This Week in Christian History: Billy Graham, Immaculate Conception Theologian, Gideon Bibles

Expand | Collapse
(Photo: A. Larry Ross Communications)Evangelist Billy Graham preaches to thousands.

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, Nov. 4-10, in Church history. They include the first time Gideon Bibles came to hotel rooms, the death of an influential Medieval Catholic theologian, and the birth of the Reverend Billy Graham.

Billy Graham Born - November 7, 1918

Expand | Collapse
(Photo: BGEA)Billy Graham

This week marks the anniversary of the birth of one of the most influential and widely heard evangelists in the history of Christianity, the Reverend Billy Graham.

Graham was a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, having been raised on a dairy farm. He later graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois, now the home of the Billy Graham Center Museum.

It is believed that Graham has preached the Gospel to more people than anyone else in history. According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham preached live to nearly 215 million people in over 185 countries and territories, as well as hundreds of millions of more people through television, video, film and webcasts.

In February 2018, months shy of his 100th birthday, Graham passed away peacefully at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, due to various health problems linked to his advanced age.

Influential Catholic Theologian Dies - November 8, 1308

Expand | Collapse
(Photo: Public Domain)John Duns Scotus (c.1270-1308), a noted Franciscan monk and Catholic theologian who championed the idea that the Virgin Mary was born sinless.

This week marks the anniversary of when John Duns Scotus, a notable Franciscan friar and theologian who championed the idea of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, passed away.

A native of Scotland, hence his last name, Scotus was ordained in 1291 and studied at the universities of Oxford and Paris, eventually becoming a lecturer and philosopher.

According to Franciscan Media, Scotus' influence on Catholic teaching stretched centuries after his death, when the Catholic Church came to adopt his belief that the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived, or born without sin.

"Drawing on the work of John Duns Scotus, Pope Pius IX solemnly defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854," stated the Catholic media organization.

Gideon Bibles First Appear in Hotel Rooms - November 9, 1908

Expand | Collapse

This week marks the anniversary of when the first hotel placed an order for Gideon Bibles to be put in their guest rooms, beginning a trend found throughout the world.

The Gideon Bibles first appeared at the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana, being ordered at the request of a frequent guest and Gideon member named Archie Bailey.

"Mr. Bailey placed an order for 25 copies of God's Word with the Gideon headquarters. He covered the cost of the Scriptures with a personal contribution," explained Gideons International in a 2011 blog entry.

"A single copy of God's Word in a hotel or motel room has the potential to touch up to 2,300 lives during its six-year average life span. Hotel industry surveys indicate that 25% of their travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook