The Martyr’s Cause: John Foxe and Our Gospel Embassy

By guest writer Benjamin Hawkins, Ph.D.

On Easter 1555, the zealous English evangelical[i] William Flower burst into a rage in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, when he noticed a priest administering the Mass – a rite that Flower saw as the epitome of Roman Catholic idolatry. Immediately, he struck the offending priest with his woodknife, cutting him on the head, arm and hand. Blood from the priest’s wounds, according to the martyrologist John Foxe,[ii]sprinkled onto the consecrated host of the sacrament, which the priest was carrying in a chalice. Immediately, Flower was arrested and, after his trial, was burned at the stake as a heretic.

This intriguing tale of church violence made its first appearance in Foxe’s Acts & Monuments (often called the Book of Martyrs), a colossal tome known best for its heroic tales of some 280 evangelical martyrs who suffered during the brief reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I of England.[iii]As will be seen shortly, Flower’s story takes us to the heart of Foxe’s view of martyrdom. But, for the past four-and-a-half centuries, it has been used by critics to bludgeon Foxe and discredit his reliability as a historian. In keeping with such criticisms, historian Eamon Duffy in his 2009 book, Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, depicts Flower’s bloody outburst as a “demented suicide-mission.”

Continue reading “The Martyr’s Cause: John Foxe and Our Gospel Embassy”

Packer’s Dusty Discovery at Oxford in North Gate Hall

Guest post by Jason G. Duesing.

During J. I. Packer’s second year of undergraduate studies at Oxford, he was invited to serve as the junior librarian at the Christian Union student organization. Having been converted only a year earlier, Packer was new to the Union but, as he would soon discover, so were a recent donation of books. Continue reading “Packer’s Dusty Discovery at Oxford in North Gate Hall”

Patrick of Ireland: Prepared to Proclaim

Guest Post by John Morrison

While “a young man, almost a beardless boy,” Patrick (c. 389-c.461) was abducted from his father’s villa in Britain by a band of Irish raiders who would sell him as a slave in their native land. While enslaved, Patrick would come to faith in Christ, and he would eventually escape back to his home in Britain. However, he would not stay home. He returned to the land of his captivity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through his missionary efforts, the gospel would gain a foothold in Ireland. Continue reading “Patrick of Ireland: Prepared to Proclaim”