<![CDATA[Today in Christian History]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:40:18 GMT Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:40:18 GMT LemonStand <![CDATA[Peter Lombard’s Famous <em>Sentences</em> - July 20]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/20/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/20/ Thu, 20 Jul 2017 16:40:18 GMT Peter Lombard’s Famous SentencesPierre Lombard

PETER LOMBARD wrote a book of theology so useful that four thousand other theologians commented extensively on it throughout the ages.  These included some of the most famous theologians of all time—Albertus Magnus, Duns Scotus, and Thomas Aquinas, to name just three. Luther wrote notes on it and Calvin quoted it dozens of times. Libri quatuor sententiarum (Four Books of Opinions) is usually known as the Sentences. It was the most widely known textbook of theology in the Middle Ages. 

Scholars of the twelfth century, religious or otherwise relied heavily on reading previous authorities. To make the task of professors and students easier, Lombard gathered key selections from authorities such as Augustine, Ambrose, Hilary and Jerome into one work. It was a groundbreaking attempt to create a centralized “database” of all Christian teaching. 

Lombard arranged quotations from the Bible and the opinions of the church Fathers into four parts or books. The first book dealt with the Trinity, the second with creation and the fall, the third with the incarnation, and the last with the sacraments and eschatology (“last things” and the end of history). Where authorities disagreed, he often analyzed their language and suggested a resolution between them. But in some cases he simply stated the positions of the church fathers and made no attempt to harmonize their differences. By leaving questions open, he gave teachers and students the opportunity to suggest their own answers. That is why so many theologians wrote commentaries on the Sentences. 

Lombard sought to be insightful and informative in untangling theological problems, such as whether or not Father and Son both contain the Divine Essence. However, to anyone not immersed in medieval theology, his “clarifications” are hard reading indeed:

Thus we also say, that the Divine Essence did not beget the Essence. For since a one and a most high, certain thing is the Divine Essence, if the Divine Essence has begotten the Essence, the same thing has begotten its very self, which entirely cannot be; but rather the Father alone has begotten the Son, and from the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit proceeds.

In trying to resolve knotty differences between church fathers, Lombard knew he risked straying into heresy.  In fact, some opponents even accused him of doing so. One complaint against him was that he stressed the divinity of Christ over his humanity. However, the fourth Lateran council (1215) upheld his orthodoxy. Despite those who spoke against the Sentences, it was admired for its brilliant organization. Lombard’s work was the standard text in universities until the sixteenth century. Following the Reformation and Enlightenment, scholarly approaches changed.

One of the Sentences’ most far-reaching influence was on sacramental doctrine. Lombard defined a sacrament as both a symbol of grace and a means to grace, listing seven church rites that fulfilled his definition—baptism, confirmation, Eucharist/Holy Communion/the Lord’s Supper), penance (confessing a sin and receiving a discipline for it), extreme unction (anointing with oil as a symbol of repentance and healing when death is thought to be near), holy orders (ordination), and matrimony. Four centuries after his death, which came on this day, 20 July 1164,* the Council of Trent made Lombard’s position on the sacraments the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. 


*Encyclopedia Americana, 1956, gives this date, although other authorities leave the matter open to question.

Other Notable Events


Death of Pastor Noble Alexander. He had been the longest held prisoner for Christ in the history of the Island of Cuba, yet his spirit always demonstrated his joyful freedom in Christ. Upon his release he had gone to the United States.


Buzz Aldrin, a Presbyterian elder, takes communion on the moon during the Apollo 11 landing.


Death of Pope Leo XIII. A poet, scholar, and peacemaker, he had defended the divine nature of Christ in all its phases, from Virgin Birth through Resurrection and Ascension. He had also issued encyclicals against socialism and in behalf of Thomism, the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. His relations with Catholics in the United States had been close.


James Harvey Garrison is mustered out of Company G of the 8th Missouri Cavalry and, after attending Abingdon College, will become a publisher, pastor, missionary, and editor with the Disciples of Christ for five decades.


Marriage of pastor/theologian Jonathan Edwards and Sarah Pierpont. They will create a godly, cheerful, and peacable home, much remarked upon by contemporaries, and ten of their eleven children will live to adulthood.


Anne Hutchinson is baptized at Alford, England. She will become a controversial religious figure in New England.


Death at Fontanella of Ansegis, a monk whom Charlemagne had placed in charge of some of his building operations and who had also compiled a notable collection of Frankish laws.

<![CDATA[The Stone that Spoke Egyptian - July 19]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/19/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/19/ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT The Stone that Spoke EgyptianThe Rosetta Stone

THE EVENTS OF THE BIBLE were often played out among the nations surrounding Israel. Indeed, we can understand the Bible better when we understand Israel’s neighbors.  A key to the writings of one of those neighbors came into the hands of twenty-eight year old Pierre-François Bouchard on this day, 19 July 1799. We know this key as the Rosetta Stone.

