You ever sit and wonder how we got this Christianity thing we have today? Ever imagine just how many people have dedicated their whole lives to preserve and progress the faith throughout the centuries? What did men and women like Saint Athanasius, Lottie Moon, or Reuben Archer Torrey do that makes them so revered and remembered? If you have ever asked yourself these or similar questions, this may be just the thing for you.
On This Day In Christian History will be an ongoing series of short posts commemorating the events in history that have made Christianity what it is today. These events will span throughout the ages, touching on varying degrees of importance and obscurity, from the Christianization of the Roman Empire under Constantine to the baptism of Jagiello, king of the Lithuanians. My hope is that the reader will be both enlightened and entertained as we reconnect with our roots, remembering all those who have come before us. So, without further adieu, come, let us remember together.
In honor of this series’ maiden post, today, February 18th, we remember two historic events.
On this day, in the year 1546, German reformer Martin Luther died in Eisleben. In one of his pockets was found the beginnings of a work against the Roman Catholics, in another a small slip of paper where he had etched the note “We are beggars, that’s the truth.” Luther lived a productive 62 years, in which he sparked the Protestant Reformation with his opposition of the Roman Catholic sale of indulgences, his translation of the Bible into the language of the people, and his extensive writings that eventually inspired the Protestant cries of sola scriptura, sola fide, and sola gratia.
Also on this day, a bit over a century later in 1678, Puritan preacher John Bunyan published his classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress. No other book but the Bible has sold more copies in the entirety of human history. The allegorical tale describes Bunyan’s coming to know Christ, opening with the line “I saw a man clothed with rags … a book in his hand and a great burden upon his back.” As Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said, The Pilgrim’s Progress is “incomparably the best Summa Theologicae Evangelicae ever produced by a writer not miraculously inspired” (via Fred Sanders).
Well, there you have it, the first step of our journey through Christianity’s long and storied history. As always feel free to make comment and let me know if you love it, hate it, or anything in between.