Today in Christian History

January 31

January 31, 1561: Anabaptist leader Menno Simons, for whom Mennonites are named, dies in Wustenfeld, Germany (see issue 5: Anabaptists).

January 31, 1686: King Louis XIV of France, having already revoked the Protestant-tolerating Edict of Nantes, orders all Waldensian churches burned. The Waldensians, members of a pre-Reformation tradition that stressed love of Christ and his word and a life of poverty, were soon devastated: 2,000 killed, 2,000 "converted" to Catholicism, and 8,000 imprisoned (see issue 22: Waldensians).

January 31, 1737: Jacob Duche, Episcopal clergyman and chaplain to the Continental Congress, is born in Philadelphia. He later had a change of heart about the war and asked George Washington to have Congress recall the Declaration of Independence (see issue 50: The American Revolution).

January 31, 1892: Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest public speakers of his day, dies at Mentone, France (see issue 29: Charles Spurgeon).

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June 28, 195: Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (France) and one of the most important Christian writers of the second century, dies. He argued that tradition is key in sustaining orthodoxy, and he was instrumental in raising the authority of the Roman bishop. He was also the first to add the four Gospels to a list of apostolic writings, calling them "Scripture" with the Old Testament. Many consider him the first theologian of the Christian church, since others were more apologists than theologians.

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