Heroes from the past | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Heroes from the past

BOOKS | An update to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Heroes from the past
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get started for as low as $3.99 per month.

Current WORLD subscribers can log in to access content. Just go to "SIGN IN" at the top right.


Already a member? Sign in.

The New Book of Christian Martyrs: The Heroes of Our Faith From the 1st Century to the 21st Century (Tyndale 2023) by Johnnie Moore and Jerry Pattengale could be titled Encyclopedia of Christian Martyrs.

The authors offer more than 500 pages of martyr history, with short biographies and historical context of key eras. Pattengale is an archaeologist, a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, and an award-winning sports journalist. Co-author Johnnie Moore is a ­religious freedom and human rights activist.

Their book updates the classic Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. The authors give excellent background to times of persecution, explaining, for example, why the Roman Catholic Church would persecute Bible translators such as William Tyndale.

Some historians knock heroes off pedestals. Pattengale and Moore wisely identify heroism as real, such as that of David Livingstone. They acknowledge heroes’ weaknesses without dwelling on them.

The book also connects history to current events. The authors see an interesting parallel between the 16th-century scholar Erasmus and Bob Briner’s book Roaring Lambs about the pursuit of Christ’s Lordship in the 20th-century marketplace.

In another link to current events, the authors set historical context for recent martyrdom in the Middle East and Africa. The Associated Press story tells you who was killed, where, when, and how, but this book tells the reader why.

The chapter on the 19th century mentions “alleged progress” as missionaries suffered in lands far from England. Yet the progress was better than alleged. England made huge forward strides from 1730 to 1880, abolishing slavery, sobering up from alcohol abuse, rebuilding families, and growing a middle class. Americans often miss this story because of our war for independence from the British. Books such as England Before and After Wesley tell the rest of the great British story.

Despite that flaw, the authors are very thorough in their coverage of these sad stories. The reading is sometimes gruesome, but the authors work in the worthy tradition of Hebrews 11:36: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.”

Russ Pulliam

Russ is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star, the director of the Pulliam Fellowship, and a member of the WORLD News Group board of directors.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...