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July 5 in Christian History

Jul 05, 2013 10:19 AM EDT

1439 At the Council of Florence, the Decree of Union ('Laententur Coeli') was signed, creating an official theological union between the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) churches. Unfortunately, the Eastern Church at large never accepted the document and a full working unity between these two major

1768 English founder of Methodism John Wesley wrote in a letter: 'We are reasonable creatures, and undoubtedly reason is the candle of the Lord. By enlightening our reason to see the meaning of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit makes our way plain before us.'

1903 Death of English theologian William Burt Pope, 81. His 'Compendium of Christian Theology' (1875-76) set forth the most powerful systematic arguments of his day for the holiness doctrine in Methodism.

1962 Death of Helmut Richard Niebuhr, 67. Christian Ethics professor at Yale for 30 years, Niebuhr is better remembered for his popular and oft-reprinted 1951 classic, 'Christ and Culture' -- a work that explores available options of relating one's personal faith to the world's highest and noblest principles.

1963 In an instruction given by the Holy Office, disposal of the dead by cremation was officially granted sanction by the Catholic Church. (Belief in the resurrection of the dead had previously made cremation repugnant to many Christians.)

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© 1987-2010, William D. Blake. Used by permission of the author, from

Almanac of the Christian Church