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THE

HINGE INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL DIALOG

FOR THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

2015 Moses Lectures:

Quest of the Historical Hus and Jan Hus redivivus: How to Be a “Hussite” After 600 Years by Dr. Thomas A. Fudge

With responses by: The Rev. Dr. C. Daniel Crews M. Keith Kapp Ben Lippert The Rev. Peter Kawageme Larry Koslovsky

Vol. 22, No. 1: Summer 2016


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HINGE INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL DIALOG

FOR THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

Volume 22, Number 1: Summer 2016 The Hinge is a forum for theological discussion in the Moravian Church. Views and opinions expressed in the articles published in The Hinge are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or the official positions of the Moravian Church and its agencies. You are welcome to submit letters and articles for consideration and publication. One of the early offices of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was that of the Hinge: The office of the Hinge requires that the brother who holds it look after everything and bring troublesome factors within the congregation into mutual accord without their first having to be taken up publicly in the congregational council. —September 1742, The Bethlehem Diary, vol. 1, tr. by Kenneth Hamilton, p. 80. The Hinge journal is intended also to be a mainspring in the life of the contemporary Moravian Church, causing us to move, think and grow. Above all, it is to open doors in our church.


1 Notes from the Editor July 6, 2015 marked the 600th anniversary of the execution of Jan ( John) Hus at the Council of Constance. The occasion was marked by many special observances in the city of Prague where Hus had served for many years as a priest and professor. Hus remains a controversial figure; over the years, many have addressed his importance in history. To many people today, Hus is a Czech national hero who laid the foundations of the modern nation-state. To others he was a zealous religious reformer who prepared the way for the more dramatic reforms of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. Roman Catholic officials in Prague publically apologized for Hus’s execution and praised his efforts to purify the church of corruption without exonerating Hus of heresy. According to most history books, Hus remains one of the arch-heretics of the Middle Ages. The Unitas Fratrum (Moravian Church) has always viewed Hus as a martyr and saint. Even though he was killed some 50 years before the Unitas Fratrum was founded, Moravians consider him one of the founders of our church. As part of the Moravian Church’s commemoration of Hus, the Center for Moravian Studies invited Dr. Thomas Fudge of Australia to spend the fall semester as a Visiting Scholar at Moravian Theological Seminary. Dr. Fudge is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Hus and the Hussite movement. While at MTS, he taught an advanced seminar on medieval heresy, gave lectures at Moravian College and the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, and shared in a panel discussion on Hus in North Carolina. The highlight of Dr. Fudge’s visit to Bethlehem was his 2015 Moses Lectures in Moravian Studies, which are sponsored by the Center for Moravian Studies. Each year we publish the Moses Lectures in The Hinge, and we are delighted to offer Dr. Fudge’s 2015 lectures in their entirety this issue. Dr.

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Notes from the Editor

Fudge challenges the tendency to judge Jan Hus, his movement, and his trial according to modern standards. Hus was not a Protestant. He remained Roman Catholic in his theology and practice, especially in regards to Holy Communion and the priestly office. But Fudge emphasizes that Hus was also a Catholic heretic and that his trial was legal according to the standards of the day. This does not diminish Hus’s importance or his courage, according to Fudge, but highlights Hus’s decision to defy the authority of the church. Fudge argues there is much we can learn from Hus today, but only if we examine the real Hus in his context.

We have several respondents representing different perspectives, including a seminary student from the Western District, a lawyer from the Southern Province, a pastor in The Unity of the Brethren in Texas, a Moravian pastor and teacher in Tanzania, and a famous Moravian historian. Each of them reacts to Dr. Fudge’s provocative claims about Hus as a Catholic heretic and his challenge to those who claim to be Hussites today. If you would like to pursue this topic further, I encourage you to read some of Dr. Fudge’s published works on Hus and the Hussites. Visit www. moravianstudies.org for bibliographical information.

— Craig Atwood, Editor

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Quest of the Historical Hus Dr. Thomas A. Fudge presented the 2015 Walter Vivian Moses Lectures on Moravian Theology at Moravian Theological Seminary. Dr. Fudge is Professor of Medieval History at University of New England in Armidale, NSW Australia. He is author of several books on Jan Hus, including The Trial of Jan Hus: Medieval Heresy and Criminal Procedure (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Jan Hus Between Time and Eternity: Reconsidering a Medieval Heretic (Lexington Books, 2016). Six hundred years ago a man named Jan Hus, a priest of the medieval Latin church in the Bohemian province, was prosecuted by his church on charges of heresy and after a verdict of guilt was returned, was burned alive during the largest and most magnificent assembly of the entire Middle Ages. Who was this man, really? A nameless chronicler writing in Czech in the fourth decade of the fifteenth century characterized Hus’ career in a brief but descriptive narrative. In the year 1410 after the birth of God’s son there arose a man named Master Jan Hus. He preached, denouncing the people for their wicked lives. The clerics spoke well of him and said that God’s spirit spoke through him. He began to preach about the sins of the priests, from the pope to the lowest cleric, about their concubinage, simony, arrogance and greed saying they ought not to have either secular power or civil estates. He likewise preached that holy communion should be given to the people in both kinds of the body and blood of Christ. Then the clerics raged against him and asserted that the Devil had taken possession of him and that now he was a heretic. All of this came about in the Czech kingdom when Václav, the son of Emperor Charles, was king and a priest named Zbyněk was Archbishop of Prague. In the year 1415 a council of the higher clergy requested Master Jan Hus to come under safe conduct to Constance. He went there… under the protection of the Hungarian king, Sigismund. But when he arrived in Constance with some of the barons of Bohemia, he was arrested and degraded from the priesthood. Some of the higher clergy caused him to be condemned to death. When he was thus sentenced, King Sigismund was sitting in judgment and it was he who had given safe conduct to Master Hus. Thus he was commanded to be burned at the stake…1

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In the Royal Library of Copenhagen, there is a manuscript containing a parody of the Te Deum, a liturgical hymn, written by the Danish Carmelite Poul Helgesen (c.1485-c.1534). It suggests another view. “In the beginning was an error and the error was with Luther and Luther was the error and the same was in the beginning with Luther … There was a man sent by the Devil whose name was Jan Hus. He came to bear witness, to testify concerning the darkness…”3 We are confronted, in these examples, with two entirely different perspectives. Which should be given greater credence? How do we decide which of the two reflect probity over propaganda? How we go about deciding will have a tremendous impact upon the quest of the historical Hus. Jan Hus lived more than 600 years ago, in a place far away from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He lived in medieval Bohemia which has little resemblance to modern America. He spoke a language and lived in a culture that is quite foreign to us. How do we approach and access a man who lived so long ago and so far away? Is there any basis for assuming that we can think Hus’ thoughts after him? Can we know what he believed? Is it possible to be au fait with the things he assumed, the principles he took for granted, what he regarded as important, the authorities he recognized? In other words, can we look over his mental shoulder?

On the Moravian College website, we find this statement: “The roots of the Moravian denomination go back to the Bohemian Protestant martyr John Hus who died at the stake in 1415.”4 Edmund de Schweinitz took the view that Hus was “the illustrious forerunner of the Unitas Fratrum.”5 Hus was not a Protestant and Moravians are not Hussites. De Schweinitz is a bit more nuanced and there is more elasticity to the forerunner model but I think that he, too, like his Moravian descendants tend to regard Hus as a proto-Moravian. The inference is understandable but mistaken. Who is Jan Hus? He is the hero of a dozen faces. He is a Communist, a rebel, a Roman Catholic, a fervent nationalist, a religious reformer, a social revolutionary, a Wyclifite, a proto-Protestant, an Evangelical Christian, a heretic, and a saint. Hus has been all of these things and more to many people from the time he perished at the stake more than 600 years ago. One must be wary of constructing an act of homage, inventing a portrait in our own image, rather than discovering the historical figure. There is also a dangerous myopia associated with focusing on the life of an

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Lest this be seen as a tendentious and unique perspective on the matter, there are also other sources which corroborate “the very fine chronicle” by pointing out that once Hus began to admonish those under holy orders, the priesthood objected saying that Hus obviously had descended from the Devil and was a heretic who should be shunned by all faithful Christians.2 This represented one point of view. There were others.


individual which can obscure the historical context in which that person lived. In the quest of the historical Hus, it is important to reveal aspects of the medieval man while simultaneously opening up a wider view of his place during the time he lived. There is further the danger of emotional identification which may cloud the scholar’s objectivity or limit his or her perspective.

In the process of time over six centuries, Hus has been transformed into a nationalist, a free-thinker, and a liberal. All of these characterizations are nonsense. By the same token, theologically and confessionally-motivated research is both inadequate and problematic. Hus cannot be wrenched from his historical context without doing irreparable damage to the fabric of his life. While recognizing that danger, it is also necessary to understand that the historical context itself is problematic.

Let us consider two portraits from the fifteenth century. First, if we canvas the writings of some of Hus’ opponents we uncover and are able to assemble an altogether unedifying resumé of an individual some think of as a holy man. Seen through the eyes of his enemies, including a former close colleague like Štěpán Páleč, Jan Hus is a promoter of violence, an advocate of insurrection, a man who was disobedient, truculent, unreasonable, harsh, indiscrete, unethical, slanderous, unfair, arrogant, mean-spirited, dishonest, derogatory, naïve, hypocritical, rebellious, what today might be construed as unprofessional in conduct, grossly impertinent, a practitioner of character assassination, a man who recklessly damaged the reputation of the church and was utterly incapable of rehabilitation.6 It is a distressing curriculum vitae. On the other hand, we possess also the formal testimony of Charles University from 23 May 1416 which characterized Hus in a completely different light. O incomparable man shining greater than all by the example of magnificent holiness. O humble man gleaming with the light of great piety, who scorned wealth and ministered to those in poverty. He opened his heart and did not refuse to kneel at the bedside of the sick. With tears he drew the hardened to repentance. By his matchless sweetness he calmed fierce minds. He raged against the vices of humankind particularly the rich and arrogant clergy. He founded his appeals on the ancient and neglected scriptural remedies. Formed in great love, this new motive caused him to follow in the footsteps of the apostles and through pastoral care he revived in both clergy and laity the righteousness of life as in the primitive church. Through courage and wisdom in speech he surpassed all others, demonstrating in all things the works of love, pure faith, and consistent truth . . . . in everything he became a master of life without compare.7

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Let us leap forward five hundred years. After a protracted process in Prague of commissioning and establishing a memorial to Jan Hus, Austria forbade a formal public unveiling of the Hus monument on 6 July 1915. A decade later, following liberation from Austrian domination and social repression, in 1925 the Czechoslovak parliament designated 6 July as a state holiday partly in honor of Hus’ death. In 1925, the Hus celebrations were attended by the president and prime minister of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš G. Masaryk and Antonín Švehla. A Hussite flag was flown for the first time. Predictably, the Vatican found this offensive. The papal nuncio Francesco Marmaggi filed a protest and the incident led to a suspension of diplomatic relations between Vatican City and Czechoslovakia which lasted three years during which time the papal envoy Marmaggi left Prague in protest.8

What is more difficult to assess, is the interest in the historical Hus as opposed to the political uses of his memory. Political factors later came to bear on the public celebration of Hus. After legal revisions in 1951 affecting holidays, the anniversary commemorated on 6 July was downgraded from a state holiday (státní svátek) to a memorial day (památné dny) which technically meant that it was a working day. After the momentous political changes in 1989, Hus was once again returned to the status of a state holiday.9 The 500th anniversary of Hus’ death in 1915 was overshadowed by the gloom of World War One. I have found no evidence to support the idea that there were significant celebrations then as there were in 2015 on the occasion of the sexcentennial. Still, I am no more certain that the commemorations of Hus in 2015 are substantially more connected to the historical person than they were a century ago.

Fifty years later, the major German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the church forbade Catholics from taking part in the 550th anniversary of Hus in 1965. The Belgian Benedictine scholar Paul de Vooght, who had recently published two important volumes on Hus, was excluded even though he had been specifically invited.10 Less than thirty years later, the future cardinal and church historian Walter Brandmüller was not banned from the international Hus symposium convened in Bayreuth and the

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We might characterize both of these portraits as biased. The first appears to have been motivated by polemics while the second might have been inspired by politics or a desire to protect institutional reputation. Can either be trusted? Which carried with it more balance, greater veracity, more compelling trustworthiness? How can these perspectives advance the quest of the historical Hus?


conference had indeed been stimulated in part by public comments made by Pope John Paul II in Prague Castle three years earlier.11 Moreover, František Holeček, a Catholic religious, led the charge in the 1990s for a formal Vatican reconsideration of Hus from an official and papal perspective.12 De Vooght’s work in the 1960s was frowned upon by some Catholic intellectuals but by the 1990s, the Catholic scholars Brandmüller and Holeček were at the forefront of Hus research.13

Following the example of Masaryk ninety years earlier, in June 2015, the current Czech president Miloš Zeman ordered two Hussite flags displayed at Prague Castle for an entire month. František Radkovský, the bishop of Plzeň attended the ceremony. Ninety years has made a difference. But what does that difference indicate? Does it reflect indifference, resignation, or the residual guilty-conscience of the late Pope John Paul II? I find no evidence to refute the idea that there is no reason to believe that Hus would be any more acceptable to contemporary Czech culture than he was a century ago or indeed to the medieval church six centuries ago.

Turning to popular culture, we find evidence of Jan Hus as a factor, however slight, in the broader social imagination within the former Czechoslovakia. There is clear evidence that the quest of the historical Hus which has engendered the transformation of a medieval man into a modern intellectual also corresponds to another paradox in his popular perception. For example, when Czechs are asked in popular polls whom they consider to be the greatest Czech of all time, Hus never comes out on top and never holds first place. In 1947 he polled third in unofficial voting coming in behind the perennially-popular Masaryk and Edvard Beneš who succeeded Masaryk as president of Czechoslovakia, was later a second time in that office, and was a defender of Czechoslovak independence. Two decades later, in 1968 Hus surpassed Beneš but still trailed Masaryk.14 In the next major poll, Hus slipped in the standings, and in October 1992 was fourth behind Masaryk, Charles IV and Beneš.15 A decade later, Hus was holding his own behind Masaryk and Charles IV.16 Things would then get much worse. By 2005, Hus seemed to have fallen from favor and suffered a humiliating defeat ending up in seventh place in a television poll aimed at determining Největší Čech (the greatest Czech), behind Charles IV, the fourteenth-century king and Holy Roman Emperor, Masaryk and the beloved Václav Havel, Jan Amos Comenius, Jan Žižka, and the twentiethcentury author, actor and playwright Jan Werich.17 This suggests that Czechs (and other people as well) prefer their heroes to be political authorities or public figures rather than icons who are willing to exercise the courage of conviction and sacrifice their own lives.”

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Judgement day We feel better than Jan Hus We feel better than Hus It really burns me baby Verstehen Sie Spass (“you understand the joke”) We gotta face the party [a reference to the Communist ancien régime] Nothing you can do about it This is the Monkey Business All the world is screamin’ We feel better than Jan Hus... We gotta face the party...

