Jan Hus statue in the central square of Prague

Earlier this summer I was reading about Jan Hus, the famous reformer, as part of a church history class. This past month I had the privilege of visiting Prague, Czech Republic, the former home of Jan Hus and where his statue now stands in the very center of town.

Hus spoke out against the common practice of indulgences and taught that people only obtain forgiveness through true repentance, not money.  Then he opposed the crusades, writing that church leaders should take up the cross, not the sword. Hus felt that scripture did not support these practices and that scripture held the final authority. Hus was a student of John Wycliffe, who believed that people should be permitted to read and study the Bible in their own language and apply that teaching to their lives.

All this opposition to church teaching landed Hus in a rather hot spot – he was burned at the stake by church officials in 1415. His death was not in vain, of course. Thanks to people like Jan Hus, today we have open and unfettered access to the Scriptures. We owe a great debt to Hus and others like him, those who died to gain for us this wonderful privilege. Next time you open your Bible, either a physical copy or on your electronic device, know that Jan Hus is looking over your shoulder with a smile, along with a somewhat smoky odor.