Bouchard, a French officer, was rebuilding Fort Julien in Egypt when he discovered the stone.  Inscriptions on it were in Greek as well as two forms of ancient Egyptian. Bouchard immediately recognized its great value. Though Europeans knew Greek well, they did not know how to interpret Egyptian hieroglyphs. Bouchard surmised that by comparing the hieroglyphs with the Greek, scholars would be able to decipher the old Egyptian. He was right.

It was British scholars who won the glory first. When Britain defeated the French and seized Egypt, the British commander forced the French to turn over the Rosetta Stone. It was sent to the British Museum, where a scientist named Thomas Young studied the inscription. He published a paper solving some of the hieroglyphs and showing that the second set of Egyptian symbols was written in a phonetic alphabet. He was also able to equate nine of the symbols to our Roman letters, but he got no farther.

Working from an impression taken from the stone, Frenchman Jean-François Champollion turned his genius to the task. After studying ancient documents and examining inscriptions in Egypt, he discovered that the Rosetta Stone was a decree by King Ptolemy V from about 196 BC. The writing ordered that a statue of Ptolemy V be worshipped in every Egyptian temple and carried in religious procession with other gods.

Solving this inscription was a giant step toward understanding the markings on all Egyptian tombs and monuments. Much of what we know about the Pharaohs and Egyptian history stems from Bouchard’s discovery and the analysis of Young and Champollion. Because of the Rosetta Stone, Biblical scholars have been able to learn a great deal about ancient Egyptian religion and history. This has enabled them to make educated guesses about issues of significance to Bible history, such as which Pharaoh was ruling at the time of the Exodus.

Other Notable Events


Gilbert Mulaha experiences salvation. Following his filling with the Holy Spirit a few months later, he becomes a Bible student, an evangelist, a man of prayer, and a prominent Christian leader in Kenya, noted for his advocacy of holy living.


John Joseph Hughes is consecrated as the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York.

More than three hundred men and women assemble in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, New York, for the first formal convention to discuss “the social, civil, and religious condition and the rights of women.” The event will be called the birthplace of the women’s rights movement. Men are not allowed into the convention until the second day.
Death of Christmas Evans, one of the most notable Welsh preachers.

Annaken van den Hove becomes the last Anabaptist martyr in Flanders. Catholic theologians determine he deserves death as a heretic and hand him over to the civil authorities who bury him alive.


Martin of Mayence is burned as a heretic at Cologne because he belongs to a sect known as “Friends of God” and refuses to observe the days and hours of prayer and worship commanded by the church, regards all Christians as priests, maintains that outward works have no merit before God, and preaches that the Lord Jesus suffered more in bearing the judgment of God than in enduring the pain of the cross.


Fire breaks out among the shops lining the Circus Maximus, Rome’s chariot stadium. Nero is blamed and tries to deflect blame from himself onto Jews and Christians, soon conducting a full scale persecution of Christians, notorious for the cruelty with which it is carried on.

<![CDATA[Henry Bullinger Born - July 18]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/18/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/18/ Tue, 18 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Henry Bullinger BornHeinrich Bullinger

Henry Bullinger was illegitimate when born on this day, 18 July 1504. Since his father, Henry, Sr., was a priest and the dean of Bremgarten in modern-day Switzerland, he was unable to marry Anna Wiederkehr, the mother of his five children. Like other priests in his situation, he paid his bishop a fine every year for the privilege of having Anna live with him. Nonetheless, the Bullinger home was happy, for the dean and his common-law wife loved each other and were hospitable to everyone. When the Reformation came to Bremgarten, the dean converted to Protestantism and married the woman with whom he had lived so many years. 

Henry’s childhood was full of excitement, both good and bad. While still an infant, he contracted a plague and was thought dead. Indeed, he was about to be buried until he showed signs of life. Later, a tramp kidnapped Henry, but he was quickly rescued when passersby recognized him in his captor’s hands. 

At three years old, little Henry could say the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed. Nine years later, his parents sent him to the grammar school of Emmeric. Now expected to make his own way, Henry provided for himself by singing.  In his late teens, he began studying the Bible, the church fathers, and the reformers Erasmus and Melanchthon. He became convinced that all Christian teaching must be Bible-based.           

Bullinger studied with Ulrich Zwingli, the chief reformer of Zurich. After Zwingli died in the battle of Cappel, Bullinger was offered the vacant pulpit of Zurich and accepted. He would minister there for over forty years. He drafted both the first and second Helvetic Confessions, documents expressing the doctrines that unified Switzerland’s Protestants. As surprising as it may sound, he wrote more than Luther and Calvin combined. 

