Posts Tagged ‘Moments in Church History’

 Could God work something wonderful out of the relentlessly negative news? Leave it to evangelicals to find the silver lining amid economic crisis. If revival begins with recognizing our need for God, then perhaps the declining economy will wean Americans from their self-reliance. You would expect no other perspective from people who believe in the redemptive power of suffering. If you’re not familiar with what renowned Harvard historian Perry Miller termed the “event of the century,” now is the time. We’re talking about the 19th century, but we’re not talking about the Civil War. We’re talking about the nationwide revivals of 1857 and 1858. Kathryn Long of Wheaton College notes that historians have largely ignored these revivals, caught between the Second Great Awakening before 1835 and the Civil War, which broke out in 1861.


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A Ceremony of Profession was held for Sister St. Stanislaus Hachard at the Ursuline convent in New Orleans, thereby making her the first Catholic woman to become a nun in America.


Scottish clergyman Robert Murray McCheyne wrote in a letter: ‘All my ideas of peace and joy are linked in with my Bible; and I would not give the hours of secret converse with it for all the other hours I spend in this world.’


In New York City, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Archbishop John McCloskey, 65, became the first American to be named a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.


American missionary and martyr Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: ‘The believer is a displaced person. He loses the controlling features of both environment and heredity.’

1839 – RMM

“Did you have your quiet time today?” Every day we ask it of others or we ask it of ourselves, even if only to beat ourselves up. I think the word done a lot of damage to Christians. Not because I think reading the Bible is a bad idea, but it implies that the Bible is to be nibbled on for 15 minutes and stuck back on the shelf until the next day. We should be less concerned about our devotions and focus more on our devotion to God and his word, the source of all true peace and joy.

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March 11, 843: Eastern churches officially reintroduced and sanctioned icons, after an 89-year controversy that occasionally turned violent.

March 11, 1513: Leo X is elected pope. His eight-year tenure, marked by gross excesses and immorality, would culminate his 1520 excommunication of Martin Luther .

March 11, 1812: Fire engulfs missionary William Carey’s print shop in Serampore, India, destroying his massive polyglot dictionary, two grammar books, sets of type for 14 eastern languages, and whole versions of the Bible. Undaunted, Carey said, “The loss is heavy, but as traveling a road the second time is usually done with greater ease and certainty than the first time, so I trust the work will lose nothing of real value . . . We are cast down but not in despair.” News of the fire also catapulted Carey to fame, bringing in abundant funds and volunteer labor.

March 11, 1965: White Boston minister James J. Reeb dies after being beaten during a civil rights demonstration in Selma, Alabama.



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Birth of Phoebe Palmer Knapp, American Methodist hymnwriter. She published more than 500 hymn tunes during her lifetime; her most famous melody comprises the tune to Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “Blessed Assurance.”


Scottish clergyman Robert Murray McCheyne wrote in a letter: ‘You will never find Jesus so precious as when the world is one vast howling wilderness. Then he is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation, a rock rising above the storm.’


Pioneer linguist Frank Laubach wrote in a letter: ‘It seems to me…that the very Bible cannot be read as a substitute for meeting God soul to soul and face to face.’


The World Radio Missionary Fellowship (WRMF) was incorporated in Lima, Ohio, by co-founders Clarence W. Jones and Reuben Larson. Today, this interdenominational mission agency broadcasts the Gospel in 15 languages to South America and throughout Europe.


Three white Unitarian ministers, including the Rev. James J. Reeb, were attacked with clubs on the streets of Selma, Alabama, while participating in a civil rights demonstration. Reeb later died in a Birmingham, Alabama hospital.


Laubach makes an interesting point here largely because it has been drilled into us to read our Bibles, how many times have you been told “You should have a Quiet Time” but the reality is, we were never commanded to sit for 15-20 minutes and read our Bibles. The unfortunate outcome of this type of message is that after we get up from our beds, desks or kitchen tables, we believe we have met God.

This is like saying if I read my fiancé’s letter, it is the same as her being there. Laughable, right? But how often do we think that about God. When was the last time we had a real heart-to-heart with God?

This is a painful thought for me. Working on the blog can take hours every day, and there is a tendency to do so much reading, writing, cutting and pasting that I believe I have grown instead of just put up a lot of stuff on the Internet. I don’t think it is an either / or choice, but it is a reminder, that being busy for God, even reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, or reading and writing Christian blog entries isn’t a replacement with meeting him .

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In Germany, the Edict of Restitution ordered that all church property secularized since 1552 be restored to the Roman Catholic Church.


