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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December 5, 220 (traditional date): Clement of Alexandria, the first early church theologian to show an extensive knowledge of pagan and Christian writings (in his refutations of pagan criticisms), dies.

December 5, 532: Sabas, a monk since childhood, dies at age 91, five days after returning from a diplomatic mission to Constantinople. Though his primary desire was always for solitude with God, he founded a monastery in Palestine, Mar Saba, that still stands today (see issue 64: Antony and the Desert ...

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