Willing to overlook differences and find common ground with theological opponents, Bullinger was among the most peaceful of the great reformers. He married Anna Adlischweiler, a former nun, and they had eleven children. Like his father’s home, his own was always swarming with visitors. His hospitality to refugees from Mary Tudor’s persecution of Protestants in England gave him influence with the Church of England when it was restored under Elizabeth I—so much so that the Puritans made his theology their own. 

Among his popular writings were the Decades, a compilation of sermons on key doctrines. It was reprinted seventy-nine times in England within a single century. He emphasized covenant theology (the view that, since the coming of Christ, God deals with mankind through the “new covenant” foretold by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) and the need for fellowship with Christ: “For God hath ordained and decreed to save all, how many soever have communion and fellowship with Christ, his only-begotten Son; and to destroy or condemn all, how many soever have no part in the communion or fellowship of Christ, his only Son.” 

While some children of pastors leave the church, it was not so with Bullinger. All of his sons became Protestant ministers.

Other Notable Events


Death of Josiah Mutabuzi Isaya Kibira, a leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania and an advocate of ecumenism.


Azer Ata is ordained a priest in Egypt. He will become pope of the Coptic church in 1959, taking the name Kyrillos VI.


Wasyl Swystun and a group of thirty influential Orthodox laymen summon one hundred and fifty-four delegates to Saskatoon, Canada, where they discuss what they consider to be the unsatisfactory direction the church in the Ukraine and the Russian Orthodox mission in Canada are headed and vote to take steps that will lead to the creation of the Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of Canada.


Catholics opposed to the dogma of papal infallibility adopt the name Old Catholics. Intellectually they are led by professor Johann Joseph Ignaz Von Döllinger of Munich.


Death of Jane Austen in her sister Cassandra’s arms. Suffering Addison’s disease, the author is just forty-one years old. She will be remembered as one of the greatest novelists of the English language, but had also written fervent prayers which demonstrated Christian faith.

Death of Baptist leader Benjamin Keach. Years earlier, he had been fined and pilloried for a work entitled A Child’s Instructor which rejected infant baptism.

Papal guards arrest the influential Quietist spiritual leader Miguel de Molinos, internationally renowned for his Spiritual Guide. He will die in prison after mistreatment and torture.


Death of Georg Neumark, German educator, hymnwriter, and composer, in Thuringia. One of his best known hymns is, “If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee.”


Canonization of theologian Thomas Aquinas, author of Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles. He had synthesized Aristotelian thought with Christian.

<![CDATA[Twelve Martyrs at Scilli - July 17]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/17/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/17/ Mon, 17 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Twelve Martyrs at ScilliEmperor Commodus

TWELVE CHRISTIANS—seven men and five women—stood before the Roman administrator of North Africa, Proconsul Saturninus. They had spent the previous day in the stocks. The proconsul was inclined to deal lightly with them. All they had to do, he told them, was swear that the Emperor was divine—called “swearing by his genius”—and they could go free. 

The Christians, while deferential, were stubborn. One, named Speratus, spoke for them all: “We have never done ill, we have not lent ourselves to wrong, we have never spoken ill, but when ill-treated we have given thanks; because we pay heed to Our Emperor.” 

“We too are religious, and our religion is simple, and we swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor, and pray for his welfare, as you also ought to do,” replied the proconsul. 

Speratus offered to expound true simplicity of worship, but the proconsul brushed him off, saying he would not listen to evil spoken against the sacred rites of the Roman Empire. “Swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor,” he commanded. 

“I don’t know the empire of this world,” responded Speratus. “Rather I serve that God whom no man has seen, nor can see with these eyes. I haven’t stolen anything; but if I have bought anything I pay the tax, because I know my Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations.” 

Calmly but courageously, each Christian stood their ground. One of the men asserted he feared only God.  “Honor to Caesar as Caesar, but fear to God,” a voice among the women added in agreement.  Another said she wanted to remain a Christian. Perplexed, Saturninus offered them time to think it over. 

Speratus replied that the case was so straightforward no time was needed. 

Still, Saturninus urged they consider the matter for thirty days. When the twelve insisted they were Christians, he issued his decree: “Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda and the rest having confessed that they live according to the Christian rite, since after opportunity offered them of returning to the custom of the Romans they have obstinately persisted, it is determined that they be put to the sword.” 

Speratus rejoiced. “We give thanks to God!” 

Nartzalus agreed. “Today we are martyrs in heaven; thanks be to God.” 

On this day, 17 July 180, Roman soldiers beheaded the twelve martyrs of Scilli.

Other Notable Events

Death of Evangeline Cory Booth, Salvation Army general. The daughter of founder William Booth, Evangeline had supervised the field operations of the Army in Great Britain, Canada, and Alaska. In 1904 she had been promoted to head the American branch of the denomination. Among her contributions was authorship of many popular Salvation Army hymns.

Abraham of Travancore becomes metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church of India, sometimes called the “Syrian” church. 


