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Christian History

Today in Christian History

May 21

May 21, 1382: The "Earthquake Synod" in London (so named because a temblor interrupted the proceedings), led by Archbishop Courtenay, condemns as heretical 24 theses from the writings of John Wycliffe. Wycliffe later claimed that God sent the earthquake "because the friars had put heresy upon Christ. The earth trembled as it did when Christ was damned to bodily death" (see issue 3: John Wycliffe).

May 21, 1471: Painter, engraver, and woodcut designer Albrecht Durer is born in Nuremberg, Germany. Durer, one of the greatest artists of his Day , almost certainly converted to Protestantism in the 1520s.

May 21, 1527: Anabaptist minister Michael Sattler, a former Benedictine monk who left the monastery and married after reading Paul's letters, is tortured and killed in Rottenburg, Germany. His wife was drowned eight Day s later (see issue 5: Anabaptists).

May 21, 1536: The General Assembly of Geneva officially adopts the Reformation and separates from the Roman Catholic diocese. John Calvin, who became forever associated with the Swiss city, arrives two months later (see issue 12: John Calvin).

May 21, 1738: Charles Wesley, who would cofound Methodism with his brother, experiences an evangelical conversion while sick with pleurisy. "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise and believe, and thou shalt be healed of thy infirmities," a mysterious voice told him in his sickbed. "I believe, I believe," he replied. One year later on this date, he wrote "O for a Thousand Tongues" to commemorate the event (see issue 31: The Golden Age of Hymn).

May 21, 1780: English Quaker and social reformer Elizabeth Fry is born in Norwich, England. Though involved in reforms from education to poverty, her greatest burden was to improve prison life (see issue 53: William Wilberforce).

May 21, 1789: The first American Presbyterian General Assembly convenes in Philadelphia.

May 21, 1832: Hudson Taylor, English missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission, is born in Barnsley, Yorkshire (see issue 52: Hudson Taylor).

May 21, 1864: Missionary-priest Joseph de Veuster (better known as Father Damien) is ordained a priest in Honolulu. In 1873, at his own request, he was sent to a settlement of lepers on the island of Molokai, where he later contracted the disease and died.

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July 9, 386: Nestorius, the first patriarch of Constantinople, is born in what is now Maras, Turkey. Nestorius is famous for his opposition to Mary being described as “theotokos” or God-bearer, preferring the term “Christotokos” or Christ-bearer. Other theologians, such as Cyril of Alexandrian were concerned that this implied that Christ had two natures and two persons (rather than two natures in one person). The Council of Ephesus in 431 condemned this view as heresy and ...

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