Essay On The Rise Of Christianity
This helped to stamp out heresies in the church, and help Christianity to pick up even more. At this time the emperor was a man by the name of Constantine. He was the first Roman emperor who converted to Christianity. The most significant thing about this is he made Christianity the official religion of his empire. Christianity went from being a minority sect, to the religion of the most powerful empire in the world. Thus, Christianity had risen from a small following in Jerusalem, to the official religion of an empire. It began with Jesus and his disciples, spread to Paul who reached the gentiles, until it reached the emperor of a powerful nation. It exploded into something no one saw coming. It did not stop there. It remained a huge influence on many people and decisions that shaped things all the way up until the world we live in today. Our world would undoubtedly be a much different place, had it not been for a man named
essay on the rise of christianity
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Christianity, monotheistic religion with the largest population, is founded by the beliefs and doctrines of Jesus who declared himself as a son of God. Although it is built on universal values such as love, kindness and eternal trust in God, Christianity has 6 main branches with various interpretations and practices of common values: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Assyrians. Holy book of Christianity is accepted as Bible which depicts historical events such as birth of Jesus, his miracles, crucifixion, and his rise from death in archeological order. Although the accuracy of events described (e.g. miracles and resurrection) are doubtful, many historians confirm its historical validity. For modern world, we cannot ignore the significance of Christianity to the civilization. Even the calendars we use is based on the birth of Jesus Christ. Therefore, analysis of this topic in the context of word civilization is crucial.
Since I am primarily a historian of Christianity and only incidentally a student of foreign relations, I will focus in my brief remarks on the magnitude, the multiplicity, the material conditions, and the manifold political implications of the epochal developments in the recent world history of Christianity. Although I will suggest a few possible policy implications that arise from this tumultuous recent history, I leave it to this distinguished group to do most of the work on that score.
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The faith had already proved that it was able to survive invasion and attack. But just as Christianity's rise looked to be unstoppable, the Viking invasion of Lindisfarne in 871 AD marked the start of a series of attacks which threatened to destroy the Christian church. Monasteries and churches were plundered, and priests fled for their lives. It looked as if Paganism would again crush Christianity.
On the surface, the storming of the Capitol might show how a man nakedly obsessed with winning chose to incite his febrile supporter base and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. But on closer inspection, the events of that day tell the story of the troubling rise of Christian Nationalism that is gaining pace in the United States.
However, the relationship between religion and conflict is, in fact, a complex one. Religiously-motivated peace builders have played important roles in addressing many conflicts around the world. This aspect of religion and conflict is discussed in the parallel essay on religion and peace. This essay considers some of the means through which religion can be a source of conflict.
Although not necessarily so, there are some aspects of religion that make it susceptible to being a latent source of conflict. All religions have their accepted dogma, or articles of belief, that followers must accept without question. This can lead to inflexibility and intolerance in the face of other beliefs. After all, if it is the word of God, how can one compromise it? At the same time, scripture and dogma are often vague and open to interpretation. Therefore, conflict can arise over whose interpretation is the correct one, a conflict that ultimately cannot be solved because there is no arbiter. The winner generally is the interpretation that attracts the most followers. However, those followers must also be motivated to action. Although, almost invariably, the majority of any faith hold moderate views, they are often more complacent, whereas extremists are motivated to bring their interpretation of God's will to fruition.
With religion a latent source of conflict, a triggering event can cause the conflict to escalate. At this stage in a conflict, grievances, goals, and methods often change in such a way so as to make the conflict more difficult to resolve. The momentum of the conflict may give extremists the upper hand. In a crisis, group members may see extremists as those that can produce what appear to be gains, at least in the short-term. In such situations, group identities are even more firmly shaped in relation to the other group, thereby reinforcing the message of extremists that one's religion is threatened by another faith that is diametrically opposed. Often, historic grievances are recast as being the responsibility of the current enemy. Because at this stage tactics often come detached from goals, radical interpretations are increasingly favored. Once martyrs have been sacrificed, it becomes increasingly difficult to compromise because their lives will seem to have been lost in vain (see the essay on entrapment* for more on this problem).
Kelley, though himself a political and theological liberal, predicted that churches that continued to turn themselves into political organizations would see continued decline. And, in hindsight, there was a warning to conservative churches not to do the same thing with the Republican Party that the mainline had done with the Democratic Party. Kelley has been almost completely ignored on all fronts. He received heavy criticism from the Left and, after a little enjoyable schadenfreude, conservative Christians did not take his warnings seriously. That is why most of the readers of this essay may have hardly heard of him.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is driven by several factors: ethnic, national, historical, and religious. This brief essay focuses on the religious dimension of the conflict, which both historical and recent events suggest lies at its core. That much is almost a truism. What is less often appreciated, however, is how much religion impacts the identity of actors implicated in this conflict, the practical issues at stake, and the relevant policies and attitudes -- even of non-religious participants on both sides. It follows that religion must also be part of any real solution to this tragic and protracted conflict, in ways a concluding paragraph will very briefly outline.
