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The Current Week in 2015:

July 5

July 5, 1439: Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics sign the Decree of Union at the Council of Florence, creating an official union between the two churches. Popular sentiment in Constantinople opposed the decree, and when the Turks captured the city, the union ceased. However, the council's definition of doctrine and its principles of church union (unity of faith, diversity of rite) have proved useful in subsequent church talks (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).

July 5, 1865: William Booth founds The Christian Mission to work among London's poor and unchurched. Later, he changed the mission's name to the Salvation Army (see issue 26: William and Catherine Booth).

July 5, 1962: H. Richard Niebuhr, theologian, Yale professor, and author of Christ and Culture (1951), dies at age 67.




July 6

July 6, 1054: Church legates of the Roman pope march into the church of Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and place a bull on the altar, excommunicating him. So began of the Great Schism between the Catholics and the Orthodox. (See issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy)

July 6, 1415: Jan Hus, Bohemian preacher and forerunner of Protestantism, is burned as a heretic in Constance, Germany (see issue 68: Jan Hus).

July 6, 1535: Sir Thomas More (b. 1478), who had recently resigned as Lord Chancellor of England, is executed for treason. He had sided with the pope against Henry VIII in the matter of the king's divorce. He was sentenced to be hanged, but Henry commuted the sentence to beheading (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).




July 7

July 7, 1647: Thomas Hooker, Puritan pastor, political theorist, and founder of Connecticut dies on his sixty-first birthDay (see issue 41: American Puritans).

July 7, 1874: Popular New England preacher Henry Ward Beecher demands an investigation by his church into the charges of adultery brought by Theodore Tilton, who later sued Beecher for "alienating his wife's affections." The jury could not decide whether a sexual affair had really taken place.

July 7, 1946: Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, becomes the first American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.




July 8

July 8, 1115: French monk Peter the Hermit dies. Several argue that Peter the Hermit launched the crusades. Supposedly, he visited Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 1093 and returned to Pope Urban II with a plea to do something to stop the Muslims from harassing Christian pilgrims. Two years later Urban II pronounced the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont and Peter the Hermit became one of the crusade's dominant preachers. After leading a failed "pre-crusade" in which Muslims slaughtered his entire army of 20,000 peasants, Peter joined the main army of the First Crusade (see issue 40: The Crusades).

July 8, 1896: At the Democratic National Convention, fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan gives his famous speech supporting "the little man" of American life. "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold," he shouted (see issue 55: The Monkey Trial and The Rise of Fundamentalism).

July 8, 1741: Colonial Congregational minister Jonathan Edwards preaches his classic sermon at Enfield, Connecticut: "You are thus in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction" (see issue 8: Jonathan Edwards and issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).




July 9

July 9, 381: Nestorius, the first patriarch of Constantinople, is born in what is now Maras, Turkey. Nestorius attained fame for his teaching that Christ had two natures and two persons (rather than two natures in one person), which the Council of Ephesus in 431 condemned as heresy (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).

July 9, 1228: Stephen Langton, greatest of the medieval archbishops of Canterbury, dies. He had formulated the original division of the Bible into chapters in the late 1100s, and his name appears on the Magna Carta as counselor to the king (though he supported the English barons in their pursuit for more freedoms).

July 9, 1925: The Scopes "Monkey Trial" begins in Day ton, Tennessee, as John Scopes is tried for teaching evolution to his students. Though William Jennings Bryan, acting as prosecuting attorney, won the courtroom battle, the creationists lost where public opinion was concerned. Chagrined, fundamentalist Christians largely withdrew from American culture (see issue 55: The Monkey Trial and The Rise of Fundamentalism).




July 10

July 10, 1509: French Protestant reformer John Calvin is born in Nyon, France. (see issue 12: John Calvin).

July 10, 1863: Clement C. Moore dies. In 1819 he established the General Theological Seminary, where he taught Greek and Hebrew Literature for 28 years. He also authored "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ('Twas the Night Before Christmas . . . ) in 1823.




July 11

July 11, 1533: Pope Clement VII excommunicates England's King Henry VIII for remarrying after his divorce (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

July 11, 1656: Barbados expatriates Ann Austin and Mary Fisher become the first Quakers to arrive in America. Officials promptly arrested them and deported them back to England five weeks later.

July 11, 1681: Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, is executed, having been found guilty of treason. He was the last Catholic to die for his faith in England and the first Irish martyr to be beatified.

July 11, 1886: Protestant missionary Horace Underwood secretly baptizes Mr. Toh Sa No in Korea—the first recorded Protestant baptism in that country. However, an underground church was probably already active in Korea, begun by Korean workmen who had heard the gospel in China.

July 11, 1955: Congress puts "In God We Trust" on all U.S. currency.






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