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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 3rd In Christian History – A.C. Hopkins and Hans Egede

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

996: Gregory V became the first German pope. He was a nephew of emperor Otto III, whom he crowned. During an absence from Rome, rivals set up an antipope, but Gregory was able to overthrow him. There was a suspicion of foul play when Gregory died suddenly.

1512: The Fifth Lateran Council opened. Called by Pope Julius II, it was not accepted as legitimate by the French Church because it denied their claim to ancient liberties.

1738: Evangelist George Whitefield arrived in America from England, where he preached thousands of sermons. Whitefield described the theme of his sermons with these words: “Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ! I must be excused if I mention it in almost all my sermons!”

1832: Edward Irving was barred from his Presbyterian church, where he honored “prophets” and tongues-speakers. Later he was stripped of his ordination because of faulty teachings on the nature of Christ.

A.C. Hopkins: “To Serve the Armies”

Before the Civil War, few chaplains served with American armies. But on May 3, 1861, the Southern Congress approved Bill 102, stating, “There shall be appointed by the President chaplains to serve the armies of the Confederate States during the existing war.” On May 3, 1862, Rev. A. C. Hopkins, Presbyterian pastor from Martinsburg, West Virginia, joined them, commissioned as chaplain of the Second Virginia Regiment.

Hopkins wasted no time. On May 16 he led the men in a day of fasting and prayer. Two days later he conducted Sunday services at Mossy Creek. The ensuing week found him consumed by the wounded, dying, and dead.

During the Seven Days’ Battle near Richmond, he marched all day in the hot sun and spent a sleepless night ministering to the wounded and dying. The next morning, attempting to preach to his men on the line, he collapsed, strength gone. He was carried to the rear to recover, but when he returned to the front ten days later, he learned that his best friends were dead. Hopkins sank into despondency. Heavy losses at Malvern Hill further drained him, and Hopkins felt he could no longer continue.

He retreated for a season of intense prayer, and soon Bible classes were organized and flourished. Evangelists visited the brigade, and religious services were followed by group discussions, prayer meetings, and baptisms. Large sums were raised to provide Christian literature for ravaged cities. Generals and officers were saved, and prayer meetings were conducted three times daily.

In all, between 100,000 and 200,000 Union soldiers and approximately 150,000 Southern troops were converted during the Civil War revivals. Whole armies on both sides became vast fields, ready for harvest. And many of the soldiers who perished went to heaven through the efforts of chaplains like Rev. A. C. Hopkins, who continued hard in service until the bitter end.

With the Civil War, chaplains earned a lasting place with American troops around the world.

Don’t be afraid! I am with you. From both east and west I will bring you together. I will say to the north and to the south, “Free my sons and daughters! Let them return from distant lands. They are my people—I created each of them to bring honor to Me.” – Isaiah 43:5-7

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 3rd entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 “Hans Egede: The Apostle of Greenland”

Hans Egede was born in northeastern Norway in 1686. While serving as a Lutheran minister in Vaagan, Norway, Egede began studying about the old Norse Christian settlements in Greenland. During the Middle Ages a bishop had sent Norwegian settlers there, and these settlers had not had any contact with Europe since 1410. Egede wondered what had become of their descendents.

Egede became fascinated with the idea of resuming contact with the settlers and evangelizing them if they were no longer followers of Jesus. He felt that it was the duty of Norway and Denmark to bring the gospel to the descendants of the settlers and whoever else might live on the island. He tried to interest both the Danish king and the bishops in a missionary effort to Greenland, but they were not interested. When Egede changed his proposition to include more commercial purposes, such as colonizing, setting up trading posts, and investigating the natural resources of Greenland, he found support. He eventually succeeded in founding a company that supported both commercial and missionary endeavors, and he set sail for Greenland with his wife and two sons on May 3, 1721.