Many other Judaic religious customs caused misunderstanding and hatred from their neighbors. Strict dietary laws forbid Jews to share a meal with their neighbor. In many communities uninformed of Jewish customs, declining an offer to share a meal with a neighbor may have provoked the notion that Jews felt they were superior to their non-Jewish neighbors. Jews observed a different Sabbath day than both Christians and Muslims and unlike other religions, many Jews were unwilling to worship the gods of the ruling people. In a time period where Jews were no longer the majority, these cultural differences, the clash between religious customs of the Jews, and the cultural expectations of the majority gave rise to social discord against Jews. Increasing the isolation and lack of understanding of Jewish customs, Jews were not allowed to marry outside of their faith. This kept the religion from being exposed to non-Jewish communities, and outsiders continued to think that Judaism was exclusionary. Even as time progressed, the traditional dress of long beards and earlocks remained an active practice (Grobman, 1990). The minority Jewish populations easily stood out, making it even easier for the general populous to persecute those different from themselves.
The rise of Christianity and its overall importance characterized the Middle Ages. This ascendency of Christianity was accelerated by Roman philosophy, institutions and, above all, by the Roman emperors, particularly Constantine.
Defining the Christian Right is the first task of this essay. At the end of the 1980s, it wascommonly assumed that the Christian Right consisted entirely ofevangelical Protestants. Pollsfrom that period suggested that evangelical Protestants comprised the majority of adherents, butmany members of the Christian Right were not evangelical Protestants, and many evangelical Protestants were not members of the Christian Right. More precisely, the Christian Right drewsupport from politically conservative Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and occasionally secularists. At the same time, many evangelical Protestants showed little interest in the Christian Right'spolitical goals. Those believers, who might be called evangelical outsiders, includedconfessional Protestants (especially of Dutch and German extraction), Protestants from thegenerally apolitical peace churches like the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, ferventlyfundamentalist Protestants who were so conservative that they held no hope for America or anycivil society, and black and Latino Protestants who tended to be politically liberal thoughtheologically and culturally evangelical. Evangelical outsiders also included millions of born-again Protestants who were generally sympathetic to the political aims of the Christian Rightbut, as a practical matter, remained more interested in the devotional aims or charitable work ofthe church than in winning elections. It may be helpful, then, to think of the Christian Right asthe large shaded area in the middle of two overlapping circles. The shaded area consists of (1)evangelicals who cared enough about the political goals of the Christian Right to leave theirpews and get out the vote and (2) non-evangelicals who cared enough about the political goals ofthe Christian Right to work with evangelicals.How large was the Christian Right in recent elections? Hard figures are hard to come by,but polls and other indicators such as book sales indicate that the inner core—the shadedarea—claimed no more than 200,000 adult Americans. On the other hand, fellow travelers,people who explicitly identify themselves as partisans of the religious right (a slightly broadercategory than Christian Right), ranged from ten to fifteen million. Sympathizers who might bemobilized over a specific issue such as abortion or gun control may have enlisted thirty-fivemillion. Though the Christian Right's numerical strength leveled off in the early 1990s, itsinfluence at the grass roots, in state and local elections, in setting school board policies, etc., hasremained conspicuous. The rest of this discussion pertains primarily to the inner core ofcommitted partisans, secondarily to the millions of sympathizers who became involved as thesituation warranted.The Christian Right emerged from both long-range and short-range developments inAmerican life. The long-range origins lay in the growth of biblical higher criticism in theseminaries, the teaching of human evolution in public schools, and, after World War II, the realor perceived threat of Communism. (See the essay "The Rise of Fundamentalism" in DiviningAmerica: Twentieth Century.) The more immediate beginnings of the Christian Right lay in thevast cultural changes of the 1960s—civil rights conflicts, Vietnam protests, the alternative youthculture, the women's liberation movement, the sexual revolution, and the rise of new religions(which were mostly ancient religions emerging from obscurity). These transformations seemedto find a frightening echo in Supreme Court decisions that banned official (but not private)prayer and Bible readings in the schools (Engel v. Vitale, 1962), legalized first trimesterabortion (Roe v. Wade, 1973), and regulated government involvement in private Christianacademies (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971).A conservative Christian response quickly emerged to counter these developments. Ledby charismatic, energetic figures like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Phyllis Schlafly, activistssought to defend traditional Christian values such as the authority of the Bible in all areas of life,the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, and the relevance of biblical values in sexual relations andmarital arrangements. What differentiated Falwell, Robertson, and Schlafly from other Christianspokesmen was their linking of traditional Christian values with images of a simpler small-townAmerica of the past. Indeed, the Christian Right proved so successful in translating its concernsto a wider audience that national pollster George Gallup pronounced 1976 "the year of theevangelical." The mass media agreed. Both Time and Newsweek ran