Jan Hus tends to get lost. Following Peter Waldo and John Wyclif but preceding Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli, he occupies nebulous and seldom discussed territory. Even Christian History has scarcely mentioned him since Issue 0, a prototype (developed to accompany Gateway Films' Jan Hus video) with only a handful of photocopied issues still in circulation. In our magazine as in his era, Hus appeared before the world was ready for him.
That Hus is so largely forgotten outside his native Czech Republic is perhaps as great an injustice as his execution 585 years ago. For though he was solidly a man of his time and place, his ideas merit broad recognition. In fact, most of them ring so true that it seems amazing they were ever considered revolutionary.
Hus believed pastors should model godly lives and preach vivid, accessible sermons. They should not make fortunes off their ministries but should think of themselves as servants. Sounds like basic seminary wisdom so far.
Hus was also uneasy with the church hierarchy claiming final authority over worldly—and other-worldly—affairs. Now he begins to sound more like a Protestant, but considering that at one point during his life three men claimed to be pope, his uneasiness is understandable.
Unfortunately for Hus, organizations in severe crisis have little use for fresh ideas. At such a time, "different" means "radical," and "radical" means "dangerous." Embattled institutions fire first and ask questions later.
Now that it's much, much later, the Roman Catholic Church is asking questions. A Polish pope took special interest in Eastern European unity, and Catholic and Protestant scholars started working together to reevaluate Hus. They decided he wasn't such ...