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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December 3, 1552: Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, one of the founding members of his order and one of the greatest missionaries ever, dies awaiting admission to China. Before that, he had converted 700,000 people in Portugal, India, Indonesia, Japan, and elsewhere.

December 3, 1833: Ohio's Oberlin College, the first coeducational college in the United States and one of the first to offer education to blacks, opens. Its unique character was formed as a result of the revival movement of Charles Finney, ...

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