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Joe Maxwell: Martyred for the Message


Joe Maxwell, “Martyred for the Message: We’ve forgotten how much blood was spilled so that we could read God’s Word” Charisma (Sept 2006), pages 38-40, 42-47.

A Thriller or Real Life?

Does this sound like an exciting book or movie? “A small group of radical extremists are publishing a book full of dangerous ideas. National governments and international religious groups search desperately for these peddlers of heresy and rebellion. Despite danger and hardship, the fanatics relentlessly push their version of truth on an unsuspecting world.”

It has often been said that the main difference between real life and fiction is that fiction has to be believable. Who would believe that the Christian church would oppose translating and publishing Scripture? Who would think that William Tyndale would be hunted as a heretic and martyred for making the Bible available in English?

The media elite will say you can’t make a movie or book about Tyndale’s life. The story just isn’t believable. No one would believe this as fiction.


Martyred For The Message

Joe Maxwell’s article recounts the life and times of Bible translators and publishers William Tyndale and John Wycliffe. Their work brought reform and revival to a Christian Church and world that practically ignored Jesus Christ. For their efforts, they were prosecuted and persecuted.

Tyndale’s martyrdom, and the desecration of Wycliffe’s grave, proves the disruptive nature of their work. They insisted, centuries apart, that Christian authority rest in unchanging Scripture, rather than fallible men. This radical theology made them the enemy of those who wear a crown or mitre.

As believers read Scripture for themselves the numerous corrupt practices and doctrinal errors in the Church and governments of their era became obvious. Those who profited from the status quo refused or resisted reform. Cheats and crooks called devout men heretics or traitors, then spilled their blood.

All too often, the blood of saints is a key ingredient in the formula for Bible ink. While salvation is free, the freight is costly. Sometimes that “transportation charge” is murder on the Godly man or woman who delivers Scripture to a lost soul.


Plow Boys As Theologians

“If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of Scripture than thou dost.”

William Tyndale

Tyndale, who read and wrote 8 languages, was clearly a scholar. His actions mark him as more than just an intellectual. He relentlessly and boldly worked to bring the Bible to the common English man and woman.

The availability of Tyndale’s translation fueled the drive for literacy in general, and Biblical study in particular. An educated populous is more productive but harder to swindle. It is no surprise that 16th century governments, both secular and ecclesiastical, objected to the availability of inexpensive, easy to read Bibles.

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Category: Church History, Spring 2007

About the Author: Kirk Wesley Hunt, MBA, is a minister at Tucson Church International in Tucson Arizona. He is the author of Soldiers Of The Kingdom: Reclaiming the World for God (CadreMen Press, 2002) and Blessed and Blessing: Devotionals for Gospel Champions (CadreMen Press, 2015). He publishes a weekly devotional at:

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