Imagine a book on astronomy being condemned as heretical by a Christian church. This is precisely what happened to De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), published in March 1543. The publication was written by Polish astronomer-mathematician, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543).
References to: Paul Kroll
“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners,” said William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the man who would be the driving force in the ultimate end of slavery in the British Empire. When Wilberforce was born, English sailors were raiding the African coast, capturing tens of thousands of Africans yearly and shipping them across the Atlantic into slavery. An estimated one in four died in route.
On October 6, 1536, Englishman William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) was strangled by the civil executioner in Belgium and his dead body was burned at the stake. His crime? Tyndale had translated the New Testament and major portions of the Old Testament from the original languages into English so that English-speaking Christians could read the Scriptures in their own tongue.
April 2006 was the 100th anniversary of a momentous revolution in Christianity that began at 312 Azusa Street in a ramshackle part of downtown Los Angeles. A writer for a local newspaper captured the significance of the Azusa Street Revival when he noted that it is “now seen as the great awakening of the Pentecostal / Charismatic movement.”1
On October 11, 1962, twenty-four hundred Roman Catholic bishops marched phalanx-style in rows of six through St. Peter’s Square. Behind them strode the College of Cardinals, followed by Pope John XXIII, seated in a massive chair and carried by attendants. The entourage went into the splendid basilica, and the prelates took their seats. Across the aisle sat observers from other Christian faiths, invited by the Pope to attend the proceedings. The Second Vatican Council — the 21st ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church — was about to begin.
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and instructed them for 40 days, after which he ascended to heaven. While with them, he said: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). That baptism of the Spirit would be called the birthday of the church.
On January 30, 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany. Less than two months later, Hitler was the nation’s dictator. Many German Christians at first openly welcomed Hitler’s Nazi party to power as a historic moment of Christ’s work on earth through and for the Aryan people. A leading Lutheran theologian wrote in 1934, “Our Protestant churches have welcomed the turning point of 1933 as a gift and miracle of God.”
For the first 300 years of the church’s history, believers faced many local and empire-wide persecutions of varying intensity. One of the most terrifying struck in A.D. 250. This was the “Decian Persecution,” named after the Roman Emperor Decius Trajan (249-251), who started it.
Ancient Greeks believed in a wide variety of gods and goddesses – beings who fought one another, were immoral, dishonest and only partly powerful. But eventually Greek philosophers began to teach that there was a supreme God, a being who had all power, wisdom and perfection. Since there could be only one being who had all power, there was only one supreme God. Since perfection does not change, this God did not change. This God was above all other gods, not swayed by humanlike emotions, not affected by physical things that change.
Swiss theologian Karl Barth has been called “the most outstanding and consistently evangelical theologian that the world has seen in modern times.” Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) called Barth the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas. By any measure, Karl Barth has had a profound influence on modern Christian leaders and scholars across a wide variety of traditions.