William Tyndale – Criminal or Christian martyr?


 

A Tyndale Bible, displayed at the Bodleian Library in June 2014, photo by Steve Bennett (stevage)

A Tyndale Bible, displayed at the Bodleian Library in June 2014, photo by Steve Bennett (stevage), Wikimedia Commons.


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Answering The Catholic Thinker

William Tyndale: Victim or Criminal?

In reality, Tyndale was a criminal, a breaker of the law. He knew very well that it was illegal to make an unauthorized translation. A look at the facts behind Tyndale’s death should scatter the notion that Catholics murdered him for simply translating the Bible, just another fanciful “history” of the Catholic Church.

Patrick E. Devens

 

File:Foxe's Book of Martyrs - Tyndale.jpg

Preparations to burn the body of William Tyndale. John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 1563. Tyndale was strangled and then his body was burned.

 

 

With other readers I tried to defend Tyndale to Patrick. Patrick wasn’t convinced and could only see Tyndale as a criminal. Having thought this over, I’m learning at last that Protestants and Evangelicals – Bible believers – cannot win The Argument with Rome or its followers, but in spite of this fact must answer from the Word of God. Catholics will answer back with “Who gave you the Bible? We did!”, but we will have honored the Lord Jesus Christ – praise Him forever!

So here is a Biblical answer to Patrick who maintains that as a lawbreaker Tyndale deserved to be punished; and that it was the State that executed him and that the Church of Rome didn’t have much to do with this. 

Acts 5

17 But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. 18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” 21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, 23 saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. 25 But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).

27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.

34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.

35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.


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Resources for studying William Tyndale, Christian Martyr

William Tyndale’s Life and Work

The History of Protestantism by ‘James Aitken Wylie, Book 23 — Protestantism in England From the Times of Henry VIII, Chapter 4 — Tyndale’s New Testament arrives in England

Read The Tyndale Bible, at Bible Study Tools

 


 

 

If you want to understand – The prohibition against reading The Bible


Bible Reading By The Laity, Restrictions On.

I. The Ancient Church

It is indisputable that in Apostolic times the Old Testament was commonly read (John v, 47; Acts viii, 28; xvii, 11; II Tim. iii, 15). Roman Catholics admit that this reading was not restricted in the first centuries, in spite of its abuse by Gnostics and other heretics. On the contrary, the reading of Scripture was urged (Justin Martyr, xliv, ANF, i, 177-178; Jerome, Adv. libros Rufini, i, 9, NPNF, 2d ser., iii, 487); and Pamphilus, the friend of Eusebius, kept copies of Scripture to furnish to those who desired them. Chrysostom attached considerable importance to the reading of Scripture on the part of the laity and denounced the error that it was to be permitted only to monks and priests (De Lazaro concio, iii, MPG, xlviii, 992; Hom. ii in Matt., MPG, lvii, 30, NPNF, 2d ser., x, 13). He insisted upon access being given to the entire Bible, or at least to the New Testament (Hom. ix in Col., MPG, lxii, 361, NPNF, xiii, 301). The women also, who were always at home, were diligently to read the Bible (Hom. xxxv on Gen. xii, MPG, liii, 323). Jerome recommended the reading and studying of Scripture on the part of the women (Epist., cxxviii, 3, MPL, xxii, 1098, NPNF, 2d ser., vi, 259; Epist., lxxix, 9, MPG, xxii, 730-731, NPNF, 2d ser., vi, 167). The translations of the Bible, Augustine considered a blessed means of propagating the Word of God among the nations (De doctr. christ., ii, 5, NPNF, 1st ser., ii, 536); Gregory I recommended the reading of the Bible without placing any limitations on it (Hom. iii in Ezek., MPL, lxxvi, 968). . .

Read more at Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Quote of the day – Huldrych Zwingli


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The murder of Zwingli by Karl Jauslin (1842–1904)

The murder of Zwingli by Karl Jauslin (1842–1904)

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“The Christian life, then, is a battle, so sharp and full of danger that effort can nowhere be relaxed without loss. . .”

