photo by squeakymarmot
Ready for some light reading to do with your older children? Something to use as filler that lends an air of sweetness and frivolity to your family devotions?
This ain’t it.
Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs will make you shudder and may even make you weep (it did me), but if you have an iota of faith, it should strengthen you in your conviction to stand firm for the cause of Christ. And therein lies the reason for using it as a teaching tool with your children.
The book was originally published in 1563 (yes, 1563, not 1963) as an account of the persecutions of Christians, mainly in England. It begins with a retelling of what happened to the apostles as they started the early church, all of them meeting a cruel demise for their belief except for John. From there it goes into members of the early church who were martyred in wave upon wave of persecution as Roman emperors seemed willing to outdo their predecessors in cruelty.
Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs is emotionally a hard read. Believers were crucified, beheaded, burnt at the stake, beaten and tortured in unimaginable ways, all because they wouldn’t renounce Jesus as the Son of God, refute the truth of the Bible, or back down from their conviction that faith comes from a personal relationship with the Lord.
As such I would use the book with mature older elementary children at the youngest, but middle and high school students should be able to handle the nature of the text and glean some of the following points with discussion led by you:
- Others have paid a price for our ability to read God’s Word for ourselves;
- Our faith may come at a cost if we’re strong enough to withstand the onslaught of the world;
- These were regular average people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, but stood up to the trial as heroes to the death;
- These people were our family, brothers and sisters in every sense. Their suffering, however long ago, should be our suffering, their joy our joy.
- There are still people in the world today who suffer for their Christian belief, much as their predecessors did hundreds of years ago.
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