Vol.XII No.I Pg.4
March 1975

God's Word Is Powerful

Robert F. Turner

When the Lords church was established in the first century inspired men began to record N.T. truths to guide future generations in His way (2 Pet. 1:15, 3:1-2; Lu. 1;1-4; Jn. 20:31). But even then men twisted the scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16); and as apostasy developed, they buried Gods word (almost literally) beneath their traditions. The history of Restoration began when Gods word was uncovered, so it could touch mans heart.

During the Middle Ages the Roman church dominated the scene. The little learning that prevailed was bound in Latin and decorated with mysticism. Commentaries of that day bring out every other meaning but the historical and plain sense intended by the biblical authors. (Schaff; VI, 717f) What the text said was not nearly as emphasized as the allegorical, moral, and anagogical suppositions of the clergy. One must understand that setting to appreciate the following.

Erasmus (1466-1536) was hardly a zealous reformer. He died in the Roman church, although he wrote sharp satire against it. But in the Preface to the 1st. edition of his Greek New Testament he expressed. the hope that the Scriptures might be translated into every tongue and put into the hand of every reader, to give strength and comfort to the husbandman at his plough, to the weaver at his shuttle, to the traveler on his journey and to the woman at her distaff. It may be Greek to you but his publication of the Greek text spurred independent Bible study, logical exegesis, and prepared the way for the proclamation of the true gospel. His first edition appeared in 1516, with others in 19, 22, 27, and 35. Zwingli copied the Pauline Epistles from the 1st. edition. Luther prepared a German translation, and Tyndale made his English version from the 2nd. The 4th. and 5th. editions were the basis of the textus receptus, from which the King James version was largely taken.

This is not to praise Erasmus as a great Christian leader. Schaff says he was a critical scholar and not a man of action or of deep fervor of conviction. He ridiculed the Roman church but his piety was not deep enough to brave a rupture with the old order. He thought Luthers manners coarse, and they had a written feud over free will. But it was a common saying of the day, Erasmus laid the egg which Luther hatched. Luther said of Erasmus, He has done what he was ordained to do: he has introduced the ancient languages in the place of injurious scholastic studies.

In England, John Wyclif (1324-84 used a logical approach to Scriptures. He assaulted Romanism in five main categories: nature of the church, the papacy, priesthood, transubstantiation, and use of Scriptures — with the last the basis for all else. The Bible must come before the church, as conscience before human authority. In 1382 he translated the Latin Vulgate into English — emphasizing the right of the laity to the Word of God. With good reason he was called the Morning Star of the Reformation.

There could be no Reformation no Restoration, and no true church today without proper use of Gods word.