Posts Tagged ‘foxe’s book of martyrs’
By John Foxe
(from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
William Tyndale was a special instrument appointed by the Lord as God’s pick-axe to shake the inward roots and foundation of the pope’s proud churchdom. The prince of darkness, with his impious imps, had a special malice against him, leaving no way unsought to craftily entrap him, falsely betray him, and maliciously spill his life.
He was born about the borders of Wales and brought up in the University of Oxford, where he, by long continuance, increased in the knowledge of languages and liberal arts. He especially applied himself to the knowledge of the Scriptures to which his mind was singularly addicted. There he privately read to certain students and fellows of Magdalen College, instructing them in the knowledge and truth of the Scriptures. His manners and conversation being correspondent to the same, were such that all that knew him reputed him to be a man of most virtuous disposition and of life unspotted.
Leaving the University of Oxford, Tyndale proceeded to the University of Cambridge until he had further ripened in the knowledge of God’s Word. Quitting his formal education, he resorted to one Master Welch, a knight of Gloucestershire, and was there schoolmaster to his children and in good favor with his master. As this gentleman frequently had guests at his table, there resorted to him many times sundry abbots, deans, archdeacons, doctors, and great beneficed men; who together with Master Tyndale sitting at the same table, did use many times to enter communication and talk of learned men, such as Luther and Erasmus; also of divers other controversies and questions upon the Scripture.
Then Master Tyndale, as he was learned and well practiced in God’s matters, spared not to show unto them simply and plainly his judgment, and when they at any time did vary from Tyndale in opinions, he would show them in the Book and lay plainly before them the open and manifest places of the Scriptures to confute their errors and confirm his sayings. And thus they continued for a certain season, reasoning and contending together at various times, until at length they waxed weary and bare a secret grudge in their hearts against him.
As this grew on, the priests of the country clustering together began to grudge and storm against Tyndale, railing against him in alehouses and other places, affirming that his sayings were heresy; and accused him secretly to the chancellor and others of the bishop’s officers.
The malice of the priests increasing still more and more against Tyndale, they never ceased barking and rating at him and laid many things sorely to his charge, saying that he was a heretic. Being so molested and vexed, he was constrained to leave that country and to seek another place.
Master Tyndale, with the good will of his master, departed and soon came up to London and there preached a while, as he had done in the country.
William Tyndale remained in London almost a year, living a simple life and studying day and night. He noted the contrast between the manner of life encouraged in the Scriptures and the demeanor of the preachers, how they boasted themselves and set up their authority; beholding also the pomp of the prelates and other things which he greatly disliked him. And as it was greatly upon his heart to translate the New Testament, he began to understand that not only was there no room in the bishop’s house for him to begin his work, but also that there was no place to do it in all England.
Therefore, having by God’s providence some aid ministered unto him by Humphrey Mummuth and certain other good men, he took his leave of the realm and departed into Germany. The good man, being inflamed with a tender care and zeal of his country, refused no travail or diligence to reduce his brethren and countrymen of England to the same taste and understanding of God’s holy Word and truth which the Lord had given to him. Whereupon, considering in his mind and conferring also with John Frith, Tyndale thought there was no better way to introduce such understanding than if the Scripture was turned into the vulgar speech so that the poor people might read and see the simple plain Word of God.
Master Tyndale considered this only, or most chiefly, to be the cause of all mischief in the church, that the Scriptures of God were hidden from the people’s eyes. For so long the abominable doings and idolatries maintained by the pharisaical clergy could not be espied because they had achieved that either the Bible should not be read at all, or if it were, they would darken the right sense with the mist of their sophistry and so entangle those who rebuked or despised their abominations. Wresting the Scripture unto their own purpose, contrary unto the meaning of the text, they would so delude the unlearned lay people that though those felt in their hearts that what they were hearing was false, they were unable to untangle their subtle riddles.
For these and such other considerations this good man was stirred up of God to translate the Scripture into his mother tongue for the profit of the simple people of his country; first setting in hand with the New Testament, which came forth in print about A.D. 1525. Cuthbert Tonstal, bishop of London, with Sir Thomas More, being sore aggrieved, conspired how to destroy that false erroneous translation, as they called it. They bought up as many copies as they could acquire and had them burned publicly. However, this evil endeavor provided Tyndale and his benefactors with the means to order the printing of even more copies of the Tyndale’s New Testament, which were shipped off to England and hungrily devoured by the masses.
