Sunday, November 30, 2014

Avalon Chronicles #38: Martyrs of the Faith-Part Two"

Avalon Chronicles #38: "Martyrs of the Faith-Part Two (John Wickliff)"

by Allen B. Clark

Sources: Foxe, John. Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Whitaker House, 1981. (FBM).
              Coffin, Charles C. The Story of Liberty (1879). Reprinted 1987 by Maranatha Publications (SOL).

     After my previous message on the martyrs of the faith, one of my dear friends and loyal readers informed me thusly in addition to what I wrote, "There were more Christians executed under Constantine. While Constantine legalized Christianity, the next emperor, Diocletis, oversaw the most vigorous persecution of Christians, as he sought to restore the pagan religion of Rome as preeminent. It wasn't until Theodosius (347-397) that Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. The state church is described as the 3rd of the 7 churches in Revelation 2 as the Church of Pergamum. The word "Pergamum" literally means married, as in church and state wed!" (End input).
     The "wedding" of church and state was one of the major issues that caused so much downtrodding of the common people in the Dark Ages. It is a major challenge in all societies throughout history and is exemplified today in the combination of religion/political/governmental aspects of Islam in the sharia law propagation and the reinstitution of the caliphate of old. Our Founders were well aware of the pitfalls of a church/state combination and took heed for its separation in our founding documents.
     Meanwhile back to the martyrs. A century after the Magna Carta, the common people of England lived a fairly subjugated and victimized life. Coffin wrote, "They must pay taxes to the King, to the barons, and to the priests...they are ignorant. They have no books...The priests and the parish clerks, the bishops, rich men, and their children are the only ones who have an opportunity of obtaining an education..." (SOL 32). There is a need for liberty, truth, and justice. God raised up people to begin to bring the light of God and the salvation message into the Dark Ages. "...monasteries, abbies, nunneries, convents, and bishoprics hold half the land in England and their revenues are greater than the King's." (SOL 33). The people attributed all misfortune to witches. Many of the priests for the most part even are ignorant. God raised up perhaps the first man to break the mold, to begin to reveal the unholiness of the so-called "holy ones." He was a priest who preached in the churches around Oxford. He believed holiness would be reflected in leading righteous lives. He was John Wickliff.
     John Foxe relates Wickliff's time of about 1371 A.D. as, " what time all the world was in a most desperate and vile estate, and the lamentable ignorance and darkness of God's truth had overshadowed the whole earth, this man stepped forth like a valiant champion,..." (FBM 50). Foxe continues, "In these days the whole state of religion was depraved and corrupted...was altogether led and blinded with outward ceremonies and human traditions.....The simple and unlearned people, being far from all knowledge of the holy Scripture, thought it quite enough to know only those things which were delivered them by their pastors." (FBM 50,51). He became the enemy of the established church. It became another example of the Pharisees against another of God's chosen men. He was accused of heresy due to the doctrine he espoused.
     A Wickipedia entry said he is sometimes called "The Morning Star of the Reformation," as one of the earliest opponents of papal authority influencing secular power. In 1382 he translated the Bible into English, the common language. He was opposed to the worldly possessions of the clergy. He believed firmly in the proclamation of Jesus to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's. He died a natural death in 1384, but later in 1428 his bones were disinterred and burned with his ashes thrown into a river. So this was a posthumous 'burning" example. Wycliffe Bible Translators, one of the world's largest international organizations dedicated to translating the Bible into every living language in the world, takes its name from his sterling example to have the Word of God available to all in their own languager.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Avalon Chronicles #37: "Introduction to the Dark Ages"

by Allen B. Clark

 Reference: The Story of Liberty by Charles Carleton Coffin (originally written in 1879) republished in 1987 by Maranatha Publications, Inc. Specified in footnotes by (SOL).

     In the beginning of a series of my messages about the "Dark Ages," it is critical to specify that as I write and recount the tragedies of those horrendous centuries therein that I render equal credit for denunciation to Protestants as well as Catholics, not their religions, but members of those faiths. Mr. Coffin wrote, "Facts of history only are given. Catholics and Protestants alike have persecuted, robbed, plundered, maltreated, imprisoned men and women for not believing as they believed. Through ignorance, superstition, intolerance, and bigotry; through thinking that they were right, and those that differed with them were wrong; forgetting that might never makes right; honestly thinking that they were doing God service in rooting out heretics, they filled the world with woe." (SOL 8).
     In the interest of full disclosure I worship in the Anglican Communion, the Church of England-founded tradition of faith, that evolved as a separation from the Church of Rome due candidly to the passion of Henry VIII for Anne Boleyn. So there you have it up front about me. As I proceed in future messages to inform, illuminate, and educate (as I have myself been likewise over the past year since my 2013 visit to England), about the evolution and sometimes revolution from the combined church and state institutions of the European kingdoms, be aware of the thread that proceeded to bring liberty to the masses, bought by the blood of martyrs and the testimony of those who served Jesus the Christ.
     History is related as learned by me for the first time. The abuses of members of the Church of Rome and the Church of England truly happened, but from those arose advances in the history of the world in the arenas of "Justice, Truth, Right, and Liberty." (SOL 9). These were events and movements and conditions that emanated to bring freedoms never before known in secular history. The freedoms for humankind were laid out in the New Testament in the teachings of Jesus, but man's pride and selfishness exhibited in acquisition of wealth and power kept a lid on the rights of the individual to appropriate and live those freedoms. After Christ's sacrifice slowly a light began to shine, but the forces of evil soon took over and the Dark Ages came about. Slowly, through the courageous actions of many, light began again and today the "Exceptional" native land of mine, the United States of America, is the result, the ultimate expression of an idea of civil freedom and government by us. (SOL Note).
     When the Bible began to be translated in native languages, read, and studied, make no mistake, that transformed individual lives and, in turn, the world has become transformed. Stay tuned!