Upon his arrival in Greenland, Egede was shocked to find no Norse communities. No Europeans had survived the centuries, and solely Eskimos inhabited the island. Although surprised, he maintained his missionary purpose and attempted to learn the language and culture of the Eskimo people and present the gospel to them. He initially had very limited success. However, his optimism was clear in his founding of the colonial town of Godthab, which means “Good Hope.” Godthab today is known, as the capital city of Nuuk.

The evangelistic tides turned in 1733 when a smallpox epidemic killed thousands of Eskimos on the island. The selfless way that Egede and his family cared for the sick and buried the dead had a profound impact on the Eskimos. All of a sudden his message was received eagerly and many were won to Christ. Due to the difficult time that Egede had experienced learning the Eskimo language, it was his son Paul who did most of the preaching and the winning of souls to Christ. Having grown up with the Eskimos, he spoke their language as his own. After his father left Greenland, Paul remained as a missionary. Hans, Egede’s other son, Niels, his son-in-law, and two nephews also were missionaries to Greenland (Egede pictured on left).

Hans Egede returned to Denmark in 1736 to found a school for the training of missionaries to Greenland. He wrote ethnographic books on the history, folklore, geography, and language of Greenland that are still respected today. With Paul’s assistance he translated the New Testament into the Eskimo language and wrote an Eskimo grammar, a dictionary, and a catechism.

Moravian missionaries arrived in Greenland in 1733. They carried on the work for Christ that Egede and his family had pioneered. Due to the missionary efforts of Hans Egede, his family, and the Moravian missionaries that followed, all of Greenland’s Eskimos eventually became members of Christian churches!

 Reflection

Hans Egede’s ministry did not bear fruit quickly. Despite his initial lack of success, he trusted that God would reach the people of Greenland, and he did. It was Egede’s selfless actions and not his words that earned him a hearing. What can you learn from Hans Egede to apply to your own life?

“Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.” – 1 Peter 2:11

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 Rusten’s have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 3rd 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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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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April 29 In Christian History – Jesus as a Youth; Joan of Arc; & Catherine of Siena

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 Significant Events on This Day:

1380: Catherine of Sienna, Dominican tertiary and mystic, died in Rome. She had a strong influence on world events through correspondence with the notables of her day.

1525: Fray Pedro died. He was a mentor to Las Casas, the “Father of the Indians.”

1607: The first Anglican Church was established in the American Colonies, at Cape Henry, Virginia.

1882: John Nelson Darby died in Bournemouth, England. He was a founder of the Plymouth Brethren movement and exerted a strong, worldwide influence on dispensationalism and proponent of a pre-tribulational rapture. In the United States, many of Darby’s ideas were popularized in the notes of the Scofield Bible.

1933: Dawson Trotman (pictured at right) began his work with Navy men. The work led to the formation of the Navigators, a discipleship organization.

1945: Five hundred Greek Catholic clergymen at Lwow, Poland, were surrounded by police and arrested. Many were shot.

“Joan of Arc Turns Tide of French-English War”

Throughout much of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the English fought the French in an attempt to claim France as their own. The English had the upper hand Until Joan of Arc appeared.

Joan was a simple and pious peasant girl who wove and spun. She began to see heavenly beings and hear their voices, which told her that deliverance would come to France through her. The voices sent her to the nearest French bastion, but when she appeared before him her pleas were ignored. Eventually, Joan convinced local authorities that she was for real. One thing led to another and she ended up picking the disguised dauphin out of a crowd of courtiers. She also made prophecies, which were recorded in a letter written from Lyons on April 22, 1429. Those prophecies came true.

One of her predictions was that she would save besieged Orleans, and area that was crucial to the defense of France. On April 29 in 1429, a rapid march brought Joan of Arc, accompanied by French forces, to the city of Orleans. It was the turning point of the Hundred Years’ War. The English retreated the next day, but as it was Sunday, Joan forbid the French to pursue them. Within a few days, the English garrisons around Orleans had all been captured. Joan was wounded in the fighting, which was also as she had predicted.

