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May 6th in Christian History – The Beginning of Princeton University and Rome Sacked Again

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 “From Log Cabin to University”

William Tennent was born in 1673, educated at the University of Edinburgh (pictured left), where he received a Master of Arts degree, and eventually was ordained in the Anglican Church in Ireland. He had an independent streak and tended not to conform to the Anglican Church. Instead of leading his own parish as a typical clergyman, he served as a chaplain to an Irish nobleman.

In 1718 he and his family emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia. Shortly after his arrival he petitioned the Presbyterian synod to allow him to become a Presbyterian minister. He renounced the Anglican Church because of disagreements over church government and the Arminian tendencies of its doctrines. His petition was accepted, and he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister without having to undergo further education.

He first took pastorates in New York and then in 1726 went to Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, to lead a church. He remained there for the rest of his life. Shortly after his arrival, he began informally tutoring his sons and some other young men who were preparing to enter the Presbyterian ministry. By 1735 he formalized his efforts by building a simple log building on his property to serve as his school. It came to be known at “Log College.” His motivation for building the college was to increase the supply of Presbyterian ministers in America. Until this point candidates for the ministry had had to go to New England or abroad for training. Tennent was known for his excellent teaching skills, deep faith, and godly lifestyle.

Tennent’s three younger sons, William, John, and Charles, were trained at Log College and went on to become Presbyterian ministers and leaders of the Great Awakening.

The college was not without its detractors. In fact, the name “Log College” was itself a derogatory and derisive reference. Many within the Presbyterian Church were skeptical of the college’s ability to provide adequate training because of its humble and remote surroundings. Additional tension came from the fact that those who were supporters of the college also tended to be more aggressively evangelistic. They embraced the great evangelist George Whitefield and his methods, which were controversial at the time.

Although many demeaned the simplicity of the Log College, George Whitefield admired it. He wrote in his journal:

The place wherein the young men study now, is in contempt called, the college. It is a log house, about twenty foot long, and near as many broad; and to me it seemed to resemble the school of the old prophets; for their habitations were mean; and that they sought not great things for themselves is plain…All that we can say of most of our universities is, they are glorious without. From this despised place, seven or eight worthy ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth; more are almost ready to be sent, and the foundation is now laying for the instruction of many others.

The Log College closed as old age and poor health claimed William Tennent. He died on May 6, 1746. That fall supporters of the Log College joined together with Presbyterians disillusioned with Yale’s recent expulsion of David Brainerd to form the College of New Jersey. Four of the initial trustees were graduates of the Log College, including two of Tennent’s sons. Another Log College graduate and initial trustee was Samuel Finley, who later became the fifth president of the college. Today we know the College of New Jersey, the successor of Log College, as Princeton University Princeton University was born in a log cabin (pictured left – a long way from a log cabin)!

Reflection:

William Tennent’s deep faith and his commitment to teaching others created a far-reaching legacy for the kingdom of Christ.

Do you ever think about he legacy you will leave? Will it further God’s kingdom?

“Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” – Zechariah 4:10

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 6th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

  

“Rome Sacked Again”

In 1523 Giulio de’ Medici became Pope Clement VII. Martin Luther was causing problems at the time; but portents soon appeared of greater distresses to come. On April 8, 1527, as Clement blessed a crowd of 10,000, a fanatic in leather loincloth mounted a nearby statue, shouting, “Thou bastard of Sodom! For thy sins Rome shall be destroyed. Repent and turn thee!” Not quite a month later, on fog-shrouded May 6, 1527, a vast army of barbarians burst through Rome’s walls and poured into the city. They had been sent—but were no longer controlled—by Emperor Charles V. By the time the troops reached Rome, they were hungry, unpaid, shoeless, reduced to tatters, and rabid (Coliseum of Rome pictured on left).

The defending Roman and Swiss guards were annihilated. The barbarians pillaged, plundered, and burned with abandon. They entered hospitals and orphanages, slaughtering the occupants. Women of every age were attacked; nuns were herded into bordellos; priests were molested. The banks and treasuries were looted, the rich flogged until they turned over their last coin. Fingernails were ripped out one by one. Children were flung from high windows. Tombs were plundered, churches stripped, libraries and archives burned. Priceless manuscripts became bedding for horses. Drunken soldiers strutted around in papal garments, parodying holy rites. Within a week, 2,000 bodies were floating in the Tiber and nearly 10,000 more awaited burials. Multitudes perished. Rats and dogs eviscerated the bloating, fetid corpses that piled up in the city.

Pope Clement had barely made it into the safety of the Castle of St. Angelo, and from its towers he helplessly watched the ravaging of his city. “Why did you take me from the womb?” he wailed. “Would that I had been consumed.”

As news spread over Europe, Protestants interpreted the sack of Rome as divine retribution, and even some Catholics agreed. “We who should have been the salt of the earth decayed until we were good for nothing,” wrote Cardinal Cajetan, Luther’s contestant at Augsburg. “Everyone is convinced that all this has happened as a judgment of God on the great tyranny and disorders of the papal court.”

My eyes are red from crying, my stomach is in knots, and I feel sick all over. My people are being wiped out, and children lie helpless in the streets of the city. Those who pass by shake their heads and sneer as they make fun and shout, “What a lovely city you were, the happiest on earth, but look at you now!” Lamentations 2:11,15

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 6th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

Significant Events on This Day:

1312: The Council of Vienne ended. It was called chiefly to suppress the Knights Templar at the insistence of Philip IV of France. Philip made sure he got his way by appearing outside the city with an army.

