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How Christianity Changed the World Paperback – December 12, 2004
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Western civilization is becoming increasingly pluralistic, secularized, and biblically illiterate. Many people today have little sense of how their lives have benefited from Christianity’s influence, often viewing the church with hostility or resentment. How Christianity Changed the World is a topically arranged Christian history for Christians and non-Christians. Grounded in solid research and written in a popular style, this book is both a helpful apologetic tool in talking with unbelievers and a source of evidence for why Christianity deserves credit for many of the humane, social, scientific, and cultural advances in the Western world in the last two thousand years. Photographs, timelines, and charts enhance each chapter. This edition features questions for reflection and discussion for each chapter.
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About the Author
Alvin J. Schmidt (PhD, University of Nebraska) retired in 1999 as professor of sociology at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he still lives. He is the author of several books, including The Great Divide: The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West, and served as a consulting editor for Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult.
- Publisher : Zondervan; unknown edition (December 12, 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0310264499
- ISBN-13 : 978-0310264491
- Item Weight : 1.21 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.25 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #117,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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INFANTICIDE and ABANDONMENT
Both the Greeks and Romans killed infants, mostly by drowning, if they were born physically deformed or frail. Christians believed this was murder, as infants were made in the image of God, redeemed by Christ.
In AD 374, the Christian Emperor Valentinian, outlawed infanticide as well as child abandonment.
In the 9th century, the council of Rouen, France, asked women who had "secretly borne children to place them at the door of the church, which provided for them if they were not reclaimed."
Abortion was widespread not because of poverty or food shortages, but because marriage was not respected. Juvenal said a chaste wife was almost nonexistent. Countless adulterous acts produced unwanted pregnancies. Abortion destroyed the evidence of their indiscretions.
Abortions were induced by administering medicinal potions. In Galatians 5:20, one of the sins listed is "pharmakeia" or the making and administering of potions. Revelation 21:8 condemns "sexual immorality," immediately followed by "pharmakois" because sexual immorality often resulted in unwanted pregnancies being aborted by potions.
In AD 374, Emperor Valentinian outlawed abortion.
Martin Luther said, "Those who do not spare the tender fetus are murderers and parricides."
John Calvin said, "The unborn child...though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being...and should not be robbed of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy."
"Open your veins" was a familiar Roman refrain because suicide was an act of self-glory.
But the church officially condemned suicide at the Synod of Elvira (AD 305).
St. Augustine opposed the heretical Donatists for committing suicide right after being baptized since they believed there was no forgiveness of sin after baptism. Augustine argued that suicide violate the commandment "You shall not murder," and that if suicide was an acceptable option, Christ would not have told His disciples to flee in times of persecution.
The Council of Arles in 452 declared that suicide was the result of demonic forces.
The Council of Troyes (878), the Council of Nimes (1184), and the Synod of Sweden (1441) denied burial in church cemeteries for Christians who committed suicide.
In Rome, a chaste wife was a rarity. Romans were addicted to promiscuity. Wives could be punished for adultery because they were property of their husbands. Wives of high-ranking societies asked to have "their names entered among the public prostitutes" so they no longer exclusively belonged to their husbands and therefore couldn't be punished for adultery.
Christians were commanded by God to not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). The sex act made a couple "one flesh" (Ephesians 5:31) which required faithfulness to each other. "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Hebrews 13:4). A Christian's "body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord" (I Corinthians 6:13) and one's body was "a temple of the Holy Spirit" (I Corinthians 6:19).
FREEDOM and DIGNITY of WOMEN
Greek wives had no freedom. According to Plutarch, men kept their wives "under lock and key." They received no education, were not permitted to speak in public, and had little social value. Female infanticide far exceeded that of males. A Roman wife had some education but was under her husband's absolute control. He could divorce her if she went out in public without a veil. She had no property rights and could not speak out in public places. For the Jews, Hebrew women also could not speak publicly nor in their synagogues.
JESUS and WOMEN
L.F. Cervantes said, "The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of women."
