Reformation-era England—John Foxe recounts the lives, sufferings, and triumphant deaths of dozens of Christian martyrs. Some were people of rank and influence. Some were ordinary folk. Some were even his friends. Four centuries later, these deeply moving accounts of faith and courage mark a path for modern Christians to measure the depth of their commitment.
John Foxe was born at Boston, in Lincolnshire, in 1516, and died April 8, 1587. He is most famous for is publication of “Foxe’s Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church” more commonly known as “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”.
There is only one word that springs to mind on concluding a book like this-grateful. I am grateful that none of these terrible things have happened to me.....yet.
This classic book documents Christian martyrs through the centuries. There are some updated chapters running to the publication in 1997. The details are gruesome but factual, they are not sensationalised. They don't need to be as the terrible things that were done to some of these faithful people are shocking enough.
Why read a book like this? The main reason that I can think of, particularly for Westerners, is to get a sense of perspective or stated another way, to remind ourselves how far we have fallen from the standards set by previous generations. This should not lead us to discouragement or doom and gloom, but instead should renew our sense of vision and mission to stand for Jesus NO MATTER THE COST.
We live in comfort and security, even in church we focus on ourselves--our preferences and styles. The martyrs refused to compromise, even when it came to things like whether the elements really became Jesus blood and body during the Lord's Supper. They lived and died for their faith in Jesus. Are we willing to do the same when the time comes, as it surely will.....
In the meantime, here is a list of five points to keep in mind when praying for the persecuted (pg 201)
1. Pray for those in prison that they would know they are not forgotten. 2 Pray that the needs of families of martyrs would be met abundantly. 3. Pray that the govt and prison officials would be drawn into a relationship with Christ. 4. Pray that Christians would love those who are persecuting them. 5. Pray that God would give new ways to get Bibles and other forms of Christian literature to help Christians in restricted nations.
A few highlights to challenge and inspire;
John Bunyan, on being offered his freedom in return for agreeing not to preach "If you let me out today, I will preach again tomorrow." He remained in prison for 12 years.
Robert Thomas killed in Korea 1866. "When Thomas saw that he was going to be killed, he held out his Korean Bible to them and said in that language 'Jesus, Jesus.' His head was cut off and thrown into the river.......Twenty-five years after Thomas's death an American visitor stayed at a small guest house in the area Thomas was killed, and noticed strange wallpaper in the main room. The Korean Bible that Thomas had held out to the soldiers had been used to plaster the walls. For twenty-five years many had come to the house to 'read the walls' where Thomas's Bible was preserved."
Pastor Selchun tortured in Nigeria 1992 "The fanatics cut off Pastor Selchun's right hand. When it fell to the ground, he raised the other one and sang 'He is Lord, He is Lord. He is risen from the dead and He is Lord. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."
Stenley killed in Indonesia in 1996 "Stenley's beating and death so affected the people of his hometown, that five of the Christians enrolled in Bible school, and eleven Muslims received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. In the middle of the night on which Stenley died, seven of the Bible students gathered for prayer and then woke the school superintendent and requested that they be sent to preach the Gospel on the island of Mentawai, where Stenley was martyred. Shortly after Stenley died, the Muslim official who beat him, drowned with his family while on a boat trip during a storm."
I'm not going to tell anyone that they must read this due to the graphic details contained within. However, every Christian should at least be aware of what is going on and the numbers of Christians that are still being persecuted and martyred around the world today......
I'm learning what it means to truly stand for what you believe in, and that Christianity will not die no matter what. Many men of power have hated true christianity and all those who followed Jesus Christ and His principles. And they tried in vain to use their power and influence to erase christianity and the memory of it from the earth. Men of power even today try to get rid of christianity through many means. Some may use the means of execution and physical torture for any captured followers of Christ when it comes to other countries. Other powerful men such as those found in America use post modernism( I must make it known that post modernism is nothing new by the way) to question the validity of christianity. There are also many other common people that want to see christianity disappear. The tactics are countless, and many of the tactics that are used are genius. But this book shows that the work of Jesus Christ and the Men, young men, women, young women, and children that love and serve him are not going anywhere. We are here to stay. We shall endure in all generations (past, present, and future!).
As a new Christian, a teenager, in 1969 I read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Those powerful stories ignited me, raised the bar of my commitment to Christ, and gave me a love for persecuted Christians. I pray this wonderful book from Voice of the Martyrs will do the same for countless readers. Hebrews 11 is still being written throughout the world—may we learn from those stories. And, empowered by Christ, may we live in such a way that our own stories might one day be worth telling.
