Today in Christian History

December 5

December 5, 220 (traditional date): Clement of Alexandria, the first early church theologian to show an extensive knowledge of pagan and Christian writings (in his refutations of pagan criticisms), dies.

December 5, 532: Sabas, a monk since childhood, dies at age 91, five days after returning from a diplomatic mission to Constantinople. Though his primary desire was always for solitude with God, he founded a monastery in Palestine, Mar Saba, that still stands today (see issue 64: Antony and the Desert Fathers).

December 5, 1484: Innocent VIII issues a papal bull giving two German inquisitors jurisdiction over witchcraft. He probably didn't mean for it to be a major change of policy, but the Germans used it to promote their book, Hammer of Witches. Its publication led to the (often-exaggerated) witch-hunting from the 1500s onward.

December 5, 1862: C.T. Studd, pioneer missionary, is born in England. Originally famous as a cricket star, he converted at age 21 under the preaching of D.L. Moody, and he dedicated his life and considerable inherited wealth to Christ. In 1885 he and six others, the "Cambridge Seven," sailed to Asia to serve with the China Inland Mission. He later ministered in India and Africa as well (see issue 52: Hudson Taylor).

December 5, 1933: Prohibition comes to an end as the twenty- first amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified. The ban on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages had been fervently sought by fundamentalist Christians in the social reform movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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November 12, 1035: Canute the Great, Danish king since 1016, dies at age 41. The often ruthless king had restored churches and monasteries throughout his kingdom and built several new ones (see issue 63: Conversion of the Vikings).

November 12, 1660: John Bunyan is arrested for unlicensed preaching and sentenced to prison. While incarcerated, he penned Pilgrim's Progess and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, the greatest Puritan spiritual autobiography (see issue 11: John Bunyan).

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