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HisDaughter
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2011, 10:03:33 AM »

April 9, 1816
Separate but Equal for Richard Allen

To one accomplishes anything worthwhile without overcoming difficulties. In becoming America's first black bishop, Richard Allen faced formidable obstacles. He was born a slave. This meant he had to fight racism and inequity every step of his way. He did not automatically receive an education. Whatever he undertook required his master's permission. Slavery's cruelties touched his life. To pay debts, Richard's master sold off Richard's mother and three of her children. Richard never heard from them again.

At age seventeen, Allen met Christ. "I was awakened and brought to see myself, poor, wretched and undone, and without the mercy of God must be lost. Shortly after, I obtained mercy through the blood of Christ. . .I was brought under doubts, and was tempted to believe I was deceived, and was constrained to seek the Lord afresh. . .I was tempted to believe there was no mercy for me. I cried to the Lord day and night. . .all of a sudden my dungeon shook, and glory to God, I cried. My soul was filled. I cried, enough for me--the Savior died." He saw himself as a human being loved by God and it transformed his outlook. He became a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. To prove the merits of Christianity to his master he worked doubly hard. His master came under conviction. Indebtedness did not allow him to free Allen outright; however he offered to let him buy his freedom. Working evening and weekend jobs, Allen saved up his liberation money. An inward urge propelled him to educate himself. By 1782 he had become licensed to preach. Four years later he bought his freedom.

 From Delaware, where he had been a slave, he moved to Philadelphia. There he preached to blacks in an established Methodist church. But when the church engaged in outrageous discrimination, he determined to form an independent Methodist body. The result was the Bethel Church, founded in 1787 in Philadelphia. Francis Asbury dedicated its structure a few years later and ordained Richard a deacon. Later Allen became America's first black Methodist bishop. Black churches across the Eastern United States organized on this day, April 9, 1816 into a new denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and elected Richard Allen Bishop of that organization.

Humble before Christ, Allen was charitable even to the whites who oppressed him. He was a driving force in founding America's first black convention and was active in the underground railroad. His story is one of great adversities boldly overcome in the strength of Christ.

Bibliography:

1."Allen, Richard." Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Timothy Larsen, editor. Downers-Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
2.George, Carol V. R. Segregated Sabbaths; Richard Allen and the emergence of independent Black churches 1760 - 1840. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.
3.Mathews, Marcia M. Richard Allen. Baltimore: Helicon, 1963.
4.Various encyclopedia and internet articles such as (www.earlyamerica.com/review/spring97/allen.html)
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« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2011, 09:25:09 AM »

April 10, 428
The Nestorian Controversy

Nestorius was consecrated bishop of Constantinople on this date April 10th, 428. His elevation to this influential position had profound repercussions for the church. A firm opponent of the Arian heresy, he was accused of falling into a contrary error.

Arians taught that Christ was a created being. To refute this and other points, Nestorius argued that the Godhead joined with the human rather as if a man entered a tent or put on clothes. Instead of depicting Christ as one unified person, Nestorius saw him as a conjunction of two natures so distinct as to be different persons who had merged.

Nestorius refused to call Mary the "Mother of God." Her baby was very human, he said. Jesus' human acts and sufferings were of his human nature, not his Godhead. To say Mary was Mother of God was to say God had once been a few hours old. "God is not a baby two or three months old," he argued.

He never denied that Christ was divine. On the contrary, it was to protect Christ's divinity that he argued as he did, lest it be lost in worship of the human child. The divine nature could not be born of a woman. Nestorius' refusal to use the term "theotokus," Mother of God, led to a big argument. He pointed out that the apostles and early church fathers never employed the word. But he could not resolve the issue so as to bring into focus the Jesus we know from scripture who is completely and truly both God and man.

Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, condemned Nestorius' works by issuing twelve anathemas against him. Nestorius responded in kind. The two men were harsh individuals and fierce antagonists. There was no chance of reconciliation. Emperor Theodosius II called a council at Ephesus to settle the question. Working quickly, Cyril and his allies deposed Nestorius before his Syrian supporters could reach the council site. Rome backed Cyril's move and Nestorius was stripped of his position and exiled. Theologians who study Nestorius' writings today say that his opinions were misrepresented and probably were not heretical.

Nestorius' followers did not go down without a fight. In regions controlled by Persia they formed their own church. At the beginning, it was a strong body which evangelized as far East as China. Nestorian churches appeared in Arabia, India, Tibet, Malabar, Turkostan and Cyprus. Many exist to this day, especially in Iraq, although the level of spirituality is often low. Some units reunited with the Roman Catholic church around the sixteenth century.

In part because of the Nestorian controversy, the church created a formula to describe Christ's person at the Council of Chalcedon in 433. The assembled bishops declared Christ was two natures in one person. "We all with one voice confess our Lord Jesus Christ one and the same Son, at once complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, of one substance with us as regards his manhood, like us in all things, apart from sin..."

