Wiclif

Wiclif

[wik-lif]
Wiclif, John: see Wyclif, John.

(circa 1330–1384) British theologian, philosopher, and church reformer. He earned a doctor-of-divinity degree from Oxford in 1372. Named by Edward III to a deputation to discuss English differences with the papacy, he represented the government in its attempts to limit the church's power in England. His preaching against church policies, in which he argued that the church itself was sinful and should relinquish its possessions and return to evangelical poverty, attracted wide attention, and in 1377 the pope called for his arrest. In 1379 he began systematically attacking the foundations of Roman Catholicism, notably by repudiating the doctrine of transubstantiation and by denying that the church hierarchy represented a line of authoritative succession from Jesus. In 1380 he became involved in a translation of the Bible into English, seeking to bypass the church in making the law of God accessible to all literate people. His followers were known as Lollards. He was blamed by his ecclesiastical superiors for inciting the Peasants' Revolt (1381); many of his works were subsequently banned. His writings later inspired the leaders of the Reformation, most notably Martin Luther.

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