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12 May 2017

Reasons of state

by Roger G. Robins | Issue 122

Defenestration of Prague“EVERYWHERE THERE IS ENVY, hatred and greed: that’s what the war has taught us. … We live like animals, eating bark and grass. … Many people say that there is no God. …” These lines, inscribed in a family Bible in a small south German town in 1647, bear witness to the profound trauma inflicted by the waves of warfare that swept central Europe between 1618 and 1648. 

Known collectively as the Thirty Years’ War, these conflicts began as a civil disturbance within a single dominion of the Holy Roman Empire. But they evolved into an existential...

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23 Feb 2017

Christmas Miracles

by various | Issue 121

During Christmas 1914 spontaneous gestures of goodwill erupted in some places on the Western Front.

On Christmas Eve the firing practically ceased. I think both sides understood we were going to have a day off. Through the night we sang carols to one another. … When dawn arrived we started putting our head above the parapet and waved to each other. On our left was a brewery occupied by the Germans and to our surprise we saw a German come out and hold his hand up; behind him were two rolling a barrel of beer. They came halfway across. …

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23 Feb 2017

World wars Timeline

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 121

The political backdrop of this issue

1914

June 28 Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Duchess Sophie, are assassinated by Serbian activist Gavrilo Princip.

July 28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, officially launching World War I.

1915

[American sailor reading the Bible in World War II—https://www.archives.gov]

April 24 Genocide against Armenians begins in Turkey.

May 7 German U-boat sinks British liner Lusitania .

1916

May 16 Sykes-Picot Agreement divides the Middle East between Britain and France.

July 1 ...

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23 Feb 2017

No atheists in the foxholes?

by Kevin L. Walters | Issue 121

In German prisoner-of-war (POW) camp Stalag 4c, a small group of imprisoned US troops gathered for an improvised Christmas Eve worship service in 1944. Since they lacked a chaplain, a young man reluctantly volunteered to lead them in prayer. 

Clarence Swope, who was present at the service, recalled, “It was the most moving religious experience I ever had.” Though they prayed for the safety and comfort of their families rather than their own, Swope described leaving the gathering with an exhilarating feeling of complete faith that all would...

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23 Feb 2017

A sacred Conflict or an unfortunate necessity?

by Barry Hankins | Issue 121

In 1940 , the year before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, America was already inching, if not striding, toward involvement in the war that was raging in Europe. That January Fortune , a major secular magazine, published a scathing editorial against America’s clergy for their failure to support the war. 

Fortune editors pointed out that before World War I, preachers had opposed the evil of war; but during that war they had exhibited a holy war mentality in their anti-German propaganda. Then, after World War I, the editors claimed, clergy...

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22 Feb 2017

The Crisis of the West

by Jeffrey B. Webb | Issue 121

A wrong turn on June 28, 1914 , plunged the world into war. 

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Sophie, rode through the streets of Sarajevo in Bosnia, a province Austria-Hungary had taken from the Serbs just six years earlier. Unbeknownst to him, seven Serbian nationalists were hiding in the crowd to attempt an assassination. The first try—a bomb—missed, injuring an officer. The rattled archduke kept his scheduled appointments, but chose a different route back, intending to go to the...

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22 Feb 2017

Editor's note

by Jennifer Woodruff Tait | Issue 121

World War I and World War II, for me at least, have often presented themselves as a series of names: Woodrow Wilson, Alvin York, Corrie ten Boom, Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We all know heroic stories; some of us remember the sagas of specific battles. 

Even more than 70 years after the end of World War II, these wars still form us. Many of our print readers are from the United States, and many online readers hail from other nations that fought in these conflicts. As world wars, they transformed the face of the globe politically and...

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21 Feb 2017

Letters to the editor

by Our readers | Issue 121

Taste and see

Thank you for your leadership of Christian History, which is truly a blessing to me and to many other Christians! The most recent edition—The Wonder of Creation—particularly touched my heart. Your Editor’s Letter was insightful and beautiful… . Please prayerfully consider a future edition of Christian History about food. It would be wonderful to hear the story of how Christians have found Him in food, through the generations.—Edward Joseph James, MD

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21 Feb 2017

did you know

by the editors | Issue 121

The vicar is a pacifist 

G. A. Studdert-Kennedy (1883–1929), an English slum vicar who became a World War I chaplain, developed an unusual way to get the attention of troops—distributing Bibles and Woodbine cigarettes, earning him the name “Woodbine Willie.” Once he put up a post with the sign “The Vicarage.” Soldiers walking by commented, “Look—the bloody vicarage.” Studdert-Kennedy poked his head out and said, “And here’s the bloody vicar.” When he died at 46, he was so famous that King George V sent condolences. Some ex-soldiers sent a...

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31 May 1998

Peaceniks

by James R. Goff | Issue 58

WHEN WORLD WAR I broke out, most adherents to the fledgling Pentecostal movement stood firmly on the side of pacifism. The movement’s leaders, like Frank Bartleman and Charles Parham (who married a Quaker) had made it a key tenet years before, even though they believed war was inevitable.

The position drew strength from at least two quarters. First, Pentecostals took literally the biblical injunctions to “Love your enemies” and “Thou shalt not kill.”

But Pentecostals also believed their movement heralded the end of the world as they knew...

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