As one of the historians of this period of history, John Foxe, pointed out: “Wycliffe, seeing that the gospel of Christ was tainted by the errors and inventions of these bishops and monks, decided to do all he could to improve the situation and teach the truth to the people. He went to great lengths to publicly declare that his only intention was to free the Church from its idolatry, especially that concerning the sacrament of communion. This, of course, angered the monks and monks of the country, whose orders had enriched themselves by selling their ceremonies and paying for their duties. Soon, their priests and bishops responded to the outcry. (5) In the 14th century, a new heresy appeared, inspired by the English priest and theologian John Wycliffe. 26. In July 1374, Wycliffe was appointed one of five new envoys to continue negotiations with papal officials in Bruges over taxes and clerical provisions. The negotiations ended without a conclusion and representatives of both sides withdrew to continue consultations. (2) It has been argued that the failure of these negotiations had a profound impact on his religious beliefs. He began attacking Rome`s control over the English Church, and his stance became increasingly anti-papal, leading to condemnation of his teachings and threats of excommunication. (3) A law of 1533 also provides a kind of negative definition of heresy, as it provides that statements against the authority of the pope or against spiritual laws issued by the episcopal see of Rome and contrary to the laws of the empire or the authority of the king are not considered heresy.
The status of the six articles must be read in close relation to this law of 1533, which is complementary. It contains a positive definition of heresy and establishes a special procedure for the prosecution of heretics, because in each diocese the bishop and other commissions were to be charged with investigating violations of the law, and zeommissionaries were empowered to force those present by the accused before them and convict them by a jury. The effect of these two laws together was to make heresy to a great extent a worldly offense and to lessen the severity of the old laws against it. Nothing was considered heresy by the statute of the six articles that the bishop would not have considered heresy under the law of 1401, and the procedure was much less repressive than that provided for by the laws of 1401 and 1414. But what authority does it have to establish the law on what is essential and what is not? It is certainly not the authority of individuals. By entering any society, the individual renounces part of his individuality to blend into the community. And it is precisely this part that is his judgment deprived of the essential: when he regains his freedom, he ipso facto separates himself from his church. The decision therefore belongs to the constitutional authority of society – in the Church with the hierarchy as teacher and guardian of the faith. Nor can it be said that this principle unduly limits the play of human reason. That he limits his game is a fact, but a fact based on natural and divine law, as shown above.
That it does not unduly restrict reason is proved by this other fact: that the deposit of faith (1) is itself an inexhaustible object of intellectual effort of the noblest kind, which elevates human reason above its natural sphere, enlarges and deepens its vision, and demands its best faculties; (2) that in addition to the deposit, but logically related to it, there are a multitude of dubious points that are freely discussed within the broad limits of charity – “in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus charitas”. The replacement of the Magisterium by private judgment was the dissolution of all sects that accepted it. Only these sects show a certain coherence in which private judgment is a dead letter and doctrine is pursued according to confessions and catechisms by trained clergy. In the Church of England, ecclesiastical courts, which adjudicated many matters such as disputes relating to marriage, divorce, wills and defamation, still have jurisdiction over certain ecclesiastical matters (e.g. discipline of clergy, alteration of church property, and matters relating to cemeteries). Its distinct status dates back to the 12th century, when the Normans separated it from the mixed secular-religious county of the Saxons and the local courts. Unlike other courts in England, the law used in ecclesiastical matters is, at least in part, a civil law system, not a common law system, although it is heavily regulated by parliamentary acts. Since the Reformation, ecclesiastical courts in England have been royal courts. The teaching of canon law at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge was initiated by Henry VIII. Repealed; Subsequently, practitioners were trained in civil law in ecclesiastical courts and received a Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) from Oxford or a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) from Cambridge. These lawyers (called “doctors” and “civilians”) were centered in “Doctors Commons”, a few blocks south of St Paul`s Cathedral in London, where they monopolized probate, marriage and admiralty cases until their jurisdiction was transferred to the common law courts in the mid-19th century. Richard Bayfield was imprisoned, interrogated and tortured by Thomas More.
Richard Bayfield was thrown in jail and whipped for clinging to Luther`s teachings. The suffering this man suffered for the truth was so great that it took a bond to contain it. Sometimes he was locked in a dungeon, where he was almost choked by the offensive and terrible smell of dirt and standing water. At other times, he was handcuffed by his arms until almost all of his joints were dislocated. He was whipped several times at the station until there was almost no flesh left on his back; And all this was done to persuade him to retract it. He was then taken to Lollard Tower in Lambeth Palace, where he was chained to the wall by the neck and beaten once a day in the most cruel manner by the Archbishop`s servants. (35) Ecclesiastical legislation on heresy and heretics is often accused of cruelty and intolerance. It is intolerant: in reality, its raison d`être is the intolerance of doctrines that undermine the faith. But such intolerance is essential for everything that is, moves or lives, because tolerance to the destructive elements of the organism is equivalent to suicide.
Heretical sects are subject to the same law: they live or die to the extent that they apply or neglect it. The charge of cruelty is also easy to fulfill. All repressive measures cause suffering or inconvenience of one kind or another: it is in their nature. But they are not cruel. The father who chastises his guilty son is just and can be tender. Cruelty only comes into play when the sentence exceeds the requirements of the case. The opponents say: Exactly; the austerity of the Inquisition has wounded all human feelings. We answer: they hurt the feelings of later times, when the purity of faith receives less attention; But they did not resist the sentiments of their time, when heresy was considered worse than treason. As proof, it suffices to note that the inquisitors spoke only of the guilt of the accused and then delivered him to the secular power to be treated according to the laws promulgated by emperors and kings. The medieval people found no flaws in the system, in fact the heretics had been burned by the population centuries before the Inquisition became a regular institution.
And whenever the heretics prevailed, they were never slow to apply the same laws: the Huguenots in France, the Hussites in Bohemia, the Calvinists in Geneva, the Elizabethan statesmen and the Puritans in England. Tolerance came only when faith was extinguished; Lenient measures have been taken only in the absence of the power to apply stricter measures. The embers of the Kulturkampf in Germany are still smouldering; The laws of separation and confiscation and the ostracism of Catholics in France are the scandal of the hour. Christ said, “Do not think that I have come to send peace to the earth; I did not come to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). The history of heresy confirms this prediction and also shows that the greatest number of victims of the sword are on the side of the faithful of the one Church founded by Christ (see INQUISITION). The role of heresy in history is that of evil in general. Its roots lie in corrupt human nature. She came upon the Church, as foretold by her divine Founder; it broke the bonds of charity in families, provinces, states and nations; The sword was drawn and pyres were erected, both for its defense and for its oppression; Misery and destruction followed. However, the prevalence of heresy does not refute the divinity of the Church, any more than the existence of evil refutes the existence of an all-good God. Heresy, like other evils, is permitted as a test of faith and a test of strength in the militant church; Probably also as punishment for other sins. The dismantling and dissolution of heretical sects also provides a strong argument for the need for strong teaching authority. The endless controversies with heretics were indirectly the cause of the most important doctrinal developments and definitions formulated in councils for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Thus, the false gospels of the Gnostics prepared the way for the canon of Scripture; The patripassian, Sabellian, Arian and Macedonian heresies drew a clearer concept of the Trinity; Nestorian and Eutychian errors led to clear dogmas about the nature and person of Christ.