"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34
Even in this secularized "post-Christian" age in which we find ourselves, still virtually every home in America has at least one copy of the Bible. It remains a best seller and has sold billions of copies since 1800, having been translated in over 1,000 languages and dialects.
There is no question that the Bible has been the most influential book in human history as well as the best and biggest seller. It is hard to assess the profound impact the Bible has had on the moral, spiritual and even political development of the West.
The Bible has had a profound influence on the diverse cultures of Europe and the British Isles, the Americas, Australia and Africa, and has even left an imprint on Asia. It is a book that has inspired the whole range of human emotion and experience, including some of the finest art and literature.
With that in mind it brings us to the sixth in our series of proofs for the validity of the Bible:
Six, The Universal Influence of the Bible
Most of us know about the Protestant Reformation in early 16th century, but efforts to spread "the Word" actually began many centuries earlier.
Already by the 14th century disgust with the decadence and corruption of the Church began to create a grass-roots movement of rebellion. One of the earliest acts of defiance was an attempt on the part of several individuals to return the Christian world to its pure roots by re-introducing the Bible to the common man.
In both northern Europe and England illegal copies of the Bible were printed and distributed in the local vernacular. One such version, produced in England in the late 14th century by Oxford theologian, John Wycliffe, had this in its preface:
The Bible is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The people responsible for these "illegal" translations were persecuted and a few of them, such as Jan Hus of Bohemia, were put to death for heresy.
New technology was also to play a major role in the in the spread of the Bible. In 1453, in Guttenberg, Germany, the printing press was invented. Before the advent of this invention every book was hand copied, often by monks. This made books both rare and expensive. The printing press could not only produce books at a much faster rate, but it also dramatically lowered the cost of each book. It's no accident that the first book printed in Guttenberg was the Bible. The translation of the Bible into local languages and its mass-production via the printing press led to an explosion in both its popularity and impact.
The 16th century saw tremendous religious changes in Europe: Martin Luther founded a new Christian denomination called Protestantism. The focus of this new movement was primarily to protest against the material excesses of the Catholic Church and re-infuse Christianity with its Biblical spirit.
In 1538 Henry VIII also broke away from Catholicism and founded The Church of England. He issued a proclamation that a copy of the Bible be placed in every Church in England and public reading of the Bible became a regular feature of church worship.
Many other countries followed suit, abandoned the Catholic Church, and became Protestant.
Protestant theologians, realizing that the true religious and ethical spirit of Christianity came from within the Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) put strong emphasis on the individual's right and responsibility to go directly to the Bible and use it as the moral guidebook.
There can be no argument that as the Bible became more accessible to common men, it became more widely read. The desire to read the Bible led to the an increase in literacy. The inspiration of Biblical truths and concepts birthed great works of art and literature and music. Of the world's most prized paintings, 117 depict Bible characters and themes. Renowned composers such as Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Handel were inspired by the lofty themes of the Bible and incorporated those themes in their musical masterpieces.
As Americans, we need only to look to our Founding Fathers and the foundational documents of our great republic to see the profound impact of Biblical truths, concepts and values in the formation of our liberties. Not only does our freedom arise from these principles but also the means of protecting those freedoms as well.
Impressive as these facts may, they only scratch the surface of the impact of the Bible on Western culture. No other book can make such a claim, whether it be a religious book or a secular tome. Why is this so? We believe it is because the Bible is the Word of God.
The B-I-B-L-E, that's the book for me!