One of the Monkey Business band members was asked about Hus in an interview. His reply was revealing. “None of us really knows who Jan Hus was. Maybe he was some normal, greedy bastard, who preached what he was told. Perhaps, but no, he held onto those beliefs up to his immolation…we are sympathetic to that; his approach and ours are close. Hus held on tight to the end and did not falter. We are paying homage to him.”18 Almost every relevant Czech thinker has had to deal with the memory of Jan Hus and the Hus phenomenon within the modern Czech context. This includes the founder of modern Czech historiography in the nineteenth century, František Palacký, whose work continues to be foundational for so much scholarship which persists into the twenty-first century. The founder of independent Czechoslovakia after World War I, Tomáš G. Masaryk, whose interpretation of the Hussite Movement laid the foundation for the First Czechoslovak Republic’s official ideology after 1918, was also preoccupied with Hus. Jan Patočka (1907-77), a philosopher and main spokesmen for Charter 77, a 1977 human rights movement in the former Czechoslovakia also opined on the topic. Hus’ importance has likewise been confirmed in current politics, with President Miloš Zeman calling Hus the cornerstone of Czech history. The powers that be in the historic Czech lands over the past 75 years (German, Russia or Czech) do not share in nor do they desire to encourage the religious faith and ideas of Hus but they cannot afford to simply abandon him. There continues to be a strange relationship between the memory of Hus and his actual influence. The works of Hus, the Magistri Iohannis Hus Opera Omnia was launched in 1959 but by the time the Czechs were forced to sell the enterprise to a Belgian publisher in 2004, they had succeeded in producing only nine of the projected twenty-five volumes despite

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In 1999, a Czech funk band calling themselves “Monkey Business” was formed. Their national and European performances in 2003 was called the “We feel better than Jan Hus tour.”


the interval of forty-five years. This is because the Czech government has never regarded Hus as sufficiently important to fund a critical edition of his works. This is nothing particularly new. Almost four and a half centuries ago critics pointed out that “the Czechs should be ashamed of having slackened in this matter so horribly.”19 This was written in 1571 in reference to the production of a Czech Bible.

Even in the sixteenth century it is possible to find evidence to support a claim of dilatoriness on the part of the Czechs when it came to producing an edition of Hus’ works. Indeed, the first effort to collect and publish the corpus of his writings fell to an imperial councillor in Vienna, Caspar von Nidbruck, and the Croatian Lutheran theologian Matija Vlačić Illirik, better known as Matthias Flacius Illyricus.20 We know that Flacius exerted influence upon Nidbruck to undertake direct intervention with the Czech humanist Matouš Kolín of Chotěřiny (1516-1566) with a plea for assistance to provide aid in actually finding the various and scattered works of Hus. Flacius went further and requested that Kolín communicate his unhappiness to another Czech humanist, Petr Kodicill of Tulechova (1533-1589), who had decided to abandon the task of translating Hus. We are also told that Flacius then directly told one of the bishops of the Unity of Brethren, Jan Blahoslav, that the Czechs should be ashamed of their laziness for failing to have produced an edition of Hus.21

In the movement known as the Prague Spring, there was a very deliberate attempt in the 1960s to democratize the Communist society which had engulfed the former Czechoslovakia. During that movement of Christians, former Communists, and writers, Jan Hus seemed to reemerge as a point of reference and took on new importance rather nuanced from that image cultivated by some scholars laboring under the yoke of Communism and politically-motivated history. A Czech theologian much later recalled a major speech given by one of the leading voices within the Prague Spring who particularly emphasized the role of conscience and the example of Jan Hus. “As that Czech intellectual in the fifteenth century refused to let his conscience be dominated by the official demands, so even now we have to follow him. We must stop manipulating truth and start to live in truth.”22 Jan Milič Lochman was only one observer who believed that Communism, with its totalitarian structure, was a serious challenge to the Christian faith and an impediment to the free expression of the gospel. In the aftermath of the fall of Communism in the former Czechoslovakia, capitalism replaced Communism as another challenge to the gospel. The church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, which had mounted a credible response to the Communist system, was again encouraged in the latter years of the twentieth century to respond to a system that also reflects totalitarian tendencies which can dehumanize and obstruct the

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One further example will suffice. It is without doubt that the most famous and most often quoted words written by Jan Hus have to do with truth.“Protož, věrný křěsťane, hledaj pravdy, slyš pravdu, uč sě pravdě, miluj pravdu, prav pravdu, drž pravdu, braň pravdy až do smrti; nebť pravda tě vysvobodí” [therefore, faithful Christian, seek the truth, listen to the truth, learn the truth, love the truth, speak the truth, adhere to truth and defend truth to the death. For truth will set you free].25 These words have often and regularly been included in numerous books written about Hus from myriad perspectives. Tellingly, they are partially inscribed on the Hus monument which has stood in the Old Town Square in Prague for more than 100 years. More than this, the official motto of the Czech Republic is pravda vítězí [truth prevails], which may be understood as an abbreviation of the famous Hussite slogan pravda vítězí nade vším [truth prevails over everything]. This was articulated even more succinctly by Hus, but even earlier by his colleague and fellow martyr Jerome of Prague.26

What is less clear is what is meant by truth in the modern age and what Hus’ words mean when displayed in public places in political states which are for all intents and purposes atheist. The first call for proposals for a Hus monument went out in 1891 amid debate over where the monument should ultimately be placed. The winner of the competition for the design of the great monument to Hus which now stands on the Old Town Square in Prague was Ladislav Šaloun (1870-1946). In collaboration with the architect Antonín Pfeifer, Šaloun’s Hus was deliberately designed not to reflect the historical Hus. Instead, Šaloun conceived of an ideal Hus which spoke more of a spiritual entity symbolizing the history of the Czech nation. The monument indicates a different sort of quest for the historical Hus, designed by a man who once asserted, “Hus has lived in my soul since childhood.”27

Believing that Hus embodied a more significant truth about humanity and the Czech ethos, Šaloun placed Hus to the left of the center of the

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gospel. Once again, Jan Hus was heralded as a significant voice. Almost six centuries earlier, Hus had insisted that ultimate authority was not and could not be possessed by any human institution, which included the medieval church. This brought Hus into serious conflict with prelates, popes, and eventually even councils. Among the major acts within his legal process which reflects his conviction on the matter of authority was his appeal to Christ which he announced in the fall of 1412.23 When challenged to withdraw from such aggressive posture and submit himself to the ruling authorities, Hus was disinclined to accept such counsel. In effect Hus replied, “well, I take seriously the institution of the church, but it’s not the ultimate authority. The Lord of the church is the ultimate authority to whom I shall appeal.”24 These types of appropriations may be classified within the popular “Christian” culture of the modern age.


monument looking towards the Týn Church which for two centuries was a Hussite center of religious practice. In addition to Hus, there are essentially two groups of people featured on the monument, those in front, to the left of Hus, and those on the right of Hus, in the rear. Those in the front are intended to symbolize the Hussite warriors. The man holding a chalice is a Hussite priest, the old man behind the shield emblazoned with a chalice is a warrior, old but unbowed, and the younger fighter pointing in the direction of the Týn Church is also a warrior. It is important to note that two of these figures are looking towards Hus for inspiration and guidance. Šaloun intended that this part of the monument should depict the resolute Hussite spirit.

The figures in the rear depict the exiles from the Hussite tradition who were forced to abandon the Czech lands in the wake of the religious repression which befell Bohemia during the Thirty Years’ War. There are four male figures, mainly standing, and there is also a mother sitting with a baby along with a boy who leans against her. These figures symbolize the Czech Brethren who were among the most prominent exiles in the seventeenth century. Jan Amos Comenius was among them. The nursing mother and the standing men were intended by Šaloun to indicate the resilience of the Hussites and to reinforce the conviction that the exile did not defeat them. Instead, the men on their feet and the nourishment of the mother symbolically point towards the transition leading to new birth. An original early idea to include on the monument a Hussite female warrior brandishing a sword was replaced by the figure of a mother breastfeeding her child.28 Thus, the intentional inclusion of old and young figures, soldiers and priests, a woman and children, implies that the entire nation was to some extent “Hussite” and lived in the memory of the martyr. Šaloun’s choice of inscriptions from Hussite history are likewise significant. These include Hus’ reflections on truth, the war song “You who are the warriors of God,” and Comenius on the return of the Czech people from exile taken from his Testament of a Dying Mother to the vanishing Unity of Brethren. All of this is related to the half-hidden Biblical admonition about knowing truth and finding freedom therein. The design, erection, and placement of the Hus monument created considerable passion and anger as multiple quests of the historical Hus collided and jostled for prominence.29

All of this said, is popular culture of any particular significance? Personally, I abhor political correctness and believe that both faith and scholarship should resist the pull of that impulse. It is not a popular position to take in our culture, and those who take that position are likely to be defeated by larger forces and impulses. Still, there is one superb response. In 1967, former Canadian prime minister John G. Diefenbaker stood for THE

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Czech scholarship on Hus begins with Palacký after the strictures were lifted in 1848. František Palacký, whose multi-volume History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia laid down the ethnicist line which has been followed by many Czech scholars ever since.31 While his ethnicism inspired many residents of Bohemia and Moravia to become Czech, it also crippled entire subsequent generations of historians who were either unwilling or unable to find alternative interpretations of the process by which a Czech nation appeared in Europe. Palacký sought to minimize if not eliminate Hus’ theological issues and thus presented Hus as a Czech struggling within a national context against Germans and the church. Thus began in earnest a positivist perspective which continues to prevail. Palacký firmly believed that the zenith of Czech culture occurred during the Hussite period. He argued that between 1403 and 1627, Czech identity reached the apex of its historical significance. Jan Hus was a central figure. So intense and emphatic was Palacký’s emphasis on the Hussite age that his massive History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia might rightly be considered an exposition of Hus and his followers with a long introduction. In the wake of Palacký’s deep and lasting influence, Jaroslav Goll, Josef Pekař, and Václav Novotný were important Czech scholars who resisted the powerful magnetism of Palacký’s point of view and who also wrote before Communism ascended within Czechoslovakia. Novotný was a liberal Catholic who produced a large study of the life of Hus. Vlastimil Kybal appended to the Novotný biography an even larger evaluation of Hus’ thought but he appears to try and force Hus into a particular hermeneutical solution. In contrast to a German school of thought which arose with some force in the nineteenth century, Novotný argued that Hus was a product of a native Czech reform trajectory and that the controversial influence of John Wyclif was neither the motivation nor even the most important stimulus behind the thought of Hus or the intellectual trajectory of the Hussite movement.

In the aftermath of World War II, the quest of the historical Hus encountered an entirely new impetus which boldly shaped Hus into a unique and hitherto unimagined form. One of the key forces in this transition was Zdeněk Nejedlý. He held that Hus was a precursor of Communism and therefore was properly a social revolutionary. The connections between the

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party leadership once more, at the last moment, in the face of an upcoming general election, even though he knew he had no chance for success. When asked why he, as a former prime minister, would risk exposing himself to public humiliation, Diefenbaker said: “the probability of defeat is no justification for surrender to a false principle.”30 If the quest of the historical Hus cannot usefully be facilitated by popular culture or by selective appeals to Hus, perhaps scholarship may advance the quest.


historical Hus and the ideology of the ruling political regime in Czechoslovakia were developed by Nejedlý and this correlation came to occupy a central place in Communist historiography.32 Of course, the historical digression was quite inappropriate and came well nigh to suffocating alternative interpretations and historiographical investigation. Dialogue was impossible with prevailing ideas in the former Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989. In English, there have been a handful of scholars, comparatively speaking, who have written about Hus or exerted influence over the interpretation of his place and role in western history, and who deserve mention only in passing. These include, in chronological order, Ezra Hall Gillett, John W. Mears, Albert H. Wratislaw, Edmund de Schweinitz, James Hamilton Wylie, Herbert B. Workman, Oscar Kuhns, František Lützow, Eustace J. Kitts, David S. Schaff, William N. Schwarze, Jan Herben, Joseph Paul Bartak, R.R. Betts, Paul Roubiczek and Joseph Kalmer, Matthew Spinka, David R. Holeton, and Thomas A. Fudge. Some of the work developed by these men cannot be considered scholarly or useful and there is a significant unevenness in the quality of the research conducted within the Anglo world. A summary and evaluation of that historiography must be set aside for another occasion.33

Following the execution of Hus, Petr Mladoňovice concluded his Relatio with the assertion that he had written his account and provided testimony to the events at Constance in order that the memory of Jan Hus, the “most steadfast champion of truth,” would remain green in the future and throughout time.34 Scholars generally agree that the Relatio, though consistently tendentious in its representation of Hus, is generally reliable, even though it remains something of a problematic historical account.35

Against the general sympathetic account of Hus in Petr Mladoňovice, we have the consistent hostile narrative of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II) who concluded that the “perfidious lunacy” of the Hussites began with Hus who was an heresiarch and would, in consequence, perish eternally in hell.36 Thus, we are back with the contested image of a man destroyed by the church for the blasphemy of the “unforgiveable sin,” the crime of heresy. We appear to be left with a contested figure on the boundaries of intersecting and diverse cultural, political, and religious worlds. In history, politics, religion, popular culture, and scholarship, we are faced with the dilemma of whose Hus shall prevail.

The quest of the historical Hus has been made all the more difficult by the dazzling gold veneer of the Hus portrait which was added by Protestants from Martin Luther to John Foxe, to Jean Crespin, to Flacius and on down. Getting at the historical Hus involves getting past or getting

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The Danish Carmelite Poul Helgesen wrote “there was a man sent by the Devil whose name was Jan Hus.”37 Petr Mladoňovice characterized Hus as the “most steadfast champion of truth.” What a predicament. Who was Jan Hus? Let us compare this question, this problem, with the same one applied to his Lord. Who was Jesus? What do we know about his life?

