Bishop's Message: Three glimpses of the History of Costly Discipleship

6th October 2020

I am writing on the day the Church remembers William Tyndale, who was executed, aged 42, on 6th October 1536. His greatest achievement was the translation of the Bible into English. His passion for the truth of Scripture led him into controversy with the ruling authorities, for whom he prayed with his dying breath.

The complex history of what is taken for granted, for example free access to the Word of God, is often neglected. When you read or hear the Bible, which I expect Christians to do each day, remember with gratitude not just the scholarship and inspiration but also the personal cost, even martyrdom, of those who prepared for us an accessible text.

In Black History Month there is also an opportunity to go deeper into the understanding of another part of history, the gruesome realities of the Triangular Slave Trade and its appalling consequences. Reading and hearing the stories told by survivors and descendants, the Holy Spirit reveals past sin and continuing prejudice and injustice. I am excited by the reimagining of neglected history and it’s power to change heart and minds in society today.

Thirdly the Britain’s Biggest Dig TV series, with its graveyard excavations at each end of HS2, in St James’s Euston London and Park Street Birmingham, not only told the story of ordinary humanity with its one out of one chance of dying, but also revealed the ancestry of local historian Carl Chinn, whose great grandfather was a teenage gang member and a violent Slogger. We learn that aggressive gangs are not just a present issue related to particular community but a common human condition, and more hopefully that people can rise from oppression.

As in the freely available Bible narrative of forgiveness and redemption and the huge achievements of the descendants of slaves so in Professor Chinn we see what a difference three generations can make.