After that, Master Tyndale took in hand to translate the Old Testament, finishing the five books of Moses with sundry most learned and godly prologues most worthy to be read and read again by all good Christians. These books being sent over into England, it cannot be spoken what a door of light they opened to the eyes of the whole English nation, which before were shut up in darkness.
The godly books of Tyndale, especially the New Testament of his translation, after that they began to come into men’s hands and to spread abroad, wrought great and singular profit to the godly; but the ungodly (envying and disdaining that the people should be anything wiser than they and, fearing lest by the shining beams of truth, their works of darkness should be discerned) began to stir with no small ado.
The bishops and prelates never rested until they had brought the king to their consent; by reason whereof, a proclamation in all haste was devised and set forth under public authority, that the Testament of Tyndale’s translation was prohibited—which was about A.D. 1537. And not content herewith they proceeded further how to entangle him in their nets and to bereave him of his life, which they brought to pass through treachery and betrayal.
Master Tyndale was seized at Antwerp and remanded to prison. Such was the power of his doctrine and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half), he converted, it is said, his keeper, the keeper’s daughter, and others of his household.
At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor’s decree, made in the assembly at Augsburg. Brought forth to the place of execution, he was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire, at the town of Vilvorde, A.D. 1536; crying at the stake with a fervent zeal and a loud voice, “Lord! open the king of England’s eyes.”
As touching his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be full of heresies, he wrote to John Frith as follows: “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, that I never altered one syllable of God’s Word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”
By John Foxe
(Author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
John Huss [1372-1415]
John Huss was born at Hussenitz, a village in Bohemia, about the year 1372. His parents gave him the best education their circumstances would admit; and having acquired a tolerable knowledge of the classics at a private school, he transferred to the University of Prague where he soon gave strong proofs of his mental powers and was remarkable for his diligence and application to study.
In 1398 Huss was chosen to be pastor of the Church of Bethlehem in Prague, and dean and rector of the university. In these stations he discharged his duties with great fidelity; and became so conspicuous for his preaching, which was in conformity with the doctrines of Wickliffe, that it was not likely he could long escape the notice of the pope and his adherents, against whom he complained with no small degree of harshness.
The archbishop of Prague, finding the reformists daily increasing, issued a decree to suppress the further spreading of Wickliffe’s writings: but this had an effect quite different to what he expected, for it stimulated the friends of those doctrines to greater zeal and almost the whole university united to propagate them.
Being strongly attached to the doctrines of Wickliffe, Huss opposed the decree of the archbishop, who eventually obtained a bull from the pope which gave him commission to prevent the publishing of Wickliffe’s doctrines in his province. Dr. Huss, with some other members of the university, protested against these proceedings and entered an appeal from the sentence of the archbishop.
When this affair became known to the pope, John Huss was ordered to appear personally at the court of Rome to answer the accusations laid against him of preaching both errors and heresies.
Dr. Huss declined to appear at this trial, after which he was declared obstinate and excommunicated forthwith. From this unjust sentence Huss appealed to a future council, but without success; and, notwithstanding so severe a decree, and an expulsion in consequence from his church in Prague, he retired to Hussenitz, his native place, where he continued to promulgate his new doctrine both from the pulpit and with the pen.
The letters which he wrote at this time were very numerous; and he compiled a treatise in which he maintained that reading the books of Protestants could not be absolutely forbidden. He wrote in defense of Wickliffe’s book on the Trinity; and boldly declared against the vices of the pope, the cardinals, and clergy of those corrupt times. He wrote also many other books, all of which were penned with a strength of argument that greatly facilitated the spreading of his doctrines.
In the month of November, 1414, a general council was assembled at Constance in Germany, in order, as was pretended, for the sole purpose of determining a dispute then pending between three persons who contended for the papacy; but the real motive was to crush the progress of the Reformation.
