The First (1385) English Bible Translator – John Wycliffe’s Life – (Video)

„John Wycliffe” is a dramatic biography of the life of the 14th century scholar and cleric who translated the Bible into English for the first time. Wycliffe found himself in the middle of religious, political and social conflicts. An Oxford scholar, one of Europe’s most renowned philosophers, he was a defender of English nationalism against the power of the pope and a champion of the poor against the injustices of the rich. John Wycliffe taught that God’s forgiveness couldn’t be bought with indulgences. He preached that the only true authority is the Word of God, and the Word could only be understood by all if the people could read it in their native tongue. „John Wycliffe” captures the trials and heroic struggles of this significant man of faith – the „Morning Star” of the Reformation.

(DVD available at Amazon)

Other video of interest – Martin Luther (English with Romanian subtitles)

You can read an in depth  biography on John Wycliffe here.

 

VIDEO by BabylonLingo

Church History – John Wycliffe (1320-1384) translated the first English language Bible

John Wycliffe Bible

What is the John Wycliffe Bible?

The very first translation of the scriptures into the English language. It is a beautiful hand-written manuscript. John Wycliffe is called “The Morning Star of the Reformation”. He was the first person to translate the Bible into the English language. Because he lived nearly a century before Gutenberg invented the printing press, his New Testaments and Bibles were of course, hand-written manuscripts. Wycliffe is also credited with being the inventor of bifocal eyeglasses (necessity being the mother of invention).

John Wycliffe Library

John Wycliffe History

The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

John Wycliffe (1320-1384) was a theologian and early proponent of reform in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. He initiated the first translation of the Bible into the English language and is considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation. Wycliffe was born at Ipreswell (modern Hipswell), Yorkshire, England, between 1320 and 1330; and he died at Lutterworth (near Leicester) December 31, 1384.

John Wycliffe
The Early Life of John Wycliffe

His family was of early Saxon origin, long settled in Yorkshire. In his day the family was a large one, covering a considerable territory, and its principal seat was Wycliffe-on-Tees, of which Ipreswell was an outlying hamlet. 1324 is the year usually given for Wycliffe’s birth. Wycliffe probably received his early education close to home. It is not known when he first went to Oxford, with which he was so closely connected till the end of his life. He was at Oxford in about 1345, when a series of illustrious names was adding glory to the fame of the university–such as those of Roger Bacon, Robert Grosseteste, Thomas Bradwardine, William of Occam, and Richard Fitzralph.

Wycliffe owed much to Occam; he showed an interest in natural science and mathematics, but applied himself to the study of theology, ecclesiastical law, and philosophy. Even his opponents acknowledged the keenness of his dialectic. His writings prove that he was well grounded in Roman and English law, as well as in native history. A family whose seat was in the neighborhood of Wycliffe’s home– Bernard Castle– had founded Balliol College, Oxford to which Wycliffe belonged, first as scholar, then as master. He attained the headship no later than 1360.

The Early Career of John Wycliffe

When he was presented by the college (1361) with the parish of Fylingham in Lincolnshire, he had to give up the leadership of Balliol, though he could continue to live at Oxford. His university career followed the usual course. While as baccalaureate he busied himself with natural science and mathematics, as master he had the right to read in philosophy. More significant was his interest in Bible study, which he pursued after becoming bachelor in theology. His performance led Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, to place him at the head of Canterbury Hall in 1365.

Between 1366 and 1372 he became a doctor of theology; as such he had the right to lecture upon systematic divinity, which he did. In 1368 he gave up his living at Fylingham and took over the rectory of Ludgershall in Buckinghamshire, not far from Oxford, which enabled him to retain his connection with the university.

Roots of Wycliffe’s Reformation Activities

It was not as a teacher or preacher that Wycliffe gained his position in history; this came from his activities in ecclesiastical politics, in which he engaged about the mid-1370s, when his reformatory work also began. In 1374 he was among the English delegates at a peace congress at Bruges. He may have been given this position because of the spirited and patriotic behavior with which in the year 1366 he sought the interests of his country against the demands of the papacy. It seems he had a reputation as a patriot and reformer; this suggests the answer to the question how he came to his reformatory ideas. Even if older evangelical parties did not exist in England before Wycliffe, he might easily have been influenced by continental evangelicals who abounded. It is highly probable that the older type of doctrine and practice represented by the Iro-Scottish Christians of the pre-Roman time persisted till the time of Wycliffe and reappeared in Lollardism.

The root of the Wycliffe’s reformation movement must be traced to his Bible study and to the ecclesiastical-political lawmaking of his times. He was well acquainted with the tendencies of the ecclesiastical politics to which England owed its position. He had studied the proceedings of King Edward I of England, and had attributed to them the basis of parliamentary opposition to papal usurpations. He found them a model for methods of procedure in matters connected with the questions of worldly possessions and the Church. Many sentences in his book on the Church recall the institution of the commission of 1274, which caused problems for the English clergy. He considered that the example of Edward I should be borne in mind by the government of his time; but that the aim should be a reformation of the entire ecclesiastical establishment. Similar was his position on the enactments induced by the ecclesiastical politics of Edward III, with which he was well acquainted, which are fully reflected in his political tracts.

Political Career of John Wycliffe

The Reformer’s entrance upon the stage of ecclesiastical politics is usually related to the question of feudal tribute to which England had been rendered liable by King John, which had remained unpaid for thirty-three years until Pope Urban V in 1365 demanded it. Parliament declared that neither John nor any other had the right to subject England to any foreign power. Should the pope attempt to enforce his claim by arms, he would be met with united resistance. Urban apparently recognized his mistake and dropped his claim. But there was no talk of a patriotic uprising. The tone of the pope was, in fact, not threatening, and he did not wish to draw England into the maelstrom of politics of western and southern Europe. Sharp words were bound to be heard in England, because of the close relations of the papacy with France. It is said that on this occasion Wycliffe served as theological counsel to the government, composed a polemical tract dealing with the tribute, and defended an unnamed monk over against the conduct of the government and parliament. This would place the entrance of Wycliffe into politics about 1365-66. But Wycliffe’s more important participation began with the Peace Congress at Bruges. There in 1374 negotiations were carried on between France and England, while at the same time commissioners from England dealt with papal delegates respecting the removal of ecclesiastical annoyances. Wycliffe was among these, under a decree dated July 26, 1374. The choice of a harsh opponent of the Avignon system would have broken up rather than furthered the peace negotiations. It seems he was designated purely as a theologian, and so considered himself, since a noted Scripture scholar was required alongside of those learned in civil and canon law. There was no need for a man of renown, or a pure advocate of state interests. His predecessor in a like case was John Owtred, a monk who formulated the statement that St. Peter had united in his hands spiritual and temporal power–the opposite of what Wycliffe taught. In the days of the mission to Bruges Owtred still belonged in Wycliffe’s circle of friends.

Wycliffe was still regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as trustworthy; his opposition to the ruling conduct of the Church may have escaped notice. It was difficult to recognize him as a heretic. The controversies in which men engaged at Oxford were philosophical rather than purely theological or ecclesiastical-political, and the method of discussion was academic and scholastic. The kind of men with whom Wycliffe dealt included the Carmelite monk John Kyningham over theological questions (utrum Christus esset humanitas), or ecclesiastical-political ones (De dominatione civili; De dotatione ecclesiae).Wycliffe regarded it as a sin to incite the pope to excommunicate laymen who had deprived wicked clergy of their temporalities, his dictum being that a man in a state of sin had no claim upon government.

1380 – 1410 Wycliffe Manuscript

Wycliffe blamed the Benedictine and professor of theology at Oxford, William Wynham of St. Albans (where the anti-Wycliffe trend was considerable) for making public controversies which had previously been confined to the academic arena. Wycliffe himself tells (Sermones, iii. 199) how he concluded that there was a great contrast between what the Church was and what it ought to be, and saw the necessity for reform. His ideas stress the perniciousness of the temporal rule of the clergy and its incompatibility with the teaching of Christ and the apostles, and make note of the tendencies which were evident in the measures of the „Good Parliament”.

Wycliffe’s Public Declaration of his Ideas

Wycliffe was among those to whom the thought of the secularization of ecclesiastical properties in England was welcome. His patron was John of Gaunt. He was no longer satisfied with his chair as the means of propagating his ideas, and soon after his return from Bruges he began to express them in tracts and longer works–his great work, the Summa theologiae, was written in support of them. In the first book, concerned with the government of God and the ten commandments, he attacked the temporal rule of the clergy–in temporal things the king is above the pope, and the collection of annates and indulgences is simony. But he entered the politics of the day with his great work De civili dominio. Here he introduced those ideas by which the good parliament was governed– which involved the renunciation by the Church of temporal dominion. The items of the „long bill” appear to have been derived from his work. In this book are the strongest outcries against the Avignon system with its commissions, exactions, squandering of charities by unfit priests, and the like. To change this is the business of the State. If the clergy misuses ecclesiastical property, it must be taken away; if the king does not do this, he is remiss. The work contains 18 strongly stated theses, opposing the governing methods of the rule of the Church and the straightening out of its temporal possessions. Wycliffe had set these ideas before his students at Oxford in 1376, after becoming involved in controversy with William Wadeford and others. Rather than restricting these matters to the classroom, he wanted them proclaimed more widely and wanted temporal and spiritual lords to take note. While the latter attacked him and sought ecclesiastical censure, he recommended himself to the former by his criticism of the worldly possessions of the clergy.

