Today in Christian History

February 27

February 27, 280: Constantine, the first Roman emperor converted to Christianity, is born. Though some scholars question the authenticity of Constantine's conversion (which came after he saw a vision on the battlefield), the emperor did seek to settle church controversies by calling the Council of Nicea in 325 (see issue 57: Converting the Empire).

February 27, 380: Roman emperor Theodosius makes Christianity the official law of the land. "It is our will," he decreed, "that all the peoples we rule shall practice that religion that Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans" (see issue 57: Converting the Empire).

February 27, 1773: Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, is completed after six years of construction at a cost of about $4,070. George Washington purchased a pew for himself and his family for $100.

February 27, 1871: Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, is born. His eight-volume Systematic Theology (1947) is one of the most detailed analyses of dispensational premillenial Protestant theology.

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May 24, 1089 (traditional date): Archbishop of Canterbury, scholar, and church reformer Lanfranc dies. Known primarily for his development of the doctrine of transubstantiation, in which the eucharistic bread and wine become Christ's body and blood, he also educated brilliant scholar Anselm and future pope Alexander II.

May 24, 1543: Polish astronomer and cleric Nicolas Copernicus dies in Poland. His heliocentric (sun-centered) concept of the solar system was radical, though not unheard of before ...

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