The Charge of Burning Bibles

Catholics have often been accused of keeping the bible "chained" to the pulpit, of not allowing Catholics to read the Bible, and burning bibles. The truth is somewhat different...

As the great Catholic scholar Thomas Ward stated "The nature of the holy scripture is such, that whosoever do voluntarily corrupt and pervert it, to maintain their own erroneous doctrines, cannot rightly be characterized by any less infamous title than that of heretics; and their false versions, by the title of heretical translations " (Errata of the Protestant Bible 1688 Pg. 22)

Ever since the Protestant Revolt in the 16th century, the Catholic Church has been accused of ignoring, opposing, hiding and even destroying the Bible in order to keep it from the people. Allegedly, copies of the Bible were chained to the walls of churches during the Middle Ages so that people could not take them home to read. Supposedly the Church during the Middle Ages also refused to translate the Bible into the various tongues of the common people, the vernacular languages, in order to further hinder personal Bible reading. Furthermore it is claimed that the Church even went as far as to burn vernacular Bibles.

"...St. Thomas More commented that searching for errors in the Tyndale Bible was similar to searching for water in the sea..."

After the 14th century when English finally became the popular language of England, vernacular Bibles were used as vehicles for heretical propaganda. John Wycliffe, a dissentient priest, translated the Bible into English. Unfortunately his secretary, John Purvey, included a heretical prologue, as noted by St. Thomas More. Later William Tyndale translated the Bible into English complete with prologue and footnotes condemning Church doctrines and teachings.

In 1528, the Bishop of London wrote to Sir Thomas More, requesting that he examine the works of certain "sons of iniquity" and explain "the crafty malignity of these impious heretics" to "simpleminded people." He sent More examples of the Lutheran writers. Tyndale was not mentioned in the letter, but his New Testament must have been among the books sent to More.

St. Thomas More commented that searching for errors in the Tyndale Bible was similar to searching for water in the sea. Tyndale translated the term baptism into "washing;" Scripture into "writing;" Holy Ghost into "Holy Wind," Bishop into "Overseer," Priest into "Elder," Deacon into "Minister;" heresy into "choice;" martyr into "witness;" evangelist into "bearer of good news;" etc., etc. Many of his footnotes were vicious. For instance, Tyndale referred to the occupant of the Chair of Peter, as "that great idol, the whore of Babylon, the anti-Christ of Rome."

Even King Henry VIII in 1531 condemned the Tyndale Bible as a corruption of Scripture. In the words of King Henry's advisors: "the translation of the Scripture corrupted by William Tyndale should be utterly expelled, rejected, and put away out of the hands of the people, and not be suffered to go abroad among his subjects." Protestant Bishop Tunstall of London declared that there were upwards of 2,000 errors in Tyndale's Bible.

William Tyndale was executed for the charge of "heresy" by order of the Protestant King of England Henry VII in October 1536.
This wood cut is from the 1563 printing of John Foxe's "Acts and Monuments"

Tyndale, along with many Protestant-leaning scholars, resided in Antwerp, a free city, but surrounded by territory under control of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and a relative of Catherine of Aragon. Early in 1535. Tyndale became friends with Henry Phillips, a visiting Englishman. Phillips presented himself to Tyndale as sympathetic to the Lutheran cause, but plotted with the emperor's magistrates to arrest Tyndale. In May, 1535, Phillips invited Tyndale out to dinner and, upon leaving his residence, identified him to waiting guards who apprehended him. Although by this time, England had separated from the Catholic Church and Tyndale had some supporters in the government, the Church of England continued to fight against Lutheranism. Tyndale's friends appealed to the English government to intervene, but to no avail. After a sixteen month imprisonment, an ecclesiastical panel convicted Tyndale of heresy in August, 1536 and turned him over to the secular authority. In October of the same year he was executed, being first strangled and then burned at the stake.

Tyndale died not for the right to read the Bible, as many Protestants arrogantly claim. He was put to death by the civil judges of the father of the English Protestant Deformation, for doctrines subversive of law and order, which Dr. James Gardiner, Protestant, said "was intended to produce an ecclesiastical and social revolution of a most dangerous character. . ."

I have added a link to Catholic Apologetics under Orthodox Sites.



1 comment:

Stephanie A. Mann said...

Excellent post! My husband and I once had dinner in Vilvoorde, Belgium. The restaurant was next door to where Tyndale was held before his trial and execution!