"KING JAMES BURNED A BAPTIST PREACHER AT THE STAKE IN 1611!

By
Bob Ross

 

RUCKMAN PAINTS KING JAMES AS "GODLY" DESPITE BURNING A BAPTIST

Someone recently sent a piece of propaganda, originating from a Pensacola, Florida fruitcake factory known as the "Bible Believers Bookstore," operated under the "Possel and Profit of the Posseltolic Faith and Order," Peter Ruckman.  The item is a circular on "King James The VI of Scotland & The I of England Unjustly Accused?" and seeks to promote a book by that title which became available September 17, 1996 from "the Bookstore" (from which Ruckman "gets no royalties," and from which he claims "King James Bible believers" have been stealing for "years").

 

This circular is just another "example" of Ruckman's KJVO entrepeneurism, whereby he seduces money from his disciples who get their "fixes" from his palabberous materials.

 

A few years ago, when I read Ruckman's "Christian Handbook of Biblical Scholarship," I was surprised to read "that the people who objected to the Authorized Version were Puritans who BURNED 'HERETICS' AT THE STAKE" [see "Church History, Vol. I, page 365"] (page 169, 170).

 

I thought perhaps I had "missed something" in my study of English history, so I consulted Ruckman's "Church History" to see what was presented in Volume I, page 365. For the life of me, I could not even find the word "Puritan" on the page! Neither could I find anything about "heretics" being burned, nor about someone's "objecting" to the AV! When I was at the 1995 Christian Booksellers Convention, I asked Bob Neidlinger, who was in-charge of Ruckman's booth, about this matter, but he couldn't find any more than I found. Bob suggested it might have been a "typographical error."

 

But the problem with Bob's suggestion is this: the ONLY PERSON who had "authority" in England to burn anyone in the early 1600's was KING JAMES! The Puritans couldn't have burned anyone if they had wanted to! Ruckman's reference contained nothing about Puritans' burning anyone because he had nothing he could write. It was simply a "ploy" to make his reader think he had elsewhere "documented" the charge.

 

Not only did James have the only authority to burn people, he did that very thing. In 1611, the year the "King James Version of the Bible" was published, King James burned a BAPTIST by the name of EDWARD WIGHTMAN at Litchfield. This fact of history is recorded in many Baptist histories, the first being that of THOMAS CROSBY, who authored the first history of English Baptists. Crosby was a member of John Gill's church, the church later pastored in the latter 1800's by C. H. Spurgeon.

 

 I herewith quote from Crosby: "The other one [burned] was Edward Wightman, A BAPTIST, of the town of Burton upon Trent, who on the 14th day of December [1610] was convicted of diverse heresies before the bishop of Coventry and Litchfield; and being delivered up to the secular power, was BURNT at Litchfield the 11th of April following." (Vol. 1, pages 108, 109).

 

This is the King who is the subject of the book which Ruckman is now peddling at his "Bookstore," and it was written in defense of King James' "Godly character," a stated in the circular. I see nothing in the folder which indicates that the author, Stephen A. Coston Sr., offers a defense of the King's burning a Baptist yet still is able to sustain his "Godly character."

 

Not only this, history says those "Puritans" were chased out of England, and the King bragged about his doing it. They went to Holland, and from there many of them came to settle in what is now New England. I also see no reference to this "godly" action by King James in Ruckman's circular.

 

From time to time, I have read Ruckman's embellishments of King James, but I have yet to read anything from him about the King's burning of Baptists and others during his reign. Ruckman does say in one of his books that King James was "more spiritual than any Pope" -- whatever that amounts to! ("Church History," Vol. II, p. 396).

 

I am not mentioning King James' burning people to reflect on the King James Bible; I am simply demonstrating that an effort to accredit the King James Bible by embellishing King James is a "non sequitur," or simply wasted effort. In fact, it might be more favorable to the KJV to never mention the "character" of King James. We have it on "good authority" (even Ruckman himself) that "A man who would burn a man at the stake for disagreeing with him doctrinally is not a man to be emulated or followed or admired" ("Hyper-Calvinism," p. 1).

 

Ruckman said that about John Calvin, and if Ruckman says that about Calvin, why wouldn't it also apply to King James?