Bibliography:

1.Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.
2.Bray, Gerald. Creeds, Councils & Christ. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1984.
3.Chapman, John. "Nestorius and Nestorianism" and "Cyril of Alexandria, St." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
4.Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria. "Anathamas" and "Exposition." Documents of the Christian Church. Selected and Edited by Henry Bettenson. London: Oxford University Press, 1967, 1963.
5.Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity. Editor Tim Dowley. Berkhamsted, Herts, England: Lion Publishing, 1977.
6."Nestorius." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
7.Prestige, G. L. Fathers and Heretics: six studies in dogmatic faith with prologue and epilogue. London: S.P.C.K., 1958.
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2011, 09:47:55 AM »


Today's article reminds of the book "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet.  It's an excellent book and I have read it three times!  I heard they were going to make a television series out of it, which I have long thought would make an excellent mini-series myself.  I haven't seen it though.  I wonder if it can be ordered to own?  I'd love to see what they did with this story.

April 11, 1506
St. Peters' New Foundation

The walls of the old church were veined with cracks. Might it not collapse and kill the worshippers within? Nicholas V thought so. He summoned two famous architects with orders to strengthen the historic building. Alberti and Rossellino looked it over and came up with a plan for new walls.

St. Peter's basilica, first constructed by Constantine the Great, was to be shored up. It sat on the site where tradition says Peter was buried when executed in 67 A. D. As early as 90 A. D. an oratory had memorialize the spot. The work was just begun when Nicholas died. Succeeding popes let the project lapse.

Not until Julius II became pope was the project revived. Julius threw out halfway measures, determined to replace the basilica completely. As architect, he appointed Bramante. Bramante drew up huge plans and outraged traditionalists by rudely ripping down the old building. He should at least have disassembled the old columns, they sputtered, to be reused. Bramante went ahead with excavation.

 On this date April 11, 1506, Pope Julius laid the foundation stone. The elderly vicar descended deep into the earth on a wobbly rope ladder to perform the honor. Lack of funds slowed construction. Leo X replaced Julius in 1513 and after Bramante's death in 1514 made Raphael the chief architect.

Work progressed slowly, due to lack of funds. Raphael never completed the project. Sangello, Verone, Sangallo and Peruzzi also served as architects at one time or another. Eventually Michelangelo was put in charge. He was then in his seventies, but redrew the plans. By the time he died in 1564, the shell of the dome was complete.

The great cathedral was not finished until 1626, 120 years after Julius laid the first stone. Then Carlo Maderna completed the facade. Men in those times projected their schemes across centuries. It is one of the most admirable characteristics of the church which confidently expected the body of Christ to survive all ups and downs. Neither Bramante's plans nor Michelangelo's were adhered to. Consequently the finished building was a series of compromises. Despite this it came forth with grandeur, its vast interior gloriously decorated. It covers four acres. St. Peter, who admired Herod's great temple in Jerusalem and preached and healed in it, might have been astonished at this triumph of religious architecture.

It was to pay for Raphael's efforts, by the way, that Leo X authorized the indulgence which led to Luther's 95 theses. Unfortunately, the edifice which sums up Catholic tradition and its patronage of the arts became a cause of the second greatest division in Christendom (the first being the East-West split in 1054) when Luther insisted indulgences were not necessary for Christians who can go directly to their Savior for forgiveness.

Bibliography:

1.Bainton, Roland H. Here I Stand. New York: Mentor, 1950.
2.Begni, Ernesto. Vatican; Its history--its treasures. New York: Letters and Arts, 1914.
3.Brusher, J. Popes Through the Ages. Princeton, New Jersey: Van Nostrand, 1964.
4.Durant, Will. The Renaissance, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953; pp. 450 - 451.
5."Indulgences." New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1954.
6."Indulgences." The Oxford encyclopedia of the Reformation. Editor in chief Hans J. Hillerbrand. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
7.Kent, W. H. "Indugences." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
8."Julius II." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
9.Maus, Cynthia Pearl. Christ and the Fine Arts. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1959, 1938.
10.Montor, Artaud de. The Lives and Times of the Popes. New York: The Catholic publication society of America, 1910 - 11.
11.Ott, Michael. "Julius II." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
12.Various encyclopedia articles.

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« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2011, 10:40:34 AM »

Quote from: HisDaughter
Today's article reminds of the book "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet.  It's an excellent book and I have read it three times!  I heard they were going to make a television series out of it, which I have long thought would make an excellent mini-series myself.  I haven't seen it though.  I wonder if it can be ordered to own?  I'd love to see what they did with this story.

If it's the History Channel, I think that you can buy copies of just about everything they do. I know they advertise all kinds of shows you can buy frequently. I'll guess that you could enter History Channel in your address bar and your browser would take you there to search.

