by The Carnal Conservative
There is nothing new under the sun. Even with our technological advancements the same stories of ages past repeat themselves in a constant round. In our modern time we are facing a crisis of censorship. We have as it were, an orthodoxy declaring judgement upon the masses in the form of flagging, reporting, de-platforming, and out-right excommunication from the public spaces we call social media.
No one knows what the rules are. No one succinctly understands the Terms of Service. No one can clearly define what is the accepted doctrine, and what is deemed heresy.
This very scenario, despite all of the technological intricacies involved, is not new to our human history. In fact, the unfolding of a particular reenactment of our modern dilemma was the catalyst that allowed the Renaissance to blossom into The Enlightenment. At this point, many of The Masters had already left their marks upon the world. The Frescoes had been painted, the cathedrals built, Da Vinci had made his wonders and yet there was a critical piece missing to move humanity to the next plateau of thought and society.
It is the year 1536, an English Scholar and monk, a scriptorian and educator, is put to death in the days of October that year. He was strangled while being bound to the stake, and then his corpse lit on fire. In his dying breath was the cry “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes!”
His name was William Tyndale.
William Tyndale begins his tale at Magdalen Hall (later Hertford College) of Oxford University in 1506 and received his B.A. in 1512, the same year becoming a subdeacon. He was made Master of Arts in July 1515 and was held to be a man of virtuous disposition, leading an unblemished life. The M.A. allowed him to start studying theology, but the official course did not include the systematic study of Scripture. As Tyndale later complained:
“They have ordained that no man shall look on the Scripture, until he be noselled in heathen learning eight or nine years and armed with false principles, with which he is clean shut out of the understanding of the Scripture.”
In Tyndale’s time, the hegemonic powers of the Roman Catholic Church were absolute. The Terms of Service was the holy writ itself, and no one, except for the anointed clergy, were permitted to read its contents.
Tyndale was a gifted linguist and became fluent over the years in French, Greek, Hebrew, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, in addition to English and even studied at Cambridge.
Tyndale became a chaplain at the home of Sir John Walsh at Little Sodbury and tutor to his children around 1521. His opinions proved controversial to fellow clergymen, and the next year he was summoned before John Bell, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, although no formal charges were laid at the time. After the meeting with Bell and other church leaders, Tyndale, according to John Foxe, had an argument with a “learned but blasphemous clergyman”, who allegedly asserted, “We had better be without God’s laws than the Pope’s,” to which Tyndale responded:
I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!William Tyndale
Tyndale left for London in 1523 to seek permission to translate the Bible into English. He requested help from Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, a well-known classicist who had praised Erasmus after working together with him on a Greek New Testament. The bishop, however, declined to extend his patronage, telling Tyndale that he had no room for him in his household. Tyndale preached and studied “at his book” in London for some time, relying on the help of cloth merchant, Humphrey Monmouth.
Tyndale knew his enemy was not just the power-hungry Roman Catholic Church and their questionable practices of praying to the Saints and receiving payment for Indulgences. His enemy was also the ignorance of the masses who sought only to know God.
In 1528 Tyndale wrote The Obedience of a Christian Man which made its way to King Henry VIII’s hands. It is best known for advocating that the king of a country was the head of that country’s church, rather than the pope, and to be the first instance, in the English language at any rate, of advocating the divine right of kings, a concept mistakenly attributed to the Catholic Church.
It is believed that the book greatly influenced the decision of Henry VIII of England in declaring the Act of Supremacy, by which he became Supreme Head of the Church of England, in 1534. Despite this miraculous event, Tyndale had in 1530 turned against Henry VIII in his later work “The Practyse of Prelates” opposing Henry VIII’s planned annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in favour of Anne Boleyn, on the grounds that it was unscriptural and that it was a plot by Cardinal Wolsey to get Henry entangled in the papal courts of Pope Clement VII.
In 1525, publication of Tyndale’s translations by Peter Quentell in Cologne was interrupted by the impact of anti-Lutheranism. A full edition of the New Testament was produced in 1526 by printer Peter Schöffer in Worms, a free imperial city then in the process of adopting Lutheranism. More copies were soon printed in Antwerp. The book was smuggled into England and Scotland; it was condemned in October 1526 by Bishop Tunstall, the same man Tyndale had sought Patronage for his work with Erasmus, who issued warnings to booksellers and had copies of the scripture burned in public. Marius notes that the “spectacle of the scriptures being put to the torch… provoked controversy even amongst the faithful.” Cardinal Wolsey condemned Tyndale as a heretic, first stated in open court in January 1529.