 

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No. 214
BAPTIST MARTYR, BURNED BY KING JAMES, REMEMBERED ON ANNIVERSARY

I just received the following "forwarded message" from a well-known minister who is on my list, and this item is especially appropriate at this time -- especially in the light of the fact that a "Baptist" church in North Carolina is having Stephen Coston speak at a Conference in an effort to embellish the name of King James I of England to naive Baptists, as if to enhance the King James Bible.     Coston has a despicable article on a website, and he lists all of the allegations made against EDWARD WIGHTMAN -- every single one of them purely of a "religious" nature, and not a single one of them being truly "criminal." Wightman was burned for not endorsing the religion of King James and the Pedobaptist State-Church of England. Despite this act of intolerance, Coston defends King James as a man of "godly character," and a Baptist church in Mt. Airy, North Carolina is having Coston to present his embellishment of James at an upcoming Bible Conference.

 

After reading the following article, the "Baptist" church in North Carolina should repent in sackcloth and ashes for embellishing the King who burned a Baptist at the stake.

 

__________________________________________

 

Subj:     Saturday, April 11, 1612
Date:    98-04-11 12:04:33 EDT
From:    whitmanf@ats.it (Frederick Whitman)
To:    info@bmm.org (Baptist Mid-Missions)

 

Dear E-mail Prayer-warriors,

Today, Saturday April 11 is a very special one in my family history and I want to share it with you. It won't make the front pages of today's newspapers and I know that it is no reason to be proud because as Paul said, "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised...to bring to naught things that are:  That no flesh should glory in his presence." I Corinthians 1:27-29

 

In 17th century England, there was a tailor by the name of Edward Wightman, of whom I am a direct descendent, who converted from the Anglican Church [Church of England] to faith in Christ and the Anabaptist Movement. The first of March 1611, he was brought before King James I [Head of the Church of England], not for an autographed copy of the original KJV Bible, but to defend his faith as an Anabaptist.

 

He was then arrested and condemned as a heretic for, among other things, being an Anabaptist. The death sentence was read in the Litchfield Cathedral on the 14th of December.  He was condemned to the stake, to be burned alive.

 

The day of his execution, "Market Square" was full of spectators as Wightman was brought from the prison and chained to the stake. While his religious murderers were gathering burning embers around his feet, the silence of such a solemn moment was pierced by a blood-curdling cry.

 

The condemned heretic was pleading mercy and pledging to recant, to deny his Anabaptist position, to deny his faith, if only they would get him out of the flames! He had previously stated very eloquently that the baptism of babies was an abominable act and that Baptism and the Lord's Table should not be practiced as done by the Anglican Church. However, in this terrible moment he was ready to deny it all.

 

The penitent heretic was pulled out of the flames, with those who freed him actually being burned by the flames too, and then led back to the prison. After two weeks Wightman was brought again before the court to sign his denial papers. This time, however, having spent two weeks in the anguished soul-searching of the Apostle Peter, he was ready to stand firm for his faith, refusing to sign the denial. The court secretary wrote that he actually was "more blasphemous and audacious" than before.

 

Wightman's condemnation was renewed and he was taken again to "Market Square", where he was again chained to the stake. This time there wasn't a hint of wanting to recant. Edward Wightman was burned alive on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, April 11, 1612.

 

The martyr left his widow, Frances, with four children, Priscilla, 15, John, 13, Anna, 3 and Samuel who was 8 months old. The family then moved to London and the next generation left for the American colonies.

 

Valentine Wightman started the first Baptist church in Connecticut as well as in New York. Valentine's son Timothy followed in his dad's footsteps pastoring churches in Connecticut, organizing the second Baptist Church in that colony. Valentine's grandson John Gano* [see note] pastored in the same state, organizing the Third Baptist Church of Groton.

 

May God grant each of us the courage to leave an inheritance like this to our children and the children of our children. Have a great Easter as you celebrate our Lord's Resurrection. There is reason to rejoice!

 

*************************************
Yours for Christ in Italy,
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Fred & Rachel Whitman
Jonathan, Jeremy, Joshua & Elizabeth
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Baptist Mid-Missions, Italy
C.P. 34
06132 San Sisto (PG)
Italy
*************************************
Ph./Fx. -- (075) 528-9287
E-Mail -- whitmanf@ats.it
*************************************

 

No. 220
MORE ABOUT THE BURNING OF EDWARD WIGHTMAN BY KING JAMES

 

In an article which was sent to me as a "forward," and which I forwarded to my own list on April 18, the following statement was made:  Valentine Wightman started the first Baptist church in Connecticut as well as in New York. Valentine's son Timothy followed in his dad's footsteps pastoring churches in Connecticut, organizing the second Baptist Church in that colony. Valentine's grandson John Gano* [see note] pastored in the same state, organizing the Third Baptist Church of Groton.

