We continue our series by looking at another great proto-Reformer, this time the most influential one in the Anglo-Saxon world, John Wycliffe (1320-1384). Wycliffe is famous for being the first man to translate the Bible into the English language. Connecting the Christian principle of ethnonationalism to man’s chief end of glorifying God, he argued that the English people, considering their distinct national character, necessarily
learn Christ’s law best in English. Moses heard God’s law in his own tongue; so did Christ’s apostles.
Wycliffe was skeptical of the large number of alien clergy in the English Church at the time. These clergy were appointed by Rome, and Wycliffe opposed this as an infringement upon the rightful sovereignty of the English Church as a national church. He believed that the English church structures should reflect the natural racial bonds of kinship. He also connected this principle to the biblical mandate to take care of one’s own people first (I Tim. 5:8):
The English nation . . . ought to be one body, the clergy and the commonality being alike members thereof. . . . [O]ur kingdom may justly detain its treasure for the defense of itself, in every case where necessity shall appear to require it.