Christian History Institute

Sharing our story of faith across the ages

items tagged with persecution

Timeline

In Context

  1. I am the wheat of God and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.
    Ignatius of Antioch (died ca. 107), in his letter to the Romans.

Study Modules

Productions

Pocket Classics

  • The Lyons Martyrs and Their Persecution

    1994

    During the second century, the church in Lyons, France, came under severe persecution. This letter describes their horrifying ordeal. (Call 1-800-468-0458 to order)

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Books

  • From Christ to Constantine (Out of Print)

    1991

    by A Kenneth Curtis and Carsten Thiede. An image-packed look at the trials and testimony of the early church. (Out of print.)

DVDs

  • The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church

    1990

    From Christ to Constantine; Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. The first three centuries were decisive for Christianity. The existence of the church was threatened by powerful opponents. These programs bring you close to the early believers.

    AWARDS

    • Chris Award from Columbus International Film & Video Festival
    • Gold Award from Houston International Film & Video Festival
    • Silver Angel from Angel Awards
    • Golden Eagle Award from CINE
    • Best Series from Christian Visual Media International

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  • The Torchlighters: The Richard Wurmbrand Story

    2008

    Animated account of Richard Wurmbrand who suffered in prison under the Communists in Romania and went on to found The Voice of the Martyrs.

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Magazine Issues

Articles

14 Nov 2016

Reformation of the refugees

by Edwin Woodruff Tait | Issue 120

A very minor play from the 1590s about the life of Sir Thomas More has one not-so-minor part: a monologue Shakespeare may have penned about a 1517 event, but sounding ripped from today’s headlines. In the play English rioters try to drive out French, Belgian, and Italian refugees, complaining that the strangers will “infect the city with the palsey” by importing their strange new diet (parsnips and pumpkins). 

The character More responds: “Imagine that you see the wretched strangers, / Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage, /...

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15 Aug 1990

From the Archives: Pliny’s Letter to Emperor Trajan

by Pliny the Younger | Issue 27

Pliny “the Younger” (so named to distinguish him from his uncle, Pliny the Elder, a famous Roman procurator and author) was appointed governor of Bithynia c. 110-111. While serving, he consulted the emperor Trajan forty-two times in eighteen months, and on one occasion, he asked about how to treat Christians.

It is my rule, Sire, to refer to you in matters where I am uncertain. For who can better direct my hesitation or instruct my ignorance? I was never present at any trial of Christians; therefore I do not know what are the customary...

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15 Aug 1990

From the Archives: Nero’s Cruelties

by Tacitus | Issue 27

But all the endeavors of men, all the emperor’s largesse and the propitiations of the gods, did not suffice to allay the scandal or banish the belief that the fire [the great fire of Rome, summer 64] had been ordered. And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.

Checked for...

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15 Aug 1990

From the Archives: Eperor Hadrian’s Moderate policies

by Emperor Hadrian | Issue 27

I received the letter written to me by your predecessor, the most illustrious Serenius Granianus, and it is not my pleasure to pass by without enquiry the matter referred to me, lest the inoffensive should be disturbed, while slanderous informers are afforded an opportunity of practicing their vile trade.

Now, if our subjects of the provinces are able to sustain by evidence their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before a court of justice, I have no objection to their taking this course. But I do not allow them to have...

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19 May 2016

People who steal the soul

by David C. Fink | Issue 118

Table of martyrsWhen Martin Luther accepted safe conduct from Emperor Charles V to defend his writings before the Imperial Diet at Worms, he knew full well that events might take a lethal turn. After Luther’s excommunication the previous year, the deck was stacked against him; the papal ambassador heading up the opposition to Luther at the diet was already fulminating against the “heretic who brought up Jan Hus from hell.” 

This was an ominous comparison. Hus had also been granted a safe conduct to the Council of Konstanz a century earlier by Sigismund of...