The “quest of the historical Jesus,” now through several iterations over 300 years, has been an attempt by scholars to construct or recover the life of Jesus. Albert Schweitzer’s classic account, which went through three editions in his lifetime (1906, 1913 and 1950) surveyed the efforts up to the beginning of the twentieth century.38 Schweitzer’s investigation proposed a portrait of Jesus with such persuasion and power that it dominated Jesus scholarship for a half century and, as has been widely observed, effectively brought to an end the scholarly quest. A lecture titled “The Problem of the Historical Jesus” delivered at Marburg in 1953 by the German theologian and New Testament scholar Ernst Käsemann may be regarded as generating renewed interest in the Jesus of history.39 By the 1980s, a “third quest” generically appeared. Each of these investigations shared a common interest in the historical Jesus. The work of Albert Schweitzer was epochal. What was Schweitzer’s portrait of Jesus? In the first instance, Schweitzer presented Jesus as one who expected the eschaton in his lifetime. The central theme of the teaching of Jesus, the kingdom of God, was an eschatological concept. Further, Jesus believed himself the means for bringing history to a close. In that conviction, Jesus intentionally became the “son of man.” This “son of man,” an eschatological concept, would be the central figure in the kingdom of God. Germane to the thinking of Jesus was the idea that repentance must precede radical ethics which would characterize the kingdom. However, Schweitzer argued, when the end failed to come (Matthew 10:23) Jesus decided to force the eschaton. Thus, he went intentionally to Jerusalem to be killed. He was deliberately provocative: his procession into the city, his disruption of temple worship, and his indictment of the ruling authorities were all

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through that veneer which at times does more to obfuscate than illuminate. Another mitigating factor is that, to some extent, Hus is the hero of his own story. His prison letters represent a self-conscious prelude to martyrdom and coupled with Mladoňovice’s chronicle we are presented with a narrative of suffering and fortitude which fits rather neatly into an extended Te deum laudamus wherein the noble army of martyrs witness to Christ and praise eternal Christian truths. That said, Hus represents the courage to think, the courage to believe, and the courage to die. His life exhibits those commitments. He reflects this from a Christian and, more importantly, a medieval Christian point of view. A careful examination reveals that Hus is, in many ways, a hero but one, like many others, with feet of clay.


designed to cause his arrest and condemnation. According to Schweitzer, Jesus expected the intervention of God. He was mistaken and was condemned to death by crucifixion. Nevertheless, he continued to hope for deliverance and in that stance refused the drink offered to him on the cross (Mark 15:23), a concoction designed to relieve some of the suffering.40 Instead of divine intervention, Jesus is left with his unanswered and agonized query, “my God, why have you forsaken me?� It is important to add that this portrait did not imply the end of faith or Christianity. Schweitzer proposed a distinction between theology and historical research. The Jesus of history is not the Christ of faith. Turning back to the quest of the historical Hus we must ask how, or in what ways, can Hus be connected to Jesus? First of all, it is essential to go to the trouble of reading Hus. From a methodology perspective, are the sources reliable? Does this apply both to the New Testament and the body of evidence relating to Jan Hus? These are legitimate queries. For example, not one of the letters attributed to Jan Hus is preserved in his handwriting. What we have are copies and in most cases, we possess only copies of copies. The transmission and preservation process of these letters is fraught with challenges up to and including orthographical inconsistencies. In some cases, we possess translations of letters, not texts in their original language. Can we trust the transmission process? The same queries have been taken up by Jesus scholars and New Testament specialists.

In the end, political, national, religious, and faith commitments tend to get in the way of scholarly judgment when it comes to Hus. A survey of English-language historiography tends to support that conclusion and some of these factors are even more acutely apparent in Czech scholarship. The greater obstacle to coming to terms with Jesus (whether we are concerned with the Jesus of history or the Christ of faith) is the myopic bias of dogma, denominational commitment, theological assumptions, esogetical fallacies, and the madness of theologians from which some have openly longed for deliverance.41 Schweitzer pointed out that many nineteenthcentury scholars seemed to know more about Jesus than the Gospels.42 In our own time, Walter BrandmĂźller has insisted, in the absence of all evidence, that in his heart Hus embraced the eucharistic theology of John Wyclif, to wit a denial of transubstantiation and an acceptance of remanentism. The assumption is specious.43 The quest of the historical Hus must overcome the biases of history and historiography by seeking to separate conviction from evidence and presuppositions from texts. This is to admit that all interpretation is flawed and that the historical Hus will always be at least one step removed from our understanding.44 Returning to Schweitzer, there are three propositions which he advanced with respect to the historical Jesus which may be briefly delineated

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He will no longer be a Jesus Christ to whom the religion of the present can ascribe… its own thought and ideas... Nor will he be a figure who by a popular historical treatment can be made as sympathetic and universally intelligible to the multitude… the historical Jesus will be to our time a stranger and an enigma.45

Hus is not Protestant, not evangelical, not modern, not American, and not Moravian. Efforts to create a portrait of Hus along these lines are no more persuasive than trying to present the founders of the American nation as defenders of Christian fundamentalism. Hus, too, remains something of a stranger. His world is quite different than ours. Hus is the stranger. Nevertheless, he has often been characterized in very circumscribed terms.

Remsen DuBois Bird (1888-1971) was president of Occidental College in Los Angeles between 1921 and 1946. Prior to his election to the collegiate presidency, Bird gave a lecture in the Miller Chapel at Princeton on April 1, 1915 titled “The Life and Work of John Hus.” The lecture, if taken literally, should have ended the quest of the historical Hus. Thus he perished, a man whose only offense even in the eyes of those who condemned him, was that he placed the Bible before the Church, the Lord before the Pope, and the individual conscience before the will of the hierarchy. Thus he perished, John Hus, a man who deserves to live on in the hearts of those who love the Lord, as a dauntless hero, a champion of the Holy word, a martyr to the truth. Thus he perished, a man who was a great patriot and leader of his people, a heaven-inspired preacher of righteousness and as such one truly zealous for the reform of the church.46

This portrait has satisfied many people over the centuries and has become a stock assumption associated with Hus. It is simplistic and lacks nuance. The second proposition is the suggestion that Jesus was an intentional martyr, as noted earlier, which caused Schweitzer to argue that Jesus became convinced that his death, rather than his life, would facilitate the kingdom of God. In the knowledge that he is the coming son of man, Jesus lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which is to bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and he throws himself upon it. Then it does turn and

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and then tested against Hus. The first proposition underscores the difficulty of transporting historical events and persons from one era to another. According to Schweitzer, Jesus of Nazareth will not allow himself to be made into a modern figure and he will not permit himself to be separated from his own time.


crushes him. Instead of bringing the eschatological conditions, he has destroyed them. The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great man who was strong enough to think of himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to his purpose, is hanging upon it still. That is his victory and his reign.47

It is fair to point out that while this statement appears in the first edition, Schweitzer did not include it in the second or subsequent editions of his work. Thus it may be argued that the formulation does not reflect Schweitzer’s mature views. Nevertheless, does this factor relate to Hus? Was he also an intentional martyr? It is possible to find evidentiary basis for arguing that Hus had a martyr complex. He believed he was a divine messenger and also was convinced that he was persecuted on account of righteousness. Thus, he went to Constance because he believed that God would not permit falsehood to defeat truth.48 If we pause to speculate on what Hus thought he was doing, it becomes ever more apparent that he believed he was imitating Christ. Hus conceived that his journey to Constance was to fulfil a mission, and no ordinary mission at that.49 In the fervour of that conviction, Hus actually claimed he had more enemies than Christ.50 We find in his letters, smuggled from prison cells, hidden beneath food trays, where Hus wrote that those financially supporting him were in fact supporting the cause of Christ.51 There are early accounts of his death which equate Hus with Christ and see a parallel between Constance and Golgotha.52 Hus even appears to wax prophetic, albeit somewhat enigmatically, in his declaration that “when the winter sets in, they will realize what they did during the summer.”53 In the aftermath of his execution, even his name was associated with holiness. Thus, he is “HVS one who imbibes the virtues of the saints.”54

All of this noted, and even with the plethora of questions these propositions naturally provoke, it would be too ambitious to argue that Hus believed his death would usher in the kingdom of God in Bohemia. We can only speculate to what extent he might have agreed with the radical Hussite preacher Jan Želivský who declared in 1419 to his congregation at the Church of the Mother of God of the Snows in Prague that Christ would first come to Bohemia.55 We can only ponder whether Hus imagined he might have played a role in that event. Schweitzer’s third proposition suggests that there is a necessary transition from the Jesus of history to the Christ of faith. He comes to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside he came to those men who knew him not. He speaks to us the same words, ‘follow me,’ and sets us to the tasks which he has to fulfil for our time. He commands. And to those

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What about Hus? Shall we learn who he is in our own experience? Jesus became the object of faith. While the particulars of his historicity remained shrouded in history and mystery, his posthumous influence prompted devotion, faith, and religious practice. Despite martyrdom, Hus cannot be regarded as an object of faith. His life may be inspirational, his courage and conviction admirable, his ideas salutary, and his memory occasionally convenient, but Hus does not approach Jesus in a metahistorical sense. The fact that some Hussite churches in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries recognized him as a saint and integrated him into liturgical commemorations does not elevate Hus to the level of divinity.57 Do we learn in our own experience who Hus is? The answer must be no. The real historical portrait of Hus has yet to emerge from the sources and silence of history.58 There is some chance he never will. This means the quest of the historical Hus may in fact, ultimately, be futile. What we can do is devote ourselves to reading him, in context, learning from him, and perhaps seeing what still has relevance and applicability. He remains the enigma. Martin Luther observed that the church tried to silence Hus and believed they had succeeded when he perished at the stake. Ironically, Luther pointed out, the dead Hus now shouted from the grave to such a degree it was no longer possible to ignore him.59 “Im Erliegen siegen, das war sein Loos” (“Winning in defeat. That was his lot”). This summary statement by a nineteenth-century German Lutheran theologian refers to Hus to the effect that in defeat he essentially conquered.60 What did he achieve? Christian history tells us that Constantine had a dream the night before a military engagement with the instruction that he could prevail under the sign of the cross. “By this sign, conquer.” He took up the cross, won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312, and the political and social fortunes of Christians changed. A half century later, Julian the Apostate desiring to return the empire to its previous pre-Christian paganism was killed in battle. Though probably apocryphal his last words apparently were, “you have conquered, Galilean.”61 After Julian, the empire was at least nominally Christian and the faith based on Jesus essentially secure from serious or sustained political oppression. What did Hus win in his defeat? One can only speculate what may have transpired in Bohemia had he recanted and retreated from his convictions and endured the alternative sentence of life imprisonment. That he did not stand down, provided an additional and important element in the arsenal of Czechs who refused

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who obey him, whether they be wise or simple, he will reveal himself, in the toils, the struggles, the conflicts which they shall pass through in his fellowship. And as an inexpressible mystery they shall learn in their own experience who he is.56


to submit to the authority of the medieval church. These men and women galvanized a revolution, named for Hus, whose strength had hitherto been unseen at any time in the Middle Ages. The Hussite movement changed the landscape of the medieval religious world forever.

Schweitzer’s work was controversial and any quest for the historical Hus is bound to arouse disagreement, though not to the same extent as Jesus scholarship. Jesus has more clout than Hus and more people have emotional connections to images and understandings of Jesus than there are people who feel a connection to Hus or who sense a duty to defend Hus. In that sense, the quest of the historical Hus is, apart from the ongoing concerted work of a handful of scholars, a passing fancy which will not last long. Nevertheless, after 600 years, Hus remains a man who cannot and should not be ignored by those who wish to take Christian history seriously. Nevertheless, many of those who engage in the quest of the historical Hus are doomed to failure. The Hus that many see and the Hus that many will find after the historical quest, looking back through six centuries of either Catholic or Protestant darkness, is only the reflection of their own faces, seen through the dimness at the bottom of a deep well.62

Thomas A. Fudge University of New England, Australia

Endnotes 1 This is the “Very Fine Chronicle of Jan Žižka” in František M. Bartoš, ed., Listy Bratra Jana a Kronika velmi pěkná a Janu Žižkovi (Prague: Blahoslav, 1949), p. 36. 2 This according to an old Czech chronicle in František Šimek, ed., Staré letopisy české z vratislavského rukopisu novočeským pravopisem (Prague: Historický spolek, 1937), p. 4. 3 Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliothek (Royal Library) MS GKS 1551 4°, fols 22r-24v at fol. 22v. 4 http://www.moravian.edu/about/collegehistory Accessed 29 August 2015. 5 The History of the Church known as the Unitas Fratrum or the Unity of the Brethren (Bethlehem: Moravian Publication Office, 1885), p. 78.

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6 Thomas A. Fudge, Jan Hus Between Time and Eternity: Reconsidering a Medieval Heretic (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), pp. 79-97 treats Hus from the vantage point of his detractors. This is delineated in a cycle of accusations from 1414. František Palacký, ed., Documenta Mag. Joannis Hus vitam, doctrinam, causam in constantiensi concilio actam et controversias de religione in Bohemia annis 1403-1418 motas illustrantia (Prague: Tempský, 1869), pp. 204-24 at p. 222. 7 Matthias Flacius Illyricus, ed., Historia et monumenta Ioannis Hus atque Hieronymi Pragensis, 2 vols (Nürnberg: Montanus and Neuberus, 1558; 1715), vol. 1, p. 103.

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9 Andrea Talabér, “Medieval Saints and Martyrs as Communist Villains and Heroes: National Days in Czechoslovakia and Hungary During Communism,” in Dalia Bathory, ed., History of Communism in Europe, vol. 5 Narratives of Legitimation in Totalitarian Regimes – Heroes, Villains, Intrigues and Outcomes (Bucharest: Zeta Books, 2015), pp. 168-92, especially pp. 171-2 and 189. 10 Paul de Vooght, L’hérésie de Jean Huss (Louvain: Bibliothéque de l’Université, 1960) and Hussiana (Louvain: Bibliothéque de l’Université, 1960). I rely on the testimony of Henry Gerlach who claims to have read the news coverage wherein De Vooght was prohibited. 11 The Bayreuth papers appeared in both Czech and German editions. Jan B. Lášek, ed., Jan Hus mezi epochami, národy a konfesemi (Prague: Česká křesťanská akademie: Husitská teologická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy, 1995) and Ferdinand Seibt, ed., Jan Hus: Zwischen Zeiten, Völkern, Konfessionen (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1997). 12 František J. Holeček, “The Problems of the Person, the Life and the Work of Jan Hus: The Significance and the Task of a Commission of the Czech Bishops’ Conference” The Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice 2 (1998), pp. 39-47. Papers from a conference held in the Lateran in Rome in 1999 were published as Miloš Drda, František Holeček, and Zdeněk Vybíral, eds., Jan Hus na přelomu tisíciletí (Tábor: Hussite Museum, 2001). 13 An example of a critical assessment of De Vooght’s work is Bohdan Chudoba in The Catholic Historical Review 47 (October 1961), pp. 367-8 which dismissed De Vooght’s work as “puerile and uninformed.” Chudoba was not awarded his habilitation at Masaryk University in Brno in 1947 partly because the committee found that his conservative Catholicism prevented him from achieving a modicum of historical objectivity. By the 1960s he opposed Vatican II. Jiří Hanuš, “Bohdan Chudoba: the Tragic Story of a Talented Man” Prager wirtschafts – und sozialhistorische mitteilungen 19 (No. 1, 2014), pp. 77-86.

