Introduction: The Pure Persecuted Church

Adrian Chastain Weimer

in Martyrs' Mirror

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199743117
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918744 | DOI:
Introduction: The Pure Persecuted Church

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Martyrs were central to early modern Protestants’ understandings of Christian history. The lineage of the persecuted church was rooted in apocalyptic prophecy which foretold a bloody battle between Antichrist and the saints. It was also rooted in post-biblical martyrological traditions—from the early church to the Lollards to the Marian martyrs. Martyrs represented an ideal of holiness as they resisted unjust power, defended true belief, and found ecstatic communion with God through their cheerful suffering. An analysis of moments when both English puritans and separatists wrestled with the heritage of martyrdom shows how Protestants continued to appropriate the figures of the martyrs, even when individual martyrs’ lives or ecclesiologies became problematic. This shared imagination of martyrdom had profound implications for Calvinists’ adjustment to political power and for the cultural history of tolerance and intolerance.

Keywords: apocalyptic; prophecy; Antichrist; saints; Marian martyrs; holiness; cheerful suffering; persecutors; intolerance; Calvinist; religious freedom

Chapter.  7249 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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