Ying Lianzhi, a Catholic convert in Nanjing, publishes the first issue of a newspaper called Da Gong Bao that will deal with such controversial issues as missionary attitudes toward the Chinese. He will also become a co-fonder of Fu Jen University.


Confirmation of sixteen-year-old Frances Havergal in Worcester Cathedral. She becomes a notable hymnwriter, author of “Take My Life and Let it Be” among many others.


Theodore Fliedner, accompanied by four deaconesses, reaches Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where William Passavant, who had requested he establish a deaconess work in America, is awaiting him.


Death of William White, American patriarch of the Episcopalians. It was White who coined the name ‘Protestant Episcopal’ for the American church when it separated from the Church of England.


Baptism of Indian convert Radhu Das, having abandoned his high caste, his idolatry, and his self-righteous acts. He will become an educator and then a merchant, respected for his integrity and his passion to win souls.


Death of Samuel Medley, an English Baptist preacher. Converted after reading a sermon by Isaac Watts, Medley had pastored two different Baptist churches in Liverpool between 1767-99. “O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth,” one of his hymns, will be sung for centuries.


During the Fourth Crusade, a two-pronged Venetian and French assault captures the towers of Constantinople. The usurper Alexius III flees the city.

<![CDATA[Capture of Edmund Campion - July 16]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/16/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/16/ Sun, 16 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Capture of Edmund CampionEdmund Campion

APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING. They can also be deadly. Edmund Campion found it so. He and his fellow Jesuits were hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn because appearances were against them.

When Elizabeth ascended the English throne in 1558, she restored Protestantism to England. Pope Pius V declared her illegitimate and threatened to excommunicate any Catholic who obeyed her. Catholics plotted several times against the queen, and Elizabeth executed many. In 1581, Parliament made it an act of treason to convert English subjects to Catholicism, assuming the intent of doing so was to withdraw them from their allegiance to Elizabeth.

Several Jesuit priests entered England secretly as missionaries, to provide Communion and instruction to Catholic families, and to convert the English back to Catholicism. Among them was Campion.

Campion had been a brilliant youth. At thirteen, he was designated to recite a Latin greeting for Queen Mary when she entered London. He shone at Oxford, and Elizabeth showed him favor when she came to the throne. The important nobleman Lord Cecil called him a “diamond of England.” His prospects were bright, but Campion chose a different path. He left England and became a Jesuit, a decision of which he would later write: “The poverty of Christ has less pinching parsimony, less meanness that the emperor’s palace.”

Ordered to infiltrate England, Campion obeyed, although he knew it would probably mean his death. Because of the laws against Catholicism, he adopted the alias “Hastings,” and moved secretly from place to place. To establish his alibi in case of capture, he wrote a “Challenge to the Privy Council,” otherwise known as “Campion’s Brag.” In it he insisted that his reasons for returning to his homeland were not political. “My charge is of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors; in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many [of] my dear countrymen are abused.”

He survived under cover for a year before being betrayed. One of Elizabeth’s spies learned where Campion was staying. Government agents surrounded that house on this day, 16 July 1581. Though the owners hid Campion, he was discovered the following afternoon and captured with another priest.

Government attorneys accused Campion of treason. As evidence, they pointed to the pope’s bull against Elizabeth, subversive  literature found at some Catholic homes he had visited, and his secret movements. Campion insisted he had only ministered and taught, just as he had promised to do in his “Brag.” His secrecy, he argued, was necessary because of unjust laws. He stoutly defended several other priests who were on trial with him, but the jury found all of them guilty.

Although racked, offered bribes, and tortured, Campion refused to recant. At his sentencing he said, “In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors—all the ancient priests, bishops, and kings—all that was once the glory of England.”

Other Notable Events


Death of Jeremiah Olatusi Akeredolu, first Anglican bishop of Akoko diocese of Nigeria.


Paul Wei Han, physician, scientist, and educator, the first president of the Yang Ming Medical College, represents Taiwan’s Christians at the Lausanne Conference (July 16-25).


Soviet agents martyr Baptist private Ivan “Vanya” Moiseyev after months of severe persecution because of his Christian faith and because he has been leading other soldiers to Christ.


Death of Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and an advocate of healthy diet. Claiming hundreds of visions, she was widely viewed as a prophetess. She helped found Battle Creek College (now Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan) and a school in Australia, the precursor of Avondale College.


Baptism of twenty-seven-year old Cai Gao by missionary Robert Morrison at a remote spot in the hills along the shore of Macao. Cai Goa will go on to destroy his idols and to assist with Chinese publications before his death of lung disease less than three years later.


Father Junipero Serra celebrates High Mass before a hewn wooden cross at San Diego, where he opens the first of nine missions in California. Other Spanish priests from his mission will open twelve more.

Anne Askew, a staunch Protestant, is burned for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation after weeks of being questioned and racked.

