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All articles in category Historical

May 2018
Articles > Historical

LETTER FROM AMERICA: Billy Graham and the American presidents

Often regarded as ‘America’s pastor’, Rev. Billy Graham was vastly influential in the United States and around the world as a minister and evangelist. Ever a simple and humble man, he was close friends with nearly every US president since Truman. Born in 1918, he was alive from the presidency of Woodrow Wilson to that of Donald Trump. Graham treated each president with transparency and grace. His goal was ‘to bring out the best in people, even presidents, because that tended to be all that he saw in them. Whatever faults they had, he would not be the one sitting in judgment’ (Time, 21 Feb....

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May 2018
Articles > Historical

The Reformed tradition on Israel is diverse

Is the Reformed tradition historically supersessionist? That is, have theologians following the Calvinist trajectory always taught that the church supersedes Israel without remainder, such that the non-Jesus-accepting people of Israel and that little territory on the Mediterranean are no longer theologically significant? One might think so. After all, John Calvin wrote that because the Jews did not ‘reciprocate’ as willing partners in God’s covenant, ‘they deserve to be repudiated’ (Institutes, 4.2.3). There is only one covenant for Calvin, so the new covenant did not replace the old; yet the church is the new recipient of the Old Testament promises made to Jewish Israel. There is...

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April 2018
Articles > Historical

David Brainerd

David Brainerd was born 300 years ago, on 20 April 1718, and died on 20 October 1747. His father was Hezekiah Brainerd and his mother Dorothy (née Mason). On his mother’s side, an impeccable pedigree of Puritan preachers both in England and New England, and a great uncle who had been Oliver Cromwell’s chief justice, brought prestige and distinction to the family. But it is the sixth of their nine children, David, who we remember. From his birthplace Haddam, in the Connecticut River Valley, David Brainerd’s life has shot a meteoric flame, the likes of which has seldom been known. In David Brainerd, servant of...

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April 2018
Articles > Historical

William Chalmers Burns (1815-1868)

A missionary in China was once asked if he knew a fellow-missionary by the name of William Burns. ‘Know him, sir? All China knows him; he is the holiest man alive’. Given that it is now 150 years since William Burns died, these words were spoken a long time ago. And certainly he has not been forgotten in the intervening period. But it is inevitable that to a growing number of Christians Burns should be a complete stranger, or, at best, a mere name. Inevitable, but regrettable; Burns for many reasons deserves still to be widely known. Kilsyth William Chalmers Burns was born in Dun,...

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April 2018
Articles > Historical

J C Ryle

Articles     Reviews      

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March 2018
Articles > Historical

George Burder, founder of the Religious Tract Society

Celebrity status is temporary. Time races on, life is congested and we soon forget. Of course, some towering figures of the past adorn our history books, but most slip down the list of must-know people and events, and are forgotten. Consequently, although we are aware of some of the greats of eighteenth century Christian history, many others are no longer etched on our memories. The great revival of the eighteenth century left behind it a glow and energy that had been unknown for centuries. One of those who kept alive the sacred flame was the very kind George Burder. He seems always to have been...

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March 2018
Articles > Historical

My top ten Puritan authors – Joel Beeke

Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) Recently, my favourite Puritan to read has been Anthony Burgess, vicar of Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, from 1635 to 1662. In my opinion, he is the most underrated Puritan of all time. I once asked Iain Murray why Burgess was not included in the nineteenth-century sets of the works of the best Puritans. He responded that Burgess was the greatest glaring omission from those reprints. In 15 years (1646–1661), Burgess wrote at least a dozen books, based largely on his sermons and lectures. His writings reveal a scholarly acquaintance with Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin. He made judicious use of...

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February 2018
Articles > Historical > Uncategorised

Reformation woman: Anna Reinhard

Katharina Luther looms large in any discussion about Protestant women during the Reformation. She earned her acclaim through her work — and her high-profile, high-maintenance husband. But there were other women who also laboured for the newly revived church. They, too, have much to teach us. The first woman to become a Reformer’s wife was Anna Reinhard (c.1484–1538). Like Calvin’s wife, Idelette, Anna was a young widow when her future husband arrived in town as the new priest. We have no record of her birthdate, but many believe it was in 1484. We know little about her youth, except that she was beautiful and that...

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February 2018
Articles > Historical

Pierre Viret (1511-1571) — another forgotten Reformer (3)

With Calvin now back in Geneva, Viret sought to return to Lausanne, where he was greatly needed. However, Calvin badly needed him still in Geneva. Calvin wrote to Farel: ‘Should Viret be taken away from me, I shall be utterly ruined, and this church will be past recovery. On this account, it is only reasonable that you and others pardon me if I leave no stone unturned to prevent his being carried off from me. In the meantime, we must look for supply to the church of Lausanne, according as shall be appointed by the godly brethren, and by your own advice. Only let Viret...

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February 2018
Articles > Historical

Isaac Levinsohn — the story of a Russian/Polish Jew’s search for forgiveness

Isaac Levinsohn was born in the town of Kovno in Russia (now Kaunas, Lithuania) in 1855. His parents were devout Jews, regulars at the synagogue and fasting two days a week. At the age of five, Isaac’s father taught him Hebrew, and to pray three times each day. Soon he was studying the Talmud, Hebrew Scriptures and other Jewish writings and was being prepared to become a rabbi. He was bewildered, though, that he was being steered away from reading the Bible, which he loved and was reading. Burden At the age of 13, he was told that now he was considered a man and...

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December 2017
Articles > Historical

LETTER FROM AMERICA: President Kennedy’s assassination

On Friday 22 November 1963, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated while riding in a presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson’s immediate succession and Kennedy’s sudden death spurred worldwide controversy and raised suspicions of conspiracy, that were increased by the nature of the investigations that followed. This year, thousands of documents not previously released (many thousands were released in the 1990s) were published after a directive from President Trump. Motorcade President Kennedy’s purpose in coming to Dallas was primarily to reconcile divisions that had arisen within the Democratic Party in Texas before the 1964...

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January 2018
Articles > Historical

Pierre Viret (1511-1571) — another forgotten Reformer (2)

The failed attempts to murder Pierre Viret (ET, October 2017) backfired on the Catholics; they were regarded with suspicion and contempt. Geneva was won for the Reformation, yet Viret was not to remain there. He was now entreated to go to Lausanne. Geneva had preachers, but there were none in Lausanne. Viret could not refuse. Sheats writes: ‘Lausanne, seat of the bishop, was perhaps the city most heavily steeped in Roman Catholicism at the time of the Bernese conquest. For 400 years, it had endured the rule of the bishop of Lausanne, the highest ecclesiastic in the country’ (Pierre Viret, the angel of the Reformation,...

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