1527: Charles V’s out-of-hand army entered Rome, killing, looting, raping and torturing. Pope Clement VII barely escaped with his life. The tragedy followed a prophecy by a beggar-preacher that Rome would be destroyed for Clement’s sins.

1746: William Tennent died on this day (See article above). He opened what was called a “log-college,” and his zealous students played a key role in the Great Awakening and in founding the school that became Princeton Theological Seminary.”

1840: Father Demetrius A. Gallitzin, “Apostle of the Alleghenies,” died. He immigrated to the US from Russia, converted to Catholicism, studied at Baltimore Seminary and spent the bulk of his life establishing churches in the Allegheny Mountains. He had been strongly influenced by his zealously religious mother. Amalia, who had brought many to a belief in Catholicism.

1986: The first American Indian Roman Catholic bishop, Donald E. Pelotte, was ordained in Gallup, New Mexico.

A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The events above were adapted from the entry for May 6th.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Church History

 

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May 4th In Christian History – Father Damien, W. Robertson Nicoll, and Jessie Hetherington

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1256: With the bull Licet Ecclesiaa Catholicae, Pope Alexander IV founded the order of Hermits f St. Augustine, also known as Augustinians.

1453: Patrick Yohannis XI issued a bull on the West Indies, drawing a line of demarcation between the colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal.

1521: Martin Luther arrived at Wartburg (castle pictured on left) after having been kidnapped for his own protection by German ruler Frederick the Wise on his way home from the Diet (Congress) of Worms. During his months there, Luther translated the Bible into German (Luther’s study at Wartburg Castle where he did his translation pictured on right).

1535: King Henry VIII of England had several Carthusian monks hanged, drawn and quartered in London for refusing to submit to him as head of the church.

1923: Sir William Robertson Nicoll died. The sickly scholar was in bed for much of his life but read two books a day and wrote the Expositor’s Bible (mini-biography in article below).

“Father Damien: Minister to Sufferers of Leprosy on Molokai”

“I am ready to be buried alive with those poor wretches.” The man who said this was father Damien. The wretches he spoke of were the miserable sufferers of leprosy on Molokai Island. Leprosy was the curse of the Hawaiian archipelago, which was so blessed in other ways. People with the disease were isolated on the peninsula of Molokai. The disease causes nerves to die and leads to damage of the body’s extremities. Leprosy was so feared that the Hawaiian government made it illegal for anyone landing on the peninsula to return to the other islands. Damien knew that if he went, he would not be allowed to return. On this day, May 4, 1873, he made an irrevocable decision: He would confront the gates of hell (Father Damien pictured on left in 1873 shortly before he left for Molokai).

Conditions on the island were bestial. Demon-faced men raped beautiful young girls in whom leprosy had just been discovered in the stages of final decay. Victims of the dreadful disease threw weaker victims out of the huts to die. Not that the huts were wonderful: They were hideous with disease and despair. Most of the wretched men and women reeked of a decaying flesh.

Damien turned white as a sheet as he landed on the beach. Yet he prayed to be able to see Christ in the ghastly forms before him. Given one last chance to leave he refused. He had volunteered for hell, and he intended to civilize it.

The son of a Flemish farmer, Damien had entered the priesthood with great fervor. His very presence in Hawaii was the result of constant appeals to his supervisor to let him go. Once there, he proved himself a determined evangelist.

Nothing he had done before could compare with the efforts he now made. Although water was plentiful in the mountains,, there was little in the settlement, so Damien organized daily bucket brigades. Later he constructed a channel that diverted a stream of water to the very doorsteps of the unhealthy town. He developed farms. The apathetic lepers had neglected even this simple attempt to make themselves self-sufficient. He burned the worst houses and scoured out those that could be salvaged. Saw and axe in hand, he built new houses. He laid out a cemetery, stating that from that point on, anyone who died would be properly buried. He prepared a dump and cleaned up the village and its land. He shut down alcohol stills.

And he told his decaying audience about Christ. His cheerful conversation led dozens to turn to Christ. The same men who had been stealing from dying outcasts or dumping them into ditches to die asked for baptism (Island of Molokai pictured on right).

Jealous Hawaiian authorities and Protestant missionaries, who had done little for the outcasts, spread scandalous stories about Damien. But he labored on.

Twelve years after he arrived on the island, Damien discovered that his own feet were leprous. Four years later he was dead. His quiet heroism won worldwide renown. It brought new donations to help the leper colony and staff nurses and other helpers. By his gruesome living death, Damien assaulted the gates of hell.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for May 4th.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.

“Weak Lungs: Sir William Robertson Nicoll”

Sickness proved a blessing for W. Robertson Nicoll, for it determined his career and ministry. He was born in 1851 with weak lungs. His mother, brother, and sister died from tuberculosis. He was raised by his father, Pastor Harry Nicoll, whose church numbered 100 souls—but whose library numbered 17,000 books.

Inheriting his dad’s love for literature, Robertson began a weekly column for the Aberdeen Journal. He started pastoring, but doctors told him his lungs were too weak for preaching. He contracted typhoid and pleurisy, resigned his church, and retreated to his books. Here Robertson found his calling.

