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Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

July 14, 2007

Other than the Bible, I feel that this book is one of the most important books a Christian can read.  Originally written by a man named John Foxe, this book takes a view of church history through those who have shed their blood for the Christian faith.  There are three main reasons to read this book:

1.  As mentioned above, Foxes’ book gives a great overview of church history from the Apostles to the Reformation through the lives and deaths of Christians who died for their belief in Christ.  This gives you a view of Christianity and how it grew through trial.  You see Christianity grew through the eyes of the participants, through the eyes of those who suffered to make it happen.  It is a unique history – while most histories take a bird’s eye view, Foxes’ book takes a micro view – one life at a time.

2.  Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is filled with examples of faith.  These are people who loved Jesus so much that they were willing to die for him.  Many of these men had done great things for the gospel, and sealed that testimony with their lives.  They stood against powerful institutions, ones that, if you know your history, ended up falling before the banner of Christ.  They stood against wrong understandings of the Bible, even if that stance cost them their lives.  This is especially important in America, where Christianity has not faced any opposition like this in years.  We need to see those willing to give all for their faith – we need to count the cost, not just here in the US, but the historical cost of Christianity as well.  Who is to say that we may not be called to same sacrifices someday?  Foxe’s Book of Martyrs inspires us to greater faith – if God could help these people stand, he will be there for us.

3.  Finally, you should read this book is to see what the church is built around.  You can see by reading this book how, throughout the centuries, despite the different historical periods, there are people willing to stand for the gospel.  The gospel is a timeless truth, and it is encouraging to see that.

I also encourage reading a similar book published in the 20th or 21st centuries.  The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs updated by Harold Chadwick is a good one, as is Jesus Freaks.  Both give a great overview of modern persecution -Chadwick’s goes chronologically, which is helpful – you get to see when these stories took place.  Jesus Freaks can be read as a series of stories, out of order, but great if you want to read one at a time to a group of people.  This has been my form of bedtime stories at an all boys camp for years.  Boys love these types of stories, and they are inspiring.  (You do have to be careful, though, lest you end up talking at length about how someone was boiled in oil, or had something gruesome done to them.)  Either way, along with Foxe’s book, you should pick up something that will let you know how much the church is still suffering today throughout the world.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2007 7:18 pm

    I didn’t know you had a blog. I love the look, and I’ll be back.


  2. July 16, 2007 2:38 pm

    Great book makes you think and consider the things worth dying for. I wouldn’t however call it a great view of church history as it only recalls a limited view from one such sect of christianity. It is a bunch of protestants being martyred by the Catholics but historically a few years later those same protestants began persecuting and killing Anabaptists and Quakers (that other guy named Fox).

    Like I said, great book, but definitely written from a biased perspective. I don’t know many Catholics (or Anabaptists) who have this book on their top ten list.

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