Edited to add:  It's History.com - I'm watching it now.
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« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2011, 09:30:15 AM »

April 12, 1638
Final Assault on Japan's Rebel Fortress

Would you revolt over eggplant? In November 1637, Japanese peasants of the Shimabara peninsula and the Amakusa islands revolted. Afterwards, a commission looked into the events and concluded that the rebellion occurred because the Prince of Karatsu was more tyrannical than most. In addition to the usual taxes, he added surcharges on the poor farmers which included the best tobacco leaves and numbers of eggplant. To this unbearable tax burden, he added cruelty and torture, especially of Christians and their leaders and evangelists.

Because of the isolated situation of the peninsula and the Amakusa islands, Christianity made greater headway there than in the rest of Japan. The new Christians, with more zeal than understanding, were filled with Messianic hope. Many joined the rebellion. It proved costly to the future of Christian faith in the islands of the rising sun.

The lords of Nagasaki, who had recently departed for Edo (Tokyo) rushed back to defend the city. In December, a force of 3,000 men stormed Amakusa; all but 200 died in the offensive. During the fight, Christians waved banners and shouted the names of Jesus and Mary. Afterwards, they tore down Japanese religious symbols and raised Christian ones in their place. The invocation of Jesus and Mary did not bring victory in the next battle, however.

A thousand Amakusa survivors fled to join 35,000 rebels in Shimabara. The rebels assaulted the principle government fortress and almost captured it. Having failed, they holed up in the Hara fortress where they were led by Masuda Shiro, a brilliant young strategist whose age is variously estimated between fifteen and nineteen, and who went by the Christian name Jerome (sometimes given as Jeronimo). Aided by severe cold, they inflicted major defeats on the government forces. In one night sally alone, they killed 2,000 of the government's 100,000 troops. Despite its cannon, the government could not dislodge the rebels and lost over 8,000 men in January and February while the rebels lost hardly a soul. Japan asked a Dutch ship to shell the Hara Fortress, which it did, but with little effect, except to lose two of their own men to rebel sharpshooters.

But the end was inevitable. Having held out for four months, the rebels ran low on food. Deserters reported this to the government. Encouraged by the news, government forces began an all-out assault on the fortress on this day, April 12, 1638. It took them three days to overcome the desperate peasants and their Christian allies. Afterward, Christianity was strictly banned from Japan as a troublesome religion.

Bibliography:

1.Breen, John and Williams, Mark. Japan and Christianity; Impacts and Responses. Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Macmillan, 1996, pp. 54-60.
2.Brinkley, F. History of the Japanese People from the earliest times to the end of the Meiji Era. Britannica, 1915.
3.Gunn, Geoffrey C. "The Duarte Correa Manuscript and the Shimabara Rebellion." http://www.uwosh.edu/home_pages/faculty_staff/earns/correa.html.
4.Kitagawa, Joseph Mitsuo. Religion in Japanese History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966.
5.Mullins, Mark. Christianity Made in Japan : a study of indigenous movements. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, c1998.
6.Northrop, Henry Davenport. Flowery Kingdom and the Land of the Mikado or China, Japan and Corea. J. R. Jones, 1894.
7.Paske-Smith. Japanese Traditions of Christianity. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and co., 1979. pp. 49-100.
8.Turnbull, Stephen R. The Kakure Kirigotcha2an of Japan: a study of their development, beliefs and rituals to the present day. Richmond, Surrey: Japan Library, 1998.
9.Various internet articles on Shimabara and on Masuda Shiro.
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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2011, 09:32:10 AM »


April 12, 1972
20th Prison Anniversary for Watchman Nee

Among China's millions of Christians, none has been as well known to the West as Watchman Nee. Many of his books, such as The Normal Christian Life and Sit, Walk, Stand, reached Western shores and were printed in English where they were well-received.

Communist China has been hostile to Christian believers. Efforts are made to herd all Christians into a few state-controlled churches. Watchman Nee's fearless witness angered the party, which denounced him and his church. He was accused of exercising "a dark, mysterious control" over 470 supposedly independent churches. Nee could see the writing on the wall.

Rather than bemoan the fate he saw approaching, he worked night and day to dictate to assistants all that Christ had taught him. For days on end, he went with only two hours of sleep. The words they wrote down described the glory of God, the power of Christ's resurrection, the proofs of God's existence, and Christ's righteousness for believers.

He was arrested in 1952. With fierce brainwashing and honeyed promises, the Communists tried to break his fidelity to Christ. His captors promised him that if he would lead the faithful into the Three Self Patriotic Movement (the Communist-controlled church) he would be freed. Nee refused.

For four years believers did not know where he was. Then in 1956 he was given a hearing in Shanghai and accused of numerous severe crimes. To each charge he was allowed to answer only Yes or No. He stood silent for all but two: sabotage and spying. Those he denied. The Court of Public Security recommended severity. A few days later he was publicly accused and "proofs" presented. Among the allegations was that, at a time when Mao was bringing in a bright new socialist future, Nee had demoralized people by preaching that mankind is in the last days.

