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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October 24, 1260: France's Chartres Cathedral, the purest example of Gothic architecture, is consecrated.

October 24, 1648: The Peace of Westphalia ends central Europe's Thirty Years War. Extending equal political rights to Catholics and Protestants (including religious minorities), the peace treaties also marked the first use of the term "secularization" (in discussing some church property that was to be distributed among the warring parties).

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