December 8, 1691: English Puritan minister Richard Baxter dies in London. One of England's most renowned preachers and author of nearly 200 works (including several hymns), he was known as a peacemaker who sought unity among Protestants.
December 8, 1934: American missionaries John and Betty Stam are beheaded by Chinese communists. The couple had met while attending Moody Bible Institute and married just the year before their death. Publication of their biography prompted hundreds to volunteer for missionary service (see issue 52: Hudson Taylor).
December 8, 2016: American United Methodist minister and theologian Thomas C. Oden dies. Oden was a leading proponent of the Social Gospel movement in the mid 20th century until study of the writings of the church fathers, especially Anthanasius, Augustine, and Aquinas, convinced him of the need to return to classical Christian orthodoxy. This return to traditional theology, which he dubbed “paleo-orthodoxy,” became his main focus for latter half of his life and he became a leading voice in conservative evangelical theology.
July 17, 180: Seven men and five women who had been captured carrying "the sacred books, and the letters of Paul" are tried before Roman proconsul Saturninus. Since none would renounce their Christian faith, all 12 were beheaded (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
July 17, 431: The Council of Ephesus adjourns, having rejected Nestorianism (the idea that Christ had two persons, not two natures) and condemned Pelagianism (a doctrine refuting human depravity) (see issue 51: Heresy ...