In 1555, at the age of 19, William Hunter was burned at the stake for believing he had the right to determine what he believed to be true. In “The Martyrs,” he is given a copy of the Bible written in English, one that he can understand. It answers his questions and gives him the strength to face what will be coming. It became the most relevant book in shaping his life. Others thought the Word was only correctly understood by those who had been trained. How relevant is God’s Word to you? Would you be willing to give your life for a conviction that the Bible’s truths belong to you? You can view a PPT slide show here including pictures of a monument to William Hunter.
I read about William in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (In preparing this update, I also saw that WikiPedia now has a page on William Hunter.) The 16th century was a time of persecution. The English monarchy felt they had the responsibility to maintain the purity of God’s church on Earth. When Catholics ruled, Protestants suffered. When Protestants ruled, Catholics were persecuted. William lived during the reign of Queen Mary, a Catholic. To hold to the belief of a protestant, as did William, was not a safe conviction. Often, people changed their professed faith based on who ruled the nation. William, at age 19, had a choice to make. Would he stand up for his right to believe as he wished? Or, faced with being burned at the stake, would he recant and live as a Catholic until the political winds changed? How strongly do you hold to your beliefs? Could you choose death by burning rather than compromising what you believe to be true? How important is God’s Word to you?
From Leonard Busher to Roger Williams, our early Baptist forefathers held to the notion that “forced worship” was “spiritual rape.” Do you hold as strong a view?
See the slide show for pictures related to William Hunter in Brentwood, England.