Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Lollards

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Lollards, The. The name, which is of unknown origin and meaning, was first used in the Netherlands, and was applied in England to Evangelical sectaries before the time of Wycliffe [see]. As his followers had the same creed, to return to the simplicity or virtue of the early Christians, it was given to them. The significance of Lollardism in the evolution of European thought is shabbily treated in historical literature because it discredits the myth of the general docility of the people to the Church of the Middle Ages. As soon as any part of Europe was intellectually awakened, at the end of the Dark Age, revolt began: the rationalistic revolt in the schools [see Abelard; Arnold; etc.], the spread of democratic ideas [see Democracy] in Italy, and the moral (or immoral) revolt of the troubadour literature and chivalry.

The Church crushed the first and second, but the deeper corruption into which it itself sank when its power was secured, and the invention of new doctrines, powers, and rites, led to fresh extensive revolts. That of the Albigensians, Waldensians, etc. [see], was bloodily suppressed, as the Crusades had now put armies of looters at the disposal of the Papacy, but the stark contrast between the Gospels and the actual features of the Church continued to provoke rebellion in spite of the Inquisition. This had never been admitted into England, and when Wycliffe (1324-84) organized a band of stern puritan preachers there was an amazing response. Although the population of England was then less than 4,000,000, authorities estimate that Wycliffe had about 500,000 followers, or nearly half the adult males of all classes. In view of the loose morals of the time, we may regard a very large proportion of these as just men who resented the greed and hypocrisy of the clergy and monks. In spite of royal and clerical pressure and many martyrs - the death-sentence for heresy in the statute De haeretico comburends was passed in 1401-the Archbishop of Canterbury complained that they were as numerous as ever in 1428, and the movement persisted until it was absorbed in the Reformation. See G. M. Trevelyan, England in the Age of Wycliffe (3 ed., 1904), and E. Powell and G. M. Trevelyan The Peasant-Rising and the Lollards (1899, with valuable documents).

Return to Joseph McCabe Selection

Home Page

Scanning, HTML Rae West. First upload 2014-02-01