John Huss was summoned to appear at this council. To encourage him, the emperor sent him a safe-conduct. The civilities, and even reverence, that Huss met with on his journey were beyond imagination. The streets were lined with people, whom respect, rather than curiosity, had brought together. He was ushered into the town with great acclamations and it may be said that he passed through Germany in a kind of triumph.
As soon as Huss arrived at Constance, he immediately took lodgings in a remote part of the city. A short time after his arrival came one Stephen Paletz, who was employed by the clergy at Prague to manage the intended prosecution against him. Paletz was afterwards joined by Michael de Cassis on the part of the court of Rome. These two declared themselves his accusers and drew up a set of articles against him, which they presented to the pope and the prelates of the council.
When it was known that he was in the city, he was immediately arrested and committed prisoner to a chamber in the palace. This violation of common law and justice was particularly noticed by one of Huss’s friends, who invoked the imperial safe-conduct; but the pope replied he never granted any safe-conduct nor was he bound by that of the emperor.
While Huss was in confinement, the council acted the part of inquisitors. They condemned the doctrines of Wickliffe and even ordered his remains to be dug up and burned to ashes; which orders were strictly complied with. In the meantime, the nobility of Bohemia and Poland strongly interceded for Huss; and so far prevailed as to prevent his being condemned unheard, which had been resolved on by the commissioners appointed to try him.
When he was brought before the council, the articles exhibited against him were read: they were upwards of forty in number and chiefly extracted from his writings.
The excellent sentences Huss offered in defense of his doctrines were esteemed as so many expressions of treason and tended to inflame his adversaries. Accordingly, the bishops appointed by the council stripped him of his priestly garments, degraded him, put a paper miter on his head on which was painted devils and this inscription, “A ringleader of heretics.” Which when he saw, he said:
My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, wear this light crown, be it ever so shameful? Truly I will do it and willingly.
When it was set upon his head, the bishop said: “Now we commit your soul unto the devil.”
“But I,” said John Huss, lifting his eyes towards the heaven, “do commend into Your hands, O Lord Jesus Christ, my spirit which You have redeemed.”
When the chain was put about him at the stake, he said with a smiling countenance, “My Lord Jesus Christ was bound with a harder chain than this for my sake, and why then should I be ashamed of this rusty one?” When the fagots were piled up to his very neck, the duke of Bavaria was so meddlesome as to desire him to retract. “No, (said Huss;) I never preached any doctrine of an evil tendency; and what I taught with my lips I now seal with my blood.”
When the flames were applied to the fagots, our martyr sung a hymn with so loud and cheerful a voice that he was heard through all the cracklings of the combustibles and the noise of the multitude. At length his voice was interrupted by the severity of the flames, which soon closed his existence.
Then, with great diligence, gathering the ashes together, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of that man should not be left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neither by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind of torment. (From chapter 8 of the special Lighthouse Trails edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
By Heather Clark
Christian News Network
WASHINGTON – In an interview with CBS on Sunday, while repeating his assertion that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent the Islamic religion, Barack Obama acknowledged that the group seeks to kill those who “worship a different God” than Allah.
Obama was interviewed by correspondent Steve Croft for the “60 Minutes” broadcast in a discussion that largely centered on American efforts to combat terrorism abroad. During the discussion, Croft cited that Obama had spoken of Al Qaeda being “decimated” two years ago, but that affiliates of the terror organization continue their insurgency in Iraq and Syria, and others have taken control of Libya.
“If you’ll recall, Steve, you had an international network in al Qaeda between Afghanistan and Pakistan, headed by Bin Laden. And that structure we have rendered ineffective,” Obama replied. “But what I also said, and this was two years ago and a year ago, is that you have regional groups with regional ambitions and territorial ambitions. And what also has not changed is the kind of violent, ideologically driven extremism that has taken root in too much of the Muslim world.” Click here to continue reading and for video.
