The Catholic Defender: Father John Huss, Saint or Heretic?
I've been asked to take a look at Father John Huss because some are questioning his positions. Huss was born in Hussenitz, Boehemia in 1372. We are talking about a time before the Protestant Reformation yet, modern day Protestants treat him as one of their own. That was not the case.
Huss was given a good upbringing where he would study theology at the University of Prague. He had a good formation. Huss was ultimately ordained a priest and served at the Bethlehem chapel located in Prague. In 1409, Father Huss served as rector at the University. This is important for any Priest ordained to the priesthood. Recall the words of St. Paul:
"Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you." 1 Timothy 4:14
The Lord called Father Huss to the priesthood making him a "priest of the Kingdom" (Revelation 5:10). St. Peter spoke this to his fellow Elders:
"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory."
Father Huss began to challenge the office of the Papacy, hence why modern day Protestants will point to him in there search for "martyrs". Jesus alone established the foundation of the Papacy placing St. Peter as the first:
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is? And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:13-19
The keys designates an office, it belongs to the Lord's "Royal Steward" (Isaiah 22:19-24), the Lord's "Prime Minister".
Jesus does not give the servants the right to rebel should the Master of the house acts opposed to the Lord's work (Luke 12:35-39) but the rejoicing when they are found righteous.
Another area why modern day Protestants point to Father Huss is because he openly taught that the scripture was the foremost authority. Today, within Protestantism, there are over 40,000 denominations because they can't agree on what scripture teaches. That is what happens when you take out the authority of the Church and it's 2,000 year tradition that embodies all the teaching of Christ. St. Paul writes:
"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:15
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us." 2 Thessalonians 3:6
Father Huss denied the true presence of Jesus in Holy Communion. This is a serious heresy. St. Paul states:
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." 1 Corinthians 11:27-28
When you take the scripture out of it's proper context and apply personal opinions to their faith formation, they place harm on those they led astray:
"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Peter 1:20-21
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:6-9
Father Huss, Martin Luther, or Don Hartley nobody has any call to start their own denomination teaching their own doctrines that do not come from the Catholic Church founded by Christ, commissioned by Christ, and then sent by Christ to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.
St. Paul warns against this:
"As for a man who is heretic (factious), after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned." Titus 3:10-11
Now to his end, was his heresy a capital offense? What makes this case different than what we see today? The Catholic Church today seems to point totally against capital punishment, the bible in the Old Testament certainly did have capital punishment and many still believe in it today for the more serious crimes.
The process should be that Father Huss would have been judged by a tribunal (Matthew 18:15-18) and if found guilty, given the chance to recant, or be handed over to the civil authority.
BTW, most people do not know this, but 9 out of every 10 persons ever brought before such a tribunal were acquitted of the accusations. Others did recant, but there were cases that some would not. In the span of about 6 centuries, between 2 and 5 thousand people were tried and convicted of heresy.
Certainly not the hundreds of thousands that some mistakenly push out into the public.
For his defense, Huss said, "I never taught any doctrine that was evil, now what I have taught with my lips, I will seal with my blood.”
How tragic this is because Huss was totally wrong. Jesus said:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caperna-um. Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?" John 6:52-62
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:26-28
Regardless how you feel about Capital Punishment, this is a tragic story that has a tragic outcome. On the Day of Judgement we all will render an account before the Lord. Whose example serves us best, St. Paul or John Huss? For me this is an easy answer, James 5:19-20 states this:
"My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."
John Huss went to his death in defiance against Christ disobeying His Church. Jesus said:
"He who hears you (The Church) hears me (Jesus), and he who rejects you (The Church) rejects Me (Jesus), and he who rejects me (Jesus) rejects him (The Father) who sent me." Luke 10:16