At the end of the hearing, Nee was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment with reform by labor. He was placed in the First Municipal Prison, where he had to labor in a factory eight hours a day, attend re-education another eight, and was allowed to rest the final eight. Loud speakers blared continuous propaganda. The prisoners were fed so little, their ribs protruded. He was permitted to send only one heavily-censored letter a month. Later he was employed translating English articles into Chinese for the government. Released convicts reported that he refused to buckle to the Communists, but instead sang hymns in his cell. Apparently he also refused an opportunity to be ransomed to the West.

On this day, April 12, 1972 Nee completed twenty years in prison, five years more than his maximum sentence. Ten days later he wrote in good spirits to his sister, possibly from a country prison. Within weeks he was dead.

Bibliography:

1.Kinnear, Angus I. Against the Tide; the story of Watchman Nee. Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1973.
2.Lyall, Leslie T. Three of China's Mighty Men. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980, 1973.
3.Nee, Watchman. A Better Covenant.
4.-----------------. The Normal Christian Life. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale, 1956.
5.-----------------. Sit, Walk, Stand. (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1974, 1962).
6."Nee, To-Sheng." Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Edited by Timothy Larsen. Downers-Grove, Illinois: Intevarsity Press, 2003.
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« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2011, 10:12:19 AM »

April 13, 1742
Hallelujah! Handel's Masterpiece

At twelve noon, on this date, April 13, 1742, the world first heard the lovely overture, memorable arias and majestic choruses of the most famous oratorio ever written. There has not been a year since then that George Frederick Handel's Messiah has not been performed in concert halls around the world. Usually it appears in numerous halls.

The performance took place in Dublin, in the Fishamble Street Musick Hall. Dubliners received it with enthusiasm. "...the best judges allowed it to be the most finished piece of music," wrote the Dublin Gazette. "Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight it afforded..." Two performances were given. Two years later, annual performances were established in Dublin. London did not receive the oratorio as readily. Criticized, it did not catch on there until 1749.

 Handel had turned to oratorios, most of them on religious themes, after opera failed him. Messiah was special even within its genre. The composer deliberately wrote it so that it could be performed by as few as four singers with strings, continuo, two drums and two trumpets. The idea was to produce a work which could be staged anywhere. Handel was often near destitution, and a piece like Messiah, which could be performed by small ensembles, offered him opportunities to raise desperately needed cash.

The text, by Charles Jennens, pulled together fragments of scripture relating to Christ. The power of the scriptures came by laying them forth almost as translated (he used more than one translation where it suited his purpose) and joining them so that they built on and clarified one another without comment. Old and New Testament passages were placed beside each other where a relationship existed. Where Jennens modified passages, he did so to make them scan better and to keep the texts in the third tense throughout. Handel, although a rough-tongued man, claimed to know the Bible as well as any bishop and made a few alterations himself. Jennens, a devout Anglican, intended through his libretto to challenge the Deists who denied Christ's divinity: "And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

He succeeded in his intent, for Messiah portrays Christ as Son of God, the fulfillment of prophecy, Savior of the world, and coming King. John Newton, slaver turned clergyman, preached fifty sermons on the text. Although Newton preached his series as a rebuke to those who glorified the music above God's word, he said that it comprehended all the principle truths of the Gospel. That Jennens fused the words together without once backtracking or repeating a passage demonstrates the perfectionism which made him a fussy person.

Handel united the whole into a magnificent artwork, writing the work in twenty-three fervent days, despite having already suffered a stroke. The music often rises to great loveliness and power. Passion builds until the climactic Hallelujah chorus. Of this chorus, Handel said in his broken English, "I did think I did see all heaven before me and the great God himself!"

Bibliography:

1.Barne, Kitty. Introducing Handel. New York: Roy, 1960.
2.Flower, Newman. George Frederick Handel, his personality and his times. New York: Scribners, 1948.
3.Grout, Donald J. A History of Western Music. New York: W. W. Norton, 1960.
4.Grove, Sir George, ed. "Handel, George Frederick." New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan Publishers; Washington, D.C.: Grove's Dictionaries of Music, 1985, 1980.
5."Handel, George Frederick." Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921 - 1996.
6.Scholes, Percy Alfred. "Handel, George Frederick." In The Oxford Companion to Music. Editor John Owen Ward. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.
7.Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain). Portraits of Eminent Men, of Various Ages and Nations, with Memoirs. London: C. Knight, 1845.
8.Ruoff, Henry W. Masters of Achievement. Buffalo, New York: Frontier Press, 1911.
9.Zoff, Otto, Editor. Great Composers Through the Eyes of Their Contemporaries. New York: Dutton, 1951.
10.Various encyclopedia articles and books on music appreciation.
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« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2011, 09:38:43 AM »

April 14, 1682
The Flame of Avvakum's Genius

Archpriest Avvakum was appalled. The Russian Orthodox church had an overbearing new Patriarch, Nikon. This zealot wanted to incorporate into the liturgy changes borrowed from the Roman church. As Avvakum and many others saw it, these changes threatened the purity of the old faith. Their protests were met with appalling cruelty. Tsarevna Sof'ya decreed that Old Believers were to be tortured. Any who remained "obstinate" were to be burnt to death.