LTRP Note: The following is chapter one of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (LT edition) and covers some of the first martyrs in the Christian faith including Peter, Paul, and Stephen. May we, as believers in Christ, in our present day and age, remember those who have gone before us courageously refusing to deny their faith in Christ and thus paying with their lives. Today, as we watch an apostate church rise quickly to the surface (denying the very essence of the biblical Christian faith), may we, by His grace and strength, stand true to the church that God will preserve and to the same faith for which so many men and women before us valiantly died.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)
“History of Christian Martyrs until the First General Persecutions Under Nero [A.D. 34 to A.D. 73]”
By John Foxe
(Author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
Christ our Savior, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, hearing the confession of Simon Peter, who was the first to openly acknowledge Him to be the Son of God, [declared] that He would build His church, a church so strong that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
This prophecy of Christ we see wonderfully fulfilled insomuch that the whole course of the church to this day may seem nothing else but a verifying of that prophecy. First, that Christ has set up a church needs no declaration. Second, it is with great force that princes, kings, monarchs, governors, and rulers of this world, and their subjects, incorporating all their strength and cunning, have bent themselves against this church! And third, how this church, all this notwithstanding, has yet endured and held its own! For this reason, I have set forth to address this present history, to the end that the wonderful works of God in His church might appear to His glory; also by continuing to set forth the proceedings of the church from time to time, more knowledge and experience may result to the profit of the reader and to the edification of the Christian faith.
It is not our business to enlarge upon our Saviour’s history, either before or after His crucifixion. We shall only remind our readers of the changes wrought by His subsequent resurrection. Although one apostle had betrayed Him; although another had denied Him under the solemn sanction of an oath; and although the rest had forsaken Him; the history of His resurrection gave a new direction to all their hearts, and, after the mission of the Holy Spirit, imparted new confidence to their minds. The powers with which they were bestowed emboldened them to proclaim His name, to the confusion of the Jewish rulers and the astonishment of Gentile proselytes.
Stephen suffered the next in order after our Lord. His death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the Passover which followed our Lord’s crucifixion.
Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet. We are immediately told by Luke, that “there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem”; and that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” About two thousand Christians, including Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the “persecution that arose about Stephen.”
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7: 59-60
James the Great
The next martyr we meet with, according to Luke in the History of the Apostles’ Acts, was James the son of Zebedee. He was the elder brother of John and a relative of our Lord; for his mother Salome was cousin to Mary. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place. No sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself to the Jews, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians and determined to make an effectual blow by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not be overlooked. He reports that as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle’s extraordinary courage. His accuser fell down at the feet of James requesting his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely received that cup, which he had told our Saviour he was ready to drink. This event took place in A.D. 44.
Philip was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name “disciple.” He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified in A.D. 54.
Matthew, whose occupation was that of a tax collector, was born at Nazareth. The scene of his labors was Parthia and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a battle ax in the city of Nadabah in A.D. 60.
James the Less
James the Less was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beaten and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a club.
Less is known about Matthias than of most of the other disciples. He was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.
Andrew was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed diagonally in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew’s Cross.
Mark was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he served as a secretary, and under whose inspection he wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria at the yearly celebration of their idol Serapis, ending his life under their merciless hands.
Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death and crucified. Hegesippus1 reports that Nero sought a reason to put Peter to death. Jerome writes that Peter was crucified with his head being down and his feet upward at his own insistence because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as was the Lord.
Paul the Apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero. Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of Paul’s death. They came upon Paul as he was teaching the people and asked him to pray for them that they might believe. He told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at the Lord’s sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers were said, gave his neck to the sword.
The brother of James was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa in A.D. 72.
Bartholomew preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.
Thomas, called Didymus, preached the gospel in Parthia and India. Exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.
Luke the Evangelist was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He travelled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree by the idolatrous priests of Greece.
Simon, surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified in A.D. 74.
The “beloved disciple” was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.
And yet, notwithstanding all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and watered plenteously with the blood of saints.
Other Accounts From Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man.
Jeff Bethke, the 24-year-old man who did the anti-religion YouTube video in 2012, is back in the news again. This time, he has a book about his subject matter. His video, Why I Hate Religion, went viral and to date over 26 million people have viewed it. That video is partially responsible for our writing the Booklet Tract They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years (yes, Bethke’s video came out not too long before the nation voted for Obama). You can read our full booklet tract by clicking here, and we hope you do. It may give you a different perspective than what seems to meet the eye. Kind of like when George Barna and Frank Viola came out with their book Pagan Christianity, and untold numbers thought their book was fantastic, when in reality, it was more of a smoke screen to what was REALLY happening in Christianity today (see our article, “Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna – A Perfect Example of ‘Missing the Point.’” They said a big pagan problem with Christians was that they sat in pews, went to Sunday School, and listened to sermons. But sadly, no mention of the REAL problems happening in the church today (contemplative spirituality, for example).
