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Efforts for reforms made by Martin Luther and John Wycliffe

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  1. Introduction
  2. Luther's theory and reforming the church
  3. Wycliffe's motivation for creating a reform movement
  4. Differences of motivation and their respective movements
  5. Differences in the ideology
  6. External factors relating to the spread of Luther's theology
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography

The English reformist John Wycliffe (c. 1320-1384) was an important precursor to the Reformation movement, headed by Martin Luther (c. 1483-1546). Wycliffe attempted to rid England of many of the same problems in the Roman Catholic Church that Luther would target in Germany over a century later. However, due to a few key differences in motivation, theology, dissemination of ideas and external factors, Wycliffe's movement did not significantly alter the way religion was practiced in Europe. The purpose of this essay is to examine the similarities and differences between Wycliffe's late 14th century movement and Luther's early 16th century movement and their respective impacts on the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and Germany. Luther and Wycliffe had similar upbringings. Luther, the son of a miner, was taught early the dignity and godliness of a life of poverty and hard work. Wycliffe also came from meager beginnings. Both received university educations and afterward they became harsh critics of the scholastic methods they were taught.

[...] Wycliffe was absentee and a negligent pluralist [warning] us to expect a certain amount of inconsistency between profession and practice throughout his life.?[5] These differences in Wycliffe's and Luther's faith and religious practice would have a large impact on their motivations for reforming the Church. Luther began formulating his theology long before he began to actively seek to reform the Church. His theology came from an internal crisis of what he as a Christian needed to do in order to reach salvation. [...]


[...] Both preached and taught their beliefs to all who would listen, even giving sermons on the streets.[39] Luther made it a policy to accept all challengers to his ideas, as seen in a letter accompanying his Ninety-five Theses: ?Therefore I published a set of theses, inviting only the more learned to dispute with me if they wished; as should be evident, even to my adversaries.?[40] He attended many public events to defend his ideology, such as the Heidelberg Disputations (1518), the Trial at Augsburg (1518), the Leipzig Disputations (1519) and the Diet of Worms (1521).[41] Luther also wrote accounts of these debates in German and distributed them so laymen could be informed of the issues.[42] By using these public venues, Luther spread his beliefs far faster than Wycliffe had. [...]


[...] Martin Luther: An Introduction to His Life and Work. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), p [2]Atkinson, James. Martin Luther and the Birth of Protestantism. (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1968), p [3]McFarlane, K.B. John Wycliffe and the Beginnings of English Nonconformity. (London: English Universities Press, 1966), pp. 14-5. [4]Boehmer, Heinrich. Martin Luther: Road to Reformation. (Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1963), pp. 34-5. McFarlane, pp. 26-7. Atkinson, p Boehmer, pp. 33-5. Atkinson, p Kenny, Anthony. Wyclif. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), p Ibid., p McFarlane, p Ibid., pp. 47-8. Ibid., pp. 58-9. [...]

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