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 Vol. 4, No. 1 

 

January, 2002

  

~ Page 12 ~

 

Religion and Ethics

By Hugo McCord

Hugo McCord "Religion And Ethics" is the title of an article in The Oregonian (5-26-01), but I look in vain to find anything in the article pertaining to religion and ethics. Michael and Dianne Alexanian (East Lansing, Michigan), "fed up with the stress of their daily grind," have "built a Japanese meditation garden in their backyard." Dianne says, "It's completely changed our lives. We look forward to getting up each day. When we can't take other people, we go to hide in the solace of our garden."

Dianne's blood pressure has fallen, and Michael "has kicked his smoking habit." "Millions of Americans hunger for the kind of spiritual solace the Alexanians have found in their own back yard, according to a new national survey. But people aren't flocking to churches to find it" (David Crumm and Alexa Capeloto, Knight Ridder News Service, 5-26-01). But if "millions of Americans" and millions of non-Americans build "Japanese meditation" gardens "in their" backyards, in search of "spiritual solace" (selfish contentment?), and finally dying, what then?

A young man was asked by an aged person, "What are your plans for life?" He replied, "I aim to live a clean moral life, get an education, and begin a business career." Then the aged man asked, "What then?" He replied, "I aim to find a nice girl, marry, have children, and enjoy my family." The aged man continued, "What then?" The lad replied, "I hope to retire and to enjoy the rest of my life." The aged man continued, "What then?" The young man said, "I have no plans after death." The aged man said, "You have made no plans for the most important part of your life."

The young man, like the Alexanians in their Japanese meditation garden, had made plans only for this life, not for "everlasting life" (Matthew 25:46). I am made to think of two other people, a man and a woman, neither of whom retreated into selfish contentment in a Japanese meditation garden, but both considered this present life merely as a short preparatory experience to be ready for eternity: "Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).

I. WILLIAM TYNDALE

William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire, England, in 1494, and graduated from Oxford University in 1515. In 1516, Tyndale appealed to the [Roman Catholic] bishop of London to produce an English version of the Bible, but his request was turned down. The Catholic Church and the English throne were firmly against the creation of a Bible in any language other than in the sanctioned Latin or Greek. Their fear was that by making God's Word more accessible, ordinary citizens, armed with independence of faith, might one day revolt against the ruling establishment (Chuck Meyers, Knight Ridder News Service, The Oregonian, 8-23-97).

Tyndale was insistent, and told a priest, "I defy the Pope and all his laws; if God spares my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost." Then Tyndale did the translating of the New Testament into English from the Greek original, but no printer in England would dare to print it for him. After an attempt to print his English New Testament in Cologne, Germany ended with a raid by authorities in 1525, Tyndale took his manuscript up the Rhine River to a printer in Worms. A year later, as many as 6,000 [copies] of his New Testament were finally produced.

Smugglers managed to get a number of Tyndale's Bibles into England (shipped in hay, clothing and grain). Many were confiscated, however, and ceremoniously burned outside St. Paul's Cathedral. The "Bishop's Burn the Bible Fund" destroyed most of three editions. He soon became a marked man in the eyes of the guardians of the faith and a target for the acrimonious rhetoric of Sir Thomas More, the chancellor of England, who vilified him as "hell bound" and a "beast" (Chuck Meyers, Ibid.).

Tyndale dared not return to England, but even over on the continent of Europe the power of the Pope made him subject to arrest. In 1535, in Antwerp, Belgium, he was "kidnapped by men loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V."

During his imprisonment, Tyndale worked on translating the Old Testament from Hebrew, which he had started before his capture. Finally, after 16 months of incarceration, Tyndale was convicted of heresy by a secular court, and sentenced to death (Chuck Meyers, Ibid.). The German Emperor Charles V, a staunch Roman Catholic, had made it a crime, "punishable by torture, burning, or burial alive, for anyone to read, purchase, or possess any proscribed book or any New Testament prohibited by the theologians" (Maxie B. Boren, via The Voice of Truth International, vol. 14).

On the charge of heresy, he was tied to the stake on October 6, 1536, strangled and burned in Vilvorde, Belgium. ... A 1610 edition of "Acts and Monuementes" (Book of Martyrs), by martyrologisgt John Foxe, describes Tyndale's final moments. According to Foxe, Tyndale "cried with a fervent zeal and a loud voice, 'Lord, open the king of England's eyes'" (Chuck Meyers, Ibid.). I do not think that William Tyndale would have thought that "spiritual solace" could be found in "a Japanese meditation garden."

II. MARY JANE ROYSE

A grandson, Nyal Dailey Royse, professor emeritus of Harding University, writes:

My grandparents, A.J. and Mary Jane Royse, resided three miles west of Covington on the old Danville and Covington Road. They had a large family. Grandmother was a Christian, but grandfather wished to have nothing to do with the church. Each Sunday morning she would get the horses up, put on the harness, hitch them to the wagon, and drive in to Covington for worship. One bitter cold day Grandpap said to her, "Maw, you're not going to take these children out in this cold weather, are you?" She replied, "Pap, we are going." She got the horses harnessed and hitched up and then went to the house to get the children ready. When she went out to go he had unharnessed the horses and turned them back out in the pasture. She sent the children into the house and went back out and got the horses and hitched them up and drove in to worship. Granddad never pulled that trick again.

Another real cold day he asked her again not to go. He got the same answer. He told her that he was going to drive them in, not because he wanted to, but he was ashamed for the neighbors to see her driving to town in the cold and know that he was home, comfortable by the fire. He drove them to Covington but said he would stay in the wagon. Before the service was over, he almost froze and had to come in to get warm. After that he drove them quite often and then all of the time, but he would always sit alone on the back seat. One day he came walking down the aisle and was baptized. Grandmother died in 1922 and he died in 1933. For the eleven years he lived alone, he was faithful to the end, thanks to a wife that took over the spiritual leadership of the family while he served Satan.

I thought you might like that story of my grandparents. I was born in the log cabin where they lived before they retired to live in Covington. Yours in Christ, Nyal D. Royse

Brother Royse told me later that, as a result of his grandmother's faithfulness, today there are five generations of Christians. I doubt that if Mary Jane Royse had sought "spiritual solace" in a "Japanese meditation garden" that her husband would have become a Christian.

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