Whoa. This book blew my mind, in the best way possible. Normally I am very disturbed by scary or gruesome details, but for some reason this book did not bother me in that way and I was able to go on reading, and in fact, be incredibly edified by the stories. I suppose that in my mind, if suffering is explicitly for the gospel it feels different. And indeed I felt strengthened by the stories of those saints who have gone before me. I truly had no idea of the extent of the persecution for a thousand + years after the time of Christ...Knowing about these saints, and knowing that their testimonies live on to encourage, is a great blessing to my faith, and an honor to their memory.
One thing I found rather shocking while reading this book is the things that the martyrs died for. For example, so many died because they would not worship little figurines of saints from the Catholic church. If the idea of being martyred because you wouldn't worship a statue of Paul isn't ironic, then I don't know what is. I find it stupefying that things the martyrs died for are things we are accepting unthinkingly into our churches today. We need to know our history so that we can see our present more clearly.
How can we not continue to serve Him, with so great a cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. We have not resisted unto death, but many hero's of the faith have done so! Jesus Christ is worth it all!!!
The Renaissance of the fifteenth through sixteenth centuries, generally thought of in glowing terms of cultural and artistic re-birth, had its dark side. The development of political absolutism, which Niccolo Machiavelli prescribed in The Prince, combined with the crisis of the Reformation led to many shameful episodes of religious intolerance and butchery. The Inquisition, the Thirty Years War, the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the anti-popes, and England's Marian Persecutions have tainted, if not haunted, the relations between western protestants and Catholics since. In this time and context John Foxe of England wrote the book known today as Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
Don't expect context-neutral historicism from Foxe, that wasn't his intent. This was a hagiography of the martyrs of his side and a condemnation of those working their murders. Starting with the apostles, Foxe (and his successors) trace the horrors acted upon followers of Jesus of Nazareth. The focus of the book, however, were those men and women who stood, and often died horribly, against the increasingly horrific opposition of the church in Rome to the Reformation.
That humans did these things to other humans is sad, that they did them in the name of their God was shameful. But these thing did happen, and it's often helpful to view them from an internal, if not unbiased, perspective. The continuation of these persecutions into the twenty-first century is also recorded.
That said, this edition suffers from egregious textual errors. Bridge Logos owed this work better than the many typographical errors which pepper the text. Some are beyond simple typesetter transpositions. For example, an entire paragraph on page 41 reverses all references to the eastern and western Roman empires. There's no excuse.
Further, while the modern editors congratulate themselves modernizing Foxe's manuscript, it is still awkward and hard to follow.
Well, if you ever want to know the depths of cruelty that humans can sink to, when people don't think the way they want you to, this is the book for you. At least 9 of the original 12 apostles were martyred, beheaded, stoned, crucified, and worse, for their faith, and it only goes downhill from there. This follows history throughout the ages, as the church absconds, (for lack of a better word ) with lands, money, and titles by accusing anyone, albeit, rich or poor of not being part of the church of the "flavor of the decade." From the Papists to the Roman Catholics no one spares the innocent from the rack, scourging, beheading, drawing and quartering, flaying, stabbing, clubbing, stoning, crucifying, tying people up in bags with snakes and scorpions and throwing them into the ocean to die, just to mention a few, methods of trying to coerce the general populace into admitting their guilt. ( seriously!) Can any one say Inquisition, and not shudder? ( I doubt it) It seemed to be the easiest way to acquire land and money from the rich, instill fear in the poor, and wipe out entire villages of undesirables. A horrifying account of what happens what sociopaths are put in charge of religion, or race, hmmm history has a tendency to repeat its self if we do not learn from it? This is something that we should all be on the look out for in this day and age to be sure. Be warned!
I’m not going to sugar coat it, this book is extremely sad. In the mid-1500’s, John Foxe wrote a detailed account of the entire history of persecution in the church up until that time. This edition was updated through the 21st century. Starting with Jesus, Fox gives details about the deaths of actual martyrs. Did you catch that? This isn’t a made up story. These are real people who gave their lives for Christ. This book might scare you. It might make you cry. But I hope that is not all it does. I believe that this should actually encourage us. It is encouraging to see fellow believers endure gruesome deaths for the sake of Christ. These people were willing to die for their faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t feel bad for them. They are in heaven rejoicing with Jesus and they will continue to do that for eternity.
