2010: A big year for evangelicals?

What major anniversaries does the evangelical world celebrate in 2010?

In recent years, I have stumbled upon the idea of using major anniversaries of key events or characters as windows into church history and often also windows into important topics or doctrines for Christians. In 2007, we had the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, which led to a special focus on William Wilberforce. In 2008, we had the 250th anniversary of the death of Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most influential theologian in North America. In 2009, we had the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin.

The first and third of these events presented me with great opportunities for personal growth as I researched these men and their associated material to prepare some public lectures and sermons. I was also asked to deliver some of the material on Wilberforce and Calvin in other settings, so it seems people were quite hungry for some church history at an accessible level.

I learned a few lessons along the way. Firstly, I discovered it was important to get onto the idea very early in the piece. You get more traction if you can time your lecture or sermon to the day or month of the anniversary, not just the year. So the abolition of the slave trade was celebrated in February and March (which marked the second and final readings in parliament). It was good to be delivering the material then, rather than just discovering it later in the year. That meant factoring in some lead time for research.

Secondly, I also realized it was important to read original sources and not just rely on secondary materials. For example, I read Wilberforce’s main book, which was not on the slave trade at all, and I reread parts of the Calvin’s Institutes and read some of his sermons for the first time.

Thirdly, it’s good not just to read the sympathetic biographies; they can occasionally tend towards hagiography.

Lastly, for most plausible traction, I suspect you need to stick to anniversaries that are multiples of 100 (with the exception that some multiples of 50 make sense too, like 250).

Anyway, all this leads me to my question: what major anniversaries would the evangelical world celebrate in 2010? Are there websites that list important events with major anniversaries occurring in particular years? I reckon the big one for 2011 is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. But I’m struggling for 2010! Any ideas?

Here’s the best my colleague Jim could come up with for 2010:

1510 Luther’s trip to Rome (500 years)
1560 Death of Melanchthon (April 19—450 years)
1560 First full edition of the Geneva Bible (450 years, but not published in England until later)
1910 Ridley College, Melbourne, formed (100 years)

I think I need something bigger!

4 thoughts on “2010: A big year for evangelicals?

  1. John, thanks very much for this link. It is just what I was looking for, but would not have the depth of history to compile.

    Do you know if Evangelicals Now have published something like this in previous years?

    For me, the anniversaries of the births of John Bradford (500), CT Studd (150), FF Bruce and Paul White (100) are of greatest interest, along with the centenary of the publication of the Fundamentals. (I notice Kel Richards did a talk on Paul White, the Jungle Doctor at the Australia Day Convention recently)

    The deaths of Melanchthon & Zinzendorf 450 and 250 years ago, the publication of the Geneva Bible could also make interesting Minister’s letters for the weekly bulletin.

    And the sacking of Rome 1600 years ago alerts me to a period of history I know little about. I know we did it at school, but not a lot is coming back to me!

    Thanks again John.

  2. Sandy,
    Every year since 2000, by Joy Horn (you can search by author name on their site).
    So look for it next year everyone! Some meaty anniversaries there.
    I would like to add “the anniversary of The infamous Essays and Reviews, the manifesto of modern liberal Anglicanism, was published in February 1860, generating enormous controversy” to your list. It is not an anniversary we should celebrate, but I would like to see some commentary about the pitfalls of liberalism from time to time.

  3. John, it would be an extra thing to make me think, as I know nothing about it. Maybe it would combine with something on the Fundamentals, which were responding in part to liberalism, if I understand correctly.

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