Here is a portion of our They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus that gives some background information on Jeff Bethke:
In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).
The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:
“Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.”
Back when we wrote that article, we went pretty easy on Bethke, almost giving him the benefit of the doubt. But Bethke’s new book, Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough (Thomas Nelson, 2013) presents Bethke’s views more clearly. For one, he has a recommended reading list at the back of the book that contains a number of contemplative and emerging advocates such as Mark Driscoll, Brennan Manning, John Piper, Timothy Keller, Brother Lawrence, and John Ortberg. Also on the list are emerging “progressives” like Andy Stanley and N.T. Wright (a figure touted by the emerging church extensively). On a website, Bethke is quoted as saying that Wright is one of his “heroes.”
Interestingly, one of the books Bethke recommends is Beth Moore’s When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. That book is Moore’s declarative statement promoting Brennan Manning, saying that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” (p. 72) and that his book Ragamuffin Gospel is “one of the most remarkable books” (p. 290) she has ever read (Bethke obviously thinks so too – Ragamuffin Gospel is one of his recommended books too). But in the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to panentheist mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.” However, Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions as you can see by this statement by Pennington:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)
Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the virgin birth and deity of Christ), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who calls the atonement vile), Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd (who says God is in everything, even human waste and believes in the goddess who offers us the “holiness of everything”). All of these names in Ragamuffin Gospel. It is more than safe to assume that both Moore and Bethke have read (and resonate with) Ragamuffin Gospel. And we know from years of research that Manning was trying to set up the church to become what Karl Rahner “prophesied”: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he or she will not exist at all.”
We were surprised to see the name Bede Griffith in Bethke’s new book in the endnote section (p. 208). He didn’t necessarily reference him favorably (or unfavorably, for that matter) but the fact that someone like Griffith would be benignly mentioned in a “Jesus” loving book is hard to ignore. The Catholic monk and mystic Bede Griffith, like Thomas Merton, “explored ways in which Eastern religions could deepen his prayer.” (Credence Cassettes, Winter/Lent 1985 Catalog, p. 14, cited in ATOD) Griffith also saw the “growing importance of Eastern religions . . . bringing the church to a new vitality.”(Ibid.) Griffith’s autobiography, The Golden String, expresses his belief that God (the golden string) flows through all things.
In reading Bethke’s book, one can see that Mark Driscoll may have rubbed off on him. And one of Bethke’s recommended books is Driscoll’s Vintage Jesus. We wrote a little about that book a number of years ago; we even contacted the late Chuck Smith (founder of Calvary Chapel) and warned him about Driscoll’s book because some Calvary Chapel pastors were trying to bring it in to CC; in Vintage Jesus, Driscoll calls homeschooling “dumb,” mocks the rapture and Armageddon, and says Christians are “little Christs.” Bethke echoes Driscoll’s distain, like in his chapter titled “Religion Points to a Dim Future/Jesus Points to a Bright Future.” He puts down the kind of believers who see a dismal future for earth (according to Scripture) and says things like:
“God actually cares about the earth, but we seem to think it’s going to burn. God actually cares about creating good art, but we seem to think it’s reserved for salvation messages.” (Kindle Locations 2107-2109, Thomas Nelson).
And just to prove that when Bethke says “religion,” he means biblical Christianity, what other religion is there that “points to a dim future” for planet earth and its inhabitants? Biblical Christianity is the only one that says that the world is heading for judgement because of man’s rebellion against God and because of God’s plan to destroy the devil and his minions. Jesus does point to a “bright future,” but the Bible is very clear that this will not come before He returns; rather He promises a blessed eternal life to “whosoever” believeth on Him. The Jesus Christ of the Bible did not promise a bright future for those who reject Him (and even says that the road to destruction is broad – Matthew 7:13); in fact, Scripture says Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows rejected and despised (Isaiah 53:3). He knew what awaited Him, and He knew what was in the heart of man. But across the board, emergents reject such a message of doom, and teach that the kingdom of God will be established as humanity realizes its oneness and its divinity. And they will accomplish this through meditation. In Brennan Manning’s book The Signature of Jesus, he said that “the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (p. 212). Then the next step, he says, is to choose a sacred word and “repeat the sacred word [or phrase] inwardly, slowly, and often” (p. 218).
