Martyrdom appears so utterly alien to our time because postmodern theorists have reduced the truth claims of Western Christianity to private opinion, making any reference to ultimate truth unbelievable and certainly unverifiable. So asserts Brad S. Gregory in his impressive study of 16th-century martyrs and persecutors. Postmodern views, he declares, conclude that both the martyrs and their persecutors mistook for truth the necessarily tentative character of their cultural constructions. Gregory contends that such an approach will not help us understand the early modern Christians who were willing to kill and to die for religious belief. He wants to take martyrdom on its own terms because "the distinctiveness of religion demands methodological astuteness if we want to understand its practitioners, lest we misconstrue them from the outset. . . .