Persecution by zealous 'Reformers' and Henry VIII's minor cult which led to Anglicanism!
Luther's rants led to colossal persecution of the Anabaptists!
Papal Roman Catholics who write to us often leap onto the attack by accusing 'Protestant churches' of (historical) violence and persecution - which is true to a certain extent (see 'Expositor History' titles under this heading 'Papal Rome is a Cult!' and E-mail Menu). But they fail to consider the fact that the 'Protestant churches' were formed by men who had been influenced by Papal Rome for many years and to varying degrees (cf. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli) and this affected their judgement in matters of doctrine and authority to a large degree (as we have noted in many places on this site). For example, when Zwingli's ideas first came to the attention of Martin Luther and other reformers they met at the Marburg Colloquy and, although they agreed on many points of doctrine, they could not reach an accord on the doctrine of the 'Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist'. Huldrych (also spelled Ulrich) Zwingli was the most important reformer in the Swiss Protestant Reformation and the only major reformer of the 16th century whose movement did not develop into an obvious 'church' or movement bearing his name. But, while Zwingli showed restraint while seeking 'Reformation' or separation from Papal Rome, he failed to recognize Biblical baptism practiced by the Anabaptists and other genuine Christians and this led to their persecution. The 'Reformers' subsequently adjusted their views over time to become less influenced by Papal Rome's heresies and more Biblical - but they never 'Reformed' far enough!
But it is an irrefutable fact that, while they persecuted any groups they felt to be in opposition to their own Biblical view, they were never guilty of killing the huge number of non-Roman Catholics that Papal Rome succeeded in exterminating - particularly through their infamous 'Inquisition' (type this word into 'Google Search Engine' on our Home page). The 'Inquisition' has Satan's name written all over it! This is not to suggest that the 'Reformers' are innocent and that God will not also judge them for their crimes against Him and His chosen people.
Martin Luther changed his position in many important ways, e.g. early in his 'Reformation' he taught that the proper mode of baptism is immersion. But, at the same time, he defended the un-Scriptural practice of baptizing infants and soon changed his view and became an enemy of the Anabaptists. He also changed in regard to persecution and bloodshed and, early on in his 'Reformation' he did not support the death sentence against false teachers - although he supported their persecution (short of death and their banishment).
But when the peasants of Germany, doubtlessly inspired by the 'Reformers' new found freedom, tried to apply this to themselves by overthrowing the tyrannical lords and gaining their independence, Luther made his differing views clear:
'The peasants would not listen; they would not let anyone tell them anything; their ears must be unbuttoned with bullets, till their heads jump off their shoulders. ... On the obstinate, hardened, blinded peasants, let no one have mercy, but let everyone, as he is able, hew, stab, slay, lay about him as though among mad dogs ... so that peace and safety may be maintained... etc.' [Martin Luther, Werke, Erlangen edition, vol. 24, p. 294; vol.15, p. 276; passim.]
Luther's writing on the peasant wars are full of such expressions and, when he was reproached for such violent language and for inciting territorial lords to merciless slaughter (they killed over 100,000 peasants) in later years, he answered defiantly:
'It was I, Martin Luther, who slew all the peasants in the insurrection, for I commanded them to be slaughtered. All their blood is upon my shoulders. But I cast it on our Lord God who commanded me to speak in this way.'
[Martin Luther, Werke, Erlangen edition, vol. 59, p. 284]
How the 'Church of England' came into being through Henry VIII's command!
ref. William McGrath, Anabaptists: Neither Catholic nor Protestant at:
Compare statements like this with the exploits of king Saul, who defied God on many occasions until he met his end ignominiously, an end that was decreed by the Almighty through the mouth of Samuel after the disobedient king had been rejected (1 Samuel 28:6) and then compounded his error by making use of the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7) for guidance? How do the admissions of Luther regarding the death of these peasants compare to Saul's dreadful errors?
Luther also turned against the Anabaptists he had once sympathized with:
"Sadder yet, Luther reacted with equal violence to the Anabaptists who tried to apply the principle of 'liberty' to themselves. Though he knew there were both non-resistant, harmless Anabaptists as well as a radical fringe of social revolutionaries, he condemned all together - favoring a policy of extermination"
ref. William McGrath, Anabaptists: Neither Catholic nor Protestant (ibid.)
In 1529 an enforcing council known as the Diet of Speirs (Speyers) pronounced the death sentence upon all Anabaptists. This council was composed of both Roman Catholic and Protestant princes and heads of state who hated each other and bickered even in this Diet, but they were clearly of a spirit that hated the altogether 'overly Biblical' Anabaptists even more than they hated each other! The proclamation of the Diet greatly accelerated the program of extermination already in progress and:
"Four hundred special police were hired to hunt down Anabaptists and execute them on the spot. The group proved too small and was increased to one thousand. ... thousands of Anabaptists fell victim to one of the most widely spread persecutions in Christian history. … Burning faggots and smoldering stakes marked their trek across Europe" (Halley).
The Christian Expositor objects to the use of 'Christian history' in the paragraph above for the obvious reasons that the groups involved were Papal Roman Catholics and breakaway groups from Papal Rome coupled with Zwinglian-type groups which were barely more Biblical than the first two groups. Many of the groups that adjusted the 'Reformers' doctrines became increasingly Biblical over the ensuing centuries but, sadly, in the last century there has been a steady apostasy with groups such as the Lutherans (see this page) and Anglicans steadily returning to Papal Rome or simply adding their own man-made doctrines.
The survey we ran (2012-2018) on the number of paedophiles discovered within Papal Rome compared with all other 'Christian denominations' (see this page) revealed that Anglicans were a very distant second to the Vatican's 'priesthood'. Allowing for the obvious difference between the two 'priesthoods' (Anglican 'priests' are allowed to marry women) and also for the clear fact that the Cult of Papal Rome has made it impossible to accurately locate all of their perpetrators since the hierarchy indulged in a proven 'tactic' of hiding them by re-location, and other deceptions, we now move on to another disturbing development from the 'Reformation' era.