He was already editing a magazine called The Expositor, and in 1886 he began The British Weekly. It became a leading Christian journal in Britain. He then started The Bookman, and two years later The Woman at Home appeared in magazine stalls. While editing his four periodicals, Robertson began publishing books (he read two books a day throughout his life). The Expositor’s Bible, a series of 50 volumes, was released between 1888 and 1905. Then The Expositor’s Greek New Testament appeared. Robertson persuaded Alexander Maclaren to issue his expositions; then he found and developed other writers. In all, Robertson edited hundreds of titles and wrote 40 books of his own. He became the most prolific and respected Christian journalist in the English-speaking world.

In 1909, while being knighted, he said, “I never contemplated a literary career. I had expected to go on as a minister, doing literary work in leisure times, but my fate was sealed for me.” His illness forced him to do much of his work propped in bed amid the clutter of newspapers, books, pipes, and cigarette ashes. His cats purred nearby, and he always kept a fire burning, claiming that fresh air was the devil’s invention. His library contained 25,000 volumes, including 5,000 biographies. “I have read every biography I could lay my hands on,” he said, “and not one has failed to teach me something.”

Sir W. Robertson Nicoll died on May 4, 1923. Among his last words were, “I believe everything I have written about immortality!”

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 4th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 “Jessie Hetherington: Voyaging to Australia—But Ending Up in Paradise”

On May 4, 1837, Jessie Hetherington began a letter to her mother that she never finished.

Several months earlier Jessie and Irving Hetherington had been married and immediately left Scotland for Sydney, Australia. Before their wedding, Irving had a fruitful ministry in the poor suburbs of Edinburgh. While involved in this work, he felt the call of God when he heard a request for preachers in New South Wales, Australia, even though he knew it might mean the end of his engagement to Jessie. Jessie, however, gladly agreed to accompany him: “Where you wish to take me, there I will go.” Three months later into the voyage to Sydney, Jessie caught scarlet fever and died just days later. (All Saints Church in New South Wales pictured on left).

The following is an excerpt from the letter Irving finished for his wife:

I write now in Sydney, for, during our whole voyage, we met no opportunity in England; yet is my Jessie’s every look and every tone as distinctly engraved on my memory—as fully remembered, as they were two months ago. O yes! I never can forget. And in particular will you be anxious to know what was her experience in the prospect of eternity. It was of the serenity of heaven. Let me die the death f the righteous, and let my last end be like hers. O, it was the most perfect peace! On the surgeon appraising me on Tuesday of her extreme danger, I thought it right to communicate this to her. She was quite collected at the time; and was looking at me in the affectionate manner that was so usual to her, and which will, I think, never cease to haunt my dreams. I said to her that Mr. Thompson did not give us reason to expect her recovery. “It is the Lord’s will, and we must submit, Irving,” she quietly answered. “And have you no fear then, of death, Jessie? “No, dear.” “And how is it that you are not afraid to die?” “I have long taken Christ for my portion, and set my hopes on Him.” I could but weep. Afterwards I asked her what word of God gave her the most comfort. “Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” she replied, with much eagerness; and, after I had made some remarks on this, she bade me repeat some of those Scriptures in which salvation by grace is offered to sinners. This I continued to do, when I thought she was in a state of consciousness; and prayed with her day and night. Her spirit ascended as I was commending her to the grace of God. As assured do I feel of her blessedness, yea, as confident that she is now with the God for whom she gave up so much, as I could be were an angel to bring to me tidings of her mingling with the choir above. To her, death was indeed unspeakable gain. But what a loss have I sustained!

Now alone, Irving Hetherington continued on to Australia and became the first evangelical minister in Singleton, New South Wales. It was a district fifty miles long by thirty miles wide. For several years he also was the superintendent of the area’s school. Combined with these responsibilities he made weekly treks in all weather to settler’s houses to serve both them and their convict servants, doing much of his studying and sermon preparations on horseback. After nine years he was called as the minister of Scott’s Church in Melbourne, where he preached until just before his death in 1875.

Reflection

Have you ever lost a loved one? If it hasn’t happened yet, it will in the future. When our loved ones have given their allegiance to Jesus, we can know that they are in God’s presence. If you have loved ones who are not yet on the way to heaven, share with them that Jesus is the way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 4th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 
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May 2nd In Christian History – John Knox, William Taylor, and Peter Waldo

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

373: Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria died on this day. Athanasius not only defended the theology of the Trinity but also was the first to list the New Testament canon as we have it. He was exiled many times but remarked, “If the world goes against truth, then Athanasius goes against the world.”

1550: Joan Boucher was burned to death in England for denying that the Virgin Mary was sinless. The minister who preached at her execution made so many errors in his sermon that she told him, “Go read the Bible.”

1559: After serving a stint as a prisoner in the French galleys, John Knox reached Edinburgh to lead the Reformation in Scotland.

1913: The love letters of the Christian poet Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barret were sold. Browning inspired Elizabeth to rise from her sickbed through a faith expressed in terms of positive thinking. They married. He was distressed when she dabbled in spiritualism.

1982: Ailing Pastor Lin Xiangao was arrested in Guangzhou, China, for holding house-church services despite a government ban.

“William Taylor: The Practical Bishop of African Methodists”

William Taylor was born in Virginia on May 2, 1821. He made his mark as a Methodist circuit rider and missionary. The mark he made as a child, however, was probably not much different than that of other boys of his day.

