According to the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews,
"heroes of the faith" [11:39]
are people who have their "eyes fixed on the reward" [11:26],
who "through faith conquered kingdoms, did what is right
and earned the promise" [11:33],
and of whom "God is not ashamed to be called their God" [11:16].
They are not superhuman people, but rather
"they were weak people who were given strength" [11:34].
- Simon Peter the Apostle
Impetuous and earthy, Simon Peter regularly
misunderstood Jesus and denied him in the crisis.
Peter never changed who he was,
but in his affirmation of Jesus as the Son of God,
at the tomb after the Resurrection, and at Pentecost
Jesus let Peter's weaknesses become his strengths.
- Thomas the Apostle
Thomas was the apostle who advocated making
the final journey to Jerusalem with Jesus.
After the Resurrection,
Thomas is remembered as the doubter,
yet it was Thomas who fell to his knees,
saying, "My Lord and my God!"
- Luke of Prague
When searching for true Christianity,
Luke was referred to the Unity of Brethern,
the ancestors of the Moravians.
Luke helped to lead them to a more open
and inclusive path and he defined
the distinction among the essential,
ministrative, and incidental things.
The only essential things
are God's saving us and our responding to God.
- Thomas More
Sir Thomas More was a lawyer and a scholar
who rose to be Chancellor of England under Henry VIII.
Thomas was caught up in his times
and was willing enough to conform to his world
where he could,
but throughout his political career
he quietly maintained his primary loyalty to God.
In the end he was a martyr for conscience.
- Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer rose to be Archbishop of Canterbury
and the opponent of Thomas More.
He sponsored the scholarship which set the tone
of the English liturgy down to our own day,
but he lacked the power of conviction
until the end of his life.
Under Henry, Cranmer took the Protestant side.
When Catholics regained the upper hand
in the struggle to control England,
Cranmer was imprisoned and forced to recant his views.
But at the very end, Cranmer discovered his faith,
recanted his recantations,
outpaced his guards on the way to the stake,
and held his right hand in the flames to atone
for using it to sign the hypocritical documents.
- Thomas Jefferson
The author of the Declaration of Independence
wrote the only lasting declaration
of the American faith and character.
To the end of his life, Jefferson had doubts
and uncertainty about God's Word,
yet it appears that he could never walk away.
Throughout his life, Jefferson was a man
pursuing every avenue that life opened to him.
Scripture quotations taken from The Jerusalem Bible.
Copyright © 1966 by
Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd., and
Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York.