Today in Christian History

December 8

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.

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April 21, 1109: Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury and one of the most profound thinkers of the Middle Ages, dies around age 76. He attained fame for his argument that faith is the precondition of knowledge ("credo ut intelligam"), his "satisfaction theory" of the atonement ("No one but one who is God-man can make the satisfaction by which man is saved") and for his ontological argument for God's existence.

April 21, 1142: Medieval French philosopher, teacher, and theologian Pierre Abelard dies. Though ...

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