Wycliffe’s Conflict with the Church

Wycliffe wanted to see his ideas actualized–his fundamental belief was that the Church should be poor, as in the days of the apostles. He had not yet broken with the mendicant friars, and from these John of Gaunt chose Wycliffe’s defenders. While the Reformer later claimed that it was not his purpose to incite temporal lords to confiscation of the property of the Church, the real tendencies of the propositions remained unconcealed. The result of the same doctrines in Bohemia–that land which was richest in ecclesiastical foundations–was that in a short time the entire church estate was taken over and a revolution brought about in the relations of temporal holdings. It was in keeping with the plans of Gaunt to have a personality like Wycliffe on his side. Especially in London the Reformer’s views won support; partisans of the nobility attached themselves to him, and the lower orders gladly heard his sermons. He preached in city churches, and London rang with his praises.

The first to oppose his theses were monks of those orders which held possessions, to whom his theories were dangerous. Oxford and the episcopate were later blamed by the Curia, which charged them with so neglecting their duty that the breaking of the evil fiend into the English sheepfold could be noticed in Rome before it was in England. Wycliffe was summoned before William Courtenay, bishop of London, on Feb. 19, 1377, in order „to explain the wonderful things which had streamed forth from his mouth.” The exact charges are not known, as the matter did not get as far as a definite examination. Gaunt, the earl marshal Henry Percy, and a number of other friends accompanied Wycliffe, and four begging friars were his advocates. A crowd gathered at the church, and at the entrance of the party animosities began to show, especially in an angry exchange between the bishop and the Reformer’s protectors. Gaunt declared that he would humble the pride of the English clergy and their partisans, hinting at the intent to secularize the possessions of the Church.

Most of the English clergy were irritated by this encounter, and attacks upon Wycliffe began, finding their response in the second and third books of his work dealing with civil government. These books carry a sharp polemic, hardly surprising when it is recalled that his opponents charged Wycliffe with blasphemy and scandal, pride and heresy. He appeared to have openly advised the secularization of English church property, and the dominant parties shared his conviction that the monks could better be controlled if they were relieved from the care of secular affairs.

The bitterness occasioned by this advice will be better understood when it is remembered that at that time the papacy was at war with the Florentines and was in dire straits. The demand of the Minorites that the Church should live in poverty as it did in the days of the apostles was not pleasing in such a crisis. It was under these conditions that Pope Gregory XI, who in January, 1377, had gone from Avignon to Rome, sent, on May 22 five copies of his bull against Wycliffe, despatching one to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the others to the bishop of London, Edward III, the chancellor, and the university; among the enclosures were 18 theses of his, which were denounced as erroneous and dangerous to Church and State.

The reformatory activities of Wycliffe effectively began here: all the great works, especially his Summa theologiae, are closely connected with the condemnation of his 18 theses, while the entire literary energies of his later years rest upon this foundation. The next aim of his opponents–to make him out a revolutionary in politics–failed. The situation in England resulted in damage to them; on June 21, 1377, Edward III died. His successor was Richard II, a boy, who was under the influence of John of Gaunt, his uncle. So it resulted that the bull against Wycliffe did not become public till Dec. 18. Parliament, which met in October, came into sharp conflict with the Curia. Among the propositions which Wycliffe, at the direction of the government, worked out for parliament was one which speaks out distinctly against the exhaustion of England by the Curia.

Wycliffe tried to gain public favour by laying his theses before parliament, and then made them public in a tract, accompanied by explanations, limitations, and interpretations. After the session of parliament was over, he was called upon to answer, and in March, 1378, he appeared at the episcopal palace at Lambeth to defend himself. The preliminaries were not yet finished when a noisy mob gathered with the purpose of saving him; the king’s mother, Joan of Kent, also took up his cause. The bishops, who were divided, satisfied themselves with forbidding him to speak further on the controversy. At Oxford the vice chancellor, following papal directions, confined the Reformer for some time in Black Hall, from which Wycliffe was released on threats from his friends; the vice-chancellor was himself confined in the same place because of his treatment of Wycliffe. The latter then took up the usage according to which one who remained for 44 days under excommunication came under the penalties executed by the State, and wrote his De incarcerandis fedelibus, in which he demanded that it should be legal for the excommunicated to appeal to the king and his council against the excommunication; in this writing he laid open the entire case and in such a way that it was understood by the laity. He wrote his 33 conclusions, in Latin and English. The masses, some of the nobility, and his former protector, John of Gaunt, rallied to him.

Before any further steps could be taken at Rome, Gregory XI died (1378). But Wycliffe was already engaged in one of his most important works, that dealing with the truth of Holy Scripture. The sharper the strife became, the more Wycliffe had recourse to Scripture as the basis of all Christian doctrinal opinion, and expressly proved this to be the only norm for Christian faith. In order to refute his opponents, he wrote the book in which he showed that Holy Scripture contains all truth and, being from God, is the only authority. He referred to the conditions under which the condemnation of his 18 theses was brought about; and the same may be said of his books dealing with the Church, the office of king, and the power of the pope–all completed within the space of two years (1378-79).

Wycliffe wrote, “The Church is the totality of those who are predestined to blessedness. It includes the Church triumphant in heaven… and the Church militant or men on earth. No one who is eternally lost has part in it. There is one universal Church, and outside of it there is no salvation. Its head is Christ. No pope may say that he is the head, for he can not say that he is elect or even a member of the Church.”

Statement Regarding Royal Power

It would be a mistake to assume that Wycliffe’s doctrine of the Church–which made so great an impression upon John Hus, who adopted it literally and fully–was occasioned by the great schism (1378-1429). The principles of the doctrine were already embodied in his De civili dominio. The contents of the book dealing with the Church are closely connected with the decision respecting the 18 theses. The attacks on Pope Gregory XI grow ever more extreme. Wycliffe’s stand with respect to the ideal of poverty became continually firmer, as well as his position with regard to the temporal rule of the clergy. Closely related to this attitude was his book De officio regis, the content of which was foreshadowed in his 33 conclusions: One should be instructed with reference to the obligations which lie in regard to the kingdom in order to see how the two powers, royal and ecclesiastical, may support each other in harmony in the body corporate of the Church.

The royal power, Wycliffe taught, is consecrated through the testimony of Holy Scripture and the Fathers. Christ and the apostles rendered tribute to the emperor. It is a sin to oppose the power of the king, which is derived immediately from God. Subjects, above all the clergy, should pay him dutiful tribute. The honours which attach to temporal power hark back to the king; those which belong to precedence in the priestly office, to the priest. The king must apply his power with wisdom, his laws are to be in unison with those of God. From God laws derive their authority, including those which royalty has over against the clergy. If one of the clergy neglects his office, he is a traitor to the king who calls him to answer for it. It follows from this that the king has an „evangelical” control. Those in the service of the Church must have regard for the laws of the State. In confirmation of this fundamental principle the archbishops in England make sworn submission to the king and receive their temporalities. The king is to protect his vassals against damage to their possessions; in case the clergy through their misuse of the temporalities cause injury, the king must offer protection. When the king turns over temporalities to the clergy, he places them under his jurisdiction, from which later pronouncements of the popes can not release them. If the clergy relies on papal pronouncements, it must be subjected to obedience to the king.

This book, like those that preceded and followed, had to do with the reform of the Church, in which the temporal arm was to have an influential part. Especially interesting is the teaching which Wycliffe addressed to the king on the protection of his theologians. This did not mean theology in its modern sense, but knowledge of the Bible. Since the law must be in agreement with Scripture, knowledge of theology is necessary to the strengthening of the kingdom; therefore the king has theologians in his entourage to stand at his side as he exercises power. It is their duty to explain Scripture according to the rule of reason and in conformity with the witness of the saints; also to proclaim the law of the king and to protect his welfare and that of his kingdom.

Wycliffe and the Pope

The books and tracts of Wycliffe’s last six years include continual attacks upon the papacy and the entire hierarchy of his times. Each year they focus more and more, and at the last pope and Antichrist seem to him practically equivalent concepts. Yet there are passages which are moderate in tone; Lechler identifies three stages in Wycliffe’s relations with the papacy. The first step, which carried him to the outbreak of the schism, involves moderate recognition of the papal primacy; the second, which carried him to 1381, is marked by an estrangement from the papacy; and the third shows him in sharp contest. However, Wycliffe reached no valuation of the papacy before the outbreak of the schism different from his later appraisal. If in his last years he identified the papacy with antichristianity, the dispensability of this papacy was strong in his mind before the schism.

