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Christian History

Today in Christian History

October 16

October 16, 1311: The Council of Vienne opens to decide if the Templars, a military order sworn to protect Christian pilgrims, are heretical and too wealthy. Pope Clement V decided to suppress the order. Its leader was burned and members' possessions taken by the church. That decision was adamantly derided by the poet Dante and by later historians (see issue 40: The Crusades).

October 16, 1555: English reformers Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley are burned at the stake at the order of Roman Catholic Queen Mary Tudor (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).

October 16, 1701: Unhappy with growing liberalism at Harvard, Congregationalists found Collegiate School, later known as Yale.

October 16, 1859: Militant messianic abolitionist John Brown leads a group of about 20 men in a raid on the federal armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). Brown believed that only violent action would end slavery and that a massive slave uprising would bring God's judgment upon unrepentant American Southerners. Furthermore, he believed that God had anointed him as the cleansing agent for his country's sin. But when the slaves around Harper's Ferry failed to rally to Brown's cause, he was overpowered. He was arrested, tried, and hanged (see issue 33: Christianity and the Civil War).

October 16, 1925: The Texas State Text Book Board bans evolutionary theory from all its textbooks (see issue 55: Fundamentalism).

October 16, 1978: The Roman Catholic College of Cardinals chooses Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to be the new pope. Taking the name John Paul II, he became the first non-Italian pope in 456 years (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century).

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May 20, 325: Emperor Constantine convenes the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (now Iznik), Bithynia, to discuss Arianism, a heresy arguing that Christ was subordinate to God the Father. "I entreat you," Constantine said at the opening of the Council of Nicea, "to remove the causes of dissension among you and to establish peace." The council attempted to resolve the bitter conflict by anathematizing Arius (Arianism's founder) and ordering the burning of all his books, but ...

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