Avvakum became spokesman for the Old Believers. Fortunately for Russia, he was not immediately sentenced to death, but instead chained, imprisoned, beaten, spat upon and exiled to Siberia. He and his family survived by eating offal that wolves had rejected. Two of his sons died under these wretched conditions. Forced to join an expedition to Amur under a brutal leader, Avvakum spoke out against the cruelty. For this, he was flogged and chained to a barge overnight in a cold, autumn downpour. Then the faithful witness was thrown naked into a cell, "but God kept me warm without clothes!" he reported.

What use was his protest against the liturgical changes? he wondered. The new formulas spread no matter what he said. He asked his wife if he should continue to speak or hold his peace. "You have tied me down," he said, thinking of her sufferings and those of his children.

"Lord have mercy, what are you saying Petrovich?" the good woman replied. "I and the children bless you: dare to preach God's word as heretofore and do not feel anxious about us; so long as God wills it, we shall live together, and if we are parted, remember us in your prayers. Christ will not abandon us!" Shaking off his temporary "blindness of discouragement," Avvakum renewed his preaching.

For all her faith, his wife could not help asking her husband once, "How long will this suffering last, Archpriest ?" Till death, he answered. Sighing she said, "So be it, Petrovich; let us trudge on."

Trudge on Avvakum did. Imprisoned, he wrote hundreds of pages of doctrine. He also produced an autobiography. Written in a zestful, contemporary Russian, it is considered a milestone of the language much as Pascal's Provincial Letters are for French and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales for English. Its concise immediacy was unsurpassed until Tolstoy. Friendly jailers winked as Avvakum's well-wishers smuggled out his tracts and the text of the autobiography.

Thousands of the Old Believers were executed. Avvakum's turn came on this day April 14, 1682. At Tsar Theodore's order, he and his fellow prisoners were locked in a log cabin and burned alive. Thus perished in flame a spiritual hero and literary genius whose remembrance endures to this day.

Bibliography:

1.Avvakum, Petrovich. The Life of the Archpriest Avvakum, by himself. Translated from the seventeenth century Russian by Jane Harrison and Hope Mirrlees with a preface by Prince D.S. Mirsky. London, Hogarth Press, 1963.
2.Dowley, Tim, ed. Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity. Berkhamsted, Herts, England: Lion Publishing, 1977.
3.Various internet articles.
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« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2011, 10:19:01 AM »

April 15, 1597
"Clearly Unworthy" Thought Gerard

"I have only one life," said John Gerard. "But if I had several I would sacrifice them to the same cause." He was very weak. All the day before, he had hung by his arms, stretched in a position which caused excruciating pain, passing out repeatedly, only to be revived and forced to endure more agony. Now, on this day, April 15th, 1597, he was hoisted into the torturous position again. ". . .if I had any spirit left in me it was given by God and given to me, although most unworthy, because I shared the fellowship of the Society."

Gerard's crime was to be a Jesuit in an England which had embraced the Reformation. As such he was suspected of complicity in various plots, imaginary or real. His torture was designed to force him to implicate an innocent Catholic priest, Father Garnet.

 His torment was made worse by the words of the torturers. "You will be a cripple all your life if you live. And you are going to be tortured every day until you confess."

John Gerard prayed unceasingly. The pain was intense, especially in his hands. He placed himself in the keeping of the Lord Jesus and Mary. It was a long time before he fainted this day. Hot water was poured down his throat to revive him. The jailers had so much difficulty bringing him around that they thought he had died. He came to himself seated on a bench, and supported by a man on either side. "Submit to the Queen," they urged. Tell all you know. Why die miserably? "No I won't," he managed to reply. "And I won't as long as there is breath in my body."

He was hung up again, and was promised another hanging after dinner. Nonetheless he felt consoled in his soul. "Whether it arose from a true love of suffering with Christ or from a selfish longing to be with Christ, God knows best. But I thought then I was going to die. And my heart filled with great gladness as I abandoned myself to His will and keeping. . ."

The governor of the tower was the first to lose stomach for the fight. John was taken down and returned to his cell. His warden ". . .assured me that his wife, whom I had never seen, had wept and prayed for me the whole time." The governor resigned. He did not want to torture any more good men, he said. A new man took his place. Six months later, John escaped.