Christ demonstrated that women had value when He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jews did not speak to Samaritans, and men did not address women in public.
When Jesus taught women, He departed from rabbinic law which said (Sotah 3.4), "Let the words of the Law [Torah] be burned rather than taught to women."
Many women accompanied Jesus and His apostles.
The first witnesses to His resurrection were women.
WOMEN in the EARLY CHURCH
The Apostle Paul noted that APPHIA, "our sister" was a leader in a house church in Colossae (Philemon 2).
In Laodicea, NYMPHA had a "church in her house" (Colossians 4:15).
In Ephesus, PRISCILLA and Aquila had a church that met "at their house" (I Corinthians 16:19), and Paul says Priscilla was one of his "fellow workers" (Romans 16:3).
PHOEBE was a deaconess in the church at Cenchreae (Romans 16:1-2), and Paul calls her "prostasis" or "leading officer." Paul selected her to deliver his Epistle to the Romans from Corinth to Rome, a distance of 400 miles.
In Acts 16 in Philippi, LYDIA sold and traded purple goods. Judeo-cultural mores did not support the notion of a woman engaged in business activities. Paul and Silas ignored this convention to share the Gospel with Lydia, who converted to Christianity, and then had her entire household baptized.
In Philippians 4:2-3, Paul says that EUODIA Syntyche "contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel along with Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers."
In the late 4th century, St. Chrysostom said, "The women of the early apostolic church were more spirited than the men."
Historian W.E.H. Lecky credits women "in the great conversion of the Roman empire" and "women occupied many of the foremost ranks of martyrdom."
Constantine the Great's mother, Helena, built many churches, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Church membership also grew because Christians did not practice abortion or infanticide.
By the 5th century, St. Augustine said that Christian women were often better informed in divine matters than the pagan male philosophers.
Educated women included
LIOBA (700-782), a co-missionary worker of St. Boniface,
HROTSVITHA of Gandersheim (932-1002), a canoness who was well-versed in the Latin classics,
HILDEGARD of Bingen (1098-1179), who founded her own monastery,
BRIGITTA of Sweden (1303-73), who opposed higher taxes and founded a religious order,
CATHERINE of Siena (1347-80), who labored for peace and wrote letters of counsel to men in authority,
CHRISTINE de Pizan (14th century), who wrote books,
Queen ISBELLA (1451-1504), who underwrote Columbus's trip to America.
Roman practice often resulted in fathers giving their daughters in marriage at eleven or twelve years of age.
In AD 374, Emperor Valentinian I repealed the one-thousand-year-old "patria potesta", the law which conferred supreme power on the husband over his wife and children. A daughter could now marry someone without her father's permission, and at a later age. A wife could now have right of guardianship over her children.
Polygamy demeaned women. Josephus, the Jewish historian, said, "It is the ancient practice among us Jews to have many wives" (Jewish Antiquities 17.1,2,15).
However, Christ only endorsed monogamy. He said, "The two (not three or four) will become one flesh" (Matthew 19:5). Potential bishops of the church had to be "the husband of but one wife" (I Timothy 3:1-2). Husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25,33).
In Luke 7:11-15, Jesus had compassion on the widow of Nain and raised her son from the dead. He rebuked the Pharisees for taking financial advantage of widows (Mark 12:40).
Paul urged Timothy to teach children and grandchildren to honor widows (I Timothy 5:3-5).
James said that "pure and undefiled religion...is to visit orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27).
CHARITY AND COMPASSION
Christ said, "For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink..." (Matthew 25:35-36).
Tertullian (AD 220) said early Christians had a common fund, to which they gave voluntarily, that supported widows, the physically disabled, orphans, the sick, and prisoners. They expected nothing in return (caritas), unlike Greco-Roman giving which required the receiver to later return the favor (liberalitas).
In the 10th century, Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, sold all of the gold and silver vessels of his cathedral to relieve the starving during a famine. He said, "There is no reason why the temples of God should abound in riches while the living temples of the Holy Ghost starve for hunger."
