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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September 1, 256: North African bishops vote unanimously that Christians who had lapsed under persecution must be rebaptized upon reentering the church. The vote led to a battle between Cyprian, one of the North African bishops, and Stephen, bishop of Rome, who disagreed with the vote. Cyprian yielded, precipitating a longstanding argument for the Roman bishop's supremacy in the early church (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

September 1, 1159: Adrian (or Hadrian) IV, the only English ...

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