14 Noted in the newspaper Lidové noviny (17 July 1992). 15 Ladislav Holy, The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation: National Identity and the PostCommunist Social Transformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 135. 16 Mladá fronta Dnes, 16 April 2003. 17 This poll was more recently published in the newspaper Lidové noviny no. 143 (20 June 2015). 18 Cynthia Paces, Prague Panoramas: National Memory and Sacred Space in the Twentieth Century (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009), pp. 244-5. 19 Jan Blahoslav, Grammatika česká, eds., I. Hradil and J. Jireček (Vienna: Grunda, 1857), p. 342. 20 Viktor Bibl, “Der Briefwechsel zwischen Flacius und Nidbruck. Aus den Handschriften 9737b, i und k der k.u.k. Hofbibliothek in Wien” Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für der Geschichte des Protestantismus in Österreich 20 (1899), pp. 95-101. 21 Anton Gindely, Geschichte der Böhmischen Brüder (Herrnhut: Verlag der Missionsbuchhandlung, 1931), p. 430. 22 Jan Milič Lochman (1922-2004) “Jan Hus: Christian History Interview – To Live in Truth” (conversation with Jan Milič Lochman) Christian History 68 (No. 4, 2000), pp. 42-44 at pp. 43-4. 23 The best treatment is Jiří Kejř, Husovo odvolání od soudu papežova k soudu Kristovu (Prague: Albis International,1999), but see also Thomas A. Fudge, The Trial of Jan Hus: Medieval Heresy and Criminal Procedure (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 188-214. 24 “Jan Hus: Christian History Interview – To Live in Truth” (conversation with Jan Milič Lochman), p. 43. 25 Výklad víry, in František Ryšánek, et al., eds., Magistri Iohannis Hus, Opera Omnia, 25 vols projected (Prague: Academia; Turnhout: Brepols, 1959-), vol. 1, p. 69. 26 Recommendatio artium liberalium, in František Šmahel and Gabriel Silagi, eds, Magistri Hieronymi de Praga. Quaestiones, Polemica, Epistulae (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), p. 216. 27 Quoted in Paces, Prague Panoramas: National Memory and Sacred Space in the Twentieth Century, p. 37.

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8 Cynthia J. Paces, “Religious Heroes for a Secular State: Commemorating Jan Hus and Saint Wenceslas in 1920s Czechoslovakia,” in Maria Bucur and Nancy M. Wingfield, eds., Staging the Past: The Politics of Commemoration in Habsburg Central Europe, 1848 to the Present (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2001), pp. 209-35.


28 Noted in Cynthia Paces, “Rotating Spheres: Gendered Commemorative Practice at the 1903 Jan Hus Memorial Festival in Prague” Nationalities Papers 28 (No. 3, 2000), p. 536. 29 A helpful summary appears under the title “Art Meets Politics” in Paces, Prague Panoramas: National Memory and Sacred Space in the Twentieth Century, pp. 37-55. 30 John Diefenbaker, One Canada: Memoirs of the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, 3 vols (Toronto: Macmillan, 1975-77), vol. 3, p. 282. 31 František Palacký, Dějiny národu českého v Čechách a v Moravě, 3rd edition, edited by Josef Kalousek (Prague: Tempský, 1876) is considered the definitive edition. 32 Zdeněk Nejedlý, Komunisté—Dědici Velikých tradic českého národa (Prague: Ústřední výbor KSČ, 1946), pp. 7-9 for opening salvos. 33 See my “Jan Hus in English Language Historiography, 1863-2013” Journal of Moravian History 16 (No. 2, 2016), forthcoming. 34 Petr Mladoňovice, Relatio de Mag. Joannis Hus causa, in Václav Novotný, ed., Fontes rerum bohemicarum, vol. 8 (Prague: Nákladem nadání Františka Palackého, 1932), p. 120. 35 Though Hubert Herkommer, “Die Geschichte vom Leiden und Sterben des Jan Hus als Ereignis und Erzählung,” in Ludger Grenzmann and Karl Stackmann, eds., Literatur und Laienbildung im Spätmittelalter und in der Reformationszeit (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1981), pp. 114-146 accurately points out the tendency towards a hagiographical portrait of Hus in the Mladoňovice narrative. I disagree with Herkommer in his assertion that Ulrich Richental’s chronicle is more accurate as a source. The most recent scholarship on Richental is Thomas Martin Buck, “Das Konzil von Konstanz (1414-1418): Ein Literatur- und Forschungsbericht” Historische Zeitschrift 302 (2016), pp. 703-730. 36 Dana Martínková, Alena Hadravová and Jiří Matl, eds., Aeneae Silvii Historia Bohemica [Fontes rerum Regni Bohemiae, vol. 1] (Prague: Koniasch Latin Press, 1998), pp. 4, 88-100. 37 Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliothek MS GKS 1551 4°, fol. 22v. 38 Albert Schweitzer, Von Reimarus zu Wrede: Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschuung (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1906), second edition Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschuung (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1913) and third

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edition 1950. The first complete English edition is Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, trans., W. Montgomery, J.R. Coates, Susan Cupitt and John Bowden, ed., John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001). 39 A classic text reflecting this renewed interest is James M. Robinson, A New Quest for the Historical Jesus (London: SCM, 1959). 40 Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, ed., John Bowden, p. 354. 41 For example, shortly before his death on 19 April 1560, the sixteenth-century reformer Philip Melanchthon prayed to be delivered from rabie theologorum (the madness of the theologians). A sheet of paper found on Melanchthon’s table after his death included the words “liberaberis ab aerumnis, et a rabie theologorum.” Philippi Melanthonis opera quae supersunt omnia, ed., Karl Gottlieb Bretschneider, Corpus reformatorum, vol. 9 (Halle: Schwetschke, 1842), col. 1098. 42 Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, ed., John Bowden, pp. 178, 187. 43 Thomas A. Fudge, Jan Hus: Religious Reform and Social Revolution in Bohemia (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010), pp. 49-54. 44 This admonition has been classically outlined in Rudolf Bultmann, “Ist voraussetzungslose Exegese möglich?” Theologische Zeitschrift 13 (1957), pp. 409-417. 45 Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, ed., John Bowden, p. 478. 46 Remsen DuBois Bird, “The Life and Work of John Hus” The Princeton Theological Review 13 (1915), pp. 256-74, at pp. 267-8. 47 Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, trans. W. Montgomery (London: Alan and Charles Black, 1910), pp. 370-1. 48 Václav Novotný, ed., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a dokumenty (Prague: Nákladem komise pro vydávání pramenů náboženského hnutí českého, 1920), p. 196. 49 Novotný, ed., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a dokumenty, pp. 159-60. 50 Novotný, ed., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a dokumenty, p. 207. 51 Novotný, ed., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a dokumenty, pp. 268-9.

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53 Novotný, ed., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a dokumenty, pp. 305-6. 54 Fudge, “Jan Hus at Calvary: The Text of an Early Fifteenth-Century Passio,” p. 74. 55 Amedeo Molnár, ed., Dochovaná kázání Jana Želivského z roku 1419 (Prague: ČSAV, 1953), p. 184. 56 Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, ed., John Bowden, p. 487. 57 See the work of David R. Holeton, “The Office of Jan Hus: An Unrecorded Antiphonary in the Metropolitical Library of Estergom,” in J. Neil Alexander, ed., Time and Community [Festschrift for Thomas J. Talley] (Washington DC: The Pastoral Press, 1990), pp. 137-152, ‘“O felix Bohemia - O felix Constantia”: The Liturgical Celebration of Saint Jan Hus,” in Ferdinand Seibt, ed., Jan Hus: Zwischen Zeiten, Völkern, Konfessionen (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1997), pp. 385-403, “The Celebration of Jan Hus in the Life of the Churches” Studia Liturgica 35 (2005), pp. 32-59, and two articles with Hana VlhováWörner, “A Remarkable Witness to the Feast of Saint Jan Hus” The Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice, 7 (2009), pp. 156-84, and “The Second Life of Jan Hus: Liturgy, Commemoration, and Music,” in František Šmahel and Ota Pavlícek, eds., A Companion to Jan Hus (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 289-324.

58 Howard Kaminsky, A History of the Hussite Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 36. 59 In larger context but with references to the sources, see Thomas A. Fudge, “‘The Shouting Hus’: Heresy Appropriated as Propaganda in the Sixteenth Century” Communio Viatorum 38 (No.3, 1996), pp. 197-231. 60 Gotthard Lechler, Johann von Wiclif und die Vorgeschichte der Reformation, 2 vols (Leipzig: Verlag der Friedrich Fleischer, 1873), vol. 2, p. 227. 61 Noted in Theodoret’s, Historia ecclesiastica. Critical edition Théodoret of Cyrrhus, Historie ecclésiastique, vol. 2 (Livres III-V), eds., Léon Parmentier, Pierre Canviet, Annick Martin and Jean Bouffartique (Paris: Cerf, 2009), 3.25. 62 George Tyrrell, Christianity at the Crossroads (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1910), p. 44. This was Tyrrell’s critique of Adolf von Harnack’s liberal Protestant view of Christ. The observation is both sage and sobering.

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52 Thomas A. Fudge, “Jan Hus at Calvary: The Text of an Early Fifteenth-Century Passio” Journal of Moravian History 11 (December 2011), pp. 45-81.


Jan Hus redivivus: How to Be a “Hussite� After 600 Years by Dr. Thomas A. Fudge The followers of an itinerant Jewish rabbi about 2,000 years ago declared they were prepared to follow their master wherever he decided to go. The rabbi remarked that no one who put their hand to the plough and looked back was fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:57-62). Six hundred years ago, another disciple of this same rabbi finished his life just outside the city walls of Constance. One might argue that he placed a firm hand on the plough and did not look back. What do we learn from him? All the attention this year might suggest he has been revived.

There are many misconceptions about Hus which need to be identified and eliminated from serious consideration. For example, he was not a Protestant, let alone the first Protestant despite some modern representations. He did not translate the liturgy into the vernacular. He was not the first to preach in the common language. He did not translate the Bible into Czech. He neither adhered to nor promoted a Protestant idea of sola scriptura. He did not initiate congregational singing. He was not a blind disciple of Wyclif. He did not introduce the eucharistic chalice for all believers and he was not the originator of communion in both kinds. He was not attacked by the hierarchy of the medieval church for no reason. His legal process was not just confined to the events during the Council of Constance. His trial culminating at Constance was not illegal and his death was not judicial murder. He was not tall, gaunt, and bearded. He did not look like the iconographical Jesus Christ, despite the proliferation of images to that effect. He was not the founder of the modern Moravian Church or the modern Unity of Brethren. He did not say at the pyre, or anywhere else for that matter, that authorities in Germany would roast a goose but in 100 years a swan would sing and that swan would not be silenced. The Italian humanist Poggio Bracciolini did not write an account of the Hus trial. To borrow a phrase from Dorothy Parker, the occasionally popular Hus the Heretic by Poggius the Papist is not a book to be set aside lightly, it should be hurled with some force. The small book which continues to be reprinted alleging such an account is both unworthy and unreliable and is unadulterated nineteenth-century fiction. These are only some of the misconceptions attached to the life and memory of this Bohemian priest. None of these opinions can be held THE

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Jan Hus was a product of medieval Christianity. In order to understand him, we have to come to terms with his roots, his historical context, and the prevailing influences which shaped his life.2 A text (or a life) without a context is a pretext for a proof text. Jan Hus was Czech, born at the end of the Middle Ages, a priest and scholar, a man accused of heresy, who engaged in a protracted and often acrimonious battle with church authorities and who eventually lost his life as a condemned, defrocked, excommunicate. Nevertheless, Jan Hus considered himself a Christian. He believed his life was committed to following the teachings and ethics of Jesus.3

How Christian was the Middle Ages?4 There is sufficient evidence from the medieval period to suggest that a number of a priori assumptions about the truth of Christianity were so obvious they needed no intellectual defence, sophisticated argument, justification, or indeed any type of apologia. Denying God or Christ was more than an error in thinking or simple indefensible nonsense, the idea was prima facie evidence of an unsound mind.5 It is not easy to determine what it meant to be a Christian in the European Middle Ages. Baptism was the formal entrance into the church and this sacrament was practiced even in cases where interdict had been imposed.6 Baptised Christians had two obligations with respect to the Mass. They were obliged to attend church on a regular basis and to receive communion at least once annually, normally at Easter. Participation in the Eucharist had to be preceded by confession.7 It can be assumed that many medieval European Christians were baptized and occasionally frequented the confessional. Though it varied throughout the Middle Ages and was subject to regional emphases, it was expected that medieval Christians would be familiar with the basic rudiments of the faith. These might include the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the seven deadly sins, the four cardinal virtues, together with some basic knowledge about the sacraments. These church obligations were often tempered by a tolerance or acceptance of ignorance and there is evidence that knowing or understanding the faith was a rather distant obligation to actually practicing the faith. Some medieval authorities argued that lay Christians should believe the faith and hold to those things they did not understand or were ignorant of.8 Paying tithes, not working on Sundays or feast days, attending church, and generally obeying ecclesiastical authority was considered ever so much more important.

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with any integrity or with reference to reliable historical sources. In short, Hus has been subjected to the same fate Luther once observed was the ill fortune of scripture, that is, both have wax noses which have been, and continue to be, twisted into a variety of shapes and postures to suit a myriad of purposes ranging from the religious to the political.1


Associated with the nature of Christian practice in the medieval period is the question of how compulsory all of this was. There were standards and legislation imposed by the church. Canon law, penitentials and a battery of disciplinary regulations reflected some of that resolve.9 By the high Middle Ages, the medieval church had evolved to a place where it could be considered a state. The conclusion may seem overwrought or somewhat shocking but there is little evidence to exclude it from that category. No acceptable definition of the concept of state rules out the medieval church. The church of the Middle Ages formulated laws and appointed lawgivers. It had proper formal law courts, and employed lawyers. It used physical force to compel men and women to adhere to those laws. It maintained prisons. From the thirteenth century onwards it pronounced the sentence of death. Christianity in the medieval period cannot be understood as a voluntary society. If people were not born into it, they were baptized into membership before they could object or otherwise help themselves. If Christians attempted to leave the church they might be found guilty of the crime of treason and if they contumaciously resisted ecclesiastical authority they might be denounced as heretics and be liable for summary execution by being burned at the stake. The medieval church was supported by involuntary contributions, to wit, tithe and tax. The argument that Christianity had a divine origin does not subvert the identification of the medieval church as a state. Kings have reigned on the basis of divine right and republics have been established in the name of God-given liberty.10 The heretics represented exceptional cases. What about ordinary Christians? Were they compelled to observe a modicum of Christian practice and if so were such efforts successful?11 It is possible to argue that the medieval church intentionally established and promoted minimal standards for Christian beliefs, knowledge and practice by means of a broad umbrella. This was especially true after the fourth Lateran Council (1215). Within the church were the pious and the righteous, along with the devout, the not-so-devout, the “run-of-themill, and the lax, the superstitious and the ignorant.� Nevertheless, there was a considerable gap between expectations and the fulfilment of those requirements. Moreover, it was difficult to distinguish between the requirements of Christianity and the expectations of society.12

Medieval society understood itself as reflecting divine will. The world of the Middle Ages had arrived at its essential form and identity because that was the way it was designed to be. This conviction was linked to the medieval idea of a Christian commonwealth in which the Christian world had been constructed theocratically as the corpus Christianum. This meant that the church was considered as a structure which represented God and

