9. f2013 Mystics and a Heretic Wyclif


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Private (affective) religion in 14th century England. Two mystics:Richard Rolle and Julian of Norwich transmit their experiences. John Wyclif moves from opposition to papal taxation to rejection of Church ownership of property and the doctrine of transubstantiation. Isolated in his lifetime and declared a heretic 30 years later, his support for verncular (English) Scriptures is carried on by others.

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  • 1415 At the same time it ordered Hus to be burned at the stake outside of the city, the Council of Constance, in 1415,decreed that Wycliffe's remains in England should be dug up, his bones burned and the ashes scattered on thewater.Opposition to Hus had identified the English heretic as his teacher,and, when the Council of Constance turned its attention to heresy, the ideas of thetwo men were closely linked. A list of 45 opinions by Wyclif was condemned on 4 May1415, a longer list of 260 views condemned on 6 July in the presence of Hus, and thesame day Hus was burnt at the stake for his heresy, a heresy that consisted, in theview of the council fathers, largely in adherence to those anathematized conclusions.The reverence for Wyclif's name and opinions, and the copying of his works,continued in Hussite Bohemia.
  • The first estate of that society was the clergy.Anticlerical writers in Chaucer's time, such as Langland and theLollards, often criticized its members for their alleged failure tounderstand what they read or to improve their shortcomings by study.Chaucer, significantly, does not level these charges. Rather, his representatives of all the major kinds of male clergy include men ofeducation and learning: the Monk who has "an hundred" tragediesin his cell, versified or in prose (B2 3161-62); a friar, already mentioned, who has studied at university (D 2185-86); and the Parson,who is able to preach a long analytical sermon on sin and penancewith citations from Ambrose, Augustine, and Isidore, as well as theBible and the Canon Law (I 75, 84, 89, 97, 931). Even a parishclerk, in Oxford at least, can be reckoned to know enough Latin tomake "a chartre of lond or acquitaunce" (
  • he Speculum Vitae and The Lay Folks' Catechism (s. xv in.) First folio of 'The Lay Folk's Catechism'A 14th-century Middle English devotional poem giving guidance on the elements of the faith and the vices and virtues.The Lay Folks' Catechism (248r-257r), composed by John Gaytryge in the mid-14th century, provides basic doctrinal instruction in the tenets of the faith. Retains an early, perhaps original binding. Early 14th century.The practical character of the English mystics is not unrelated to this emphasis on the importance of sound instruction in living the Christian life. A wide range of vernacular devotional literature, both in prose and in poetry, demonstrates the spread of concern for spirituality on every level of society. Perhaps the greatest monument of this literature is the late- fourteenth-century poem "Piers Plowman:' whose central message of re- demption through the love of Christ is not different from that of te mystics:
  • Since all the English mystics place love at the heart of their message, it has been customary to speak of affectivity as one of the distinguishing features of English mysticism. Likewise, mystics have. always been in the forefront of those who are most conscious of the limitations and pretensions of academic speculation about God.
  • By the time of the Middle Ages, a traditional discipline had developed to shepherd the soul towards unionwith God. Although the mystical experience by its very nature is a gift of God’s grace and may be given byHim to anyone,Threee stagesPurgation is necessary to cleanse the soul of sin and open itto God’s love. Purgation demands not only penitence in its three steps (contrition, confession, andsatisfaction), but also the complete renunciation of all worldly joys in favor of the joy of prayer. The secondstage, Illumination, is solely the gift of God and cannot be “earned,” only prepared for.third stage, Perfection (or Union), in which the soul has mastered all hindrances andglories in its total accordance with the divine will; spiritual union with God is completely; the soul hasreturned to its source at last.Rolle experienceWhile I was sitting in that same chapel, and repeating as best I could the night-psalms before Iwent in to supper, I heard, above my head it seemed, the joyful ring of psalmody, or perhaps Ishould say, the singing. In my prayer I was reaching out to heaven with heartfelt longing whenI became aware, in a way I cannot explain, of a symphony of song, and in myself I sensed acorresponding harmony at once wholly delectable and heavenly, which persisted in my mind.Then and there my thinking itself turned into melodious song, and my meditation became apoem, and my very prayers and psalms took up the same sound. The effect of this innersweetness was that I began to sing what previously I had spoken; only I sang inwardly, andthat for my Creator. (
