Overview of Bible Study



Bible Store


Time of Change

The Medieval Ages were a time of magnificent cathedrals and great thinkers, but it was also a time of rampant abuse.

Devotional practices had devolved into magical rites, in some cases, priests were corrupt, and often ignorant. Religious leaders were more concerned with grandeur than with service to the church.

But even then, and sometimes to their peril, there were those who were able to see through the troubles and to demand reform. Others quietly reformed their own lives, trying to find a lifestyle closer to that of Christ, and joining with others seeking to follow the New Testament model.


Peter Waldo was a wealthy man who was converted to Christianity in about 1175. Giving his considerable real estate to his wife, he sold the remainder of his personal property. With this money, he made restitution to any who he had treated unjustly and, without their mother’s knowledge, he put his daughters in a convent. The balance of his wealth he gave to the poor. He then took up a life of poverty and preaching, in time gathering a group of like-minded people who became known as the Waldensians.

Thomas KempisIn the 14th century, a new form of Christian brotherhood was formed, one that came to be known as the Brotherhood of the Common Life. While less tightly regimented than the earlier monastic orders, like them it encouraged both devotion and scholasticism. The brothers discussed new ideas, copied manuscripts, and worshipped together.

Thomas Kempis, a spiritual leader of the late medieval church, and author of Imitation of Christ, was a member of the Brotherhood.

Discovery and Translation

Others were more daring. In Spain, Cardinal Ximenes rejected pomp and privilege, choosing to set an example of righteous living. He encouraged reform amongst the clergy. But he also supported and encouraged forced conversion by the Inquisition of non-Christians in lands conquered by Spain.

The Renaissance brought renewed interest in ancient languages, which encouraged scholars to read the Bible anew, rather than to depend upon years of church tradition.

Jan Hus was ordained to the priesthood in 1400, at a time of great crisis within the Western Church. Under pressure from the King of France, the seat of the Popes was moved from Rome to Avignon, where it remained for seventy years. The Pope died shortly after returning to Rome and the Cardinals, under pressure from the French to elect a French pope and from the Italians to elect an Italian pope, opted to elect both and Italian and a French pope. There were later three claimants for the Papacy.

Jan Hus began to speak against certain abuses within the church, mostly those concerning church discipline and practice, in particular the practice of denying the wine to the average Christian during celebrations of the Lord’s Supper; a practice that Hus denounced as contrary to the Scriptures.

In 1412, he was excommunicated by the Archbishop, a supporter of one claimant for the Papacy while Hus supported another. In 1414, he was summoned to the Council John Wycliffeof Constance, where he was found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake in 1415.

John Wycliffe lived two hundred years before the Reformation, yet his teachings closely match that of Luther, Calvin, and the other Reformers.

In the late 1300s, Wycliffe denounced abuses and false teachings of the church in England. In 1382, he translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, the first European translation in more than a thousand years.

He was instrumental in organizing a group of itinerant preachers, whom he sent throughout Europe. But the Lollard movement was short-lived. The Church expelled Wycliffe from his teaching position at Oxford, and he escaped the same fate as Hus only because he had influential friends.

Girolamo Savonarola44 years after he died, the Pope had his bones exhumed and burned. Intense persecution eliminated his followers and eradicated his teachings, not to be resurrected until the Reformation.

A colorful Italian reformer by the name of Girolamo Savonarola denounced the paganism of Renaissance Florence, assembling a massive following.

When he was summoned to Rome, he verbally attacked the pope and the church, resulting in his being excommunicated, hanged, and burned.

























Overview of Bible Study