Compassion was rare among the Greco-Romans. Plato said that a poor man who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die.
However, Christians did not hesitate to care for the sick, even at the risk of their own health. Their example was Christ, who told them, "To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me" (Matthew 25:40).
Pachomius, a pagan soldier in Constantine's army, was so profoundly moved when he saw Christians bringing food to his sick and starving fellow soldiers that he became Christian.
At the time of Christ life expectancy was short, about thirty years. Many parents died, leaving their children without parents. James said that "pure and undefiled religion...is to visit orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27).
Before Christianity was legalized in AD 313, orphans were reared in family homes.
By the 4th century, institutional structures were often built in the shadow of cathedrals to care for orphans.
In the 12th century some religious orders that arose during the Crusades, like the Order of the Holy Ghost, provided for orphans.
In 1836, George Mueller founded a home in Bristol, England for thirty orphaned girls. By 1898, more than 8,000 children were being cared for and educated in orphanages.
Godparents at a child's baptism would pledge to care for the child if the parents were lost.
In 1853, Charles Loring Brace, an American Congregational clergyman, formed the Children's Aid Society. He believed orphans would be best served by living with an American farm family where they would experience plenty of fresh air, good food, discipline, and wholesome family values. Jesus taught, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14).
YMCA and YWCA
In the 1840s young men came to London from the rural areas to find work. They often turned to the lowest sensual activities. George Williams founded The Draper's Evangelical Union to improve the spiritual condition of the men engaged in the drapery industry. In 1844 it was renamed Young Men's Christian Association. It's objective was "the winning of young men to Jesus Christ, and the building in them of Christian character" through fellowship, prayer, Bible reading, and social activities. By 1851 it spread to America, making temporary lodging available to young men searching for jobs. During WWII it raised millions of dollars to aid prisoners of war and helped found the United Service Organization (USO) to boost the morale of the armed forces. In 1866, the Young Christian Women's Association worked primarily on college and university campuses.
CHILD LABOR LAWS
In industrial England, boys and girls from age 7 to 14 worked in cold, wet, and dangerous coal mines, often crawling on hands and knees in low tunnels to fill carts with coal. Others climbed up inside chimneys to clean them.
In addition to William Wilberforce, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Carlyle, the children's greatest advocate was Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury (1801-85) who served in Parliament. After years of his intense pleadings and countless speeches, the Factory Act of 1833 limited the number of hours to 48 per week for children under thirteen. In 1875 the Chimney Sweeps Act went into effect. Laws continued to improve until they banned all child labor in factories, mills, and mines in Western countries.
It has been misunderstood that Karl Marx aroused the British social conscience regarding the tragedies of child labor. When the Factory Act, prompted by Shaftesbury, was passed in 1833, Karl Marx was only 15 years old.
"Jesus went throughout Galilee...healing every disease and sickness among the people" (Matthew 4:23). Jesus also sent His apostles "out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:2). He commissioned the seventy to enter towns to "heal the sick who are there" (Luke 10:9).
During a plague in AD 250, Bishop Dionysius said the pagans "thrust aside anyone who began to be sick, and kept aloof from their dearest friends, and cast sufferers out upon the public roads half dead, and left them unburied, and treated them with utter contempt when they died."
The Romans considered anyone helping the sick as a sign of weakness.
The Christians, however, "visited the sick without thought of their own peril, and ministered to them assiduously and treated them for their healing in Christ, died from time to time most joyfully...drawing upon themselves their neighbors' diseases, and willingly taking over to their own persons the burden of the sufferings of those around them."
Charity hospitals for the poor and indigent public did not exist until Christianity introduced them.
In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea directed bishops to establish a hospice in every city that had a cathedral.
The first hospital was built by St. Basil in Caesarea in Cappadocia in AD 369.
The first hospital built in the West was by Fabiola, a wealthy widow and an associate of St. Jerome, in Rome in AD 390. She donated all her wealth to build it and brought the sick from off the streets of Rome. She founded another hospital with Pammachius in Ostia in AD 398.