When I read this I had to seriously consider, would I endure this kind of torture for the sake of Christ? Would I renounce Christ to save my body from pain? Foxe tells stories that are so gruesome that it might (or should) make you feel nauseous. This shows the reality of spiritual warfare. Only people who are being influenced by Satan could imagine such cruel punishments.
While this may be tough to read through, I think that it is essential for all believers to read through this. We need to understand the history of the church and the persecution that it has endured. It is important to note that persecution against Christianity has never been higher than it is today. Too often when we think of martyrs we only think of Jesus’ disciples or people who were killed during the middle ages. We should not forget about our brothers and sisters who are facing persecution during this very hour.
I recommend this book for Christians of all ages. We may face true persecution in our lifetime. We all need to prepare ourselves. Because one day we might just have to make the same decision that these martyrs did.
Listening to this book doesn’t do it justice. Hard to listen at times as the stories can be graphic and brutal. The atrocities these Christians faced are truly hard to imagine in our comfort-filled culture. Some Christians face this today. A great reminder of our heritage and true freedom we have today!❤️
My experience with this book was that so many brief descriptions on the martyred saints' lives followed by the death that they died actually began to numb the reader to the tragic and heroic nature of each instance. The author's constant railing against "Romish" and "popish" belief systems that led to the martyrdom of Protestants leads one to wonder how many Catholics were martyred by Protestants in later years. The best part of this book was when it went into a little more depth in describing more famous lives lived for Christ, like Tyndale and Luther. Famous or not, the resolution and peace with which these people faced the fate that God had for them is both inspiring and convicting as we deal with lesser "trials".
I held off on reviewing this book in that I haven't "sat down" and read it through. I have read in it. This book can be a bit much if one simply sets out to read through it. I rate it highly for those who have suffered, those who still suffer (Google Voice of the Martyrs) and their witness. This is probably another book that should transcend the "good or bad" , "enjoyable or not" label.
This book was required reading at the private high school I attended. I have absolutely no interest in re-reading it. I can still remember the overwhelming sense of guilt I felt as a teenager because I'd rather pretend to be a heathen than stand up and get my head chopped off for Jesus.
I've read this so many times now I have lost count. You wouldn't think a book with the word "martyr" in it would be uplifting, but it really is. When you seem people who are so sold out in whom they believe they would give their life, it helps life seem more black and white than it usually seems.
One of the top three books everyone should read: The Bible, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, and The Pilgrim's Progress. One doesn't even need to be a "reformed" protestant to read it. Story of Rogers is striking. All true stories that have implications today in our lives.
A book about Christians killed for their beliefs 14 November 2012
This is a book all about Christian martyrs and it makes pretty grim reading. Basically, it is all about people who were persecuted for their faith and underwent incredible suffering and hardship before dying in some of the most gruesome manners possible. In fact it is an incredibly depressing book and one that as a Christian I found very hard to read. Mind you, it is not something that we of any faith or persuasion should ignore, especially if we live in relative security, because we should always remember those who came before us who suffered and died for the freedom that we enjoy today. As somebody once said, the tree of faith is watered by the blood of martyrs.
However I do find books and articles like this to be a little one sided at times. Look, as I have said and will continue to say, we cannot ignore the plight of those who suffer and die for their faith, especially today, however we cannot be too focused on them since it can distract us from the bigger picture. Also, we can become caught up in the stories that this book tells us and think that the only people who are persecuted are Christians. Before I go on to discuss the implications I better outline some of the background and context of this book.
John Foxe was writing in the 16th century, during the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, which means that he would have lived through the reign of the queen known colloquially as Bloody Mary. England had just gone through a reformation after King Henry VIII had split from the Catholic Church, one reason being for divorce, but more likely a political move to strengthen his sovereignty over England (because up until then the Pope pretty much called the shots). While King Edward moved the reformation forward to free the church from medieval tradition, Queen Mary, being a staunch Catholic, decided that she wanted to return the English church to the rulership of the Pope. She faced tremendous opposition, and in response she went on a rampage and burnt numerous prominent protestants at the stake. I suspect that Foxes' reasons for writing this book was not only to remind the English protestants of those who died under Mary's reign, but also to remind his readers that martyrdom for Christianity was nothing new.
