Burning at the stake
Burning at the stake as a capital punishment throughout history had a long-established precedent. In the times of the medieval period during the Inquisition it was inflicted by the secular authorities on those individuals and groups found by the judges of the Inquisition to be incorrigible anarchists, traitors and heretics, all those who opposed the Roman Catholic Church and the civil authority of the State. Since the beginning of the 20th century it has been regarded with horror by all who reject such measures as barbaric and inhumanly intolerant, and by the Christian world as fundamentally opposed to the Gospel of Christ.
- See also: Mosaic law
Advocates of burning at the stake claim that the Bible includes passages that offer substantial pretext as an act of righteousness according to the will of God not as a distorted misinterpretation and twisting of scripture, but as a clear and unmistakable decree of the Lord to be obeyed.
Old TestamentIn the Old Testament (the law of Moses): Genesis 38
About three months later Judah was told, "Tamar your daughter-in-law has played the harlot; and moreover she is with child by harlotry." And Judah said, "Bring her out, and let her be burned."Leviticus 10
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered unholy fire before the LORD such as he had not commanded them. And fire came forth from the presence of the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.Leviticus 20:14; 21:9; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16
And fire came forth from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.Deuteronomy chapter 7; 12:1-3; chapter 13; 32:21-24; Joshua 7:15, 24-26; 11:6-23; 2 Samuel 23:6-7; 1 Kings 18:40; 2 Kings 1:10-12; Job 18:5-21; Psalm 106:16-18; 140:10; Isaiah 1:27-31; 5:24; 14:20-21; 33:12; 47:13-14; Jeremiah 49:2; Ezekiel 15:6-7; Malachi 4:1-3 (3:19-24 in the Hebrew and in the Roman Catholic Bible).
The New Testament preaches a Gospel of grace, standing in strict contrast to Mosaic law. Those living in the New Testament era who have rejected the Gospel of grace allege these passages justify burning at the stake: Matthew 13:24-30, 13:47-50; John 15:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 "saved as by fire"; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:11-19; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:7-10, 14-15—Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4; Titus 3:10-11; Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Proverbs 28:9-14; Romans 1:18-22; 2:8-11; Psalm 149:6-9.
Advocates of burning at the stake hold themselves blameless of any sin in the matter saying, "It's their own fault; they have only themselves to blame." This is their attitude, based on their belief in their interpretation of the Bible as a divine pretext.
Last person burned at the stake for heresy
The last person burned to death at the stake for heresy was Edward Wightman, executed on April 11th, 1612, under the Bishop of Lichfield, Richard Neile, and William Laud (the future Archbishop of Canterbury).
- The Book of Sirach is canonical to Orthodox and Roman Catholics, condemned by Martin Luther as a book of the non-canonical Apocrypha. Protestantism likewise stems from the gentile or "universal" church. For doctrinal interpretations see Biblical Canon.
- The Catholic, or gentile church is the world's largest Christian body comprised of several distinct "Rites" and dissident sects. The Catholic Church (Latin Rite) commonly known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest single body organization in the United States.
“The Global Catholic Population,” © 2011, Pew Research Center (pewforum.org).
The Largest Catholic Communities (adherents.com)
The Orthodox Church or Eastern Rite is comprised of several distinct "autocephalous" ("self governing heads"), including Greek, Maronite, Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox. Over the last century, the Orthodox Christian population around the world has more than doubled and now stands at nearly 260 million. Orthodox Christians in the United States, make up roughly 0.5% of the overall U.S. population and include many immigrants. As of 2010, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America had 476,900 adherents in the United States. The total number of adherents in Orthodox Christian churches was at about 1 million.
Global Orthodox Christianity in the 21st century (pewforum.org)
Countries With The Largest Orthodox Christian Populations (worldatlas.com)
Number of adherents in Orthodox Christian churches in the United States in 2010 (statista.com)
- See Percentage of Christians in Protestant Denominations (29.5%) (888c.com).
Edward Wightman Executed for Heresy (historytoday.com) —1612 England, Anglican Protestant sentence for heresy
1789: Catherine Murphy, Last Burning at the Stake in Britain (executedtoday.com) —executed for counterfeiting
Biblical justification for burning at the stake
List of Christian Martyrs (self.gutenberg.org) —all denominations (scroll down the page to see list)
Did Protestants burn people at the stake?
Burning at stake - The Reformation (thereformation.info) includes Protestant countries that burned Catholics