Thursday, August 27, 2009

Martyrdom of a friend.

My previous two entries have been historical accounts of people who lost their lives for their faith in the area of England where I spent my childhood.

I now want to make note of another martyrdom that was even closer to home than those above, it happened almost exactly 20 years ago, in August 1989.

I met Jackie Hamill in the mid 1980s. She was a student at the bible college run by Vision Ministries Australia, which at the time was based in Parramatta to the west of Sydney.
The college held regular Saturday night meetings that were open to the public and every couple of weeks I’d make the hour and a half drive to attend. Jackie always made sure that my friends and I felt welcome with her cheerful greeting. Of all of the students, she is the only one I remembered, so it was quite a shock when years later I saw her on the evening news.
She was huddled with a group of people taken hostage by rioting prisoners at a Philippines Jail. In the news footage, the group were being shuffled around the front of a building at gunpoint. Jackie and the others had been taking the gospel to the inmates of the prison when the riot began.

According to reports, she and other female hostages were raped repeatedly, yet witnesses said that throughout the horrific ordeal she continued to sing praise to God and to share the gospel with the others present.
After three days there was a shootout between the prisoners and the authorities. In the exchange Jackie was mortally wounded but continued to sing until her life finally slipped away.

A more vivid account and other details can be found at the following links (but note the dating inaccuracy found in one report:,759751,4671400

Monday, August 24, 2009

Edward Wightman: Last “Heretic” Burned

Continuing from the previous entry about Joan Waste, I came across another “martyr” from the region where I spent my childhood. This time I put the word “martyr” in quotes because of uncertainty about the man and his beliefs. Accounts of his life vary significantly.
My particular interest came about after reading that he was born in Burton-on –Trent (my own birthplace), but elsewhere it is stated that he was born in Burbage, Leicestershire and later moved to Burton.

His particular claim to fame is being the last “heretic” to be executed by burning in England.

Edward Wightman was executed in 1612, not by the Catholic Church of Queen Mary, but by the Church of England under the instruction of King James I. The nature of his heresy differs according to which account you read (more contradictory evidence!). He was charged with eleven distinct heresies, including his belief that "the baptising of infants is an abominable custom” and that “Christianity is not wholly professed and preached in the Church of England”.

He was also accused of denying the Trinity. At least one source questions this denial – suggesting that instead he merely objected to the wording of the common creeds regarding their statements about the Trinity

Some of the other charges against him were so extreme that it was said: “if Edward really held all the opinions of which he was accused, he would have been either an idiot or a madman, and, if so, he ought to have had the prayers of his persecutors rather than to have them put him to a cruel death.” Maybe this statement could be seen as questioning the legitimacy of some of the accusations made against him.

Wightman was sentenced to death by burning. On the first attempt to carry out the sentence, as the flames began to burn his flesh, he began to shout out something that was interpreted as a renunciation of his beliefs. He was pulled from the flames under the assumption that he was agreeing to submit to the faith of the Church of England.

After his rescue from the stake he continued preaching his “heresies” and after a few weeks was returned to the stake and burned on 11 April 1612 at Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Descendents of Wightman has written accounts of their ancestor at:

other details can be found at

Martyred For Resisting Man’s Theology: Joan Waste

I’ve been doing some reading about the history of the area where I spent my childhood. I was born in Burton-on Trent in England and for my first 13 years lived in South Derbyshire.
I was interested to come across the story of Joan Waste, a blind woman who was martyred for her faith during the reign of Queen Mary.

Even though she was blind she wanted a bible of her own, intending to find someone who would read it to her. Despite the expense she worked and saved until she was able to afford a New Testament. She then had the problem of finding someone willing to read to her on a daily basis. Eventually she found an old man in Derby jail, imprisoned for not paying his debts. He appreciated her visits and read to her on a daily basis until his health started to fail.

She then turned to the Clerk of All Saints Church (now Derby Cathedral) and persuaded him to read to her. When he was not available others would charge her a penny to read a few chapters. A penny was about a full days pay

Joan started memorising passages of scripture and began to speak out against false religion which abounded at the time.