Bethke’s book goes after the usual suspects. For instance, he belittles street preachers sharing the Gospel in his chapter called “Fundies, Fakes, and Other So-Called Christians.” He says:
Whenever I walk by the street preachers, I laugh under my breath, picturing just how uncomfortable they are going to be in heaven when everyone else is partying it up. (p. 43)
Many of those street preachers are the ones responsible for untold numbers ending up in heaven and “partying it up.” It is faithful preachers and evangelists of the Gospel who have tirelessly cried out repent and be saved that will be the reason why some make it to heaven. But it is very typical for emergents to mock and condemn such evangelistic efforts. And if they are reading Ragamuffin Gospel, it’s no wonder they have a strong aversion to evangelism and a call to repentance. For example, in Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning says that God understands a woman having to become a prostitute in order to support her two- year old son, and He will not condemn her. So, in other words, it really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we have a good reason for doing it. A relaxed view of sin and a harsh view of evangelism go hand in hand in the emerging church.
And like just about every other emergent-type book, Bethke’s gives a good scolding to Christians who reject our present society’s embracing of homosexuality. He says he believes homosexuality is not God’s perfect plan for man, but can’t we all just have meaningful conversations and get along with each other and stop talking about homosexuality? (pp. 63-69) He actually compares the apostle Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” to being “gay” (p. 69)!
Bethke’s book reminds us somewhat of Mike Erre’s book Death by Church or Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church in the scorning way it portrays conservative Bible-believing Christians and in the way it twists and manipulates Scriptures and biblical ideas, equating them with sinister and evil actions. Like this quote from Bethke:
When people come to us in the midst of their pain, how dare we flippantly quote some Bible verses as if that alone would help? How dare we think we can just send them some balloons? How dare we overspiritualize or be like the mom who told her daughter the rape was her fault? (p. 125)
What he just did there was equate sharing Bible verses with a hurting person to a mom telling her daughter it was her fault she got raped. This constant barrage of attack against biblical Christianity never seems to relent. Remember when Brennan Manning and J.P. Moreland1 used the term “bibliolatry” to say that Christians who put too much focus on the Bible are committing idolatry. And remember when Rick Warren twisted Scripture to tell his readers (in The Purpose Driven Life) that those who think too much about Bible prophecy and the Lord’s return were “not fit for the kingdom of God.”2 We could give example after example of this attack on believers in Christian faith by those who profess to be Christian from one side of their mouth but seek to destroy it from the other side. Erwin McManus is another example: He said that it was his “goal to destroy Christianity”:
My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ. . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3
And on and on it goes. Christians who adhere to biblical beliefs are being beat down and made to look like there is something really wrong with them and they better get with the program.
It’s interesting that in Bethke’s new book, he quotes Rob Bell talking about “the cross” (p. 125). Interesting because Rob Bell doesn’t believe in the biblical atonement through the Cross. He believes that everyone is going to be saved regardless of their acceptance or rejection of the Cross. So it seems like a strange choice from Bethke; his book just came out this year – surely he has heard of Rob Bell’s beliefs on hell and salvation.
The “new” Christianity that is being propagated by Bethke, Bell, and countless other voices is not going away. Rather, it is helping to bring about strong delusion and a great falling away. Millions of young people, both Christian and non-Christian, are listening to these voices and following the beat of this drum. They are throwing out the faith of their youth and exchanging it for a “new” spirituality that will produce within them a mindset that rejects the message of the Cross. Not only are there political quests being achieved through the indoctrination of these young people, but these young followers are becoming convinced that a socialistic religion-killing society is the only solution for man. (Remember, Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the masses” and John Lennon of The Beatles said, imagine no religion). And, tragically, the masses will continue to race down a broad road to deception through the multitude of false teachers.