Wycliffe’s influence was never greater than at the moment when pope and antipope sent their ambassadors to England in order to gain recognition for themselves. In the ambassadors’ presence, he delivered an opinion before parliament that showed, in an important ecclesiastical political question (the matter of the right of asylum in Westminster Abbey), a position that was to the liking of the State. How Wycliffe came to be active in the interest of Urban is seen in passages in his latest writings, in which he expressed himself in regard to the papacy in a favorable sense. On the other hand he states that “it is not necessary to go either to Rome or to Avignon in order to seek a decision from the pope, since the triune God is everywhere. Our pope is Christ.” It seems clear that Wycliffe was an opponent of that papacy which had developed since Constantine. He taught that the Church can continue to exist even though it have no visible leader; but there can be no damage when the Church possesses a leader of the right kind. To distinguish between what the pope should be, if one is necessary, and the pope as he appeared in Wycliffe’s day was the purpose of his book on the power of the pope. The Church militant, Wycliffe taught, needs a head–but one whom God gives the Church. The elector [cardinal] can only make someone a pope if the choice relates to one who is elect [of God]. But that is not always the case. It may be that the elector is himself not predestined and chooses one who is in the same case–a veritable Antichrist. One must regard as a true pope one who in teaching and life most nearly follows Jesus Christ and Saint Peter.

Wycliffe distinguished the true from the false papacy. Since all signs indicated that Urban VI was a reforming and consequently a „true” pope, the enthusiasm which Wycliffe manifested for him is easily understood. These views concerning the Church and church government are those which are brought forward in the last books of his Summa, „De simonia, de apostasia, de blasphemia.” The battle which over the theses was less significant than the one he waged against the monastic orders when he saw the hopes quenched which had gathered around the „reform pope;” and when he was withdrawn from the scene as an ecclesiastical politician and occupied himself exclusively with the question of the reform of the Church.

Wycliffe’s Relation to the English Bible

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The Bible ought to be the common possession of all Christians, and needed to be made available for common use in the language of the people. National honour seemed to require this, since members of the nobility possessed the Bible in French. Wycliffe set himself to the task. While it is not possible exactly to define his part in the translation–which was based on the Vulgate–there is no doubt that it was his initiative, and that the success of the project was due to his leadership. From him comes the translation of the New Testament, which was smoother, clearer, and more readable than the rendering of the Old Testament by his friend Nicholas of Hereford. The whole was revised by Wycliffe’s younger contemporary John Purvey in 1388. Thus the mass of the people came into possession of the Bible; even as the misguided cry of Wycliffe’s opponents stated: „The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity.”

In spite of the zeal with which the hierarchy sought to destroy it, there still exist about 150 manuscripts, complete or partial, containing the translation in its revised form. From this one may easily infer how widely diffused it was in the fifteenth century. For this reason the Wycliffeites in England were often designated by their opponents as „Bible men.” Just as Luther’s version had great influence upon the German language, so Wycliffe’s, by reason of its clarity, beauty, and strength, influenced English.

Wycliffe’s Activity as a Preacher

Wycliffe aimed to do away with the existing hierarchy and replace it with the „poor priests” who lived in poverty, were bound by no vows, had received no formal consecration, and preached the Gospel to the people. These itinerant preachers spread the teachings of Wycliffe. Two by two they went, barefoot, wearing long dark-red robes and carrying a staff in the hand, the latter having symbolic reference to their pastoral calling, and passed from place to place preaching the sovereignty of God. The bull of Gregory XI. impressed upon them the name of Lollards, intended as an opprobrious epithet, but it became a name of honour. Even in Wycliffe’s time the „Lollards” had reached wide circles in England and preached „God’s law, without which no one could be justified.”

The Anti-Wycliffe Movement

In the summer of 1381 Wycliffe formulated his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper in twelve short sentences,and made it a duty to advocate it everywhere. Then the English hierarchy proceeded against him. The chancellor of the University of Oxford had some of the declarations pronounced heretical. When this fact was announced to Wycliffe, he declared that no one could change his convictions. He then appealed–not to the pope nor to the ecclesiastical authorities of the land, but to the king. He published his great confession upon the subject and also a second writing in English intended for the common people. His pronouncements were no longer limited to the classroom, they spread to the masses. The followers of John Wycliffe, the Lollards, grew greatly in number throughout the land.

„Every second man that you meet,” writes a contemporary, „is a Lollard!” In the midst of this commotion came the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Although Wycliffe disapproved of the revolt, he was blamed. Yet his friend and protector John of Gaunt was the most hated by the rebels, and where Wycliffe’s influence was greatest the uprising found the least support. While in general the aim of the revolt was against the spiritual nobility, this came about because they were nobles, not because they were churchmen. Wycliffe’s old enemy, Courtenay, now Archbishop of Canterbury, called (1382) an ecclesiastical assembly of notables at London. During the consultations an earthquake occurred (May 21); the participants were terrified and wished to break up the assembly, but Courtenay declared the earthquake a favorable sign which meant the purification of the earth from erroneous doctrine.

Of the 24 propositions attributed to Wycliffe without mentioning his name, ten were declared heretical and fourteen erroneous. The former had reference to the transformation in the sacrament, the latter to matters of church order and institutions. It was forbidden from that time to hold these opinions or to advance them in sermons or in academic discussions. All persons disregarding this order were to be subject to prosecution. To accomplish this the help of the State was necessary; but the commons rejected the bill. The king, however, had a decree issued which permitted the arrest of those in error. The citadel of the reformatory movement was Oxford, where Wycliffe’s most active helpers were; these were laid under the ban and summoned to recant, and Nicholas of Hereford went to Rome to appeal. In similar fashion the poor priests were hindered in their work.

On Nov. 18, 1382, Wycliffe was summoned before a synod at Oxford; he appeared, though apparently broken in body in consequence of a stroke, but nevertheless determined. He still commanded the favour of the court and of parliament, to which he addressed a memorial. He was neither excommunicated then, nor deprived of his position.

Last Days of John Wycliffe

Wycliffe returned to Lutterworth, and sent out tracts against the monks and Urban VI, since the latter, contrary to the hopes of Wycliffe, had not turned out to be a reforming or „true” pope, but had involved in mischievous conflicts. The crusade in Flanders aroused the Reformer’s biting scorn, while his sermons became fuller-voiced and dealt with the imperfections of the Church. The literary achievements of Wycliffe’s last days, such as the Trialogus, stand at the peak of the knowledge of his day. His last work, the Opus evangelicum, the last part of which he named in characteristic fashion „Of Antichrist,” remained uncompleted.

While Wycliffe was in the parish church on Holy Innocents’ Day, Dec. 28, 1384, he again suffered a stroke, and was carried out the side-door of his church, in his chair. John Wycliffe died on the last day of the year, three days later. The Council of Constance declared Wycliffe (on May 4, 1415) a stiff-necked heretic and under the ban of the Church. It was decreed that his books be burned and his remains be exhumed. This last did not happen till twelve more years later, when at the command of Pope Martin V they were dug up, burned, and the ashes cast into the river Swift which flows through Lutterworth.

None of Wycliffe’s contemporaries left a complete picture of his person, his life, and his activities. The pictures representing him are from a later period. One must be content with certain scattered expressions found in the history of the trial by William Thorpe (1407). It appears that Wycliffe was spare of body, indeed of wasted appearance, and not strong physically. He was of unblemished walk in life, says Thorpe, and was regarded affectionately by people of rank, who often consorted with him, took down his sayings, and clung to him. Thorpe continued, „I indeed clove to none closer than to him, the wisest and most blessed of all men whom I have ever found. From him one could learn in truth what the Church of Christ is and how it should be ruled and led.” John Hus wished that his soul might be wherever that of Wycliffe was found.

One may not say that Wycliffe was a comfortable opponent to meet. Thomas Netter of Walden highly esteemed the old Carmelite monk John Kynyngham in that he „so bravely offered himself to the biting speech of the heretic and to words that stung as being without the religion of Christ.” But this example of Netter is not well chosen, since the tone of Wycliffe toward Kynyngham is that of a junior toward an elder whom one respects, and he handled other opponentsin similar fashion. But when he turned upon them his roughest side, as for example in his sermons, polemical writings and tracts, he met the attacks with a tone that could not be styled friendly.

Wycliffe’s Doctrines

Wycliffe’s first encounter with the official Church of his time was prompted by his zeal in the interests of the State, his first tracts and greater works of ecclesiastical-political content defended the privileges of the State, and from these sources developed a strife out of which the next phases could hardly be determined. One who studies these books in the order of their production with reference to their inner content finds a direct development with a strong reformatory tendency. This was not originally doctrinal; when it later took up matters of dogma, as in the teaching concerning transubstantiation, the purpose was the return to original simplicity in the government of the Church. But it would have been against the diplomatic practice of the time to have sent to the peace congress at Bruges, in which the Curia had an essential part, a participant who had become known at home by heretical teaching.

Wycliffe earned his great repute as a philosopher at an early date. Henry Knighton says that in philosophy, Wycliffe was second to none, and in scholastic discipline incomparable. If this pronouncement seems hard to justify, now that Wycliffe’s writings are in print, it must be borne in mind that not all his philosophical works are extant. If Wycliffe was in philosophy the superior of his contemporaries and had no equal in scholastic discipline, he belongs with the series of great scholastic philosophers and theologians in which England in the Middle Ages was so rich–with Alexander of Hales, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, Occam and Bradwardine. There was a period in his life when he devoted himself exclusively to scholastic philosophy: „when I was still a logician,” he used later to say. The first „heresy” which „he cast forth into the world” rests as much upon philosophical as upon theological grounds.