Huldrych Zwingli, AZ Quotes
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A little about Zwingli

In 1519, before the Reformation came to Zurich, the plague broke out. About 1 in 4 persons died. Zwingli had remained in the city to fulfill his pastoral duties as a Catholic priest. He fell ill but survived. During his illness and recovery, he wrote his Plague Song (Pestlied) which included these words:
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“Thy purpose fulfil:
nothing can be too severe for me.
I am thy vessel,
for you to make whole or break to pieces.
Since, if you take hence
my spirit from this earth,
you do it so that it will not grow evil,
and will not mar
the pious lives of others.”
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Zwingli worked for reform in Zurich and elsewhere in Switzerland. He preached and wrote, married and had a family, bumped heads with Martin Luther over the doctrine of the Real Presence in Communion, helped to suppress the Anabaptist movement in Zurich, went to war for religious and national autonomy, and was killed in battle.
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“Zwingli had considered himself first and foremost a soldier of Christ; second a defender of his country, the Confederation; and third a leader of his city, Zurich, where he had lived for the previous twelve years. Ironically, he died at the age of 47, not for Christ nor for the Confederation, but for Zurich.” (Wikipedia)
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Historical insights – Anselm alone

 


The History of Justification by Faith Alone up to the Reformation

Thomas R. Thompson

Monergism.com

In reading Church History it’s clear that apostasy happened early. Christians added onto the Gospel – “another gospel” was being taught, from leading a moral life, to being baptized, to believing the creeds, to maintaining unity with the Bishop of Rome. Only very recently have I learned that the Gospel of grace was absent for a long time. I thought it had to be there. But even the Waldensians didn’t include Faith Alone in their 12th century confession of faith; even the early reformer and martyr John Huss didn’t see this truth.

Anselm of Canterbury was a man who knew that we could not pay our debt of sin, and that only the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is both God and Man, could do this for us and did this for us. Hallelujah!

Man cannot pay the debt owed for his sins (c. 1050)

“Until Anselm of Canterbury it was rare for anyone to speak as if he understood that man has nothing to offer God in exchange for the forgiveness of sins. The dominant thought was being baptized, or performing some act of charity was sufficient to cancel sins committed. Anselm is his writing Why God became Man, explains why this is not possible. Anselm shows man has no capability to make satisfaction to God for even the smallest of his sins.

“Anselm starts by explaining what it means to sin, and how to make satisfaction for it. He notes all the thoughts and labors of a man ought to be subject to the will of God. This is the debt that all men owe to God, and it is sin to not give Him that. No one who pays this debt sins, and anyone who does not pay it sins. Should one sin against God, it is not enough to simply return what was taken. To make satisfaction one must return more than was taken. It is not enough for someone who has injured another to restore his original condition without giving some compensation for the pain and injury suffered. (Anselm, Why God became Man, Book 1, Ch. XI)

“When man sinned in the garden, and surrendered his will to the devil, he took from God whatever God planned for humanity. Therefore, according to strict justice in order to make satisfaction with God, man would need to conquer the devil to regain what was lost. Since man was conquered by the devil and stole what belonged to God, and God lost it, so by the fact of man conquering the devil, the devil loses and God regains it. In addition, man would also need to justify as many men as God had planned for the Heavenly City that was lost due to the fall. However, sinful man is incapable of this, because a sinner cannot justify another sinner. Therefore man has no capacity to merit any justice from God for the things he does. Anything man may consider offering to God is only giving to God what is already owed. (Anselm, Why God became Man, Book 1, Ch. XXIII)

“It would not be until 500 years later and Martin Luther, that many would understand the full weight of Anselm’s arguments. In the light of such convincing arguments, it makes previous church council matters on reinstating lapsed Christians and the like seem rather petty. Man has no ability to do penance for any of his sins, so it seems rather foolish to construct systems whereby satisfaction is made to God based on man’s so-called merits. If the church considered this bigger problem initially, they may not have invented so many things for one to do to obtain forgiveness of sins. They did not before Anselm, nor after him. As a result the church continues to develop its merits based salvational system, until the weight of this system brings about its own collapse.”

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Quote of the day – John Wycliffe

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A Reformation Fore-runner who taught Faith Alone  

John Wycliffe (AZ Quotes) 

“Trust wholly in Christ; rely altogether on His sufferings; beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by His righteousness. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation. There must be atonement made for sin according to the righteousness of God. The person to make this atonement must be God and man.”

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