The Bloody Path to the English Bible :: By Sean Gooding

Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

We live in a WOKE society, and the attacks on the Bible will get more and more aggressive as we get deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. In Canada, we have had some laws either be proposed or passed that will make reading and using certain parts of the Bible illegal. We do not have the death penalty here, so I don’t think we will have to face death for reading the Bible, but there are consequences. The following is a quote from Mark Kellner of the Washington Post:

Legislation introduced in Canada’s Parliament would eliminate the use of “belief in a religious text” as a defense against hate crime charges.

Repealing the exemption in Canada’s criminal code could criminalize sermons and messages using the Bible or other religious texts as the basis for critiquing other religions or addressing issues such as transgender rights, critics warn.

There are a lot of writings that state that this does not make reading certain parts of the Bible illegal, but if someone were to be ‘offended’ or ‘triggered’ while attending your church service, they could feel that the vast majority of Romans 1 is ‘hate speech.’ Even if they could not win in court, and they might, they can make it very difficult and expensive for a lot of churches to fight a criminal charge or financial lawsuit.

The Bible is always under attack; it has been from the time it was written. There are counterfeit gospels all around the same time as when the true scriptures were being written. There were false apostles offering ‘another’ gospel, as Paul points out to us, and on and on for centuries, there have been and will always be attacks on the Bible. People hate the scriptures because if they are true, then Hell is real and there is the true God to answer to.

One of the most fascinating studies is the journey of how we got the English translation of the Bible. I would encourage you to research for yourself and learn. I do not know about you, but I probably have 15 or more Bibles in various translations in my library. But the cost of getting us an English Bible was paid with many lives about 400 years ago. Many churches, and the one I pastor, do not talk about this very much, and of course, secular schools will not teach this kind of history. But the battle to stop us from getting an English Bible was real, hard-fought, and a path filled with dead bodies.

Most are familiar with Wycliffe; he translated the Bible in 1380 from the Vulgate (Latin). In 1391, the British parliament tried to make the English Bible illegal. The attempt failed, but later, in 1408, an assembly of churches at Oxford prohibited the translation of the Holy Scriptures into English by any ‘unauthorized persons.’ William Tyndale, 1492-1536, is another famous Bible translator. He, with the help of certain wealthy benefactors, moved to Europe and translated the Bible into English there. He desired that even the poor ‘boy that driveth the plough’ would know more scripture than the Pope.

Tyndale’s translation is the basis for ones like the 1611 Authorized Version and the 1881 Revised Version. The Roman church denounced Tyndale, but he kept on working. Soon, Tyndale’s chief teacher, the bishop of St. Paul’s Cathedral, was denounced for teaching the Lord’s Prayer in English. In 1539, five Scotchmen were burned at the stake in Edinburgh for ‘studying, memorizing and preaching from the Bible.’ Others like Taverner, who published an English Bible in 1539, was imprisoned. Marbeck, in 1550, was threatened but not executed. Thomas Matthew was also executed in 1555; his mentor was Tyndale, who was burned at the stake in 1536. Publishing the Bible in English was their horrible crime.

Who, pray tell, was trying to stop us from getting the Bible in English? It was none other than the Roman church. At the Council of Trent in 1546, the Roman church condemned all versions of the Bible except the Vulgate Latin. They believed that any other translation of the Bible would be, ‘food of death, the fuel of sin, the veil of malice, the pretext of false liberty, the protection of disobedience, the corruption of discipline, the depravity of morals, the termination of concord, the death of honesty, the well spring of vices, the instigation of rebellion, the milk of pride, the nourishment of contempt, the death of peace, the destruction of charity, the enemy of unity, the murderer of truth.’

This became the justification for extreme persecution. This opposition to the English Bible lasted for 150 years.

As he was dying, Tyndale asked the Lord to ‘open the King of England’s eye.’ He would never see the results of what he and Wycliffe started, but by 1537, King Henry VIII allowed his name to be used in the title page of an English Bible. The vice-regent of England, Thomas Cromwell, got permission from Henry to allow this authorized version to be sold. In 1539, the Great Bible was published with royal consent, and soon, each church was ordered to get an English Bible and use it to teach the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and The Creed.

Sadly, even in this victory, there was a great cost. In 1540, Thomas Cromwell was beheaded; in 1555, Latimer, one of his helpers, was burned at the stake, as was Cramer in 1556. These were all in the title page of the Great Bible. But by 1558, with the installation of Queen Elizabeth 1, there was a change, and soon the English Bible became accepted for the state and the common people.

Most of this was based on the research of Clyde Weber Votaw Ph.D., Professor of Literature at the University of Chicago. I take for granted the precious privilege of having the truth of the Word of God in my hands. Many men died making sure that we have that privilege and right to read the Bible and have communion with God through His word and the Holy Spirit.

The forces of evil fought to keep the truth from us, but God prevailed, and one day, we will meet these men who laid down their lives for the truth. How will I/we respond when our turn comes to be counted for the truth? I pray that the Lord will give me the strength to stand and be counted like these men. Lord, help me/us!!

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding

Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

How to Connect with Us

On Facebook (live broadcast of Sunday’s Message at 11 am):

Join us on Zoom every Sunday (10:30 am) for Sunday Service AND every Tuesday at 8:00 pm for Bible StudyMeeting ID: 700 794 460 Passcode: 032661;



Sign Up To Be A Part of Our Bible Study Community: