Why Tyndale was executed

On this day (6-10-1536)

Posted on October 06, 2018

Tyndale was convinced that the institutional church was holding people back from trusting in the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. That just as they kept scripture under lock and key (by keeping it in a language that people couldn't read) they also held back the every day person from experiencing the full promises of God. This is what he said of those such church leaders:

"yea, though they be popes, bishops, abbots, curates, and doctors of divinity, and though they can rehearse all the scripture without book, and though they be seen in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin: yea, and though they so preach Christ and the passion of Christ, that they make the poor women weep and howl again. For when they come to the point that they should minister Christ's passion unto the salvation of our souls, there they poison altogether and gloss out the law... and teach us to put our trust in our own works"

Expositions and Notes on Sundry Portions of the Holy Scriptures by William Tyndale

And it was out of this conviction and spirit that he produced an English translation of the Greek New Testament in 1525. It was not an academic passion for enlightenment and learning, but a pastoral desire to remove the hurdles that were stopping everyday people being transformed by the good news of Jesus.

For holding these views and publishing documents that went against the law he was convicted of heresy. He was tied to a stake, strangled and burned in 1536. And, to make the whole thing worse: Only 2 years later Henry VIII changed the law and commissioned an official English language bible. That Bible (called the Great Bible) used a lot of Tyndale's translation work.

Now I don't think for one second that I owe my english translation solely to Tyndale. He is just one of a long line of people who have worked to translate bibles into vernacular languages (And it's still going on!). But there is a reason I still keep a little notification in my calendar to remind me about his death every year. I do it simply because his stance of conviction is a challenge to me. His concern was always for the Church. He didn't go to his death because of a personal profession of faith, but because he was convinced that Christ's Church needed to be treated better. The Church needed better access to scripture so that they might have clearer access to Jesus.

Am I that committed to the Church?