There were people and movements who prepared the way for the Reformation. These include John Wycliffe (sometimes called the "morning star of the Reformation") and William Tyndale who translated the Bible, making it available to English-speaking laymen. Wycliffe also preached that the Bible should be the only rule of faith, not the Pope, whom he called the antichrist. In Bohemia, John Hus accepted the teachings of Wycliffe and was burned at the stake for his beliefs. In the Netherlands and Germany there arose a movement, called the Brethren of the Common Life, which attempted to reform the Church. One of its members, John of Wessel, attacked indulgences and taught the doctrine of justification by faith. The most famous pupil was Erasmus, who wrote against the excesses of the Church. Another man who was deeply influenced by the movement was Thomas a Kempis, who wrote "The Imitation of Christ." The Renaissance also had a religious impact, as scholars studied the works of the early Church Fathers and felt that the Church of their day had departed from the simple faith of the early church.
The Eve of the Reformation
Article discussing factors such as the Catholic Church councils, the rise of Biblical humanism, the invention of printing and the rise of universities.
Forerunners of the Reformation
Short articles on Wycliffe, Hus, Peter of Chelcic, the United Brethren in Bohemia, and Kasper von Schwenckfeld.
The Northern Renaissance and the Background of the Reformation
Discusses the Devotio Moderna, mysticism, the invention of printing, and humanism and its effect on the Reformation.
Short biographies of men such as Thomas a Kempis, Meister Eckhard, Johannus Tauler, Heinrich Suso, and some later mystics.
Roots of the Protestant Reformation
Part III of this site discusses the theological influences of Wycliffe, Hus and Erasmus on the later Reformers.
Last update:March 27, 2014 at 11:54:05 UTC