Roots of our Freedom (2)
This series began with the weblog titled, “The Big Mess” so as a matter of review; you can go back to those first two blogs. What I am pointing out is that our freedom was more than blood on a physical battlefield in 1777. The point of freedom started as far back as the Magna Carta. While it was the barons in England who were fed up with the ways of King John 1 who issued laws but did not live by them himself, the barons also knew that such leadership would cause rebellion even among the serfs.
In the 1300’s a band of Believers felt the persecution of the Roman Church. They had a Bible but it was in Latin. It had not been totally translated from original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. John Wycliff started an English translation but had to run for his life in doing so! In 1450 the printing press gave a means of mass production rather than painstaking handwritten manuscripts. William Tyndale took on a job started by Wycliff. Tyndale worked from Greek manuscript translating into the language of the people: English.
By 1517 Martin Luther saw a need for a reformation of Roman Church practices. Getting no attention to his insights into justification by faith, Luther took the dangerous step of dissent when he nailed his 95 Theses of Contention to the door of the church in Wittenburg. By 1525 Tyndale had finished translating the New Testament from Greek to English. Tyndale completed his translation of the New Testament and copies were smuggled back to England by very creative means: in bales of cotton, barrels of grain and in clothing. With a price on his head, Tyndale was brought back to England, imprisoned, strangled and then burned at the stake. The wrath of the Roman Church carried over into the actions of the Monarchy. It stirred the passions so much that even 44 years after his death Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed, and ground to powder and spread to the wind.
Next time we will look at the Geneva Study Bible and how it came to America.
Dissenters in England during the reigns of Henry VIII, Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Elizabeth I did not find life easy. Yet, they carried on with a steadfast piety. The steadfastness of those early dissenters who remained in England did a remarkable work also. They quietly planted God’s Word into the hearts of God’s people in spite of persecution. John Bunyan lived during those times and wrote Pilgrim’s Progress from a jail cell. Matthew Henry, born into a family of means and well educated, left volumes of commentary that are used still today. In order to use his life teaching God’s Word, he had to also earn a law degree so that it would appear that he was working at something worthwhile.
So today we add Tyndale, Henry, and Bunyan to those who indirectly brought religious freedom and the ideas of a republic democracy to the shores of North America. They knew how to live in the Shepherd’s presence.