By the 6th century, hospitals had become part of monasteries.
By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries that cared for the sick.
Most hospitals that spread across America were built by local churches and Christian denominations (Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian).
In recent years, HMOs have bought up private Christian hospitals and replaced their Christian names.
NURSING and FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE
In early Christian hospitals, widows, deaconesses, and virgins served as nurses. Monks and nuns served in the Middle Ages. The oldest nursing order of sisters were the Augustinian Nuns in the 13th century.
In 1833, Theodor Fliedner, a Lutheran pastor in Kaiserswerth, Germany, began caring for one destitute prisoner housed in the backyard of his summer house. Fliedner's work grew into a hospital of 100 beds. He then founded a Lutheran deaconesses order of peasant women whom he trained as nurses.
Eventually he caught the attention of Florence Nightingale.
In 1854, she nursed soldiers in the Crimean War. Sometimes she spent 24 hours on her feet or 8 hours on her knees dressing wounds. She often wrote mothers that their sons died holding her hand. She returned to England and devoted the remaining 50 years of her life to hospital reform and nursing.
In 1860 she founded the school of nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London. She elevated nursing to a level of dignity, honor, and medical expertise.
Before this humble, compassionate woman died, she asked that a plain cross be placed on her grave bearing only her initials.
THE RED CROSS
In 1859, Jean Henri Dunant (1828-1910), the son of a wealthy Geneva banking family, witnessed the suffering of soldiers at the Battle of Solferino In Italy. "Never shall I be able to forget the eyes of these victims who wished to kiss my hand." Five years later (1864), he and four associates formed the International Red Cross. He chose the cross of Christ as the organization's emblem.
In 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize.
He most prized his faith in Christ, as when he was dying he said, "I am a disciple of Christ as in the first century, nothing more."
In the United States, Clara Barton is credited as one of the founders of the American Red Cross. She valiantly nursed soldiers during the Civil War. She often risked her life and was known to say, "Follow the cannon." At the Battle of Antietam, a soldier was killed in her arms. She visited Union prisoners at the Confederate prison at Andersonville.
CHRISTIANITY and EDUCATION
The greatest teacher who ever lived was Jesus Christ. "People were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one Who had authority" (Mark 1:22).
St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, urged that children be taught the Holy Scriptures and a skilled trade.
In AD 150, Justin Martyr established catechetical schools in Ephesus and Rome. Such schools provided theological and literary foundation for future Christian leaders as Origen (AD 185-254) and Athanasius (296-373). The schools also taught mathematics, medicine, and grammar.
The most significant move toward educating both boys and girls first occurred with the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.
In 1529, Martin Luther noted that he found that common people had little or no knowledge of Christian teachings. Countless members did not even know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments. He urged a state school system for both sexes.
John Calvin also advocated universal education that included reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, and religion.
Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) implemented the first public school system in Germany
John Comenius (1592-1670) a bishop of the Moravian Brethren, opened a school at Fulneck in Moravia.
Luther believed civic leaders should compel all children to go to school.
A hundred years later, La Salle, a Roman Catholic priest, advocated compulsory education in France.
Johann Sturm (1507-89), a Lutheran layman, introduced graded levels of education.
Kindergarten was introduced by Friedrich Frobel (1782-1852), the son of a Lutheran pastor. He believed young children should grow under the care of an expert gardener (a teacher) in a child's garden (kindergarten).
THE DEAF and BLIND
In 1775, Abbe Charles Michel de l'Epp, an ordained priest, developed sign language for the deaf in Paris.
In 1817, Thomas Gallaudet opened up the first school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.
In the early 19th century, Louis Braille, at 3 years of age, accidentally punctured his left eye with an awl in his father's harness shop in Coupvray, France. The injury was so severe he lost sight in his right eye as well. Louis was a devout Christian who attended Mass every Sunday and was a proficient organist. He studied Charles Barbier's raised dots which were used to read military messages at night. By 1834, he developed his own system of raised dots so the blind could read, recognized as the Braille system.