English revivalist George Whitefield wrote in a letter: ‘The renewal of our natures is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day. We have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down.’


English founder of Methodism John Wesley wrote in a letter: ‘There is a wonderful mystery in the manner and circumstances of that mighty working, whereby God subdues all things to himself, and leaves nothing in the heart but his pure love alone.’


Death of Julia H. Johnston, 70, American Presbyterian Sunday School leader. She penned about 500 hymns during her lifetime, one of which is still sung today: “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” (a.k.a. “Marvelous Grace of our Loving Lord”).


Death of Amos R. Wells, 71, pioneer U.S. Christian educator. From l901 until his death, he was editor of “Peloubet’s Notes for the International Sunday School Lessons.”

Whitefield confronts us with a horrible truth, we must tear down our old houses. So many of us, and I include myself here, have expected or now expect God to simply restore something old and make it new, like finding an old treasure in an attic and dusting it off. No real changes simply an improvement.

I am afraid that is a horrible lie. God doesn’t want to restore the old,  His intention is to destroy the old and create something new from the pieces. Something that in some ways may slightly resemble the old, but is radical enough to confuse those who knew the old house. God doesn’t simply want want better. He wants uniquely different and better.

Just a thought

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The Third Lateran Council opened under Alexander III. It was attended by 300 bishops who enacted measures against the Waldenses and Albigensians. Lateran III also mandated that popes were to be elected by two-thirds vote from the assembled cardinals.


French-born Swiss reformer John Calvin wrote in a letter to Philip Melanchthon: ‘It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results.’


In Boston, editor Thomas Prince published the first issue of his weekly, “The Christian History.” It was the first religious journal published in America.


Birth of Daniel B. Towner, American music evangelist. An associate of D.L. Moody, Towner composed over 2,000 hymn tunes, including AT CALVARY (“Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride”), MOODY (“Marvelous Grace of our Loving Lord”) and TRUST AND OBEY (“When We Walk With the Lord”).


The religious program “Circuit Rider” debuted over ABC television. The broadcast featured music selections and biographies of evangelists, and was produced by Franklin W. Dyson.

Calvin’s words seem nice and noble but it is creepy to think as he was saying this, people were coming to Geneva, to study under Calvin to return to their home countries to teach and preach until they were caught and killed. Calvin’s life I am sure was no bed of roses, he had been thrown out of Geneva once.

Jesus told us His disciples would go and there suffer and die. Every day, if you follow H&D you know the persecution of Christians continues every day. “Go and die” whether it is to yourself or to a foreign power has been an essential message of Christ since day one.

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The Seventh Session of the Council of Trent declared: ‘If anyone says that one baptized cannot, even if he wishes, lose grace, however much he may sin, unless he is unwilling to believe, let him be anathema.’


Colonial missionary to the American Indians, David Brainerd wrote in his journal: ‘In the morning, spent an hour in prayer. Prayer was so sweet an exercise to me that I knew not how to cease, lest I lose the spirit of prayer.’


American linguistic pioneer Frank Laubach wrote in a letter: ‘If we only let God have his full chance he will break our hearts with the glory of his revelation. That is the privilege which the preacher can have. It is his business to look into the very face of God until he aches with bliss.’


Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote in “Sign of Jonas”: ‘The Christian life…is a continual discovery of Christ in new and unexpected places. And these discoveries are sometimes most profitable when you find him in something you had tended to overlook or even despise.’


By a vote taken in both bodies, the Unitarian Church and the Universalist Church, along with their fellowships — the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America merged into a single denomination.

Ok, a couple of notes on today’s Moments in Church History.

The council of Trent’s declaration on baptism has been the misguided theological boogey-man against infant baptism. I am a Presbyterian. I believe in infant baptism, I do not agree with the Council of Trent, nor would any true Protestant. This is not the moment for debate on who should get baptized, when and how much water should be used. All I do ask is that you notice, this is coming from a Catholic and not a Protestant document.

Brainerd’s comment on the sweetness of prayer give me an eagerness have such an experience is a wonder how is can be achieved. Perhaps a lot of it comes from the church’s general disregard for focused prayer reminding us that we can pray anywhere and at anytime, which somehow gets scrambled in the minds of believers as “Since it can be done in such an open way, I can do it later, leading to the inevitable prayer occurring nowhere and at no time. Perhaps it takes an hour to achieve this effect, not a 15 second “Get the lady with the pennies to hurry up” prayer I am more likely to offer up.

