Today in Christian History

December 18

December 18, 1707: Charles Wesley, who founded Methodism with his brother John, is born in England. A celebrated and prolific hymnwriter, his "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Lo, He Comes" are widely sung this time of year (see issue 69: Charles and John Wesley).

December 18, 1835: Lyman Abbott, a Congregational clergyman who was a leading proponent of the social gospel, is born in Massachusetts. Prompted by his admiration of Henry Ward Beecher to enter the ministry, he succeeded Beecher as pastor at Brooklyn's Plymouth Congregational Church.

December 18, 1865: Slavery is abolished in the United States as the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified. Many of the abolitionists who pushed for its passage were Christians seeking to make America more like the Kingdom of God (see issue 33: Christianity and the Civil War).

December 18, 1944: National Religious Broadcasters is incorporated. In response to regulatory pressure from mainline Protestant groups, the NRB was founded as a non-partisan, non-denominational international association of Christian communicators that would represent the interests of evangelicals working in radio and the nascent medium of television. While theologically diverse, NRB members sign a Declaration of Unity that proclaims their joint commitment and devotion to Christianity.

December 18, 1957: English author Dorothy Sayers, a Christian apologist who was also the most popular mystery writer in England, dies.

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February 25, 616 (traditional date): Ethelbert, the first Christian English king and instigator of the first written code of British law, dies.

February 25, 1570: Pope Pius V excommunicates England's Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, declaring her to be a usurper to the throne. It was the last time a pope "deposed" a reigning monarch.

February 25, 1536: Anabaptist Jakob Hutter is tortured, whipped, and immersed in freezing water (to mock baptismal practices), then doused with brandy and burned. King Ferdinand ...

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