There was the time, for instance, when three-year-old Taylor saw a large cluster of bees hanging down from the front of his grandfather’s hive:

I said, “Ah, my sweeties, I’ll fix you.” So I got an empty horn of a cow and filled it with water and dashed it on the bees. They resented it and speared at me most unmercifully. The lesson I learned was to attend to my own business and not meddle with the affairs of other folks.

Before Taylor was ten, his grandmother taught him the Lord’s Prayer and explained that he could be a Son of God. He longed for the relationship but did not know how to get it. Overhearing the story of a poor black man who had gotten salvation, Taylor wondered why he could not do the same:

But soon after, as I sat one night by the kitchen fire, the Spirit of the Lord came on me and I found myself suddenly weeping aloud and confessing my sins to God in detail, as I could recall them, and begged him for Jesus’ sake to forgive them, with all I could not remember; and I found myself suddenly weeping aloud and confessing my sins to God in detail, as I could recall them, and begged him for Jesus’ sake to forgive them, with all I could not remember; and I found myself trusting in Jesus that it would all be so, and in a few minutes my heart was filled with peace and love, not the shadows of a doubt remaining.

After his conversion, Taylor backslid. Satan, he perceived told him there was no longer forgiveness for him, and for years he lived in dread and misery. But then, when he was a teen, he was restored to Christ, and he became so joyful that he felt he had to tell others. It was the beginning of a long life of evangelism.

Taylor’s greatest torment was to go up to perfect strangers and speak to them about their souls, but he did it until he learned better methods. One technique that he learned was to join people at their work—even logrolling—with their confidence with his brawn and then invite them to hear him preach.

Taylor rode circuits in Virginia and Maryland. In 1849 he accepted an appointment to California, and journeyed there with Annie Kimberlie, his wife, and their two children. When they reached California they lived for a fortnight in the open air before someone relented and took them in. Taylor cut trees and built a home while at the same time he ministered to California’s gamblers, gold diggers and sick.

Annie was four-and-a-half years younger than her husband but looked younger still. People often mistook them for father and daughter. Although deeply in love, they were often separated for years at a time while he led revival meetings and mission work around the world. It was Taylor’s contention that if whalers could leave their families for three years to gather blubber, he could do no less for the greater treasure of souls.

Taylor’s labors took him to every continent. He preached in Canada, Australia, Africa, India, Britain and South America. Wherever he went, hundreds turned to Christ. He became bishop of Africa. With wry humor, he remarked that if he disposed to lay a scheme for killing bishops decently, he would advise that by all means they avoid the highlands of Liberia and remain on the deadly malaria infested coast (William Taylor pictured left).

William Taylor urged that missionaries be self-supporting. By his hard work, he showed how they might become so. Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, is named for him.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for May 2nd.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.

John Knox: “A Trumpet’s Voice”

Giffordgate, Scotland, outside Haddington, was an ardently Catholic village containing several churches, two monasteries, an abbey—and a farming couple named Knox who reared a child named John. The lad excelled at Haddington Grammar School where his teacher proclaimed him the most brilliant pupil he had ever had. John entered the University of Glasgow, then St. Andrews University, where the gusts of the Reformation tugged at his Catholic heart.

Knox spent the next 20 years as a village priest and college lecturer. Then one day, listening to a Mr. Williams preach Reformation truth, he was struck as with an arrow. Soon thereafter he “cast anchor” by faith in Christ alone. His Reformation ideas put him at risk, and for years he alternated between flight and imprisonment (once chained to the oars of a galley ship). He finally settled down in relative safety on the Continent where he studied, wrote, discussed, and kept an eye on his native land.

In 1559 he sensed it was time to return. England’s Queen Mary had been replaced by the more Protestant Elizabeth, and the groups of Protestant refugees in Europe were abuzz with excitement. Protestants began streaming back into England, and in late April Knox himself set sail for Scotland, determined to “blow the Lord’s trumpet” gallantly.

He landed on May 2, 1559 to find a nation on the knife-edge of chaos. Mary of Guise, queen regent and mother of young Mary, Queen of Scots, was railing against Protestants. Civil war was threatening. Knox’s presence and preachments so inspired the people that the English ambassador reported, “The voice of one man is able in one hour to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears.”

The government fought Protestants tooth and nail until June 10, 1560, when the queen regent died. The Treaty of Edinburgh temporarily ended the conflict, and the Reformation took hold. More storms lay ahead, and the aging Knox grew surly. But he managed to lead a bloodless revolution in Scotland and establish the faith of a nation (John Knox pictured at left).

“Sound the trumpet on Zion! Call the people together. Show your sorrow by going without food. Make sure that everyone is fit to worship me” (Joel 2:15).

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 2nd entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

Peter Waldo – “A Narrow Escape”

Peter Waldo was a wealthy twelfth-century merchant from Lyons, France, an important center of the silk industry. Waldo decided to take literally the words of Mark 10:21: “Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” He did precisely that.

Waldo never intended to found a movement; he merely wanted to follow Jesus as the disciples had done. He focused on Christ’s poverty. His followers, known as the “Poor of Lyons,” were sent out two by two to preach and teach the Bible. Waldo had sections of the Scriptures translated into the local dialect to use in their preaching. The Roman Catholic Church was threatened by this ministry of laymen and condemned them as heretics. The Poor of Lyons fled to Languedoc in southern France and across the Alps to Lombardy in northern Italy, suffering persecution along the way. A century later they were found in Germany, still experiencing intense persecution (Statue of Peter Waldo pictured on left).

