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The Current Week in 2015:

April 19

April 19, 526: Justinian I is crowned Roman Emperor in Constantinople's magnificent cathedral, the Santa Sophia. Attempting to restore political and religious unity in the eastern and western empires, he ruthlessly attacked pagans and heretics and created the Code of Justinian, a massive restructuring of law (including much regarding the relationship of church and state) that would be the basis of legislation for nearly a millennium.

April 19, 1054: Pope Leo IX dies. Because Leo refused the title of Ecumenical Patriarch to Michael Cerularius (Patriarch of Constantinople) and demanded recognition of the filioque clause (the western addition to the Nicene creed that asserts "the Holy Ghost . . . proceeds from the Father and the Son), he is usually assigned responsibility for the final break between Eastern and Western Christianity, though the conventional date for the schism is July 16 (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).

April 19, 1529: At the Diet of Speyer (Germany), princes and 14 cities draft a formal protest of Charles V's attempt to crush Lutheranism, defending religious freedom for religious minorities, e.g. those involved in the Reformation movement. From then on, the Reformers were known as "Protestants.

April 19, 1560: German reformer Philip Melanchthon dies. The leader of the German reformation after the death of his friend, Martin Luther, Melanchthon composed the Augsburg Confession of 1530. Much more a peacemaker than Luther, he called for Lutherans and Zwinglians to put aside their differences for the sake of the reformation of the church. In addition, he led extensive efforts to develop the German educational system, for which he has been called "the teacher of Germany" (see issue 39: Luther's Later Years).




April 20

April 20, 1139: The Second Lateran Council, led by Pope Innocent II and attended by 1,000 church leaders, opens in Rome. The council focused on reforming the church in the wake of the East-West schism (1054) and preserving the temporal possessions of the clergy.

April 20, 1233 (some say 1232): Pope Gregory IX appoints full-time papal inquisitors and gives the Dominican order authority to carry out the Inquisition. For their vigilant and persistant work, the order won the moniker "Domini canes" or "God's dogs.

April 20, 1441: At the Council of Florence, Pope Eugenius IV issues the bull "Etsi non dubitemus," declaring the pope to be superior to church councils.

April 20, 1494: Johann Agricola, Saxon theologian and reformer, is born. He studied under Martin Luther at Wittenberg, and the two worked closely until Agricola embraced antinomianism—an overextension of the doctrine of "justification by faith" that asserted Christians are exempt from the need to observe any moral law. A violent controversy with Luther began, and it persisted even after Agricola recanted (Luther was one of very few who refused to accept the recantation).

April 20, 1718: David Brainerd, missionary to New England's Native Americans, is born in Haddam, Connecticut. Expelled from Yale for attending a revival meeting, Brainerd attained fame after his death (at age 29, from tuberculosis) when Jonathan Edwards published his journal. The diary inspired countless other missionaries, including William Carey, who is called "the father of modern missions" (see issue 8: Jonathan Edwards and issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).

April 20, 1853: Fugitive slave Harriet Tubman, who had escaped from the eastern shore of Maryland four years earlier, makes a return trip to the South to rescue other slaves. By the time slavery was abolished, she had made 19 such trips, liberating at least 300 fellow African Americans (see issue 62: Bound for Canaan).




April 21

April 21, 1109: Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury and one of the most profound thinkers of the Middle Ages, dies around age 76. He attained fame for his argument that faith is the precondition of knowledge ("credo ut intelligam"), his "satisfaction theory" of the atonement ("No one but one who is God-man can make the satisfaction by which man is saved") and for his ontological argument for God's existence.

April 21, 1142: Medieval French philosopher, teacher, and theologian Pierre Abelard dies. Though well-known for his writings on revelation and the relationship between faith and knowledge, he is probably most remembered for his love letters to Heloise, a nun (see issue 30: Woman in the Medieval Church).

April 21, 1855: Edward Kimball, a SunDay school teacher in Boston, leads 18-year-old shoe salesman Dwight L. Moody to Christ at the Holton Shoe Store. Moody went on to become the most successful evangelist of his Day (see issue 25: D.L. Moody).

April 21, 1897: A.W. Tozer, devotional writer (The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy) and influential pastor in the Missionary Alliance Church, is born.




April 22

April 22, 1418: The Council of Constance ends, having finally ended the Great Western Schism. When the schism began nearly 40 years earlier, three men had reasonable claims to the papacy. The council deposed all three and elected Martin V. (Martin then turned around and rejected further councils' right to depose a pope.) Though that part of the council is regarded as a triumph, the council also hastily condemned Jan Hus, a Bohemian preacher and forerunner of Protestantism, and sentenced him to execution by burning. And since his teachings were based on those of John Wycliffe (c. 1329-1384), the council had the Bible translator's body dug up, burned, and thrown into the Swift River (see issue 68: Jan Hus).

April 22, 1724: German philosopher Immanuel Kant, a pivotal figure in the history of modern philosophy and theology, is born in Konigsberg, East Prussia.

April 22, 1669: Colonial religious leader Richard Mather (father of Increase, grandfather of Cotton) dies at age 63. He helped author the Bay Psalm Book and the Cambridge Platform, which served for many years as the standard doctrinal statement for New England Congregationalism (see issue 41: American Puritans).

April 22, 1864: The motto "In God We Trust," conceived during the Civil War, first appears on American coinage.




April 23

April 23, 1073: Hildebrand is elected pope, taking the name Gregory VII. The first pope to excommunicate a ruler (Henry IV), Gregory was driven out of Rome in 1084. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity," were his last words, "therefore I died in exile.

April 23, 1538: John Calvin and William Farel (whom Calvin was assisting) are banished from Geneva. The Day before, Easter SunDay , both had refused to administer communion, saying the city was too full of vice to partake. Three years later, Calvin returned to the city he would forever be associated with (see issue 12: John Calvin).

April 23, 1968: The Evangelical United Brethren Church joins with the much larger Methodist Church, forming the United Methodist Church, the largest Methodist group in the world and America's second-largest Protestant denomination (after the Southern Baptist Convention).




April 24

April 24, 387: On this Day ,Augustine of Hippo writes in his autobiographical Confessions, "We were baptized and all anxiety for our past life vanished away." The 33-year-old had been a teacher of rhetoric and pagan philosophies at some of the Roman Empire's finest schools, but after great influence by his mother, Monica, and the famous bishop Ambrose, he turned to Christianity. His baptism by Ambrose, on Easter SunDay , marked his entrance into the church (see issue 15:Augustine and issue 67:Augustine).

April 24, 1581: Vincent de Paul, founder of the Lazarist Fathers and the Sisters of Charity, is born in Pouy, France. The Roman Catholic Churchnamed him patron saint of all works of charity because of his charity work during the Wars of Religion.

April 24, 1944: In "United States v. Ballard," the Supreme Court ruled that no governmental agency can determine "the truth or falsity of the beliefs or doctrines" of anyone—even if the beliefs "may seem incredible, if not preposterous to most people." But the court also reiterated its position that while freedom of belief is absolute, the freedom to act on those beliefs is not.




April 25

April 25, 1214: Louis IX, king of France and saint, is born. Leader of the Seventh and Eighth Crusades (he died on the latter), he was known for his humility: he wore hair shirts and visited hospitals—where he emptied the bedpans (see issue 40: The Crusades).

April 25, 1599: Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan lord protector of England, is born near Cambridge. As lord protector he sought to allow more freedom of religion.

April 25, 1887: Radio evangelist Charles E. Fuller, known for his "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" and for cofounding Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, is born in Los Angeles.






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