 

In my "note," I referred to information about "John Gano," but it has been called to my attention that I was mistaken in my "note," since the "John Gano" in the above paragraph was actually a reference to "John Gano Wightman," who evidently was "named-after" the John Gano who lived in the 1700's and baptized George Washington. In checking on this in some of the historical sources, I also came across some rather interesting material in regard to the burning of Edward Wightman during the reign of King James; those of you who are interested in Christian history might like to read the following.

 

Of particulate interest is the presentation of the martyrdom of Edward Wightman, written by David Benedict, the well-known Baptist historian of the early 1800's, who spent about two years traveling nearly seven thousand miles in the eastern and southern states of this continent, collecting materials for his historical work. Here is what Benedict wrote about the burning of Wightman and other persecution against the "non-conformists" who differed with the "Church of England" during the reign of King James:

 

The last man who was put to death in England for religion was a Baptist. His name was Edward Wightman, and is supposed to be the progenitor of a large family of that name in America, many of whom have been members of different Baptist churches in Rhode Island, and the neighboring States of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and not a few of them worthy ministers in our churches.

 

Mr. Wightman was of the town of Burton upon Trent, he was convicted of divers heresies before the bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, and being delivered over to the secular power, was burnt at Litchfield, April 11th, 1612.

 

This poor man was accused by his persecutors with Arianism, Anabaptism, and almost every other heretical ism, that ever infected the Christian world. He was condemned for holding the wicked heresies of the Ebionites, Cerinthians, Valentinians, Arians, Macedonians, of Simon Magus, Manes, Manicheus, Photinus, and of the Anabaptists, and of other heretical, execrable, and unheard of opinions.

 

"If," says [Thomas] Crosby, " Wightman really held all the opinions laid to his charge, he must have been either an idiot or a madman, and ought to have had the prayers of his persecutors rather than been put to a cruel death."

 

From the death of William Sawtre, who was burnt in London, to the time that Edward Wightman perished in the flames at Litchfield, was a period of two hundred and twelve years. We have very good grounds for believing that Sawtre was a Baptist, we are sure that Wightman was, and thus it appears that the Baptists have had the honour of leading the van, and bringing up the rear, of that part of the noble army of English martyrs, who have laid down their lives at the stake.

 

It is now about two hundred years [published in 1813] since Wightman, with his enormous load of heresies, was committed to the purifying flames. Almost half of this time, the Baptists in England were, for the most part, in an uncertain state; what earthly enjoyments they possessed were held by a precarious tenure, and persecution and distress were their common lot. They had indeed some short intervals of repose, but these were succeeded by tempestuous seasons, and the cup of affliction was dealt out to them by their enemies in plenteous measure.

 

We have observed that Edward Wightman was the last man who suffered death for religion in England. But this statement needs some qualification. He was indeed the last who suffered death for conscience's sake by a direct course of law; but multitudes since him, both Baptists and others, have died in prisons, and came by their ends by the various  methods of legal persecutions, and lawless outrage, with which implacable adversaries pursued them. Thousands have suffered by fines, scourging, and imprisonment, been driven to exile, starvation, and wretchedness, by a protestant power, which professed to have separated from the mother of harlots, and to have renounced the works of darkness. Of many of these sufferers we have obtained
some information, but the history of many others must remain unknown, until that tremendous day, when the righteous Judge of the universe shall make INQUISITION FOR BLOOD. [A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict, Vol. 1, pages 196, 197].

 

In view of both the martyrdom of Wightman and the other physical persecutions enacted during the reign of King James, it is incredible that people such as Stephen Coston, Peter Ruckman, Larry Phillips, Gail Riplinger, and Tracy Broadhurst, are involved in a "campaign" to in effect "beatify" King James.  Despite James' record as "Head" of the Church-State in England, in which position he ordered the burning of men at the stake and approved other acts of cruelty against the "non-conformists" for nothing more "criminal" than holding religious views ["heresies"] which conflicted with the views of the "Church of England," the estranged "daughter" of the Roman Catholic Church, these modern "defenders" of James seem to think that they embellish the "King James Bible" by embellishing James himself.

 

I wish to once again call attention to the Internet website which carries the despicable defense, written by Stephen Coston, of King James' burning alleged "heretics" for no specified "crime" than alleged religious "heresy." The URL is --  http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/guilty.htm

 

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