Zwingli and Calvin rejected the honest and brave Michael Sattler - but left it to Papal Rome to murder him cruelly!
The English king, Henry VIII, came to the throne in 1509 and separated from Papal Rome for vile, selfish reasons after Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Pope Paul III excommunicated Henry in 1534 over his divorce from Catherine so the king, while remaining the same Papal Roman Catholic that he had always been, promptly supplanted the pope and named himself the 'Supreme Head of the Church of England' that same year. He also dissolved the monasteries and sold the 'Church lands' that he simply stole from the equally corrupt Papal Rome to generate revenue for his own use. Henry was clearly unconcerned about anything the popes might threaten and repeatedly returned to the un-Biblical marriage situation that Jesus had condemned:
Matthew 19:3-9 (NASB) - 3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? 6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." 7 They *said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?" 8 He *said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
The adulterous Henry ignored the Lord Jesus Christ and did not just commit adultery once, but effectively indulged in forbidden polygamy by removing any wife he disapproved of, even inventing sins supposedly committed by the unfortunate wives in order to dispose of them, and then vilely silencing them by having them executed if necessary. Despite situations that existed around the king, Henry remained true to the false doctrines of Papal Rome and had no intention of remodeling 'his church' along the lines approved by 'Protestant reformers' and also continued to persecute any who stepped out of the heretical line that the popes had established.
Bearing in mind that for, at least, 1,700 years Papal Rome put to death hundreds of thousands she labeled as heretics, whether they were Jews, dissenting Catholics (heretics to Papal Rome, but hardly more heretical than the cult they were leaving), Protestants, Anabaptists, Hussites, Lollards, Waldenses, Albigenses, and many others all over the world who refused to convert to the self-proclaimed 'one true church', we should not be surprised by Henry VIII's treatment of any group outside of his own version of Papal Rome. Anabaptists, who seemed to have developed in Zurich after 1523 as a radical religious and social movement (Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz were early 'leaders' in the movement), had discussed child baptism with Zwingli without coming to an agreement and, by 1525, adults in Zurich were being baptized in rivers. "Anabaptist" means "re-baptiser" (from the Greek word ana, meaning 'again') and refers to the movement's central rejection of infant baptism in favour of a conscious act of adult baptism into the Christian faith. The Anabaptists were rejected by Zwingli and Luther who deemed them to be too radical, partly because most Anabaptists were also correct in believing in the separation of church and state. Anabaptist disciples rejected the label 'Anabaptist', or 'Rebaptizer', for they repudiated their own baptism as infants as a blasphemous formality. They considered the public confession of sin and faith, sealed by adult baptism, to be the only proper baptism and were in agreement with Zwingli in that they held that infants are not punishable for sin until they become aware of good and evil and can exercise their own free will, repent, and then accept baptism.
The Lutheran Elector of Hesse, Germany, wrote to Henry VIII in 1538, urging him to persecute his Anabaptists!
Further testimony to the spirit that many of the 'Reformers' shared with Papal Rome, Zwingli was the first to persecute the Anabaptists, with Felix Manz becoming the first martyr in 1527 and, in the same year, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael Sattler. After the death of Conrad Grebel (1526) and Felix Manz (1527), Sattler was the most noteworthy leader of the Swiss Brethren having been educated at the University of Freiburg before becoming a monk in the cloister of St. Peter near Freiburg and advancing to the position of prior. Through his own devoted studies of the Scriptures and recognition of the 'Reformers' theology, Sattler left the monastery in 1523 and was married before joining the Swiss Brethren in Zurich, from which he was banished on November 18, 1525. He laboured in the faith in Horb, Rottenburg, and Strasburg in Alsace. On February 24, 1527, Sattler presided over a conference of Swiss Brethren held at Schleitheim in Canton Schaffhausen and presented a confession of faith which was approved and adopted, apparently without a dissenting voice, and was later printed under the title 'Brotherly Agreement of Some Children of God' and accepted as the confession of faith of the Swiss Brethren. Sattler's confession of faith was notable enough to be refuted by both Zwingli and Calvin in separate works.
Michael Sattler was captured by the Roman Catholic authorities in Horb, tried on May 17, 1527 at Rottenburg, and martyred on May 21, 1527. When you compare the speed at which our judicial system operates today we can only reel with disbelief at this swift and utterly evil 'justice' supposedly delivered by the servants of God on earth! The account of Sattler's death is testimony to the faith and courage of God's servants in those days:
"On the morning of that day this noble man of God, in sight of horrible torture, prayed for his judges and persecutors and admonished the people to repentance. He endured the inhuman torture stipulated in the sentence. Then his mangled body was tied to a ladder. He prayed again for his persecutors while the ladder was placed upon the stake. He had promised his friends to give them a sign from the burning stake, to show that he remained steadfast to the end, enduring it all willingly for Christ. The fire having severed the cords wherewith he was bound, he lifted up his hand for a sign to them. Soon it was noticed that his spirit had taken its flight to be with Him whom he had steadfastly confessed under the most excruciating torture, a true hero of the faith."
The account of his 'trial' and the manner in which he presented his defense is even more enlightening when coupled with the evil judgement made upon this servant of God:
'After a long trial on the day of his departure from this world, the articles being many, Michael Sattler requested that they would be read to him again and that he should have another hearing. This the bailiff, as the governor of his lord, opposed and would not consent to it.
