Refusal to Swerve from the Truth (Huss)

 In the last months of his life, while he was in prison charged with heresy, John Huss faced many false accusations.  Many people thought that he should just recant of these accusations even though they were false – this way he could live on and not die as a martyr.  But Huss was a man of truth and firm Christian conviction.  Here’s how Martin Pope and Herbert Workman explained it (using some of Huss’ own words):

[Huss] could not acknowledge that he recanted heresies which he had always stoutly disclaimed, and which the Council had attributed to him along with doctrines to which he confessed. ‘Serene Prince,’ said Hus to Sigismund, ‘I do not want to cling to any error, and I am perfectly willing to submit to the determination of the Council. But I may not offend God and my conscience by saying that I hold heresies that I have never held.’

For Hus truth was supreme: ‘I have said that I would not for a chapel full of gold recede from the truth.’ ‘I know,’ he had written in 1412, ‘that the truth stands and is mighty forever, and abides eternally, with whom there is no respect of persons.’

Throughout his letters his chief anxiety is ‘lest liars should say that I have slipped back from the truth I preached.’ Few scenes in history are more touching or ennobling than the fidelity with which Hus refused to swerve from absolute truth even to save his life. He realized that it was better that he should burn than confess that he had ever held doctrines which his soul abhorred, as, for instance, the monstrous article alleged against him by a nameless doctor ‘that he had stated that he was the fourth person in the Trinity!’ (Doc. 318). To Sigismund and worldlings of that ilk recantation of such a charge seemed a bagatelle [trivial matter]; the falser the charge the easier to recant. But Hus thought otherwise…. 

The Letters of Huss, ed. Martin Pope and Herbert Workman, section LIX.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015