April 4: Today in Christian History



April 4, 397

Death of Ambrose of Milan, a bishop of many talents. He will later be considered one of the four Latin fathers. He had been one of the “tools” God used to lead Augustine of Hippo to Christ.

April 4, 636

Death of Isidore, archbishop of Seville, a Spanish scholar famous for his Etymologies, an encyclopedia of early medieval knowledge that used liberal arts and secular learning as the foundation of Christian education.

April 4, 814

Death in Constantinople of Platon, an uncle of Theodore the Studite. The funeral oration Theodore composes for his uncle will become one of the most important sources for the history of Theodore’s family. (Theodore will be famous as a champion for the restoration of icons.)

April 4, 896

Death of controversial Pope Formosus. His bones will be exhumed and his corpse tried by Pope Stephen VI but he will be reburied with full honors in St. Peter’s the following year under Pope Romanus.

April 4, 1081

Emperor Alexius Comnenus is crowned emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine). He will do much to restore its strength and his appeal to the West for military assistance will be a major factor in instituting the crusades.

April 4, 1523

Leonard Kopp helps twelve nuns escape from their cloister at Nimschen in Saxony, hidden in his fish barrels. One of them, Katherina von Bora, will wed Martin Luther.

April 4, 1634

Death in Amsterdam of Episcopius, leading Arminian theologian.

April 4, 1660

King Charles II of England, still in exile, issues the Breda Declaration, making promises that he will violate soon after his return to England, among them “We do declare a liberty to tender consciences; and that no man shall be disquieted, or called in question, for differences of opinion in matters of religion which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom.” He will be a great persecutor of Presbyterians and of Independents such as John Bunyan.

April 4, 1687

King James II of England issues a Declaration of Indulgence, granting full liberty of worship in England. Because he goes around the constitution by not consulting Parliament, even many of its beneficiaries are displeased.

April 4, 1739

Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt receives its first complete performance at the King’s Theatre, London.

April 4, 1742

Charles Wesley preaches his famous sermon, “Awake, thou that sleepest,” to the University of Oxford. Printed, the sermon will became Methodism’s most popular tract.

April 4, 1840

Death of John Campbell, a Scottish businessman, missionary, preacher, and philanthropist. He had founded a tract society, numerous Sunday schools, societies for disgraced women, and a Bible society. At the request of the London Missionary Society he had even inspected mission work in South Africa. Among his charitable activities he brought Africans to Britain for training and advocated the abolition of the slave trade.

April 4, 1889

Death from pneumonia of Asa Mahan, an American holiness leader and the first president of Oberlin College and of Adrian College. One of the last things he said to his wife Mary was, “Let us praise God, my dear, for all his goodness today before you go.”

April 4, 1944

The BBC broadcasts “The New Man,” the seventh and last of C.S. Lewis’s pre-recorded fifteen-minute talks known as “Beyond Personality,” all of which will later be included in his book Mere Christianity.

April 4, 1964

Brazil’s leading Catholics side with dictator General Castelo Branco against the social democrat João Goulart, issuing a manifesto entitled “Brazil Has Decided for Freedom” in which they denounce atheistic communism.

April 4, 1968

Assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, of Baptist minister the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a vocal advocate of civil rights.

April 4, 1995

Death of Sun Yanli, a hymn-writer and an eminent leader in the Three-Self Patriotic Church, the government-sanctioned church of China. Despite his associations, he was cruelly persecuted for several years during the Cultural Revolution.

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