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December 5 in Christian History

Dec 05, 2008 10:50 AM EST

1484 - Innocent VIII issued his famous "Witch Bull," ordering an inquisition to systematically discover, torture and execute witches throughout Europe. It led to the ease with which witchcraft was charged and punished, even in the American colonies two centuries later.


1848 - Death of Joseph Mohr, 56, Austrian Roman Catholic vicar and author in 1818 of the enduring Christmas hymn, "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night").


1943 - German theologian and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter: 'It is only when one loves life and the earth so much that without them everything seems to be over that one may believe in the resurrection and a new world.'


1951 - American missionary martyr Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: 'How sadly and how slowly I am learning that loud preaching and long preaching are not substitutes for inspired preaching.'


1988 - Televangelist Jim Bakker was charged by a federal grand jury with mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the public through the sale of thousands of lifetime memberships to PTL theme park, Heritage U.S.A. (Bakker was convicted the following year and sentenced to prison.)


© 1987-2008, William D. Blake. Used by permission of the author, from

Almanac of the Christian Church