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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September 25, 1534: Pope Clement VII dies. An unpopular pope, Clement failed to halt Luther's reformation or to implement his own reforms in the Catholic church. Henry VIII asked Clement VII to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. The pope's reluctance led to Henry VIII's break from Catholicism (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

September 25, 1555: The Peace of Augsburg is signed after the defeat of Emperor Charles V's forces by Protestant princes in Germany (1552). The official ...

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