Antecedents and Legacies in the Anglican Tradition
Edited By Sean A. Otto and Thomas P. Power
Exploring a variety of themes, this collection examines the Reformation in relation to key aspects of church organization, belief, sacrament, conversion, relationships with other denominations, theological education, church and state, worship, and issues of resilience and decline. While these themes are pursued broadly, there is a particular focus on the context of the Anglican tradition in terms of Reformation preoccupations and concerns. This collection’s thematic content, chronological span, and geographical range will also challenge accepted views, deepen understanding, and highlight new areas of enquiry, bringing new research and insights to bear on established observations.
Academics will find this book of particular interest for courses on the Reformation, Early Modern Europe, and the history of Christianity.
The Reform Program of John Wyclif’s Sermons
SEAN A. OTTO
John Wyclif was—and to some extent still is—a polarizing figure. Traditional Protestant historiography has seen him as an anti-Catholic hero, while Roman Catholic historiography has seen him as a damnable heresiarch. This picture has been challenged in the last century, and a recovery of John Wyclif, the late medieval theologian is well under way.1 The traditional mythology still clings to Wyclif, however, and has obscured our understanding of his reform program, which was not at all that of the sixteenth-century reformers. Two essential characteristics of Wyclif’s reform program, as evidenced in his Latin sermons, will be highlighted here: the conservative nature of his theology and the highly pastoral nature of his conception of reform. Taken together, these two key aspects of Wyclif’s program for reform make clear that his was not a desire to break with either the catholic or the local church, but to realign these with the teaching and faith of the true church as outlined in the perfect law of Christ, the law of love.
The importance of preaching to Wyclif’s reform program can hardly be exaggerated. He states on numerous occasions that preaching is the most important duty of those in holy orders, and says also that it is above performing the eucharist.2 The sheer size of his sermon corpus is an indication of preaching’s importance to Wyclif; his extant sermons form three cycles and two miscellaneous collections, totalling well over...
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