By Jarrod Belcher
Protestants all around the world take the opportunity to celebrate the month of October in memory of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation officially began on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg outlining what he saw as egregious errors that had infected the church. But signs that reformation was on its way had been brewing for some time. One of those cases was from a hundred years earlier in the person of John Huss. Huss initially began outlining abuses in the church in his sermons. And although he spoke to several issues there seemed to be two things that got him the most attention and the most persecution.
The first was his belief that it was against the teaching of Scripture and contrary to the practice of the early church to withhold the cup to Christians in good standing. It had become the practice that only the celebrant would receive it and Huss thought this to be dreadful. His second objection was to the claim that the papacy was of Divine command. He believed it instead to be originally introduced by the church for the sake of order. For these things and other false charges Huss was charged with heresy and put on trial.
The result was that he was found guilty and sentenced to die at the stake. Huss denied the false charges and refused to recant those things he had become convinced of, making an appeal to his conscience much like Luther would a century later. Interestingly, the name “Huss” actually means goose and he is quoted as saying before his death, “You may silence this goose, but a hundred years hence there will arise a swan whose singing you shall not be able to silence.” And as we all know a hundred years later Luther continued the work of Huss and this time it would not be stopped. Huss died that day as yet another martyr of the true faith. But his influence loomed large and Luther himself was inspired by Huss. He was truly an original reformer.