He was glad to have endured his torments without breaking, but deeply saddened for another cause. God must have seen weakness in him to have given him so short a fight, he wrote. "To others stronger than me, to Father Walpole, Father Southwell and others, He offered a hard fight that they might conquer. . .but I was clearly unworthy of their prize and was left to fulfill the length of my days. . ." Clearly the Reformation in England had martyrs, heroes and villains on both sides--Catholic and Protestant.

Bibliography:

1.Gerard, John. "A Jesuit is Tortured in the Tower, 14-15 April, 1597 John Gerard." In Eyewitness to History. Edited by John Carey. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University, 1988.
2.Pollen, J. H. "John Gerard." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
3.Various internet articles such as the Wikipedia entry.
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2011, 10:02:05 AM »

April 16, 1905
Russian Evangelicals Promised Tolerance

Near Easter in 1905, Christian leaders, who were in St. Petersburg for a conference, received an invitation to the palace of Princess Lievan. An announcement was to be made, they were told--an announcement that would bring them great joy. They were given no hint of its content.

"What are we here for? What is happening?" asked the small group of invited men who appeared at the palace early the next morning. No one knew. Which was just how Tsar Nicholas II wanted it. He wanted to spring a little surprise.

The surprise was a manifesto of religious tolerance. Jakob Kroeker, who was there on this day, April 16, 1905, left an account of the emotional scene. "When all the guests arrived, one of the big folding doors opened and our beloved princess came into the room, deeply moved, holding a copy of the Manifesto in her hand. She could hardly read the glad news for inner excitement and joy. When she had finished, those present joined in thanks and worship to the Lord. Not an eye remained dry and not a mouth dumb."

And little wonder. Evangelical Christians in the Russian empire had suffered cruelly for two hundred years. Despite this, their numbers had grown steadily. Tsars from Peter the Great onward had found it expedient to offer some concessions to the emerging religious force. But as is almost always the case when there is a state religion, the established church pressed hard to retain its monopoly and was often guilty of persecution.

Religious tolerance was also incorporated in the October Manifesto of 1905, which took its final shape under Finance Minister Sergei Yulievich Witte, an Orthodox Russian, who candidly acknowledged that he would have preferred to establish a military dictatorship.

As good as the news was, it soon soured. Nicholas II was a weak man who began to take back his concessions almost as soon as he made them. This was unfortunate and helped play into the hands of the revolutionaries who eventually toppled him, the last Tsar, from power.

Western evangelical ideas were not the only thoughts spreading through Russia in those days. Freethinking, agnosticism, rationalism and other God-hating ideologies flourished in the troubled land. Had the evangelical church been free to carry out its mission, with the social uplift that usually follows the Gospel, perhaps the Marxist regime that took power in 1917 would never have emerged to crush the Russian people (not to mention the rest of the world) under a heavy boot of oppression for seventy years.

Bibliography:

1.Brandenburg, Hans.The Meek and the Mighty. New York: Oxford University, 1977.
2.Various encyclopedia and internet articles on Nicholas II and Witte.
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« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2011, 09:30:19 AM »

April 18, 246
Cyprian baptized in Carthage

I am a Christian and cannot sacrifice to the gods. I heartily thank Almighty God who is pleased to set me free from the chains of this body." With these bold words, spoken in front of hundreds of onlookers, Bishop Cyprian of Carthage faced death under Emperor Valerian. Many of the pagans standing by were deeply moved.

Cyprian was well-known to them. As Bishop of Carthage, he was an eminent figure in North Africa. But even before becoming a church leader he had been a notable man.

Born into wealth around 200, Cyprian inherited a large estate. He trained in rhetoric. Curiously it was this training which brought him to Christ. Genuinely gifted as a speaker, he opened his own school. As part of the course, he debated philosophers and Christians. Convinced by the arguments of a Christian elder, he became a convert when he was about 45 years old. "A second birth created me a new man by means of the Spirit breathed from heaven," he wrote. Immediately he applied for admission to the church. With zeal, he gave away his wealth and devoted himself to poverty, celibacy, and Bible studies.

 In those days it was popular for Christians to receive baptism at Easter. This has led scholars to argue that Cyprian received baptism on this day, April 18, 246, the Eve of Easter.

Upon the death of Bishop Donatus in 248, less than two years after Cyprian's conversion, and over his protests, the people elected him Bishop of Carthage. Pontius, one of his clergy, wrote an admiring biography telling how Cyprian handled himself. His countenance was joyous, he wrote, and he was a man to be both revered and loved.

But well might Cyprian protest his election! His task was never easy. Many older men felt slighted by his swift ascendancy and envied him his office. Among the clergy were others who neglected their duties. Cyprian disciplined them, and this increased resentment against him. In 250, a persecution by Emperor Decian broke out. The pagans shouted, "Cyprian to the lions!" But the bishop escaped into hiding. His presence in Carthage would intensify persecution, he explained. Writing letters, he tried to hold the church together in his absence. This was not easy, for the Christians who stayed and endured suffering looked down on Cyprian. In 251 Gallus became emperor and Cyprian returned to his church.

