This Day In Christian History

The Seventeenth of February

661: Finan, bishop of Lindisfarne, who throughout his life sought to preserve Celtic customs against Roman influence, dies. Three years later, at the Synod of Whitby, Celtic Christians agreed to abide by Roman traditions.

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1858: Waldensians, ancient Protestants from the Italian Alps who survived through persecution for eight hundred years, are finally guaranteed civil and religious rights. They began with the teaching of a wealthy merchant named Peter Waldo in the late 1100s; thus they are considered "the oldest evangelical Church"

A Profession of Faith by Waldes of Lyons:

Let it be known to all the faithful that I, Waldes, and all my brethren, with the Holy Gospels placed before us, believe in heart, perceive through faith, confess in speech and in unequivocal words affirm that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three persons, one God, the whole Trinity of Godhead coessential, consubstantial, coeternal and co-omnipotent; and that each person of the Trinity is fully God, all three persons one God, as is contained in the creeds, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.

We believe in heart and confess in words that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the one God to whom we testify is creator, maker, governor and, in due time and place, disposer of all things visible and invisible, all things of the heavens, in the air and in the waters, and upon the earth.

We believe that the author of the New and Old Testaments, that is, of the Law of Moses and of the prophets and of the apostles, is one and the same God who, existing in the Trinity as we have said, created all things; John the Baptist, holy and righteous, was sent by him and was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb.

We believe in heart and confess in words that the incarnation of divinity came to pass, not in the Father or in the Holy Spirit, but only in the Son, so that he who in divinity was the Son of God the Father, true God from the Father, was true man from his mother, having true flesh from the womb of his mother and a rational human soul, of both natures at one and the same time; that is, he was both God and man, one person, one Son, one Christ, one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ruler and author of all, born of the Virgin Mary by true birth of the flesh.

We believe in heart and confess in words that he ate, drank, slept and rested when weary from travel; he suffered with true passion of his flesh, died in a true death of his body, rose again with true resurrection of his flesh and true restoration of his soul; in that flesh he afterward ate and drank, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father and in it shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

We believe in one Church, Catholic, holy, apostolic and immaculate, outside of which no one can be saved. We do not in any way reject the sacraments which are celebrated in it with the aid of the inestimable and invisible power of the Holy Spirit, even though they be ministered by a sinful priest, as long as the Church accepts him; nor do we disparage the ecclesiastical offices or the blessings celebrated by such a one, but with devout mind we embrace them as if performed by the most righteous.

We approve, therefore, of the baptism of infants for we confess and believe that they are saved if they shall die after baptism before they commit sin. We believe, indeed, that in baptism all sins are remitted as well that original inherited sin as those which are committed voluntarily.

We hold that confirmation performed by a bishop, that is, by the imposition of hand, is holy and worthy of reverent acceptance.

We firmly believe and absolutely accept that the Eucharist, that is, the bread and wine after consecration, is the body and blood of Jesus Christ and in this nothing more is accomplished by a good priest, nothing less by an evil one.

We acknowledge that God grants forgiveness to sinners truly penitent in heart, who confess in words and do works of satisfaction in accordance with the Scriptures, and most willingly will we consort with them.

We venerate the anointing of the sick with consecrated oil.

We do not deny that carnal marriage may be contracted, as the Apostle says; we utterly forbid that those united in lawful fashion may separate; also, we do not condemn a second marriage.

We humbly praise and faithfully venerate the ecclesiastical orders, the is, the episcopate and the priesthood and the others of higher and lower degree, and all that is in good order appointed to be read and sung in the Church.

We believe that the devil was made evil not by nature but by his will.

We put no reproach at all upon the eating of meat.

We believe in heart and confess in words the resurrection of the flesh which we bear and no other.

We firmly believe and affirm that judgment is still to come and that each person will receive either reward or punishment for those things committed in the flesh.

We do not doubt that alms, and the Mass and other good works can be of benefit to the faithful who have died.

And since, according to James the Apostle, “faith without works is dead,” we have renounced the world; whatever we had we have given to the poor, as the Lord advised, and we have resolved to be poor in such fashion that we shall take no thought for the morrow, nor shall we accept gold or silver, or anything of that sort from anyone beyond food and clothing sufficient for the day. Our resolve is to follow the precepts of the Gospel as commands.

We wholeheartedly confess and believe that persons remaining in the world, owning their own goods, giving alms and doing other good works out of their own and observing the commandments of the Lord, may be saved.

Wherefore, we earnestly assure Your Grace that if any shall chance to come to your vicinity, declaring that they come from us but having not this faith, you may know with certainty that they come not from us.

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1889: Former White Stockings baseball player, Billy Sunday preaches his first evangelistic sermon in Chicago. By the time he died in 1935, he had preached to an estimated one hundred million people, and about one million "walked the sawdust trail" to become Christians at his invitation.

He once said:

Listen, I'm against sin. I'll kick it as long as I've got a foot, I'll fight it as long as I've got a fist, I'll butt it as long as I've got a head and I'll bite it as long as I've got a tooth. And when I'm old, fistless, footless and toothless, I'll gum it till I go home to glory and it goes home to perdition.”

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1898: Francis Willard, a crusader for prohibition and women's suffrage, dies. She served as dean of Northwestern Women's College before becoming president of the Womens' Christian Temperance Union.

She wrote:

I believe women should be authorized as ministers in the church of God because man has no greater natural or spiritual rights than a woman to serve at the altars of the Church, as a minister of the Gospel. If a woman possesses gifts, graces and usefulness, she occupies the same vantage-ground before the world and is under the same obligations to God. If women can organise missionary societies. temperance societies and every kind of charitable organisation, why not permit them to be ordained to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments of the Church? If women should withdraw from the churches and all missionary and merciful work, we would begin to think that the foundation had dropped out of our civilization.

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