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Religion in the Middle Ages, which must not be considered synonymous with official Christianity, was marked by contrasts. There was considerable evidence of piety but also the neglect of religious practice. The need had arisen for a firmer regulation with respect to the clergy. For example, a provincial synod at Paris in 1429 enacted forty-one canons. Among these rules were injunctions that clergy were forbidden to gossip or laugh in church, they were not to play foolish and unbecoming games during divine service, and dancing, profane songs and games were forbidden in sacred precincts.16 In Prague, the priests distracted the faithful from proper religious practice by wearing ostentatious vestments and engaging in inappropriate behaviour which included talking aloud, joking and laughing, while walking about within the sacred precincts during the liturgy. Hus caustically remarked that those who had come to worship often wound up wasting their time.17

Prague and Paris were not anomalies. Lateran IV passed legislation aiming to address this type of behaviour.18 There was increasing clericalism. At the beginning of the fifteenth century in Prague, there were 1,900 clerics and over a twenty year period (1395-1416) more than 20,000 candidates were received into holy orders meaning about five percent of the population was a cleric.19 At the same time there was growing anticlericalism and members of the religious orders were often reviled.20 The medieval church was characterized by its exorbitant wealth, even to the extent of severe critique by some of the church’s most respected medieval figures.21 A crisis of authority permeated Christianity by the fifteenth century. We encounter a clear blending of orthodox religion with popular

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the kingdom of heaven on earth. This was all the more pertinent in political affairs where it was assumed that spiritual and secular dominion was unified. In other words, the institutional church was conceived as the guarantor that the medieval world was a sacred society. This suggested a close and organic relationship between the medieval church and political states.13 By the end of the Middle Ages, the creative force of the corpus Christianum was exhausted. However, this did not persuade either the secular or the spiritual powers that medieval social structure was anything other than an accurate reflection of divine will. The corpus Christianum theoretically remained a weak symbol of security and stability but in practice that idea had become deeply eroded. By the time Jan Hus came to prominence, its symbolic integrity was vulnerable to devastating assault.14 Jan Hus was deemed both alarming and dangerous within the religious world of the later Middle Ages partly because he challenged aspects of the corpus Christianum principle. However else medieval Christianity might be defined, religion penetrated daily life in the Middle Ages to a depth and to an extent that today is barely comprehensible.15


beliefs and superstitions. Late medieval religion, at least as codified in the Christian church, had its chief focus in the salvation of souls. This was a lifelong process which featured a cycle of sin, absolution, and penance.22 Hence, sacramental confession and penance evolved into the religious activity of the medieval church. Only the celebration of the eucharist could rival the importance of confession and penance. Lateran IV declared that every mortal sin committed since the last confession was to be confessed to a priest at least annually.23 The psychological pressure must have been enormous for some. There were those who taught that submission to the Roman Church entirely was assurance of the forgiveness of sins.24 Five words describe religion in late medieval Europe: pious, visual, superstitious, intolerant, and violent (bloody). Each of these characteristics may be briefly delineated in the interests of understanding the historical context in which Jan Hus lived.

It has been asserted that in fifteenth-century Germany there was a consistent churchliness, little resistance to ecclesiastical authority, an increase in religious fervour, an intensification of piety, a close connection of the church to the world, and an abundance of religious literature in circulation. These included prayer books, missals, sermon manuals, scholastic summas, art works, and other signs of religious piety.25 The establishment of confraternities and chantries only suggests deep commitment to religion. The former were voluntary societies devoted to a particular saint or cult which grew at extraordinary rates in the fifteenth century. These organizations were made up of the rich, the poor, men and women, and sometimes included social unfortunates. They may have gathered weekly for Mass, at times they staged morality plays and sometimes subsidized religious building projects.26 Chantries were endowed masses.27 A mass for the dearly departed had eternal implications. To multiply masses would have exponentially significant implications. One could endow a mass to be said daily for a year, ten years, thirty years, or if one was sufficiently wealthy, in perpetuity.28 Medieval religion had also evolved into a spectacle. This was most apparent in the Mass and in the adoration of the host but can also be seen with the interest in relics and pilgrimages.29 The visual played a crucial role. Even small rural parish churches often had a wall covered with the Last Judgment which may be understood as a visual reminder of the insistence on death’s certainty, the belief that after death was judgement and the likelihood of eternal damnation. Ecclesiastical architecture itself contributed much to the visual culture of medieval Christianity. There were shrines, religious festivals, and processions and medieval mystery plays all of which reveal aspects of religion. The Corpus Christi play in the fifteenth century often involved dozens of scenes spanning several days.30 Pilgrimages were

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Much of medieval religion was marked by curious superstition. This is illuminated vividly by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I who died on 12 January 1519. The emperor left specific instructions that once dead his body was to be severely whipped, his hair roughly cut off and his teeth broken out. Why? It seems the pious emperor wished to appear before God not as a powerful monarch but as a contrite penitent.32 Medieval Christianity was also increasingly intolerant. A fourteenthcentury fresco in the chapter house of the Dominican priory of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, executed by Andrea di Bonaiuto, depicts the antagonism between the church and her dissenters. In the lower right of the fresco we find evidence that heresies persisted. St. Dominic preaches, Thomas Aquinas debates with the heretics, counting off his arguments on his fingers, while the martyr Peter of Verona instructs the dogs to destroy the heretics. Below these three figures we see the black and white dogs defending sheep from the wolves. By the thirteenth century, dogs were often understood as a symbol for the dutiful preacher, the sheep were faithful Christians, while the ravening wolves must be regarded as the heretics. By the time this fresco was appearing on the wall of the Dominican chapter house, the church had already been waging war with the heretics for some time. The history of heresy-hunting, the development of medieval inquisitions into a formalized office of inquiry into religious deviance, and the commensurate rise of legislation and legal procedure indicate both the perceived severity of the problem as well as the church’s resolve to effectively counter the threat.33

Medieval faith was violent. Religious violence in the Middle Ages is best understood against the profusion of blood which appears almost everywhere. There was holy and unholy blood. Medieval religion developed piety based on blood and from time to time this longing for blood precipitated some extraordinary and graphic constructs. Sacrifice, ritual, and violence characterize Christianity in the Middle Ages to the point where one may detect an obsession or frenzy about blood.34 The crucifixion of Jesus, the transubstantiation of wine into blood during the Mass, alleged host desecration, visions of blood, gory mystical poetry, the Man of Sorrows iconography, penitential devotion to the five wounds of Christ, the presence of blood in devotional art forms, canisters of holy blood carried back to Europe from the Latin east, bleeding hosts, bloodshed during the crusades, the sometimes shocking judicial punishment of heretics, their subsequent execution, roaming Flagellants wandering throughout western Europe flogging themselves until they bled, were all expressions around the ques-

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a common occurrence in the Middle Ages and the eventual pilgrimage sites were often marked by some miraculous phenomena such as a bleeding statute or a miraculous host.31


tion of how and in what fashion blood was atoning and how it might grant access to the holy, to salvation, to God. Had not Christianity flourished on the vine of the assumption that the blood of Christians was seed?35 Late medieval Bohemia was literally awash in a sea of blood.36 The crusade proclaimed against the followers of Jan Hus was denounced as having been prepared by bloody hands soiled with innocent blood. The crusade cross was stained with blood and martyrs had ended their lives in bloodshed. We find numerous references to Hussites and crusaders alike sanctifying their hands in the blood of their enemies. Ostensibly it was held, paradoxically, that Czech blood possessed purification qualities. Hence, we find references to crusaders and heresy hunters bathing in blood in order to wash away their sins. Streams turned red with the blood of the slain while one of the crusade leaders expressed his hope that he might soak his spurs in the unholy blood of Hussite heretics whose hands were already stained with holy blood. Heretics proclaimed that both secular and ecclesiastical people were obliged to consecrate their hands in the blood of wicked people and condemned all those who withheld their swords from shedding the blood of the enemies of God. With all of this, both sides claimed they had been empowered by the blood of Christ. Some battles featured priests on both sides of the divide marching before the respective armies into battle carrying a monstrance in which was visible the consecrated host and there the battle was joined “ark against ark.” Bishops proclaimed to holy warriors that should they fall in battle on Czech soil, they would go immediately to heaven. It cannot be gainsaid that medieval faith was violent, bloody and often practiced and advanced by means of force. Medieval Christianity is witness to the idea that religious belief and practice can elevate ordinary objects or rituals to a rank of importance where those same objects and rituals become channels of power and mediums of transformation.37

Jan Hus was a product of these Middle Ages and a member of the Christian church. More than that, he was a priest entrusted with the cure of souls. To what extent do we find reflected in him a religious faith which can be described as pious, visual, superstitious, intolerant, and violent? The piety of Jan Hus is everywhere evident in his sermons, his written oeuvre, in his letters which span a decade, and in the manner of his dying. In late 1413 or early 1414, while living in exile in the forests of south Bohemia, Hus wrote a devotional treatise titled Dcerka: O poznání cěsty pravé k spasení (The Daughter, or how to know the correct way to salvation).38 “The daughter” is a profound witness to the vibrancy of medieval Czech spirituality. Hus’ daughter has been largely ignored in western historiography and by most scholars examining medieval spirituality, mainly because of the shackles of the Czech language it which it was written. At the same time, THE

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Hus’ piety also had visual expression. Eight centuries before the time of Hus, Gregory the Great advanced the idea that visual images were essential supplements in the religious world. Reduced to its basic premise, the Gregorian principle may be expressed in the idea that pictures are the books of the illiterate.40 Hus was aware of Gregory’s hypothesis and he commented on the text in his academic discourse on the Sentences of Peter Lombard.41 According to Hus, the visual image had a specific function: “It seems to me that I adore the image of Christ not because it is a sign, not because it is an image of Christ; I adore Christ in the presence of the image of Christ because it is an image of Christ and makes me want to adore Christ.”42 In other words, there was a significant difference between the image and the reality or idea which was depicted. Hus held that worship belonged to God alone. While representations of God were useful and had a place in the life of the Christian, they were not to be worshiped. The use of the visual in prayer, in offerings or in placing candles before an image was not at issue for Hus so long as such acts were done in the name of Christ and not on account of the image itself.43 Hus wrote that those who refused to believe his instruction in terms of doctrine and religious practice should learn it on the walls of Bethlehem Chapel.44 Here he was referring to the various inscriptions and images which adorned the walls of the chapel.45 It is pointless to try and argue that Hus somehow did not share in the medieval superstitions of his time or those associated with Christian religious practice. However, this does not imply that he had no independence of thought or that he uncritically accepted the full gamut of religious practice at the end of the Middle Ages. A single example will suffice. In August 1383 the parish church in the northern German village of Wilsnack in the archdiocese of Magdeburg burned down. Several days later three miraculously preserved eucharistic hosts were discovered in the ashes. Rumors of miracles began to circulate. Pilgrims began flocking to Wilsnack.46 Concerned with the integrity of the new pilgrimage site, by 1405 Archbishop Zbyněk of Prague appointed a three member commission, which included Jan Hus, to investigate. The Prague commission concluded

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Hus himself has been transformed into the symbol of a revolution bearing his name. Prophetic spirituality in Bohemia at the end of the Middle Ages was not limited to activities sanctioned by the church but provoked definite social implications.39 Jan Hus’ daughter teaches the duty of eschatological disobedience. Eschatology implies that human society is condemned and that history itself is doomed and cannot survive the Kingdom of God. Eschatology places demands on history and on spirituality. Hus understood this. Disobedience was not defiance but an integral part of spirituality. Hus refused to be complicit therefore he became disobedient.


the miracles at Wilsnack were fraudulent. Hus spoke out against the alleged miraculous blood. He prepared a treatise dealing specifically with the Wilsnack deception.47 Hus argued that the main point was faith, not tangible evidence. He advanced the idea that Christians should not attempt to establish proof for their faith but simply rely on the witness of faith in Scripture.48 He denounced the promoters of the Wilsnack miracles.49 Hus actively encouraged other priests to teach their parishioners not to seek after spectacular miracles.50 He suggested that the focus of devotion at Wilsnack was misguided. He declared that “we adore the body and blood of Christ which exists at the right hand of God and is present in the blessed sacrament.” Hus concluded that the reported blood at Wilsnack had no miraculous properties.51 Hence, Hus was prepared to dismiss certain elements of popular religious practice.

What about intolerance and violence? Monotheism by definition is intolerant. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity each proclaim there is one God and each of these religions make exclusive truth claims. Hus was no different. This cannot be construed to mean that his intolerance of differing theologies, points of view or even non-Christian propositions prompted him to engage in hatred, violence, or active support for repression. We find evidence that Hus very strongly opposed the death penalty for heretics.52 There is also a dearth of evidence to support any suggestion that Hus agreed with the commonplace “Mohammedan insult” which can be found in the later Middle Ages and even among his own followers.53 The violence of later medieval religious wars and heresy hunting do not seem to have elicited any support from Hus and in this sense he stands apart from the mainstream. It must also be kept in mind that Hus was ultimately expelled from the medieval church, condemned as a heretic, and therefore must be regarded as a figure formally adjudicated by the medieval church as one outside the ark of safety. Jan Hus was a reformer. His focus was on the church and the need to return that institution and its practices to the perceived purity of Christ and the apostles. He was keenly interested in moral issues but less engaged with doctrine or its refinement. It would be too sweeping to refer to Hus’ reform as a religious “Copernican Revolution” as one might certainly regard the initiative taken by Martin Luther 100 years later when the latter changed the dominant focus of the Christian culture from people to God and began to promote the Pauline idea of justification by faith.54 Neither did Hus inaugurate religious reform in the Bohemian province. Nevertheless, he emerged as the most controversial and perhaps most effective of the medieval Czech reformers. I would argue that if Hus were alive today, he would continue his work as a reformer operating on the principle that reform is something the church must embrace as an ongoing part of its THE

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There is very much a sense in which Hus functions in church history as a prophetic figure, a John the Baptist-type crying in the wilderness, a Simeon Stylites, utterly committed to single-minded devotion to God completely oblivious to popular opinion, a herald of the approaching eschaton, a man calling a perceived wayward church back to the via veritatis. The life, ministry and death of Jan Hus was prophetic in the waning light of medieval history in Bohemia and his disturbing prophetic voice can still be heard if one is inclined to listen. Hus warns the modern church about the enormous condescension of posterity and the arrogance of exclusive, permanent and non-negotiable truth claims.55 Hus would deplore the factionalism which so often marks contemporary Christianity and breeds intolerance among its adherents and contempt among those disinclined to participate in Christianity. Though Christian unity is spiritual, rather than organizational, Hus feared that the unity of Christ could be impaired by those seeking to interfere with the operation of the spirit of Christ.56 Hus would warn Catholics that their allegiance should not be to the papacy but to Christ. Hus would warn Lutherans that it is not the teachings of Martin that are important but rather the teachings of Jesus. Christ is the center and the church must be Christocentric.57 Hus might warn Evangelicals against limiting the Word of God to a book and admonish them instead to embrace the eternal word made flesh which continues to dwell among humanity.58 Hus might encourage Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians that it is not so important how one feels as much as it is who Christ is for humanity today. I believe that Jan Hus would condemn Protestants who allege that Catholics are not Christian.59 I also believe that Hus would excoriate declarations like that made by former Pope Benedict XVI in his 2000 declaration Dominus Iesus that absolute truth remained the exclusive purview of the Roman Church and that most non-Catholics were not members of a proper church at all.60 Hus might tell Moravians that one cannot obey the gospel or fulfill their Christian calling without controversy. There is no need to fear controversy. One should embrace it. Jan Hus did. Christ did. The voice of the prophetic Hus across six centuries is both arresting and disturbing. We learn from Hus that there are two types of people within the Christian faith: pilgrims and settlers. The settlers are those who have dis-

