Archive for the ‘persecution of the church’ Category

A Safe Stronghold Our God is Still

September 1, 2011

And though they take our life,

Goods, honor, children, wife,

Yet is their profit small;

These things shall vanish all:

The City of God remaineth

Martin Luther, A Safe Stronghold Our God is Still

When Luther wrote these things the Pope had issued a bull providing absolution to any who would take his life, goods, honor, children, wife etc. These were not pieties written from a  place of comfort and safety such as a modern, western Christian enjoys.

The rest of the hymn demonstrates faith that Christ’s church will prevail though hell (through the agency of Antichrist Rome) furiously assail it.

A safe stronghold our God is still,
a trusty shield and weapon;
he’ll keep us clear from all the ill
that hath us now o’ertaken.
The ancient prince of hell
hath risen with purpose fell;
strong mail of craft and power
he weareth in this hour;
on earth is not his fellow.

With force of arms we nothing can,
full soon were we down-ridden;
but for us fights the proper Man,
whom God himself hath bidden.
Ask ye, who is this same?
Christ Jesus is his name,
the Lord Sabaoth’s Son;
he, and no other one,
shall conquer in the battle.

And were this world all devils o’er,
and watching to devour us,
we lay it not to heart so sore;
nor they can overpower us.
And let the prince of ill
look grim as e’er he will,
he harms us not a whit;
for why?–his doom is writ;
a word shall quickly slay him.

God’s word, for all their craft and force,
one moment will not linger,
but, spite of hell, shall have its course;
’tis written by his finger.
And though they take our life,
goods, honor, children, wife,
yet is their profit small;
these things shall vanish all:
the City of God remaineth!

Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering

August 15, 2011

It is, indeed, better that men should be brought to serve God by instruction than by fear of punishment, or by pain. But because the former means are better, the latter must not therefore be neglected. Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering, before they attain the highest grade of religious development. . . . The Lord himself orders that guests be first invited, then compelled, to his great supper.

This quote is attributed to Augustine. If any reader can verify where Augustine said it I’d appreciate it. I can’t remember it from City of God or Confessions but they are long books – well the former is!

If the quote is genuine it demonstrates how even a great theologian can completely misunderstand a parable to great detriment.

If it is a sin to meet together and seek the face of God, and exhort one another to follow Christ, then I will sin still

December 8, 2009

If it is a sin to meet together and seek the face of God, and exhort one another to follow Christ, then I will sin still.

John Bunyan at his trial when accused of not following his calling as  tinker by preaching the gospel. This statement condemned him for attending a coventicle (non-conformist gathering) and he spent 12 years in Bedford gaol for it. Quoted in Faith Cook, Fearless Pilgrim: The Life and Times of John Bunyan, Evangelical Press, 2008, p.197

Conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death

September 15, 2009

Under the ‘Code/Ordinance/Pact’ of Umar Jews and Christians lived as dhimmis paying a poll-tax (jizya) to the Muslim state as an expression of their submission. (Many documents say they should experience some kind of humiliation while making the payment – e.g. by being struck on the neck). They were not allowed to build new churches or synagogues or repair those in areas occupied by Muslims. They were not allowed to display the cross outside churches or to hold public religious processions outside. Their clothes should be different from the clothes worn by Muslims. Often they had to wear a badge to mark them out from Muslims, and sometimes they were required to shave their heads. They were forbidden to ride on horses, and had to ride on mules or donkeys. They were required to show respect to Muslims-for instance, by giving up their seats to them.

It is (for them to choose between) conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death. Ibn Khaldun (1333-1406), Arab historian.

Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent: Responding to the Challenge of Islam (Leicester, IVP, 1995), pp. 284-5, 287.

Latimer’s last words to Ridley

September 9, 2009

Then they brought a faggot, kindled with fire, and laid it down at Dr. Ridley’s feet. Master Latimer spake to him in this manner: ‘Be of good comfort, master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.’ And so the fire being given unto them, when Dr. Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards him, he cried, several times, with a wonderful loud voice, ‘Into thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit. Lord, receive my spirit.’

John Foxe

English Protestant preacher, Bishop of Worcester, Hugh Latimer, burned with Ridley, October 16, 1555 at Oxford.

Martyrdom of a Lollard

September 9, 2009

William Sawtry, a priest at St Margaret’s King’s Lynn, said: “Instead of adoring the cross on which Christ suffered, I adore Christ who suffered on it.” He preached against images and pilgrimages and rejected transubstantiation. In 1399 he was arrested and then recanted. But he went back on this until rearrest and interrogation in 1401 by Bishop Arundel. He stood firm on Scripture. His vestments and clerical clothes were torn off, hi head shaved to remove the tonsure and a layman’s cap placeed on his head. He was burned at the stake at Smithfield.

Douglas C.Wood, Evangelical Doctor, EP, 1984, pp.125-6

The evil of apathy

August 31, 2009

(The Holocaust of the Jews) depended most of all upon the indifference of bystanders in every land.

Rabbi Hugo Gryn, in Holocaust, Martin Gilbert, 1987, p.18

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing

attributed to Edmund Burke, although not known from his writings

Grace in Action

August 25, 2009

Dirk Willems was an Anabaptist. This was dangerous in 1569, especially in the little town of Asperen, Holland. Many of his friends there had given their lives for their faith. Dirk himself was imprisoned in a castle for the same reason.

The castle was gated and surrounded by a moat. As winter set in, however, the moat froze over. Dirk tied some rags into a rope, slid out the window, and dropped onto the ice. Quickly he crossed the moat and raced across a meadow.

Not quickly enough. A guard saw him fleeing and went after him.

As they raced across the dutch landscape, Dirk cut across a dangerous section of ice. Though he made it across, his pursuer did not. He crashed through the ice, crying out for help.

Dirk was faced with a difficult choice. Helping his pursuer could result in torture and death. Many of his fellow Anabaptists had ended their lives in just that sort of glorious martyrdom for Christ.

Dirk proved himself a disciple. “For me to live is Christ; and to die is gain.” He rescued his pursuer, pulling him from the frigid waters.

The obvious question is: did the guard let him go?

The story is that the guard was willing, but the Roman Catholic burgermeister (mayor) told the guard to mind his oath, and Dirk was returned to the castle. This time they were more careful, and soon after Dirk was sent to his heavenly reward by the fires of his persecutors.