The Hammer, Sword, and Pen: The English Reformation
2 Timothy 3:16–17 Every part of Scripture is breathed out by God and is beneficial for teaching, for correction, for challenging, and for training in faithfulness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (GS trans.)
The Hammer of Luther - Martin Luther (1483-1546) is the main character of the Protestant Reformation which brought about an unlikely transformation of Christendom. It is as though each pounding of the nail to post the Ninety-Five Theses reverberated around the world. Luther went “AD FONTES” (to the sources); Luther said, “repent” (Greek) vs “do penance” (Latin Vulgate). So he translated the Bible into German (still used today by the Amish). Sola Scriptura!
The Sword of Henry the VIII - Henry (1491- 1547) cast himself Imperial King/War of the Roses (Lancaster vs York) as the Imperial King, like Constantine before. Since he was the emperor in his realm, he could act as the God-ordained king over HIS Church. Through all of this however, the foundations of the Rule of Law were established and the English Bible, though quite wicked. Politically-motivated executions were his way of rule, especially for his wives (6 of them). Through his secretary Thomas Cromwell, he “gave the English Bible to the English people.” “The Great Bible was the first authorised edition of the Bible in English, authorised by King Henry VIII of England to be read aloud in the church services of the Church of England” (through translator, Miles Coverdale, who completed Tyndale’s work): “t Henry VIII ordered the “Englishe Byble to be placed in every church in the realm” …. “whereas your parishioners may most commodiously [COMMODE/convenient] resort to the same and read it.” Sola Scriptura!
The Pen of William Tyndale - The Reformation in England was preceded by the work of the proto-Reformer, John Wycliffe (1320s-1384) who translated the Bible from the Latin (translation, the “Vulgate”) into Chaucer’s English (“Middle English”). His bones were burned in effigy as a result of the Council of Constance (1414-1418) which condemned by Wycliffe and Jan Huss (burned alive). By 1525 Tyndale ((1494-1536) made a plea for the Bible in English; 1536 death. The pen is mightier than the sword. If there should be protestant prayers to saints, …. 90% in KJV/75% RSV. In 1535 Tyndale was arrested, outside Brussells and after a year’s imprisonment, tried for heresy and treason, strangled and burnt at the stake. It is fitting that he was strangled; a loyal subject of the King, “Open the eyes of the King of England.”
TYNDALE’s words: “let there be light, am i my brothers keeper, “the bless the and keep thee and be merciful ....in the beginning was the word.... there were shepherds abiding the field, in him we live and move and have our being, fight the good fight.” “Newspaper headlines today still quote Tyndale unknowingly.”
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more