Charles, the irresolute dauphin, had to be coaxed into action. Joan convinced him to undertake various moves, which he did halfheartedly. A dramatic French victory at Pasay opened the way for Charles to retake Reims. Again Joan had difficulty convincing him to take the logical step of having himself crowned, but he finally acquiesced. Then she knelt before him and called him king.

The voices told her that she had less than a year left for her work. Those succeeding months proved to be frustrating for her. The king and his advisors lacked the boldness to pursue the advantages Joan had gained for the French. A feeble attempt to retake Paris failed. Not long afterward, Joan was captured by the English, who brought charge of witchcraft against her. Determined to find grounds for executing her, they had a group of high-powered theologians browbeat her and did not allow her any legal counsel.

As could be expected with such a stacked trial, Joan was convicted of practicing witchcraft. In a moment when her terror overcame her, she recanted with the caveat that she did so only as far as it was God’s will. Her persecutors soon entrapped her with accusations.

Quickly she regained her courage and did not waver again, even when brought to the stake. She asked that a crucifix be held before her face and called upon the name of Jesus as long as her breath remained in her.

Subsequent inquiries exonerated her and the pope officially canonized her as a saint in 1920.

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 April 29.

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.

“Death by Exhaustion”

Giacomo Benincasa, dyer of fabrics in Siena, Italy, named his twenty-third child Catherine. Their house sat on a hillside, the basement containing dye rooms. Atop the hill sat the church of St. Dominic over which, when Catherine was seven, she saw a vision of Jesus. From that day she yearned to serve Christ.

At age 12 she so resisted her father’s pressure to marry that he said, May God preserve us, dearest daughter, from trying to set ourselves against the will of God. We have long seen that it was no childish whim of thine, and now we know clearly that it is the Spirit of God. He gave her a room near his dye quarters, and there Catherine made herself a chapel.

Catherine’s personality burned like a knife, and she soon inserted herself without invitation into community and church affairs, becoming the most outspoken Italian woman of the Middle Ages. She railed against the death sentence of a young man convicted of criticizing the government, and she accompanied him to his execution, snapping up his decapitated head and arousing public protest. She cared for prisoners. When the Black Death swept Italy, Catherine was everywhere giving aid.

Catherine fumed and stormed about corruption in the Church. She denounced materialism and immorality in the monasteries. “Those who should be the temples of God,” she wrote, “are the stables of swine.” She fired letters like missiles, keeping three secretaries busy at a time. She told Pope Gregory it would be better for him to resign than to founder, and “Do not be a boy, but a man!” She negotiated peace treaties. She was instrumental in moving the papacy from France back to Rome.

It’s no wonder that, on April 29, 1380 she died at age 32 of exhaustion from these and other labors. Her last words: “Dear children, let not my death sadden you; rather rejoice that I am leaving a place of many suffering to be united forever with my most sweet and loving Bridegroom.”

Next to St. Francis, Catherine of Siena is the most celebrated of the Italian saints.

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 April 29th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

 

“Jesus: The Child Who Knew More Than His Parents”

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Every Jewish male was required to attend, but women who loved God came as well. It was a difficult eighty-mile trip from Nazareth, but Passover was the highlight of the year. Since highway robbers were a known danger, pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem usually traveled together in caravans for protection. Mary and Joseph traveled with a large group of friends and relatives.

When Jesus was twelve years old, the Passover was on April 29, A.D. 9, and the whole family attended the festival as usual. This was a highly significant period in Jesus’ life because at the age of thirteen Jewish boys were considered to be responsible for themselves before God. The year prior to this was filled with intense instruction (see Darrel L. Bock. Luke. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994. 1:259-75). *Note: The custom of the bar mitzvah came after the time of Jesus.

After the celebration was over, Mary and Joseph started home for Nazareth with their large group of fellow pilgrims. Without their knowledge, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not miss him at first because they assumed he was friends elsewhere in their caravan. But when they stopped for the evening, they could not find him, and realized he was missing. So they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. Three days later they finally found him in the temple, sitting among the religious leaders, engaged in a question-and-answer session with them.

