Just a little over six hundred years ago in the city of Constance in Bohemia on July 6, 1415, John Hus was burned at the stake. Considered by the Church to be a heretic for opposing some of the ecclesial practices that had developed over the years, he was an early champion of Scripture in the language of the people, following the example of Englishman John Wycliffe who had been instrumental in translating the Bible from Latin into English in the 1380s. Hus' last words were, "In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose call for reforms cannot be suppressed." It was just a little over 100 years later in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany.
Luther himself was of course, the heart and soul of the Protestant Reformation, and is considered the father of the German language for his seminal translation of the Scriptures, the first major document in that language. William Tyndale appeared on the scene in England about the same time, translating the Bible into English from the Greek; for this crime was strangled then burned at the stake in 1536.
The list could go on and on; the story continues to this day. Just three months ago we listened to a young man from Nepal who has proven instrumental in developing a new process for translating Scriptures that shortens the translation timeline from years (even decades!) to months. Previously, missionaries would spend their entire lives to translate the Bible into a new language. Even today, there are places where possessing a copy of the Bible is a capital offense just as it was in the days of Wycliffe, Hus, and Tyndale.
I'm thinking of all this because of something that happened in Sunday School this morning. Our son Matthew is the teacher, and as he led us through chapter 3 of James, he projected the text on the screen using his iPad. He was switching back and forth between a couple different versions so I asked him what app he was using that gave him that ability. He told me, and I downloaded it on my phone. With just a couple taps I can access a couple dozen versions of the Scriptures, add notes, highlight passages, and view commentaries. And this is just one app! The resources that are at our fingertips are incredible. Which makes me wonder...
With all the advantages we have, how are we doing in our actual use of and adherence to the Bible? We have the ability to be Biblically literate, and yet Biblical illiteracy is a huge problem in the church. And even though I read the Bible, how well do I follow its teachings, and even more importantly, do I allow the Scriptures to lead me to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ? I am grateful for the ease at which I can read the Bible. Now I pray that I not be found wanting in my actual reading and practice of it.