I have to admit, I’ve never been all that interested in William Tyndale.

I know he was the first major translator of the Bible into English (though he did not live to complete this task).  I’ve always known that this was important.  And I understand that he was a major source (posthumosly) for the King James translation.  But he’s never grabbed me.  Until today.

Once again I’ve been reading from Brightest and Best.

The first thing that grabbed me was a quotation:  “God’s mercy in promising, and truth in fulfilling his promises, saveth us, and not we ourselves; and therefore is all laud, praise, and glory to be given unto God for his mercy and truth, and not unto us for our merits and deserving.”  So it is God’s saving Grace that saves us, and not our own efforts.  And this is freeing, and so very counter cultural in a society of “self made” men.  Our value, and our salvation, is a gift that has simply been given to us.

The second thing that grabbed me was this:  making the Bible available in English (as spoken by the people) empowered them.  I mean, I’ve known this.  But I didn’t feel it before today.  I live in a very different world.  But he lived in a world where power really belonged to those who were educated (and spoke Latin).  He gave ordinary people access they had always been denied.  He empowered them in a new way to participate as agents in their own right.

It got me thinking about our emphasis, these days, on baptismal ministry (or total ministry), and the way people are being empowered to claim their own authority and their own ministry in God’s service.  I’m thinking there are parallels.

And the idea, then, that he could willingly spend his life in this urgent and lonely mission also grabs me.  For I think I understand going where I believe I am called to be, following where I believe I am being led, even when others, and particularly others in authority, work strongly in opposition.

Suddenly his life makes so much more sense to me.

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