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John Wycliffe: The Morning Star DVD
What are they doing?
Digging for bones... They’re trying to rid the church of a memory... One that’s haunted them for over forty years.
Who was he?
His name was Wycliffe. Dr. John Wycliffe.
So begins the film John Wycliffe: The Morning Star, a dramatic biographical narrative of the life of John Wycliffe as played by Peter Howell. John Wycliffe’s story, however, began long before the Church leaders, desperate to erase his name from their past, dug up his remains, burned them, and threw them into the river. His story is one of perseverance in the face of persecution, of strength in the face of opposition, of joy in the face of hardship. As you watch John Wycliffe: The Morning Star journey with Wycliffe, as he discovers the truth in God’s word and sets out on a mission to see the rest of humanity reading it too.
Hated Man? Honored Man?
How, you may wonder, could a man, now honorably known as “the morning star” of the Reformation, come to be so hated by a religious organization to which he once belonged? How could a man who drove the Church to such great lengths to erase his name from history now be known with honor? Who was John Wycliffe that we now remember him? Born in a small English village in the mid-1320s Wycliffe’s early life consisted mainly of study, which, although frequently interrupted by outbreaks of the Black Death, would soon lead him to be heralded as one of England's best philosophers and theologians. Soon Wycliffe found himself head of both a college and then a rectory. Simply being a head of college and rectory is not enough to inflame the anger of the Church, however, and it was Wycliffe’s scholarly pursuits and writing which would lead the Church to such drastic measures following his death. Through his studies Wycliffe began to be convinced of a simple yet “heretical” belief- that the Bible is the only reliable way to find truth about God. Not the papacy, not the Church, and certainly not the stained glass windows portraying selected stories from God’s word. The more Wycliffe read the more he became convinced of one fact- the rest of his fellow countrymen needed to read God’s word for themselves. They needed to rely on the words of God, rather than the words of the papacy (which he believed to be corrupt) to find truth and guidance. The ensuing battle between Wycliffe and the Church is a story of one man against many, and as you watch John Wycliffe: The Morning Star, you will begin to realize the importance of the fight. For it was not a battle over land or men, it was a battle over words. God’s Words.
The Battle For The Bible
A collection of historical records, the Law, poetry, prophecy, the gospel, the most influential book in history, God’s love letter to us- the Bible. This was the collection of words that would drive Wycliffe’s life. It is safe to bet, that in our world today you can access and read God’s word within mere minutes, if not seconds. You have a choice to pick up a Bible, open an app, or click on the internet and read God’s message to you. You have the choice. Can you imagine a world, however, where that choice does not exist? Where only the privileged few could read that message to you, but only if they wanted to? Where the only knowledge you have of your creator is what you are told? A world where the Bible is written only in a foreign tongue and even if you had a Bible you couldn’t read and understand? Into this world came John Wycliffe with his new-found belief that every man should be able to read the Bible in his vernacular language. So, with the help of his friend John Purvey, Wycliffe began translating God’s word from Latin into English. The Church, of course, bitterly opposed this loss of power stating, “By this translation, the Scriptures have become vulgar, and they are more available to lay, and even to women who can read, than they were to learned scholars, who have a high intelligence. So the pearl of the gospel is scattered and trodden underfoot by swine.” Wycliffe passionately replied, “Englishmen learn Christ's law best in English. Moses heard God's law in his own tongue; so did Christ's apostles.” So it went, back and forth, forward and back they fought and attacked. Unfortunately Wycliffe died before the translation was complete (fortunately for him before he could be convicted of heresy), however, the spark was already lit that would soon fan into a flame.
Wycliffe and the Reformation
Although his life was over one hundred years before Martin Luther would nail his ninety-five theses onto that church door in Wittenburg, Germany, John Wycliffe was the “morning star” of the Reformation. The ideas he presented, and the translation he labored over would rock the boat of the medieval church forever. Despite their attempts to destroy Wycliffe’s mark on the world, the Church couldn’t get rid of him. Even when they threw his ashes in a river, the ideas he preached continued to spread. As you journey with Wycliffe through John Wycliffe: The Morning Star you will gain a new thankfulness for and joy in the book that you can now hold in your hands. Without Wycliffe, Luther’s ninety-five theses may never have been nailed with bold strokes into that thick door of the Wittenburg church.
This dramatic retelling of a father of the Reformation is sure to encourage your family’s faith, open your eyes to the history of today’s church, and help you gain a new appreciation for the Bible you can read and understand thanks to the courage of one man. John Wycliffe: The Morning Star is not rated and may include violence and issues not suitable for young children. Parents are encouraged to review John Wycliffe: The Morning Star for their children, but this film is acceptable for most audiences.
A dramatic biography of the life of the 14th century scholar and cleric who translated the first English Bible.