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The Myth of Matter, p. 4

John Wycliffe – Heretic

We know him as the first person to translate the Holy Bible into common English.[1] We may also know that he stood in disagreement with the Catholic Church. Today he is known as “The Morning star of the Reformation” because his religious ideas preceded Martin Luther’s by two centuries.

John Wycliffe, Heretic

In addition, Wycliffe “was an innovative thinker, a prolific writer, and extremely influential in his time.”[2] One of his innovative ideas was very similar to what later became known as the “Law of Conservation of Matter,” an idea he got from reading the Bible. When Wycliffe read in Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth, that He saw that it was good and that He rested, Wycliffe inferred, “God cannot annihilate anything, nor increase or diminish the world.”[3]

Let’s pause now in considering the matter of ‘matter’ to think about how revolutionary Wycliffe’s ideas were and still are…

  • The truth expressed in Holy Scripture superseded the truth declared by men, e.g., the papacy.
  • Transubstantiation[4] didn’t happen.
  • Personal salvation came from faith in God, not from church.
  • God predestined true believers, according to Rom 8:28-30.
  • War was un-Christian.

These ideas, which went largely unpunished during his lifetime (probably because of the Great Schism) earned Wycliffe the distinction of having his grave dug up, his remains burned and scattered, and all his writings suppressed.[5]

[1] Wycliffe is the namesake of Wycliffe Bible Translators, “God’s Word, accessible to all people in the language of their heart.”

[2] Atomism in Late Medieval Philosophy and Theology, p. 185.

[3] Atomism in Late Medieval Philosophy and Theology, p. 187.

[4] The conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ at consecration.

[5] Refer to the Council of Constance.

I am not HIM either

Disclaimer #1: I am a registered Republican.

Disclaimer #2: I am a follower of the way, called Christianity.

Disclaimer #3: I subscribe to the policy, “If you don’t know what to say, keep your mouth shut .”

I have been quietly enduring the snide remarks, the disrespect, and the just plain false allegations for 3½ years now, and that’s only on the political side of life. (On the intellectual side of life –well, let’s just say I have a personal understanding of apologetics.) I have followed the public life of our president and commander-in-chief at least as closely as all of my friends and fellow believers, except that I try very hard to get as close to the source of the news (“the truth”) as I possibly can. Whenever I feel their political statements are factually in error, or when I encounter bad behavior (such as racial prejudice) I try to contravene with as much grace and love as I imagine He did.

So now the season of the presidential election cycle is approaching. The dirty late winter snow of my former stomping ground is actually pleasant compared to this mess. Also, since last Thursday was the first Thursday in February, President Barack Obama, who self-identifies as a Christian, made his fourth appearance as president at the National Prayer Breakfast. He made his obligatory speech. He talked about his faith. He talked about his sociopolitical beliefs. That’s the point of the breakfast, right?

So then along comes the gentleman from Utah, Senator Orrin Hatch, a Mormon. Sen. Hatch was at the prayer breakfast also (he was literally the guy with a ringing cell phone). And of course, Sen. Hatch is not predisposed to agreeing with President Obama. But then, Sen. Hatch had this to say:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (C-span 2)

In 2008, the president declared that his nomination was the world historical moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. Someone needs to remind the president that there was only one person who walked on water, and he did not occupy the Oval Office. I think most Americans would agree that the Gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.

Oh, really? I try to pay attention, and 2008 was a long time ago, but is that really what then-candidate Obama said? Or was it something more like this:

Candidate Barack Obama (CNN<-YouTube)

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Now at this point, I am sorely tempted to attack Sen. Hatch, and certain other Republican politicians, on the basis of their bogus theologies. That would be wrong. Instead, I want to say that I hope –as a believer– I will have the same courage of my convictions that President Obama has. And I hope I can avoid the kinds of ungracious comments that are being made by the conservative morality-preaching nationalists whose party affiliations I so sadly share. Instead, turning the other cheek, I say to myself, “Lord, let it stop with me.”

Crying in the Wilderness

So they said to him, “Who are you? We need an answer! What do you have to say for yourself?”

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