In this video, you will learn about a young man named William Hunter. William was only 19 years old when he was chained to a wooden stake and burned alive. His crime? Reading the Bible.
Two decades earlier, Tyndale’s Bible — the first Bible to be printed in the English language, had been smuggled into England from Germany, where Oxford scholar William Tyndale had fled to complete his important work of translating the Bible into the language of the people.
By the time William was apprenticed to a silk weaver in London, he was aware that, contrary to the claims of the Roman Catholic Church, the wafer used during the Mass did not turn into the actual body of Christ. Consequently, when a royal edict went throughout the City of London requiring everyone to attend the weekly Mass, William refused. Because of this, he lost his job and returned to his parents’ home.
William longed to read more from God’s Word, so he sometimes slipped into the old medieval chapel where he quietly read from the “Great Bible” that was chained there. One day the servant of the Bishop caught William reading the forbidden book. On Sabbath, March 26, 1555, William Hunter was burned at the stake because he loved God’s Word and refused to relinquish the truths he had found in the Bible.
During the Reformation, the eyes of thousands were opened as the Bible was, for the first time ever, made available to the people in their mother tongues—many times at the cost of great suffering to those brave enough to translate the Bible from the Greek and Hebrew text into the common languages, making the Scriptures accessible to everyone.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, from its beginning, found its direction, its purpose, and its very foundation in the Word of God. Shining through the darkness of the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, the early believers turned to their Bibles in comfort and hope.
As they continued to be led by God’s Word, they discovered more Bible truths and the small group of believers grew rapidly. By taking the Protestant principles of accepting the plain reading of the text and allowing the Bible to interpret itself, most of our foundational truths—the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the sanctuary and the investigative judgment—were established by the time the Seventh-day Adventist Church was officially organized in 1863. Of course, there was more to learn, and as time went on, Seventh-day Adventists continued to discover other important truths such as our health message, the importance of Christian education, and our mission to reach the world.
Today, we continue to base our faith and beliefs on the timeless Word of God. The Bible, which has been faithfully preserved and sealed with the blood of martyrs, transcends time and culture. It is God’s living Word, and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can find the answers for which we are seeking.
More than 450 years ago, young William Hunter, and many others, sealed their belief in God and His Word with their lives. Today, we know a storm is coming. Now is the time to build upon the firm foundation of God’s Word.