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19 May 2016

A fire that spread

by Walter Klaassen and John Oyer | Issue 118

Burning Anneken Hendrick“Anabaptist” was a dirty name in sixteenth-century Christian Europe; it was deemed a dangerous movement, a call for violent destruction of Europe’s religious and social institutions. 

The name simply means, in Greek, “one who baptizes again,” but this tiny group aroused opposition from all sides. Rulers and theologians, whether Protestant or Catholic, regarded early Anabaptist success with a mixture of fear and anxiety. They were thought to be political revolutionaries bent on destroying the unity of the faith. Some even argued that they...

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23 May 2014

Prison theology

by Bob Fu | Issue 109

I t’s time for prison theology,” I said to my wife Heidi when the Beijing police arrived at our apartment. I’d kept meticulous notes in a notebook of new converts in my secret house church ministry. I stuck it in her hands and said, “While I’m in jail, don’t let this fall into the wrong hands.”

I said goodbye, but the police were already at my door. “Xiqiu Fu, you are under arrest for illegal religious activities,” they said as they barged in. And then: “Search everything!” My heart almost stopped. Heidi would have no place to hide the...

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23 May 2014

Searching for me with pistols and daggers

by Daniel Scot | Issue 109

I n all of Pakistan, I was one of only two Christian lecturers in mathematics. I thank the Lord, for by his grace I shared my faith with every Muslim in the university, whosoever was interested to hear the word of God. But in 1986 the government of Pakistan passed a blasphemy law, 295-C. Anybody charged under the law could be given life imprisonment or death by hanging.

On September 24, 1986, five senior professors of the College Council called me for investigation. They wanted me to convert to Islam. They told me it was a golden opportunity...

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23 May 2014

Recommended resources

by The editors | Issue 109

Books

Many books tell in depth the stories of some Christians you have met in these pages. They include 

• Helen Berhane: Song of the Nightingale

• Asia Bibi: Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water by Bibi as told to Anne-Isabelle Tollet. 

• Jim Elliot and Operation Auca: Through Gates of Splendor and Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot; End of the Spear by Steve Saint; Jungle Pilot: The Gripping Story of the Life and Witness of Nate Saint by Russell Hitt. 

• Festo...

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23 May 2014

Is there a global war?

by John Allen Jr. | Issue 109

CH: How do we define persecution? What defines a martyr?

JA:  There are two different questions here. First, there is the technical ecclesiastical question—how does a particular faith community define martyrdom and venerate their martyrs? But there is a broader question: how do we define anti-Christian persecution?  

CH : Let’s talk about that some more. We know that in your tradition [Allen is Roman Catholic], a distinction is made between those who are killed in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith) and in odium iustitiae (in hatred of truth...

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23 May 2014

Editor’s note

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 109

WHAT YOU HOLD in your hand is a very unusual issue of Christian History . You might want to call it “Living Christian History.”

For over a decade, Christian History Institute (CHI) and The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), an organization that helps persecuted Christians around the world, have cooperated in developing the Torchlighters series of DVDs—short, animated videos that introduce children to heroes of the Christian faith. The series has raised modern viewers’ awareness not only of inspiring Christians from the past but of the fact,...

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23 May 2014

Stubborn saint

by Roy Stults | Issue 109

WANG MINGDAO was one of the twentieth century’s most famous persecuted Chinese Christians. Born in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion, a violent uprising against foreigners and Chinese Christians, Wang had an outstanding ministry as a pastor and evangelist, laboring as a contemporary of John Sung and Watchman Nee. Today’s Chinese house church movement had its beginnings in Wang’s resistance to governmental pressure.

But Wang’s ministry was shot through with paradoxes. He was a strong man who sometimes showed a troubling weak side. He was...

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23 May 2014

Did you know?

by The editors | Issue 109

Serving Christ until the end

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, is one of the earliest martyrs about whom we have an eyewitness account. In the second century, his church in Smyrna fell under great persecution. When soldiers came to arrest him, Polycarp ordered food set before them and asked for an hour to pray. His prayer was so impressive that the soldiers questioned their orders. They allowed him not one but two hours before leading him back to town. 