Those who had stood firm under suffering called themselves "the confessors." They gained great prestige from this. Others had renounced their faith. These were called the "lapsed." The church split over how to allow the lapsed back in. Cyprian's disagreement with the Bishop of Rome over the issue of the lapsed caused him to write an influential book, Unity of the Church. In it he argued that the church is not the community of those who are already saved. Instead, it is an ark of salvation for all men, a school for sinners. Today many Protestants accept this teaching but refuse to accept Cyprian's other claim that the bishops of the church, as the heirs of the apostles, are the agents through whom God dispenses grace. "He who has not the church for his mother, has not God for his Father," Cyprian wrote. His view is also opposed to that which makes the pope pre-eminent. Protestants argue that where two or three are gathered in Christ's name, Christ is with them and quote Peter to show that every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:9).

When a fearsome plague erupted in Carthage in 252-254, the pagans abandoned the sick in the streets. People rushed about in terror. Cyprian told his Christians to care for the sick, including dying pagans. The people obeyed, despite the fact the pagans blamed them for the disease and persecuted them. Soon afterward, Bishop Cyprian was brought before the pro-consul Aspasius Paternus. Aspasius banished him to a town by the sea. When Aspasius died, Cyprian returned to Carthage. He was seized by the new governor and condemned to death. At the place of execution, he knelt in prayer and tied the bandage over his eyes with his own hand. To the executioner he gave a piece of gold. Thus he was beheaded on September 14, 258, retaining his bold confession to the end.

Bibliography:

1.Adapted from Christian History Institute's Glimpses #162.
2.Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.
3.Ante-Nicene fathers: translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American reprint of the Edinburgh edition. Revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes, by A. Cleveland Coxe. New York: Scribner's, 1926.
4.Benson, Edward White. Cyprian: his life, his times, his work. London, New York, Macmillan, 1897.
5.Chapman, John. "St. Cyprian of Carthage." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1908.
6."Cyprian, St." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
7.The Library of Christian Classics. Westminster Press, 1956.
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« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2011, 09:18:52 AM »

April 19, 1529
Protestants 1st Called Protestants

When someone asks what religion you are, what do you answer? There are a lot of different labels to describe the varieties of Christian followers, and the word "Protestant" is one. It was on this day, April 19, 1529, that the designation "Protestant" might be said to have come into existence.

Martin Luther had been declared a heretic by both the pope and the emperor, but his followers continued to multiply rapidly. Emperor Charles V could not suppress the reformers as he wished, because the Turks were threatening his empire from the east, and the pope and he were quarreling with each other. In 1521, at Worms, Germany, Charles signed a document which outlawed Luther. Five years later at another imperial council, Charles agreed to postpone any settlement of religious issues. He agreed that until an official policy could be established, every State within his territories would be governed as the ruler thought most pleasing to God. In practice, this meant that throughout Germany's many independent cities, principalities and electorates, the religion of each prince or local ruler became the religion of his subjects.

In 1529 a Diet (Congress) met at Speyer, Germany to consider action against the Turks and attempt again to come to terms with the Reformation. The Diet forbade any extension of the Reformation until a German council could meet the following year. Charles V declared he would wipe out the Lutheran "heresy." Five reforming princes and fourteen cities drafted a protest, a formal legal appeal, for themselves, their subjects and all who then or in the future should believe in the Word of God. (It was not formally published until July.)

Eight years before, Martin Luther was a lone monk standing for the Word of God and liberty of conscience at the Diet of Worms. But by 1529, the world had changed: there was an organized party of government leaders with consciences bound by the Word of God against tyrannical authority. Not every protester was a Lutheran. The whole party of the reformers needed a name. From the protest and appeal at the Diet of Speyer, these breakaways from the Roman Church began to be called Protestants.

Today Protestants are one of three major branches of Christianity. While all three hold the same fundamental creed, other differences are many. Perhaps the key difference is that while the Eastern Orthodox and Roman traditions combine the Scripture with the authority of church tradition or of a pope, Protestants claim to find the sole authority for their faith in the Bible, the Word of God. Many can also be identified because they accept the priesthood of all believers and the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Bibliography:

1.Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story.
2.Bezold, Friedrich von. Geschichte der Deutschen Reformation. Berlin: Derlagsbuchhandlung, 1890. Source of the image.
3."Protestantism" in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F. L Cross and E. A. Livingstone.
4.Schaff, Phillip. The History of the Christian Church, Volume VII. Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1910.
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« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2011, 08:31:35 AM »

April 20, 1999
Columbine Killers Targeted Christians, Too


Christian martyrs in 20th century America? It happened on this day, April 20, 1999. When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold began shooting up their school, they did not fire randomly. In their twisted minds, Athletes, minorities and Christians were the enemy.

