This week in Christian History

Short review of major events

## August 24, 410: Alaric and the Goths sack Rome. Pagans blamed pacifist Christians and their God for the defeat. Augustine, in his massive City of God, repudiated this claim and blamed Rome’s corruption instead.

August 24, 1456: The second volume of the Gutenberg Bible is bound in Mainz, Germany. This act completes a two-year project to create the first complete book printed with movable type.

August 24, 1759: William Wilberforce, philanthropist and vocal abolitionist, is born in Yorkshire, England.

August 24, 1662: The deadline arrives for all British ministers to publicly assent to the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The Act of Uniformity, passed on May 19, 1662, also required the BCP to be used exclusively from this date forward. The act remains on Britain’s Statute Book, though it has been modified over the years.

## August 23, 1723: Increase Mather, one of Colonial America’s most famous clergymen, dies. Friends and colleagues mourned him as “the patriarch . . . among us” .

August 23, 1948: The “fellowship of churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior” (a.k.a. the World Council of Churches) is formally constituted in Amsterdam.

August 23, 1572: Catherine de Medici sends her son, young King Charles IX of France, into a panic with threats of an imminent Huguenot (French Protestant) insurrection. Frenzied, he yelled, “Kill them all! Kill them all!” In response, Catholics in Paris butchered the Huguenots who had come to the city for a royal wedding. Between 5,000 and 10,000 Protestants died in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

## August 22, 565: Celtic missionary and abbot Columba reportedly confronts the Loch Ness Monster and becomes the first recorded observer of the creature. “At the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified,” wrote his biographer, “and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes”.

August 22, 1670: English missionary John Eliot founds a church for Native Americans at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

August 22, 1741: George Frideric Handel shuts himself up in his home to begin writing “Messiah.” He finished the composition 24 days later. “Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not,” he later said.

August 22, 1800: Edward B. Pusey, author of Tracts for the Times and a leader of the Oxford Movement to renew the Anglican Church, is born. He wrote several works promoting a union between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, but the Vatican I Ecumenical Council (1869-70) dashed his hopes when it declared the doctrine of papal infallibility.

## August 21, 1741: George Frideric Handel shuts himself up in his home to begin writing “Messiah.” He finished the composition 23 days later. “Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not,” he later said.

August 21, 1874: Henry Ward Beecher, a popular Congregational clergyman from Connecticut, is accused of adultery. Sued for $100,000 by the alleged adulteress’s husband, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (and son of evangelical leader Lyman Beecher) would eventually be exonerated by his congregation and the jury

## August 20, 1153: Bernard of Clairvaux, French theologian, monastic reformer, and hymn writer (O Sacred Head Now Wounded), dies. His motto was “To Know Jesus and Jesus Crucified”.

August 20, 1745: Francis Asbury, one of the two first Methodist bishops in America (the other was Thomas Coke), is born in Birmingham, England.

August 20, 1912: William Booth, founder and first General of the Salvation Army, dies .

## August 19, 1099: Three years after setting out, the First Crusade armies defeat the Saracens at the Battle of Ascalon, a Palestinian city. For more than a century afterwards, Christians controlled the Holy Land.

August 19, 1662: Blaise Pascal, French scientist, polemicist, and Christian apologist, dies at the age of 39 after an extended illness. In 1654, he experienced his “definitive conversion” where he discovered the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and not of the philosophers and men of science”.

August 19, 1843: C.I. Scofield, dispensationalist creator of the Scofield Reference Bible, is born near Clinton, Michigan.

August 19, 1886: Richard G. Spurling, a Baptist minister, founds the Christian Union in Tennessee. In 1923 the organization took the name the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, a Pentecostal denomination that now has hundreds of thousands of members.

## August 18, 1688: John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress preaches his last sermon, in London .

August 18, 1732: In an emotional farewell service, Moravian Christians at Herrnhut sing 100 hymns and commission Leonard Dober and David Nitschmann as missionaries to slaves in the West Indies. Herrnhut, a community of only 600 members sent more than 70 missionaries between 1732 and 1742 .