In 1689 the Waldensians, as they subsequently were called, began what has come to be known as their “glorious return” to the Alps of northern Italy, their adopted homeland. During this same period French Huguenots were also fleeing their country for the Italian Alps. High in the mountains a small group of Waldensian officers, together with their soldiers, made a solemn pact, called the Covenant of Sibaud:

God by his grace, having brought us happily back to the heritages of our fathers, to re-establish there the pure service of our holy religion—in continuance and for the accomplishment of the great enterprise which the great God of armies hath hitherto carried on in our favor—

We, pastors, captains, and other officers, swear and promise before the living God, and on the life of our souls, to keep union and order among ourselves; and not to separate and disunite ourselves from one another, whilst God shall preserve us in life, if we should be reduced even to three of four in number…

And we, soldiers, promise and swear this day before God, to be obedient to the orders of our officers, and to continue faithful t them, even to the last drop of our blood…

And in order that, which is the soul of all our affairs, may remain always unbroken among us, the officers swear fidelity to the soldiers, and the soldiers to the officers;

All together promising to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to rescue, as far as is possible to us, the dispersed remnant of our brethren from the yoke which oppresses them, that along with them we may establish and maintain in these valleys the kingdom of the gospel, even unto death.

In witness whereof, we swear to observe this present engagement so long as we shall live.

Finally on May 2, 1690, their numbers reduced over the hard winter to three hundred men, the Waldensians were entrenched on the mountain crags. Lined up beneath them in the valley were four thousand French dragoons led by the Maquis de Feuquiere. The marquis first attacked during a severe snowstorm, and then commanded his artillery to roll its cannons up the slopes to attack the bedraggled remnant of men who climbed even higher, waiting for death. In his confidence, the marquis had already sent a victory message back to France. But then a miracle happened. A thick fog surrounded the Waldensians, allowing them to escape off the mountaintop during the night! They were saved by God’s hand!

The Waldensian church later united with the Methodists and still exists today.

Reflection

Have you experienced God’s intervention in your life?

In the case of the Waldensians God did protect the final three hundred men but chose not to preserve those who died earlier in the winter. We should pray for God’s protection, realizing that in some cases he protects his children by taking them to be with himself.

“This I declare of the Lord: he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him.” – Psalm 91:1-2

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 2nd entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Church History

 

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May 1st In Christian History – Joseph Addison and John Brown

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1551: The eleventh session of the Council of Trent opened. The council, which began in December 1545, was interrupted so many times as it dealt with deep issues that it took eighteen years to accomplish its work on the Counter-Reformation, finally closing in December 1563.

1873: Missionary-Explorer David Livingstone died in Africa near Lake Bangweolo (now within Zambia).

1939: The popular radio series that has featured Theodore Epp, Warren W. Wiersbe, and currently Woodrow Kroll (pictured on the left) – Back to the Bible began broadcasting from Nebraska.

 “Raised Up to Remake English Morals”

God raised up Mr. Addison and his associates to lash the prevailing vices and ridiculous and profane customs of this country, and to show the excellence of Christ and Christian institutions. – John Wesley

To win such praise from John Wesley, Joseph Addison must have been a good influence indeed.

God “raised up” Addison on May 1st in 1672. He was born in England near Amesbury in Wiltshire, in the heart of Old Wessex, not far from the Avon River. His health at birth did not give much assurance that he would survive long, so he was baptized the same day. Despite his early poor health, he survived and grew into a young man, surrounded by strong moral influences. He was related to clergymen on both sides of his family. Hs mother was sister to the bishop of Bristol, and his father became the dean of Lichfield while Joseph was a youngster. Richard Steele visited the Addison home and considered its air of affectionate peace worthy of writing about in an issue of The Tatler.

Addison became one of the great stylists of the English language. His Latin poetry was also among the best written by an Englishman. But his real fame comes from the periodicals he and Richard Steele produced together: The Tatler, The Spectator and The Guardian.

The papers enjoyed a wide readership. Addison’s stated purpose in The Tatler was “to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.” The papers introduced the middle-class readership to recent developments in philosophy and literature. It is said that Addison and Steele’s works in the three papers were responsible for raising the general cultural level of the English middle class.

One of the most popular sections of the papers was Addison’s tales about a fictional character named Sir Roger de Coverly. Lively anecdotes about him exposed folly and suggested better behavior:

My friend Sir Roger has often told me, with a great deal of mirth, that at his first coming to his estate, he found three parts of his house altogether useless: that the best room in it had the reputation of being haunted, and by that means was locked up; that noises had been heard in his long gallery, so that he could not get a servant to enter it after 8 o’clock at night; that the door of one of his chambers was nailed up, because there went a story in the family that a butler had formerly hanged himself in it; and that his mother, who lived to a great age, had shut up half the rooms in the house, in which either her husband, a son, or daughter had died. The knight, seeing his habitation reduced to so small a compass and himself a manner shut our of his own house…ordered all the apartments to be flung open and exorcised by his chaplain, who lay in every room one after another, and by that means dissipated the fears which had so long reigned in the family.