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U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall prayed: ‘O God, forgive the poverty and the pettiness of our prayers. Listen not to our words but to the yearnings of our hearts. Hear beneath our petitions the crying of our need.’


American Presbyterian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote in a letter: ‘Christianity is the greatest intellectual system the mind of man has ever touched.’


Over 1,100 Christian organizations combined to form the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). This oversight agency was created to demonstrate to the public that religious groups wanted to make themselves accountable for the funds they raise and spend.

I am afraid of listening to the radio, podcast or of even reading the newspaper. It doesn’t seem any story is complete without mentioning the global economic crisis. At this point I am sick of it. Partially because I don’t make enough money to be overly concerned, but mostly because I am tired of listening to people who believe their salvation can be found in the dollar, won, or piso. I love the quote of Peter Marshall who prayed in the middle of American excitement, a time when World War II was over, the baby boom was in full swing and the golden age of rock-and-roll was just around the corner, “we are poor.”

I want this to be the cry of my heart “I am poor. My prayers, even my life is self-centered. I don’t care about your people or creation as I ought. I don’t know if I even want to. Forgive me and enrich my life that I may give from my abundance.”

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On his deathbed, English poet and clergyman George Herbert, 39, uttered these last words: ‘I shall be free from sin and all the temptations and anxieties that attend it…I shall dwell… where these eyes shall see my Master and Savior.’


The Salem Witch Trials in the Massachusetts colony officially began with the conviction of Rev. Samuel Parris’ West Indian slave, Tituba, for witchcraft.


Georgetown College was chartered in Washington, D.C., making it the first Roman Catholic institution of higher learning established in the United States.


The first issue of “The Evening Light and Church of God Evangel” was published in Cleveland, Tennessee. A. J. Tomlinson, the publishing editor, was an instrumental figure in the history of the Church of God (also headquartered today in Cleveland, Tennessee).


Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth wrote in a letter: If Jesus is and does what we read in 1 John 2:2, then He prays for all men: for those who already pray and for those who do not yet pray.’

George Herbert’s comment is an amazing thought. I am 41 and after being in the hospital with a dying step-father and his funeral, who I believed died far too young, it is hard to read his quote.

It is a powerful statement to the faith and assurance of this man and to the benefits of heaven. In which, according to Herbert come in two categories – 1. what is removed in this case – sin, temptation and anxiety and 2. what is given to us – a dwelling in the sight of God.

While death is our enemy, the victory is eventually is ours. Praise God!

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Pope Clement XIII granted permission for the Bible to be translated into the languages of the Roman Catholic states.


English churchman John Wesley, 80, formally chartered the movement within Anglicanism which afterward came to be known as Wesleyan Methodism.


U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall prayed: ‘Let not the past ever be so dear to us as to set a limit to the future. Give us the courage to change our minds when that is needed.’


The Fourth Constantinople Council closed, under Pope Adrian II in the West and Emperor Basil I in the East. The council had condemned iconoclasm, and became the last ecumenical council held in the Eastern Mediterranean area.

I find the event of 1759 to be the most interesting event on the list for a number of reasons. Jesus spoke Aramaic which was translated into Greek the common second language of that area of the Mediterranean World. The Orthodox Church had translated the Bible into national languages long before the Catholic Church. There certainly was historical precedent for Bible translation. One of the most significant roles of the Reformers was to get the Bible written into the common language of the people – most notably Wycliffe and Luther. Yet the Catholic Church remained firm in its hold of the language of its Bible; a language which while important for reading, hadn’t been spoken or used by the common people for many hundreds of years.

Yet for all of its strangeness, there is a certain respect that must be granted in that the Bible remained in one language across the known lands for every Catholic.. Granted, it established an elite leveling of a nation’s population between those who could read Latin and those who couldn’t, but it did preserve the text from further corruption. If you have ever been in a service where the pastor comments “Now the NIV, KJV or … translates it like this, the original Greek carries more of a meaning of …..” you know what I am talking about.

As Reformed people we appreciate the Bible in the hands of every believer in their own language, don’t we have in our hearts to return to or cling to Greek as the final deciding anchor. I am not saying that these are the same thing, but it is interesting to note that we aren’t all that different except for the language we hold as the basis.

Some questions come to mind, while the Catholic Church has been open to translations for 250 there are still Protestants who swear only by the 1611 KJV. Is the Catholic Church more open to the needs of the people than the KJV only crowd? What made Latin so special to begin with and what finally led to the change in 1759? Why do ATM machines in the Vatican still have Latin as a language option? So many questions, so little time.

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