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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Thursday, March 8

1495
Death in Grenada of John of God on his fifty-fifth birthday, having contracted pneumonia through plunging into an icy stream to rescue a girl. Impulsive and tenderhearted he had operated a hospital for the homeless and insane which he supported through hard work and begging.
1551
Genevan authorities admonish Hierosme Hermes Bolsec for meddling in theology, but Bolsec now and later argues that men are not saved because they are elected but are elected because they have faith. Eventually he is expelled from Geneva and writes scurrilous biographies of Reformation leaders Calvin and Beza.
1698
The first meeting convened of the British group which later formed the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).
1711
In this date's edition of "The Spectator," English essayist Joseph Addison wrote: 'To be an atheist requires an infinitely greater measure of faith than to receive all the great truths which atheism would deny.'
1740
Colonial revivalist Gilbert Tennent, 37, preached his famous sermon, "The Danger of An Unconverted Ministry." The message, assaulting opponents of the Great Awakening, contributed to the first schism within the American Presbyterian Church between the Old Side and New Side. (In 1758 the two divisions were reunited.)
1782
Over a period of two days a group of Pennsylvania militiamen under the command of Captain David Williamson attack peaceable Indians of the Moravian mission at Gnadenhütten in retaliation for the deaths and kidnappings of several Pennsylvanians by other Indians, murdering twenty-eight men, twenty-nine women, and thirty-nine children.
1839
Overcoming difficulties, such as two stout Hindu bodyguards set to prevent him from visiting Christians, Mahendra Lal Basak leaves his father’s home in Calcutta determined to forsake idolatry and pursue Christ. He is baptized this day and will become a Christian minister and educator, but will die of cholera within six years.
1887
Death of Henry Ward Beecher, 73, American clergyman and social reformer. His last words were: 'Going out into life" that is dying.'
1892
Death in England of Methodist missionary James Calvert, a pioneer in the Fiji mission.
1921
The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia was organized at Ebenezer, in South Australia. In 1966 the UELCA united with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA) to form the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA).
1948
In McCollum v. Board of Education, Justice Hugo Black hands down a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that religious education in public schools is a violatation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. The court rules that allowing children "release time," even with parental consent, to receive religious instruction during school hours on school property is a violation of the separation of church and state.
1960
Death of the Orthodox archbishop Vitaly Maximenko of the North American diocese. Born in Russia he had endured many hard knocks as a young orphan and obtained a reputation as a rebel. However, he so proved himself on every job he undertook that he was delegated tasks of great responsibility and built up two major religious printing houses as well as laboring with minimal rest to evangelize and build up his church. In America he strove to reunify expatriated Orthodox groups.
2009
Angered at Christian conversions of Hindus, Rajesh Singh tosses a bomb into a House of Prayer church in Buhar state, India, and then shoots pastor Vinod Kumar, who will survive.
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