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The Current Week in 2015:
August 23, 1723: Increase Mather, one of Colonial America's most famous clergymen, dies. Friends and colleagues mourned him as "the patriarch . . . among us" (see issue 41: American Puritans).
August 23, 1948: The "fellowship of churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior" (a.k.a. the World Council of Churches) is formally constituted in Amsterdam.
August 23, 1572: Catherine de Medici sends her son, young King Charles IX of France, into a panic with threats of an imminent Huguenot (French Protestant) insurrection. Frenzied, he yelled, "Kill them all! Kill them all!" In response, Catholics in Paris butchered the Huguenots who had come to the city for a royal wedding. Between 5,000 and 10,000 Protestants died in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (see issue 71: Huguenots).
August 24, 410: Alaric and the Goths sack Rome. Pagans blamed pacifist Christians and their God for the defeat. Augustine, in his massive City of God, repudiated this claim and blamed Rome's corruption instead (see issue 67:Augustine).
August 24, 1456: The second volume of the Gutenberg Bible is bound in Mainz, Germany. This act completes a two-year project to create the first complete book printed with movable type.
August 24, 1759: William Wilberforce, philanthropist and vocal abolitionist, is born in Yorkshire, England (see issue 53: William Wilberforce).
August 24, 1662: The deadline arrives for all British ministers to publicly assent to the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The Act of Uniformity, passed on May 19, 1662, also required the BCP to be used exclusively from this date forward. The act remains on Britain's Statute Book, though it has been modified over the years.
August 25, 1270: Louis IX, king of France since 1226, dies. Louis had been close to death 26 years earlier, and he vowed if he recovered from his bout with malaria, he would lead a crusade. In 1248 he kept his promise and led the Seventh Crusade in an unsuccessful attempt to crush the Muslim political center in Egypt. When he died, the holy king (who had spent much of his reign wearing hair shirts, collecting relics, and visiting hospitals—where he often emptied bedpans) was fighting in the northern Africa city of Tunis during the Eighth Crusade. Lying on a bed of ashes, his last words lamented the city he never won: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" (see issue 40: The Crusades).
August 25, 1560: Led by John Knox, the reformed Church of Scotland is established on Protestant lines. The Scottish parliament accepts the Calvinistic Scots Confession, forbids the mass, and declares the pope has no jurisdiction in Scotland (see issue 46: John Knox).
August 26, 1901: The American Standard Version of the Bible is first published by Thomas Nelson and Sons. The A.S.V. spun off from the 1881 English Revised Version, the first nondenominational English revision since publication of the King James Version in 1611.
August 27, 1660: Charles II, newly restored to the throne, orders the works of poet John Milton (who supported the Parliament) to be burned by royal decree. Milton though imprisoned for a short while, continues work on his masterpiece, Paradise Lost.
August 27, 1727: Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf's Moravian community at Herrnhut, Germany, begins a round-the-clock "prayer chain." Reportedly, at least one person in the community was praying every minute of the day—for more than a century (see issue 1: Nicolaus Zinzendorf).
August 27, 1910: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu is born to an Albanian couple in Yugoslavia. At age 18, Agnes entered an Irish convent. She later became known worldwide as Mother Teresa (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century).
August 28, 430: As Vandals invade Roman North Africa and overwhelm Hippo refugees,Augustine dies of a fever. Miraculously, his writings, including City of God survived the Vandal takeover, and his theology became one of the main pillars on which the church of the next 1,000 years was built (see issue 67:Augustine).
August 28, 1828: Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist and social reformer, is born. Though the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated him in 1901, his later works emphasized Christian love and the teachings of Jesus.
August 28, 1840: Ira D. Sankey, who for 25 years led the music when D.L. Moody preached, is born in Pennsylvania (see issue 25: D.L. Moody).
August 29, 29: Since the fifth century, tradition has this as the date for the beheading of John the Baptist.
August 29, 70: Romans burn the gates, enter the Temple courtyards of Jerusalem, and destroy the temple by fire. Within a month, Jewish resistance ends.
August 29, 1632: John Locke, English philosopher and author of The Reasonableness of Christianity, is born. He emphasized reason over the supernatural and argued that the essence of Christianity acknowledges Christ as the Messiah who came to our world primarily to spread the true knowledge of God (see issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).
August 29, 1792: Charles Grandison Finney, the father of modern revivalism, is born in Warren, Connecticut. The Old School Presbyterians resented Finney's modifications to Calvinist theology. The revivalistic Congregationalists, led by Lyman Beecher, feared that Finney was opening the door to fanaticism by allowing too much expression of human emotion. Others criticized his "scare tactics." Nevertheless, Finney paved the way for later mass-evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham (see issue 20: Charles Grandison Finney).
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