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Christian History

Today in Christian History

October 5

October 5, 869: The Fourth Constantinople Council opens. During its six sessions, the council condemned iconoclasm and anathematized Constantinople Patriarch Photius. (It's a story too complicated to go into here, but basically, there was a strong disagreement over who was the "real" patriarch, and whether Holy Spirit proceeded from the Son as well as the Father). It was the last ecumenical council held in the East, but Eastern Orthodox Christians don't consider it a true ecumenical council (see issue 54: Eastern Orthodoxy).

October 5, 1703: American evangelical preacher and Congregational theologian Jonathan Edwards is born in East Windsor, Connecticut. The leading theologian of his day, he is known most commonly for his Great Awakening sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which he delivered in a quiet monotone. In fact, the content of the sermon is rather atypical for Edwards (see issue 8: Jonathan Edwards and issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).

October 5, 1744: David Brainerd, kicked out of Yale for criticizing a tutor and attending a forbidden revival meeting, begins missionary work with Native Americans along New Jersey's Susquehannah River. Jonathan Edwards's biography of Brainerd was key in promoting Christian missions and was counted by William Carey as one of his most influential reads (see issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).

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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 ...

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