Robert Raikes of Scotland, a printer by trade, wanted to educate children who worked 6 days a week He began a school in 1780 in a rented kitchen. The boys were required to come on Sunday mornings from ten until twelve with clean hands and faces and combed hair. In order for him to teach them the Bible, he first had to teach them how to read.
Higher learning did not develop with the Greeks and Romans. They had no libraries or guilds for students.
Christian monasteries were the seedbed of modern universities.
Benedict of Nursia's (480-543) first monastery at Monte Cassino, Italy (528) kept an elaborate library system, collected books, copied manuscripts in the scriptoria, loaned books to other monasteries, and required monks to read books daily.
All universities from their monastic roots through the 19th century were founded as Christian institutions.
University of Bologna, Italy (1158)
University of Paris (1200)
Oxford University (1096)
Cambridge University (1209)
Emmanuel College (1584)
Harvard University (1636).
My only complaint is the author's tendency to get on a soapbox concerning political and certain subjective matters. He hates socialism. There is no doubt about that. I don't like mixing God and politics in any way, but Schmidt is insistent upon it and spends an overly long time going down a tangent on the evils of socialism more than once. Especially in the later chapters, he also has a tendency to rant about subjective matters, like the beauty of art and music. Both issues cheapen the book's arguments and bring the author's objectivity into question. It's enough to cost the book a star, in my opinion. Great read, aside from that!
One of the biggest issues I personally had was with his admiration for early church father's such as Augustine and Tetrullian. While he played lip service in the section about the view of women to the fact that "some early church father's failed to pick up on the freeing treatment and opinion of women shown by Christ and Paul (my paraphrase)" he frames it as an issue that was long fixed. Newsflash; while I would love if that was truly the case, it is very much not the truth. He conveniently left out the parts where Greek and Roman thought on women and slaves made it's way into the church and lead to biased/faulty translations that lead to women being silence, subjugated to husbands, and effectively shut them out of ministry because it is "sinful for a woman to lead because that is the God-ordained role for women". Reading the oldest Hebrew and Greek transcripts of the Bible scriptures, as well as church history prior to Constantine and the churches reconstruction, makes it very clear that, for the last few thousand years, the church has gotten the "woman question" VERY wrong and drifted far from the new attitude toward and role for women shown by Jesus. And, unlike the way his writing would make you think, this is still going on; today, "complementarianism" in most major church denominations continues to claim that women are "equal in being and separate in role" and therefor sinning if they try to run the home equally with their husbands or step out in the mission field, church, or workplace as a leader for Christ or are gifted by God with gifts that they believe are unseemly for a female. Many of the biggest and loudest supporters of this faulty theology have read things into the Biblical that aren't there and vilify people (egalitarians, like me!) who have sought to clarify and correct incorrect and sloppy bible translation and herumetices and call out blatant misogyny and bias as people who are playing fast and loose with scripture and trying to tickle the ears and gratify the flesh. None of this struggle is mentioned in that chapter.
