Today in Christian History

February 16

February 16, 1497: German scholar and reformer Philipp Melanchthon is born in Bretten, Baden. He and Luther were at times allies (he defended Luther against Johann van Eck and Emperor Charles V) and at other times enemies (Luther thrashed him for his views on the Sacrament, but apologized on his deathbed). Melanchthon's argument for justification by faith alone, known as theAugsburg Confession, is now the basic statement of Lutheran doctrine (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).

February 16, 1801: The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church receives its charter. Five years earlier, black members of New York City's John's Street Methodist Episcopal Zion Church left the church over racist limitations imposed on them. They had not been allowed to preach or vote until Bishop Francis Asbury allowed them to hold their own meetings apart from the John's Street church (see issue 62: Bound For Canaan).

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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 ...

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