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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March 24, 1208: After England's irreligious King John opposed his choice for Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Innocent III places Britain under an interdict. Innocent had all religious services canceled, churches closed, and the dead were not given Christian burials until John surrendered. Soon after, the king signed the Magna Carta, in which the first article affirms "That the Church of England shall be free . . .

March 24, 1816: Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury, age 71, preaches his last sermon. ...

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