Today in Christian History

December 4

December 4, 749: Greek Orthodox theologian and poet John of Damascus dies near Jerusalem. The last great doctor of the Greek church, he wrote comprehensively on the theology of Eastern Christianity and fought against those who wanted to rid the church of icons (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy and issue 74: Christians & Muslims)

December 4, 1093: Anselm, called "the founder of Scholasticism" and the greatest scholar between Augustine and Aquinas, is consecrated archbishop of Canterbury.

December 4, 1584: Colonial American preacher John Cotton is born in Derby, England. Sometimes called "the father of New England Congregationalism," he was colonial Massachusetts's most eminent minister. People regarded him so highly they "could hardly believe that God would suffer Mr. Cotton to err" (see issue 41: The American Puritans).

December 4, 1674: French Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette erects a mission on Lake Michigan—the first building in what would become the city of Chicago.

December 4, 1930: In response to the Anglican Lambeth Conference, which cautiously approved birth control, Pope Pius XI issues the encyclical "Casti connubii." Though the document condemned any human effort depriving sex of "its natural power of procreating life," it tacitly legitimated the "rhythm method.

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April 28, 1789: In the South Pacific, a band of hedonistic sailors stages the famous mutiny on the Bounty. The mutineers then sailed to uninhabited Pitcairn Island, where they soon fell into drinking and fighting. Only one man and several women (taken earlier as slaves) and children survived. The man, Alexander Smith, discovered the ship's neglected Bible, repented, and transformed the community. The Bible is still on display in a Pitcairn church.

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