HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.
HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.

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HOME > Exhortations > On Vain Traditions - an excerpt from "Tracts & Treatise" by John Wycliffe
"Fides est Summa Theologia"
(Faith the Supreme Theology)

John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe (1324-1384ad) English Reformer and Bible Translator, J. A. Wylie's History of Protestantism

John Wycliffe (1324 - 1384) English Reformer and Bible Translator

John Wycliffe, who discovered the truth of the Gospel as a priest within the Church, was rejected as a heretic for translating scripture from Latin into English (this was done during the days when there were only handwritten manuscripts) and for preaching on the Gospel; he was posthumously condemned as a heretic by the Catholic Church, his bones dug up and burned, as if to ensure against his ability to partake in the heavenly resurrection of the just.

On Vain Traditions

excerpt:

"Tracts & Treatise of John Wycliffe"

by John Wycliffe (1324 - 1384)

"For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptable things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish." 1 Pet 1:18-19

"True preachers .. will not flatter mighty men, and comfort them in their sins, but will sharply tell them the truth; and thus mighty men hire by great costs a false traitor, to lead them to hell."

    "Great flatterers of the people, neither reproving nor removing their sins from among them.

    Also friars1 show not to the people their great sins stably2, as God bids, and namely to mighty men of the world, but flatter them, and glozen3, and nourish them in sin. And since it is the office of a preacher to show men their foul sins and pains therefore, and friars take this office, and do it not, they be cause of damnation of the people. For in this they be foul traitors to God and also to the people, and they be nurses of the fiend of hell. For by flattering and false commandments they let men live in their lusts, and comfort them therein, and sometimes they pursue other true preachers, for they will not flatter mighty men, and comfort them in their sins, but will sharply tell them the truth; and thus mighty men hire by great costs a false traitor, to lead them to hell. And example men may take how friars suffer mighty men, from year to year, to live in adultery, and covetousness, and extortious doings, and many other sins. And when men be hardened in such great sins, and will not amend them, friars should flee their homely company; but they do not thus, lest they lose worldly friendship, favour, or winning; and thus for the money they sell men's souls to Satan.

    How much and how often they deceive and trick the lay people by their letters of fraternity4.

    Also friars, by letters of fraternity4, deceive the people in faith, rob them of temporal5 goods, and make the people to trust more in dead parchment, sealed with lies, and in vain prayers of hypocrites, that in case be damned devils, than in the help of God, and in their own good living. Commonly these letters be powdered with hypocrisy, covetousness, simony, blasphemy, and other lies. With hypocrisy; for therein be told without end many good deeds, and sometimes be false, and more to show them holy to get worldly goods, than to save men's souls. With covetousness; for they do this to win the penny, for a poor man that may not give them, be he never so true to God, shall not have them; but a rich, be he never so cursed, shall have such letters; and thinks that he is well enough thereby, do he never so much wrong to poor men. With simony; for they sell this supernal good for temporal goods, and that unskilfully for such chaffering6 and
"They teach the people that it is more helpful to give such hypocrites bodily alms, than to give it to poor needy men after the Gospel. And thus they deceive the people in belief, and rob them of temporal goods."
granting of letters was never exsampled of Christ, nor his apostles, and yet they loved best men's souls. ... Christ grants to no sinful man continuing in his sin such part; but friars grant rather to cursed men for worship or winning than to good poor men. And thus falsely they pass Christ. For Christ would not grant to his cousins part of his kingdom, but if they would suffer passion as Christ did; but friars will make men heirs in the bliss of heaven, since they grant men part of their good deeds after this life, and they may not have their part, but if they should be saved. But Christian belief teaches, that all men in charity be procurers by grant of God of all helpful deeds. ... they teach the people that it is more helpful to give such hypocrites bodily alms, than to give it to poor needy men after the Gospel. And thus they deceive the people in belief, and rob them of temporal goods7, and make them too reckless of their own good living for trust of these false letters.

1 friars: "brother," a Catholic monk and preacher of a mendicant ("begging") order, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, and Augustinians. (H&F)
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2 stably: firmly, steadily, unwaveringly (H&F)
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3 glozen: extenuate, flatter (H&F)
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4 Letters of fraternity: wealthy laymen (men and women) could, by providing large gifts, purchase a "letter of fraternity" (a tertiary or third order membership) among the friars; by which they were assured they would share in every spiritual gift and blessing of the monastic order. This could include burial in the abbey alongside the friars, clothed in a friar's habit; which the friars assured would keep their souls from being condemned to hell. As the custom remains today, masses and prayers to be said for their souls after their death, were purchased. (H&F)
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5 temporal: worldly (H&F)
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6 chaffering: haggling, bartering or bargaining (H&F)
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7 Many churches today practice this covetousness - making merchandise of the people. In the name of Jesus Christ they teach the people that by mandate, as if it were true Gospel religon, they are obligated to tithe, typically 10 percent of their income. When families and individuals are struggling or unable to meet their financial obligations, they are exhorted and called upon to trust God and pay the tithe first - as if God will reward them with some golden-lined blessing. They are even told lying tales of extreme prosperity miraculously gained by some (fictional) person who trusted in the 'command' to tithe - like the miraculous tales of the middle ages told by the priests and friars of persons healed by relics and miracles at shrines: these tales are calculated to cause people to doubt the strength of their faith and even their own personal salvation. This is by very definition, making merchandise of the people.

We must remember that in our taxes, which we are commanded to pay: "render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due," & etc. (Rom 13:5-7), we support the poor, the hungry, the widow and the orphan, not just in our own land but across the world. We are also commanded to provide for the needs of our own households; we are obligated by God in this: "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Tim 5:8. Please be warned and take care, give what you can according to your own heart: "Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." 2 Cor 9:7, and according to the Scriptural soundness of the particular pastors, church or ministry. It is not God who impoverishes the people to build multi-million dollar church complexes or to cushion the lives of the priests (it was under the old covenant that a tithe was commanded); it is people who overburden people to ensure their own security. (H&F)
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John Wycliffe, exerpt from "The Trialogus," "Tracts & Treatise of John Wycliffe"



"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances [dogmatizo] " Col 2:16-20 KJV
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