Archbishop Zbynek of Prague has works of Wycliffe burned in Bohemia because they had been condemned by antipope Alexander V, whom Zbynek had recently accepted as the legitimate pope during the Papal Schism.


German princes and the electors of the Holy Roman Empire rally around Ludwig IV of Bavaria at Rense, declaring that an emperor’s authority comes directly from God, is awarded by the electors’ votes, and doesn’t need papal approval. Pope John XXII, warring against Ludwig through proxies, has claimed the right to approve whoever is chosen Holy Roman Emperor. Wishing to eliminate German influence over Italy, the pope has ordered Ludwig to resign and when he doesn’t, excommunicates him. Leading churchmen and scholars take Ludwig’s side, including William of Ockham, Marsilius of Padua, and John of Jandun. Later Ludwig will conquer Rome and establish a pope more to his liking.

<![CDATA[Eastern Europe’s Desperate Struggle with the Teutonic Knights - July 15]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/15/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/15/ Sat, 15 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Eastern Europe’s Desperate Struggle with the Teutonic KnightsJogaila

IT WAS THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY, and armies were on the move. From the East marched the Poles, the Lithuanians, and their allies. From the west came the Teutonic Knights of Prussia with theirs.

The Teutonic Knights (Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem) had been founded around 1190 to defend Crusaders and to establish hospitals. A resurgence of Islam limited their usefulness in the Middle East, but King Andrew II of Hungary solicited their aid against the Kipchaks, a tribe of medieval Turkish nomads. However, he saw the knights as a threat when they attempted to place themselves under the authority of the pope rather than their employer and so Andrew expelled them in 1225. But a Polish noble asked them to help fight against the Prussians. Over the following century, the Knights brought Prussia and regions along the Baltic under their control. They repeatedly attacked pagan Lithuania. Meanwhile, as their wealth grew, so did their corruption.

During that time, Jagiello, the ruler of Lithuania converted to Christianity and married Jadwiga of Poland, becoming King Jogaila. Since the nation was no longer pagan, the Teutonic Knights had lost their main justification for attacking Lithuania. However, they claimed Jogaila’s conversion was insincere, and continued their attacks.

Jogaila and his brother Vytautas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, conceived a strategy for defeating the Knights. To pin down their enemy, they pretended to invade from two directions. Meanwhile a single large army moved rapidly toward Marienburg, the Knights’ capital city. When the Knights discovered the ruse, they moved quickly to intercept Jogaila.

On this day, 15 July 1410, the armies met between the villages of Grunewald, Tannenberg, and Ludwigsdorf. They fought a terrific battle that lasted ten hours. No one is certain how many forces fought on each side. The Knights were probably outnumbered, but they had superior training, a strong cavalry, and an early form of the cannon. However, light rain prevented them from using the cannon.

After their lines nearly broke, the Poles and Lithuanians stiffened their resistance and pushed back against the Knights. In the end, the Teutonic Knights crumbled, losing most of their leadership and thousands of foot soldiers. The eastern allies captured fourteen thousand Prussian soldiers and imposed heavy tribute on the defeated enemy, but they never succeeded in taking their main castle.  Even so, the Teutonic Knights went into decline. Lithuania remained among the Christian nations.

Other Notable Events

Dorothy L. Sayers is baptized as an infant. She will write the well-known Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Christian plays, a radio series on the life of Christ called The Man Born to Be King, and works of apologetics.

The first Hawaiian missionaries set sail for the Caroline Islands with a letter of greeting from King Kamehameha III to all the chiefs of the islands of the Pacific urging them to receive the missionaries kindly, renounce idols, and worship the true and living God. Revival had come to Hawaii and its people were eager to share the gospel.

Death of Anne-Marie Javouhey, an extraordinary peasant girl who took the gospel to French territories in Africa and South America.

Death of Bonaventura. He was a minister general of the Franciscans and a notable preacher. His writings breathe a warmth of spiritual passion and avoidance of scholastic nit-picking.


Death of Vladimir, Grand Prince of Rus, whose conversion to Christianity established the Russian Orthodox Church.


Repose (death) of Saint Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev.

<![CDATA[Keble Identifies National Apostasy - July 14]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/14/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/14/ Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Keble Identifies National ApostasyJohn Keble

“WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS, by which one may judge most fairly, whether or no a nation, as such, is becoming alienated from God and Christ?” 

John Keble asked Britain this question in his sermon, “National Apostasy,” which he preached on this day, 14 July 1833. Among such symptoms of apostasy, he noted, were when a nation deliberately threw off restraint, tolerated lack of faith in those with positions of public trust, and left God out of public thought. 

“What should be the tenor of their conduct, who find themselves cast on such times of decay and danger?” he asked. He answered they should behave like the prophet Samuel when Israel demanded a king. Samuel had vowed to pray for his nation and teach her “right ways.” Keble said that Christians in his day should pray, and remonstrate, likewise. 

