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Monday, June 02, 2008

Why Were Our Reformers Burned?

Taken From "Light from Old Times" by J.C. Ryle

There are certain facts in history which the world tries hard to forget and ignore. These facts get in the way of some of the world's favorite theories and are highly inconvenient. The consequence is that the world shuts its eyes against them. They are either cut dead as vulgar intruders, or passed by as tiresome bores. Little by little they sink out of sight of the students of history, like ships in a distant horizon, or are left behind like a luggage train in a siding. Of such facts the subject of this paper is a vivid example: “The Burning of our English Reformers; and the Reason why they were Burned.”

It is fashionable in some quarters to deny that there is any such thing as certainty about religious truth, or any opinions for which it is worth while to be burned. Yet, 300 years ago, there were men who were certain they had found out truth, and were content to die for their opinions. It is fashionable in other quarters to leave out all the unpleasant things in history and to paint everything with a rose-colored hue. A very popular history of our English Queens hardly mentions the martyrdoms of Queen Mary's days! Yet Mary was not called “Bloody Mary” without reason, and scores of Protestants were burned in her reign. Last but not least, it is thought very bad taste in many quarters to say anything which throws discredit on the Church of Rome.

Yet it is as certain that the Romish church burned our English Reformers as it is that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings. These difficulties meet me face to face as I walk up to the subject which I wish to unfold in this paper. I know their magnitude, and I cannot evade them. I only ask my readers to give me a patient and indulgent hearing. After all, I have great confidence in the honesty of Englishmen's minds. Truth is truth, however long it may be neglected. Facts are facts, however long they may lie buried. I only want to dig up some old facts which the sands of time have covered over, to bring to the light of day some old English monuments which have been long neglected, to unstop some old wells which the prince of this world has been diligently filling with earth. I ask my readers to give me their attention for a few minutes, and I trust to be able to show them that it is good to examine the question, “Why were our Reformers burned?”



Let me say up front that no one to my knowledge is calling for the burning of our Baptist Reformers in the SBC today... and the persecution that many in the Reformed movement have faced over the last 20 years in the SBC pales in comparison to that faced by our forefathers. And yet there are similarities between the two that cannot be denied.



When Ryle says “There are certain facts in history which the world tires hard to forget and ignore. These facts get in the way of some of the world's favorite theories and are highly inconvenient. The consequence is that the world shuts its eyes against them.” he could just have easily been describing all those anti-Calvinist in the SBC today who try hard to forget and ignore the fact that the SBC was founded by “Convinced and Committed Calvinist”.

When Ryle says “It is fashionable in some quarters to deny that there is any such thing as certainty about religious truth, or any opinions for which it is worth while to be burned. Yet, 300 years ago, there were men who were certain they had found out truth, and were content to die for their opinions." he is summing up the convictions of the modern day Reformed movement in the SBC that are certain they have found out truth and are content to suffer the loss of prestige and position in the convention for those convictions.

When Ryle says “It is fashionable in other quarters to leave out all the unpleasant things in history and to paint everything with a rose-colored hue... (and) it is thought very bad taste in many quarters to say anything which throws discredit on the Church of Rome.” he is accurately describing the attitude of many in the SBC today (like the leadership of the Florida Baptist Convention, and the BOT of the IMB) that think any and all criticism must be silenced and all opposition to their personal convictions and will for the convention must be squashed.

Those who will not learn from history are destine to repeat it... be it Fundamentalist in the SBC or the Bloody Marys of the Church of Rome; blatant disrespect for the religious opinions and convictions of others has always been the fuel that burns the fires of persecution and the narrowing of the parameters of cooperation. (more soon)

Grace Always,
Greg Alford

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

it is sad how the SBC has strayed from the truth of her founding fathers. The only cure for apostasy is Judgment.

It's time to come out and be separate obeying our Lord's clear command.

Paul W. Foltz DD

G. Alford said...

Paul,

When John Sullivan had the audacity to tell the Florida Baptist Convention that he was going to impose a ban on anyone serving in the convention who did not hold to a total abstinence from alcohol conviction and that he “was not taking a poll” on the issue... a new day had dawned in the Florida Baptist Convention.

The Neo-Fundamentalist of Jacksonville (especially John Sullivan), like the Church of Roman in times past, have shown themselves the enemy of our Historic Baptist Principles of Church Autonomy, Cooperation, and Religious Liberty as expressed in articles VI, XIV, and XVII of our Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

VI. The Church
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel...

XIV. Cooperation
Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner...

XVII. Religious Liberty
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it...

If the Pope had issued this decree concerning the Catholic Church I might not find it so utterly absurd... But it was not issued by the Pope of Rome, it was issued by a Baptist who, by the Florida Churches submission to his decree, has been given the unfettered authority of a Baptist Bishop... When it comes down to it there is not much difference in a Catholic Pope and a Baptist Bishop.

I for one will not kiss the ring of either...

Grace Always,
Greg Alford