Wycliffe on Philosophy

Wycliffe’s fundamental principle of the preexistence in thought of all reality involves the most serious obstacle to freedom of the will; the philosopher could assist himself only by the formula that the free will of man was something predetermined of God. He demanded strict dialectical training as the means of distinguishing the true from the false, and asserted that logic (or the syllogism)furthered the knowledge of catholic verities; ignorance of logic was the reason why men misunderstood Scripture, since men overlooked the connection–the distinction between idea and appearance. Wycliffe was not merely conscious of the distinction between theology and philosophy, but his sense of reality led him to pass by scholastic questions. He left aside philosophical discussions which seemed to have no significance for the religious consciousness and those which pertained purely to scholasticism: „we concern ourselves with the verities that are, and leave asidethe errors which arise from speculation on matters which are not.”

Wycliffe on Scripture

The Bible alone was authoritative and, according to his own conviction and that of his disciples, was fully sufficient for the government of this world (De sufficientia legis Christi). Out of it he drew his comprehensive statements in support of his reformatory views–after intense study and many spiritual conflicts. He tells that as a beginner he was desperate to comprehend the passages dealing with the activities of the divine Word, until by the grace of God he was able to gather the right sense of Scripture, which he then understood. But that was not a light task. Without knowledge of the Bible there can be no peace in the life of the Church or of society, and outside of it there is no real and abiding good; it is the one authority for the faith.

These teachings Wycliffe promulgated in his great work on the truth of Scripture, and in other greater and lesser writings. For him the Bible was the fundamental source of Christianity which is binding on all men. From this one can easily see how the next step came about: the furnishing of the Bible to the people in their mother tongue. Wycliffe was called „Doctor evangelicus” by his English and Bohemian followers. Of all the reformers who preceded Martin Luther, Wycliffe put most emphasis on Scripture: „Even though there were a hundred popes and though every mendicant monk were a cardinal, they would be entitled to confidence only in so far as they accorded with the Bible.” Therefore in this early period it was Wycliffe who recognized and formulated the formal principle of the Reformation– the unique authority of the Bible for the belief and life of the Christian.

(via)

Evanghelia lui Satan de Arthur W.Pink

Traducere de Iosif Raul Enyedi

De la situl  ABaptistVoice.com Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)  scrie:

Satan este un falsificator neintrecut. Asa cum am vazut, Diavolul este acum foarte activ in lucrul sau pe acelasi teren in care Domnul a semanat samanta buna. El cauta sa previna cresterea graului prin semanarea unei alte plante, neghina, care, in aparenta, se aseamana indeaproape cu graul. Intr-un cuvant, printr-un proces de imitare, el are ca scop neutralizarea Cuvantului lui Cristos. Astfel, asa cum Cristos are o Evanghelie, si Satan are o evanghelie, aceasta din urma fiind o imitatie sireata a celei dintai. Asa de bine seamana evanghelia lui Satan cu cealalta, incat multimi de nemantuiti sunt inselati de ea.

La aceasta evanghelie a lui Satan se refera apostolul atunci cand spune galatenilor: „Ma mir ca treceti asa de repede dela Cel ce v-a chemat prin harul lui Cristos, la o alta Evanghelie. Nu doar ca este o alta Evanghelie; dar sunt unii oameni cari va tulbura, si voiesc sa rastoarne Evanghelia lui Cristos” (Galateni 1:6, 7). Aceasta evanghelie falsa se vestea chiar in zilele apostolului, iar un blestem groaznic a fost rostit asupra acelora care o predicau. Apostolul continua: „Dar chiar daca noi insine sau un inger din cer ar veni sa va propovaduiasca o Evanghelie, deosebita de aceea pe care v-am propovaduit-o noi, sa fie anatema” (vs.8). Cu ajutorul lui Dumnezeu vom incerca acum sa expunem, sau, mai bine zis, sa demascam aceasta evanghelie falsa.

Evanghelia lui Satan nu este un sistem de principii revolutionare si nici un program al anarhiei. Nu promoveaza conflictele si razboaiele, ci scopul ei este pacea si unitatea. Nu cauta sa invrajbeasca pe mama impotriva fiicei ei si nici pe tata impotriva fiului sau, ci incurajeaza un spirit de fraternitate in care intreaga rasa umana este privita ca o mare familie. Nu cauta sa tarasca in jos omul firesc, ci sa-l imbunatateasca si sa-l ridice. Promoveaza educarea, cultivarea si apeleaza la „ce este mai bun in noi.” Doreste sa faca din aceasta lume un habitat asa de confortabil si placut, incat sa nu fie simtite nici absenta lui Cristos si nici nevoia de Dumnezeu. Incearca sa-l preocupe pe om asa de mult cu lumea aceasta astfel incat el sa nu mai aibe nici timp, nici inclinatie pentru lumea care va veni. Promoveaza principiile sacrificiului de sine, caritatii si bunavointei, ne invata sa traim pentru binele altora si sa aratam bunatate tuturor. Apeleaza mult la mintea fireasca si este populara in randul maselor fiindca ignora grava realitate ca prin natura lui, omul este o fiinta cazuta, instrainat de viata care vine de la Dumnezeu, mort in greseli, in pacate si avand ca singura nadejde nasterea din nou.

In contrast cu Evanghelia lui Cristos, cea a lui Satan ii invata pe oameni mantuirea prin fapte. Sugereaza in mod repetat justificarea inaintea lui Dumnezeu pe baza meritelor umane. Fraza sa sacra este: „Fii bun si fa binele,” nerecunoscand faptul ca in fire nu locuieste nici un lucru bun. Predica mantuirea pe baza caracterului, inversand ordinea Cuvantului lui Dumnezeu – caracterul este o roada a mantuirii. Variatele sale ramificatii si organizatii sunt nenumarate. Cumpatare, miscarile Reformei, „Ligile socialiste crestine,” societati de cultura etica, „Congrese de pace,” cu toate sunt angajate (poate inconstient) in proclamarea acestei evanghelii a lui Satan – evanghelia mantuirii prin fapte. Gandirea pozitiva il substituie pe Cristos; puritatea sociala in loc de regenerarea individuala; politica si filosofie in loc de doctrina si evlavie. Cultivarea omului vechi este considerata mai practica decat crearea omului nou in Cristos Isus; se cauta pacea universala, dar nu si interventia  si intoarcerea Domnului pacii.

Apostolii lui Satan nu sunt proprietari de baruri sau proxeneti, ci in marea lor majoritate sunt lucratori ordinati. Mii dintre cei care vorbesc de la amvoanele noastre moderne nu mai sunt implicati in prezentarea adevarurilor fundamentale ale credintei crestine ci au respins adevarul si au acordat atentie unei nascociri. In loc sa amplifice enormitatea pacatului si sa arate consecintele sale vesnice, ei il minimizeaza, afirmand ca acesta este doar nestiinta sau absenta binelui. In loc de a-si avertiza ascultatorii sa „fuga de mania viitoare,” ei Il fac pe Dumnezeu mincinos, afirmand ca El este prea iubitor si milostiv sa trimita vreuna din propriile Sale fapturi la chin vesnic.

In loc de a afirma ca „fara varsare de sange nu este iertare,” ei Il prezinta pe Cristos ca pe marele Exemplu, indemnandu-si urmasii sa „calce pe urmele Lui.” Trebuie spus despre ei caci „intrucat n-au cunoscut neprihanirea, pe care o da Dumnezeu, au cautat sa-si puna inainte o neprihanire a lor insisi, si nu s-au supus astfel neprihanirii, pe care o da Dumnezeu” (Romani 10:3). Mesajul lor poate suna foarte plauzibil, iar ei pot parea demni de lauda, dar totusi, despre ei citim astfel: „Oamenii acestia sunt niste apostoli mincinosi, niste lucratori inselatori, cari se prefac in (imita) apostoli ai lui Cristos. Si nu este de mirare, caci chiar Satana se preface intr-un inger de lumina. Nu este mare lucru (ceva de mirat) dar, daca si slujitorii lui se prefac in slujitori ai neprihanirii. Sfarsitul lor va fi dupa faptele lor” (2 Corinteni 11:13-15).

Nu doar ca astazi, sute de biserici nu au un lider care sa declare cu credinciosie tot sfatul lui Dumnezeu si sa prezinte calea Sa de mantuire, ci trebuie sa intampinam si realitatea ca este foarte putin probabil ca oamenii din aceste biserici sa invete ei singuri Adevarul. Altarul familiei, unde se obisnuia sa se citeasca un pasaj din Cuvantul lui Dumnezeu in fiecare zi, acum, chiar si in casele crestinilor obisnuiti este ceva care tine de trecut. Biblia nu este explicata de la amvon si nu este citita din banca. Cerintele acestei epoci ale vitezei sunt asa de numeroase ca majoritatea oamenilor au putin timp si chiar si mai putina inclinatie sa se pregateasca pentru intalnirea lor cu Dumnezeu. De aici, cei mai multi care sunt prea  nepasatori pentru a cerceta ei insisi sunt lasati in voia acelora pe care ii platesc sa cerceteze pentru ei; dintre acestia, multi le tradeaza increderea, studiind si predicand probleme econo-mice si sociale mai degraba decat Profetiile lui Dumnezeu. . .