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identity. Reform once undertaken cannot be considered complete. It is a continuous process and must be regarded as a permanent part of Christian identity and practice. Reform is something each Christian should take seriously and must be implemented by each successive generation. Jan Hus is important today only for a church that is willing to be reformed. Six hundred years after his untimely death, we must ask what remains relevant about Hus, and is any of that applicable to the Christian faith today?


covered some truth and decide to settle permanently on that understanding. They are rather like the apostles Peter, James and John who accompanied Jesus onto an unnamed mountain in the synoptic gospels where he was transfigured before their incredulous eyes. Peter suggested they build dwelling places there. Hus would encourage the pilgrims not to become settlers. He issued a clarion call that there is more than mountaintop transfiguration. There is more than the decisions of early church councils. There is more than the Apostles’ Creed. There is more to discover beyond the limitations of medieval Christendom. There is more than Hus, more than Luther, more than Protestantism. Hus might even say there is more than Christianity itself. Christ was the center for Hus, but it seems obvious that Christianity was not his limit. The settlers believe they have come far enough. The pilgrims continue the search. Hus’ own life exemplifies the quest for truth, for God, for a reformed church, for a people committed to Biblical and apostolic principles, for a prophetic role in the world. But since the world has no eternal significance, Hus suggested that faithful Chritians should adhere to the law of God and remain on pilgrimage to the end “desiring to leave this world like sailors a ship that is sinking, like a traveler leaving a foreign country, like an inhabitant leaving a collapsing house, like a prisoner leaving a cruel jail; because we are on the sea, on a journey, in a foreign country, in a collapsing world, imprisoned by the body which is a hard prison.”61 Since there is no continuing city in this world, Hus saw no reason for pilgrims to become settlers.

I suspect that Hus would deplore the use of his name to identify Christian communities. Like John the Baptist, Hus was certain he would decrease as Christ increased. Luther was of the same mind. He would turn over in his grave were he to know that more than 80,000,000 Christians in many parts of the world are today identified as Lutherans. Had he not adamantly forbidden such undeserved recognition? “I would like to request that people not make reference to my name. Let them call themselves Christian, not Lutherans. What is Luther? In sum, the teaching is not mine. Neither was I crucified for anyone . . . . How should it be that I, a poor stinking bag of worms, come to the place where the children of Christ are called by my miserable name?”62 It is certain that Hus would deplore the unintended consequences of reform which over the past 500 years has led to the splintering and fragmenting of Christianity to such an extent that the notion of “one, holy, catholic, apostolic church” is little more than a figment of pious longings and wistful theological imagination. There are 34,000 organizationally distinct Christian denominations worldwide and many of these continue to drift towards fragmentation arguing over theological minutiae, stumbling over adiaphora, and utterly failing to consider the prayer of Jesus for unity ( John 17). THE

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Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God but the result was the church.65 The two cannot be regarded as synonymous. The mega-church phenomenon in America and elsewhere reveals the wide disparity between the kingdom of God and the Christian church. Unable or unwilling to adopt the “unreasonable” demands of Jesus as set forth in his frequently referenced but seldom practiced “sermon on the mount,” Christianity seems to have evolved into other iterations of the faith or in some instances has been coopted by a postmodern bastardizing of the gospel.66 It is little wonder Christianity has faced an identity crisis so much so that by the twenty-first century many manifestations of Christianity appear so similar that historic distinctives have been lost and indeed un-Christian emphases have begun to prevail. Prosperity preaching (which would warm the heart of many medieval prince-bishops) has replaced the sovereignty of God. Purpose-driven

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Jan Hus was not a Protestant (as is sometimes wrongly assumed) but he did flourish in the period from which the European Reformations sprang. Protestantism has altered the face of Christianity so much and so often that it might rightly be thought of as a chameleon. After a half millennium of tortuous existence, its identity is so confused and confusing that it might be mistaken as an illusion. Rampant individualism and relentless deconstruction are hallmarks of western non-Catholic Christianity. Hus would either be disgusted or dismayed. In Korea, there are 12,000,000 Protestants and more than 200 denominations of which nearly half are one type of Presbyterian or another. In America, religion might be described as “3,000 miles wide and three inches deep.”63 In all of this, there appears to be more interest in being Anglican, Lutheran, Evangelical, or Moravian than in being Christian. The teachings and ethics of Jesus are subordinated to statements of faith (often presented as unassailable Truth), denominational theologies or politics, while the principles of the kingdom of God appear either to have been downgraded or set aside as irrelevant. This has produced unintended consequences wherein one form of authority has been replaced with another. Protestant “popes” hungry for power have arisen and corruption characterizes the modern church as much as it did its medieval forebear. Instead of spiritual transformation there is spiritual tyranny. From his pulpit Hus denounced wicked priests who claimed the power to either grant the Holy Spirit to their hearers or consign them to hell.64 In parts of the modern church, the idea of “reform” has been institutionalized and is now the new establishment. Theology in all too many instances has become more an unbearable coat of mail than a means of liberation. As a prophet from the past, Hus would oppose such trends. Unfortunately, religion has often exploited people whether in the Middle Ages or in modern times. Being Hussite means countering religious exploitation with the gospel and with the principles of the kingdom of God.


programs appear to bypass the Incarnation. Keeping promises has been promoted as more significant than the work of Christ. Commitment to becoming a contagious Christian (of certain denominational stripes) appear here and there to replace the proclamation of the gospel. Hus would be aghast at the perversions of Christianity exploited on American Christian television. The sham, the silliness, the spectacle would scandalize him. He would be outraged at the modern manifestations of nepotism, simony and money-mongering which too often are shamelessly practiced in plain view, all in the name of Jesus. Hus would be ashamed at the insufferable refusal of some Lutherans to take communion with other Lutherans and would find it incomprehensible that Pentecostal missionaries in Egypt would seek to convert Coptic Christians. It is certain that Hus would call for another complete reform of the church in head and in members (in capite et in membris) were he to catch a glimpse of some sectors of the modern church. The focus for Hus was Christ, the gospel, prophetic spirituality, and the pursuit of truth. Everything had to be subordinated to that. Nothing could be permitted to usurp that vision, no matter how popular or compelling.67

Hus remains important after 600 years to those who confess Christ and to those who consider themselves part of the Christian tradition. This is so because he is not just an historic Christian figure, or even that he must be numbered among the martyrs of the church, but more because Hus was a reformer and the principles of reform which he practiced and defended unto death remain relevant. Remembering Hus after 600 years prompts the question of what reform means today for the modern church. It is quite impossible to take the template of Hus’ fifteenth-century program, or that of his progeny, and superimpose it upon the twenty-first century world.68 But there are principles which can be extracted. For example, what is the church and what is the point of the church? Is it for the worship of God? Is it mainly a social or cultural institution? Should it be insular? What is its mission? Is it, like the medieval church, principally concerned with saving souls? What should be taught and preached, and why? Reform, according to Hus, does mean that Christ has to take center stage.69 A reformed modern church without Christ at the center is more a deformed caricature of Christianity. Reform is always somewhat unnerving for it implies a willingness to change and a readiness to abandon traditionalism. Church reform must answer the question: who is Christ for us today? To consider Jan Hus as a prophetic figure means one must be willing to question, to explore and to wrestle with the big “Christian” questions. It means doing theology with the pencil rather than the pen. That suggestion disturbs ecclesiastical hierarchy, medieval and modern. But Hus once addressed the problem of the propensity for privileging the pen over the pencil: “From the very beginning of my studies I made it a rule that whenever I encounter a sounder

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Being a “Hussite” today means taking seriously the legacy of Hus. The prophetic voice of Jan Hus might speak even more directly demanding to know how America can claim to be a Christian nation while ignoring the mandates of the kingdom. Hus would condemn the gun culture in this nation and the gun violence which has become all too prevalent. He would shake his head at our so-called health care system which deprives so many of affordable health care. Hus would be aghast at the poverty within the United States of America. He would deplore the inhumanity of the prison system and the apparent apathetic attitude exemplified by so many of the part-time followers of Christ in America. The prophetic voice of Jan Hus would use every means at his disposal to try and correct the confusing of capitalism with Christianity and would initiate a reform movement to address the dire situation of American culture that simply does not work for increasing numbers of people. He was a reformer in the fifteenth century and he took on the abuses then. He would do so again today and remind us that it is only a matter of time before the American empire comes to the same end as the Roman empire.

In the face of modern culture which privileges experience, instant gratification, and fleeting electronic distractions and the vacuous nature of social media which promises more meaningful connection but leaves many even more lonely and isolated, reform cannot allow such things to take precedence over theology and tradition and these cannot be allowed to compete with or replace the gospel, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, or the fullness of God in Christ. As Hus put it, “if only people could experience here all the joy that the saints experience in the heavenly kingdom, they would certainly not pursue the useless pleasures of this world.”71 Reform means reassessing the role of the church in contemporary society. What is the function of the church today? What is the vision of the church? Hus redefined that in fifteenth-century Prague. Where is the Jan Hus of our time to proclaim a new vision? Reform today, if we wish to take any inspiration from Hus, means giving up affluence and money-driven agendas. Hus reminds us that it is perilous to assume that we have the Truth and that we must therefore bring others to our point of view. Hus did not claim to possess truth in an absolute sense. He regarded truth as an ideal which surpassed the individual as well as any institution. It was not possible to possess truth. It was only possible to pursue it. Hence, he was always prepared to change his current point of view when presented with more relevant information or cogent argument. Hus would remind us after 600 years that Christ is truth and that

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opinion to happily and humbly surrender the one previously embraced. For I am quite certain, just as Themistius says, that what we know is considerably less than what we do not know.”70


all of our little human truths or partial understandings of the Truth are not one and the same thing. If Jan Hus and the tradition which followed him in Bohemia has any currency for the modern church than a renewal of eucharistic spirituality is germane.72 Hus did proclaim that the medicine of salvation could be obtained in the eucharist and that the blood of Christ could cure all people for all time.73 A distinction must be drawn between ritual for the sake of traditionalism and a mystical participation in the reality of the holy. The eucharist may function as a means of approaching divine power (numen) which is outside of self and not subject to reason, human senses, experience, or feeling. It is mysterium tremendum et fascinans (fearful and fascinating mystery); mystery which cannot be controlled even by the church.74 Reform is not simple change for the sake of change, nor is it accommodation to temporary social demands or realities. Christ is not subject to culture and Christianity should not be driven or controlled by popular culture. Reform implies a theological or practical paradigm shift, especially in terms of authority. All of these things are evident in Jan Hus and these factors featured in his desire to bring the later medieval church into closer relation with its roots, its mission and its Lord.

Among the lessons of medieval faith, which relate to the modern church, is the directive that everyone needs to be catechized. Confirmation makes more sense than a pressure-driven crisis experience and this concept is deeply rooted in early Christianity.75 Instead of the sometimes simplistic accepting Jesus into one’s heart, perhaps a parallel approach is to encourage Christians to accept Christ into their minds. Jan Hus resisted some of the dominant trends and emphases in late medieval Christianity. His enduring witness encourages Christians everywhere to resist similar contemporary trends which are neither Christian nor consistent with the ethics of Jesus. There are five alarming characteristics of the modern church which should be resisted. These include, first, the trend towards a personality cult wherein ministers are reverenced almost to the point of idolatry. Second, performance-based “worship.” Third, superficial entertainment components associated around music which tend to replace the work of the Holy Spirit. Fourth, pervasive materialism which threatens to choke out the life of grace and faith, and fifth, the shallow preaching which fails to come to terms with the gospel, the historic witness of the faith, and the person of Christ. Modern manifestations include positive thinking, “purpose-driven life” ideas, irredeemably bad theology like the “left behind” franchise, prosperity doctrines, and the undue emphasis on the individual. The modern church in many places of the western world has become so fragmented that reform can only be local: line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:13). The virtual loss of any meaningful magisterium and church discipline means essential capitulation to individualism. Countering these challenges and implementing themes to replace these trends will be THE

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How can Christians be “Hussites” today? If we examine the life and death of Jan Hus across the expanse of 600 years, it seems there are three principles of enduring value which we can derive from the medieval faith of Hus and apply to the modern church today. The first is a conscious decision between principle and pragmatism. At Constance, Hus was given practically every available option to avoid the stake and save his life.77 Had he been pragmatically-minded, Hus may have chosen life. His commitment to the principles and ethics of Christ allowed him to opt only for eternal life. For Jan Hus, the path to everlasting life went by the way of the stake. The second lesson is another choice and this time the decision is either for a primary commitment to truth and justice, or an allegiance to political correctness. With that obscure prefect of the Roman province of Judea, Pontius Pilate, it is fair to ask: what is truth? Throughout his writings, whenever Hus employed the concept of truth he consistently reflected the “ethical value expressed by respect for the scriptures and justice.”78 More specifically it seems to have implied the person of Christ, who exemplified truth, and the law of God which both Hus and the later Hussites considered the foundation of reform and religious practice.79 Considerations of expediency have confronted the church since the beginning. Issues of conformity, legality, martyrdom, accommodationism, pluralism, demands for inclusivity, and the scandal of particularity have been raised repeatedly, sometimes with much urgency. It is doubtful Hus gave any consideration to whether his views offended or upset his detractors. Third, we are drawn into the sobering costs associated with the courage of conviction. There is always a cost to be paid. Jan Hus sat behind the prison walls of cloister, dungeon and tower at Constance and had to count the cost and decide if he was prepared to pay. The strongest faith is always the examined faith and those who dare to identify with Christ must ask themselves if they are willing to sacrifice and if so, to what extent? Jan Hus lived at a demanding time in the history of the church. For those of us who live in an age of relative softness, Jan Hus teaches us by the example of his life and death that the kingdom of God is not revealed in word or in doctrine but in deed. As Hus once affirmed, there was no greater calling or Christian duty than to defend the law of Christ.80 He shrank neither from the implications of conviction nor the cost of discipleship: “Let us remain on the cross, let us die at the cross.”81

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costly and the modern church must be prepared for a loss of support both in terms of finance and number of adherents. A decade ago, one pastor had more than 1,000 church members leave because he would not endorse conservative political agendas.76 Religious reform has never been easily accepted. The burden of reform, just as in the time of Hus, often falls first on the leadership. People will seldom progress further than the leadership. Reform must begin today, as it did for Hus, on a personal level which then might be transposed gradually onto a church level.


