Joan of Arc
Alan: I admire the Hussites and have Moravian friends - in particular a black physician friend who is unusually dedicated to The Common Good. Given the tenor of the times, I understand Joan of Arc's presumption that God had authorized her to "take away their heresy or their lives." That said, in the larger scheme of things, Joan's threat is, by any substantive moral measure, a menace of murder.
Hussism organised itself during the years 1415–1419. From the beginning, there formed two parties.
The moderate party, who followed Hus more closely, sought to conduct reform while leaving the whole hierarchical and liturgical order of the Church untouched.
The more radical party[clarification needed] identified itself more boldly with the doctrines of John Wycliffe, sharing his passionate hatred of the monastic clergy, and his desire to return the Church to its supposed condition during the time of the apostles. This required the removal of the existing hierarchy and the secularisation of ecclesiastical possessions. The radicals preached the "sufficientia legis Christi"—the divine law (i.e. the Bible) is the sole rule and canon for human society, not only in the church, but also in political and civil matters. They rejected therefore, as early as 1416, everything that they believed had no basis in the Bible, such as the veneration of saints and images, fasts, superfluous holidays, the oath, intercession for the dead, auricular Confession, indulgences, the sacraments of Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick; they admitted laymen and women to the preacher's office, and chose their own priests. But above all they clung to Wycliffe's doctrine of the Lord's Supper, denying transubstantiation, and this is the principal point by which they are distinguished from the moderate party.
The Four Articles of Prague
The programme of the more conservative Hussites (the moderate party) is contained in the Four Articles of Prague, which were agreed upon in July 1420, and promulgated in the Latin, Czech, and German languages. The full text is about two pages long, but they are often summarized as:
- Freedom to preach the Word of God.
- Celebration of the Communion under both kinds (bread and wine to priests and laity alike).
- No secular power for the clergy.
- Equal punishment for the mortal sins without considering the social position of the criminal.