This Week in Christian History: Popular Preacher Shoots a Man, Vatican and Nazis, Isaac Watts

This Week in Christian History: Popular Preacher Shoots a Man, Vatican and Nazis, Isaac Watts


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Sign up By , Christian Post Reporter | Jul 15, 2018 2:28 PM 1 / 4 Expand | Collapse (Photo: Reuters/Max Rossi)A view shows faithful gathering in St. Peter‘s Square as Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican March 29, 2015.

Christianity is a faith with a long and detailed history, with numerous events of lasting significance occurring throughout the ages.

Each week brings the anniversaries of great milestones, horrid tragedies, amazing triumphs, telling tribulations, inspirational progress, and everything in between.

Here are just a few things that happened this week, July 15-21, in Church history. They include the birth of prolific hymnist Isaac Watts, the Vatican signing a concordat with the Nazis, and a popular fundamentalist preacher shooting a man dead.

Popular Preacher J. Frank Norris Kills a Man – July 17, 1926

Expand | Collapse (Photo: Facebook/J. Frank Norris)J. Frank Norris (1877-1952), a controversial fundamentalist preacher.

This week marks the anniversary of when J. Frank Norris, a Texas preacher and noted leader in the fundamentalist movement in America, shot and killed a man in his office.

Considered the forerunner to later televangelists, Norris oversaw a megachurch in Fort Worth, Texas and had his sermons widely broadcasted and published.

He also feuded publicly with Fort Worth‘s mayor. When a friend of the mayor showed up at Norris‘ office and reportedly threatened him,

Eventually, the gun-slinging preacher was acquitted of first-degree murder, though many believe that he should have at least been found guilty of manslaughter.

“He was probably guilty of less than first-degree murder, but the prosecution was blinded by wanting so badly to convict him. Afterward, he wore his acquittal like a badge,” noted David R. Stokes, author of The Shooting Salvationist,

“He probably could have been convicted of manslaughter — with first-degree murder, there has to be an element of premeditation — but the the prosecution wanted all or nothing. I think he overreacted in the situation. He shot a guy who was unarmed instead of a possible fistfight.”

Vatican Signs Concordat With Nazi Germany – July 20, 1933

Expand | Collapse (Photo: Public Domain)Pope Pius XI, (1857-1939).

This week marks the anniversary of when the Roman Catholic Church signed an agreement with the Third Reich of Germany to protect the rights of Catholics in the new Nazi regime.

The Concordat was signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, and Vice-Chancellor of the German Reich, Herr Franz von Papen.

Among other things, the Concordat promised freedom of religious practice for the Catholic Church, including the right to manage its own internal affairs.

“It acknowledges the right of the Catholic Church, within the limit of those laws which are applicable to all, to manage and regulate her own affairs independently, and, within the framework of her own competence, to publish laws and ordinances binding on her members,”

“Clerics and Religious are freed from any obligation to undertake official offices and such obligations as, according to the provisions of Canon Law, are incompatible with the clerical or religious state.”

Less than four years later, however, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical denouncing National Socialism and arguing that Germany was violating provisions of the Concordat.

“None but superficial minds could stumble into concepts of a national God, of a national religion; or attempt to lock within the frontiers of a single people, within the narrow limits of a single race, God, the Creator of the universe, King and Legislator of all nations,”

Isaac Watts Born – July 17, 1674

Expand | Collapse (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)Isaac Watts (1674-1748), notable English clergyman and hymn writer.

This week marks the anniversary of when Isaac Watts, one of the most famous hymnists in Protestant Christianity, was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England.

Widely considered the “,” Watts published his first collection of sacred music in 1706 and then released a book of hymns in 1707.

“At that time it was the practice of almost every congregation of the Church of England to sing only Old Testament psalms in their public worship,”

“However, Watts had grown to dislike this because it restricted the Christian from being able to explicitly celebrate in song all those aspects of the gospel that are fulfilled and illuminated in the New Testament.”

Watts wrote hundreds of songs, including notable ones like “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “We‘re Marching to Zion,” and “Jesus Shall Reign.”

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