Jan Hus (John Huss) (1372-1415)

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Bohemian pre-Reformation advocate of church reform and eventual martyr. Hus was ordained and preached at Bethlehem chapel in Prague. Educated at Prague University, Hus was briefly appointed dean and rector, and, inspired by John Wyclif, proposed various reforms that drew wide support. He was censured for his bold preaching and wrote his major work on ecclesial reform while in exile. Though promised safe conduct to the Council of Constance, he was arrested and removed from the priesthood. As he was burned at the stake, he sang. Considered a martyr and national hero, he influenced the Bohemian Brethren and the Reformers, though his work had focused more on clerical abuses and ethics than on theological issues (from Pocket Dictionary of the Reformed Tradition).

John Wyclif (1330-1384)

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English theologian and Oxford professor, often referred to as the morning star of the Reformation. Wyclif’s belief in the absolute authority of Scripture led him to oversee the translation of the Bible into the English vernacular of the time. His own study of Scripture led him to oppose transubstantiation, monasticism, the mediatory power of the priest and other Catholic doctrines, resulting in his dismissal from Oxford. However, his influence had already spread from Oxford to continental Europe, most notably to the Bohemian theologian Jan Hus. Wyclif’s English followers, called Lollards, gained strength and were even represented in Parliament for a time before undergoing extreme persecution in the fifteenth century (from Pocket Dictionary of the Reformed Tradition).

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

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He was “Medieval Italian theologian and monk whose work was declared to be the official teaching of Roman Catholic Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. Aquinas’s greatest influence is found in his Summa Theologica, a systematic presentation of Christian theology based on the philosophical system of Aristotle. One of his more famous contributions was a thorough discussion of the Five Ways (proofs) for the existence of God” (Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms).

Pelagius (A.D. 354-415)

This Irish monk rejected Augustine’s teaching on original sin, believing that sin exists through individual habituation rather than ontological or legal inheritance. Hence, he emphasized the necessity of moral perfection and obeying God on the basis of free will. Later, Martin Luther, agreeing wholeheartedly with Augustine on the matter, interpreted any opposition to justification by faith as an appeal to Pelagius’ synergism. Moreover, the Reformed tradition reject Pelagianism on account of man’s total depravity.

Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

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One of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. He was influential in the development of the Western church’s understanding of the doctrines of the Trinity, sin, predestination and the church. His teachings or Augustinianism is a system of thought essentially starts with the complete sinfulness of humankind (depravity), which leaves humans unable to respond in faith toward God. In keeping with this, Augustinianism asserts that God predestines those who are enabled to repent and believe. Many believe that Augustine had the greatest influence on John Calvin’s life.

Council of Nicea (A.D. 325)

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The gathering of the church leaders in the early centuries to discuss major theological issues for the purpose of coming to consensus on what the church should believe. The Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) met primarily to resolve the debate on Arianism (the teaching that denied Christ’s deity) and concluded with the formulation of the anti-Arian Nicene Creed.