Literally 10 minutes ago I sat down to watch some Sky TV before my Bible Study. Nothing was on. I thus decided to take a walk through the world of the tele-evangelists. I often wonder what nonsense I will come across as I flick through TBN, God Channel and the like. I eventually stumbled upon the Roman Catholic channel EWTN. The program being aired was entitled “The Great Heretics” and it basically entailed a Priest teaching about the heretics of the Roman Catholic church. Interesting. Tonights featured “heretic” was non-other than the early Czech Reformer Jan (John) Hus. This man valiantly stood for the truths of God as revealed in the Scriptures and simply proclaimed the truth of the gospel.
Born to a poor family in what is now the southern part of the Czech Republic, Jan Hus earned two academic degrees and became rector of Charles University in Prague. In 1402 he was appointed to preach at Bethlehem Chapel near the university. Hus preached about some of the things that had been bothering England’s John Wyclif in the late 1300’s. He preached that Christ is the only Head of the Church, and that all Christian teachings must agree with the Bible. Yet he did not so much attack the beliefs of his fellow Roman Catholic clergy as he did their lifestyles. To make sure everybody got the point Hus hung vivid posters on the inside walls of Bethlehem Chapel, contrasting Jesus the Christ with the bishops, cardinals and popes oh his own time. Christ carries his cross; the pope rides a fine horse. Christ washes his disciple’s feet; the pope demands that worshippers kiss his feet.
Initially Hus was supported by the Czech king but then power politics became involved and the pope in Rome threatened to put the whole city of Prague under the dreaded interdict. Hus, unwilling to allow his flock to suffer or be deprived the opportunity to worship left Prague voluntarily and settled in a small village.
He was eventually burned to death at the stake like a book-end in the year of 1415, boldly singing a prayer to Jesus the Son of God. Amongst Hus’ last words are allegedly that, “in a hundred years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses of Contention to a church door in Wittenberg 102 years later. It seems clear that Hus’s efforts were predominantly designed to rid the Church of its ethical abuses, rather than a campaign of sweeping theological change. In explaining the plight of the average Christian in Bohemia, Hus wrote, “One pays for confession, for mass, for the sacrament, for indulgences, for churching a woman, for a blessing, for burials, for funeral services and prayers. The very last penny which an old woman has hidden in her bundle for fear of thieves or robbery will not be saved. The villainous priest will grab it.” (Macek, 16)
The Priest on my EWTN show stated vehemently that Hus was a heretic. He denied the “papacy, the authority and the tradition of the church, the mass and the purgatory”. Hang on a minute though. Wasn’t it in 1999 that the Pope John Paul II expressed “deep regret for the cruel death inflicted” on Hus? The pope then went on to suggest an inquiry as to whether Hus might be cleared of heresy. Obviously he wasn’t and obviously the Catholic church stands to condemn Hus as a heretic to this very day. That poses an intriguing question. Am I a heretic also? I must be since I deny the papacy, the mass, the authority and tradition of the church, and purgatory. I affrim the 5 Solas also. Oh my, that must mean I am a heretic in the eyes of the Priest’s and Cardinals of Rome. Praise God says me! Praise God for leading me to be saved through his Sovereign Will and for the Holy Spirit in leading me to the truths of the Refomed Faith. I will happily carry the label given me as a heretic by the Roman Catholic church if that is still their opinion today. It saddens my soul deeply that the Roman Catholic Church is so readily willing to stand up and proclaim, still to this day, that men like Hus and Luther are Heretics, yet so many who attend supposed Reformed Protestant churches remain silent with regards to the truly heretical, unbiblical and false teachings that is practised by Rome.
What is one to make of the “squishyness” of contemporary evangelicalism. How timid we are when it comes to affiriming, defending and contending for the truths of Scripture. How easily are we, supposed evangelicals, throwing away all that the Reformers fought and died for, for the sake of ecumenism, pragmatism and “tolerance”. May God have mercy on us for our ignorance and unwillingness to stand up and be rejected for the sake of His glorious gospel.
John Macarthur says ““There is a drive today in evangelicalism…and what a bland term that has become. But there is a drive in evangelicalism for an ecumenism that ignores sound doctrine, that overlooks error and accepts even what we would deem as heresy. There is a kind of evangelical ecumenism that says we’re all one and we need to enjoy one another without regard for any of our doctrinal differences. That is a false and unbiblical and displeasing unity, if indeed it is unity at all in the sense that it dishonors and displeases the Lord.”
If you are a Roman Catholic and are reading this understand that I do not attack you. Rather I plead with you to have faith and trust in Christ alone. Scripture is all sufficient and the final authority on matters concerning the faith…not the peope or the church of Rome. Trust in Christ alone and you shall not have to fear the false flames of purgatory or receive your last rights.