Michael Sattler then requested permission to speak. After a consultation, the judges returned as their answer, that if his opponents would allow it, they (the judges) would consent. Thereupon the town clerk of Ensisheim, as the attorney of said Governor spoke thus: "Prudent, honorable and wise Sirs, He has boasted of the Holy Ghost. Now, if his boast is true, it seems to me, it is unnecessary to grant him this; for if he has the Holy Ghost, as he boasts, the same will tell him what has been done here." To this Michael Sattler replied: "Ye servants of God, I hope my request will not be denied; for said articles are as yet unknown to me." The town clerk responded: "Prudent, honorable and wise Sirs, Though we are not bound to do this, yet in order to give satisfaction, we will grant him his request that it may not be thought that injustice is done him in his heresy, or that we desire to wrong him; hence let the articles be read to him.
Articles or Charges Against Michael Sattler
First, that he and his adherents have acted contrary to the mandate of the Emperor.
Secondly, he has taught, held and believed that the body and blood of Christ are not present in the sacrament.
Thirdly, he has taught and believed that infant baptism does not conduce to salvation.
Fourthly, they have rejected the sacrament of extreme unction.
Fifthly, they have despised and condemned the mother of God and the saints.
Sixthly, he has declared that men are not to swear before the authorities.
Seventhly, he has commenced a new and unheard of custom in regard to the Lord's Supper, placing the bread and wine on a plate, and eating and drinking the same.
Eighthly, he has left the order, and married a wife.
Ninthly, he has said that if the Turks should invade the country, no resistance ought to be offered them; and if it were right to wage war, he would rather take the field against the Christians than against the Turks; and it is certainly a great matter, to set the greatest enemies of our holy faith against us.
Thereupon Michael Sattler requested permission to confer with his brethren and sisters, which was granted him. Having conferred with them for a little while, he began and undauntingly answered thus: "In regard to the articles relating to me and my brethren and sisters, hear this brief answer:
First, That we have acted contrary to the imperial mandate, we do not admit; for the same says that the Lutheran doctrine and delusion is not to be adhered to, but only the Gospel and Word of God. This we have kept; for I am not aware that we have acted contrary to the Gospel and the Word of God; I appeal to the words of Christ.
Secondly, That the real body of Christ the Lord is not present in the sacrament, we admit; for the Scripture says: Christ ascended into heaven and, sitteth on the right hand of His heavenly Father whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead; from which it follows, that if He is in heaven, and not in the bread, He may not be eaten bodily. Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9; Col. 3:1; Acts 10:42; II Tim. 4:1.
Thirdly, As to baptism we say: Infant baptism is of no avail to salvation; for it is written that we live by faith alone. Again: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Peter likewise says: The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:17; Mark 16:16; I Pet. 3:21.
Fourthly, We have not rejected the oil; for it is a creature of God, and what God has made is good and not to be refused; but that the pope, the bishops, monks and priests can make it better, we do not believe; for the pope never made anything good. That of which the epistle of James speaks is not the pope's oil. Gen. 1:11; I Tim. 4:4; James 5:14.
Fifthly, We have not condemned the mother of God and the saints; for the mother of Christ is to be blessed among all women; for to her was accorded the favor of giving birth to the Saviour of the whole world. But that she is a mediatress and advocatess, of this the Scriptures know nothing; for she must with us await the judgment. Paul said to Timothy: Christ is our Mediator and Advocate with God. As regards the saints; we say that we who live and believe are the saints; which I prove by the epistles of Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians; and in other places where he always writes: To the beloved saints. Hence we that believe are the saints; but those who have died in faith we regard as the blessed. Luke 1:28; Matthew 1:21; I Tim. 2:5; I Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1; Rev. 14:13.
Sixthly, We hold, that we are not to swear before the authorities: For the Lord says: Swear not; but let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay. Matt. 5:34; James 5:12.
Seventhly, When God called me to testify of His Word, and I had read Paul, and also considered the unchristian and perilous state in which I was; beholding the pomp, pride, usury, and great whoredom of the monks and priests, I went and took unto me a wife, according to the command of God; for Paul well prophesies concerning this to Timothy: In the latter time it shall come to pass that men shall forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving. I Cor. 7:2; I Tim. 4:3.
Eighthly, If the Turks should come, we ought not to resist them; for it is written: Thou shalt not kill. We must not defend ourselves against the Turks and others of our persecutors, but are to beseech God with earnest prayer to repel and resist them. But that I said, that if warring were right, I would rather take the field against the so-called Christians, who persecute, apprehend and kill pious Christians, than against the Turks, was for this reason: The Turk is a true Turk, knows nothing of the Christian faith; and is a Turk after the flesh; but you, who would be Christians, and who make your boast of Christ, persecute the pious witnesses of Christ, and are Turks after the spirit.
In conclusion: Ye ministers of God, I admonish you to consider the end for which God has appointed you, to punish the evil, and to defend and protect the pious. Whereas, then, we have not acted contrary to God and the Gospel, you will find that neither I nor my brethren and sisters have offended in word or deed against any authority. Therefore, ye ministers of God, if ye have not heard or read the Word of God, send for the most learned, and for the sacred books of the Bible, of whatsoever language they may be, and let them confer with us in the Word of God; and if they prove to us with the Holy Scriptures, that we err and are in the wrong, we will gladly desist and recant and also willingly suffer the sentence and punishment for that of which we have been accused, but if no error is proven to us, I hope to God, that you will be converted, and receive instruction." Wisd. 6:4; Acts 25:8; Rom. 13:4; Acts 25:11.
Upon this speech the judges laughed and put their heads together, and the town clerk of Ensisheim said: "O you infamous, desperate villain and monk, shall we dispute with you? The hangman shall dispute with you, I assure you."
Michael said: "God's will be done."
The town clerk said: "It were well if you had never been born."
Michael replied: "God knows what is good."