A bulk of the first part of his book is actually, word for word, a copy of Eusebius. Now, the problem that I have with Eusebius, is that he was pretty much a pawn of the Emperor Constantine. He was also a major influence in the council of Niceae. Now, there is an argument, and it is one that I hold too, that Constantine was not actually a Christian, he was the worshipper of the sun god and he only used Christianity for political purposes. I sometimes wonder to what extent Eusebius was one of Constantine's political tools. Now, I do not question the authenticity of the Bible, or God's ability to use people like Eusebius or Constantine to further his own purposes, but I have a suspicion that parts of Eusebius' works, particularly the Ecclesiastical history, are little more than political propoganda. The reason that Constantine, I suspect, chose Christianity to be the state religion, was more a means of uniting and stabilising the empire under his rule than any heartfelt love towards Jesus Christ. As for Eusebius, I note that his book does seem to over-exaggerate the Christian persecution during the Roman Empire.
Mind you, Foxe does go beyond where Eusebius left off and indicates that even though Christianity became the prominent religion, persecutions and martyrdoms still occurred, especially as the Christian empire began to struggle with the rise of the numerous heresies that continued to influence the faith, despite it becoming an accepted religion. Further, it is difficult to determine the authenticity of those who where martyred, because truth be told, if somebody believes in something enough, they will die for it, even though it may not be true. If people didn't, we would not have revolutions.
The problem that I find with books like this is that it makes it seem that Christians are the only people who are persecuted, and the only people who are martyred. I have been in numerous churches where they drum on and on about persecution as Christians to the point that many Christians are scared to associate with non-Christians because they will be persecuted. In modern day Australia, mocked and ridiculed, sure, but not dragged outside, beaten, and then shot. Then again, what about countries where that does happen? Well, guess what, Christians are generally not the only ones targeted. In many of these countries, anybody who does not hold the strict dogmatic faith are dragged outside, beaten, and then shot. Christians are just one of a number of groups that are affected by it. What gets me is that we pray for the Christians and pretty much ignore those who are not Christians, almost suggesting that it is okay for them to be beaten up and shot, but not Christians, because that is horrible. As far as I am concerned anybody who is dragged outside, beaten up, and shot, is horrible, whether they are Christian or not.
Secondly, what about those we persecute. It is very bad for us to be persecuted, but does that mean that we should persecute homosexuals and preach hate sermons against Muslims? Absolutely not. Okay, while I may not agree with homosexual practices, I still love my homosexual friends and will stand up for them, in the same way that I love my Muslim friends and will stand up for them as well. I have been to churches where they preach hate sermons against Muslims and I believe that it is not only appalling, but incredibly offensive. Just because we don't agree with them does not give us the right to target them and hate them. While many Christians claim that homosexuality is an abomination against God, guess what is a real abomination against God? Using his name in vain, and not crying out 'oh my God' when something happens, but making statements of God's behalf, and preaching in his name when he never, and would never, do or say such a thing. That, my friend, is the real abomination against God.
I decided to finally read this Christian classic after hearing a lot about the modern day persecuted Church. While the descriptions of the violence believers have faced are disturbing, what struck me even more was how these believers endured it.
The things they said before facing the executioner were epic and poetic. Their confidence in the goodness and faithfulness of God, even in the midst of their suffering, was beyond imagination. And the way their suffering, which was meant to stop the Gospel, actually served to spread it was stunning. This is the heritage of all those who have put their faith in Jesus. I'm proud of them — and inspired by them.
The second thing that struck me was the pattern that emerged as I read. First Christians were persecuted by the Roman. Then they were persecuted by the Catholic church. Then they were persecuted by communist regimes. And today they are persecuted by Islamic societies. (The edition I read had been updated through 2001.) In all of these cases, persecution came primarily from those who had linked religion to political power — a strong reminder of the importance of religious freedom.
And finally, I thanked God that, in almost every case, persecution of Christians led to the spread of the Gospel. Today's underground churches expect persecution because persecution only happens when the Church seeks to share the message of Jesus' saving love with the world — and the underground church is faithful to do that. True persecution, which results from being an evangelist no matter the obstacles, is a battle scar and a badge of honor for God's people — and I have such a deep respect for those who endure it.
Persecution porn of the lowest order. As a historical document, it's important. But its anti-Catholic propaganda is an exclusive artifact of the European religious wars of the 17th century. Make no mistake, Protestants engaged in equal portion the lurid atrocities depicted in this book, half of which have little basis in fact, but much in propaganda.