  • Version of short text of ~1413Says she is not teaching but telling because she is a woman, lewd, feeble and frailThe repetition of the phrase “euencristen” signifies her belief that English can be used as a medium of true communication, that the experience of one woman can become that of all. ln denying her singular status, she does more than beg her humility; she suggests her belief that spiritual sight is not merely for the educated, for the elite few, for the Latinate, that God’s grace is not circumscribed by the world's criteriaThe vernacular, the vulgar tongue, was conceived of as a separate and subordinate “discursive order.”” It was thought to lack the right words for the precise expression of abstract thought and was relegated to the “feminine” realm of the literal, the camal, the inherently wayward. Women were less likely to be Latinate. Julian of Norwich in her own passion meditation dwells on thesubtle changes in the color of Christ’s flesh as he dies upon the cross, evoking a moreintimate but equally brutal scene
  • A man walks upright, and the food in his body is shut in as if in a well-made purse. When the time of his necessity comes, the purse is opened and then shut again, in most seemingly fashion. And it is God who does this, as it is shown when he says that he comes down to us in our humblest needs. For he does not despise what he has made, nor does he disdain to serve us in the simplest natural functions of our body, for love of the soul which he created in his own likeness
  • Lollards Tower 1883 damaged by incendiary bomb in 19419. Wyclif and the Lollards Intro BBC.mp3Wyclif's axiomatic position that all just humandominium derives from God is that no privateproperty relations, which serve as the underpinnings for all human mastery, are just without grace. Because,following Augustine, private property is a direct result of the Fall of man, the ideal state is one of communalownership. Since the Church is the re-established ideal state, grace does not provide for its just ownershipof any property whatsoever. Because Wyclif saw the fourteenth-century church enjoying the lion's share ofproperty ownership in England, he argued that the king was bound by God to relieve the church of itsproperty, and to rule over it as a divinely appointed steward.
  • DENYING TRANSUBSTANTIATIONPhysics, Eucharist, and ApostasyStephen E. Lahey (Contributor Webpage)DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183313.003.0004Wyclif is infamous for being the first to deny the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which the bread and wine are held to become the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament of Eucharist. This doctrine has its roots in high medieval theology and had been an important topic in which theologians employed their metaphysical approaches in practical articulation of what had become the central sacrament of Christianity. By the 14th century, some had begun to assert that resolving the problems associated with Eucharistic theology was hampered by difficulties in understanding the nature of time. Wyclif seems to have employed his conception of spatio-temporal indivisibles in arguing that the traditional doctrine of transubstantiation was, as normally held, impossible, arguing that the indivisibility of temporal units, as well as the eternality of divine knowledge, made the annihilation of created substance impossible. Later, he would incorporate his radical critique of Eucharistic theology into his wider criticisms of the papacy and the church, accusing his critics of being creatures of Antichrist.
  • Wyclif defines dominion as the right to exercise authority and, indirectly, to hold property. According to him, there are three kinds of possession: natural, civil, and evangelical. Natural possession is the simple possession of goods without any legal title. Civil possession is the possession of goods on the basis of some civil law. Evangelical possession requires, beyond civil possession, a state of grace in the legal owner. Thus God alone can confer evangelical possession (ibid., p. 45). On the other hand, a man in a state of grace is lord of the visible universe, but on the condition that he shares his lordship with all the other men who are in a state of grace, as all men in a state of grace have the same rights. This ultimately means that all the goods of God should be in common, just as they were before the Fall. Private property was introduced as a result of sin.
