William Tyndale provides a pattern of attributes of a seeker of Christ. Tyndale was burned at the stake from Catholic priests, threatened by truth. He was being punished for two main things:
- Making the religious texts accessible to the common man
- Bringing to light the most accurate translation of the Bible (this was the greater of the two offenses)
Although none of us are qualified to translate ancient Greek scripture into English, studying the scriptures is still not common among men. Those seeking to make it common are often rejected, especially if the translations do not agree with the current traditions. Perhaps we can learn from the past, so as to be found on the side of William Tyndale, willing to stand as a witness of Christ at all times and in all places.
Translated Correctly: In order to have an accurate translation, the context and the intention of the author must be clearly communicated as if the author wrote it themselves. This would not only maintain the unaltered symbols, but would also preserve the intended instruction. For this reason, “as far as it is translated correctly” is the disclaimer of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.
The KJV Old Testament was originally recorded in ancient Hebrew. It was translated into Greek and Aramaic just before the time of Christ, because those languages were dominant at that time, …and Hebrew became used less and less. By the time of Christ, very few knew Hebrew, and records were kept largely in Greek and Aramaic. However, because of the growth of Rome, after the apostasy, leading up to the Nicean creed, Latin was the dominant language. Jerome translated the Bible from Hebrew into Latin, and it was called the Latin Vulgate. Eventually, the Latin Vulgate was called the Bishop’s Bible, and John Wycliff translated it into English in the 1400’s AD. King James of England adopted the English version as the text of the church in England in 1611 AD, and that sets the stage for the KJV of the Bible.
The problem with the KJV of the Bible was that those who commissioned it’s translations, had stipulations to an acceptable translation. It was required to fit the current policies of the ruling church leadership (they probably justified it saying that a living pope was more important than a dead pope). So, many translations were simply tossed out, other translations were badly deformed, and the overall corruption was to assign salvation to obedience to the laws of your current leaders. The disapproval of leaders was a disapproval of God. Any doctrine tied to seeking and obtaining divine contact, was badly manipulated, or tossed out. If divine contact leaks through the abusive editing of ignorant scribes, it was because the translators didn’t understand it themselves, and they didn’t detect a threat.
Tyndale lived between Wycliff (The Bishop’s Bible) and the final English KJV, in 1500 AD. With all the editing done by the scribes in the Latin, reconciling the records to the current leadership, Tyndale went directly to the original language of the New Testament, Greek. The Greek septuagent was Tyndale’s source material. He translated the New Testament from Greek, directly into English. And before he was able to complete the Old Testament, Tyndale was burned at the stake, by the priests that he threatened and offended. His offense was that he made the original text available to the common man. And because Tyndale’s translation was far more accurate than the translations taught by the priests, the common man began questioning the authorities of the orthodox church. This movement caused disorder in the church organization, threatening the powers that ran it. Such is the response of all authority, threatened by a knowledgeable, and educated audience.
Tyndale’s Contribution: Tyndale’s greatest contribution, to me, was the word ATONEMENT. It was Tyndale who created this word. It never existed before him. The word was originally written with hyphens as, “At-One-Ment.” Tyndale was describing the action Christ is trying to do with all who would hear his voice and respond by approaching Christ. By becoming at-one-with Christ, you enter into His presence, and He remains at your side and at your beckoning call, always, after that experience. That is what it means for Christ and the Father to make their “abode” with you.
Since Tyndale, many have mistaken and misapplied the term At-One-Ment, for a confounded term, without the hyphens, atonement. Interestingly enough, even the definitions have changed from becoming at-one-with Christ, to the Christ that forgives sins (atonement). The confounding of the languages played a huge role in hollowing out the atonement, by changing the meaning, while keeping the word. Since then, men have been preoccupied with Christ as a sin-forgiver, rather than a light-filler, or a knowledge-giver. Even though scripture after scripture describes great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. Or, like Joseph Smith says, “No man can be saved in ignorance,” and, “a man can be saved no faster than he gets knowledge,” or “if a man get more knowledge and intelligence in this life than another, it will be to his advantage in the life to come.” Yet, when Christ addresses sin, it’s a quick process of forgiveness, and a direct move to light and knowledge.
Tyndale’s teachings pointed to re-establishing heavenly contact, apart from the recognized authorities. Such a teaching would undermine the power of the recognized authority. And it did. And it will. Those who had a little authority, as they supposed, exercised unrighteous dominion, and they removed what they thought was the problem, by burning William Tyndale at the stake, to shut him up.
Modern Parallels: In these Latter-days we are encouraged to read the scriptures, but …we warned not to get too complex. The preference of the leadership is an obedient congregation, rather than an intelligent congregation, who will not depart from correct principles, and can decide for themselves. Just as in the time of William Tyndale, having the scriptures common among us is not at all the objective, and has proven disruptive to the hierarchy. Too much information reveals the mistakes of the hierarchy, and a mistaken hierarchy has less power and influence and control over the perception of the people.
Just as Tyndale was put to death for teaching the necessity of a divine contact with heaven, with Christ, …the church has been excommunicating people for this very same reason in our day. Our atonement has been reduced to the Catholic atonement, focusing on forgiving sins, confessions, and institutional shunning as a penalty. People convince sinners that this process is what makes them whole again, when whole was not the objective. Being filled with light was the objective. We avoid teaching At-One-Ment because who’s been in Christ’s presence in the flesh to teach such a thing, anyway? And since the leadership haven’t had it, how is it possible that the common saint could ever aspire to what leaders have never obtained? They never state it, and they dance around the topic, to give saints the idea that they have. Yet, Joseph Smith openly discussed it, and did so at length.
Conclusion: If you want to play it safe, when it comes to the leaders of the church, the arm of flesh, than you had better “not” read the scriptures, recognizing the voice of Christ. Joseph Smith gave us 1/3 of the sealed records. If you want to maintain your standing in the organization, or better yet, if you want to climb it’s corporate ladder, than take your 1/3 of the unsealed portion of the Book of Mormon, and seal it up again. Then raise your hand to nominate all newly called leaders, despite their character, and agree with their teachings, and say “no” when you come to the recommend question of being affiliated with any group or individual whose teachings are contrary to that of the church’s. You will maintain your standing among men, if that is your objective.
But, if you want to know Christ, then disregard that advise, and study the scriptures with the intent to recognize Christ’s voice. You must know the material sufficiently to make your move “by ear.” You must obtain revelation. Your revelation must be expected to break through to the heavens, so that you too can have an ascent up a mountain, as did Nephi, to see the grand view of all things. That is the objective of all true scripture, to familiarize us with the voice of Christ. This will produce a threat to your standing in the organization among men, and will probably be the cause your outcast from that organization.
No matter what you choose to believe, everyone will be tested to identify the master we serve. If I am wrong, I will face the consequences. I am confident that studying the scriptures to recognize Christ’s voice is the only way to indicate Christ as the master in whom we serve. And the test, as in all dispensations, is to answer for yourself whose voice you follow, or if you harken to a man.
Make the scriptures common language, by studying them, to know them. Let the words on the page become familiar, without constraining it by traditions (look with new eyes). And then expect the voice. Require heavenly contact from messengers. Knock, ask, and seek.