Church History Minute: Jan Hus

Who was he? Jan Hus was a theologian in what is now the Czech Republic (then Bohemia) who lived in the late 14th and early 15th century. It is unclear whether he was a direct follower of John Wycliffe or not early on in his career, but his message was essentially the same: because of the priesthood of believers, everyone should be able to read and interpret the bible in her or his own language. By 1406, it seems he acquired a eulogy for John Wycliffe, and despite having been warned to cease propagating Wycliffe’s ideas, he read it out. In 1409 Hus was excommunicated via Papal Bull (published in 1410) for purporting the then heretical views of Wycliffe. By 1412 he had not only not stopped preaching, but began to publicly condemn the practice of indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church. He was put on trial and condemned in 1415 and, after refusing to recant, was executed via burning at the stake.

Where might I have heard of him? In discussions about bible translation or certain events leading up to the protestant reformation.

Why was he important? Aside from carrying on the Wycliffe, Tyndale tradition, it seems that Hus was wildly influential upon Martin Luther. Further, a Hussite movement existed following Jan Hus’s death. He is, among many in the Czech Republic, and particularly Prague, considered a national hero.

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