Persons familiar with The Pilgrim’s Progress will recognize the above statement as a play on words from the beginning John Bunyan’s immortal work. Apology is not used in the sense of asking pardon but as justification for what one is about to do.
The name of this website is Tyndale’s Ploughboy. It originates from an event that occurred in William Tyndale’s life when he was serving as a tutor for the children of Sir John and Lady Anne Walsh. Although the accounts of what took place vary in details, the basic outline is clear according to both Richard Webb and John Foxe.
Tyndale was engaged in a conversation with a fellow priest concerning the need for the Scriptures to be in the English language. At that time, because of the Oxford Constitutions enacted in the previous century, it was not permissible to own a copy of the Bible in the English language. Tyndale’s companion was not convinced of the need for the Scriptures in English. He is reported to have said that as long as people had the Bishop of Rome’s laws, the Scriptures were not needed.
To this Tyndale replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws, if God spare my life, I will make a boy that driveth the plough know more of the Scripture than thou dost.” Most individuals who comment on this statement seek to draw a parallel with the words of Erasmus who had expressed similar sentiments regarding the need and value of the Word of God in the vernacular tongue. Erasmus spoke of the weaver at his loom, the traveler on his journey and others who would be refreshed by the reading of God’s Word.
However, Tyndale’s statement goes far beyond what Erasmus expressed. Tyndale did not only speak of the ploughboy having the Scripture in a familiar language but he also said that he would make him to know more of the Scripture than one who had been educated for the priesthood in the church. Tyndale not only had the intention of translating the Scriptures but providing a means by which a person could understand what the Scriptures meant.
Why would Tyndale make such a statement? In his introduction to the Books of Moses which was printed nearly seven years after he uttered those words, he provided insight into his purpose. He stated that it was impossible to establish the people in the Word of God unless they possessed them in the vernacular. The key phrase is the establishment of the people. Tyndale’s interest went far beyond providing the bare text of Scripture in the English language. That was but the first step to teach the ploughboy to know more and become established in the Word of God, In Tyndale’s writings, he frequently used the word “key” in reference to the means of making the Scripture intelligible to the individual. William Tyndale dedicated his life in order to furnish that key to the ploughboy.
It is not necessary to rehearse all the reasons why Tyndale was motivated to do this. Histories of that period, regardless of their origin, agree that conditions were unspeakably bad in a religious sense. Although there have been some who are convinced that the popular religion was adequate to meet the spiritual needs of the people, most students of English history speak of clerical ignorance, low standards of morality, and other vices.
What could be done to remedy this situation? Tyndale and others were convinced that a change would only occur when the people had the Word of God accessible to them in a language they could understand. This did not mean that everyone would have a copy of the Scriptures and that every person was literate. However, it did mean that the Scriptures would be accessible to everyone.
What do the conditions that were prevalent in Tyndale’s day have to do with the situation we face today? Many of the same problems confronting the society of Tyndale’s day are with us. It would be a work of supererogation to describe the ills confronting the world today: economic, racial, war, famine, genocide and the list could be extended greatly.
As a philosopher once said, I am not interested in someone describing the problem, I can do that myself. I am interested in someone giving the solution to the problem. What is the solution to the myriad of ills facing us today?
I believe the answers are found in the Word of God. Whether or not someone could consider this to be naïve is beside the point. Science has failed, education has failed, capitalism has failed, and communism and socialism have failed to meet the basic need of people. It is not until we are willing to admit that man’s, and by extension society’s, problem is a moral one that we can address the situation.
The irony in this is that the solutions put forward as the answer to man’s dilemma of the 21st century were also proposed in the 15th century because a majority of the people recognized that reform was necessary if the world were to survive. Proposals were put forth including the education of the masses, the redistribution of wealth, higher ethical standards, but they were all inadequate to resolve the crisis.
The true reformers who changed history had a phrase that guided their actions. That phrase was sola scriptura. Although all the ramifications of what the phrase meant lie beyond the scope of this essay, its basic meaning was clear: the final authority in all matters of belief and conduct is found in Scripture alone. This was in contrast to the religious authoritarianism represented by the institutional church and religious subjectivism represented by the philosophy of man.
This will be our starting point; the Word of God does have the answers. They are found in a personal relationship with the God Who created us in His image. The Word tells us that man is estranged from God because of his sin. However, the theme of Scripture is that God has provided a means through His Son to be reconciled with Him. That is the Gospel, a word that means “good news.”
Through this website, we will seek to encourage people to read the Scriptures, study them by the help of the Holy Spirit, in order to come to a saving personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and live in a manner to make an impact on society.
This is an ambitious goal. However, there is precedent for such goal. The first century church changed the course of world history through the proclamation of the Gospel. That church had no worldly patron, no financial endowment, and no material resources. However, they had the Word of God (and at that period of history it was the Jewish Scriptures that we call the Old Testament).
Perhaps the one of the most arresting statements that we read about the early church is found in Acts 17 when Paul and Silas entered the city of Thessalonica. The Jews described them as those who had turned the world upside down. In the context, they charged the apostles with anarchy toward civil government and religious beliefs.
However, in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul gives us the inspired account of what truly took place. He wrote of the Thessalonian believers as ones who had turned from idols to serve the true and living God. Truly the world had been turned upside down.
That is the goal of this web site: to have men and women turn from the idols of the 21st century to serve the true and living God!