Town Clerk: "You arch-heretic, you have seduced the pious; if they would only now forsake their error, and accept grace."
Michael: "Grace is with God alone."
One of the prisoners also said: "We must not depart from the truth."
Town Clerk: "You desperate villain and arch-heretic, I tell you if there were no hangman here, I would hang you myself, and think that I had done God service."
Michael: "God will judge aright."
Thereupon the town clerk said a few words to him in Latin, what we do not know.
Michael Sattler answered him Judica.
The town clerk then admonished the judges and said: "He will not cease from this talk today; therefore my Lord Judge, proceed with the sentence; I will commit it to the law."
The judge asked Michael Sattler whether he also committed it to the law.
He replied: "Ye ministers of God, I am not sent to judge the Word of God; we are sent to bear witness of it, and, hence, cannot consent to any law, since we have no command from God concerning it; but if we can not be discharged from the law, we are ready to suffer for the Word of God whatever sufferings are, or may be imposed upon us all for the sake of the faith in Christ Jesus our Saviour, as long as we have breath within us; unless we be dissuaded from it by the Scriptures."
The town clerk said: "The hangman shall convince you; he shall dispute with you, arch-heretic."
Michael: "I appeal to the Scriptures."
Then the judges arose, and went into another room, where they remained for an hour and a half, and determined on the sentence. Matt. 6:10; John 16:2; I Cor. 4:5; John 1:8; Job 27:3; Acts 25:11.
In the meantime, some in the room treated Michael Sattler most unmercifully, heaping reproach upon him. One of them said: "What have you in expectation for yourself and the others, that you have so seduced them?" With this, he also drew forth a sword which lay upon the table, saying: "See, with this shall they dispute with thee." But Michael did not answer upon a single word concerning his person, but willingly endured it all. One of the prisoners said: "We must not cast pearls before swine." Matt. 27:14; 7:6.
Being also asked, why he had not remained a lord in the convent, Michael answered: "According to the flesh I was a lord; but it is better so." He did not say more than what is recorded here, and this he spoke fearlessly.
The judges having returned to the room, the sentence was read. It was as follows: "In the case of the Governor of his Imperial Majesty versus Michael Sattler, judgment is passed, that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to the executioner, who shall lead him to the place of execution, and cut out his tongue; then throw him upon a wagon, and there tear his body twice with red hot tongs; and after he has been brought without the gate, he shall be pinched five times in the same manner."
After this had been done in the manner prescribed, he was burned to ashes as a heretic. His fellow brethren were executed with the sword, and the sisters drowned. His wife, also, after being subjected to many entreaties, admonitions and threats, under which she remained very steadfast, was drowned a few days afterwards. Done the 21st day of May, A. D. 1527.
Martyr's Mirror, Thieleman J. van Braght,
Herald Press, 1987, pp. 416-418.
A further source records:
...Michael Sattler, [an Anabaptist]...was 'committed to the executioner...[and taken] to the square and they first cut out his tongue, and then forged him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongues twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic' [?]...Sattler, who had given a true and skillful testimony at the trial, was thus handled. Even after the pieces were torn from his body and a part of his tongue cut out, Sattler still prayed for his persecutors and admonished the officials to repent and be converted. As he was dying, Sattler raised the two fore-fingers of his hands giving the signal to the brethren, as he had arranged, that a martyr's death was bearable. From his seared lips, the crowd heard him say, 'Father, I commend my spirit into Thy hands.' Then he fell asleep.
…………….The Noble Army of "Heretics", Bill Jackson,
…………….Colonial Baptist Press and on the web, pp. 27-28.
The Life and Thought of Michael Sattler (Studies in Anabaptist & Mennonite History) by C. Arnold Snyder Hardcover - 264 pages (August 1984) Herald Press; ISBN: 0836112644
The Legacy of Michael Sattler (Classics of the Radical Reformation, 1) by John Howard Yoder (Compiler) Paperback - 194 pages (October 1973) Herald Press; ISBN: 0836111877
Anabaptist Portraits by John Allen Moore Paperback - 264 pages (July 1984) Herald Press; ISBN: 0836133617
King Ferdinand of Austria declared drowning (called the 'third baptism' in mockery of the Anabaptists) "the best antidote to Anabaptism" and, in the first week of Lent, 1528, commissioned a company of executioners to root out the Anabaptists in his lands. The 'third baptism' method was particularly popular in winter when these evil persecutors cut holes in frozen lakes and rivers and pushed the Anabaptists - and any who shared their Biblical beliefs in baptism by immersion - under the ice to drown them. Those who were caught in the highways or fields were killed with the sword, others were dragged out of their houses and hanged on their door posts. Many fled into forests and mountains and the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites (the latter descendants of 'church communities' of Anabaptist denominations named after their leader, Menno Simons of the Friesland province in the Netherlands) who are direct descendants of the early Anabaptist movement also fled from Europe to escape, many of them eventually reaching the USA, or Canada. The Hutterites took their name from Jakob Hutter who established early Hutterite colonies in 1528!
Many died in prison, including another significant figure, Hans Hut, who had been severely tortured before dying in a prison fire (possibly accidentally!) but, regardless, his dead body was brought out of the prison and burned in the public square in Augsburg. Many more were also tortured and branded, including a poor wretch who had his tongue cut out for speaking against infant baptism! Many thousands more were similarly tortured and executed in the years between 1527-1531.
Queen Mary attempted to reverse the English Reformation by the old methods of Papal Rome - torture and bloodshed!