Six hundred years ago, Jan Hus put his hand on the plough. He did not look back. He did not waver. He did not flinch from the crushing cost of discipleship. Jan Hus is important to Christians today because he remains a prophetic figure always reminding us that for every man and every woman there remains forever a choice between two paths. One road is crowded and it is still the one which leads to destruction. Many people find themselves travelling it. Even on that road each man and each woman reaches a point, near or far, where they encounter a figure stooped beneath the weight of a cross. Every person asks where he is going and the answer comes: “I am going to New York, to Berlin, to Constance, to Bethlehem, to be crucified again in your place.” No one surely can bear that encounter forever.82 Jan Hus could not. At the intersection of time and eternity – nailed there with the nails of injustice and indifference – the traveller with the cross confronts us again with a perpetual reminder that in living we die but in dying we live. This is the incarnation which Hus strove to imitate. This is the fragment of eternity for which Hus sought so ardently. This is the reality of faith which Hus considered so marvellous to contemplate and from the Christian point of view is the light of the world. So committed was Jan Hus to the continuation of that light that he gave his will, his body, and his life at Constance 600 years ago in order to keep the flame alive.

Thomas A. Fudge University of New England, Australia

Endnotes 1 Luther often used the image. See, for example, his lectures on Genesis in Luther’s Works, ed., Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1961), vol. 3, p. 191. 2 John Van Engen, “The Church in the Fifteenth Century,” in Thomas A. Brady, Jr., Heiko A. Oberman and James D. Tracy, eds., Handbook of European History, 1400-1600, 2 vols (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), vol. 1, pp. 305-30 for a summary overview. 3 Thomas A. Fudge, The Memory and Motivation of Jan Hus, Medieval Priest and Martyr (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 17-50 explores considerations around Hus’ motivations and commitments. 4 John H. Van Engen, “The Christian Middle Ages as an Historiographical Problem” American Historical Review 99 (1986), pp. 519-62. 5 One example will suffice. “Error iste non solum est insipientia, sed insania.” The French Dominican William Perault, De fide in Summae virtutum ac vitiorum (Antwerp, 1588), col. 30r.

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6 Bryan D. Spinks, Early and Medieval Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From the New Testament to the Council of Trent (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), J.D.C. Fisher, Christian Initiation: Baptism in the Medieval West (London: S.P.C.K., 1965) and Richard Helmholz, “Baptism in the Medieval Canon Law” Rechtsgeschichte – Legal History 21 (2013), pp. 118-27 provide useful insights into the subject. 7 Peter Biller and A.J. Minnis, eds., Handling Sin: Confession in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 2013). 8

Peter Lombard, Sententiae, 3.25.2.

9 See for example, James A. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law (London: Longman, 1995), John T. McNeill and Helena M. Gamer, trans., Medieval Handbooks of Penance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), and Elizabeth Vodola, Excommunication in the Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).

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11 Sarah Hamilton, “Bishops, Education and Discipline,” in John H. Arnold, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 531-49. 12 Norman Tanner and Sethina Watson, “Least of the Laity: The Minimum Requirements for a Medieval Christian” Journal of Medieval History 32 (2006), pp. 395-423 is a good overview and I have drawn upon its survey. 13 Hans Liermann, “Studien zur Geschichte des corpus christianum in der Neuzeit” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Kanonistische Abteilung 27 (No. 1, 1938), pp. 486-529. 14 C. Scott Dixon, Dagmar Freist and Mark Greengrass, eds., Living with Religious Diversity in Early-Modern Europe (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009) and Paul P. Peachey, “The Radical Reformation, Political Pluralism, and the Corpus Christianum,” in Marc Lienhard, ed., The Origins and Characteristics of Anabaptism (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1977), pp. 10-26. 15 Jiří Kejř, Husité (Prague: Panorama, 1984), p. 41. 16 Karl Joseph von Hefele and Henri Leclercq, Histoire des Conciles, 9 vols (Paris: Letouzey and Ané, 1907-1952), vol. 7, pt. 1, p. 650. 17 Výklad deserata, in František Ryšánek, et al., eds., Magistri Iohannis Hus, Opera omnia, 25 vols projected (Prague: Academia; Turnhout: Brepols, 1959-), vol. 1, chapter 35, pp. 134-42. 18 Canon 17 in Norman P. Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 2 vols (London: Sheed & Ward, 1990), vol. 1 p. 243. 19 František Šmahel, La révolution hussite, une anomalie historique (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1985), pp. 22-3. 20 Peter A. Dykema and Heiko A. Oberman, eds., Anticlericalism in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 1993). 21 Bernard of Clairvaux, Apologia, in Jacques Paul Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina, 221 vols (Paris: Garnier, 1841-1865), vol. 182, col. 915. 22 There is an excellent diagram of the penitential cycle in Euan Cameron, The European Reformation, second edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 85.

23 Canon 21 in Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. 1 p. 245. 24 See, for example, the famous and notorious bull of Boniface VIII, Unam sanctam in Carl Mirbt, Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums (Freiburg: Mohr, 1895), pp. 88-90. 25 Bernd Moeller, “Frömmigkeit in Deutschland um 1500” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 56 (1965), pp. 3-31. 26 Judit Majorossy, “Late Medieval Confraternities in Pressburg,” in Nathalie Kruppa, ed., Pfarreien im Mittelalter: Deutschland, Polen, Tschechien und Ungarn im Vergleich (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008), pp. 339-61. 27 Marie-Hèléne Rousseau, Saving the Souls of Medieval London: Perpetual Chantries at St. Paul’s Cathedral, c. 1200-1548 (London: Ashgate, 2011). 28 K.L. Wood-Legh, Perpetual Chantries in Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965). 29 Jonathan Sumption, The Age of Pilgrims: The Medieval Journey to God (Mahwah, NJ: Hidden Springs, 2003) and Patrick J. Geary, Furta sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976). 30 Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 31 On eucharistic miracles, see Peter Browe, Die eucharistischen wunder des Mittelalter (Breslau: Müller and Seiffert, 1938), pp. 117-202. 32 An anonymous deathbed image is at Graz, Alte Galerie des Steiermärkischen Landesmuseums Ferdinandeum. Color reproduction in Hugo Soly, ed., Charles V 1500-1558 and his time (Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 1999), p. 122. On the last days of the emperor see Hermann Wiesflecker, Maximilian I: Die Fundamente des habsburgischen Weltreiches (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1991), pp. 376-84 and Peter Schmid, “SterbenTod-Leichenbegräbnis König Maximilians I,” in Lothar Kolmer, ed., Der Tod des Mächtigen, Kult und Kultur des Todes spätmittelalterlicher Herrscher (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1997), pp. 185-216. 33 Malcolm Lambert, Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation, third edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002) and Richard Kieckhefer, “The Office of the Inquisition and Medieval Heresy” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 46 (No. 1, 1995), pp. 36-61.

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10 Frederic William Maitland, Roman Canon Law in the Church of England (London: Methuen, 1898), p. 100.


34 A deeply perceptive work is Caroline Walker Bynum, Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007). 35 Tertullian, Apology, c.50, 13 in Patrologia Latina, vol. 1, col. 535. 36 The references and allusions in the following paragraph have been extracted from sources relating to the crusade against the Hussites appearing in Thomas A. Fudge, The Crusade against Heretics in Bohemia, 1418-1437 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002). 37 Joan Branham, “Blood in Flux: Sanctity at Issue” Res 31 (1997), pp. 53-70, Jonathan Klawans, “Pure Violence: Sacrifice and Defilement in Ancient Israel” Harvard Theological Review 94 (No. 2, 2001), pp. 133-57 and Carlin A. Barton, “An Emotional Economy of Sacrifice and Execution in Ancient Rome” Historical Reflections 29 (No. 2, 2003), pp. 341-60. 38 The text is in Opera Omnia, vol. 4, pp. 163186. I have twice looked at this text in some detail. Thomas A. Fudge, Jan Hus: Religious Reform and Social Revolution (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010), pp. 85-94 and Fudge, Jan Hus Between Time and Eternity: Reconsidering a Medieval Heretic (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2016), pp. 3-28. 39 Jan Nechutová, “Die charismatische spiritualität Böhmen in der vorreformatorischen Zeit” Österreichische Osthefte 39 (1997), pp. 411-419. 40 Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina (Turnhout: Brepols, 1953-), vol. 140, pp. 209, 768, 873-6. 41 Super IV Sententiarum, in Václav Flajšhans, ed., Mag. Jo. Hus Opera Omnia: Nach neuentdeckten Handschriften, 3 vols (Osnabrück: Biblio-Verlag, 1966), pp. 414-23. 42 Quoted in Stephen Ruby, ed., Roman Jakobson Selected Writings (Berlin: Mouton, 1985), vol. 6, p. 724. 43 Super IV Sententiarum, pp. 421-2. For Hus’ views of art see Constanze Itzel, “Peinture et hérérodoxie: La peinture flamande à la lumière du débat sur les images,” in Ludovic Nys and Dominique Vanwijnsberghe, eds., Campin in Context: Peinture et société dans la vallée de l’Escaut à l’époque de Robert Campin (Valenciennes-Brussels-Tournai: Presses universitaires de Valenciennes, 2007), pp. 139-54.

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44 S. Harrison Thomson, ed., Magistri Johannis Hus Tractatus De Ecclesia (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 1956), pp. 216-7. 45 František M. Bartoš, “Po stopách obrazů v Betlémské kapli z doby Husovy” Jihočeský sborník historický 20 (1951), pp. 121-7. There are references to the visual images at Bethlehem in Hus’ correspondence. Václav Novotný, ed., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a dokumenty (Prague: Nákladem komise pro vydávání pramenů náboženského hnutí českého, 1920), pp. 248-51. 46 The tale has been preserved in Matthaeus Ludecus, Historia von der erfindung, Wunderwercken und der zerstörung des vermeinten heiligen Bluts zu Wilssnagk (Wittenberg: Clemens Schleich, 1586). Wilsnack in context is explored in Bynum, Wonderful Blood, pp. 23-46. See also Felix Escher and Hartmut Kühne, eds., Die Wilsnackfahrt: Ein Wallfahrts - und Kommunikationszentrum Nord - und Mitteleuropas im Spätmittelalter (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2006). The most recent study is Donald Sullivan, “The Holy Blood of Wilsnack: Politics, Theology, and the Reform of Popular Religion in Late Medieval Germany” Viator 47 (No. 2, 2016), pp. 249-76. 47 De sanguine Christi, in Václav Flajšhans, ed., Opera omnia: Nach neuentdeckten Handschriften (Osnabrück: Biblio-Verlag, 1966), vol. 1, fasc. 3, pp. 3-37. 48 De sanguine Christi, pp. 20-22. 49 Sermon for Lent 1 in Collecta, in Opera Omnia, vol. 7, p. 130 and De sanguine Christi, pp. 26-7. 50 Sermon for Trinity 21 in Collecta, in Opera Omnia, vol. 7, p. 568. 51 De sanguine Christi, p. 26. 52 Fudge, Jan Hus Between Time and Eternity, pp. 141-164 traces Hus’ thinking on the matter through several of his late writings. 53 Pavel Soukup, “‘Pars Machometica’ in Early Hussite Polemics: The Use and Background of an Invective” in Michael van Dusen and Pavel Soukup, eds., Religious Controversy in Europe, 1378-1536: Textual Transmission and Networks of Readership (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), pp. 251-87. 54 Philip S. Watson, Let God be God: An Interpretation of the Theology of Martin Luther (London: Epworth Press, 1947), pp. 33-8. 55 Defensio libri de Trinitate, in Opera Omnia, vol. 22, p. 42.

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56 Contra Palecz, in Opera Omnia, vol. 22, pp. 325-6.

58 Preface to his Czech Postil, in Opera Omnia, vol. 2, pp. 59-60. 59 De ecclesia, pp. 18-19.

73 Sermon for Palm Sunday, 1406, Collecta, in Opera Omnia, vol. 7, p. 168.

60 http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/ congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_ doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html

74 The classic articulation is Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy, trans. John W. Harvey (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), pp. 12-24.

61 Výklad víry in Opera Omnia, vol. 1, p. 99.

75 Lawrence D. Folkemer, “A Study of the Catechumenate” Church History 15 (No. 4, 1946), pp. 286-307 is an introduction. David Hellholm, Tor Vegge, Øyvind Norderval and Christer Hellholm, eds., Ablution, Initiation, and Baptism: Late Antiquity, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2011) places the idea of initiation into a wide historical context.

62 D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, 121 vols (Weimar: Herman Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1883-2009), vol. 8, p. 685. See also James Kittelson, “Luther on Being Lutheran” Lutheran Quarterly 17 (2003), pp. 99-110. 63 Michael Lindsay, quoted in Eric Gorsci, “Religious Americans Embrace Many Paths to Eternal Life – Even if Their Denominations Don’t” Associated Press (23 June 2008). 64 Sermon on John 10, Tuesday after Pentecost, in Václav Flajšhans, ed., Mag. Io. Hus Sermones in Capella Bethlehem, 1410-1411, 6 vols (Prague: České společnosti nauk, 1938-1945), vol. 4, p. 171. 65 “Jésus annonçait le Royaume et c’est l’Église qui est venue.” Famously articulated by Alfred Loisy in his L‘Évangile et l’Église (Paris: Picard, 1902), p. 111. 66 Clarence Bauman, The Sermon on the Mount: The Modern Quest for its Meaning (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985). 67 Výklad víry, in Opera Omnia, vol. 1, p. 69. 68 Fudge, The Memory and Motivation of Jan Hus, Medieval Priest and Martyr, pp. 211-45. 69 O svatokupectví, in Opera Omnia, vol. 4, p. 269. 70 Defensio libri de Trinitate, in Opera Omnia, vol. 22, p. 42. Themistius was a fourth-century pagan philosopher who taught at Constantinople. 71 Dcerka, in Opera Omnia, vol. 4, pp. 183-4.

76 “Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock” The New York Times, 30 July 2006. Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007). 77 Delineated in Thomas A. Fudge, The Trial of Jan Hus: Medieval Heresy and Criminal Procedure (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 238-95. 78 Jiří Kejř, Z počátků české reformace (Brno: L. Marek, 2006), p. 25 and in broader terms Robert Kalivoda, Husitské myšlení (Prague: Filosofia, 1997), pp. 28-73. 79 Collecta, in Opera Omnia, vol 7, p. 373 (sermon for Trinity VII), Defensio articulorum Wyclif in Opera Omnia, vol. 22, p. 208 and Contra Stanislaum, in Opera Omnia, vol. 22, pp. 295-6. 80 Výklad na desatera, in Opera Omnia, vol. 1, p. 237. 81 Sermon for Easter Sunday, Postil, in Opera Omnia, vol. 2, pp. 189-90. 82 John A.T. Robinson, In the End God (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), p. 133.

