Needless to say, such views were ahead of their time. Or, to put it differently, they were a return to an earlier time before the millennium.
The time is the late fourteenth century. The place was the Christian West. The views were almost Protestant – proto-Protestant as Strickland puts it. And the views greatly conformed to a return to Christendom as it was practiced (if not understood) during its first one-thousand years.
The first individual noted is John Wycliffe, calling for…
…the elimination of clericalism; the preeminence of scripture over papal decretals and canon law; the rendering of the Scriptures and liturgy in the vernacular; the repudiation of the doctrine of transubstantiation; the abolition of mendicant orders; the demonasticization of normative spiritual life; and, of course, an end to papal supremacy.
And it is precisely to these views that Strickland notes “a return to an earlier time before the millennium.” It seems, at least according to Strickland, the proto-Protestant views against various practices of the Roman Catholic Church were quite similar to what was held universally until the Great Schism.
Next came Jan Hus, who endorsed Wycliffe’s criticisms, except for that of transubstantiation (and I will refer, on this specific point, to the work done by Brett Salkeld; it seems to me that this entire topic became most confused when nominalism overtook Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics in the West).
[Hus] declared, in agreement with the early Greek fathers, that the apostles shared equally in their ministries and that Peter was not preeminent over them.
He therefore denied papal supremacy, noting that only Christ could be assigned such status.
In short, many of Hus’s views were simply those of the ancient Church, which continued in the contemporary East to practice conciliarity and reject the innovation of papal supremacy.
Hus further attacked the practice of issuing indulgences, questioning the view that the pope, as Vicar of Christ, could draw on merits amassed by Christ and His saints.
In 1411, one of three rival popes issued an indulgence to those who would make a financial contribution for a crusade against his enemies. Hus rallied his supporters in Prague against this. He cited Scripture in his defense, and attacked the papacy for organizing bloodshed.
In one of his most audacious acts, Hus composed a list of six errors that demanded reform and publicly fixed it to the wall of the church where he regularly preached in Prague.
All were ultimately aimed at the sale of indulgences – the one issue that raised Luther’s 95 Theses to a fame completely unknown to his earlier (and quite unknown and disregarded by the Church at the time) 97 Theses.
In 1415, Hus was burned at the stake. His condemnation came at the same Council of Constance that asserted conciliarity against the pope – one of the complaints of these same proto-Protestants. But it was, ultimately, the financial issue of indulgences that brought on Hus’s demise as well as raised the Church’s ire against Luther (and tore the Western Church apart) one hundred years later.
Hus’s execution brought on a rebellion in his homeland. Led by Jan Zizka, the forces quickly gained control of the region. Altogether, five crusades were launched against the “Hussites.” None were successful. Ultimately, a settlement was reached, and partial autonomy was achieved for the Bohemian Church.
Anyone want to tackle a Venn diagram that incorporates Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant? But which factors? What we agree on? What we disagree about? And whose understanding of Orthodoxy or Catholicism do we use – let alone the infinitely impossible task of narrowing down Protestant understanding on such views?
Strickland here paints a picture, on a specific set of issues, where Protestants and Orthodox agree regarding certain practices. Of course, attending a service at each of these two traditions would leave one confused as to any commonality whatsoever.
Except for, maybe, the Pentecostals….