One Reason I Like William Tyndale

In 1215 A.D. the Fourth Lateran Council Declared:

“The secret mysteries of the faith ought not to be explained to all men in all places… For such is the depth of divine Scripture that, not only the simple and illiterate, but even the prudent and learned are not fully sufficient to try to understand it.”

Archbishop Thomas Arundel of The Church of England a couple of centuries later turned this “ought not” into a heresy punishable by burning.  England was the only major European country where translation was banned totally. However, the Roman Church punished all they could when it was discovered.

Tyndale told a fellow clergyman: “If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow, shall know more of Scripture than thou doest.” (1522, Foxes Book of Martyrs)

This audacity drove him to translate the first printed Bible into English, which eventually lead to his death by the hand of the State Church. Tyndale was condemned as a heretic, degraded from the priesthood, strangled and then his body burnt.  In his last prayers, Tyndale prayed that God would open the eyes of the King of England. A couple of years later, God answered that prayer, and the law was lifted. In 1539 Henry VIII ordered an English translation (the Great Bible) to be placed in every pulpit in England. Men were free to possess and translate the Bible into English. 

We as free men and women owe much to Mr Tyndale. The Scriptures are for all men, not for some elite group of scholars or so-called experts. We should honor the leaders of the Church, but the Scriptures translated into the native tongue allow for all men in the church to hold each other accountable and to be vigilant against false teachers and the wiles of the devil. It was meant to be shared, not hoarded.

Praise God for William Tyndale and his desire to get the written word to all men!


  1. Interestingly, in the East, though in ancient centuries almost no one had personal copies of the scriptures, it has been the laity that has been the source of complaint when their priest or bishop is promoting heresy. How? Not due to personal interpretation of the scriptures or any version of sola scriptura, but because they recognized something that was opposed to the faith they had received from the apostles. Universal posession of the scriptures has not begotten any unity, but rather schism. Scripture removed from the womb of the church is a tool for destruction.

    1. That is an interesting fact you have laid out about the history of the Church. Not all men did have the Scriptures. I do know that if men had the means, they would obtain copies. Poorer men had to lean on the Church or rich men to share and convey the messages laid down in the writings. However, should all men have the Scriptures? Tyndale thought they should. It seems you disagree. But I ask: Should only the Church hierarchy have them? Sinful men with an education? Why would having the writings of Scripture cause schism and oral tradition not cause schism? The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England lead many men and women astray by playing on their ignorance. How is a Clergyman with a Bible any less dangerous than a common man with a Bible? Schisms were predicted by Christ and happened early in the History of the Church. Some groups like the Nicolaitans and Gnostics were mentioned in Scripture for example. Is the Orthodox Church true in every respect according to the Scriptures? Not all traditions are bad, not all men are wrong, but how do we measure a true Church? What is your standard?

    2. You make some valid points on the face of things, and yes we all have and read the scriptures. But scripture, even in the NT is to be read to the community. More scripture is read in Orthodox services than I ever heard in my Prot assemblies. It is not about having an education, the great fathers and teachers of the church were saints, not academics. God himself must be known and experienced, along with the text about him.
      The right of private interpretation of scripture has led to massive schism and division. Schism is forbidden in scripture, no where is it permitted, even in the churches in Revelation where threat of lampstand removal was given. St Paul commanded that there be no division in the body. Jesus in John 17 prays for the undivided communion of Persons in the church as it is in the Trinty. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one body indwelt by one Spirit (Ephesians 4) whose unity is eucharistic (1 Cor 10:17). There will always be schism FROM the church, but not IN the church. The church is found in history with a succession of both Persons and of a faith once for all delivered to the saints. Once she is recognized, we obey Heb 13 and submit to those who are in authority over us for she is the pillar and foundation of the truth. To go to the scripture and from our own interpretation select an authority that we will submit to is SOLO in action. We see in the NT that the church has the ability to issue that which is normative and binding for all Christians, this is impossible in Protestantism. If you disagree, you just go up the street to join those you agree with or start your own church. It was reading Mathison's "Shape of Sola Scriptura" that headed me to Orthodoxy as he could not keep Sola from always reducing to Solo no matter how hard he tried.

  2. If you have a brief moment, I would like to ask you a couple of questions. Why does the Orthodox Church hold to the Traditional Text of the New Testament over the Critical Text of the New Testament? and also: Why do they hold to the Septuagint over the Masoretic Old Testament? This is a side note if you don't mind.

    1. Here's a couple links on the LXX. I am not well versed in this field, but the info is available. You mentioned the Orthodox Study Bible I think, there is some notes there, I forget how detailed. The OSB in it's articles and study notes is very introductory, but helpful. Note well certain verses that are totally different or missing in the MT when quoted in the New Testament from the LXX. Heb 10:5 is one, "a body you have prepared" is in the LXX but not the Masoretic (Protestant) OT, yet the death of the Incarnate God is the whole point in Hebrews quoting it.

    2. Thank you for sharing the info. I have been fascinated with the history of the Scriptures and want to know as much as I can about it.


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