There a magistrate ordered Polycarp to renounce Christ and give obedience to Caesar as Lord....

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22 May 2014

The Jerusalem of the East

by Hyun Sook Foley | Issue 109

PROFESSOR CHO grew up in Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea—North Korea, as it is popularly known. A devoted patriot, he fought against United Nations forces for North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung (1912–1994) during the Korean War (1950–1953). Following the war he left military duty, graduated from a university, and worked as a college professor for 30 years.

But upon his retirement, the dutiful professor and his family were expelled onto the streets. There is no word meaning “pension” in North Korean. Cho...

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22 May 2014

Hard pressed but not crushed

by Yabibal Teklu | Issue 109

SINCE AFRICAN CHURCH FATHER Tertullian wrote (c. 200) that “the blood of the saints is the seed of the church,” African Christians have never lived without persecution. Yet in the midst of the suffering, the African church has expanded.  

“i will struggle till the end”

Persecution dogged Christians in Ethiopia since Christianity was first introduced there in the fourth century (see CH 105, Christianity in Early Africa ). In the centuries since, many Christians have been killed, wounded, dislocated, discriminated against, and terrorized...

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22 May 2014

Imprisoned over a glass of water

by Sheraz Khan | Issue 109

IT WAS 1991; I was a Pakistani high school student. I still vividly remember the case of Gul Pervaiz Masih, a Christian man from my hometown of Sargodha. Masih was asked to repair a communal water tap. He did, but the tap soon failed again. Sajjad Hussain, Masih’s Muslim neighbor, questioned him; a heated argument ensued which soon turned away from the faulty tap to politics and religion. Masih was officially accused of blasphemy and over the next three years suffered immense trauma until his 1994 acquittal and flight
to Germany. 

Masih’s...

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22 May 2014

Marching in the Lord’s Army

by Edwin Woodruff Tait | Issue 109

SOMETIME IN THE 1910s, Iosif Trifa, the Orthodox priest serving the Transylvanian mountain village of   Vidra de Sus, was shocked by the arrival of the first “neo-Protestant” missionary, who began evangelizing Orthodox villagers. Trifa contacted the mayor and the chief of police and asked them to “take measures” to remove this dangerous threat. But he was stopped in his tracks by an old parishioner who said that the intruder “doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, doesn’t fight with anyone. We [the Orthodox] are worse than he is.”

This incident...

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22 May 2014

Start seeing persecution

by The editors and Roy Stults | Issue 109

HAVE YOU SEEN the bumper stickers that say “Start seeing motorcycles”? Those working on the frontlines of global Christianity are trying to get the rest of us to start seeing the persecution they see every day and to stand alongside those who are suffering for their Christian faith. Roy Stults, educational services coordinator and administrator of The Voice of the Martyrs’ online classroom, shares with Christian History some things he has learned researching and teaching about the persecution of Christians.  

CH : What are we not seeing when...

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22 May 2014

“Father forgive them”

by Christof Sauer and Thomas Schirrmacher | Issue 109

“FROM ABEL TO THE END OF TIMES, the people of God will always suffer persecution on their journey through time,” Augustine once said. And Jesus forewarned his followers: “Your lot won’t be any better than that of your master” (Matt. 10:25). 

Persecution of Christians tends to make the headlines only when it is violent and systematic and when governments perpetrate it. But the reality is more complex. On the human level, persecution comes from worldviews competing for influence, ruling powers feeling threatened by people who hold to a higher...

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30 Dec 2011

Who you gonna call?

by The Editors | Issue 101

THE ROMAN WORLD in the early Christian era was frequently troubled by plagues; the most famous and destructive of these broke out in 250 and lasted 15 years. Epidemics of plague are reported in a number of cities in the second through fourth centuries. In at least some cases, they were diseases brought back by Roman troops returning from far-flung campaigns. Some may have been versions of smallpox or measles.

