Saturday, May 29, 2010

D'Aubigne on Tyndale and True Catholicity

Jean Henri Merle D’Aubigné (1794–1872)wrote a massive and magnificent History of the Reformation that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing about.

He makes a profound statement that will make Reformed and many other Protestant Christians say- "Yes, that's it- He nailed it!!" The statement will very likely make many Roman Catholics say- "No, that's not it- he's missed the mark completely!!"

You know which reaction describes me.

Context for his statement: In the early 1500's, highly qualified Oxford scholar and churchman William Tyndale was trying to translate the bible in to English under constant threat and danger from the Roman Church. Tyndale received several invitations from Christians in other countries to come and finish his work. He fled to Germany and continued the task. D'Aubigne is commenting on how widespread the hunger for the bible and reform was spreading in the 16th Century, which in turn illustrated the true nature of God's Church.

The residence of Tyndale and his friends in foreign countries, and the connections there formed with pious Christians, testify to the fraternal spirit which the Reformation then restored to the Church. It is in Protestantism that true catholicity is to be found. The Romish Church is not a catholic church. Separated from the churches of the East, which are the oldest in Christendom, and from the Reformed churches, which are the purest, it is nothing but a sect, and that a degenerated one. A church which should profess to believe in an episcopal unity, but which kept itself separate from the episcopacy of Rome and of the East, and from the Evangelical churches, would be no longer a catholic church; it would be a sect more sectarian still than that of the Vatican—a fragment of a fragment. The Church of the Saviour requires a truer, a diviner unity than that of priests, who condemn one another. It was the reformers, and particularly Tyndale, who proclaimed throughout Christendom the existence of a body of Christ, of which all the children of God are members. The disciples of the Reformation are the true catholics.

By the way, Tyndale was strangled and burned alive for his successful effort to translate the bible in to English.


Woody Woodward said...

Recently we rented the rather “B” grade movie on Net Flix, “God's Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale” . Though not the best quality, but a compelling and impacting story of TRUTH! Part of my review; “While the local Catholic hierarchy was desperately trying to hunt him down, Church leaders all the way to Rome were equally crying out for his public execution by burning at the stake! God’s hands protected his work, yielding thousands of English Bibles, known as the “Geneva Bible.” Think of this paradigm shift; thousands of brave martyrs of old willingly gave their lives to protect and defend the Holy Scriptures; now we have seminaries exploding with liberal, non-believing Professors who, not only vehemently deny inerrancy of Scripture, but arrogantly scoff at anyone who would dare to defend the TRUTH of God’s Holy Word. Soli Deo Gloria; To God be the Glory!”

John D. Chitty said...

It just dawned on me recently that the reason older Protestant writers alwsys called Roman Catholicism "papists" and "Romanism" was because the Protestants back then weren't willing to leave the word "catholic" to them, and that this was their way of saying that Protestants were the true catholics. Thanks for the quote.

Reepicheep said...

John, exactly right. "catholic" is not a term that belongs to the Romanists. I've run across a slew of such labels and terms that refuse to conced the label "catholic":


John D. Chitty said...

Seen them all. It just never sunk in until recently.