cover articles on theinsurgence of evangelical Protestant Christianity. (It should be stressed that many who calledthemselves evangelicals, including the new president in 1976, Jimmy Carter, did not share manyof the aims of the emerging Christian Right, but outsiders often failed to note such distinctions.)In the face of this conservative Christian insurgence, the mainline Protestantestablishment and the secular media looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights—utterlystunned. Where did these folk come from? What did they want? How could the Christian Rightflourish in the sunlit progressivism of the Age of Aquarius?To find answers to these questions, we need to examine the world-view of the ChristianRight, which rests upon four cornerstones. The assumption that moral absolutes exist as surelyas mathematical or geological absolutes constitutes the first. These moral absolutes includemany of the oldest and deepest assumptions of Western culture, including the fixity of sexualidentities and gender roles, the preferability of capitalism, the importance of hard work, and thesanctity of unborn life. More importantly, not only do moral absolutes exist, they are clearlydiscernible to any who wish honestly to see them.The assumption that metaphysics, morals, politics, and mundane customs stand on acontinuum constitutes the second cornerstone of the Christian Right's world-view. Specifically,ideas about big things like the nature of the universe inevitably affect little things, such as howindividuals choose to act in the details of daily life. And the reverse. What one thinks about thenature of God, for example, inevitably influences one's decision to feed—or not to feed—theparking meter after the cops have gone home. Contrary to the facile assumption of mainlineProtestants, influenced by the Enlightenment, it is not possible for the Christian Right to draweasy lines between the public and the private spheres of life. (There is evidence that theChristian Right abandoned Jimmy Carter at precisely this point—when he announced thatabortion should be legally protected in the public sphere, although he would not countenance itin the private sphere of his own family.)The Christian Right further assumes—this is the third cornerstone—that government'sproper role is to cultivate virtue, not to interfere with the natural operations of the marketplace orthe workplace. The Christian Right remains baffled by the secular culture's apparentunwillingness, on one hand, to offer schoolchildren firm moral guidance in matters of sexuality,truthfulness, honesty, and patriotism while, on the other hand, proving ever-so-eager to engineerthe smallest details of the economy. Why should conscientious, hardworking law-abidingcitizens be penalized by mazes of government regulations? Why should the irresponsible, thelazy, and the unpatriotic be rewarded by those same public institutions?Finally, the assumption that all successful societies need to operate within a frameworkof common assumptions constitutes the fourth cornerstone. Since the Western Jewish-Christiantradition has provided an eminently workable premise for the United States for the better part offour centuries, it makes no sense to undermine these premises by legitimating alien ones. Thekey issue is not so much what would be permitted as what would be legitimated. Many, perhapsmost members of the Christian Right feel that it is one thing to permit dissidents to live in peace,quite another to say that any set of values is just as good, or just as functional, as any other set.To outline the world-view of the Christian Right in terms of these four cornerstones isnot enough, however. We must also take note of the Christian Right's sense that traditionalChristians find themselves under siege. Simply stated, Christian civilization has to be defendedagainst outside attack. Many perils loom, but those posed by the secular media, the publicschools, and the enemies of the traditional family seem especially sinister. The Christian Rightbitterly complains about the way that traditional Christians are overlooked, if not caricatured, innetwork newscasts, situation comedies, and mass circulation periodicals. They note, forexample, that nearly half of the American families routinely bow their heads to offer thanksbefore eating, yet such simple rituals of traditional piety almost never show up on TV, except incontexts of ridicule. Moreover, the Christian Right objects to the way that their children aremanipulated in the public schools. Some of the Christian Right's objections center upon thewatering-down of old-fashioned academic standards, but the heart of its concern lies in the"values clarification movement." To the Christian Right, the movement does not simply "clarifyvalues," it leads children and teenagers to believe that their parents' ideals are ephemeralconstructions of time and place, and thus replaceable at will. Finally and perhaps mostimportantly, the traditional family finds itself besieged on all fronts. The media and the schoolsdo their part, but the most pernicious assault stems from government policies that encourageabortion, divorce, and fatherless families. If millions saw the Equal Rights Amendment as athreat, not a boon, to the security of ordinary women, it was because the ERA promised tocorrode the only tethers that kept men firmly bound to the responsibilities of home and hearth.Guiding Student DiscussionMost issues that high school history teachers deal with lend themselves to some measure ofdebate, but few engender such heated opinions as the cultural significance of the Christian Right. One might begin by noting that the study of the Christian Right offers an almost laboratory-perfect case study of how to deal with a controversial religious movement in a manner that isboth critical in a scholarly sense yet fair to its adherents. Part of the problem for historians is thechronological and geographical proximity of the Christian Right. How should historians treat amovement that literally swirls all around them? Beyond that, however, the explosiveness of theChristian Right as a topic of study stems from the fact that it trades upon intensely feltconcerns—preemi