It’s no secret that I like to read many books. But some people don’t realize that I have a reading plan. I think it is important to be well read over a variety of issues and so when I go to a conference to buy a lot of books, I purposely look to get at least one book in multiple categories. I always want to get a book on Christian living, at least one book on preaching, a book on counseling, and a book on theology, but I also make sure to get a good biography as well. It is tremendously profitable to read good Christian biographies.
Reading a Christian biography reminds us that we are not alone. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Reading good Christian biographies also reminds us that God is still at work, and He has been at work for centuries. He is intimately involved in the building of His church and the lives of His people. Reading good Christian biographies also reminds us that we can always do better. I am consistently humbled when I read these biographies because they show me the great faith and work of other heroes of the faith and that spurs me on towards greater work for the Lord as well.
The book I recommend for this month is a biography of William Tyndale and it is called The Daring Mission of William Tyndale. This book is one in a series of biographies by author Steven J. Lawson. The series is called “A Long Line of Godly Men.” In this series, there are other biographies on big names in Christian history like John Calvin, Martin Luther, and George Whitefield. Lawson has even begun to bring in other authors in the series to borrow their expertise on various figures in Christian history.
I recommend this biography because of its singular focus. The biographies in this series are not an entire history of the person’s life. There are other biographies for that. For example, I have another biography of William Tyndale that is over 400 pages long that chronicles his entire life from birth to death. “A Long Line of Godly Men” is not that kind of biography. They are short and easily readable; usually around 200 pages or so. But they are short on purpose. The biography focuses in on one area of the person’s life and speaks on that. For John Calvin, the focus is on his preaching ministry. For George Whitefield, the focus is on his evangelistic passion. For Martin Luther, the focus is on his boldness. For Tyndale, the focus is on his daring mission.
For those of you who do not know the story, William Tyndale was burned at the stake for the ‘crime’ of translating the Bible into English. Tyndale had grown up in England where spiritual darkness was rampant. The Bibles they had were all in Latin, but the average person couldn’t read Latin; in fact, even some of the priests using their Latin Bible couldn’t! It was a time of empty ceremony, religious ritual, and spiritual superstition. Tyndale sought to change that by translating the Bible into the language of the people: English. William Tyndale was the perfect man to do the translating since he was proficient in eight languages and did his translating directly from the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament.
To the Catholic Church who held the authority at the time, translating the Bible was a crime. Tyndale was forced to do most of his translating running for his life and he had to smuggle his translated Bibles back into England for the common people to read. This was his daring mission Lawson writes of. He spent the last 12 years of his life on the run as a fugitive until he was captured and killed in 1536. His goal was to get the Word of God into the people of God. He famously said his hope was that “a boy that drives the plow would know more of the Scripture than the pope.”
William Tyndale is one of my heroes because every time I casually pick up my Bible to read it, or casually ignore it when I should be reading it (sadly), I am able to have this Bible in my native language because of men like him. There are many other translators throughout the world seeking to bring the Bible to people groups in their native languages, but Tyndale was the first. The fact that you hold an English Bible in your hand today is due in part to the daring mission of William Tyndale who sacrificed his life to make sure that happened. Ultimately, we are grateful to God for raising up a man like Tyndale, but it is always humbling and encouraging to see how the Lord uses average everyday people to do extraordinary things for His kingdom.
-Pastor Mark Scialabba