From an entry in George Spalatin’s Diary for 11 August 1526, Tyndale apparently remained at Worms for about a year. It is not clear exactly when he moved to Antwerp. The pages to Tyndale’s translation of Genesis and the title pages of several pamphlets from this time purported to have been printed by Hans Luft at Marburg, but this is a false address. Hans Luft, the printer of Luther’s books, never had a printing press at Marburg. Top Keks.
Eventually, Tyndale was betrayed to the Roman Catholic Church, seized in Antwerp in 1535, and held in the castle of Vilvoorde near Brussels. He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and was condemned, despite Thomas Cromwell’s, of King Henry VIII court, intercession on his behalf.
Luckily for all of us, his prayers were answered. The very next year after his death, King Henry VIII commissioned the Matthew Bible in 1537. While that may seem unfamiliar with you now, the Matthew Bible was one of the four precursors to the King James Bible, which is still put to common use today. In case you are wondering how similar the King James Bible today is to the original work produced by Tyndale, a complete analysis of “The King James” was made in 1998. It shows that Tyndale’s words account for 84% of the New Testament and for 75.8% of the Old Testament books that he translated.
This was far more powerful than Luther’s 95 theses, which may or may not have been nailed to the door of the All Saint’s Church…This was much more critical than the waffling of Erasmus, who criticized the Roman Catholic Church, but only raised questions about their right to absolute power. This was not a commentary. This was the whole truth of the matter, and the whole world be damned.
Let us all understand that regardless of how we personally feel about the Holy Bible, or how common it is to our touch or sensibilities, the King James Bible was a revolutionary act. And Tyndale used every tool at his disposal to put it into the hands of the common man. While being learned and needing to translate by hand from Latin and Greek, Tyndale was enthusiastic in utilizing the printing presses that were now starting to dot Europe. He was as passionate as he was cunning.
This was the pivotal moment that allowed the West to move from a Renaissance, to The Enlightenment and it did so for one reason and one reason only. It undermined the hegemonic powers of the Roman Catholic Church by presenting the Terms of Service without blemish or embellishment. It was the very Christian notion that man had an inherent and necessary right to know God on his own terms that defeated the censorious powers of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century. And it is from here that we begin to see the Renaissance open into the Industrial Age and The Enlightenment.
Without Tyndale and his work to bring the Holy Bible to the languages of the common man, we would have had The Enlightenment without the likes of Shakespeare, Descartes, Locke and several more, all of whom had scripture as a foundation to their art and practice.
But why did that make the difference? And how does it apply today?
It made the difference because as we can all imagine, people talk and boy did they have some questions. Priests accepting payments for sins? Calls of heresy? Trials and executions? Excommunications of national leaders? People want answers for that. Tyndale was one of the few truly brave souls to deliver it to them in their own language. And he translated it all. And he, unlike Luther, translated it without any catechisms or additional teachings. This was meant purely for the people so they could govern their own religious selves. No fluff. This granted his translations higher reach and credibility. A Lutheran would read Tyndale, a non-Lutheran would rarely bother reading a Lutheran Bible, let alone a catechism. Keep it simple stupid.
The Christian Fight Against Censorship has become The Western Fight Against Censorship.
Today we find ourselves in a very similar predicament. We have a censorious hegemonic power called Silicon Valley, with alliances in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, who will strike us down with an embedded guillotine, for violating a Terms of Service we don’t understand and seemingly have no access to. I mean sure, we kinda get the gist of what might piss off the powers that be, but ya know, SJWs demanding payment for sins? Calls of racism? Bans and de-platforming? Excommunication of national leaders?
I have some fucking questions.
And you know what? We are doing nearly everything right. We have seized the internet. We raided their comments sections. We can fucking meme. We mock them with a mocking that makes them run back to Twitter, where they have already blocked all the wrong-thinkers and heretics.
Our one clear error is that we have simply failed to hold these hegemonic powers up to the only true Terms of Service we should accept. And those Terms of Service are dictated in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and all of the Supreme Court rulings that clarify it. There is no room for Hate Speech in our Terms of Service. There is no room for Safe Spaces in our Terms of Service.
Tyndale was clear in his work The Obedience of a Christian Man “how can we whet God’s Word (that is put into practice, use and exercise) upon our children and household, when we are violently kept from it and know it not?” Tyndale was expressly interested in the education of the masses. So should we. Tyndale believed that a bold and bare exposé of the truth should be enough to break the hegemonic powers that be. So should we.
I am calling for The Liberalists to follow the example of William Tyndale, by gathering and compiling for distribution, The First Amendment and all of it’s relevant Supreme Court cases and their basic summaries. These should be called our Terms of Service. And yes, I would go so far as to suggest that they be preached. It should be preached for so fervently that we experience what the Americans call a “Great Awakening”. They should be read by us, taught to our friends, taught to our children, cited in our posts, and they should live in our memes.
Who can tell what New Enlightenment we will find if we are successful in this task.