Thursday, March 26, 2015

26 March 1555 A.D. William Hunter, Reformation Anglican, burned at the stake for Bible reading.

26 March 1555 A.D.  William Hunter, Reformation Anglican, burned at the stake for Bible reading. (Check records, it may be 27 March.)

Dr. Rusten tells the story. Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003.  Available at:
William Hunter went to London in 1553 to apprentice as a silk weaver.  Edward VI, the English Josiah, died that year.
In the same year of 1553, Mary 1, the English Jezebel, acceded the throne.
Mary was a staunch Anglo-Italian, seeking Anglicanism 1.0 (full communion with Rome with its doctrines), seeking reversals of the Reformation brought about by her half-brother, Edward VI (Anglicanism 3.0 and 5.0), seeking to root out Protestant and Reformed heretics, and reinstituting the 1401 Parliamentary act of De Haeretico Comburendo.
Hunter lost his apprenticeship for refusing communion in an Anglo-Roman parish.  He returned to his home village, Burntwood, UK.
William Hunter’s brother later wrote of an encounter between Hunter and the parish priest.
“Why meddles thou with the Bible?” he asked William.  “Canst thou expound the Scriptures?
“Father, I take not upon me to expound the Scriptures,” William replied. “But I, finding the Bible here when I came, read in it to my comfort.”
“It was never a merry world since the Bible came abroad in English,” the priest said. “I perceive your mind well enough: you are one of them that misliketh the queen’s laws. You must turn another leaf, or else you and a great sort more heretics will broil for this gear, I warrant you.”
“God give me grace that I may believe his word, and confess his name, whatsoever may come thereof,” said William.
The priest was furious.  He stormed out of the chapel. The 19-year old was arrested and remanded to a London jail. He remained in jail for 9 months with the bishop seeking his recantation and restoration to the Roman faith.  William replied, “I am not fallen from the Catholic Faith of Christ, but confess it with all my heart.” He was given 12 opportunities to change his rudders’ orders by the London bishop. Queen Mary signed the death warrant.
On the morning of 26 March 1555, William was led to the stake in the center of his hometown, Burntwood (the name is rather ironic, more like BurntWilliam).  A few details on the hometown are here:
His brother recounted the moments of the burning.
William’s father spoke to his son, weeping and saying, “God be with thee, son William.”
William said, “God be with you, good father, and be of good comfort, for we shall meet again when we shall be merry.”  William began reciting the 51st Psalm of David.
Burntwood’s Sheriff said, “Here is a letter from the Queen. If thou wilt recant, thou shalt live.”
“No,” quoth William, “I will not recant.”
He was chained to the stake.
As the flames burned, William said, “Pray for me while you see me alive, good people and I will pray for you…Son of God, shine on me…Lord, Lord, Lord, receive my spirit.”
One year later, 21 March 1556, Mr. (Canterbury) Cranmer would be taken to the stake as well for his Reformed theology.
·        What are the stats on Biblical illiteracy?

·        Is the Bible as important to __________ (fill in the blank, the name, the group, the denomination) as it was to William Hunter on 21 March 1555?

·        What’s your Bible reading regimen like?  If you don’t read it, why not?

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