But Mary and Joseph were angry at what they perceived as his disobedience. They were relieved to find him but were understandably upset. Mary said, “Son! Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

Jesus answered her, “But why did you need to search? You should have known that I would be in my Father’s house.”

In Jesus’ Greco-Roman world, house or household was not only a designation of location but also of authority. Jesus was aligning himself with his heavenly Father’s house even if it meant disrupting his relationship with his earthly parents. This was a foreshadowing of the pattern for the rest of his life. Mary and Joseph did not understand what he meant. They could not comprehend Jesus’ understanding of who he was. But Mary stored all these things in her heart.

Then, as an obedient twelve-year-old, Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and lived under their authority (Luke 2:41-52).

 Reflection

Mary and Joseph were probably the very first persons to wrestle with the question of who Jesus was. Before his birth an angel had told Joseph that Mary’s son would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and had told Mary her son “would be very great and [would] be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Yet Mary and Joseph did not completely understand the angels’ messages. These were the things that Mary pondered in her heart. We, too, must answer the question, Who is Jesus? What is your answer?

“So the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35

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 April 29th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Church History

 

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Daniel The Prophet of God – World History in Advance – April 23, 536 B.C.

Series: On This Day in Christian History – April 23 – By Mike and Sharon Rusten*

 “God sometimes tells us ahead of time what is going to happen”

In 536 B.C. Daniel was a very old man living in Persia. He had been deported from Jerusalem sixty-nine years earlier with the first group of captives and taken to Babylon. In Babylon Daniel rose to the top in government service, serving under Nebuchadnezzar, Darius the Mede, and perhaps also Cyrus the king of Persia. Under Nebuchadnezzar Daniel became the governor of the province of Babylon. Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him to be third ruler in his kingdom, and Darius made him one of three presidents to whom his 120 satraps reported.

Three years earlier, after a time of prayer and mourning over the sins of his people, Daniel had received a vision from the angel Gabriel who gave him a message that included the timing of the future events in the history of God’s people (Daniel 9:20-27).

Now once again Daniel was in prayer and mourning. In particular he prayed for greater understanding of the visions he had already received. For three weeks as he prayed, he ate no rich food or meat and drank no wine. Then suddenly on April 23, 536 B.C., as the old man was standing beside the Tigris River, he looked up and saw a vision of “a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a dazzling gem. From his face came flashes like lightning, and his eyes were like flaming torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice was like the roaring of a vast multitude of people” (10:4-6).

Daniel was the only person who saw this vision. The men who were with him saw nothing but became so terrified that they ran away to hide. So Daniel was left all alone to watch the awesome vision. He began feeling very weak, and when the man began to speak, Daniel fainted, falling facedown on the ground. Then the man’s hand touched Daniel and lifted him, still trembling, to his hands and knees. The man said, “O Daniel, greatly loved of God, listen carefully to what I have to say. Stand up, for I have been sent to you” (10:11). When he said this, Daniel stood up, still trembling in fear.

Then the man said, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come to answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to explain what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come” (10:12-14).

Daniel was then given a summary of the future kings of the Persian Empire (11:2) and told of the appearance of Alexander the Great (11:3) and the division of Alexander’s kingdom into four lesser kingdoms (11:4). Daniel is next told of the continuing struggle between Syria (the king of the north) and Egypt (the king of the south) from 323 B.C. to 167 B.C. when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Syrian ruler, erected an altar to Zeus on top of the brazen altar in the temple in Jerusalem and there offered a pig as a sacrifice (11:5-32). This is followed by a description of the Maccabean revolt in which the Jews were able to win independence from Syria (11:35).

The vision then fast forwards to the future Antichrist, a person similar to Antiochus Epiphanes in many ways, and describes the battles of the end times (11:36-12:13).

The message to Daniel and the book itself ended with the words “You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you” (12:13).

 For Reflection:

When God describes the future, what does that tell you about Him? God is not only the author of the Bible but also the author of history—past, present, and future.

