The Pamphleteers- How the Bill of Rights was advanced by England’s 17th Century Christian fringe

The English Ploughman was the man William Tyndale wanted to reach.  He believed the common man should have access to the Word of God and come to know God through his own personal journey.  This ideal led to a generation of English Ploughmen who discovered liberty in the Gospels and began to fight for, and die for, that liberty.  Here is their story:

Paul Gordon Collier

 

Previously- The Birth of a Nation- William Tyndale’s Defense of Religious Freedom

17th Century English Pamplets articulated American Liberty

17th Century English Pamphlets articulated American Liberty

….whosoever therefore hindereth a very infidel from the right of that law, sinneth against God and of him will God be avenged….  William Tyndale

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28- Paul the Apostle

Tyndale’s Bible of the 1520s began the process of bringing the Word of God directly to the ploughman, who, in many instances, became the great champion of individual liberty our nation and our Bill of Rights would be founded on.

tyndale bible

Almost 100 years later, the King James Bible was written, in 1611, owing 85 percent of its text to the original Tyndale Bible.  The purpose of the King James Bible, however, was to re-establish the unity of the Church of England.  For instance, the insistence by King James to translate the word “ecclesia” to “church” was a move to keep the sovereignty of the Church of England over all believers intact, a sovereignty that was still being enforced with the magisterial powers of the natural, or temporal rulers of this earth, who held the ultimate temporal authority, the power to kill.

king james bible

The existence of the King James Bible, and the availability of the Word of God to the ploughman, the common man and woman, perpetuated a battle in England that was first made clear by John Wycliffe, first clearly articulated by William Tyndale, and writ large in blood throughout the 17th century of the British Kingdom.

The battles were between Presbyterians and Episcopalians, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, the Puritans and the Quakers, the Free Willers and the Calvinists, the Baptists and the Bishops.

For most, the battle for religious freedom was about the inherit right of their particular brand of Christianity to be enforced by temporal authority, the so-called magistrate enforcement.  For a small minority of fringe Christians, led initially by the first Baptists (and coming from the Free Willers of the previous century who were all but exterminated by the Church of England and Bloody Mary), the battle was for religious freedom for all Christians.  For an even smaller fringe, the battle was over religious freedom for all, even the atheist and the ‘infidels’.

This last group is the group that we will continue to track in our Bill of Rights series, culminating in the actual ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791.  They were the most aggressively persecuted as they had enemies from almost all of the other Christian camps, including the Puritans (as we shall see when our series takes us to America).

This part of the Bill of Rights series will focus on the writings of four men from England’s 17th century turmoil, one of whom is an anonymous “pamphleteer”.  These men were born to a generation of ploughman that had been exposed to direct access to the Word of God through the Tyndale Bible.  They reflect the core conflict which led to two civil wars, the beheading of a King, and the passing of the “English Bill of Rights” in 1689, an act that will contribute significantly to the American Revolution, and one that shadowed the pure concept of individual liberty first articulated by William Tyndale and reflected in the four men we will showcase in this article.