The Meaning of Martyrdom – A Powerful Example of Christian Constancy

The Meaning of Martyrdom – A Powerful Example of Christian Constancy

Read about the price one martyr paid for Christianity and the Baptist beliefs in this quick one-minute read about Baptist history.

Early Life

Anne Askew lived at the same time as Joan Boucher. The two were good friends.  Like Joan, she was a Baptist, worked in the court of Henry VIII, and was known for handing out gospel tracts.  She was also the intimate friend of queen Catherine Parr.  In spite of her friendship to the queen, the Catholic bishop, Gardiner, and several catholic women in the the kingdom ultimately singled her out.

True Example

Anne was highly educated, even more than most nobility at the time.  Those she was close to knew her for her personal piety and her devotion to the Scriptures.  However, Anne’s homelife was difficult.  Anne’s older sister died while engaged to a man, so Anne’s father forced her to marry him instead.  He was a Catholic, and a bitter-spirited man.  He would get angry and toss her out into the streets if he caught her praying, often in the middle of the night.  Yet, all of those things paled in comparison to the persecution she would ultimately face due to her faith.  

Faithful Martyr

One day, upon her arrival in London, the Catholic Church took her by surprise, arrested her, and put her into prison.  She then was placed under intense questioning concerning her “heretical opinions.”  In spite of the entrapment, she answered their questions with such wisdom that those who witnessed stood in awe at her knowledge of the Scriptures and the presence of God in her life. 

This steadfastness further infuriated her captors who then introduced her to great torture by placing her on the rack, stretching her so long that the torturer refused to go any further.  The bishops then angrily began to stretch her themselves until the rack nearly tore her in two.  The lieutenant who witnessed the excessive violence secretly went to the king to tell what he saw.  The king then put an end to the barbarity.  By this point, Anne lay clumped on the floor unable to stand or even sit.

The Catholic bishops, ashamed at her steadfastness, then strapped her to a chair and carried her to the stake at Smithfield. There they burned her and sent her to her eternal reward.  John Foxe wrote of Anne, “…she slept in the Lord, 1546, leaving behind her a singular example of Christian constancy for all men to follow.”

We hope you enjoyed this piece of Baptist history authored by our pastor, Dr. Jim Willoughby, Temple Baptist Church in Kokomo, IN. For more articles like this, we invite you to visit our blog. For more information about our church, visit our homepage.

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