Frequently, shrines and oracles of the Roman gods were consulted in efforts to learn what would stop the plagues. Some shrines, like...

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14 Feb 2006

The Cost of Pilgrimage

by John Coffey | Issue 89

THE YEAR 1660 was a catastrophe for radical Puritans. The return of the monarchy under Charles II spelled disaster for people like John Milton, who had written passionate tracts defending religious liberty, republican government, and the legitimacy of killing a king. He made a last-minute plea, urging the nation to rally to “the good old cause.” Having set out for the Promised Land by “turning regal bondage into a free commonwealth,” it would be folly to return to the servitude of Egypt.

Despite his warnings, the monarchy was restored and a...

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15 Aug 2001

Huguenots and the Wars of Religion: Did You Know?

by the Editors | Issue 71

Hu-gue-what?

NO ONE KNOWS for sure how French Protestants got the nickname “Huguenots” (pronounced HYU-ghe-nahts in America, HYU-ghe-nos in Britain). One theory proposes that the word was derived from German Eldgenosen , "oath fellows,” which was used to describe a Genevan political movement. Or perhaps a leader of that movement, Besancon Hughes, lent his name to the group. Scholar Janet Gray, however, supports a more colorful—and philologically sound—theory. In Tours, an early Protestant stronghold, a spirit called King Huguon was believed...

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15 Aug 2001

The French Wars of Religion: Christian History Interview — A New War of Religion?

by Sébastien Fath and the Editors | Issue 71

In early summer the French Parliament passed anti-sect legislation that some evangelicals and members of other religious minorities fear could restrict their freedoms. This legislation is a far cry from Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, but it does raise questions about France’s religious climate. To get a clear picture of the situation,  Christian History contacted Sébastien Fath, a social scientist with France’s National Center of Scientific Research and teacher at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Why is France, a...

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15 Aug 2001

Escape from Babylon

by Bertrand van Ruymbeke | Issue 71

IN 1684, having “suffered through eight months [of] exactions and quartering by the soldiery, for the religion with much evil,” Judith Giton, a Huguenot from southern France, decided to escape. With her mother, two of her brothers, and a servant, she slipped away at night, leaving soldiers sleeping in the family bed.

The group traveled north along the Rhone and Rhine rivers to Holland and reached England in 1685. They stayed three months in London waiting for a Carolina—bound ship, then crossed the Atlantic under terrible conditions....

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  • Christian History Magazine- Catch Up Bundle $50.00

    Christian History Magazine- Catch Up Bundle

    • Magazine
    • 2011-2016
    • Christian History Institute

    This special bundle includes printed copies of all 21 issues and our two guides. Topics covered include the Making of the KJV, Early African Christianity, Persecution in the Modern era, Heaven, Martin Luther, and much more.

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  • Christian History Magazine #109: Eyewitness to the Modern Age of Persecution $5.00

    Christian History Magazine #109: Eyewitness to the Modern Age of Persecution

    • Magazine
    • 2014
    • 55 Pages
    • Christian History Institute

    This special issue of Christian History magazine tells the inspiring stories of believers who stood with Christ in the face of persecution during the last hundred years.

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  • Bonhoeffer set of 3 $29.99

    Bonhoeffer set of 3

    • DVD
    • 3 DVDs
    • 300 Minutes
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    • Christian History Institute

    Bonhoeffer Collection: set of 3 DVD: Bonhoeffer Agent of Grace, Bonhoeffer: Hanged on a Twisted Cross, Bonhoeffer: Memories and Perspectives

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  • Pocket Classics: The Persecution & Martyrdoms of Lyons in 177 AD $1.00

    Pocket Classics: The Persecution & Martyrdoms of Lyons in 177 AD

    • Other
    • 16 Pages
    • 1994
    • Christian History Institute

    The Letter of the Churches of Vienna and Lyons to the Churches of Asia and Phrygia including the story of the Blessed Blandina.

