Blazing Fire Reformation – William Tydale’s Monument

Sunday October 1, 2017

People, places and events are all marked in history so that people from all walks of life can connect to the past and live in the present for a better future. On October 31, 2017, the Christian world will remember the 500 years of Reformation by a former German monk, Martin Luther (1483-1546). My writing assignment from the United Kingdom is to commemorate him. I have an English link to Martin Luther who changed history as we know today. He is William Tyndale (1494-1536), the Architect of English Language who translated the bible from its original Hebrew and Greek and printed it. He was strangled and burned to death on October 6, 1536 because of his love for God and for ordinary people.

To avoid confusion there is another influential English priest with the name John Wycliffe (1329-1384) who set the stage for Reformation known as “The Morning Star of Reformation”. He was the first one to complete translation of the Bible directly from Vulgate (Latin Translation of the Bible) to English. His work influenced Martin Luther and William Tyndale. There were many reformers throughout Christian history and the great ones came from within Roman Catholic heritage. These Reformers did not intend to create new denominations nor break away from the Church, they just desired to correct wrongdoings that sneaked in over the passing of many years. All of them studied the Bible thoroughly and subscribed to its tenets. They succeeded, in a way. There are many changes in the Roman Catholic Church and the institution even apologized for the punishment of “burning at the stake” particularly of John Hus. Followers of the Reformers on the other hand moved on to another denomination to expand the Kingdom of God. It is not about the battle of denominations, it is about making disciples of Jesus Christ.The Word of God is like fire and the Spirit like wind to cause wildfires to remove unbiblical teachings and result in practice of many denominations today.

During olden times, the term Bible was sacred and holy in that it only referred to the Jewish and Christian belief of Almighty God. Nowadays you can find books like Gastronomic Bible, Bible of Healthy Living and so on. It is about time we bring back the Bible to its proper place.

The Bible speaks about life and is life. Most Filipinos share and quote Bible verses in English on social media. Understanding its origins may help us appreciate more of what we share. During earlier times, the Bible was forbidden to ordinary people by the Roman Catholic Church. Only the clergymen were qualified to read and interpret it. Also, it was written in Latin. Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses, as a basis of debate on the door of Wittenberg’s castle church in October 31, 1517 forever changed Christianity. The English hero of Reformation, William Tyndalein 1524 went to Hamburg where he met Martin Luther and sought out his help in his translation work of the Bible we read today. The work of many Reformers opened the door for us ordinary people to read it in whatever language and dialect we can understand. They paid a high price and given up their lives.William Tyndale was a theologian and scholar educated in Oxford and Cambridge. In 2004, I started to doubt if the Bible is really the “Word of God”. I was hard pressed on all sides being in a foreign land. I know Jesus is my friend and He can talk to me through my bible. One night I thought,“what if the bible was written by some clever author and is not true?” God has a way of guiding His doubtful children. The following morning my sister and I went to the house of her American atheist friend a well educated graduate of Princeton University. I looked at his private library and the first book I touched was “William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life (The Origin of English Bible)” by Brian Moynahan. I was astounded that was what was on my mind the night before. I borrowed and returned it afterwards. I was deeply moved by his last letter while in prison. Despite his condition he remained respectful and concerned about the salvation of those who imprisoned him. In his letter originally written in Latin while in prison to the Marquis of Bergen, he requested for the following items he owned but in possession of the Procurer or the person in charge of him in case he was to remain there in the winter:

A warmer cap because he felt extremely cold from the head; a warmer coat for the one which he had was thin; a piece of cloth to patch his leggings; he expressed that his overcoat and shirt were worn out so he was requesting for his woolen shirt and thicker leggings as additional layer; a candle because the prison cell was so dark; and his Hebrew Bible, Hebrew Grammar and Hebrew Dictionary so that he can study. Finally, he wished for the salvation of the soul of the person he was writing to and his acceptance of whatever verdict they were to give him he said, “I shall be patient, abiding the will of God to the glory of the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, whose spirit, I pray, may ever direct your heart. Amen.” ~ W. Tyndale

There are many persecuted Christians around the world. We do not know who suffered the most but what we can learn from Tyndale is that he had a calm spirit and amid suffering he chose to learn more, express love, not hatred and give glory to God under those circumstances.Finally, he was burned. Tyndale’s last words before his death were “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” Just one year after his death, King Henry VIII commanded that a Bible be placed in every Parish Church. Tyndale’s translation of the bible served as the basis of all subsequent English translations of the Bible, including the ‘King James’ version of 1611 of which 84% of the New Teststament was copied directly from Tyndale’s Bible.After reading his life story I asked for forgiveness from God that I doubted that the Bible is the Word of a Living God not because Tyndale died for it but because just the night before I was thinking that the Bible is just a story written by a good author. It was not a coincidence. It was God responding to my doubtful mind.

VICTORIA EMBANKMENT GARDENS LONDON is a few minutes walk from Big Ben along River Thames. There can be found the statue of William Tyndale. The day was lovely and sunny when I went to take the photos. I took the best shot, then sat down at the garden bench where I could look at and talk to William’s bronze statue eye to eye. The English way of looking at the eyes of the person you are talking to is one of those mannerisms many Filipinos are still findng hard to do. It was a Sunday morning. Just the week past I felt like God was so far that He would not talk to me as He did before. I went to the garden without any plan. When I woke up that morning I just decided to find the monument of William Tyndale.

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