Thus, with Anabaptists thoroughly on the run or murdered by both Papal Roman Catholics and 'Protestant' groups, the Lutheran Elector of Hesse in Germany turned his attention to England and wrote to King Henry VIII of England in 1538, urging him to persecute his Anabaptists by testifying:
"There are no rulers in Germany, whether they be Papists or professor of the doctrines of the Gospel [Protestants], that do suffer these men if they do come into their hands. All men punish them quickly. We use a just moderation, which God requireth of all good rulers. If any do stubbornly defend the ungodly and wicked errors of that sect, yielding nothing to such as can and do teach them truly, these are kept a good space in prison, and sometimes sore punished there; yet in such sort are they handled, that death is long deferred, for hope of amendment; and as long as any hope is, favour is showed to life. If there be no hope left, then the obstinate are put to death" (Evans, The Early English Baptists, chapter 2).
Thus such as the Lutherans still co-operated with Papal Rome and, in England, Henry VIII had hardly changed his breakaway cult from its origins and three times during his reign he denounced Anabaptists through official proclamations and, in 1535, twenty-eight Dutch believers were arrested and fourteen were burned to death, at least one of them a woman. Hugh Latimer, who was chaplain under Henry and who suffered the same fate when Queen Mary took the throne, described their death and said they went to the stake "without any fear in the world - cheerfully." According to John Foxe (writing in his monumental work, 'Foxe's Book of Martyrs', and quoting the registers of London), nineteen other Anabaptists were put to death in various parts of the realm in 1535 - testimony to the efficiency of Satan's Cults. In October 1538, the king appointed Thomas Cranmer, the new Archbishop of Canterbury (following the death of Warham), to head a commission to prosecute Baptists wherever they were found. He commanded that the books of the Baptists were to be confiscated and burned:
"Even to our reformers who had seen the flames which the Catholics had kindled against their brethren, yet lighted fires themselves to consume those who differed with them. Cranmer's hands were stained with the blood of several. John Lambert and Ann Askew will ever bear witness to his destroying zeal" (J.J. Stockdale, The History of the Inquisitions, 1810, p. xxix).
In 1539, two more Anabaptists were burned. Anne Askew was imprisoned, tortured, and finally burned to death in July 1546 by the Church of England after it had separated from Rome. After the 24-year-old woman was condemned to die and was imprisoned in the Tower of London to await execution, her persecutors attempted to get her to inform on other believers. They also hoped to gain information against Queen Catherine herself, the wife of Henry VIII. When Anne refused to give them any information, they put the frail woman upon the rack and commanded Sir Anthony Knyvet, Lieutenant of the Tower, to instruct his jailer to torture her. He did so, but not very strenuously, being mindful of her feminine nature. Not being satisfied with the racking given to her by the Lieutenant, Thomas Wriothesley, Chancellor of England, and Master Rich, the Solicitor-General, angrily took control of the rack with their own hands and treated the godly woman with an inhuman viciousness. So intent were they on gaining the names of any high-placed ladies who believed in the grace of Jesus Christ, they cruelly tortured her, pulling her bones and joints out of place so much so that she was unable to walk after that and had to be carried to her execution in a chair. All the while, she did not cry out and bore their wicked torments with the patient grace given to her of the Lord, refusing to turn any of her friends over to the tormenters. She finally passed out from the pain, and Sir Knyvet took her up in his arms and laid her on the floor. When she awoke and while she was still lying on the hard stone floor, Wriothesley remained by her for two hours longer attempting to talk her into recanting her religious views. In her written testimony, the brave Christian woman gave a glorious witness to her faith in Jesus Christ and in His blood and grace alone for salvation, and she stated that her sole authority was the Bible. Though her father, husband, and son had abandoned her because of her faith, and though she was hated by the rulers of her own country, we can be sure that this humble Christian lady was not abandoned by her Heavenly Father:
"When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up" (Psalm 27:10).
Anne and three other dissenters against the Church of England were brought to the place of execution on July 16, 1546. When they were chained to a stake, they were offered a pardon if they would sign a recantation. They refused even to look at the paper containing the pardon and stated that they had not come to that place to deny their Lord. At that, the fire was lit and Anne and her friends in Christ were burned to death by the ecclesiastical authorities. Many other Baptists also suffered during the reign of Henry VIII, the 'Father' of the breakaway minor cult - the Church of England - from 'The Mother Cult - Papal Rome'!
John Rogers (1500-1555) - translator and publisher of the Matthew's Bible and first victim of Queen Mary!
Queen Mary, also known as Mary Tudor, ascended the throne of England in 1553 and is best known for her determined and brutal attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. Mary was the only child of Henry VIII by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood and her younger half-brother, Edward VI (son of Henry and Jane Seymour), succeeded their father in 1547 at the age of nine. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he was informed and knowledgeable enough to attempt to remove Mary from the line of succession because he had ascertained that she would strive to reverse the 'Protestant' reforms that had begun during his reign. Study of the influences available in the English courts at this time reveal strong evidence for the powerful affect that Tyndale's translation of the Bible into English had when educated people could read the Word of God for themselves and discover how Papal Rome had used their power to mask the truth by falsely declaring Latin (and Jerome's supposedly infallible 'Vulgate' translation) the 'language from heaven' and the only true vehicle authorised by 'Divine Proclamation' (i.e. by the heretical popes!). On Edward's death his informed authorities tried to follow his desires, ignoring the claims of his two half-sisters, Elizabeth and the Roman Catholic Mary, in spite of statute law to the contrary and proclaiming Lady Jane Grey as Queen. However, Mary was informed and alert enough to assemble a force in East Anglia and deposed Jane, who was ultimately beheaded. During Mary's reign, Elizabeth was imprisoned for nearly a year on suspicion of supporting Protestant rebels.
Papal Rome tries to regain England by excommunicating Elizabeth!