Edward VI died in early 1553 and his Roman Catholic sister Mary became Queen. Almost straight away attendance at the Roman Catholic Mass was once again made compulsory and Protestantism was denounced. Joan refused to attend mass and at twenty two years of age was summoned to appear before the Bishop on a charge of Heresy.

Joan declared that she believed only the things taught by Scripture and told them was also ready to give her life for her faith rather than embrace Catholicism.

The order was given to burn Joan to death. She was taken away to a place called the Windmill Pit on the Burton Road in Derby where, holding her brother's hand, she prepared herself for execution.

She was hanged over the fire with a rope and she fell into the fire when the rope burned through.
There is a memorial to her in Birchover church Derbyshire. The place where she was executed is now the site of a Roman Catholic Church.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scripture under attack again.

Yet again I’ve come across an argument intended to reduce the importance of the Bible in the believer’s life. Not surprisingly it came from someone whose faith is based upon a theological system instead of the revelation of God that we have been given through scripture.

The argument mentions the billions of Christians throughout history who didn’t have access to the Bible and uses their example as a reason why it’s not necessary for US to pay too much attention to scripture.

The fact is that we DO have access to the Bible and as such we have no excuse for ignoring it. The generations that didn't have access to the bible will not be held accountable for what they did not have.

It's amazing that those who DO have easy access to the WHOLE of scripture (and usually multiple copies) are the ones who create reasons for ignoring most of it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Global Sustainability. Saving the Planet. Possible or Not?

I came across the following article on a site dedicated to sustainable living.

I think the article brings to light some interesting points.
Firstly there is awareness that the world and its people can not be sustained for much longer if current trends continue.
In other words, the planet earth and its inhabitants are in for some significant changes. Either mankind (particularly those of us in the WEST) will have to willingly make some harsh and painful changes to our lifestyles, or those changes will be made for us.
The natural resources upon which our prosperous and comfortable lives have been built are rapidly being depleted.

In the article, the writer mentions our reliance on oil – not only for fuel but for “everything in this modern era”. So many man-made materials are oil based. Lose the oil and we not only lose our mobility and our source for heating, we lose commonly used fibres and plastics. Many commonly used products also have an oil base: toothpastes, shampoos and medications. Most of our food production is heavily reliant on oil-based fertilizers and herbicides…

But oil is not the only commodity heading for crisis. In recent years (and even months) I’ve read about water and food shortages. Not so long ago I lived in Sydney and at the time predictions were made that it could become the first major city to run out of water. Its major water source had fallen to less than 40% of capacity with no immediate sign of change. Rainfall in recent years has seen that situation turn around, but for a time the vulnerability of a major water supply was highlighted.

Concerns are also being expressed about food shortages. Some say it is a greater threat than climate change while others blame climate change for the shortages.

The article makes suggestions for action that could halt and maybe reverse what seems to be inevitable. The suggestions may seem harsh and unrealistic, but they also give an indication of how the world’s situation has become so desperate. Take some of the suggestions and reverse their emphasis and we can see the behaviours and attitudes that have led to the crisis being faced.
Basically mankind has taken the easy immediate option and has acted to make life as easy as possible NOW, giving no thought for the sustainability of their existentialist emphasis. As long as it benefits US in the NOW we have given no thought of the future, knowing that we won’t personally be around to face the consequences. However, that future had to arrive some time and it could very well be sooner than we had hoped.

Anonymous comments made at the end of the article suggest that:

“There is one word for the cause of what is happening to our Earth, and that is ‘sin’. If you read your Bible you can find out what is going on, why, and how we can fix it, though that won't happen, once again, because of sin.”

It is likely that those comments won’t be given much consideration by most readers of the article. Some will see them as merely another fundamentalist spouting ill-informed religious opinion. Therefore the link will not be made between the “sin” that “anonymous” mentioned and the selfish drive for more more more for me me me that is so obviously behind the anticipated crisis.
What is sin but doing things MY WAY for my immediate perceived benefit no matter what the consequences may be for others? Sin is man considering himself and his own immediate comfort and pleasure no matter what the long-term cost may be.