His sermon marked the beginning of the Oxford Movement—a revival of religion proceeding from “High Church” figures (those in the Church of England who wished to revive many Roman Catholic forms and beliefs). Among the leaders of this movement were Henry Manning, Edward Pusey, Richard Hurrell Froude, William Ward, and John Henry Newman. 

The High Church party looked back to creeds and to apostolic succession for its religious authority, and argued for a continuity of Anglicanism in their day with Catholicism before the Reformation. Its members issued tracts and preached sermons to persuade the British to restore Christian life to the nation. Newman, for example, preached a sermon titled, “Holiness Necessary for Future Blessedness.” Here he solemnly warned his listeners that for a person who cared nothing about God here on earth, heaven would be a misery, for there everything is about God. “Heaven,” he said, “would be hell to an irreligious man.” 

Some High Church reformers became Roman Catholics. Among them were Manning and Ward. Newman soon followed. He had written a tract in which he argued that the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England could be interpreted in a Roman Catholic way. When the Church of England banned him from issuing any more tracts as one of their priests, he resigned from his positions as priest and professor at Oxford. 

Thus, the Oxford Movement divided the English church, but it had a profound effect on the spirituality of English clergy.  It also forced leaders in the Church of England to reexamine on what basis their doctrine and authority stood.

Dan Graves

Other Notable Events


Forty-seven-year-old Ting Ang, a trader in Fuchau, China, is baptized on this day, the first Methodist convert in China.


Death of Johann August Wilhelm Neander. Born David Mendel, a Jew, he had taken the name Neander at his conversion and become an influential theologian and church historian.


Theodore Fliedner escorts four deaconesses to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where three days later a deaconness home will be solemnly dedicated, the beginning of the Lutheran deaconess work in the U.S. from which will spring many deaconness hospitals.


Death of Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, a champion of contemplative prayer and the co-compiler (with Macarius of Corinth) of the Philokalia (Love of the Good), an anthology of spiritual writings by monks from the desert fathers to Gregory Palamas.


Samson Occom’s wife finds him dead, having collapsed as he walked back to his house after writing an article in his study. Occom had been a notable evangelist among American Indians, a hymnwriter, and the principal fundraiser for the college which became Dartmouth University.


Death of Camillus de Lellis at Rome. After a wild life as a soldier, he underwent a conversion experience, served the sick, and founded the Agonizants, an order to care for the sick and minister to the dying.

Death of Richard Taverner, a Bible translator and reformer in England.

Death of Deusdedit, the sixth Archbishop of Canterbury.

<![CDATA[Judsons Find a Cheerless Home in Rangoon - July 13]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/13/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/13/ Thu, 13 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Judsons Find a Cheerless Home in RangoonAdoniram and Ann Judson

“THE PROSPECT OF RANGOON as we approached was quite disheartening. I went on shore just at night, to take a view of the place, and the mission house; but so dark, and cheerless, and unpromising did all things appear, that the evening of that day, after my return to the ship, we have marked as the most gloomy and distressing that we ever passed.” That is how Adoniram Judson described his arrival in Burma, on this day, 13 July 1813. 

Rangoon was “a miserable, dirty town” built on a swamp in one of the outlets of the Irrawaddy River. All the sewage of the city—and the smell—accumulated in the channels of the river until tides moved it out to sea. The vegetation was beautiful, but the people went hungry because they had no incentive to grow much. The government seized whatever they produced. Food was costly. At the very least, the Judsons had a home— an earlier missionary, who had abandoned the work in Rangoon, turned his house over to them. 

Such an arrival could only be a matter of wild chance—or of God’s extraordinary providence. The Judsons had fled Calcutta because the East India Company was prepared to deport them to England. Escaping, they made their way first to a French island and then to Madras. Learning that the East India Company had attempted to send fellow missionaries to England as spies (the United States and Britain were at war), the Judsons determined to leave India at once. The only ship they could get was bound for Burma. They boarded the Giorgianna, which Judson described as “a crazy old vessel.” 

Judson had hired a Portuguese woman to accompany his wife, Ann.  This maid dropped dead the day they boarded the ship, and the shock of the incident weakened Ann’s health considerably.  Their vessel sailed into a typhoon and Ann almost died. But by God’s mercy, she did not, and the credit for evangelizing Burma was as much hers as Adoniram’s. She proved a better linguist than he, which greatly assisted his efforts to learn the language and translate the Bible. It was five years before the pair baptized their first convert. By then, other missionaries had joined them. 

In 1824, Britain went to war with Burma and Judson was arrested. Burma’s king made no distinction between Americans and British, as long as they were white. Ann labored to free her husband and provide him the bare necessities of life.  But in that hot climate, she sickened. The British defeated the Burmese and after twenty-one months, Judson was released. Joy turned to sorrow when Ann and their young daughter, Maria, died soon after. 