Dar tu, cititorule, unde te afli? Te afli pe calea „care pare dreapta,” dar care are ca sfarsit moartea, sau esti pe Calea Ingusta care duce la viata? Ai parasit cu adevarat calea cea larga care duce la moarte? A creat dragostea de Cristos ura si oroare pentru tot ce nu-I este placut Lui? Doresti tu ca El sa „imparateasca” peste tine (Luca 19:14)? Te bazezi tu in intregime pe neprihanirea si sangele Lui pentru primirea ta inaintea lui Dumnezeu? . . .

O forma si mai amagitoare a evangheliei lui Satan este sa determine predicatorii sa prezinte jertfa ispasitoare a lui Cristos si apoi sa spuna ascultatorilor lor ca tot ceea ce cere Dumnezeu de la ei este sa „creada in Fiul Sau.” Astfel, mii de suflete nepocaite sunt amagite sa creada ca au fost mantuiti. Dar Cristos a spus: „Eu va spun: nu; ci, daca nu va pocaiti, toti veti pieri la fel” (Luca 13:3). A te „pocai” inseamna a-ti uri pacatul, sa iti para rau ca l-ai comis, sa renunti la el. Acesta este rezultatul lucrarii Duhului care frange inima inaintea lui Dumnezeu. Nimic in afara de o inima franta nu poate avea credinta mantuitoare in Domnul Isus Cristos.

Repet, mii sunt inselati in presupunerea ca ei l-au „acceptat pe Cristos” ca „Mantuitor personal” dar nu L-au primit intai ca si DOMN. Fiul lui Dumnezeu nu a venit sa mantuiasca oamenii in pacatele lor, ci „de pacatele lor” (Matei 1:21). A fi mantuit de pacat inseamna a fi mantuit de ignoranta si dispretul fata de autoritatea lui Dumnezeu, inseamna abandonarea cursul propriei tale vointe si placeri, inseamna sa „ne lasam de caile noastre” (Isaia 55:7). Inseamna predarea in fata autoritatii lui Dumnezeu, cedarea in fata stapanirii Sale, lepadarea de sine pentru a fi condusi de El. Acela care nu a luat niciodata „jugul” lui Cristos asupra lui, care nu cauta cu adevarat si cu sarguinta sa-I fi placut Lui in toate detaliile vietii sale, dar care totusi presupune ca se „bazeaza pe lucrarea desavarsita a lui Cristos” este inselat de Diavolul.

In capitolul sapte din Matei, exista doua pasaje care ne redau rezultatele aproximative atat a Evangheliei lui Cristos, cat si a imitatiei Diavolului. Primul, in versetele 13,14: „Intrati pe poarta cea stramta. Caci larga este poarta, lata este calea care duce la pierzare, si multi sunt cei ce intra pe ea. Dar stramta este poarta, ingusta este calea care duce la viata, si putini sunt cei ce o afla.” Al doilea in versetele 22 si 23: „Multi Imi vor zice in ziua aceea: ,Doamne, Doamne! N-am proorocit (predicat) noi in Numele Tau? N-am scos noi draci in Numele Tau? Si n-am facut noi multe minuni in Numele Tau?’ Atunci le voi spune curat: ,Niciodata nu v-am cunoscut; departati-va dela Mine, voi toti cari lucrati faradelege.’” Da, cititorule, este posibil sa lucram in Numele lui Cristos, si chiar sa predicam in Numele Lui, si desi lumea ne cunoaste si biserica ne cunoaste, totusi sa fim necunoscuti pentru Domnul! Cat de necesar este, deci, sa vedem unde ne aflam cu adevarat; sa ne cercetam pe noi insine sa vedem daca suntem in credinta; sa ne punem sub lumina Cuvintului lui Dumnezeu, sa vedem daca nu cumva suntem inselati de subtilul nostru dusman; sa aflam daca ne zidim casa pe nisip, sau ea este ridicata pe stanca numita Isus Cristos. Fie ca Duhul Sfant sa ne cerceteze inimile, sa ne franga vointele, sa nimiceasca vrajmasia noastra fata de Dumnezeu, sa lucreze in noi o pocainta adevarata si adanca si sa ne indrepte privirile spre Mielul lui Dumnezeu care ridica pacatul lumii.

„Doctor” sau „frate”? de Arthur W. Pink

Traducerea de la situl ABaptistVoice.com (Romania)

Ce metode ciudate foloseste Dumnezeu uneori pentru a-i invata pe copiii Sai lectiile de care au mare nevoie! Aceasta a fost recent experienta autorului. Am fost contactat recent de o „universitate”pentru a accepta de la ei gradul de „D.D”. Am cerut sa mi se acorde timp pentru a cauta rugativ voia lui Dumnezeu prin Cuvantul sau scris, si mi-a venit o lumina mai mare chiar decat m-am asteptat. Aveam serioase indoieli despre permisiunea unui slujitor al lui Dumnezeu de a accepta un titlu onorific lumesc (carnal). Acum am inteles ca este gresit sa il accept, chiar fiind doar complimentar. Multi prieteni, in semn de respect, mi s-au adresat „Dr. Pink”. Eu ii rog acum sa INCETEZE a mi se mai adresa asa. Sa nu se inteleaga de aici ca eu, astfel, condamn alti oameni pentru ceea ce ei permit. Nu, fiindca in fata propriului lor Invatator ei raman in picioare sau cad. Eu am sa mentionez acum principalele pasaje care m-au ajutat pe mine, rugandu-ma ca Dumnezeu sa le faca o binecuvantare si pentru altii.

In primul rind, falsilor mangaietori ai lui Iov, Elihu (reprezentantul lui Dumnezeu) le-a spus „Nu voi cauta la infatisare, nu voi lingusi pe nimeni” (Iov 32:21).

In al doilea rand, „Voi sa nu va numiti Rabi” sau „invatatori” (Matei 23:8), ceea ce „Doctor” si inseamna. In al treilea rand, Ioan 5:44 condamna pe cei care „umbla dupa slava care v-o dati unii altora” si ne porunceste sa cautam „slava care vine de la singurul Dumnezeu”. In al patrulea rand, nici unul din slujitorii Domnului din Noul Testament nu a folosit vreodata vreun titlu. „Pavel, un apostol”, dar niciodata „apostolul Pavel”. In al cincilea rand, Fiul lui Dumnezeu S-a dezbracat pe Sine insusi” (Filipeni 2:7); este ingaduit atunci ca slujitorii sai sa urmeze un curs opus? In al saselea rand, Hristos ne porunceste sa invatam de la El, care a fost „bland si smerit” (Matei 11:29). In al saptelea rand, unul din semnele apostaziei este ca „slavesc pe oameni pentru castig” (Iuda 17). In al optulea rand, ni se porunceste sa iesim afara din tabara la Hristos, si sa „suferim ocara Lui” (Evrei 13:13).

Datorita acestor motive, nu mi se pare potrivit ca unul care este aici ca reprezentant si martor al unui Hristos „dispretuit si respins” sa fie onorat si flatat de oameni. De aceea va rog sa imi spuneti „frate Pink”.

Natura mantuirii lui Hristos denaturata de „evanghelistii” zilelor noastre

de Arthur W. Pink (traducere ABaptistVoice.com)

Natura mantuirii lui Hristos este teribil de denaturata de „evanghelistii” zilelor noastre. Ei predica un Mantuitor de iad, mai degraba decat un Mantuitor de pacat. De aceea, asa de multi sunt inselati fatal, fiindca multimi intregi vor sa scape de iazul de foc, dar nu vor sa fie eliberati de natura lor lumeasca si carnala. Primul lucru spus despre El in Noul Testament este „Si ii vei pune numele Isus, caci El va mantui pe poporul Lui (nu „de mania viitoare” ci) de pacatele sale. Hristos este Mantuitor pentru cei ce-si dau seama de pacatosenia excesiva a pacatului, care simt povara lui groaznica apasandu-le constiinta, care se detesta pe ei insisi datorita pacatului, care doresc sa fie eliberati de sub stapanirea sa teribila; Hristos nu este Mantuitor pentru nimeni altcineva. Daca El a venit sa-i „mantuiasca de iad” pe aceia care inca iubesc pacatul, El ar fi un lucrator al pacatului, iertandu-le rautatea si alaturandu-se lor impotriva lui Dumnezeu. Ce lucru oribil si blasfemie de nedescris cu care sa-L invinuiesti pe Cel Sfant!

Viata lui Sadhu Sundar Singh – Introducere, Avram Cuc

Faptele Apostolilor 4:12

În nimeni altul nu este mîntuire: căci nu este supt cer nici un alt Nume dat oamenilor, în care trebuie să fim mîntuiţi.