  • Wyclif appeared, accompanied not only by a representative ofeach order of friars but also by Gaunt and Henry, Lord Percy (d. 1408), the lastbearing his marshal's staff. Percy ordered Wyclif to be seated, a move that WilliamCourtenay, bishop of London (d. 1396), forbade; angry words ensued between Gauntand Courtenay. The tumult inflamed a riot, which worsened the following day, amongthe Londoners outside the church; the hostility was directed primarily against Gauntand Percy, who fled—at which point the meeting was abandoned. Wyclif's teaching atthis point seems to have offended on three matters: that the pope's excommunicationwas invalid, and that any priest, if he had power, could pronounce release as well asthe pope; that kings and lords cannot grant anything perpetually to the church, sincethe lay powers can deprive erring clerics of their temporalities; that temporal lords inneed could legitimately remove the wealth of possessioners. Whether the chargesagainst Wyclif were dropped with the abandonment of the meeting is unclear:Walsingham states that the archbishop ordered him to be silent, forbidding him toallude to or argue the subject again anywhere, and ordering him to stop any othersfrom airing it, but this follows a reference to the papal bull against Wyclif which hadnot been issued at the time of the meeting.The Trial of Wyclif[fe]. AD 1377. Completed 1886. Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893).The fifth in the historical sequence, it was the seventh to have been completed, and shows John of Gaunt, Wycliffe's patron, in impassioned defence of the reformer when he was tried for hersey at St Paul's. Desite the emphasis on the main figures, it is a densely peopled scene, and Ford points to perhaps the chief reason for its success: "The amount of subsidiary addition to the dramatic centre," which, as he says "is almost as enormous as that which is displayed in Work." He then quotes Brown's own eulogy of Wycliffe as "not only an innovator and thinker of great originality," but also "one of the greatest scholars of his age" (373), and goes on to give Brown's summary of the events leading up to the trial, and his account of the trial itself:In the composition, near to Courtney [Bishop of London] on the dais, sits Simon Sudbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, depicted as endeavouring, in whispers, to assuage the indignation of his colleague. At Wickliffe's feet are seen the five mendicant friars appointed as his counsel, Wickliffe not yet having publicly differed with them. The Earl-Marshal is represented as ordering a stool for the Reformer, for, said he, '"An you must answer from all these books, doctor, you will need a soft seat," causing the prelate still greater indignation; but Wickliffe remained standing. Constance, John of Gaunt's second duchess, a Princess of Spain, is shown plucking her spouse back by his mantle, as though in fear he might in his excitement do some injury to the prelate. In the background Chaucer, the Duke's other protégée, is seen [just above John of Gaunt's gesturing hand, wearing a green hood and apparently modelled on Rossetti (see Treuherz 292)] taking notes on his tablets.
  • Wyclif Christian Church History video edited.mp4
  • Augustinian viewsHenry Knighton, writing of the 1380s, complained that the Scriptures were being translated into English, thereby making what had been precious to the clergy all too available to the vulgar.” Henry Knighton (or Knyghton) (died c. 1396, in England) was an Augustinian canon at the abbey of St Mary of the Meadows, Leicester, England, and an ecclesiastical historian
  • Vellum, 4 3/8 x 2 ¾The famous beginning of St. John’s Gospel is shown here: ‘In þebigynnyng was | þe word & þe word | was at god, & god was | þe word.’ It is preceded by a prologue to the Gospel. This plain, pocket sized volume contains only an incomplete copy of the New Testament. Many Wycliffite Bibles were made deliberately small like this one to enhance their portability for use by itinerant preachers. Although we do not know who originally owned this copy, there are numerous sixteenth and seventeenth-century ownership inscriptions on the flyleaves, including a note that it belonged to John Lewis (1675-1747), an early biographer of Wycliffe.
  • 9. f2013 Mystics and a Heretic Wyclif

    1. 1. Mystics and Heretics Wyclif Personal religion
    2. 2. Clergy - Hierarchy • Pope – Archbishops – Bishops (~20): generally University graduates • Priests: Grammar school graduates – Deacons » Subdeacons
    3. 3. The Medieval English Clergy • Secular clergy: priests living in the world, not under a rule; no vows, can possess property, under authority of a bishop • Regular clergy: clergy living under a rule; either monastic or regular canons
    4. 4. Layfolk’s Catechism Mid 14th C.
    5. 5. Mystics • Richard Rolle (1300-1349) The Fire of Love, The Mending of Love • Walter Hilton (d. 1396) The Scale of Perfection • Author of The Cloud of Unknowing • Julian of Norwich (1343-1416) The Book of Showings
    6. 6. Richard Rolle • Began at Oxford but abruptly left • Criticized by some later writers for expressing manifestation of God through physical experiences • Died of plague?