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57 Super IV Sententiarum, pp. 20, 320, 330, 356, and 533.

72 David R. Holeton, “The Bohemian Eucharistic Movement in its European Context” The Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice 1 (1996), pp. 23-47 and Fudge, Jan Hus: Religious Reform and Social Revolution, pp. 151-63.


Responses to Thomas Fudge’s Moses Lectures C. Daniel Crews The Rev. Dr. C. Daniel Crews is former archivist for the Moravian Church Southern Province. He is currently a member of the Southern Province Provincial Elders’ Conference.

It seems to me that Dr. Fudge’s Moses Lectures’ greatest contribution to the churches, and specifically the Moravian Church and its leaders, comes towards the end of the second lecture (Jan Hus redivivus: How to be a “Hussite” after 600 Years). This is where he summarizes Hus’ reforming principles that transcend any particular age, including the centrality of Christ and his work as the basis of the church’s existence and activity. Tied to this is devotion to the truth and the constant search for truth without claiming that one already has truth in its entirety. God’s eternal truth does not change, but our understanding and fuller comprehension of it certainly do, including our understanding of Scripture. This means that the church cannot be tied to any particular political cadré or interest group, and that the church must be willing to change past ways of doing things, even beloved ones, in order to proclaim and live the truth and mission of Christ in the present and future. The church, therefore, must face the fact that proclaiming and doing the will of Christ will not always be popular, and indeed will demand the sacrifice of one’s own preferences and sometimes even one’s physical safety.

These principles sound familiar to us as Moravians. The centrality of Christ and the continuing search for sound doctrine are central in the Ground of the Unity. The statement in the Interprovincial Faith and Order Commission’s “Guiding Principles of Biblical Interpretation” (2011/2012 ) that “…we do not believe that Jesus points us to Scripture so that we can find the answers there, but rather that Scripture points us to Jesus so that we can find the answers in him” are in accord with Hus as well. Less attractive may be the admonitions to change and adapt, though the church has developed through the years to meet changing needs in ways that would surprise Zinzendorf. We acknowledge, though we may not welcome, the fact that truly living for Christ may cause us abuse and even danger. After 600 years it is reassuring that our guiding principles align so well with those of Jan Hus, though they are important not just because Jan Hus proclaimed them but because they are true. We have the principles; now, as always, we just have to live more fully into them. v THE

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M. Keith Kapp

Thomas Fudge provides a challenging and scholarly commentary on John Hus as seen through history, noting misperceptions, misconceptions and misrepresentations of Hus. However, Dr. Fudge is biased by our times in his analysis.

My personal interest in Hus centers on my own professional training as an attorney. I am fascinated with his heresy trial in Constance in 1415. I have also had the pleasure of taking two trips to Europe to follow Hus’ footsteps from Bohemia to Prague to Constance. John Hus was an extraordinary man. I find him stubborn, though principled. He didn’t die a Protestant; he died a Catholic priest trying to reform the medieval Church. However, the flame and ashes of his execution contributed to the growth of the movement that bears the name Reformation.

North American Moravians place greater emphasis on Hus than do our brothers and sisters in Europe and, to the extent I have limited knowledge, the rest of the world. I think much of this stems from a desire to be accepted not as a sect but as a mainline Protestant Church. The Anglican Church supported our Moravian Church and recognized it as an “ancient, Protestant Episcopal church” in the eighteenth century. To do this, you have to have deep roots in the Reformation; the Ancient Unity provides Moravians with those roots.

Dr. Fudge contends, “Moravians are not Hussites.” No one today can truly be a fifteenth century Hussite. Hus himself was not a Hussite. I am not sure that anyone today is seeking “truth” in the sense of the true Christian faith the way Hus did. My recent experience in Hus’s homeland demonstrates that at least some scholars and church leaders may share some of Dr. Fudge’s opinions. A number of North American Moravians were in Prague on July 6, 2015 for the celebrations of the 600th anniversary of Hus’s martyrdom. We were there not as official representatives, but as pilgrims and tourists. At Bethlehem Chapel and on the Old Town Square in Prague, I could find no members of the Unitas Fratrum participating in an official capacity. As I spoke with others in Old Town Square that evening and tried to describe our branch of the Hussite tree, several of them said, “Oh, yes, you are a Zinzendorfer” or “you are a Herrnhutter.” The overlay of Protestant pietism through which our Moravian Church descends makes us different

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M. Keith Kapp is an attorney and a member of Raleigh Moravian Church in Raleigh, N.C.


from other Czech Protestants and the modern Hussite Church organized in Czech lands in the early 20th century. Instead of in Prague, the Unitas Fratrum ceremony remembering Hus occurred in the small Czech border town of Zelezny Brod.

Other Czech scholars and religious leaders, however, clearly count modern Moravians among the Hussites. The museum in Tabor, the early Hussite stronghold, had in 2015 an extraordinary exhibition for the 600th anniversary of Hus’s death. It contained several rooms devoted to our Unitas Fratrum and how it spread Hussite ideas all over the world through our missionary efforts. The museum in the quiet village of Kunwald, site of the official establishment of the ancient Unitas Fratrum, honors all the provinces of the modern Unity.

We claim our Hussite heritage in practice and worship, as well as in history. Our Moravian Church acknowledges our Hus roots in our Communion Liturgy for All Saints. We have one paragraph to read on the Sunday nearest July devoted to his martyrdom. We use a few of his prayers and hymns in our twentieth century hymnals.

Dr. Fudge notes a number of diverse groups that identify with and claim Hus as a hero ranging from Marxists to Conservative Christians. Dr. Fudge’s comments come through the prism of the early twenty-first century. How will Hus be treated or even remembered in 2115 for the 700th year of his martyrdom? v

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Ben Lippert

Although I strongly disagree with Dr. Fudge’s assertions that Jan Hus was a heretic and that he was not executed by means of judicial murder (let us remember Dr. King who pointed out that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal) I think he raises a much more important question for Moravians: What does it mean to claim Hus as a spiritual ancestor?

How Hus viewed the Bible, church reform, social reform, and his vocation as a priest were shaped by Scripture, truth, and his pursuit to live as Christ. Jan Hus was far from perfect, but he was a good Christian at a time where good Christians were hard to find in positions of authority. The Council of Constance murdered him like many other great martyrs and saints, because he had the courage to speak truth to power and they hated him for it. Had Hus been a true heretic, his spirit of reform would have died with him when he went to the stake. However, not even death could extinguish the flame of truth that Hus carried with him his whole life. It is a light his spiritual ancestors have proudly carried for 600 years.

As Moravians, if we are to claim Hus as the light to our own spiritual birth, then we must pursue truth with as much vigor and courage as Hus or we will only be found to be imposters. This means defining ourselves as a church by Matthew 25 (what we do for the least of these we do for Christ) and being vocal that the prosperity Gospel preached by many today is a golden calf. God is not Oprah, waiting to rain down blessings on all who appear in the Almighty’s studio audience. Hus pointed us to Christ and if we truly want to honor this great saint then we must be willing to do the same no matter what the cost. “Live like Christ and you will know Christ well.”1

The burden now lies on us to make sure the prophetic voice of Jan Hus that points people back to Christ rekindles the church today. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we must realize this voice is absent or at the very least is in dire need of amplification in the wider Christian church today. However, as Christians it is important to remember we believe in resurrection and we proudly testify the spirit that died can always be reborn. Hus’ spirit can be reborn; the only way the spirit of Hus can truly be killed is if we allow the pursuit of Jesus and truth to fall by the wayside. Let us courageously pursue building a church that Jan Hus would proud to be part of. Amen! v 1 Atwood, Craig D. The Theology of the Czech Brethren from Hus to Comenius. University Park: Penn State Press, 2009

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Ben Lippert is a second year Masters of Divinity student at Moravian Theological Seminary. His home church is Lake Mills Moravian Church in Wisconsin.


Peter Kawageme The Rev. Peter Kawageme is principal of the Mlimani Theological College in Tanzania

Brother Thomas Fudge shares an incredible scholarly work on the issue of the quest of the historical Hus. This article is very interesting to read and reflect upon. For intellectuals it searches for more historical facts about who Hus was and what he did that increases and expands our knowledge. On the other hand, for lay Christians, it may be somewhat confusing. As I read this article, I was surprised by the different perspectives of the man we know as Master Jan Hus. From my childhood I never thought that there could be another perspective of this great man. I was raised in an oral tradition culture where what was told by early missionaries and other Moravian teachers when the gospel was coming to this country was taken as completely true. With that background, it is amazing to study different perspective of Master Hus.

The majority of Moravians around the world have known and heard the story of Master Hus from different perspectives. For most of us, Master Hus is a hero of faith in God. One can see clearly the authenticity of what Hus stood for in his life. Brother Fudge’s research into what others said and wrote about Hus is very intriguing even though it is not very helpful for common Moravian Christians and even theologians. However, I do agree with Brother Fudge on the fact that we cannot try to fit Hus in our context today nor make him an object of faith as some Hussites did over five hundred years ago. Rather, we see Hus today as a man of courage in his faith, a great thinker with the courage to stand for what is true; he was ready to die for what he believed.

It is also interesting to see the relationship between what our Lord Jesus Christ and what Master Hus went through in their walk to death. Jesus went through that ordeal for two reasons: He was God and came to the serve the fallen humanity and secondly he rose again. Hus, went through the ordeal because of his faith in the truth of the risen Christ which led him to want to reform the church. The quest for the Historical Jesus is something that seeks to find some factual evidence of the existence of Jesus; I see that has no value to our faith and salvation that we receive in Him. One can ask do we really want to find the evidence of who Hus was and what he said and did? I do not think this is important to us today as Christians. As a Moravian I find it appealing to imitate Hus’ courage and faith in Jesus Christ.

Even today Hus is teaching us many things related to faith in Christ and he remains to be the Church father as others are. v THE

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Larry Koslovsky Having spent his career in search of the historical Hus, Fudge opens the door to Jan Hus like no other has in the English-speaking world in decades. Through Fudge’s work, Hus—whose sermons and writings are trapped in Latin and Czech from an era of little historic interest and eclipsed by the Protestant Reformation—comes to life in the English language for those of us who cannot get to or translate the original texts.

Fudge debunks the myths and get us as close as possible to the historical Hus. He gives us a clearer, more honest and accurate picture of Jan Hus—less the innovator and more the reformer, less the victim of a stacked judicial process and more the man of principle and conviction in pursuit of the truth—allowing us to reevaluate our understanding of who Hus is and how his life informs the church today. John Hus is important today only for a church that is willing to be reformed. A provocative thought for those of us who have a heritage linked to Hus and the early Unity of the Brethren and pride ourselves on the connection. The legacy of Hus challenges us today to reexamine who we are from the perspectives of devotion to God, Christian unity, the Kingdom of God, the Sermon on the Mount, and the law of Christ.

The focus for Hus was Christ, the Gospel, prophetic spirituality, and the pursuit of truth. The challenge is to live out our faith in the same vein. The theme of settler and pilgrim still speaks today. By and large the American church has become settlers instead of living the journey, the pilgrimage of faith. Hus exhibits openness to questioning his own thought and theology should better insights come along from others. He is an advocate of “pencil over pen.” The takeaway is Hus the reformer, prophet, pastor, spiritual guide, and yes heretic leaves a legacy: a man of faith living and dying for the relentless pursuit of truth., We, as the heirs of Hus, should follow the path not of least resistance, but rather faithfulness to the call of Christ as exemplified in the life of Jan Hus.

Fudge presents the person and work of Hus as dauntlessly as Hus sought to reform the church. Thanks to Dr. Fudge for his exploration in what is the uncharted territory of the life and thought of Jan Hus with diligence, tenacity and much sacrifice as a gift to the rest of us who want to know more. v

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Larry Koslovsky is a pastor in the Unity of the Brethren Church in Texas


Response from Thomas Fudge I once told an adult Sunday School class that too much reading of Scripture was not a good idea. What a strange thing for a pastor to say! I went on to opine that as Bible readers we had come to know the text so well we no longer thought critically about what we were reading and seldom had the capacity any longer to engage meaningfully with the text. We had already formed opinions, drawn conclusions, made up our minds, and essentially (even if we never openly said so) considered ourselves experts. Notions that we might be wrong seldom disturbed us. I suggested we set aside the Bible, spend some time reading strange and new texts, sharpen our critical thinking skills, and then return to Scripture, to the place we had begun, as it were, but now engaging with it for the first time.

Considering Jan Hus is no different. An unwillingness to take Hus on his own terms, in his historic context, reduces him to a puppet serving personal or institutional agendas. Christians are often guilty of graverobbing the past wherein one takes what appeals, appropriates what serves specific purposes, while leaving the rest to rot in the silence of the kingdoms of the dead. Perhaps we should allow Hus to interrogate us and in that discourse with a dead medieval priest, surrender that unhealthy desire to control the past and its interpretation. More than a century ago G.K. Chesterton noted in his little book What’s Wrong with the World that “the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Hus might say that’s what’s wrong with the church too. We remembered Jan Hus in 2015 and the upshot of that intentional remembrance of things past was to grapple with the challenge and legacy of Hus. My lectures at Bethlehem and on the international circuit brought home to me that Hus is as uncomfortable for some Christians today as he was for others in his own time. It is clear that those who care about Hus range in their assessment from concluding he was probably mentally ill (a comment I heard in Prague) to proclaiming him a man of such sterling character and commitment to Christ that in consequence he was without fault. Heretic or saint? Heresy must be understood as relating to issues of obedience within the cleavage between truth and authority. That’s where we find Hus.

Like Luther’s critique of some uses of scripture, Hus has a wax nose. He is made to conform to a variety of desired images. In this sense he is rather like Jesus who is conceived chiefly in modern images according to the creeds, confessions, theologies, denominational doctrines of a thousand persuasions, and personal preferences. Perhaps as humans we cannot escape the gravitational pull of our own intellectual orbits. But this is precisely THE

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where Hus can be of some help to those willing to consider that the kingdom of God and the ethics of Jesus are not synonymous with “church” or particular Christian identities.

In the second century Tertullian asked: “what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In other words, what relation is there between reason and faith? Jan Hus modelled the principle that the strongest faith is the examined faith. His willingness to try to live (not just preach) the gospel produced principles which transcend time and space and which facilitate the growth of the kingdom of God. Perhaps the most heartening thing for the historian, reflected in the responses to the Moses Lectures, is finding those today willing to consider the people and ideas of the past not merely as curiosities on dusty shelves but as constructive components in the present. It is rather like the argument about tradition versus innovation. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living whilst tradition is the living faith of the dead. Jan Hus encourages us all to embrace the latter. v

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Hinge 22.1: Quest of the Historical Hus & Jan Hus redivivus: How to Be a “Hussite” After 600 Years  

2015 Moses Lectures by Dr. Thomas A. Fudge

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