Sadhu Sundar Singh a trait intre anii 1889-1929. S-a nascut intro familie de sikh, o religie hindusa, care credeau in reincarnarea trupului. Tatal sau era un om cu avere , fiind considerat de cei din imprejurimi ca un conducator al lor. Sundar Singh a fost foarte devotat religiei Sadhu dar la virsta de patrusprezece ani cind i-a murit mama si apoi cei doi frati ai sai, a cautat cu disperare un raspuns la ce s-a intimplat. La virsta de cinsprezece ani, a contemplat sa-si termine viata spunind tatalui sau ca religiunea hindusa nu poate sa il multumeasca si nici bogatia , nici belsugul, nici averea si nici alta stare.Toate aceste lucruri a spus el, ca pot sa satisfaca trebuinta corpului dar nu nazuintele sufletului lui.

Sundar se scoala a doua zi la ora trei dimineata cu gindul ca daca nu va primi un raspuns la rugaciunea sa, se va arunca sub trenul care trecea pe acolo in fiecare zi la ora cinci dimineata. S-a rugat spunind ca daca exista un Dumnezeu cu adevarat atunci sa i se arate lui, si el il va sluji cu adevarat toata viata sa.De la aceasta rugaciune viata lui s-a schimbat total el devenind un crestin care a slujit Domnului Isus Hristos cu devotamint intreaga viata a lui, prin el facindu-se multe minuni  si prin care Dumnezeu lucra cu putere. El a calatorit prin Europa, America si prin alte parti ale pamintului vestindu-l pe Isus Hristos ca mintuitor si salvator al omenirii.Cartea despre viata lui a fost scrisa si traduse in alte limbi, printre care si in Limba Romana si merita a fi citita spre invatatura si inspiratie divina de la un om devotat intru totul Domnului nostru.Am tradus aceasta carte impreuna cu sotia mea in anul 1982 si am considerat ca este de folos ca sa fie expusa aici pe acest blog pentru folosul si invatatura tuturor celor care il iubesc pe Hristos, si pentru cei care inca nu il cunosc pe Mintuitorul sufletului sa li se descopere si lor.

Toata gloria si slava sai fie adusa numai  Lui, Dumnezeului cel Mare si Vesnic prin Isus Hristos Fiul Sau.

Capitolul 1 ne descrie religia in care s-a nascut Shindar Shing, si veti vedea cit de mult se asemuieste religia sikh cu Crestinismul (Satan este un falsificator neintrecut. Arthur W. Pink) Mai tirziu vom vedea cum nici bogatia si nici aceasta religie sint deajuns pentru Shindar Shing si in disperare el ajunge la un moment dat sa doreasca sa se sinucida. Dar Dumnezeu va avea alte planuri pentru Shindar Shing, si el va deveni o marturie pentru bisericile „caldicele” din West. De asemeni citind din capitol  intelegem cum unele fraze ca si  „Eu sint in El, Eu insumi sint Dumnezeu” din aceasta religie si altele (New Age) bazate pe hiduism au atras pe multi din West in secolul nostru (fiind promovate din Hollywood).

Capitolul 1

Credinta stramosilor lui Shindar Shing. Religia Sikh.

In 1469 s-a nascut in Punjab, in nordul Indiei, un hindus cu numele Ninak. Tinar inca, el a parasit lumea si a devenit fakir (sau sadhu), cautind zadarnic mintuirea prin toate formele religiei hinduse. El si-a consacrat viata lui dumnezeu si semenilor sai, a facut lungi calatorii misionare, a cutreierat Indiile, Casmirul, Ceylonul si chiar Meca, cautind sa purifice budismul si islamismul si pe credinciosii lor sa-i uneasca intr-o lege comuna. El a proclamat ca nu exista decit un singur dumnezeu, present pretutindeni in cer si pe pamint, ca riturile si sacrificiile sunt de prisos; ca idolii trebuiesc sa fie distrusi, adevarata adoratiune constind in laudarea necurmata a lui Dumnezeu si-n inchinaciune catre Creator cu corpul si sufletul. El a declarat pe oameni egali inaintea lui Dumnezeu, iar castele o greseala. Mai mult decit smerit, el a cerut de la adeptii sai, o supunere absoluta si religiunea sa a devenit o religie de autoritate introdusa insusi prin numele de „Sikh”, ceea ce inseamna „discipol” al lui „Guru”.

„Guru-ul” este pe pamint representantul invizibilului Dumnezeu, el este sfintul invatator. „Guru-ul” este Dumnezeu si Dumnezeu este „Guru”. Nu exista diferentiere intre ei. „Gurutul” este creator. Fara el nici un om nu poate tinde  spre perfectiune. „Guru-ul” este ghidul. Ninak chiar a spus „un om venit prin intreaga lume care trebuie sa fie mintuita” (oare acest cuvint nu ne aminteste ciudat de prologul Evangheliei lui Ioan?) „Guru-ul” ca reprezentant al lui Dumnezeu, reclama onoruri divine, inchinaciunea oamenilor, supunerea totala si smerenie neconditionata.

Totusi, glorificarea unei fiinte omenesti este in opozitie, pare-se cu spiritualitatea religiunei sikh, precum si cu puterea magica atribuita numelui sacru de Dumnezeu- cel care pronunta numele  de „Hari” (unul dintre numeroase nume ale divinatatii), atinge plenitudinea intelepciunei, a mintuirii, a binecuvintarii; a murmura numele de „Hari” aduce inviorare si scapa de pacatuire si frica.

Invataturile lui Ninak si a succesorilor sai, sint scrise in versuri, formind „Granth-ul”, carte canon de scrieri sfinte, a caror citire era obligatorie. Religiunea sikh, uneori contradictorie, este un amestec de hinduism si islamism. Intocmai ca budistii, sfintii sikh cauta rascumpararea finala din pacat si suferinta in cercul fara sfirsit al reincarnariilor, in transmigratiunea sufletelor care mor si trebuie sa se renasca o multime de ori pentru a atinge Nirvana, unde sufletul purificat gaseste repausul si stingerea a toata dorinta. Orice constiinta de sine, orice individualitate inceteaza sa existe, inghitite orice ar fi de oceanul infinit al unirii cu Fiinta suprema. In sferele cele mai ridicate, nu exista nici bucurie, nici pedeapsa, nici pofta, nici cuvint; singura viziunea divinului exista; discipolul lui Ninak se contopeste cu Dumnezeu.

Aceasta austera doctrina a Nirvanei este tinuta in cumpana in scrierile sikh, prin reprezentarea vie a cerului mahomedan,- un fel de paradis-, unde fidelii sikh vor primi rasplata vesnica pentru credinta si dragostea lor catre Dumnezeu. Conceptia despre Dumnezeu si mintuire predicata de Ninak si urmasii sai se deosebeste de hinduism si islamism printr-un mare grad de spiritualitate. Ninak condamna inchinarea la idoli si recitarea mecanica a Vedelor, care contrasteaza cu adoratia in spirit indicata prin „Granth”.

El dezaproba ascetismul rigid al brahmanilor, a expune focului unul dintre membre (al trupului) a sta mereu in apa, a posti, a indura un frig mare sau o caldura mare, a se culca pe un pat cu piroane, a tine un brat in aer pina se anchilozeaza, a ramine pe un singur picior, toate aceste lucrari de pocainta spune Ninak, sint lucrarile intunericului. Citeva citate din scrierile  sfinte sikh ne va revela puritatea si grandoarea religie lor, unde notiunea de pacat si de iertare,- aceasta tema centrala a Biblie si a experientei crestine- se gaseste constant.

Ca exemplu- ‘Eu sint un pacatos, Tu singurul esti pur. Acorda-mi gratia Ta..Noi pacatuim fara sfirsit, o Hari! Milostiveste-ne si iarta-ne, sufletul meu este impacat cu Dumnezeu si eu sint acoperit de minunata lui iubire”.

Anumite maxime sint apropiate de predica de pe munte (a Domnului Isus): „Daca un om te bate, nu-i intoarce lovitura ci opreste-te si-i imbratiseaza picioarele…Daca sufletul tau are sete de Dumnezeu, fa-te ca iarba calcata in picioare de oameni.

Citeva rugaciuni sint atit de personale incit seamana straniu cu cele din psalmi: „Tu esti Dumnezeul meu, Tu esti inima mea.. in toate lucrurile tu esti protectorul meu, de ce ma voi teme?… Tu esti ajutorul meu…Tu esti limanul meu…prin Tine toate lucrurile au fost create. Totul este al Tau, nimic nu este al nostru Dumnezeule!” Si aceasta rugaciune care descopera o dorinta atit de intensa: „Eu nu pot un moment sa traiesc fara Tine…eu sint un nenorocit fara iubitul meu…eu nu am nici un prieten, atunci cind te am, posed toate lucrurile…Tu, o Doamne! Tu esti comoara mea…mi-e foame si sete de Tine!”

