Letter to the Editor: Prayers for the Dead at Remembrance Services

Prayers for the Dead at Remembrance Services   Sir, Remembrance Sunday is an important and poignant landmark in our nation’s annual calendar, and a day to reflect, give thanks and pray for peace. We see church and civic life combine in silence and remembrance, as...

Evangelical Theological College of Asia

Evangelical Theological College of Asia Have you ever wondered if there was a sound reformed theological training institution in Asia?  The Evangelical Theological College of Asia is just such a school.  It is located in Singapore and its faculty are mostly from...

Prudence Dailey’s Commentary: Should Women Be Afraid of Men?

Prudence Dailey's Commentary Should Women be Afraid of Men? Recently, someone I used to work with shared on her Facebook page a link to an article from The Times magazine by the feminist writer Caitlin Moran. The substance of Ms Moran’s piece—rhetorically addressed to...

FIEC Updates Its “Values Statement”

FIEC Updates Its “Values Statement” The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches recently updated its “Values Statement.”  It is well-worth your time to read.  There are FIEC affiliated congregations in England, Scotland, and Wales.   1. God-honouring and...


Lenora Hammond 1960-2021 Mrs Lenora Hammond, wife of Frontline Fellowship founder Dr Peter Hammond, died on 9 November.  She was six days short of her sixty-first birthday.  Frontline Fellowship is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa. Mrs Hammond was born into a...

Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary to Retire

Archbishops’ Appointments Secretary to Retire “The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have paid tribute to the service of Caroline Boddington, who has announced she will be leaving the National Church Institutions (NCIs) at the end of 2021 after 17 years as the...

Book Review: The Lullingstone Secret

The Lullingstone Secret Jill Masters Wakeman Press, 2021 (ISBN: 9781913133115, 97pp, £5.95) Lullingstone Villa in Kent is a fascinating site to visit whatever one’s awareness of ancient history and is lavishly curated by English Heritage. Since its excavation in the...

Book Review: The Welsh Methodist Society

The Welsh Methodist Society The Early Societies in South-West Wales 1737-1750 Eryn M. White University of Wales Press, 2021 (ISBN: 9781786835796, 350pp, £24.99) In many respects, the church in Britain continues to live off the puttering afterglow of the eighteenth...

Eastern Rite Catholics: What Are They?

Eastern Rite Catholics What Are They? Former Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s recent defection to Rome has highlighted earlier efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to bring other ecclesiastical jurisdictions into its orbit.  There are a total of twenty-three which have...

Transubstantiation: A Doctrine Worth Martyrdom?

Transubstantiation, a Doctrine Worth Martyrdom?

by Chuck Collins


It was on 16 July 1546 that Anne Askew was burned at the stake for denying transubstantiation.

Director of the Center for Reformation Anglicanism, The Revd Canon Chuck Collins writes about, “Anne Askew’s Torture”.

In 1534, when Anne was thirteen, King Henry VIII became supreme head of the Church of England, and the following year every adult male was required to sign an oath supporting the Act of Succession that denounced the papacy for usurping powers that belong to England’s sovereigns. Anne’s father, as good fathers did in the 16th century, arranged for her to marry for convenience and financial security. Bale commented that Anne was compelled to marry “agaynst her wyll or fre consent,” but he went on to say that she “demeaned her selfe lyke a Christen wyfe” (she submitted to her husband as was expected of Christian women). But by the regular reading of the Bible she became convinced of the gospel of God’s free grace for sinners, and increasingly suspicious of the pope and the unbiblical traditions of the medieval Catholic Church. When her priests found out, even though she had two young children, her husband kicked her out to the street where she spent her days in the Lincoln Cathedral reading her Bible. In 1538 the English Bible was ordered place in every church for everyone to read, but it was thought that Anne’s presence there was deliberately provocative. She eventually moved to London, perhaps to be nearer her younger brothers who were serving the king. 

As a woman, Anne Askew had no right to read the Bible in the hearing off others, much less to discuss it openly as she did. The Roman Catholic leaders were mostly offended by her evangelical views about the Eucharist. When examined by the mayor of London she was asked if a mouse under the communion table that ate the consecrated host was receiving God. She did not not answer, only smiled at the ridiculous logic of transubstantiation. While in jail a statement was prepared for her to sign affirming her belief in transubstantiation, the official Catholic teaching. She signed it, but hand-wrote in this proviso: “I Anne Askewe do believe all maner thynges contayned in the faythe of the Catholycke Churche.” 

With many others who were taking their lead from the Bible, Anne believed that God is the consecrator of the bread and wine of holy communion, not the priest who wears fancy clothes and says magic words in Latin. She could not stomach the inordinate power and authority the Roman Catholic church assumed over and above the clear teaching of the Bible. The English reformers knew that the real presence of Christ is not in the bread and wine, but in the hearts and affections of those who receive the grace of the sacrament by faith.

Anne was one of only two women on record known to have been tortured on the rack in the Tower of London before being burned at the stake. Her torturers were trying to force from her information that would implicate another convinced Protestants, like Catherine Parr, the last of Henry VIIIs wives. After her body was racked and broken she sat for two hours on the bare floor as the guards tried to persuade her to leave her opinions. She said that she would “rather dye, than to breake my faythe.”  Her broken body had to be transported in a chair to the stake where she would be burned alive because she was too injured to walk. Many English reformers believed that there are things worth dying for. In an exchange of correspondence with Bishop Gardiner, the bishop accused Anne of having no more business with Scriptures than did a pig with a saddle. She responded that a sow had as much business wearing a saddle as an ass does wearing a mitre. Susan Wabuda writes that according to John Bale, “Askew became the model of a Protestant saint: mild in manner, godly in the study of Scripture and a courageous defender of truth”.