“God rules the kingdoms of the world and appoints anyone he desires to rule over them.” – Daniel 5:21

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 April 23rd entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 

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John Calvin: He Went Where He Didn’t Want To Go – April 22, 1538

Series: On This Day in Christian History – April 22 – By Mike and Sharon Rusten*

In 1536 John Calvin no longer felt safe in his native France, so he left for Strasbourg, a free city situated between France and Germany that had declared itself Protestant. On his way there he stopped for the night in Geneva, Switzerland. Just two months earlier Geneva had given its allegiance to Protestantism as a result of the labors of William Farel, who had been ministering there for three years. That evening Farel met with Calvin and immediately asked him to join in leading the church in Geneva. Calvin declined, saying he wanted to go to Strasbourg to study and write. Farel thundered at him that unless Calvin joined him in Geneva, God would bring down curses upon him. Somewhat intimidated by Farel’s pronouncement, twenty-eight-year-old Calvin agreed to stay, even though his preference was to go to Strasbourg.

Calvin’s initial stay in Geneva, however, was short. In January 1537 Geneva’s Council of Two Hundred zealously enacted a series of ordinances prohibiting immoral behavior, gambling, foolish songs, and desecration of Sunday with no thought as to how they would be enforced. In July the council ordered all citizens to assent to a confession of faith. In November the council ordered banishment for anyone who refused to swear to the confession. This was more than the man on the street could stomach, and in the city council election three days later, a majority of anticlerical councilmen were elected.

The Council of Two Hundred met the following day, April 22, 1538, to decide their fate. The meeting stretched into a second day, at which time the order was given to Calvin and Farel to leave Geneva within three days. Farel went to Neuchatel, and Calvin returned to his original plan and went to Strasbourg.

In Strasbourg Calvin became pastor of the Church of the Strangers, a French refugee church. There he met and married Idelette deBure, the widow of an Anabaptist. Calvin was content in Strasbourg and probably would have spent the rest of his life there had it not been for the Roman Catholic cardinal’s efforts to bring Geneva back into the fold of the Catholic Church. In 1539 the cardinal write to the Genevans, inviting them to return to the pope. No one in Geneva felt qualified to answer the letter, so it was sent to Calvin to respond, which he did very effectively.

Meanwhile Geneva was not doing well in his absence. A new election had placed the city government back in the hands of friends who feared that the only way to save the city from anarchy was to bring Calvin back. As a result, in October 1540 the Council of Two Hundred voted to invite him back to Geneva.

Once again Calvin’s personal desire was not to go to Geneva. He wrote to a friend, “There is no place in the world which I fear more; not because I hat it; but because I feel unequal to the difficulties which await me there.” And once again it was through the counsel and persuasion of Farel, who himself was not invited back, that Calvin was convinced to return.

He returned to Geneva in September 1541 and ministered there the rest of his life, making Geneva the center for the Reformed faith.”

  For Reflection:

John Calvin spent most of his life in a place where he would rather not have been. Yet he was convinced that God wanted him in Geneva, so that is where he ministered. Do you put geographical limitations on where you will serve God? We will always be happiest where we are in the center of God’s will, regardless of where that may be.

“With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” – Luke 24:47

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 April 22nd entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.

 *Other Significant Events on April 22nd in Church History:

 536: Pope St. Agapetus died in the eastern empire, where he had gone in a vain attempt to prevent General Belisarius from coming to Italy. He failed at that but succeeded in moving Justinian away from the Monphysite heresy. After his death, his body was brought back to Rome.

1538: John Calvin and William Farel (see above) were fired by the town council of Geneva and ordered to leave the city within three days. The day before they had refused to administer the Lord’s Supper unless the townsfolk repented.

1723: J.S. Bach was elected cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig. This was the last post that he held before his death. Bach had a rule never to convert Christian works to secular use, although he often converted secular works to Christian use.

1987: Dr. J. Edwin Orr died on this day. He was a historian of revivals and showed that no revival ever began without prayer.

*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 22, 2012 in Church History

 

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