Tag Archives: martyrs

“Christian History Minutes”: Thomas Cranmer goes to the flames

Back at Christian History, we were working for a while on getting a series of “Christian History Minutes” together for airing on a certain network of Christian radio stations. The deal never went down, but today I stumbled across the small series of “minutes” that I wrote at that point to demonstrate what we might do. Here’s one of those, on a celebrated martyr in Reformation England:

An iron chain fastened around him, the aged archbishop bowed his bearded head and prepared to die.

From the files of the Witness Recovery Program, this is the story of Thomas Cranmer.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas had helped make England’s church Protestant. But now the Catholic Mary was Queen, and she hated Thomas—especially for petitioning the pope to annul the marriage of her parents, Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon.

Mary had Thomas jailed and bombarded with arguments until at last he signed papers renouncing his Protestant beliefs. Then she ordered that he be executed after repenting publicly of his sins.

Now, as Thomas was led forward to die, he did indeed repent. But the last sin he confessed before the crowd was the sin of recanting his Protestant faith. The horrified officials seized him and hustled him to the awaiting stake, his long execution garment dragging around his bare feet.

Courageous at the last, Thomas held into the flames the hand that had signed those papers against his conscience, until it and he were burned.

For more on Thomas Cranmer and all the great cloud of witnesses, visit christianhistory.net.

Top ten reasons to read Christian history

I wrote this a while back–before entering my position as Associate Professor of Church History at Bethel Seminary, St. Paul. At that time, the Iraq war was still new news rather than old news. But some news never gets old–that’s church history. And I decided to offer the best ten reasons I could think of to immerse ourselves in that news:

Top Ten Reasons to Read Christian History
War’s reports deluge us every hour. Why should we read the “old news” of Christian history?
by Chris Armstrong

In a time of war, everything seems to hinge on The Now. But more than ever, it is really a time when we must be in touch with our history—especially, our sacred history.

But why? Continue reading