May 3, 1738: English preacher George Whitefield (left), the most famous religious figure of the 1700s, arrives in America for his first of seven visits.
In his lifetime, Whitefield preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers.
Benjamin Franklin said of him, “He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous, observ’d the most exact silence.”
May 8, 1845: The Southern Baptist Convention, now the largest Protestant group in America, organizes in Augusta, Georgia.
May 10, 1886: Karl Barth, one of the most important theologians of the 20th century and an opponent of theological liberalism, is born in Basle, Switzerland. When asked in 1962 (on his one visit to America) how he would summarize the essence of the millions of words he had published, he replied, “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
May 21, 1738: While sick with pleurisy, Charles Wesley (right) — who would co-found Methodism with his brother, John — puts his faith in Christ.
“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise and believe, and thou shalt be healed of thy infirmities,” a mysterious voice told him in his sickbed. “I believe, I believe,” he replied.
One year later on this date, he wrote O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing to commemorate the event.
|Use the player below to listen to a brief excerpt from an audio biography of Charles Wesley, recounting how he began to write hymns following his May 21, 1738 experience. The narrator is Whitney Dough, former president of the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists.
May 24, 1738: At a prayer meeting in a chapel on Aldersgate Street in London, father of Methodism John Wesley feels his “heart strangely warmed” while listening to a reading of the preface to Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans.
This was a pivotal event in Mr. Wesley’s life, transforming him from a largely ineffective Anglican clergyman into one of the most effective and influential leaders in Christian history.
|Use the audio player below to listen to a radio dramatization of the events recorded in John Wesley’s Journal for May 24, 1738, culminating in his “Aldersgate experience.” This 3-minute scene is from the BBC’s 1997 radio serial, Love Divine, with Clive Francis as John Wesley.
May 27, 1564: John Calvin (left), French Protestant Reformer, dies.
He kept writing and ministering to the Christians in Geneva, Switzerland, nearly up to his death, telling his worried friends, “What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?”
Adapted with permission from ChristianHistory.net.
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Other related information
|•||Charles Wesley: Lacking the Holy Spirit no more | Glimpses of Christian History|
|•||An excerpt from John Wesley’s Journal, describing the events leading up to May 24, 1738 | UM General Board of Discipleship|