    7. 7. Rolle- Influence • Many copies of his works • Challenge to clergy – Control of inner spiritual life – Reject role of reason
    8. 8. Rolle • Revelation through inner song. • Renounce the desire for knowledge. • Our spiritual work is not to know God, but to love Him. • Work with aristocratic women Hermitage at Hampole
    9. 9. Julian of Norwich (1343-~1416) • Visions while at the point of death at age 30 • Wrote two version – Short text – Long text Reconstructed shrine at Norwich
    10. 10. Book of Showings • First known work by a female in English • Claims to be unlettered • Addresses the “euen cristen” (even-Christian) – Spiritual sight is not just for the educated, Latinate
    11. 11. God, gender and the human body “I saw that God enioyeth that he is our fader, God enioyeth that he is our moder, and God enioyeth that he is our very spouse, and our soule is his lovid wife.” "our savior is our very moder in whom we be endlesly borne and never shall come out of him" • God serves us in our most humble needs
    12. 12. Wyclif – Canterbury College 1365 Appointed warden of a group of secular clergy and monks (displacing a monk) 1367 New Archbishop makes it monks only Secular fellows including Wyclif protest
    13. 13. BBC Discussion
    14. 14. Controversial Ideas • • • • Papal Taxation Against clerical wealth Against excess wealth of nobles Against accepted view of transubstantiation in the Eucharist
    15. 15. Dominion • The right to exercise authority and, indirectly, to hold property • Natural possession • Civil possession – Civil law preserves the necessities of life • Evangelical possession – Requires the owner be in a state of grace
    16. 16. Property • All gifts of God are common • Private property a result of original sin • Monarch given authority over property; Church over the spiritual realm • Corruption of Church from Gift of Constantine
    17. 17. “Trial of Wyclif AD 1377” Ford Madox Brown, 1886
    18. 18. VIDEO: REFORMATION OVERVIEW JOHN WYCLIFFE Christian History Institute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6gJnGdlJkE
    19. 19. The Bible “Any part of Holy Scripture is true according to the excellence of the Divine Word.” Reading the Scripture (allegorically) – Obtain a reliable text, – Understand the logic of Scripture, – Compare the parts of Scripture with one another, – Maintain an attitude of humble seeking, – Receive the instruction of the Spirit
    20. 20. Translation Justification for translations from Hebrew and Greek: 'Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ'. St. Jerome They (friars) say it is heresy to speak of the holy Scripture in English, and so they would condemn the Holy Ghost that gave it in tongues to the apostles of Christ Wyclif Against the Orders of Friars For this reason Saint Jerome labored and translated the Bible from divers tongues into Latin that it might after be translated into other tongues.
    21. 21. Gospel of John Late 14th C. 4 3/8
    22. 22. Wyclif Heresy Charges 1382 • The substance of material bread and wine, doth remain in the sacrament of the altar after the consecration. Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar truly and really, in his proper and corporal person. • That if a bishop or a priest be in deadly sin, he doth not order, consecrate, nor baptize. • If a man, be truly contrite and penitent: all exterior and outer confession, is but superfluous and unprofitable
    23. 23. Wycliffe’s heretical articles • There is nothing in the Gospel indicated that Christ established the Mass • If the pope be a reprobate and evil man, and consequently a member of the devil: he hath not that given him by the Emperor. • That since the time of Urban VI, there is no accepted Pope • Ecclesiastical ministers should not have any temporal possessions.
    24. 24. Erroneous articles of Wyclif • No churchman should excommunicate any man unless he knows the man is excommunicated by God. If the man has appealed to the King the action is treason. • Secular authorities can seize private property of offending clerics
    25. 25. Erroneous articles • Tithes may be withheld from their local curates and bestowed on others • Special prayers for one person are not better than general prayers • Friars should live by labor and not by begging
    26. 26. Chaucer’s Parson There was a good man of religion, too, A country parson, poor, I warrant you; But rich he was in holy thought and work. He was a learned man also, a clerk, Who Christ's own gospel truly sought to preach; Devoutly his parishioners would he teach.
    27. 27. Parson and possessions He was right loath to curse to get a tithe, But rather would he give, in case of doubt, Unto those poor parishioners about, Part of his income, even of his goods.
    28. 28. Parson: Teacher and Model Out of the gospel then that text he caught, And this figure he added thereuntoThat, if gold rust, what shall poor iron do? For if the priest be foul, in whom we trust, What wonder if a layman yield to lust?
    29. 29. Parson: Teacher and Model And shame it is, if priest take thought for keep, A shitty shepherd, shepherding clean sheep. Well ought a priest example good to give, By his own cleanness, how his flock should live
    30. 30. Lollards Spread of Ideas In English!!