The Unchained Word

Did you grow up in a church that had a large Bible prominently displayed at the front? The history behind that tradition is fascinating and challenging. For centuries the Word of God was chained within the Latin language and purposefully kept from the common man because, it was argued, he would misinterpret its meaning. Men like Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale and Luther were all pioneers in a revolt to end the sacerdotal stranglehold in which the organized church held Scripture.

One decisive blows in this battle was dealt when Thomas Cromwell, general secretary for Henry VIII and Vicar General of the Church of England issued orders that all the clergy under his leadership provide a large Bible,

” and the same set up in some convenient place within the said church that ye have care of, whereas your parishioners may most commodiously resort to the same and read it.” (1538)

The result? Every church in England eventually had a large Bible at the front which the common folk were free to read. People stood in line for hours for their chance to read God’s Word with their own eyes. But, the Word of God was still chained … literally. Because of the scarcity and value of these manuscripts (many of them still hand-copied) they were bond to the church altars with chains.

Things have certainly changed! Most of us know experientially that the Bible is more available to more people than at any other time in history. There are still places in the world where God’s Word is “chained” but most of us do not have that excuse. Let me close with question: What if any “chain” is keeping you from reading God’s Word?