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The Current Week in 2015:
October 4, 1582: Spanish mystic and founder of a reformed Carmelite order Teresa of Avila dies. A model of spiritual discipline, she experienced visions of Jesus, wrote several mystical books (including her autobiography), and possessed a genius for administration.
October 4, 1669: Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, known as the "painter of the soul" for his unsurpassed Christian art (including "The Return of the Prodigal Son," c. 1668), dies.
October 4, 1890: Catherine Booth, English "mother of the Salvation Army," dies of cancer. Besides preaching as a Salvation Army minister, she persuaded her husband, William, to make women an integral part of Salvation Army leadership and work (see issue 26: William and Catherine Booth).
October 4, 1965: Paul VI becomes the first pope to visit the United States and to address the United Nations.
October 5, 869: The Fourth Constantinople Council opens. During its six sessions, the council condemned iconoclasm and anathematized Constantinople Patriarch Photius. (It's a story too complicated to go into here, but basically, there was a strong disagreement over who was the "real" patriarch, and whether Holy Spirit proceeded from the Son as well as the Father). It was the last ecumenical council held in the East, but Eastern Orthodox Christians don't consider it a true ecumenical council (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).
October 5, 1703: American evangelical preacher and Congregational theologian Jonathan Edwards is born in East Windsor, Connecticut. The leading theologian of his day, he is known most commonly for his Great Awakening sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which he delivered in a quiet monotone. In fact, the content of the sermon is rather atypical for Edwards (see issue 8: Jonathan Edwards and issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).
October 5, 1744: David Brainerd, kicked out of Yale for criticizing a tutor and attending a forbidden revival meeting, begins missionary work with Native Americans along New Jersey's Susquehannah River. Jonathan Edwards's biography of Brainerd was key in promoting Christian missions and was counted by William Carey as one of his most influential reads (see issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).
October 6, 1536: English reformer William Tyndale, who translated and published the first mechanically-printed New Testament in the English language (against the law at the time) is strangled to death. His body is then burned at the stake (see issue 16: William Tyndale).
October 6, 1552: Matteo Ricci, the first Roman Catholic missionary to China, is born in Macareta, Italy. Other missionaries criticized his complete adoption of Chinese customs and alliance with Confucianism (which he believed merely a civil cult, unlike Buddhism and Taoism).
October 7, 1830: George Muller, a leader in the Plymouth Brethren movement and founder of Christian orphanages, weds Mary Groves, the sister of another Brethren leader. In lieu of a honeymoon, the couple set off the next day to, in George's words, "work for the Lord.
October 8, 451: The Council of Chalcedon opens to deal with the Eutychians, who believed Jesus could not have two natures. His divinity, they believed, swallowed up his humanity "like a drop of wine in the sea." The council condemned the teaching as heresy and created a confession of faith which has since been regarded as the highest word in Christology (see issue 51: Heresy in the Early Church).
October 9, 1000: Leif "the Lucky" Eriksson, who later evangelized Greenland, is reported to have been the first European to reach North America on this date. But while he was certainly a member of an early Viking voyage to "Vinland" (probably Nova Scotia), it's doubtful he led the initial expedition (see issue 63: Conversion of the Vikings).
October 9, 1747: David Brainerd, pioneer missionary to Native Americans in New England, dies of tuberculosis at age 29. His journal, published by Jonathan Edwards, inspired hundreds to become missionaries, including the "father of modern Protestant missions," William Carey (see issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).
October 9, 1890: Pentecostal evangelist and national sensation Aimee Semple McPherson is born in Ontario, Canada (see issue 58: Pentecostalism).
October 9, 1958: Pope Pius XII, whose record of protecting Jews in 1940s Germany is hotly debated and who formally defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1950), dies.
October 10, 1560: Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius, the founder of a theology that challenged Reformed assumptions, is born in Oudewater, Netherlands.
October 10, 1821: Law student Charles Finney, 29, goes into the woods near his home to settle the question of his soul's salvation. That night, he experienced a dramatic conversion, full of what seemed "waves of liquid love throughout his body." Finney later became American history's greatest revivalist and purportedly converted of 500,000 people (see issue 20: Charles Grandisen Finney).
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