John Rogers (1500-1555) was the translator and publisher of the Matthew's Bible of 1537 and the first of 280 non-Papal Roman Catholics burned to death, on February 4, 1555, during Queen Mary's reign. Many others died in prison before they could suffer the flames of Papal Rome. Cambridge educated Rogers had moved to Antwerp in 1534 to become a chaplain to the English merchantmen while Tyndale was there and challenged him to examine the Scriptures, which led to his conversion to Christ and his rejection of Roman Catholicism. In 1547, Rogers returned to England when Edward VI, who was sympathetic to the 'Reformation', was on the throne and used the Tyndale New Testament and those portions of the Old Testament that Tyndale had completed (Genesis to 2 Chronicles, plus Jonah), completing the rest of the Old Testament by revising the Coverdale Bible and, in some places, such as the opening chapters of Job, he made a fresh translation.
Rogers was first imprisoned in the infamous Newgate Prison, London, in January 1554, not long after Mary ascended the throne and his request that his wife be allowed to visit him before his death was denied by the authorities of Papal Rome, so Rogers' wife brought his ten children, including a nursing infant, to the execution "to strengthen him against the ordeal." Rogers was not even allowed to stop and bid his family farewell and walked calmly to the stake while repeating the 51st Psalm, refusing the pardon offered if he would recant:
"An immense crowd lined the street, and filled every available spot in Smithfield. Up to that day men could not tell how English Reformers would behave in the face of death, and could hardly believe that Prebendaries and Dignitaries would actually give their bodies to be burned for their religion. But when they saw John Rogers, the first martyr, walking steadily and unflinchingly into a fiery grave, the enthusiasm of the crowd knew no bounds. They rent the air with thunders of applause. Even Noailles, the French Ambassador, wrote home a description of the scene, and said that Rogers went to death 'as if he was walking to his wedding.' By God's great mercy he died with comparative ease" (J.C. Ryle, Why Were Our Reformers Burned?).
Rogers' widow returned to Germany with her fatherless flock and it is probable that at least two of his sons became prominent Protestant leaders in England and America:
"Daniel Rogers, probably the eldest child, lived to be Queen Elizabeth's ambassador to Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. Richard Rogers, the famous Puritan minister of Weathersfield, was, in all probability, another son of the martyr; and if so, then the numerous families in New England which trace their descent from Richard, are descended from the illustrious Bible Translator and Protomartyr" (Alexander McClure, The Translators Revived).
After her death in 1558, Queen Mary's restorationist work for Papal Rome was reversed by her younger half-sister and successor Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn. Anne Boleyn was perhaps the first born-again Christian woman in the history of the 'English Royal Family' and her daughter was less than three years old when Henry had her mother beheaded and Elizabeth declared illegitimate, at the beginning of the 45-year Elizabethan Era.
Elizabeth made good use of a group of trusted advisers, led by William Cecil, First Baron Burghley, and one of her first actions as Queen was to become the Supreme Governor of the 'English Protestant church' she established and which failed to throw off enough of Papal Rome's influence and developed into the Church of England which remains in the same partially Biblical state that we still see today. Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and half-siblings had been and slightly more Biblical, being relatively tolerant and avoiding the systematic persecution pursued by most rulers of her time, yet her first regrettable action was to still follow her ignorant predecessors and imprison and then execute Mary, Queen of Scots.
James I of England resorts to 'Protestant' type after a gentle start - but also commissioned the King James Version!
We can see how Papal Rome continued its machinations, hoping to regain England, for Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth (and released her subjects from obedience to her) with the Papal bull Regnans in Excelsis in 1570, which was predictably ineffective and he remained notable (only in Papal circles) for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, standardization of the un-Biblical 'Roman Rite' within the Latin Church, and for declaring Thomas Aquinas a 'Doctor of the Church' (although Aquinas is mainly remembered by Christian historians as being a leading 'theologian of Papal Rome' and supporter of the murderous Inquisition, revealing that he shared an unholy interest in this vile pursuit with his pope!).
As a result of the continued plotting by Papal Rome's agents several conspiracies threatened Elizabeth's life, but all were defeated by her agents and 'secret service' run by her spy-masters Robert and William Cecil. Elizabeth remained cautious in foreign affairs, manoeuvring carefully between the major powers of France and Spain and staying out of major military campaigns until, in the mid-1580s, she could no longer avoid war with Papal Rome's puppet, Spain. As many schoolchildren in England remember from their few history lessons, defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 in almost miraculous circumstances (counted as luck by her critics) associated Elizabeth with one of the greatest military victories in English history. Towards the end of Elizabeth's reign, economic and military problems increased but, compared to the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne (17 November 1558 - 24 March 1603) provided welcome stability for the 'United Kingdom' and helped forge a sense of national identity - at least in England.
How the Church of England/Anglican Church continued to persecute genuine Bible-believers into the late 17th century!
Elizabeth was succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland (which made him James I of England), who had developed beliefs favourable to 'Protestantism' and did not seem to bear serious grudges over the imprisonment and execution of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, by Elizabeth. James was baptised into Roman Catholicism, but brought up as a Presbyterian before learning Anglicanism during his rule. He remained a lifelong 'Protestant' and tried to cope with the issues surrounding the many religious views of his era, including Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Roman Catholicism and the differing opinions of multiple English Separatists as well as the developing reformed church, the Kirk (a word which probably derived from a large variety of European language sources via the Latin circus, circulus, and the Greek kuklos - because the congregations were gathered in circles - and therefore probably from pagan sources) in Scotland which was attempting to rid the 'churches' of un-Biblical terms and positions of authority. James seemed to prefer the system that was already in place and regarded the existing bishops as allies of the monarchy which caused conflict with the Kirk in Scotland.
