History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the death of an English Presbyterian pastor and commentator. Plus, 100 years ago this week, a major train wreck in Indiana.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But first, how to pass on important doctrines of the faith is the focus of an early church council. Here’s Paul Butler.

AUDIO: Nicene creed chant

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Today we begin with June 19th, 325 AD. During the First Council of Nicaea, church fathers approve the original version of the Nicene Creed. Read here by  Caroline Roberts from a 2014 Trinities podcast:

AUDIO: We believe in one God, the Father all powerful…

The creed is the result of four weeks of deliberation about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son…It answered the heresy of Arianism, which taught that there was a time when only God the Father existed.

AUDIO: …God from God, light from light, true God from true God…

Since the fourth century, the Nicene Creed has defined Christian orthodoxy. Today millions of Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox believers recite the creed during services all around the world even today.

AUDIO: …We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Next, June 21st, 1714.

AUDIO: He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.

English Presbyterian pastor, Bible commentator, and Puritan author Matthew Henry dies unexpectedly at age 51. His father Philip was a “non-conformist” pastor in Wales—one of thousands defrocked by the Church of England in 1662. Henry’s earliest memories are of religious harassment and persecution. He later writes:

AUDIO: Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. Sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions.

Henry desires to become a pastor, but decides to study law instead. A few years later, he begins informally teaching and preaching in the nearby town.

AUDIO: It is good for us to keep some account of our prayers, that we may not unsay them in our practice.

By late 1687 he’s ordained and begins his 27-year Presbyterian ministry. Here’s Kim Rasmussen reading Henry’s words from his commentary on Genesis chapter 2.

AUDIO: Woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot; but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.

Henry is most known for his complete Bible commentary. He began writing it in 1704. By the time of his death ten years later, he had completed the whole Old Testament and the first five books of the New.

After his sudden death, a group of fellow ministers compiled Henry’s sermon notes and completed the commentary from Romans through Revelation. Both George Whitfield and Charles Wesley credit Henry’s commentary as foundational to their ministries.

AUDIO: Steam engine

And finally, June 22nd, 1918, 100 years ago this week. The fifth deadliest train accident in U.S. history.

The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus was preparing for a series of shows in Hammond, Indiana. The circus was the third-largest in the nation and took two trains to move everything: one for the animals, and the other for the entertainers.

The first train arrived without incident, but the cars housing the performers and their families were being rerouted due to mechanic problems. At 4 in the morning, an empty passenger train struck the circus cars from behind. In all, the collision and resulting fire injured more than 1-hundred-20 and killed 86. Forty-eight victims were so badly burned they couldn’t be identified.

Despite the tragic losses, the circus only missed two performances as acts on loan from rival circuses filled the gaps.

AUDIO: Folk song about crash

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/Public Domain) Fresco in Capella Sistina, Vatican

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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