I should not have been thus particular upon these ridiculous harrows, did not I find them to very much prevail in all parts of the country.

Although he trained to become a priest, Addison never became one. It would have been a difficult path for him, for he was painfully shy. Instead of preaching to the public in a church, the press became his pulpit. In addition to his satires, Addison wrote hymns such as “When All Thy Mercies, O My God”:

When all Thy mercies, O my God,

My rising soul surveys,

Transported with the view, I’m lost

In wonder, love and praise.

(Addison pictured on left)

On his deathbed, Addison was calm and courageous. He urged his nephew to “see how a Christian can die.” The excellence of his writing ensures that his memory will not perish soon, for his essays are often included in anthologies of English literature.

Author’s of the Above Article: A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The article above was adapted from the entry for May 1st.

A. Kenneth Curtis, Ph.D, is president of the Christian History Institute and the founding editor of Christian History magazine. He has written and produced several award winning historical films for Gateway Films/Vision Video’s Church history collection. He is also coauthor of 100 Most Important Dates in Christian History and From Christ to Constantine: The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church. He and his wife, Dorothy, reside in eastern Pennsylvania.

Daniel Graves is the Webmaster for the Christian History Institute and holds a master’s degree in library science from Western Michigan University. He is the author of Doctors Who Followed Christ and Scientists of Faith. Dan and wife, Pala reside in Jackson, Michigan.

 

John Brown Finds A Wife

The mid-1680s is remembered as the Killing Time in Scotland. Royal regiments martyred Scottish Presbyterians at will. Despite the danger, Presbyterian John Brown fell in love with Isabel Weir. He proposed to her, but warned that he would one day seal his testimony with blood. Isabel replied, “If it be so, I will be your comfort. The Lord has promised me grace.” They were married in a secret glen by the outlawed minister, Alexander Peden. “These witnesses of your vows,” said Peden, beginning the illegal ceremony, “have come at risk of their lives to hear God’s word and his ordinance of marriage.” The vows were spoken, and then Peden drew Isabel aside, saying, “You have got a good husband. Keep linen for a winding-sheet beside you; for in a day when you least expect it, thy master shall be taken.”

The Brown home soon included two children. It was happy, filled with prayer and godly conversation. Fugitive preachers were hidden and cared for there. But on May 1, 1685 John rose at dawn, singing Psalm 27, to find the house surrounded by soldiers. The family filed onto the lawn. The commander, Claverhouse, shouted to John, “Go to your prayers; you shall immediately die.” Kneeling, John prayed earnestly for his wife, pregnant again, and for his children. Then he rose, embraced Isabel, and said, “The day is come of which I told you when I first proposed to you.”

“Indeed, John. If it must be so, I can willingly part with you.”

“This is all I desire,” replied John. “I have no more to do but to die.” He kissed his children, then Claverhouse ordered his men to shoot. The soldiers hesitated. Snatching a pistol, Claverhouse placed it to John’s head and blew out his brains. “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” he snarled. Isabel, fixing Claverhouse in her gaze, told him she had never been so proud of him. Claverhouse mounted his horse and sped away, troops in tow. Isabel tied John’s head in a napkin and sat on the ground weeping with her children until friends arrived to comfort them.

“Armies may surround me, but I won’t be afraid; War may break out, but I will trust you. I ask only one thing, Lord: Let me live in your house every day of my life to see how wonderful you are and to pray in your temple.”Psalm 27:3,4

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day - this article was adapted from the May 1st entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 

“The Death of John Brown”

 The child on the moss she laid 

And she stretched the cold limbs of the dead,

And drew the eyelid’s shade,

And bound the corpse’s shattered head,

And shrouded the martyr in his plaid;

And where the dead and living slept,

Sat in the wilderness and wept.

This POEM, written by Henry Inglis, tells the story of death of John Brown, Covenater martyr.

The Covenanters were Scottish Presbyterians who resisted the Episcopal system that Charles I, Charles II, and James VI imposed upon Scotland from 1637 to 1690. They opposed the divine right of kings, believing that limitless sovereignty belongs to God alone. When Presbyterianism was outlawed and replaced by episcopacy, the situation became very serious for the Covenanters, who were forced to choose between obedience to God or to the king. During the reign of Charles II they were haunted, jailed, and killed in large numbers.

John Brown was a poor farmer in Priesthill, Scotland, who aspired to be a Covenanter minister, but felt hampered by a problem with stammering. A brilliant man, Brown instead put his intellect and love of the Bible to work at home—teaching theology classes to local youth at his farm. Being a Covenanter meant being willing to give up his life for Christ at any moment, and Brown taught his students not to fear persecution but rather to consider it joy to suffer for Christ. Students came from miles around to be inspired by the gifted teacher (John Brown pictured on left).

In 1682 Covenanter pastor Alexander Peden performed the wedding ceremony for John Brown and Isabel Weir. After the ceremony Peden said to the bride, “Isabel, you have got a good man; but you will not enjoy him long. Prize his company and keep linen by you to he his winding sheet; for you will need it when you are not looking for it, and it will be a bloody one.”

On May 1, 1685, the king’s troops came to Priesthill looking for Peden. They surprised Brown in his field and brought him back to his house and ransacked it. Finding some Covenanter literature, they began to interrogate him. Speaking in a clear, stammer-free voice, Brown’s confident answers made the chief officer ask whether he was a preacher. When told no, the officer replied, “Well, if he has never preached, much has he prayed in his time. Go to your prayers, for you shall immediately die.”