James also discovered that there were many more Roman Catholics in England than in Scotland and he was constantly exhorted to enforce the existing penal laws against them but preferred to allow those of another persuasion to quietly go about their own desired system of belief and worship as long as they gave 'an outward obedience to the law'. However, all of this began to change when 'the Gunpowder Plot' of 1605 was discovered and, being the third Catholic conspiracy against him in three years, he began to take the plots from Papal Rome seriously and sanctioned the removal of suspect Jesuits and seminary priests from the country. In 1606 an 'Oath of Allegiance' to the king was introduced but was probably useless, just led to lip service, and slipped into disuse. An unwise decision to seek a wife from the Spanish court for his son Charles, Prince of Wales, resulted in widespread opposition, particularly in the Commons where members rightly feared a revival of Catholic power in the country and an obvious renewed threat to the Protestant monarchy and state.
A notable success of the Hampton Court Conference was the commissioning of a new translation of the Bible, completed in 1611, which became known as the King James Bible, and is still considered a masterpiece which modern translations fail to surpass for reasons discussed on other pages. James, who had the same educational advantages as his predecessors, took an interest in the scholarly decisions of the excellent and carefully appointed translators, often participated in theological debate and his own abilities were demonstrated in 1612 when he wrote a tract against the unorthodox Dutch theologian Conrad Vorstius, a follower of Jacobus Arminius.
In the 1590s, Bartholomew Legate (c. 1575-1612) and his two brothers Walter and Thomas, all from Essex, began preaching around the London area. Their anti-Trinitarian message rejected the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England and their many un-Biblical rituals. Bartholomew and his brother Thomas were consequently imprisoned for heresy in 1611 and, while Thomas died in London's notorious Newgate Prison, Bartholomew survived imprisonment to resume his preaching. He was soon brought before the Consistory Court of London, but without any definite result even though he apparently faced King James there and debated with him on several occasions. Apparently Bartholomew had also revealed that he had not prayed for seven years and, when he threatened to bring an action for wrongful imprisonment, he was tried before Lancelot Andrewes and other bishops at a full Consistory Court in February 1612, found guilty of blasphemous heresy, and delivered to the secular authorities for punishment. Refusing to retract his opinions, he was burnt at the stake at Smithfield on 18 March 1612 and became the last person burned in London for his religious views, dying just three weeks before Edward Wightman who was burned at Lichfield in April 1612 and thus became the last to suffer in this way in England. Another dissenter, the General Baptist leader Thomas Helwys, appealed to James for liberty of conscience, only to be sent to prison, where he died in 1616.
Thus King James, who seemed to have started well, eventually became a persecutor of many 'separatists' who refused to submit to the state church - including Baptists, Puritans, and other Protestant separatists such as the Pilgrims, and Quakers. As with the previous dissenters, many fled to America and elsewhere to seek religious liberty.
The Church of England/Anglican Church continued to persecute those who chose to follow the Word of God and to worship Him independently into the late 17th century and many Baptist preachers suffered long prison terms, torture, and death in these times:
1. Francis Bampfield died in prison after spending the last nine years of his life in chains;'Toleration Act' passed in England in 1689 - Church of England ends persecutions 155 years after establishment!
2. John Miller was confined for ten years;
3. Henry Forty spent twelve years in prison;
4. John Bunyan wrote his famous 'Pilgrim's Progress' (one of the most published books in the English language, 1,300 editions having been printed by 1938, 250 years after the author's death) while languishing in prison for 12 years, unable to care for his wife and beloved blind daughter. Bunyan was eventually released briefly, then suffered another shorter term of imprisonment for failing to comply to Church of England standards, before continuing to serve God as a Christian author, preacher, and pastor of the 'Bedford Meeting' of 'Non-conformists' from which he was initially snatched. The Church of England deigns to remember him with a 'Lesser Festival' on 30 August (and failure to mention their persecution of him!);
5. Joseph Wright suffered in Maidstone jail for twenty years;
6. George Fownes died in Gloucester jail;
7. Samuel Howe died in prison in 1640 and was buried beside a roadway because the Church of England refused to allow him to be buried in a cemetery;
8. Thomas Delaune and his family died in the wretched Newgate Prison. Delaune grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Ireland, had a good education, and was led to Christ by a Baptist preacher. He moved to London and became a schoolmaster and was a member of a Baptist church. Benjamin Calamy, a chaplain to the king, published a sermon challenging non-conformists to write out their doctrine and disagreement with the Church of England. Delaune answered the challenge and wrote his "Plea for the Nonconformists." When the book was being printed, it was seized by a king's messenger and Delaune was imprisoned. From prison he wrote to Calamy and asked him to intervene in his behalf, but he refused to help or even to answer Delaune's letter. In January 1684, Delaune was fined 100 marks, to be imprisoned until the fine was paid, to find security for one year afterwards, and his book to be burned. Because he now had no job, he could not pay his fine and he and his family were reduced to poverty. His wife and two small children had to live with him in the prison for lack of a livelihood, and the unhealthy conditions took their lives one after the other.
The attitude of many within the Church of England toward "dissident" Christians in that day is illustrated by the publication in 1644 of THE DIPPERS DIPT, OR THE ANABAPTISTS DUNCKED AND PLUNGED OVER HEAD AND EARS, AT A DISPUTATION IN SOUTHWARK (London: Printed for Nicholas Bourn, and Richard Royston in Ivy-Lane). This rabidly anti-Baptist work was written by Daniel Featley, an Anglican minister. Featley called for the physical destruction of Anabaptists and other "schismatics." Consider a choice excerpt:
"Now of all Heretics and Schismatics the Anabaptist in three regards ought to be most carefully looked unto, and severely punished, if not utterly exterminated and banished out of the Church and Kingdom" (The Dippers Dipt, p. 4).