Biblically, man was introduced to sin through an act of rebellion against God, committed in a perfect paradise where mankind had need of nothing. Every necessity was provided. Yet man gave in to a desire for more than he was due and he took what seemed to be the most expedient way of obtaining it. He gave in to the offer of something NOW – ignoring the warning he had been given of the ultimate price that would be paid for trying to obtain it.

And what was that ultimate price? For mankind it was death. In a spiritual sense it separated mankind from the intimate relationship they’d had with their Creator, to the point where there is often no acknowledgement at all that there IS a Creator.
Denial of God's existence is a major symptom of that spiritual death, a denial through which mankind can abrogate all responsibility towards both Creator and His creation.
The price imposed on creation was a subjection to "frustration", and "bondage to decay". The world has been heading downhill since man’s first act of rebellion and now it’s becoming more noticeable.

“Anonymous” said “If you read your bible you can find out what is going on…” and that is true. The decline and degradation of this planet was foretold thousands of years ago, as were the physical effects and political fallout of that decline. Significantly, even then, the decline was attributed to mankind’s rebellion against the Creator; at a time when mans’ effect on the earth was barely noticeable. At a time when the technological, economic and philosophical developments of the past century and a half could not have even entered the human mind.
It is those relatively recent developments that made it possible for our current situation, in which mankind has come dependent upon very tenuous resources to fuel a ravenously selfish pursuit of comfort and pleasure.

Since the Bible made these things known, should we therefore consider what the Bible reveals about the outcome of the predicted degradation of the planet? The news may not be encouraging for those who have hopes that mankind could turn the situation around. But the reality is not as grim as some would suppose. There is reason for hope.

The Bible describes creation as “waiting” for an appointed time. It promises that it WILL be liberated from its “bondage to decay”. Its current state is depicted as “groaning as in the pains of childbirth”; but all of the optimism expressed in these statements is not dependent on mankind’s efforts. The answer lies in the Creator alone.
He has provided the means of putting everything right. The effects of man’s sin (his rebellion) will one day be erased from His creation. He has made a way for man to be cleansed and freed of the sin that set everything in motion; the sin that is at the root of the decay and degradation of the planet and its inhabitants.
The world’s crisis can not be solved by attending to the symptoms. The Creator is dealing with the root cause. The means of dealing with the cause can be found in the person of Jesus Christ, revealed to us through the account given in both the Old and New Testaments.

While observing our world today, there is genuine reason for a lot of “doom and gloom”, but if we look to the Creator for His answer instead of to our own questionable resources, we will see that there is an offer available to become part of something much more glorious than this creation has yet known.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is YOUR Relationship with Scripture?

An interesting article can be found here:

I Love the Bible

The writer starts with the following paragraph:

“For the third time in my life as a disciple of Jesus I have been accused of a serious sin: I love the Bible too much! Now before you go and start laughing, let me tell the stories of my three accusations.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve come across the same kind of thing. It seems like some “Christians” will make all kind of excuses to distance themselves from scripture.
I totally agree with the writer's rhetorical question: "How do we know we are meeting the real Jesus apart from knowing the Scriptures?"

On the other hand I have also come across those who in their zeal for the scriptures seem to overlook the fact that the scriptures are NOT an end in themselves. Scripture is a revelation of God, showing us who He is, what He is like and how He relates to mankind. Scripture also reveals God’s intentions and His purposes for his creation.
Unfortunately many use the scriptures for their own reasons – to support their own philosophies and theologies. I have found that the Bible is not primarily a doctrinal book (though all true doctrine has its foundation in scripture), instead it is an account of God’s relationship with mankind, demonstrated through real life stories and situations.

Some years ago I wrote an article “The Essential Scriptures our Defence Against Deception”
to answer some of the anti-scripture “wisdom”.

Thursday, August 06, 2009



In the comments section of an earlier topic I was accused of having a:
“…theology of an impotent little god that can only wring his hands hoping some sinners might look towards what he hopes for them but cannot accomplish."

