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Showing posts with the label #History

Reformation Day.

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31 October isn’t just Halloween. For Protestants, some of us observe the day as a regular holiday. Others remember it as Reformation Day, the day in 1517 when bible professor Dr. Martin Luther of the University of Wittenberg in the Holy Roman Empire (now Germany) posted 95 propositions he wanted to discuss with his students. Specifically, about certain practices in the Catholic church—in which, at the time, they were all members—to which he objected.Technically it wasn’t 31 October. Y’see, Europeans were still using the Julian calendar in 1517. That calendar was out of sync with the vernal equinox by 11 days, which is why they updated it with the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Once we correct for that, it was really 10 November. But whatever. Reformation Day!Luther didn’t realize this was as big a deal as we make it out to be. It’s dramatically described as Luther, enraged as if he just found out about 95 problems in his church, nailing a defiant manifesto to the school’s Castle Church d…

“The mainline”: America’s older churches.

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Mainline is a bit of Christianese in the United States. The adjective refers to the Protestant churches in the United States who were around since the 1700s—since before our constitutional freedom of religion made it possible for all sorts of new churches to crop up, and add to the thousands of Protestant denominations.Some of these churches, like the Baptists, Congregationalists, and Unitarians, got their start here. Others, like the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, got their start in England and Scotland—but when the colonies declared independence from the UK in 1776, the churches reorganized their leadership to become distinct from their UK governing bodies.So being “mainline” or a “mainliner” doesn’t refer to a belief system. They’re not mainliners by philosophy: Other than Jesus’s teachings and Protestant traditions, they don’t necessarily have a lot in common. (In the case of Unitarians, the rest of us figure they’re heretic.) They’re mainline because they’re old…

The Didache: How’d the earliest Christians behave?

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DIDACHE'dɪ.də.kei, di.da'hinoun. A first-century Christian manual for new believers. [From the Greek didahí/“teaching.”]In the first century, some anonymous Christian leaders wrote a “teaching” for the new members of Christian synagogues: The stuff they felt these Christians oughta know and believe. Over time it’s become known as the Didache, from its first line, Didahí Kyríu diá ton dódeka apostólon toís éthesin/“The Master’s teaching to the gentiles, from the 12 apostles.” Western Christians assumed it had been lost sometime in the 800s, but Ethiopian Christians still had a version of it, and an 11th-century copy in the Codex Hierosolymitanus was rediscovered by Philotheos Bryennios in 1873.Historians notice a lot of similarities between the Didache and what the Qumran community taught in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s considered a Jewish-Christian catechism, a lesson to be memorized (usually in question-answer format, though not here) to help adapt the Jewish way of life for ge…