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  • Pocket Classics: First Apology of Justin $1.00

    Pocket Classics: First Apology of Justin

    • Other
    • 1994
    • 32 Pages
    • Christian History Institute

    The compelling defense of the faith written to the Roman emperor around A.D. 150 by a notable early church martyr.

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  • Paul the Apostle $11.99

    Paul the Apostle

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    From the Emmy award-winning director Roger Young (Joseph and Jesus) comes the spectacular story of Paul the Apostle. This augmented adaptation, largely based on the biblical account, profiles Christ's most prolific messenger, Paul, originally known as Saul of Tarsus, was at the forefront of efforts to stamp out the early church until Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus, forever changing his life and mission. He joyfully faced persecution, imprisonment, and peril in order to share the love and redemption offered by Christ.

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  • Torchlighters: Perpetua Story $10.00

    Torchlighters: Perpetua Story

    • DVD
    • 30 Minutes
    • Animation
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    • 2009
    • Christian History Institute

    It is the year AD 203 in Carthage, North Africa. Perpetua, an affluent young mother, is charged with converting to Christianity and is sent to prison. But her freedom can be secured easily. All she has to do is offer one pinch of incense in honor to the Roman gods. What will her decision be?

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  • Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand $12.00

    Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand

    • DVD
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    • 2008
    • Christian History Institute

    Before communism fell in Eastern Europe, Christians were often arrested and kept in prisons or labor camps where the Communists went to great lengths to break their faith. This is the story of a family whose faith endured.

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  • Torchlighters: Richard Wurmbrand Story $10.00

    Torchlighters: Richard Wurmbrand Story

    • DVD
    • 30 Minutes
    • Animation
    • All
    • 2008
    • Christian History Institute

    In war-torn Romania, there is only one way for churches to get the protection of the government: give their support and allegiance to the communists who are in control. Instead, Pastor Richard Wurmbrand chooses to speak up for Christ, thereby placing his own life and the lives of his family in great danger.

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  • Eric Liddell: Champion of Conviction $11.99

    Eric Liddell: Champion of Conviction

    • DVD
    • 100 minutes
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    • 2007
    • Christian History Institute

    He lived for the glory of God as an Olympic athlete, a husband and father, a missionary to China, and even as a prisoner in an internment camp.

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  • History Of Orthodox Christianity $23.99

    History Of Orthodox Christianity

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    • 1992
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  • Trial And Testimony - With PDFs $29.99

    Trial And Testimony - With PDFs

    • DVD
    • 180 Minutes
    • Documentary
    • All
    • 1990
    • Christian History Institute

    This gripping series of six half-hour programs, produced in consultation with an international team of scholars, takes you to the actual locations to show what the early church was like, how it spread, and the persecution it endured.

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  • A.D. (2 Disc Set) $19.99

    A.D. (2 Disc Set)

    • DVD
    • 360 Minutes/ 6 Hours
    • Drama
    • 1
    • 1984

    The earliest experiences of the Christian church are powerfully dramatized in this remarkably authentic TV mini-series epic covering the years A.D. 30-69. The perfect resource for any church or home study group wishing to explore the New Testament period, the Early Church, or the Book of Acts.

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  • History Of Christianity - With PDFs $19.99

    History Of Christianity - With PDFs

    • DVD
    • 159 Minutes
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    • 2000
    • Samford University

    This is a survey course designed to further stimulate your curiosity by providing glimpses of some of the pivotal events in the spread Christianity and sketches of great Christian figures who have significantly affected Christian history thereby shaping the history of the world.

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  • Bonhoeffer: Agent Of Grace $12.99

    Bonhoeffer: Agent Of Grace

    • DVD
    • 90 Minutes
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    • 1999
    • NFPteleart/Norflicks/ORB

    The story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German clergyman of great distinction, who actively opposed Hitler and the Nazis. His convictions cost him his life.

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