Joy Horn highlights some significant anniversaries from Christian history in 2015
Justin Martyr was put to death in Rome in 165. From a pagan background, he became a Christian aged about 30, and taught in Ephesus and Rome. He wrote two ‘Apologies’ or defences of Christianity against misrepresentation.
The Basel Mission (now called Mission 21) was founded in 1815, and trained German, Dutch and British missionaries who went to the Caucasus (1821), the Gold Coast, now Ghana (1828), and throughout the world. A major feature of their work was creating employment, such as printing, tile-making and weaving.
William Booth began working in the East End of London in 1865, leading to the foundation of the Salvation Army in 1878.
The Second Vatican Council closed in 1965. This council, which had held four sessions since 1962, allowed some use of vernacular languages (rather than Latin) in services, and referred to non-Roman Catholics as ‘separated brethren’ rather than ‘heretics’, but reiterated traditional Catholic teaching.
Isaac Watts’s Divine Songs attempted in Easy Language, for the sake of Children, was published in 1715. It became a best-seller, remaining popular well into the 19th century, when it was parodied in Alice in Wonderland.
Hudson Taylor’s pamphlet, China: its Spiritual Need and Claims was published in 1865. Consequently many candidates applied to the China Inland Mission.
The 12th and final small volume of The Fundamentals was published in the United States in 1915. The series aimed to reassert and defend traditional Christian truths, and three million copies were sent out free, one to every theological student and Christian worker. The series led to the term ‘fundamentalist’ being coined in the 1920s.
The Anglican Hymn Book was published in 1965. It was faithful to the Bible (making judicious alterations to some hymns), and although its content was heavily 19th century, it introduced some 40 new tunes and 20 new texts, including Timothy Dudley-Smith’s Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord.
4 T.S. Eliot died, aged 77, in 1965. A poet and dramatist, his Christian convictions, of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion, are evident in The Waste Land (1922), Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Four Quartets (1944).
13 Mary Slessor died at Calabar, Nigeria, in 1915, aged 67. A tough and brave woman from the Dundee slums, she worked with considerable success among the Ibo people, and fought against twin-killing and witchcraft.
16 Henry Thornton died at the house of his cousin, William Wilberforce, in 1815, aged 55. An MP and governor of the Bank of England, he was enormously generous, and his home at Battersea Rise was the centre of the ‘Clapham Sect’. He was involved in the campaign to abolish slavery, in the foundation of the Sierra Leone colony, in missions abroad and, together with Hannah More, in writing simple evangelistic tracts.
25 David Bentley-Taylor, an outstanding missionary leader, was born in 1915. Converted on his fourth day at Oxford, and subsequently president of the Christian Union there, he went to China in 1938 as a member of the China Inland Fellowship, and served there and in Indonesia. He was a founder of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in 1947, with the aim of seeing a Christian Union in every university in the world.