Let us remember that before Jesus departed to heaven He commissioned His followers to proclaim the Gospel. The proclamation of the Cross is God’s hope for mankind.The Word of God has been likened to a blacksmith’s anvil; though many a hammer may be broken over the years pounding on that anvil, the anvil will hold its strength and integrity. It is ironic that emergents find comfort in attacking the Gospel and Bible-believing Christians. They say they love Jesus instead. What makes this so very ironic is that the apostle John is referred to in Scripture as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Perhaps it would do emergents good to listen to some of the things John had to say – as it seems like his first epistle was written especially for them. Addressing the idea of loving Jesus (or God) but hating Christianity, John had this to say:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4: 20-21)
Now, if we look at the context of the chapter from which these verses were taken, it becomes evident that John is writing about solid doctrinal Christianity. And he is saying that when we hate and reject these things, and the people who adhere to them, we are hating and rejecting God. When they say they love Jesus but hate the church (i.e., Christianity), they aren’t talking about hating buildings; they are talking about hating people. As for the teaching of the Cross, John makes it exceptionally clear in this epistle that “he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2):
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)
When we talk about love, we should really be talking about the Cross as this was and is God’s ultimate expression of His love toward us that makes it possible to spend eternity with Him when we receive this gift of love, by faith.
As we look into John’s life more carefully, it becomes apparent that he was not like an emergent at all. While the emergent figures of today seek to be hip and popular and mimic what each other has to say, John stood for the truth regardless of what the masses were saying or wanted to hear. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that even though he was the only apostle to escape a violent death, he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. And though he escaped miraculously, he was afterward banished to the Isle of Patmos (p. 27, LT edition).
If you are a young person reading this, remember that popularity in the world’s eyes is not a sign of being in God’s favor but is rather an indicator that something may be wrong (see 1 John 4: 5-6). Nor does partying with friends, even if they call themselves lovers of Jesus, offer assurance of eternal life. No, it is through the Cross alone that the offer of eternal life has been extended. And that is the truth!
Hello Lighthouse Trails:
I am wondering if you can help me out here. I have been a long-time financial supporter of Voice of the Martyrs and each Sunday I try sending an encouraging postcard to a persecuted Christian somewhere (from their prison letter writing list). Imagine my shock when last Sunday one of the prisoners profiled in Voice of the Martyrs prisoner list was a Catholic “Father” in Vietnam!! Catholics were responsible for many Protestant deaths over the centuries!! I am deeply concerned about this and plan to terminate my financial support with them and switch to Open Doors (or some Protestant organization which supports the persecuted church); however I want to research this a bit more. I vaguely recall you once had an article about VOM concerning this and am wondering if you could kindly forward this to me? Also what can you tell me about your version of Foxe Book of the Martyr’s vs the VOM version?
Thank you in advance, John (not real name)
In 2010, Lighthouse Trails posted this article, “Concern Expressed Over Voice of the Martyrs Article on Mystic Madame Jeanne Guyon” and this one: “Voice of the Martyrs Responds to Lighthouse Trails Readers.” And in 2011, we posted these articles: “Letter to Tom White of Voice of the Martyrs” and “Lighthouse Trails Regretfully No Longer Carrying Voice of the Martyrs Materials.”
In response to your concern about VOM including the name of a Catholic priest on their August prisoner list, we share your concerns. We do not say that people who are Catholics should not be defended if they are being cruelly persecuted and imprisoned; however an organization like Voice of the Martyrs has built its reputation of being an advocate for evangelical and Protestant Christians. Many of the people who have donated money to the organization would not have done it had they known of VOM’s ecumenism. As the letter to the editor above points out, the historical Catholic church was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of believers who would not bow to the heresies of the papacy (in particularly the Eucharist – that Christ is in a wafer that should be worshiped). See our article “Mrs. Prest – She Said No to Apostasy and Became a Martyr” as one example. So it seems strange that an organization that stands for persecuted Christians would in any way pay homage to Roman Catholicism which, by its very belief system (I.e., it is anathema to not embrace the Eucharistic sacraments), persecutes Christians.
