Father of the Reformation


John Hus  (1369 – 1415)

John HusJohn Hus was a priest, pastor, professor, and philosopher, but his greatest impact was as a teacher and author devoted to biblical truth. Born in a town in southern Bohemia in the late 1300s, he preceded Martin Luther by one hundred years, and many historians consider him the first true Reformer.  Also considered the spiritual father of the Moravian movement and church, Hus’ preaching and teaching impact in the days before the invention of the printing press was unrivaled, with the possible exception of John Wycliffe.  Virtually all the Reformers following Hus acknowledged him as their inspiration.

As one of the most extraordinary preachers since the first century, Hus was a man of great scholarship and expansive knowledge of the world.  A powerful speaker, he challenged the oppressive religious systems of the time like a spiritual earthquake and planted the seeds of the Reformation, the greatest transformation of the church in history to date.

In 1402, Hus became the rector of the University of Prague, one of the foremost institutions of higher learning in the world at the time.  That same year, the newly built Bethlehem Chapel appointed him as their preacher.  From this pulpit, Hus began to demand the reformation of the church, preaching a radical, biblical vision of what the church was supposed to be.  Though the Roman Catholic Church banned the writings of John Wycliffe, Hus taught from them and translated them into the Czech language.

He also preached against the moral debauchery of the priests, bishops, cardinals, and even the Pope.  He decried the selling of indulgences (the selling of the grace of God, including deliverance from purgatory, for money) as a perversion of faith and an insult to God.  He went so far as to declare that the Pope may not be a true Christian unless he complied with the biblical definition of faith.

Hus’ message became extremely popular and spread into the surrounding countries of Poland, Hungary, Croatia, and Austria.  As the schism between those demanding reformation and the church authorities grew, the church demanded that Hus appear before the Council of Constance.  Because his intent was to reform the church, not divide it, he agreed.  His king guaranteed safe passage and return to and from the Council.  However, at the Council in 1415, Hus was declared a heretic and burned at the stake, the price for challenging the Roman church at that time.

Before the flames could take his life, Hus prophesied that the message of liberty and spiritual reform would not die.  Instead, it would be “a hidden seed,” falling into the ground and dying for a season, but one day sprouting and bearing much fruit.

Church officials were convinced that Hus’ message would die with him.  To their dismay, his heroic death only fanned the flame his message had ignited.  Truth is more powerful than death, and persecution only scatters the seeds of truth over a greater distance.  Hus’ courage and resolve to die rather than compromise his convictions inspired countless other martyrs after him.

As Hus prophesied, this seed sprouted again and is still bearing more fruit than he probably ever dreamed.  The seed was carried in the hearts of great saints who watched over it until the right time.  One who followed in Hus’ spiritual lineage was Jon Amos Comenius, who became the inspiration of Ludwig von Zinzendorf, “the father of modern missions.”  Even so, it was the power and clarity of Hus’ message and his uncompromising devotion to the Scriptures as the true source of doctrine that changed the world.

Moravian Archives in Herrnhut

This picture was taken by Rick Joyner at the Moravian Archives in Herrnhut, Germany.

The book at the top left of this picture was handwritten by John Hus and is the oldest book produced in the Czech language.  Entitled The Ecclesia, its maps are of the Wachovia Tract in North Carolina, a Moravian community developed as a base for reaching the Americas with the gospel.  Bishop Peter Boehler drew them during his expedition to America, a journey that led to the conversion of John and Charles Wesley.


~ Pastor Rick Joyner

Rick JoynerPastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.

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