John Wycliffe was a prominent 14th century English theologian, religious reformer, and Bible translator. Wycliffe attacked the power and status of the Church, its institutions, and its clergy.
Wycliffe believed the scriptures were the only reliable guide to truth, not the Church and its priests. He advocated that scriptures should be available in vernacular translations and supervised the first complete translation of the Bible into English.
Wycliffe rejected the religious authority of the Church. He found no scriptural justification for the papacy. The real Church was an invisible community of the elect, not the visible institutions of the Roman Catholic Church. He rejected the temporal power of the Church. The King should have authority over the priesthood. The Church’s wealth should be take over by the state.
Wycliffe rejected the power and status of the priesthood. He thought monks and friars were the pests of society. He rejected monasticism, celibacy, selling indulgences, and veneration of saints. In place of the existing hierarchy he advocated for poor priests, with no formal consecration, who would preach the gospel to the poor.
As you can see, Wycliffe pretty comprehensively rejected the power and status of the religious establishment of his day. And Wycliffe was not just words. He made a Bible available to the people in their own language. And more important, his ideas, and his Bible translation, acted as inspirations for powerful and widespread social and religious movements that spread his ideas. Wycliffe has been called the Morning Star of the English Reformation.
And for all these reasons Wycliffe was hated and attacked by the Church and the ecclesiastical authorities. After his death he was declared a heretic. His Bible translation was prohibited. His writings were burned. And most interesting of all, and to the point of this article, forty-four years after his death, by orders of the Church, his corpse was exhumed and burned, and the ashes were scattered into a river.
Talk about righteous fury! Talk about the relentless pursuit of justice! Four decades rotting in the grave is no protection. You can run but you can’t hide! You will be annihilated down to the last molecule that floats away and is swallowed by the ocean.
But this fury is also characteristic of anticommunism. The Black Book of Communism, for example, and the endless parade of works retroactively exposing the dark evil of communism, seek to do to the corpse of communism what the Church did to Wycliffe’s moldering body. Total annihilation of the unspeakable.
Anticommunism is really an anti-heresy movement. Just as furious. Just as righteous. Just as relentless. Just as blind and dogmatic. It too seeks to annihilate a dangerous opponent. An opponent that was history’s most potent challenge to capitalism, the modern equivalent of the Medieval Church.
We need a New Reformation. Communism is that reformation.