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Christian History

Today in Christian History

February 29

February 29, 1528: Patrick Hamilton, a follower of Martin Luther who had returned to his native Scotland to preach the Reformation, is burned at the stake on orders from Cardinal David Beaton. In retaliation, Protestant nobles assassinated the cardinal. This event effectively began the Scottish Reformation (see issue 46: John Knox).

February 29, 1692: The Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts begin when Tituba, the female Indian servant of Reverend Samuel Parris, and Sarah Good are accused of witchcraft. Parris initiated the hysteria by declaring, "In this very church, God only knows how many devils there are." By the time other area pastors were able to calm the town, 19 suspected witches had been hanged and 150 imprisoned (see issue 41: American Puritans).

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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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