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Christian History

Today in Christian History

September 1

September 1, 256: North African bishops vote unanimously that Christians who had lapsed under persecution must be rebaptized upon reentering the church. The vote led to a battle between Cyprian, one of the North African bishops, and Stephen, bishop of Rome, who disagreed with the vote. Cyprian yielded, precipitating a longstanding argument for the Roman bishop's supremacy in the early church (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

September 1, 1159: Adrian (or Hadrian) IV, the only English pope in history, dies.

September 1, 1836: Missionaries Marcus Whitman and H.H. Spalding and their wives reach what is now Walla Walla, Washington. The first white settlers in the Pacific Northwest, Whitman, his wife, and 12 others were killed at their mission by Native Americans in 1847. News of their massacre was largely responsible for Congress's organizing the Oregon Territory in 1848 (see issue 66: How the West Was Really Won).

September 1, 1957: At a massive rally in Times Square, Billy Graham concludes his 16-week evangelistic crusade in New York City, attended by nearly 2 million people (see issue 65: The Ten Most Influential Christians of the Twentieth Century).

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June 15, 1215: King John signs the Magna Carta, which begins, "The Church of England shall be free.

June 15, 1520: In the papal encyclical "Exsurge Domine," Leo X condemns Martin Luther on 41 of counts of heresy, branding him an enemy of the Roman Catholic Church. After the encyclical, Luther's works were burned in Rome (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).

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