Also, while frequently citing and quoting fathers like Augustine and Calvin, he ignores the many major doctrines and beliefs they passed on that are Biblically incorrect, and worse, harmful to innocent believers. For instance, many of Agustine and his contemporaries theology and doctrines were formed not by a "plain reading of the scripture" but the "laws of nature itself" found "in the books of the neoplatonist", a fact that Augustine (and Calvin and other church fathers that believed in Augustine and the earlier supporters of his work who added to it) openly admitted to; even the ones that didn't believe in neoplatonism claimed that they didn't need the Bible because of the "sound teaching" of Augustine, who openly admitted that many of his major ideas WERE NOT directly from the Bible, but "inspired" from the work of Greek Neoplatonic philosophers, which he then used used to interpret the Bible. He taught ideas such as sex being filthy and degrading and that it should be passionless and only used to reproduce (not for growing a healthy marital relationship or expressing marital love and fidelity), that the body was evil and needed to be physically punished to be controlled, that God created human beings to be dualistic and hierarchical (elite men must rule over women, children, and slaves because they were made inferior; men were created to represent the spirit and women were created to represent the evil flesh), and he openly praised and advocated for wife beating. While the author of this book truthfully states that Augustine came from a hedonistic lifestyle prior to his conversion, he neglects to mention the fact that he struggled with his lustful impulses for the rest of his life; many of his teachings on the "evil" of women and the need to control them and the evils of sex came from his own struggles; instead of trusting in God to help him control his flesh and renew his mind, he decided to blame and control other human beings out of despair and frustration. Calvin had similar thoughts about women and he came up with many other unbiblical doctrines; such as God being the cause of all evil and suffering (he allows it and uses it for good, but NOWHERE in the Bible does it say that God causes it; Jesus himself refuted the idea that all illness and suffering was caused by God to punish human sin) and other things that I can't list because of time and space. Personally, the I believe that the author glosses all this over; he barely acknowledges the misogyny and incorrect teachings of some of the early church after the church became the official Roman religion when the fact is that, except for periods of revival and increasingly now, after the original witnesses and believers all died, the idea of the total equality and value of woman held by the church reversed due to cultural influence and these false teachings are only now being aggressively fought against, as well as letting other harmful doctrines into the church, to hear him tell it, these men perfectly embodied Christ's message (apart from a few unfortunate and cruel remarks about females and the occasional theological flub) and, since nations with Christian heritage treat women much better than Middle-Eastern and Asian countries, all gender issues in the church have been fixed! The theological issues aren't addressed or mentioned at all. If you want to hear more about the unfortunate doctrines, beliefs and prejudice that slowly infiltrated the church until they became equated with God's words, I'd recommend the podcast "The Bible Message without Patriarchy"; while the "woman issue" is what is typically discussed, other incorrect doctrines, interpretations, and practices (such as racism and slavery and mistreatment of indigenous peoples) are covered as well. It's hosted by an excellent husband and wife team with degrees in Biblical Greek, Hebrew, church history, and psychology; it's understandable, but academic and well-researched.
Apart from this major issue of mine, the author of "How Christianity Changed the World" addresses the church's failure at handling slavery, but doesn't address the how faulty theology played a role in many major denominations opposing integration until the last possible second. He also puts a major gloss on the European "discovery of America" and, while playing lip-service to European cruelties, he praises Cortez and Columbus and paints them as true Christians. While I wholly agree with his that, either way, Native practices of human sacrifice and mutilation needed to be stopped, he doesn't acknowledge how people from Spain and Europe basically used religion as an excuse to "civilize" the Natives; they treated them cruelly and inhumanly, used and sold them as slaves, and raped the women at high rates. Conversion was usually under threat of death and came right before enslavement and/or mutilation. As he pointed out at the beginning of the book, Christians eventually turned away from the redemptive and relational nature of Christs message and instead turned to forced conversion instead of a true changing of the heart. However, he doesn't elaborate on this. He actually attempts to point out that Cortez build hospitals for the Natives and that Columbus was a Christian; first of all, given the records of Cortez's brutal and selfish actions, I doubt that his hospital did much good and, while he cites the writings of Columbus's son to argue that he was a Christian who wanted the message of Christ peacefully spread, he doesn't mention the easily researchable letters and papers also by Columbus's son that shows that he had no positive thoughts about the natives and that his true aim was personal wealth and prestige. While I don't want to hate on my Spiritual forebears or agree with the world that Christianity is evil (Because it isn't! This book makes it clear that the Greeks and Romans didn't have a high enough view of the worth of human life to make the advancements that Christianity helped fuel and that they basically had no compassion or morality whatsoever), I don't think that we need to defend people who claimed the blood of Jesus but changed the Gospel for their own gain instead of letting it change them. We don't do any favors to ourselves and our witness by trying to put a rosesy gloss over known historical atrocities that were committed by people with a warped view of the Bible that they used to comfort and justify themselves. All this unfortunate information is readily known and researchable; it would be much better to acknowledge these evils and denounce them and point to what they Bible actually says and who God actually is. We'd do well to acknowledge these evils committed under the name of God and Jesus and use them to teach people about the Gospel instead of acting as if we must defend God's name against mere fallible humans.