Great book to familiarize oneself with what our Christian ancestors have gone through for the Word of God. Any time you feel like you are being persecuted, read some of these stories and you'll realize that we have NO persecution today.
My beau and I began reading this book back in the spring and have now finished it. It sparked many amazing discussions and lots of deeper research. This book has made a great impact upon me and upon him.
Wow, now I'm kind of sick. Yikes, I'm SO THANKFUL God put me in this place at this time in history because it's absolutely horrifying to hear how Christians were treated! Oh my goodness. This book is not for the faint at heart but definitely every Christian should read it.
This was a very interesting book. It is probably more of a reference book than a piece of non-fiction to pick up and read, but I really learned tons. Since I don't own it (yet), I wanted the read the entire thing before returning it.
This book recounts the lives, sufferings and violent deaths of all martyrs from Stephen (in the New Testiment) to Reformation England. It is written by John Foxe during the reign of Elisabeth, so he know many of these events first or second hand. He writes of the Spanish Inquisition and William Tyndale, among others. It was a history lesson from the viewpoint of one of Christ's faithful.
I have to say the paragraph after paragraph and page after page of horrific killing of protestants in the name of Christ was often hard to read. But it was also very inspiring. There is a quote on the back of the edition that I read (featured above) that says, "At first I was shocked by the images of Christians suffering and dying for their faith. But soon I was drawn into the accounts of how these ordinary men and women--no different from you or me--could face every kind of opposition rather than deny their Lord. Reading their sotires makred me and helped me resolve to follow christ no matter what the cost." I do feel "marked" and humbled as I read what others have suffered for the Gospel. I hope to always remember this book and keep a resolve to live worthy to also be called a Christian, as these men and women were.
Sorry everthing I write is long - I'm a very fast typist. We often don't want to hear about the sufferings of the followers of Jesus, or be found reading about them because someone might think we're obsessing. In any case, I look through this book every few years to remind myself how good I have it in America and that we may be losing our freedom of speech, we still can worship God openly with a congregation. We can still talk about HIm to our friends without the threat of open persecution. This is an historic account, in the old English text (which is like reading Shakespeare), of many of the recorded persecutions of early saints (First Century and some years following). It's about courage, but more than that, it is about the grace that gives followers of Jesus boldness to run TOWARDS persecution because they love God and people more than they love their own lives. It is what makes following Jesus succinctly different from any other devotion - because HE is not only worth living for, He is worth dying for and not, like radical Muslims who strap bombs to their bodies, to kill others, but to give themselves freely into the hands of their enemies, and to die in order to open a way for salvation to come to those who killed them. Keep a kleenex box nearby. We may need this inspiration for the days still ahead...
The repetition of so many horrors consecutively is still deadening, which speaks to how much of my heart has not been quickened yet. Nevertheless, if we can honor surrendered lives by living differently because of them, at the least they offer this in common: (1) a certain holy feistiness which would be most useful in resisting the enemy's devices and GROWING by it rather than growing weary, and (2) a commitment to ingesting God's Word so that Scripture is what came out under stress or when they had time for but a few words.
These are people whose faith supersedes pride, who willingly accept the literal fire in the name of God. I may never have faith like that. It's frightening to think of a world in the near past that people had to make a choice between death and lies, between telling the Truth and submitting to a false religion. This stuff is real. Christians now don't think of this often enough.
Hay razones de peso por las cuales este libro acompañaba las lecturas bíblicas de los puritanos. En el libro de los mártires, se nos da a conocer el peligro que puede implicar ser cristiano. Foxe describe sin tapujos y después de múltiples investigaciones, las crueles formas en las que muchos cristianos murieron por amor al evangelio.
Cualquier creyente que quiera acercarse a entender un poco el significado de la palabra "martirio", tiene que leer este libro. Cualquiera que quiera conocer el peso de ser cristiano, tiene que leer este libro. Cualquiera que desee conocer nuestra historia cristiana, tiene que leer este libro.
I did not finish reading this book. I Tried reading it twice and just did not get too far maybe about halfway through. It's interesting at first hearing about how people gave their lives for Christ but then after awhile I just felt like I was reading the same stuff over and over again. Don't get me wrong I think it's a good book but just cannot finish it myself. ____________________________________
Going to put it back on my to read list for the future. Maybe the third time I can get through it.