Monday, December 17, 2007

Refusing to Denounce!

Came across this sad story in church history. I wonder why we fight and kill over the most insignificant thing. Why don't we concentrate on making disciples of Christ, who will love Him supremely and preach His life-transforming Word? Why must we argue over insignificant matters, that has no direct bearing on the kingdom of God? Is the church sacraments so sacred that we must kill someone over it? Is the church programs so all-consuming that all other spiritual matters be stopped, so that we are to give preference to it? Lord, help us! May we never repeat such silly mistakes again!

In England during the 1500s, and especially during the reign of Queen Mary, the Christian Church came under terrible persecution. Many Christians including clergy were excommunicated or executed for refusing to denounce their beliefs and adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church. One of those who suffered for his faith was Thomas Hawkes.

Thomas Hawkes was born in Essex, England and later entered into the service of the Lord of Oxford. Upon the death of Edward VI, rather than change his religious beliefs to that of Queen Mary's, Hawkes left his service and returned home. After returning home Hawkes' wife gave birth to a son. Hawkes refused to have the boy baptized according to Catholic tradition and was reported to the Earl of Oxford. He was sent by the earl to Bishop Bonner of London where he answered to the charge of contempt of the sacraments.

Hawkes and Bonner argued over several practices of the Catholic Church. Other Catholic Church
officials were summoned to help persuade Hawkes to change his beliefs, but Hawkes stood firm and would not recant. On February 9, 1555 he was condemned as a heretic and stayed in prison until June 10.

Days before Hawkes was to be burned at the stake he agreed with his friends that he would lift his hands over his head if the pain was tolerable and his mind was at peace. When he was engulfed in flames and most people thought him to be dead, Hawkes suddenly raised his burning hands above his head and clapped three times. Those who understood this gesture broke into shouts of praise and applause as Thomas Hawkes sank into the fire and died.

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