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Christian History

Today in Christian History

April 2

April 2, 742: Charlemagne (Charles the Great) is born. When Pope Leo III crowned him "Emperor of the Romans" on Christmas Day, 800, Charlemagne announced, "Our task [as secular ruler] is externally, with God's help, to defend with our arms the holy Church of Christ against attacks by the heathen from any side and against devastation by the infidels and, internally, to strengthen the Church by the recognition of the Catholic faith." Indeed, within his kingdom he was far more influential in church affairs than the pope. Charles appointed and deposed bishops, directed a revision of the text of the Bible, instituted changes to the liturgy, set rules for life in the monasteries, and sent investigators to dismiss priests with insufficient learning or piety.

April 2, 1877: Fundamentalist Baptist evangelist Mordecai Ham is born in Allen County, Kentucky. At the end of his ministry, he claimed one million converts—including Billy Graham, who made a declaration of faith at a 1934 Ham meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century).

April 2, 1914: Three hundred Pentecostals meet at the Grand Opera House in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for a ten-day conference. Though originally intended merely to organize annual conferences, by its close, the conference had birthed the Assemblies of God, Pentecostalism's largest denomination (see issue 58: Pentecostalism).

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May 23, 1430: French mystic and military hero Joan of Arc is captured by the Burgundians. They sold her to English, who tried her for sorcery and heresy (see issue 30: Women in the Medieval Church).

May 23, 1498: Italian reformer Girolamo Savonarola, who preached aggressively against the corruption of northern Italy's church and society, is hanged for heresy and his body burned. After gaining fame for successful prophecies, he sought to establish an ascetic Christian community. Scholars still debate ...

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