The Heart and Soul of Anglicanism II: The Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer

20 12 2011

Below is an extended account of the trial and martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.  The account picks up with his imprisonment and degradations and includes his famous recantations, where he repented of his previous reformation convictions.  Nevertheless, as the account shows, Cranmer recovered his Gospel convictions at the hour of his death.  His language about the Pope may be offensive to modern ears, however it must be remembered that for Cranmer, as for many of the Reformers, the Pope was thought to have instituted many practices that undermined the free grace of God in the Gospel.  This doesn’t lessen the forcefulness of the language, however it does put it in context.  Read the whole account of the persecutions that took place during “Bloody” Mary’s reign here. Read the rest of this entry »





Ignatius: On Dying for Christ

19 12 2011

I remember exactly where I was the first time I read this.  I was stunned.  This is a very spiritually edifying piece from Ignatius.  He had been taken captive by the Romans to be put to death for his faith.  He had learned of a rescue attempt to be staged by the church in Rome.  But as you can see from the letter, he was eager to “die and be with Christ.”  What do I expect people to get from this letter?  A vision of a man who finally realized there is nothing more precious than Christ.  It is because of this realization that a man who followed Christ his whole life can say  ”Now I begin to become a disciple.”

I write to the Churches, and impress on them all, that I shall willingly die for God, unless ye hinder me. I beseech of you not to show an unseasonable good-will towards me. Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep [in death], I may be no trouble to any one. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Entreat Christ for me, that by these instruments   i.e., by the teeth of the wild beasts. I may be found a sacrifice [to God]. I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you. They were apostles; I am but a condemned man: they were free,   “Free,” probably from human infirmity. while I am, even until now, a servant. But when I suffer, I shall be the freed-man of Jesus, and shall rise again emancipated in Him. And now, being a prisoner, I learn not to desire anything worldly or vain.

From Syria even unto Rome I fight with beasts,  where the word is also used figuratively.both by land and sea, both by night and day, being bound to ten leopards, I mean a band of soldiers, who, even when they receive benefits,  Probably the soldiers received gifts from the Christians, to treat Ignatius with kindness. show themselves all the worse. But I am the more instructed by their injuries [to act as a disciple of Christ]; “yet am I not thereby justified”. May I enjoy the wild beasts that are prepared for me; and I pray that they may be found eager to rush upon me, which also I will entice to devour me speedily, and not deal with me as with some, whom, out of fear, they have not touched. But if they be unwilling to assail me, I will compel them to do so. Pardon me [in this] I know what is for my benefit. Now I begin to be a disciple, and have no desire after anything visible or invisible, that I may attain to Jesus Christ. Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let breakings, tearings, and separations of bones; let cutting off of members; let bruising to pieces of the whole body; and let the very torment of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.

Ignatius, Letter to the Romans