Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.
Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, telling tribulations, inspirational progress, and everything in between.
Here are just a few things that happened this week, June 17-23, in Church history. They include the birth of Charles Spurgeon, the Supreme Court ruling against Bible reading in public schools, and the opening of a major early church council.
Charles Spurgeon is Born – June 19, 1834
This week marks the anniversary of when famed preacher Charles H. Spurgeon was born in Kelvedon, Essex, England.
A Baptist preacher who gave his first sermon in 1850 at age 15, Spurgeon’s work was also published in a series called the “Penny Pulpit.”
Some of those sermons, including ones on topics like liberal theology and infant baptism, sold hundreds of thousands of copies and were even controversial among churches.
At his 1892 funeral, it was estimated that more than 60,000 mourners passed by his casket at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
In 2015, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Kansas City, Missouri became the permanent home for about 6,000 documents by Spurgeon.
Supreme Court Rules Against the Bible Reading in Schools – June 17, 1963
This week marks the anniversary of when the United States Supreme Court ruled against a public school district’s policy of reading from the Bible at the start of each day.
In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court concluded in School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp that no public school district could require Bible reading or recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Writing for the majority, Justice Tom C. Clark concluded that the practice was unconstitutional in that “the State [must be] firmly committed to a position of neutrality.”
“The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind,” wrote Clark.
“We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard.”
Third Ecumenical Council Opens – June 22, 431
This week marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Third Ecumenical Council, or Council of Ephesus, which was held in the city of Ephesus for around two months.
At issue was a heresy by Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople, which claimed that Jesus Christ was two distinct persons, a divine person and a human person, rather than one person who was both human and divine.
Attended by approximately 200 bishops, the Council reaffirmed the belief that Jesus was one person both human and divine and also issued the “Twelve Anathemas against Nestorius.”