Featley described the Anabaptists in Vienna being tied together in chains and drowned in the river. He then callously observed: "Here you see the hand of God in punishing these sectaries some way answerable to their sin…." Featley likened the Baptists to Polygamists and Jesuits, concluding that "in Anabaptist you have many Heretics, and in this one sect as it were one stock, many erroneous and schismatical positions, and practices ingrafted..." Featley invented many falsehoods against the Baptists, such as describing their baptismal practice as "a kind of spell" and claiming that they taught that marriage can be broken for many causes. The historical record reveals that many Bible believers were also viciously persecuted during the reigns of King Charles II (1660-1685) and King James II (1685-1688).
Finally, in 1689, the Toleration Act was passed in England, which greatly reduced the pressure on all dissenters, giving them liberty of conscience and making it an offence to disturb anyone else's worship. Thus it was not until 155 years after its establishment that the Church of England stopped persecuting those who sought to follow God's Word just as it is written and as the Holy Spirit leads, while they hobbled on with their own diluted role as the 'Junior Version of the Papal Cult' which also, slowly and embarrassingly, applies its own modifications to His work, believing that they can continue to cover-up the evil works of their embarrassing 'priesthood' and improve 'Christianity' by uniting with the religions of the world to fulfil their prophesied role as the 'One World Religion' of the Anti-Christ.
It is a tragic irony that Bishop of Worcester, Hugh Latimer, who saw with his own eyes how nobly Anabaptist martyr's went to their deaths (which he had approved), was eventually bound to a stake with Nicholas Ridley. Ridley had been a chaplain to King Henry VIII and was Bishop of London under his son Edward VI and both men were quickly arrested by Queen Mary's authorities along with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and, after serving time in the Tower of London, the three were taken to Oxford in September of 1555 to be examined by the Lord's Commissioner in Oxford's Divinity School. Both Ridley and Latimer refused to accept Peter as the first 'pope', denied transubstantiation and the Mass, and all other 'unique doctrines' presented by their accusers and were consequently burned at the stake in Oxford on October 16, 1555, just 8 months after John Rogers had been martyred. As he was being tied to the stake, Ridley prayed, "Oh, heavenly Father, I give unto thee most hearty thanks that thou hast called me to be a professor of thee, even unto death. I beseech thee, Lord God, have mercy on this realm of England, and deliver it from all her enemies."
Ridley's brother had brought gunpowder for the men to place around their necks so death could come more quickly but, because the wood was green and probably fell away from his body, the crowd could hear his anguished cries: "Lord have mercy upon me! I cannot burn... Let the fire come unto me, I cannot burn." An unknown bystander had mercy on him and adjusted the wood so that it hastened Ridley's death and, as the flames rose, Latimer called to Ridley: "Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out."
Queen Mary I had Archbishop Thomas Cranmer put on trial for treason and heresy soon after her accession and he was imprisoned for over two years and pressured by her Church authorities. Cranmer's beliefs are difficult to ascertain since he clearly strove outside of the Word of God on behalf of Henry VIII to find evidence to support his first divorce from Catherine of Aragon and, with Thomas Cromwell, supported the principle of Royal Supremacy which claims that the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm. Cranmer had some antipathy to Martin Luther but an admiration for Erasmus the Dutch Christian humanist who was considered one of the greatest scholars of the era and, having originally trained as a priest of Papal Rome, used humanist techniques for working on texts, enabling his production of new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament which influenced both 'Protestants' and Papal Roman Catholics engaged in the Counter-Reformation. While Erasmus was also critical of the abuses within Papal Rome and called for reform, he kept his distance from Luther and Melanchthon while continuing to recognise the authority of the pope and remaining a member of the Roman Catholic Church all his life yet remaining committed to reforming the Church and its clerics' abuses from within (a method others had also tried and which Luther hoped to continue until it was made clear that the pope was immovable). All of these influences must have troubled many a concerned Bible-student and Cranmer apparently made several recantations and even reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic Church right up to the day of his execution when he withdrew his recantations, dying as both a heretic to Roman Catholics and a martyr for the principles of the English Reformation. Thomas Cranmer's (2 July 1489 - 21 March 1556) death was immortalised in Foxe's Book of Martyrs and his legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.
The martyrdoms of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer are today commemorated by a Martyrs' monument in Oxford which was completed in 1843, nearly 300 years after their deaths, at the intersection of St Giles', Magdalen Street and Beaumont Street, just outside Balliol College, Oxford, England. The 'Reverend' Charles Pourtales Golightly (a descendant of Huguenots who fled to England in that earlier era after enduring horrendous persecution by Papal Rome) and other Anglican clergy raised the funds to erect the monument during the Victorian era. They were involved in opposition in the 19th century 'Oxford Movement' (also known also the 'Tractarian Movement'), led by John Keble, John Henry Newman (who eventually defected to the Cult of Papal Rome) and others. Golightly and his colleagues were understandably alarmed at the Anglo-Catholic realignment that the movement was bringing into the Church of England, and wanted the memorial to reflect the university's Protestant profession and anti-Catholic tradition.
If only many of the 'Protestant Christians' of the world had not recently re-aligned themselves with Papal Rome and therefore compromised themselves or, believing that they are little better themselves (which the figures prove to be true for their 'Anglican brothers'!), have kept quiet and decided to 'bite the bullet' because Christianity isn't made up perfect people but is made of people who also fail. Never mind the easily provable fact that it is the totally un-Biblical 'priesthoods' of Papal Rome and Henry VIII's minor breakaway cult (aka 'The Church of England/Anglicanism) that top the list of perverts by a very, very long way - although other formerly zealous groups who came from the Anabaptists and other earlier Christian groups (such as the Waldensians) have, sadly, succumbed to worldly influences!
We pray that the relatively small number of Christians who are staying separate from those who have compromised with error in the Great Apostasy of the End Times will be more than those who God recognized in Elijah's day:
1 Kings 19:18 (NASB) - 18 "Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him."