While I definitely recommend this book because it is enjoyable and I am a history nerd, the author's seeming desire to only acknowledge the good and not provide a more nuanced view of large negative parts of the past and present of the followers of Christ was annoying to me and leaves me unable to give this book a higher rating. However, if you are less emotional than me (hahaha! That's probably everyone ;) ) and can deal with the nuances of truth and history without being sad and upset over the fact that we are humans and will epically fail, even if we do truly love God, then go for it and buy this! Happy reading!
Top reviews from other countries
Christianity has transformed the world in terms of morality, learning, language, literature, arts, architecture, music etc. etc.
Particularly powerful are the sections relating to how Christianity changed society's attitudes to the weak and the sick. Love rather than pride became the prime virtue, thanks to the incarnation of the Son of God. The book shows that the "pro-choice" advocates are not progressive at all - they are regressive, seeking to take humanity back to a savage time which the Christian gospel rescued us from.
His case could have been stronger if more dubious examples had been omitted such as the contributions of people who aren't Christians and works that contradict New Testament teaching. That said, it is a great resource and one I have quoted from to show the life-changing power of the gospel.
Even knowledgeable believers will be amazed at how many of our present institutions and values reflect a Christian origin. Not only countless individual lives but civilization itself was transformed by Jesus Christ and his followers. Christians committed a lot of crimes. But when they did, they did it not in accordance with the Christian faith, rather they were in that case unfaithful.
This book`s task is not to work out in how far true Christian faith or wrong conceptions about how the faith has to be practised influenced the world. It wants to say that the Christian faith alone produces good fruits, which after reading the book is hardly deniable. In the ancient world, Christ` s teachings elevated brutish standards or morality, halted infanticide, enhanced human life, emancipated women, abolished slavery, inspired charities and relief organizations, created hospitals, established orphanages, and founded schools.
All this fits the theory that a valuable philosophy has always to prove truth carrying capacity in practise.
Christianity even kept classical culture alive through recopying manuscripts, building libraries, moderating warfare through truce days and providing dispute arbitration. It were Christians who invented colleges and universities, dignified labour as a divine vocation, and extended the light of civilization to barbarians on the frontiers. In the modern era, Christian teaching, properly expressed, advanced science, instilled concepts of political and social and economic freedom. Fostered justice, and provided the greatest single source of inspiration for the achievements in art, architecture, music, and literature that we treasure. That Faith seems to be the most powerful agent in transforming society for the better across 2 thousand years since Jesus lived on Earth. No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement - whatever- has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done.
Many today who disparage Christianity may not know or believe that, were it not for Christianity, they would not have the freedom that they presently enjoy. The very freedom of speech and expression that ironically permits them to castigate Christian values is largely a by-product of Christianities influences that have been incorborated into the social fabric of the Western world.
This freedom ironically permits the possessors of freedom to dishonour the very source of their freedom, as Fernand Braudel stated: "Throughout the history of the West, Christianity has been at the heart of the civilization it inspires, even when it has allowed itself to be captured or deformed by it." When I mentioned this in respect of the freedom of press in a reader`s letter the editor expurgated it.
The book contains 15 chapters in which all this is elucidated. The Christian faith transformed many people to the better, changed the moral values of the antique society to the good, as well as the status of the women who had no rights in ancient times. It brought the development and maintenance of Christian Charity and Compassion, it gave origin and development to hospitals, it set milestones in education, it improved the perspectives of labour and economics, it advocated and enriched scientific research, it brought up the ideas of liberty and justice to secure it with laws and in constitutions, it influenced strongly art and architecture and highlighted music and literature and much more. Where would we be in the world without Christianity? Maybe nowhere!