Adoniram’s own death came in 1850 at sea, but the Judsons’ lifelong labor had not been in vain.  By then, there were seven thousand Burmese Christians.

Dan Graves

Other Notable Events


Death of Wycliffe Bible Translators missionary Henry F. Blood from pneumonia and malnutrition while a captive in Vietnamese hands. He had been captured in the Tet offensive six months earlier. His character won a fellow captive, Mike Benge, to become a Christian.


Death in Oxford of Joy Davidman Lewis, wife of C.S. Lewis.


Three children in Fatima, Portugal, report seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. The appartion gives them letters to take to the Pope.


In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Orthodox archbishop, Abune Mateos, tries the evangelical preacher Onesimus Nesib and finds him guilty on trumped up charges, calling down the curse of heaven on him. Onesimus is sentenced to lose all his property. However the emperor’s agent investigates and clears Nesib of all charges except refusal to accept a belief in the mediating role of Mary and the saints.


Death in Reading, Pennsylvania, of Conrad Weiser, a Lutheran peacemaker and negotiator, who had learned the Mohawk language and customs in order to communicate and make treaties with them. He was the father-in-law of notable Lutheran pastor Henry Melchior Muhlenberg and will be remembered in the Episcopal Church calendar on the date of his death.

Death of Pope John III. During his lifetime, the Lombards repeatedly ravaged Italy.
<![CDATA[Erasmus Goes Home to Christ - July 12]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/12/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/12/ Wed, 12 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT Erasmus Goes Home to ChristErasmus

“O JESUS CHRIST, Son of God, have mercy upon me! I will sing of the mercy of God and of His judgment.” With those words, Erasmus breathed his last on this day, 12 July 1536. He was sixty-nine. 

His life had been full of sorrows, adversity, and threats mingled with success, adulation, and fame. He was born out of wedlock. His father, led to believe that the boy’s mother was dead, took monastic vows and only discovered the truth too late. Both parents died when Erasmus was young. By beatings, starvation, and false promises of leisure to engage in literary pursuits, Erasmus was coerced into entering the priesthood. Cruel schools starved him and exposed him to serious illness, which left him prematurely old-looking. 

At that time, the state of education was poor. Erasmus soon developed a passion to raise its standards: “I did my best to deliver the rising generation from this slough of ignorance, and to inspire them with a taste for better studies,” he wrote after he was famous. 

Erasmus owed his popular fame to his book the Praise of Folly. A satire, it poked fun at the abuses of his day, such as the sale of indulgences and praying to Mary. Kings and even popes did not escape his mockery: “Whatever of toil and drudgery belongs to their office, that they assign over to St. Peter, or St. Paul, who have time enough to mind it; but if there be any thing of pleasure and grandeur, that they assume to themselves, as being hereunto called.” 

This and other books awakened a desire for  reform in the church. Later generations would say that Erasmus loaded the cannon and Luther fired it. Unfortunately, Erasmus found himself attacked by both sides. Lutherans turned against him because he would not join their cause, which he considered destructive to the church. Catholics threatened his life and banned some of his books because they blamed him for starting the Reformation. 

More than just a man of wit, Erasmus was also a great scholar. He mastered Latin and Greek, the languages of learning in his day, and issued New Testaments in both. His Latin version corrected a number of errors in the church’s official translation. Much of his life was spent translating Greek works into Latin, especially those of the Eastern church fathers, so Western Christians could read these works for themselves. 

Above all, he wanted people to know the Bible better, and had no use for philosophical subtleties—pagan or Christian. “What is at the back of all this glorification of Cicero? I will answer in one or two words, whispered into your ears. It is a mere cloak for paganism, the revival of which is more to them than the glory of our Lord.” 

Shortly before his death he wrote, “My life has been long if measured by years. Take from it the time lost in struggling against disease, it has not been so very long after all. You talk of the great name I shall leave behind me, and which posterity is never to let die. Very kind and friendly on your part, but I care nothing for fame and nothing for posterity. I desire only to go home and find favor with Christ.”

Dan Graves

Other Notable Events


Death in Paris, from throat cancer, of Sergius Bulgakov, an Orthodox priest living in exile. He had helped found the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris where he taught dogmatic theology. 


Following a night of prayer, Bakht Singh and his coworkers are prompted to found indigenous churches with the four-fold task of showing Christ’s fulness, unity, wisdom, and glory. The first church, called Jehovah Shammah, is established in Madras on this day. The Lord soon multiplies more churches across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, and elsewhere.


Death in Plattsburg, New York, from acute appendicitis, of S. Parkes Cadman, a well-known Christian speaker, radio personality, former president of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and pastor of the Central Congregational Church of Brooklyn.


Death of Nathan Söderblom, a Swedish Lutheran clergyman, noted for his ecumenism and the formation of groups that will lead to the formation of the World Council of Churches.

