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Martin Luther King Jr was the most important voice of the American civil rights movement, which worked for equal rights for all. King was also a Baptist minister. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.

King, a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist, had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s.

Lewis-Shield-gatewayClive Staples Lewis—known to his friends and family as “Jack”—is one of the most influential writers on Christian faith of the twentieth century. Author of more than 70 titles, including works of science fiction, fantasy, poetry, letters, autobiography and Christian apologetics, Lewis’s book sales are reported to be more than 2 million annually. That number promises to skyrocket with the release of Walden Media’s new screen version of Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Born in Belfast in 1898, Lewis was educated at home and at boarding schools in Britain. After his mother died when he was almost ten, “Jack” grew closer to his brother Warren, who was two years his senior.

Lewis studied English and philosophy at Oxford and served in the military. He became a university man who taught (mostly English literature) at Oxford’s Magdalen (pronounced “Maudlin”) college for much of his life. Later in life he was appointed to a professorship at Cambridge. As a member of the Oxford faculty, Lewis developed a strong reputation in English literary criticism and a much larger reputation as a witty and imaginative writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction works on Christian faith.

In a time of growing secularism, Lewis was a persuasive defender of Christianity. Some of his best-known books began as broadcast talks in which he explained the essentials of the Christian faith to a broad listening audience. To do this, he spoke in simple terms, using homely comparisons. These talks were collected and published as Mere Christianity, one of the most popular books about Christian belief in recent history. Mere Christianity has brought many people to the Christian faith and contributed to ecumenical dialogue, moving easily across Christian denominations by focusing on the basic teachings that most Christians believe.

Lewis also wrote an amusing book about temptation called The Screwtape Letters, popular on both sides of the Atlantic. The novel, cast in the form of a correspondence between a senior and a junior devil, offered a fresh angle on Christian belief. Screwtape landed Lewis on the cover of Time magazine.
“Jack” Lewis also tried his hand at fiction, quite successfully.

Long a lover of adventure stories, he wrote three widely read novels (The Space Trilogy) about interplanetary travel. These space travel narratives were also about redemption, partly inspired by Lewis’s reading of John Milton’sParadise LostThe Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven tales for children inspired by Lewis’s interest in myth and fairy tale. Written with an underlying Christian theme, the Chronicles have been enjoyed by children and adults for generations.

How did Lewis, who was essentially a professor of English literature, become such an influential writer? C.S. Lewis was raised on books. Wide reading shaped his thought from childhood onwards. He had a vivid imagination and a broad education in ancient and medieval literature.

 

Tyndale-Shield-GatewayWhen William Tyndale began his work of translation, the English Reformation was well underway. With the Church of England in turmoil and firmly opposed to this bold new movement, Tyndale realized he could not successfully pursue his goal in England.

So, in 1524 Tyndale went to Hamburg, Germany, where Martin Luther's reforms were changing the shape of Christianity there. Historians believe Tyndale visited Luther in Wittenberg and consulted Luther's recent translation of the Bible in German. In 1525, while living in Wittenberg, Tyndale finished his translation of the New Testament in English.

The first printing of William Tyndale's English New Testament was completed in 1526 in Worms, Germany. From there the small "octavo editions" were smuggled into England by hiding them in merchandise, barrels, bales of cotton, and sacks of flour. Henry VIII opposed the translation and church officials condemned it. Thousands of copies were confiscated by authorities and publicly burned.

But opposition only proved to fuel the momentum, and the demand for more Bibles in England increased at an alarming rate.

In the years ahead, Tyndale, ever the perfectionist, continued to make revisions to his translation. The 1534 edition in which his name appeared for the first time, is said to be his finest work. Tyndale's final revision was completed in 1535.

Meanwhile, Tyndale had also begun translating the Old Testament from the original Hebrew. Although he wasn't able to complete his translation of the entire Bible, that task was fulfilled by another ground breaker, Miles Coverdale.

In May of 1535, Tyndale was betrayed by a close friend, Henry Phillips. He was arrested by the king's officials and imprisoned in Vilvorde, near modern-day Brussels. There he was tried and convicted of heresy and treason.

Suffering under the extreme conditions of his prison cell, Tyndale remained focused on his mission. He requested a lamp, his Hebrew Bible, dictionary, and study texts so that he could continue his work of translation.

On October 6, 1536, after nearly 17 months in prison, he was strangled and then burned at the stake. As he died, Tyndale prayed, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes."

Wilberforce-Shield-GatewayWilliam Wilberforce regarded slavery as a national crime for which all Englishmen were responsible. In 1818 he wrote in his diary, "In the Scripture, no national crime is condemned so frequently and few so strongly as oppression and cruelty, and the not using our best endeavours to deliver our fellow-creatures from them."

Wilberforce and his friends engaged in an antislavery public opinion campaign unprecedented in English history. In 1814 they gathered one million signatures, one-tenth of the population, on 800 petitions, which they delivered to the House of Commons.

The English ruling classes viewed abolitionists as radical and dangerous, similar to French revolutionaries of the day.

Antislavery bills of one sort or another were defeated in Parliament for 11 consecutive years before the act abolishing the slave trade was passed in 1807.

Slave ship crews were often treated more cruelly than slaves. Slaves brought a profit, so there was incentive to ensure they were adequately fed and cared for. In fact, the death rate for crews was higher than that for slaves.

Wilberforce was one of five members of the Clapham Sect (the aristocratic circle of Christian activists) who held seats in the House of Commons who never lost a parliamentary election.

In the summer of 1833, Parliament passed the second reading of the Emancipation Act, ensuring the end of slavery in the British Empire. Three days later, Wilberforce died.

Evangelical abolitionists have received high praise from secular commentators. For example, nineteenth-century historian W. E. H. Lecky said, "The unweary, unostentatious, and inglorious crusade of England against slavery may probably be regarded as among the three or four perfectly virtuous pages comprised in the history of nations."

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