AN IMPORTANT HISTORY OF THE PROPAGATION OF THE BIBLE
The Bible completed through the apostle was an open book intended for all the children of God. However, Satan, who is vicious and subtle, locked up the Bible through the Roman Catholic Church. The pope gave an order saying that the Bible was too sacred and beyond the understanding of the ordinary people. Therefore, they could not read it nor interpret it; only the pope and the few archbishops under him had the ability to understand it. Therefore, the theological and doctrinal definitions in the Catholic Church were all decided through papal decrees; the common people were not permitted to make any decisions for themselves.
In a way, the most important thing accomplished through the Reformation, which is well-known in history, was not the recovery of the truth concerning justification by faith but the release of the Bible to the general public. Those who have read history know that before the Reformation, people did not have newspapers. It was during the Reformation that the reformers invented the newspaper to propagate the truth they saw. Therefore, through the Reformation the Bible was firstly unlocked and the word of God was released; secondly, the newspaper was invented as a way to propagate the word of God. Regrettably, Christians today do not utilize the newspaper to intensify the power of the gospel. On the contrary, it is the worldly people who use newspapers for the mass spread of news. This is a lamentable matter. Therefore, we have to see that where the work of the Lord is, there must also be the literature work for the spread and release of the Lord’s word.
Although Martin Luther took the lead to unlock the Bible five hundred years ago, the Bible had not been fully interpreted by then. When people came to the book of Revelation, they said that this book was a mysterious book that should not be read because it was incomprehensible. Then about one hundred years ago, the Lord raised up the Brethren in England. The Bible scholars among them, with John Nelson Darby as the leader and others such as William Kelly and C. H. Mackintosh, interpreted so many of the types and prophecies in the Bible. They saw the meaning of the great human image in Daniel chapter two, the four beasts in chapter seven, and the seventy weeks in chapter nine. Through their understanding and knowledge of these three matters, they were able to open up the book of Revelation. Thus, a hundred years ago the Bible became not only a released book but also an interpreted book.
Ever since the Lord’s recovery started in China, we have paid much attention to studying the truth and the Bible. We have read deeply into church history and thoroughly researched the various important schools of interpretation of the Bible. Hence, in our exposition of the Scriptures, we are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors. We may say that the Lord’s recovery today has passed through Luther, Zinzendorf, the Brethren, and now it has reached us. This is why we have utterances such as “Christ is all-inclusive.” This is what we have seen, and this utterance is uniquely ours. We are able to see so many things because we are standing on the shoulders of our predecessors. If I stand on the ground, what I can see will be very limited, but if I climb onto the top of a thousand-man human pyramid and stand on the shoulders of the person on the very top, then I will be able to see much farther. This is not to say that we are looking down on our predecessors; rather, we are grateful for what they saw, but at the same time, we feel that what they saw was lower. Although the things they saw were numerous, they were on the ground level. Although we have not seen as many things as they first saw, the things we have seen are high and were seen from a high position.
The reason the Bible has been opened to us today is that God wants us to speak, and He wants us to speak His word. In the history of the propagation of the Bible, the Bible was locked up at first by the Catholic Church for about one thousand years, from A.D. 500 to a.d. 1500. This period of one thousand years is called the Dark Ages in history. Why was it dark? That age was dark because there was practically no Bible, no Word of God. Then during the Reformation the Bible was released, and one hundred and fifty years ago it was interpreted through the Brethren. Today the highest theologies are based on the theological teachings of the Brethren. The theologies of the two higher schools of theology in America today—the Dallas Theological Seminary and the Moody Bible Institute—are basically those of the Brethren. Today the so-called proper and orthodox teachings of Protestant Christianity are all influenced by the teachings of the Brethren.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)