Three thousand miners meet for a revival meeting on Frongoch Hill near Aberystwyth, Wales. It is so hot they pray for relief and God sends a mist. This prayer meeting will become an annual event.

Frederick W. Robertson is ordained in the Anglican Church by the Bishop of Winchester. He will bring evangelical passion to his pulpit and be known for his psychological approach to biblical characters, seeking to understand their motivations.


As David Brainerd is walking through a dark grove to his secret place of prayer, God speaks to him and he has a glorious salvation experience. The twenty-one-year-old will live only eight more years but inspire many others through his diary.


Death of Arsenius of Novgorod, where he had founded a monastery. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible to his face for destroying the city.


Thirteen year old Lady Jane Grey writes a letter to Henry Bullinger asking his advice for her studies.


Death of Jean Charlier Gerson. An educator and bishop, he had been considered a reformer although he joined in condemning Jan Hus at Constance.


As a step in his quest to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, king of Germany and of Sicily signs the Golden Bull of Eger, renouncing secular authority over the German clergy. This will sometimes be known as the Magna Carta of Hungary.


Because of clashes between Christian factions, Roman Emperor Marcian issues a law against brawling in churches and against holding meetings in private houses or in the streets.

<![CDATA[The Changing Faces of the Ukraine’s Saint Olga - July 11]]> https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/11/ https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/today/7/11/ Tue, 11 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT The Changing Faces of the Ukraine’s Saint OlgaSt. Olga

OLGA IS KNOWN today as a saint in both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, but her first actions as regent of the eastern Slavic confederacy known as “Rus” were far from saintly. Her husband, Igor, had ruined Kiev with his wars. He was killed while looting a fierce Drevlian tribe west of Kiev in 954. 

Because their son Sviatoslav was underage at the time, Olga became regent and was determined to avenge her husband. Drevlian prince Mal unsuspectingly played into her hand. Olga had the nickname “Prekrasna,” meaning “very beautiful,” so he sent an embassy to ask her hand in marriage. She buried the ambassadors alive, but took care Mal would not hear of it. He sent a second embassy, and she burned them to death in a bath house. 

She then pretended to entertain his proposal of marriage and set out for the Drevlian lands, asking only that vast quantities of mead be prepared at the city where Igor had been slain, so that she might bewail her dead husband. When the Drevlians were thoroughly drunk, her followers massacred about five thousand of them. Olga went on to subdue the entire region. She proved to be a great organizer and a capable administrator of her realm. 

Three years after the death of Igor, Olga traveled to Constantinople, to show off her military might and to negotiate diplomatic and trade agreements. Impressed by the strength, unity, and riches of Byzantium and Saxony, her two strongest neighbors, both of which were Christian, she converted to Christianity and was baptized, taking the name Helen. The emperor gave her rich gifts. About this time, Sviatoslav assumed the throne. He wanted nothing to do with his mother’s newfound faith, preferring the rough life of a pagan soldier. However, he did allow her to keep priests in attendance. 

Olga endeavored to interest her son in improving Russian commerce through bridge building and road construction, as well as developing new towns, but Sviatoslav had little patience for her suggestions.  Neither did he accept her arguments in favor of Christianity. Others did listen, however, and a sizable faction of Russians became Christians. 

Perhaps these developments had some influence on her grandson Vladimir. He became a Christian years after her death. Under him, Christianity flourished in Russia, and he is credited with Christianizing the Ukraine and Byelorussia as well. 

Olga died in 969. Sviatoslav permitted her body to be given a Christian burial. The Russian Orthodox Church named her its first saint. Her feast is on this day, 11 July.

—Dan Graves

Other Notable Events


Tanganyikan Catholic bishops issue a pastoral letter titled Africans and the Christian Way of Life.


Eric Liddell wins the Olympic 400 meter race in Paris after he had rejected an opportunity to run in the 100 meter race because its heats were on a Sunday: he believes it is a violation of God’s Sabbath command to run on Sunday.


Death of Baptist hymnwriter Joseph Stennet who produced hymnals and wrote a few hymns that are still remembered, chiefly “Another Six Day’s Work Is Done.”

Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, is executed, on the accusation of treason because of his Roman Catholic faith. He becomes the last Catholic in England put to death for his faith.

Ann Austin and Mary Fisher become the first Quakers to arrive in America but are promptly arrested. Five weeks later, they will be deported back to England.


Death of Nicolas Oresme, a French bishop who had written extensively against astrology and developed graphing techniques later used by Galileo and other scientists—among many other worthwhile contributions to knowledge.


Assassination of John, bishop of Bergamo, in Lombardy, where he had resisted the errors of Arianism with success.


Athanasius leaves Alexandria in response to a summons to appear at a synod in Tyre, but when he learns that the council has made up its mind to condemn him, he will proceed to Constantinople and make his case to Emperor Constantine.