"Do you believe in God?" they asked Cassie Bernall. They knew full well she did. The girl who had once indulged in the occult (as the killers now did) had moved into a realm of peace when she learned to center her heart on Christ. She became a church-goer and a worker among those who needed Christ. Often she brought her Bible to school.

She was reading it in the library when the killer pointed his gun at her. Did she believe in God? "Yes, I believe in God," she replied.

 "Why?" asked the boy in the dark trench coat. Without waiting for an answer, he pulled the trigger.

"My God, my granddaughter was a martyr," said Cassie's grandma when she heard the report.

And not the only one, either. Rachel Scott, a spiritually-minded seventeen-year-old whose ambition was to become a missionary to Africa, died, too. So did John Tomlin, a sixteen-year-old who had recently gone to Mexico to help with a church project for the poor.

The Sunday before her death, Cassie wrote these words after church:

Now I have given up on everything else I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ and to experience
The mighty power that brought Him back to life again, and to find
Out what it means to suffer and to
Die with him.
So, whatever it takes I will be one who lives in the fresh
Newness of life of those who are
Alive from the dead.
Bibliography:

1.Colson, Charles W. "Littleton's Martyrs." BreakPoint Commentary - April 26, 1999. (www.stormloader.com/omegakids/Casiemail.html). [Casie's poem is quoted from this source].
Nimmo, Beth and Darrell Scott with Steve Rabey. Rachel's Tears. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2000.
2.Rosenberg, Jennifer. "The Columbine Massacre." 20th Century History. http://history1900s.about.com/library/weekly/aa041303a.htm
3.Numerous other internet articles, including articles originally printed in the Boston Globe and Washington Post.
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« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2011, 05:51:43 PM »

Quote from: HisDaughter
April 20, 1999
Columbine Killers Targeted Christians, Too


Christian martyrs in 20th century America? It happened on this day, April 20, 1999. When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold began shooting up their school, they did not fire randomly. In their twisted minds, Athletes, minorities and Christians were the enemy.

I remember this horrible day well. I was just thinking:  Bible Prophecy tells us there will be almost countless Christian martyrs in the Tribulation Period. For Christians, the difference is that we are not of this world and go to our real home with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2011, 08:32:37 AM »

April 21, 1855
Dwight L. Moody Was Converted

Dwight L. Moody didn't attend school beyond the fifth grade; he couldn't spell, and his grammar was awful. His manners were often brash and crude, and he never became an ordained minister. Once, before his conversion, he so outraged an Italian shoe salesmen with a prank, that the man chased him with a sharp knife, clearly intending to kill him. Yet, Dwight L. Moody was used by God to lead thousands of people to Christ. Moody's life of Christian service began with his conversion on this day, April 21, 1855.

Dwight came to Boston as a teenager from Northfield, Massachusetts, and he felt all alone in the big city. The boy was desperate for work. An uncle took him on as a shoe salesman--on condition that he be obedient and that he attend Mt. Vernon Congregational Church. The young man had been raised in a Unitarian church which denied the full divinity of Christ and did not emphasize human need for salvation from sins. Now Dwight heard about those things. But he decided that he wanted to enjoy the pleasures of the world and wait to get saved until just before he died.

However, the kindness of his Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, turned young Moody into his life-long friend, and encouraged him to persist in his church attendance and regular Bible reading. Though Moody did try to read the Bible, he couldn't understand it. Kimball later said he had never seen anyone whose mind was as spiritually dark as Dwight's.

That changed on this day, April 21, 1855. Kimball came to the shoe store to ask Dwight to commit his life to Christ. Dwight listened closely and became a Christian that day. Immediately he began sharing his faith with others, including his own family. They wanted nothing to do with his faith. "I will always be a Unitarian," his mother said. (However, she converted shortly before her death.)

And at first Moody wasn't allowed to become a church member. Asked what Christ had done for him, the nervous boy replied that he wasn't aware of anything particular. Leaders felt that was an unacceptable answer.

When Moody later moved to Chicago he wandered the streets to find young boys to bring to his Sunday School class. He had a passion for saving souls and determined never to let a day pass without telling someone the gospel of Jesus Christ. Often he irritated strangers on the street by asking them if they were Christians -- but his pointed questioning stirred the consciences of many. God used the converted shoe salesman to become the leading evangelist of his day.

Estimates vary, but Dwight is thought to have led as many as a million people to confess faith in Christ. Among his many achievements on either side of the Atlantic was the founding of Moody Bible Institute.

Bibliography:

1.Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story.
2.Findlay, James F. "Moody, Dwight Lyman." Encyclopedia of American Biography, edited by John A. Garraty. Harper and Row, 1975.
3.Harvey, Bonnie C. D. L. Moody, the American Evangelist. Barbour Books, 1997.
4.Moody, William D. Life of D. L. Moody by His Son. Revell, 1900.
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