Compare this to the type of theology held by the accuser, of a God who can only obtain the glory He feels to be His due by condemning billions to an eternity in hell, for no reason other than they fulfilled the destiny He had predetermined for them.
A God who can only obtain a people by “stacking the deck” – forcing people to follow Him through exerting a mythical force known as “Irresistible grace”.

I am well and truly fed up of the pathetic “wisdom” and theologies of man – through which God is maligned and His ways perverted: all to satisfy man’s theological ego.

Do people think that God is so desperate for people to be saved that he would “wring his hands hoping some sinners might look towards what He hopes for them…” or that His need to see some saved was so strong that He would actively ensure that a specially chosen minority HAD to follow Him?

It is mans’ UNDERSTANDING of God and His gospel that is pathetic and impotent.

No, you worshipers of man’s theological “wisdom” – God is not impotent. He is not desperate. He is not a tyrant.

He is GENUINELY sovereign and has never needed any man to follow Him. Instead He has CHOSEN to demonstrate His love and His merciful nature by reaching out to mankind with the offer of an opportunity to enter a new creation.

His gospel is a result of His extravagant generosity; it is not a display of desperate need.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I want to express some thoughts about the Peter Hansen article “Where did the gospel go.

On first reading I was a bit wary of statements like these made by Hansen:

“People are seriously desperate for finding a deeper meaning, hope and inner peace. This world seems to have everything to offer, but in reality is more out of control morally and spiritually than ever. I can boldly say that this world needs the full gospel message of Jesus Christ. Not another sermon or conference about self happiness, but the pure full gospel of salvation. That is the one and only thing that can bring peace to the mind and restore the soul.”(my emphasis)

I could see too much of a similarity between THAT kind of gospel and the “gospel” of the “seeker sensitive” churches: “…that feel good gospel, a light lukewarm message that only talks about happiness, prosperity, self-development and “me, me and me” instead of “Him, Him and Him!” This seemed to maintain the focus upon human need, as if the gospel was offering a freedom from that need and providing some kind of fulfilment to humanity.

How easy it is to get caught up with religious attitudes until those attitudes cloud our minds to the truth!

Yes, there maybe some APPARENTLY common elements between the gospel Hansen promotes, (a gospel “that can bring peace to the mind and restore the soul”) and the gospel of the seeker sensitive church that he berates. Both gospels aim to provide something to mankind.
Many would see that aim as being too man-centred and not focused enough on God. And I confess that is the way I saw it at first, hence my initial reservations. But after a while I started to see things differently and I realised how much those reservations were baseless.

I have spent so much time refuting the errors of Calvinism and its God-maligning, man-belittling views that I had started to overlook the fact that God’s gospel is very much man-focused. Without man and man’s need for salvation there would be no need for a gospel. The gospel is God’s message of salvation to bring freedom to mankind. The gospel is God’s message of the benefits He has graciously provided for mankind.

At the start of His own ministry Jesus proclaimed:

Luke 4: 18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news [the gospel] to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Dare we suggest that Jesus gospel was too man-centred because it focused on human need?

The gospel is God’s message offering salvation to mankind. And in case someone missed the point I’ll emphasis it: it is GOD’S gospel. It is about GOD sovereignly acting in love towards mankind.
How easy it is to become overly “pious” in our attempt to glorify God and we can effectively deny the very purpose of the gospel. The intention to glorify God has the opposite effect when His gracious love demonstrated towards mankind is pushed into the backseat (if not out of the rear window).

What is the most significant difference between the two gospels mentioned above?
It is not so much what benefits are available to mankind through the gospel, but what does the gospel require of mankind to enable the receiving of those benefits. Hansen’s message can perhaps be summarised in the following paragraph from his article:

“It is so easy for self-proclaimed prophets to make up weird crazy doctrines and get thousands of followers, because in many churches there is a great lack of Christian discipleship based on the word of God. The focus on Jesus and his teaching and
discipleship has been replaced with “feel-good teachings” that totally lacks the important teachings about repentance, sin, hell, grace and holiness.”

While the gospel IS directed towards mankind, offering mankind benefits we can’t fully understand; OUR RESPONSE to God’s gospel MUST be focused ON CHRIST, in accordance with the conditions HE has established.