In the reign of bloody Queen Mary…
…Archbishop Thomas Cranmer became obnoxious to her persecuting spirit. She was determined to bring him to the stake; so she employed emissaries to persuade him, by means of flattery and false promises, to have him first renounce his faith.
The good man, overcome, subscribed to the Church of Rome. His conscience smote him, however, and he returned to his former persuasion. When brought to the stake he stretched forth the hand that had made the unhappy signature, and held it in the flames till it was entirely consumed, frequently exclaiming, “That unworthy hand” after which he patiently suffered martyrdom.
After the accession of the Roman Catholic Mary, Cranmer was put on trial for treason and heresy. Imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from Church authorities, he made several recantations and apparently reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic Church. However, on the day of his execution, he withdrew his recantations, to die a heretic to Roman Catholics and a martyr for the principles of the English Reformation. Cranmer’s death was immortalized in John 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.
Character excerpt from Wikipedia
[ A NOTE TO MY READERS AS TO THE PURPOSE OF THESE STORIES: Recently, I have written about Christians who before us have suffered great persecution and/or died in the cause of Christ.
I do not do this because I have less regard for theology than I once had, or that I now scorn the importance of those doctrines which were once given unto the saints. Nor, do I wish to lessen those scriptures which are they that do testify of Christ. And even more importantly, I do not wish to glorify man; so there is no need to sensationalize or even to make significant the facts of their deaths or of their persecution. For in one sense, that is truly not what is important.
Rather, I wish to make alive their faith, to make alive their living faith which was their living testimony unto Christ Jesus. They were not all great Christians. Many of those that I read and write about had significant flaws, some morally and some theologically… But all had found “The Christ.” And they each had witnessed to, and testified of that living Christ which takes away the sins of the world.
Having done all, these Christians stood, and their stories still stand today, demonstrating to us and pointing to us their Lord, both with their teachings, but more importantly, with their lives. And therein lies the power… They were totally committed.
As you look around yourself, do you see that type of commitment? As you look deep within yourself, do you see yourself standing in their shoes? Can you say, with grace, “If called, there go I?” As you look around your church, can you sense, as a member, an increasing importance of who we are in Christ Jesus, or do you see an increasing importance of who we are in the world? From your vantage point, which seems to be most important?
Never before has the Christian Church been assaulted on so many fronts. Never before, has it faced so many enemies from without and enemies from within. One shudders at the sound of all the axes being laid to the roots of our Christian heritage, and we ask ourselves, “When Christ comes will he find faith on the earth?” To this question, I am deeply stirred with a sense of urgency.
Today, I call to you wherever you are, find your commitment, find your passion, find who you really are –in Christ! Resolve in yourself right now, to make Him and his cause, the purpose for your highest commitment, and the reason for your deepest passion. I can tell you, that you will never be sorry.
As apostates and apostasy continues in the church, I seek new ways of pointing others to Jesus. In this new project, to which at this time I am now committed, I will strive mightily to point to our blessed Savior through the fingers and lives of those Christians who have once lived and died for Christ, and whose voices and anthems, I believe, now blend with the others from the church triumphant, and with the angels and cherubim as they circle around the throne of the Living God; “To whom be glory forever. Amen.” –MWP]