In answer to the question about Lighthouse Trails’ edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs versus the VOM edition, here is our statement on why we were compelled to publish our own edition:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was first published over five hundred years ago. Today, there are many editions of this book available. When Lighthouse Trails decided to start offering this book to our readers, we began our search for a suitable edition. Much to our dismay, we discovered that many of the current editions were compromised in one form or another. For example, in one edition (ironically, published by an advocacy group for persecuted Christians), front page endorsements included the names of those who promote contemplative spirituality and/or the emerging church. When one realizes that contemplative/emerging spirituality embraces some of the very same beliefs that Foxe’s martyrs opposed to the point of suffering cruel persecution and death, it is most troubling and misleading to see these names in the cover of an edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
In another edition we reviewed, the book was among a special set of “Christian classics.” We were once again perplexed to see that some of the other books in that series were written by contemplative mystics.
And yet another edition, published by a secular publisher, advertised mystical and occult practices on the back cover.
Finally, after an unsuccessful search, Lighthouse Trails decided to publish our own edition of this truly incredible and unforgettable account.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3: 17
Worth noting, in John Foxe’s original Book of Martyrs, Foxe wrote much about the persecution from the Catholic church. But in some of today’s editions, you will find stories of this papal persecution omitted.
In closing, there are many wonderful Christian organizations that are helping the poor, needy, and persecuted that are standing firm in the faith and not compromising the Gospel set forth in Scripture. We hope you and other LT readers will seek out these groups and consider supporting them.
Thank you for your letter.
Editors at Lighthouse Trails
By John Foxe
(author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
Mr. Nicholas Burton, a citizen of London, was dwelling in the city of Cadiz, Spain, where he was engaged in the business of trading merchandise. On November 5, 1560, there came into his lodging a Judas, or, as they term them, a familiar of the fathers of Inquisition; asking for Nicholas Burton, he feigned that he had a letter to deliver into his own hands. This gained him access to Burton’s presence, but having no letter to deliver to him, the familiar invented another lie, and said he would like to send freight bound for London in such ships as the said Nicholas Burton might have available; if indeed there was room to be had. He said this partly to know where he loaded his goods that they might attach them, and chiefly to protract the time until the sergeant of the Inquisition might come and apprehend Nicholas Burton; which they did forthwith.
Burton perceived that they would not be able to charge him that he had written, spoken, or done anything there in that country against the ecclesiastical or temporal laws of the same realm. He boldly asked them what they had to lay to his charge that they did so arrest him, and bade them to declare the cause, and he would answer them. Notwithstanding they answered nothing, but commanded him with threatening words to hold his peace and not speak one word to them.
And so they carried him to the filthy common prison of the town of Cadiz where he remained in irons fourteen days amongst thieves. All which time he instructed the poor prisoners in the Word of God, according to the good talent which God had given him, and also in the Spanish tongue to utter the same, that in that short space he had persuaded several of the Spanish prisoners to embrace the Word of God and to reject their popish traditions.
When this became known unto the officers of the Inquisition, they conveyed him laden with irons from thence to a city called Seville, into a more cruel prison called Triana. There the fathers of the Inquisition proceeded against him secretly according to their accustomed cruel tyranny, and threatened him to never write nor speak to any of his nation: so that to this day it is unknown who was his accuser.
On the twentieth of December, they brought Nicholas Burton, with a great number of other prisoners who professed the true Christian religion, to a place where the inquisitors sat in judgment.
His tongue was forced out of his mouth with a cloven stick fastened upon it that he should not utter his conscience and faith to the people. He was set with other Englishmen and Frenchmen, as well as Spaniards, upon a scaffold over against the Inquisition, where their sentences and judgments were read and pronounced against them. And immediately after the sentences were given, they were carried from there to the place of execution outside the city, where they most cruelly burned them, for whose constant faith, God is praised.
In the flames of that fire, Nicholas had so cheerful a countenance, embracing death with all patience and gladness that the tormentors and enemies who stood by, said that the devil had his soul before he came to the fire; and therefore they said his senses of feeling were past him. To read this and other accounts of Christian martyrs, see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. This is also available in Kindle, Nook, PDF, and e-book.)