Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Hus, John

(Huss; Johannes Hus von Husinetz; Czech: Jan Hus; ca. 1370–1415). 1. Reformer and martyr; b. Husinec, Boh.; educ. Prague; lecturer U. of Prague 1398; priest 1401; rector U. of Prague 1402; preacher Bethlehem Chapel, Prague, founded for the preaching of the Word of God in the language of the people. Hus tried to restore true devotion among Christians and fearlessly attacked corruption (e.g., simony* and indulgences*) on all levels in the ch.; supported Wenceslaus'* position in the papal schism of 1378–1417 (see Schism, 8). His defense of J. Wycliffe's* reform ideas made him suspect of heresy.

2. Hus was forbidden to preach 1409, put under lesser excommunication 1410, under greater excommunication 1412 (see Keys, Office of the, 9); went into hiding 1412 and turned to writing. His stress on the ch. as the body of the elect and on the need for doctrine and decrees to be in harmony with Scripture in order to be binding on conscience challenged the importance and authority of the hierarchy. Though Hus may not have accepted all of Wycliffe's views, he was accused of Wycliffite errors and cited to appear before the Council of Constance* 1414. Emp. Sigismund* promised him safe-conduct.

3. Hus hoped to defend his cause before the council. But he was thrown into prison and was only asked to recant his “errors.” He insisted on the need to distinguish bet. what was true and what was heretical in Wycliffe. He also requested reasons for recanting. The council, anxious to assert its authority and accomplish its purpose to restore unity and pure doctrine in the ch. (see Councils and Synods, 7), was not inclined to argue with a man accused of heresy. And Hus's old enemies did their best to represent him as a heretic. July 6, 1415, he was condemned, stripped of clerical status, handed over to the secular arm, and burned at the stake. His ashes were cast into the Rhine.

4. Hus's inability to accept the authority of the ch. where it went against his conscience and his understanding of Scripture foreshadowed the advent of modern man and of the Reformation.

5. Works include De ecclesia; De causa boemica; Determinatio de ablatione temporalium a clericis; Disputatio Joannis Hus; letters; sermons.

See also Hussites.

The Cambridge Medieval History, ed. C. W. Previté-Orton and Z. N. Brooke, VIII (New York, 1936), 1–115; J. Hus, De ecclesia: The Church, tr. D. S. Schaff (New York, 1915); The Library of Christian Classics, ed. J. Baillie, J. T. McNeill, H. P. Van Dusen, XIV: Advocates of Reform From Wyclif to Erasmus, ed. M. Spinka (Philadelphia, 1953), 185–278; M. Spinka, John Hus (Princeton, New Jersey, 1968). MSF

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online