William Tyndale was firmly tied to the stake. The kindling was piled high. The match was about to be struck. Suddenly, as an act of kindness, the executioner approached Tyndale from the rear and graciously strangled him to death with a chain. Or so I thought.
William Tyndale was an English Roman Catholic priest whose passion was to see the Bible translated into the language of the people. The Catholic Church and King Henry VIII disagreed. They believed that only the priests should have access to Scripture. When a Catholic priest warned Tyndale to stop his endeavor to translate the Bible, Tyndale fired, “I will make it possible for a boy behind the plow to know more Scripture than you do.”
Threatened with death, he fled England and lived incognito in Europe until a friend betrayed him and Tyndale found himself in a dank prison in Vilvorde prison in Brussels, Belgium.
I stood in the place where Tyndale was lit on fire for his “heretical” views. I was told it was an act of kindness that he was strangled before the flames melted him. I was told wrong.
It was not uncommon that when a great reformer was to be set ablaze, they would preach, pray and sing so fervently, that many souls were saved before the flames silenced their message. That is why Tyndale was strangled to death. Not to keep him from pain, but to keep people from hearing the Gospel. Tyndale’s last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” God granted that prayer. Henry VIII had a change of heart and ordered that the Bible be translated into the language of the people. Whose translation did they use? You guessed it: Tyndale’s.
The gospel cannot be strangled, only its messengers. But, as the hymn says, “The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still. His Kingdom is forever.”
From Gairny Bridge