Vol.XII No.XII Pg.4
February 1976

Direct Appeal To God

Robert F. Turner

John Wyclif was the first to make extended efforts to give Englishmen the Bible in their own language. This was in 1380/1382. But Wyclif gave us the Bible in more ways than that of manuscript. He stirred hearts anew with the age-old truth of mans right to stand in direct relationship with His Maker. He denied that the Church (the Clergy) stood between man and God — that man needed any Mediator other than Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 2:5)

In appraising the work of John Wyclif, the historian Philip Schaff (V. 6, p. 323) says, The most important of Wyclifs theological treatises, the Trialogus, was written in this period. It lays down the principle that, where the Bible and the Church do not agree, we must obey the Bible, and, where conscience and human authority are in conflict, we must follow conscience.

Schaff (p.327) summarizes Wyclifs writings in Divine Lordship: Lordship is not properly proprietary. It is stewardship. Christ did not desire to rule as a tenant with absolute rights, but in the way of communicating to others... everyone in the state of grace has a real lordship over the whole universe. All Christians are reciprocally lords and servants. (Reread, and think on that.)

Later, John Huss (1369-1415) took up the cry, and of him Schaff writes (p. 384): His conception of the Church, which he drew from Wyclif, contains the kernel of an entirely new system of religious authority. He made the Scriptures the final source of appeal, and exalted the authority of the conscience above pope, council and canon law as an interpreter of truth. He carried out these views in practice by continuing to preach in spite of repeated sentences of excommunication... If the Church be the company of the elect, as Huss maintained, then God rules in His people and they are sovereign.

Religious Reformation, Restoration, and the Spirit of Restoration must begin here. We began our Vol. 12, series of Church History at this point, and we end it here. In our day what was once revolutionary thinking is now common. Readers of Plain Talk may not take time to understand the meat in the above quotes, but they agree with the conclusions. Our problem is not one of understanding (at least to the point of glibly repeating the words) that each individual can and should study the Scriptures for himself, and act with good conscience toward God. We agree (in theory) that we are each directly and individually related to God through Christ. But we may be short on practice.

A large segment of brethren have accepted the idea that the great middle section of the church cant be wrong. Avoid extremes (i.e., either side of the great middle section) and all is well. Unintentionally, but none the less certainly, this negates the noble principle of Back to the Bible, and enthrones the judgment of our peers.

Direct appeal to divine authority via the authoritative word is not an easy course. But it is Gods way, and therefore the only right way.