Today in Christian History

February 17

February 17, 661: Finan, bishop of Lindisfarne (an island off the eastern coast of England) who throughout his life sought to preserve Celtic customs against Roman influence, dies. Three years later, at the Synod of Whitby, Celtic Christians agreed to abide by Roman traditions. "Peter is guardian of the gates of heaven, and I shall not contradict him," said the Celtic King, Oswy (see issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved).

February 17, 1858: Waldensians, ancient "Protestants" from the Italian Alps who survived through persecution for 800 years, are finally guaranteed civil and religious rights. They began with the teaching of a wealthy merchant named Pater Waldo in the late 1100s; thus they are considered "the oldest evangelical Church" (see issue 22: The Waldensians).

February 17, 1889: Former White Stockings baseball player Billy Sunday preaches his first evangelistic sermon in Chicago. By the time he died in 1935, he had preached to an estimated 100 million people, and about 1 million "walked the sawdust trail" to become Christians at his invitation.

February 17, 1898: Francis Willard, crusader for prohibition and women's suffrage, dies. She served as dean of Northwestern Women's College before becoming president of the Women's Christian Temperence Union.

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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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