Not To Be Muzzled | Devotional
Perfect love drives out fear.
1 John 4:18
1531: In the Middle Ages most churches in Europe, especially the great cathedrals, had relics of some saint—these could be teeth, bones, pieces of clothing, a sword or axe by which the saint was martyred, and so forth.
Typically a relic was small and encased in a gold or silver container called a reliquarium.
People were very superstitious about relics, and because they were used to inspire piety, there was a brisk trade in them, with large churches competing to obtain relics of the most important saints.
It sounds very silly to us, but to medieval Christians it was a part of church life they took seriously. Then in the 1520s a young English pastor began to preach against the cult of relics.
His name was Thomas Bilney who, while he was studying for the ministry at Cambridge University, was struck by reading 1 Timothy 1:15: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
Young Bilney was not the first nor last Christian to apply those words to himself. This marked his conversion, and soon he came to accept the new Protestant teachings of Martin Luther.
Like Luther, he opposed the ridiculous cult of relics. Cardinal Wolsey, England’s most powerful church official, called Bilney in and ordered him to cease such preaching.
Bilney complied but not for long. He began preaching Protestant views again, and one Sunday he was literally dragged out of the pulpit and imprisoned in the Tower of London for a year. The time in prison broke him, and he recanted of his views.
But after his release, he realized he could not cease preaching the truth, and once again he taught Protestant doctrines—not in churches, since he was barred from them, but in the open fields.
Because the church regarded him as a relapsed heretic, he was burnt at the stake on August 19, 1531, one of the first Protestant martyrs of England.
Prayer: Father, make us grateful for our spiritual forefathers who were valiant for the truth. Amen.
J. Stephen Lang's favorite game is Trivial Pursuit, and his favorite book is the Bible. Lang is a best-selling author whose titles include: Know the Bible in 30 Days, The Complete Book of Bible Trivia, 1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About the Bible, etc.