Cu toate acestea, in aceste rugaciuni care revarsa de dragoste si de incredere intr-un Dumnezeu personal, amic si mintuitor al sufletului, se regaseste un panteism universal caracteristic religiei sikh. Chiar pe buzele lui Ninak razbat fraze din Vede „Eu sint in El, eu insumi sint Dumnezeu”.

Dupa moartea lui Ninak, patru „apostoli” i-au succedat. Unul dintre cei mai faimosi, a fost omorit de musulmani, care persecutind sikhii, i-au transformat intr-un popor militar pusi pe razbunare. Sikhii au avut sfintii si martirii lor. Unul dintre sefi a dat tribului numele de Shing, adica leu, ca o marturie a valorii sale razboinice si a netagaduitului sau curaj.

Sikhii de spita ariana, sint o rasa foarte frumoasa, de statura inalta si mai putin oachesi. Ei poarta parul negru lung si n-au voie sa-l taie. Cartea lor sfinta „Granth-ul” se citeste in serviciul divin cu voce tare, intocmai ca Biblia in Bisericile noastre. Datoriile personale ale sikhiilor sint baia rituala de doua ori pe zi, citirea zilnica a scrierilor sfinte in sanscrita, rugaciunea de dimineata si cea de seara din „Granth”. Sikhii trebuie sa se desparta de tot ce este necurat si rau in hinduism si de a fi gata sa sufere, pentru a apara adevarul daca trebuie.

Idealul lor moral este foarte ridicat: loialitate si dreptate, smerenie si supunere, generozitate, promptitudine sa ierte si sa suporte rabdator nedreptatea.

Marea importanta data virtutilor familiare, fidelitatea conjugala, grija parintilor pentru copii, dragostea si credinciosia, aseaza religia sikh cu mult deasupra sectelor hinduismului.

Totusi fara voie, invataturile acestea care seamana uneori atit de apropiat cu Evanghelia sint stinse de influenta panteismului si a fatalismului musulman care neaga tot liberul arbitru.

Amestecul de credinte ades contradictorii, precum credinta in reincarnarea fara sfirsit, doctrina despre Nirvana, adoratia „Guru-ului”, lipseste invatatura „Granth-ului” de toata puterea creatoare si nu poate sa raspunda aspiratiilor profunde ale sufletului hindus, insetat sa gaseasca pacea, acea pace atit de arzator dorita si urmata deseori in viata de suferinte voluntare, care merg pina la martiraj.

Va urma: Capitolul 2 – In cautarea pacii.

Biografia lui Sadhu Sundar Sing (1889-1929)

de la ViataVesnica.Ro

1889 – S-a nascut in Rampur, Punjab
1903 – Convertirea
1904 – Alungat de acasa
1905 – Botezat in Simla; incepe viata de sadhu
1907 – Lucreaza in spitalul pentru leprosi in Sabathu
1908 – Prima vizita in Tibet
1909 – Intra la colegiul din Lahore pentru a se pregati pentru lucrare
1911 – Returneaza licenta de predicator; se intoarce la viata de sadhu
1912 – Calatoreste prin nordul Indiei si prin statele budiste din muntii Himalaya
1918 – 1922 – Calatoreste prin lume
1923 – S-a intors din Tibet
1925 – 1927 – Isi petrece timpul scriind in liniste
1927 – Pleaca spre Tibet dar se intoarce datorita bolii
1929 – Incearca sa ajuga in Tibet si dispareScurta biografie

Sadhu Sundar Singh a disparut undeva pe colinele de la poalele muntilor Himalaya in 1929. Fiind un martor crestin a fost in aceeasi masura bine primit, persecutat si chiar lasat sa moara. Multi misionari si chiar lideri crestini indieni l-au considerat ca fiind un convertit foarte excentric deoarece umbla in roba lui galbena si cu turban, nefiind in pas cu crestinismul contemporan. Si totusi, chiar daca nu auzise de cuvantul „indigenizare”, in prima jumatate a secolului al XX-lea el a facut mai mult decat oricare alt om pentru a stabili ca „Isus apartine Indiei.” El a aratat ca crestinismul nu este ceva de import, strain, vreo religie indepartata ci este indigen nevoilor, aspiratiilor si credintei indiene. Ramane unul dintre figurile importante ale crestinismului indian.

Sundar Singh s-a nascut in 1889 intr-o importanta familie sikh, ce detinea pamant, in statul Patiala, in nordul Indiei. Adeptii sikhismului, respingand politeismul hindus si intoleranta musulmana, au devenit o natiune importanta cu religie proprie. Mama lui Sundar Singh il ducea in fiecare saptamana sa stea la picioarele unui sadhu, un ascet sfant, care traia undeva in jungla la cativa kilometri departare, dar in acelasi timp il trimitea la o scoala de misiune crestina unde putea sa invete limba engleza. Moartea mamei lui la varsta de patrusprezece ani l-a aruncat intr-o stare de violenta si disperare. S-a intors impotriva crestinilor, i-a persecutat pe noii convertiti la crestinism si a ridiculizat credinta lor. Ca ultima sfidare a cumparat o Biblie si a ars-o fila cu fila la el acasa in timp ce prietenii lui stateau si il priveau. In aceeasi noapte s-a dus in camera lui decis sa se sinucida pe o sina de tren.

Totusi, inainte de rasarit, si-a trezit tatal spunandu-i ca L-a vazut pe Isus Hristos intr-o viziune si I-a auzit vocea. A declarat ca incepand cu acel moment il va urma pe Isus Hristos. Desi nu avea mai mult de cincisprezece ani era complet dedicat lui Hristos si in cei douazeci si cinci de ani cat a mai trait a fost un martor eroic al Domnului sau. Ucenicirea adolescentului a fost imediat testata atunci cand tatal lui i-a cerut cu insistenta sa renunte la aceasta absurda „convertire.” Cand a refuzat, Sher Singh a dat un banchet de adio in onoarea lui, apoi l-a denuntat si l-a dat afara din familie. Cateva ore mai tarziu, Sundar si-a dat seama ca mancarea lui fusese otravita, iar viata lui a fost salvata doar cu ajutorul unei comunitati crestine din apropiere.

Cand a implinit saisprezece ani a fost botezat ca si crestin la biserica din Simla, un oras sus de la poalele Himalayei. Cu ceva timp inainte de botez a locuit la Caminul Crestin pentru leprosi (Christian Leprosy Home) in Sabathu, aproape de Simla, slujind pacientilor leprosi de acolo. A ramas unul din cele mai iubite locuri pentru el, locul in care s-a intors dupa botez. Apoi, in octombrie 1906, a plecat de acolo pe o noua cale. Era un adolescent inalt, puternic si frumos, imbracat in roba galbena si cu turban. Toti il priveau insistent cand trecea pe langa ei. Roba galbena era „uniforma” unui sadhu hindus. Conform traditiei un sadhu hindus era un ascet devotat zeilor si care pe drumurile pe care le facea prin sate si orase fie cersea fie statea deoparte, in liniste, de multe ori era murdar si medita in jungla sau in vreun loc pustiu. Tanarul Sundar Singh alesese si el calea sadhu-ului, dar urma sa fie un sadhu care actiona.

„Nu sunt vrednic sa calc pe urmele Domnului meu”, spunea el, „dar, ca si El, nu vreau casa nici bunuri. Ca si El voi apartine drumului, voi impartasi durerea poporului meu, voi manca cu cei care imi vor da adapost, si voi spune tuturor oamenilor despre dragostea lui Dumnezeu.”

Si-a testat imediat vocatia intorcandu-se in satul sau natal, Rampur, unde a fost primit foarte calduros. Aceasta era o pregatire slaba pentru lunile care aveau sa urmeze. Foarte putin pregatit sa indure greutati fizice, sadhu-ul de saisprezece ani a mers in nord prin Punjab, a trecut dincolo de trecatoarea Bannihal in Kahsmir, si apoi inapoi prin Afganistan-ul plin de musulmani fanatici si in Frontiera Nord-Vest infestata de talhari si in Baluchistan. Roba lui galbena si subtire nu prea l-a protejat de zapezi iar picioarele lui au fost pline de rani din cauza drumurilor pietroase. Nu trecusera prea multe luni iar micile comunitati crestine din nord il numeau „apostolul cu picioarele sangerande.” Acest inceput i-a aratat la ce anume sa se astepte in viitor. S-au aruncat cu pietre in el, a fost arestat, a fost vizitat de un pastor cu care a vorbit, acesta avand o foarte ciudata apropiere de Isus, si dupa aceea a disparut, si a fost lasat sa doarma intr-o coliba de la marginea drumului in neasteptata companie a unei cobre. Intalniri de natura mistica si fizica, persecutii si primiri calduroase, vor caracteriza experientele sale in urmatorii ani. Din satele de pe dealurile Simlei se vedea in departare linia lunga de zapada a muntilor Himalaya impreuna cu varful rozaliu Nanga Parbat. Peste acestia era Tibetul, un teren budist inchis unde misionarii incercasera sa patrunda cu Evanghelia dar esuasera. Inca de cand se botezase, Sundar simtea ca Tibetul il chema, iar in 1908, la varsta de nouasprezece ani i-a trecut granitele pentru prima data. Orice strain care intra in acest teritoriu inchis si fanatic, dominat de budism si inchinare celui rau, risca atat teroare cat si moarte. Singh a primit acest risc cu ochii si cu inima larg deschise. Starea poporului l-a ingrozit. Locuintele lor lipsite de aer, ca si ei de altfel, erau mizerabile. Chiar si el a fost batut cu pietre pe cand se spala in apa rece deoarece ei credeau ca „oamenii sfinti nu se spala niciodata.” Hrana se putea obtine cu mare greutate, iar el a trait cu orz tare si uscat. Ostilitatea era peste tot. Si toate astea se intamplau doar in „Tibetul de jos” aproape de granita. Sundar s-a intors in Subathu hotarat sa revina in urmatorul an.