John Brown fell on his knees, asking God to spare a remnant of believers in Scotland. The officer, cut him short, accusing him of preaching rather than praying. The officer later confessed that he could never forget John Brown’s powerful prayer.

Brown then said to his wife, “Now Isabel, the day is come that I told you would come when I spoke to you first of marrying me.”

She said, “Indeed, John, I can willingly part with you.”

He replied, “That is all I desire. I have no more to do but die. I have been ready to meet death for years past.”

As he said his good-byes and kissed his wife and baby, the officer broke in and ordered the troops to shoot him. The soldiers were so moved by the scene that they would not comply. The officer angrily pulled out his pistol, walked over, and shot John Brown in the head.

“What do you think of your fine husband now?” he asked Isabel.

Through her tears she answered, “I ever thought much good of him, and more than ever now.”

As the poem tells, Isabel laid her baby on the ground, bound up her beloved husband’s head, straightened his body, covered him with a plaid blanket, and sat down and wept.

Peden was in a nearby Covenanter home and described seeing a meteor that morning, “a bright, clear, shining light [that] fell from heaven to the earth.” He told his fellow believers, “And indeed there is a clear, shining light fallen this day, the greatest Christian that I ever conversed with.”

 Reflection

John and Isabel Brown’s marriage was filled with love and yet accompanied by the awful reality of the constant threat of death. Can you imagine what it would be like to live with martyrdom as a continual possibility? How would you live differently?

“You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my youthful witness, was martyred among you by Satan’s followers.” Revelation 2:13

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 1st entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 

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St. Anselm on Proving That Which Is Said Cannot Be Proven

Series: On This Day in Christian History – April 21st, 1109

 By A. Kenneth Curtis, Daniel Graves, and Robert J. Morgan

“God’s eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made” (Rom. 1:20). Many miss the majesty of God’s creation, but one boy on the Swiss-Italian border got the message.

Anselm grew up on the breathtaking St. Bernard. His mother frequently reminded him of the Creator, and Anselm imagined God living among the Alps. In his mid-teens Anselm, quarreling with his father, entered a French monastery where he expanded his knowledge of God through study of Scripture. His keen mind and mature faith led to repeated calls from England, and eventually Anselm crossed the channel to become the archbishop of Canterbury.

Anselm won a name as a reformer because he attempted to end abuses such as the slave trade. He urged the holding of regular synods and, while h was archbishop, enforced clerical celibacy within his see. Through his learning and methodology, he became one of the creators of scholasticism. But his most notable gift to history has become known as the ontological proof for the existence of God.

Can the existence of God be proven? Anselm thought so. Modern philosophers and theologians disagree. However, it is Anselm’s argument, the ontological proof, which remains the slipperiest for modern logic to deal with and is though to be impossible to refute.

Anselm’s argument went something like this: When we discuss the existence of God, we define Him as a perfect being, greater than anything else that can be conceived. If God does not exist, then the name “God” refers to an imaginary being. This makes the definition of “God” contradictory, for to be real, to be living, to have power is greater than to be imaginary. It is clear that the word God cannot be discussed as defined if He does not exist, because He must be conceived as really existing in order for Him to be greater than anything else, for a God who does not exist is not greater than anything else.

In short, no philosopher can legitimately argue that God does not exist if he defines “God” as a perfect being that is greater than any that can be imagined; for to be perfect, God must have real existence. Those who acknowledge that He exists do not have a problem with self-contradiction when they affirm His existence, whereas those who deny His existence do. Since we can indeed raise the question of God’s existence and argue the point, then God must exist.

His life and teaching breathed of Christ. Belief in God, Anselm felt, was rational and logical, not a blind leap of mindless faith. The beauty of creation evidenced God’s existence; and furthermore, the very fact that our minds could imagine and infinite, loving God gave evidence that he existed. Anselm’s famous argument for God’s existence said that if God could exist in our minds, he could exist in reality.

But Anselm’s deepest writings were on the atonement, which he defined as Christ’s blood being a “satisfaction” made to God by the Lord Jesus. Love of Christ’s atonement brought Anselm comfort when he found himself in the crossfire between the pope and English king. The redheaded King William (Rufus the red) was profane and violent. He reputedly arose a worse man every morning, and went to bed a worse man every night. He enjoyed seeing animals and men tortured, while Anselm would go out of his way to save a hare.

As archbishop of Canterbury, the zealous Anselm continually struggled with King William for church rights. As a result of the struggle he was exiled. As a theologian, Anselm was most remembered for his book Why did God Become Man? In it he argued that each of us has run up such a debt of sin that there is no way we can repay God. Christ, as infinite God, has merit enough and plenty to spare for our debts. Anselm argued that we must first believe in order to understand. In modern terms we might say that truth only begins to come clear when one is committed to it: You cannot see around a bend in a trail unless you walk toward it.

I look to the hills! Where will I find my help?

It will come from the LORD,

Who created the heavens and the earth.

The LORD is your protector,

And he won’t go to sleep or let you stumble.

The protector of Israel doesn’t doze or ever get drowsy. – Psalm 121:1-4

On this day April 21, 1109 Anselm died surrounded by friends who placed his body in ashes on the floor. He was probably canonized in 1494, although there is debate as o whether this occurred at all. Anselm will be long remembered for his ontological proof for the existence of God, and his defense of the atonement and deity of Christ.

