2002-05-06 - The Lollards
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you...
The first time that we know of the term Lollards being attributed to a group of people was in 1348, by Hoesem of Liege. The phrase is in Latin so I will not labor you with it. The Lollards are mostly associated with John Wiclif or Wycliffe who is most known for his translation of the Bible. His name is known today through the Bible translation society that carries his name. The Lollards were known mostly as political and ecclesiastical subversives and thus were persecuted quite harshly. But this isn't really about the Lollards.
The Lollards were carrying on a tradition that began with the Cathari, Albigenses, and Waldenses, which were religious groups of the 12th and 13th centuries. These groups sought to reform abuses they saw in the established church through a deeper understanding of the teachings of God's Word. As a result the Bible became known as a subversive and dangerous book. In fact, it was probably Wiclif's Bible translation work in the 14th century that led to the Council of Oxford in 1408. This council concluded that no one should make a translation of the Bible without the consent of the Bishop and the Provincial Synod.
The Council of Oxford was on to something. They understood that the Bible is a subversive book. God's Word is living and active. God's Word is sharper than any two-edged sword. God's Word is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). It is a dangerous book. However, it can only become dangerous if people read it and study it and learn what it says. The established ecclesiastical authorities knew that if they could keep people from the Bible, and keep the Bible out of the common languages, they could retain their authority unchallenged. As long as no one had access to God's Word, they could not challenge the tradition or the teachings of the establishment.
What a wonder it is today that God has graced us with His Word in our own language. Are we taking full advantage of having access to this subversive book? Yes, the Bible is still subversive. It will challenge your understandings. It will confront your conduct. It will change your life and make you, as a result, subversive to our decadent culture. Sometimes being a subversive is a good thing. "Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves, James 1:22." This is what makes the Bible dangerous to those who don't like it. As we study God's Word and as it changes us, we become doers of the Word. This simply rocks the boat of a society that does not seek the Lord.
It is no wonder that the establishment in the 12th-16th centuries sought to suppress the use of the Bible. It is no wonder when the establishment seeks to do it today either. The Bible is dangerous to those who seek to "Have it their way," as opposed to God's way. But, my friends, we need more subversive types out there and so I encourage you to study God's Holy Word and then apply it. In so doing you will become a threat to the vanities of the world and nothing could be better than have a few more out there who are salt and light to a generation perishing in ignorance.
Soli Deo Gloria,