A avut o dorinta mare: sa viziteze Palestina si sa retraiasca unele dintre intamplarile din viata lui Isus. In 1908 s-a dus la Bombay, sperand sa se urce pe un vapor potrivit. Dar spre marea lui dezamagire guvernul a refuzat sa ii acorde autorizatie si a fost nevoit sa se intoarca in nord. In timpul acestei calatorii si-a dat dintr-o data seama de existenta unei dileme fundamentale a misiunii crestine in India. Un brahman lesinase in caruta aglomerata si sufocanta iar la urmatoarea statie, seful de statie de origine Anglo-Indiana, a venit repede cu un pahar cu apa. Brahmanul – dintr-o casta inalta hindusa – a aruncat-o cu oroare. Avea nevoie de apa dar o putea primi doar daca era din propriul vas de baut. Cand acest vas i-a fost adus a baut si si-a revenit. Sundar Singh si-a dat seama ca in acelasi fel India nu va accepta Evanghelia lui Isus oferita intr-o infatisare (forma) occidentala. Si-a dat seama ca din cauza robei sale sadhu multi raspundeau mesajelor sale.

Insa avea sa urmeze o dezamagire si mai mare. In 1909 a fost convins sa inceapa pregatirea pentru lucrarea crestina la colegiul anglican din Lahore. De la bun inceput a fost chinuit de colegii lui pentru ca era „diferit” si fara indoiala prea arogant. Aceasta perioada a incetat cand capul razvratitilor impotriva lui Sundar, l-a auzit pe acesta rugandu-se incet pentru el, cu dragoste in voce si cuvinte. Insa alte tensiuni au continuat. Multe din cursurile de la colegiu pareau irelevante in ceea ce privea nevoia Indiei de a auzi Evanghelia, si apoi, pe masura ce cursul se apropia de final, directorul i-a spus ca acum trebuia sa renunte la roba de sadhu si sa poarte imbracamintea clericala europeana care era „respectabila”; trebuia sa foloseasca o forma de inchinare anglicana; sa cante imnuri englezesti; si sa nu predice niciodata in afara parohiei fara o permisiune speciala. „Sa nu mai vizitez niciodata Tibetul?”, a intrebat. Pentru el aceasta era o respingere de neconceput a chemarii lui Dumnezeu. Cu mare tristete in inima a parasit colegiul, imbracat tot in roba lui galbena, iar in 1912 si-a inceput calatoria anuala in Tibet pe cand zapezile incepeau sa se topeasca pe cararile si trecatorile din Himalaya.

Povestirile din acei ani sunt uimitoare si uneori de-a dreptul incredibile. Intr-adevar au fost oameni care au insistat ca acele intamplari au fost mai degraba mistice decat reale. In acel prim an, 1912, s-a intors cu o extraordinara relatare legata de faptul ca gasise intr-o pestera intr-un munte – Maharishi din Kailas – un pustnic crestin in varsta de 300 de ani, cu care petrecuse cateva saptamani in partasie. Alte povestiri erau mai credibile, desi mai teribile. Fusese cusut intr-o piele uda de iac si lasat sa fie omorat pe masura ce aceasta se micsora sub soarele dogorator … fusese legat in materiale in care se aflau lipitori si scorpioni pentru a-l impunge si a-i suge sangele … fusese legat de un pom ca momeala pentru animale salbatice. Cu ocazia acestor intamplari si a altora el fusese salvat de membri ai „Misiunii Sunnyasi” – ucenici secreti ai lui Isus care purtau semnele hinduse, oameni pe care el sustinea ca ii intalnise peste tot in India.

Nu se stie daca el a castigat multi ucenici ai lui Hristos cu ocazia acestor calatorii in Tibet pline de hazard. Pentru tibetani era ori budismul ori nimic. Sa-L recunoasca pe Isus Hristos insemna sa ceri moarte. Dar modul curajos de predicare al Sadhu-ului nu se poate sa fi ramas fara efecte.

Pe masura ce inainta in varsta (in perioada cand avea intre 20-30 ani) lucrarea lui crescuse mult, si cu mult inainte sa implineasca treizeci de ani numele si infatisarea lui erau cunoscute in toata lumea crestina. Pentru a-si mentine smerenia, a descris in termenii unei viziuni lupta sa cu Diavolul dar de fapt a fost mereu uman, abordabil si umil, cu simtul umorului si cu mare iubire pentru natura. Aceasta, impreuna cu „ilustratiile” sale din viata de zi cu zi, a avut un mare impact asupra celor carora s-a adresat. Multi oameni au zis: „Nu doar seamana cu Isus, chiar vorbeste cum probabil Isus a vorbit.” Si totusi vorbele lui si discursurile proveneau dintr-o meditatie profunda pe care o facea dis de dimineata asupra Evangheliei. In 1918 a pornit intr-o calatorie lunga in sudul Indiei si Ceylon, iar anul urmator a fost invitat in Burma, Malaya (Malaezia?), China si Japonia. Cateva dintre povestirile lui din aceste calatorii erau la fel de ciudate ca cele din aventurile sale tibetane. Avea putere asupra animalelor salbatice, asa cum a avut asupra leopardului care s-a furisat langa el in timp ce el se ruga si s-a ghemuit langa el in timp ce Sundar il mangaia pe cap. Avea putere asupra raului, de pilda cu vrajitorul care a incercat sa il hipnotizeze cand erau intr-un vagon si a invinuit Biblia din buzunarul sadhu-ului pentru esecul de a-l hipnotiza. Avea putere asupra bolii si neputintei, desi nu a permis niciodata ca darurile sale de vindecare sa fie cunoscute public.

De mult Sundar Singh dorea sa viziteze Anglia iar oportunitatea a aparut in momentul in care Sher Singh, tatal lui, a venit la el si i-a zis ca si el devenise crestin si dorea sa ii dea bani pentru calatoria sa in Anglia. A vizitat Occidentul de doua ori, a mers in Anglia, Statele Unite si Australia in 1920 si din nou in Europa in 1922. A fost primit de crestini de orice fel iar cuvintele lui cercetau inimile oamenilor care acum aveau de-a face cu urmarile Primului Razboi Mondial iar acestia aveau o atitudine superficiala in ceea ce privea viata. Sundar a fost ingrozit de materialismul, goliciunea si lipsa religiei pe care a gasit-o peste tot, punand-o in contrast cu constientizarea lui Dumnezeu a Asiei, oricat de limitata era ea. Odata intors in India si-a continuat lucrarea, desi era evident ca era tot mai slabit din punct de vedere fizic.

Darurile lui, farmecul lui personal (forta lui), relevanta lui Hristos asa cum el a prezentat-o indienilor i-ar fi putut conferi lui Sundar Singh pozitia de lider intr-o biserica indiana. Dar pana la sfarsitul vietii sale a ramas omul care nu cauta nimic spre propriul bine, ci doar oportunitatea de a-L oferi pe Hristos tuturor. Nu a apartinut nici unei denominatiuni, si nu a incercat sa inceapa una, desi a avut partasie cu crestini de tot felul. El a trait (ca sa folosesc o expresie mai recenta) pentru a face cunoscut poporului sau pe „Isus al drumului indian.”

In vara din 1923 a facut ultima din calatoriile sale regulate in Tibet si s-a intors epuizat. Zilele in care mergea din loc in loc sa predice erau in mod evident pe sfarsit, iar in urmatorii ani, in propria sa casa sau in cele ale prietenilor de pe dealurile Simlei, s-a dedicat meditatiei, partasiei si a scris unele lucruri pe care avusese ocazia sa le predice.

In 1929, impotriva tuturor sfaturilor prietenilor sai, Sundar s-a hotarat sa mai faca o ultima calatorie in Tibet. In aprilie a ajuns la Kalka, un mic oras mai jos de Simla, era un barbat prematur imbatranit in roba galbena printre pelerini si sfinti care isi incepeau propria lor calatorie spre unul din locurile sfinte hinduse la ceva kilometri departare. Unde a mers dupa aceea nu se stie. Fie ca a cazut in vreo prapastie, a murit de oboseala, sau a ajuns in munti, va ramane un mister. Sundar Singh fusese vazut pentru ultima oara. Dar a ramas mai mult decat amintirea sa si a ramas unul dintre persoanele cele mai pretuite si creatoare din istoria si dezvoltarea bisericii lui Hristos in India.

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

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