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Historical Writings

Today in Christian History

Thursday, August 20

651
Murder of King Oswin, who had renounced his throne to save bloodshed, but was betrayed.
684
Death of St. Philibert of France, abbot and monastic founder, particularly associated with Jumiéges Abbey.
1153
Death of Bernard of Clairvaux, French theologian, monastic reformer, and hymn writer.
1384
Death of Gerhard Groot, founder of the Brethren of the Common Life. This movement invited laymen to a life of spirituality and simplicity.
1527
Diet of Odense allows Lutherans in Denmark.
1553
Protestant reformer John Calvin wrote in a letter: 'Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.'
1580
Death of Jerome Osorio, a Portuguese prelate and author, respected for his piety and charity and famed for his elegant Latin.
1740
Martyrdom of Theocharis of Neopolis, an Orthodox Christian. The governor of Nevsehir in the Ottoman Empire had offered him his daughter in marriage on condition he convert to Islam. Offended by Theocharis' refusal, he tortures and executes him.
1745
Birth of Francis Asbury, English Methodist missionary and circuit-riding bishop of the American colonies. During 42 years of labor, Asbury traveled 300,000 miles by horseback, ministering up and down the Eastern seaboard.
1804
Death of Pitambara Singha from an asthmatic complaint. He had first read about salvation in a Baptist tract printed at Serampore and had immediately visited the mission there, becoming a faithful convert, Christian author, and evangelist.
1843
Death from cholera of Ganga Narayan Sil, a learned convert from Hinduism, who had become a street preacher to Hindus and Muslims.
1855
The first World’s Conference of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) takes place in Paris under the title Conference Universelle des Unions Chrétiennes de Jeunes Gens, and will adopt the historic Paris “basis,” which seeks to unite in common effort all members who believe in and serve Christ, adding “Any differences of opinion on other subjects, however important in themselves, shall not interfere with the harmonious relations of the constituent members and associates of the World Alliance.”
1884
Birth of Rudolf Bultmann, German New Testament scholar. He pioneered Form Criticism with his History of the Synoptic Tradition (1921), whereby he sought to identify the devices of Hebrew speech in order to make the central Gospel message meaningful to moderns.
1886
Birth of Paul Tillich, German philosophical theologian. Tillich advocated "myth" as a signpost, participating in the reality to which it points. Evangelicals generally criticize Tillich today for his pantheistic views of God.
1902
Althea Brown, African-American, sails for Africa as a missionary where she will die of malaria and sleeping sickness after years of useful work which will include study of African languages.
1913
Death in Winnipeg of Robert McDonald, who had been an Anglican missionary and gifted linguist, evangelizing among First Nation peoples of Canada, particularly in the northwest Arctic.
1935
Kenneth Pike crosses into Mexico for the first time as a missionary. Later he will become a trail-blazing linguist and a founder of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.
1952
Death in Jacksonville, Florida, of J. Frank Norris, a controversial fundamentalist Baptist pastor, radio speaker, and editor, who at various times had been charged with arson, perjury, libel, and murder - the last for killing an opponent in his church office, claiming self defense.
1958
A pentecostal sect, formed by Grady R. Kent out of the Church of God of Prophecy, formally adopted as its name "The Church of God of All Nations." The denomination is headquartered today in Cleveland, Tennessee.
1965
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a theological student in the Episcopal Church, is killed by a shotgun blast. Released from jail just that morning (he had been locked up for participation in a march against segregation), he died while shielding an African-American woman from the gunman.
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