for putting up with the teachings of Wickliffe. His words were quite fierce against Wickliffe: that he made “erroneous and false propositions…savoring even of heretical pravity, tending to weaken and overthrow the status of the whole church…” So, they were told, “By our authority you seize or cause to be seized the said John.” And then another letter was sent that he should be warned by public citation to appear before the Pope to be admonished.

Well, as it happened, by the miraculous grace of God, John Wickliffe managed to escape out of the bishops’ hands, by the aid one time of a great earthquake, and a second time by a lightning strike.

But yet, the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered a mandate against John Wickliffe that he was forbidden to preach “his heresies” against the church. But at the same time the chancellor in Oxford favoured Wickliffe and said that he was a good and innocent man. And so, it went like that back and forth.

Well, as it happened Wickliffe was secretly kept safe from the Pope and he died an old man. Yet he was declared a heretic and was cursed by the holy catholic church. And they set out to find his body and to burn his bones, but they could not find him; so they burned the bones of another man instead and said it was John Wickliffe.

Wickliffe became the father and leader of all those true Christians who would follow him. And though he was not martyred, all that followed him were martyred, as the Popes became more and more evil and not willing that any would escape from their grasp.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: Ignatius and Blandina

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: About Ignatius and Blandina

Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch after Peter, was sent to Rome to be devoured by wild beasts. But before he arrived “he wrote to the church of Rome not to try to deliver him lest they should deprive him of that which he longed and hoped for.” He said,

‘I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!’ And even when he was sentenced to be thrown to the beasts, such was the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, saying, ‘I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.’

A noble woman, Blandina, it was said,

Was endued with so much fortitude that those who successively tortured her from morning to night were quite worn out with fatigue, owned themselves conquered and exhausted of their whole apparatus of tortures, and were amazed to see her still breathing whilst her body was torn and laid open. The blessed woman recovered fresh vigor in the act of confession…

Blandina, suspended from a stake, was exposed as food to the wild beasts; she was seen suspended in the form of a cross and employed in vehement supplication. The sight inspired her fellow-combatants with much alacrity, while they beheld with their bodily eyes, in the person of their sister, the figure of Him who was crucified for them. None of the beasts at that time touched her: [so]she was taken down from the stake and thrown again into prison. Weak and contemptible as she might be deemed, yet when clothed with Christ, the mighty and invincible champion, she became victorious over the enemy…

After she had endured stripes, the tearing of the beasts, and the iron chair, she was enclosed in a net, and thrown to a bull; and having been tossed some time by the animal…

It was written that she was “rejoicing and triumphing in her exit, as if invited to a marriage supper.”

There were many more martyrs with wonderful stories of great strength in their faith, who rejoiced greatly in their suffering for Christ. A few names are these: Lawrence, Alban of England and Romanus who sang songs as he was whipped.

When Constantine came to power (A.D. 306-337), he stopped the persecutions and for the next one-thousand years there were no more martyrs until the time of John Wickliffe. This you may think was wonderful news, however, it was terribly detrimental to the church, as I will point out next time.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: Events following Christ’s Crucifixion

I have read the book before—a while ago. Now I’m reading it again, this time more carefully. I may give a series of blog posts on it, hoping to inspire some of you. Parts of it are gory, but I would focus more on the strength and boldness of the precious martyrs who loved the Lord. They were all so willing and even joyous in their suffering and death, as cruel as it was.

I will start with what happened after the crucifixion of Christ. According to the research of John Fox in 1516, Pontius Pilate was so moved by Christ that he may have become a Christian and tried to convert the whole Roman senate. But Tiberius Caesar would have none of it, and, as Foxe points out, almost all the senators were destroyed and the whole city of Rome was “most horribly afflicted” for almost three hundred years. As for Pilate, he was “sent to Rome, deposed, then banished to the town of Vienne in Dauphiny, and at length did slay himself.”

So, as it appears, Christ was the first of the martyrs. It was his death that so stirred up all of Rome either to believe and not to believe. But it was the evil emperors that were so full of the devil that started the flames of persecution and martyrdom. After Tiberius it was Caligula, Claudius Nero and Domitius Nero who began the reign of terror on the Christians.

My New Interest In Politics

During the Bush (Jr) years I was sort of interested in politics. But I think I was more forced into it by all that was happening in the country—you know, the Twin Towers. So tragic! Everybody was glued to their set, and concerned, and praying. And I was so proud of the President, the way he took charge.

I remained sort of interested in politics during the Obama years, but for a different reason. I was always praying that our people wouldn’t give up in the face of so much corruption in the government. As I witnessed more and more Christians around the world being persecuted and denied help from our countries it drove me to prayer. As I saw Muslims being let in and put in positions of government, my mind turned to bible prophecy—thinking about end times. You know, I just couldn’t believe how our country and the media loved Obama so much when he was doing such terrible things—and how Mrs. Clinton was involved too.

I looked forward to the next election. Anything was better than Obama. The wicked Clinton was running against a dozen Republicans. At first, I was rooting for the Florida Senator, Marco Rubio. By the things he was saying he sounded pretty good. He seemed smart and serious and good for the country. And he is a Christian. A plus! I was also a little interested in the other Bush brother and also Ted Cruz. I noticed that the billionaire Trump was running, but he was way down in the polls. Everybody thought he was a joke—that he wasn’t really a serious candidate. And I thought that way too. I didn’t much care for him—I don’t know why. I think maybe it was all the money he had, and he tended to flaunt it.

Well, toward the end of the election process Mr. Trump rose up in the polls, until it was Trump, Rubio and Cruz. I had a bad feeling that Trump would be the nominee. How could it happen? But I’ve always loved a winner, so I slowly developed a strange attraction to him. I continued to dislike him, but at the same time I grew to like him.

I decided that I was going to study this guy myself instead of just listening to the media. I read articles on the controversy with his business college. Most of it, especially from the media, was negative. But then I slowly was hearing some positive things—people that graduated actually had some good things to say. I began to discover that there were two sides. The Dems and all the media were always negative about him, but I discovered that many people actually liked him. Before long I was on his side and was cheering for him. I read a couple of his books and was more motivated. The one I really liked was The Art of the Deal.

This guy is a great guy! He is smart, a great business man, a great motivator, he gets things done, and he never quits. The thing I was so impressed with in his book is that he was going, going, going all the time. If he wasn’t making deals on the phone, he was out on a job directing workers and motivating them. He has so much energy and he was loving his work. I was amazed at all the buildings he has built—and huge sky scrapers. An amazing man.

And so, I became hooked on Trump. I listened to all the debates and the rallies. I also tuned into Fox news. I don’t have cable so I just get on to the web sites and watch the ten minutes news clips. I do it every day—probably too much. I have been amazed by the contrast between Fox news and other news like CNN. I am convinced that FOX is the best by far—the most truthful. Actually, CNN and MSNBC are a joke. It’s not really news; it’s pure opinion, pure bios and disgusting. But I am amazed by people who tune into it and swear by it—as if it were all true! Of course, they think that FOX is disgusting.

Well, I think I have written enough for this article so I will quite here. Next time I think I will just continue with this topic. I can hardly wait to hear what I have to say. Ha, ha!