*Other Significant Events on April 21st in Church History:

1073: Pope Alexander II died. He became the first pope elected under the new electoral system by the college of cardinals.

1142: Peter Abelard died on this day His conceptualism (a way of describing how the mind knows ideas) tried to resolve difference between two schools of philosophy called Nominalism and Realism. But Abelard may better be remembered as the man who seduced his student Heloise than as a thinker who tried to ground theology in reason. He was often accused of heresy, but he remained one f the most popular teachers of his day and was cofounder of schools that were later incorporated into the University of Paris.

1621: William Bradford was chosen governor of Massachusetts when John Carver died.

1855: Dwight L. Moody was converted to Christianity. His Sunday school teacher Edward Kimball, said, “My plea was a very weak one, but I was sincere.” Moody became a powerful evangelist.

*Adapted from the April 21st entries in This Day In Christian History, edited by A Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications & Robert J. Morgan. On This Day. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.

 

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Who Was John Calvin’s Mentor? By Robert J. Morgan

On This Day in Church History – April 12th

Few assume greatness by themselves. Behind the scenes often lies an older mentor, watching with pride. John Calvin exists as a hero in church history because of Guillaume Farel.

Farel was a traveling evangelist in France, full of fire and fury. He was likened to Elijah and was called the “scourge of priests.” He considered the pope the Antichrist and viewed the Mass as nothing but idolatry. Priests wishing him dead, carried weapons under their cloaks to assassinate him. After one attempt on his life, he whirled around and faced the priest who had fired the errant bullet, “I am not afraid of your shots,” he roared.

He was small, sunburned, fiery, and powerful. His sermons were canon blasts, and his oratory captivated the nation. He often said too much, and one friend cautioned him, “Your mission is to evangelize, not to curse.”

On April 12, 1523 Farel was forbidden to preach in France. He fled to Switzerland and wandered from town to town, turning stumps and stones into pulpits. When he entered Geneva, the city fathers and priests tried to make him leave. “Who invited you?” They demanded. Farel replied:

I have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and am not of the devil. I go about preaching Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification. Whoever believes in him will be saved; unbelievers will be lost. I am bound to preach to all who will hear. I am ready to dispute with you, to give account of my faith and ministry. Elijah said to King Ahab, “It is thou, and not I, who disturbest Israel.” So I say, it is you and yours, who trouble the world by your traditions, your human inventions, and your dissolute lives.

He was ridiculed, beaten, shot at, and abused. But he wouldn’t give up on Geneva. Several years later when young John Calvin came passing through. Farel spotted him and gave him a place top minister—and, as it turns out, a place in church history.

Ahab went to meet Elijah, and when he saw him, Ahab shouted, “There you are, the biggest troublemaker in Israel!” Elijah answered, “You’re the troublemaker—not me! You and your family have disobeyed the LORD’s commands by worshiping Baal.” – 1 Kings 18:16b-18

*Robert J. Morgan is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, and Red Sea Rules. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country. This article was adapted from the April 11 entry in his book On This Day, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997.

 *Significant Events on April 12th in Church History:

352: Pope St. Julius died on this day. He was a staunch defender of Athanasius of Alexandria, and once gave him asylum when the Arians drove him into exile.

366: Pope Liberius died. It is said he was restored from exile by swearing to a heretical Arian creed. Under threat, he also agreed to allow Athanasius of Alexandria to be deposed.

1204: In three days of looting, the Fourth Crusade sacked the Christian city of Constantinople. The attack ended any hope of reunifying eastern and western Christendom.

1850: Adoniram Judson, Baptist Missionary pioneer to Burma, died on this day. He translated the Bible into Burmese. At his death, he was on a voyage in an attempt to regain his health and overcome depression that made him doubt his salvation.

1978: Two hundred Makarere Church people were arrested in Uganda under Idi Amin’s cruel regime.

*Adapted from This Day In Christian History, edited by A Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Church History

 

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Book Review: This Day In Christian History – Edited by A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves

366 Compelling Events in the History of the Church

The stated purpose of this book by the editors is as follows: “It is our hope and prayer that these stories provide you with a sampling that at least suggests the incredible scope and reach of the Christian message, as well as the way that God has worked through an amazing diversity of individuals and institutions in countless circumstances. This volume offers one way to take the journey through our Christian past in a go-at-your-own-pace way that we hope we will stir your interest and fascination.”

The book does this very thing – it makes you marvel at God’s sovereignty and creativity in the various mysterious ways He works through individuals in all walks of life for His ultimate glory and unstoppable plan.

From January 1st to December 31st there is a full page for each day of the year with the top event of historical significance related to the Christian church for each day of the year. Each page has three inserts which are in black and white – usually a photo related to the event or person described, and painting, map detail, or something else related to the person or event, as well as descriptions of 2-7 other important events that took place on this particular day in history.

The end of the book contains a very helpful resources page for further study on any of the events, or people in the book, as well as very helpful subject index of dates, people, places, and events.

I have taken four classes in Church History in Seminary and have read various books on Church History and still found that this book contained events and people I had never heard of. If you know a lot about church history, or know nothing at all – you will benefit from and thoroughly enjoy this wide-ranging panorama of God’s work through peasants, pastors, missionaries, and Kings.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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