Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why Christianity?

   By the end of the first century it is estimated that the Church had a population of over 1 million individuals.  This all occurred within a 70 year time span.  Christianity spread rapidly and it continues to grow at a rapid rate.  In third world countries today, Christianity is spreading like wildfire.  What is the reason for the rapid spread of Christianity?

This very question was proposed to a variety of scholars and this is what they said.  Harvard professor of New Testament studies, Helmut Koester states, "One should not see the success of Christianity simply on the level of a great religious message; one has to see it also in the consistent and very well thought out establishment of institutions to serve the needs of the community." According to professor Koester, Christianity was a well thought out plan that addressed certain needs of the community.  Michael White, professor of Religious studies at the University of Texas has this to say about the spread of Christianity, "there really is no empire wide persecution of Christianity throughout the entire second century and into the first half of the third century. It was always sporadic; it was always local concerns. The first time the empire as a whole says "We have to eradicate Christianity," is not until the year 249, 50, the persecution of Decius, ... but by that time, the Christians are so numerous that they can't possibly be eradicated; they've already grown that much."  In other words, Christianity could have been snuffed out if a more organized Roman persecution had taken place.  Finally, Wayne Meeks of Yale says, "In the final analysis, I think we don't know."

Out of all the explanations offered, not one addresses the truth question.  While the spread of Christianity by no means proves that the Christian worldview is correct, it does show that it has never been defeated.  In other words, there is no concise argument to show that the Christian worldview to be false.  Perhaps, Christianity has stood 2000 years of attacks, precisely because it matches with the truth.  Any and all truth claims can be measured on their merits.  Truth, stands alone.

Ultimately, Christianity has to be evaluated on the claim that Jesus bodily rose from the dead.
If God exists, and Jesus was the Messiah of truth, then Christianity will never be stopped.  As the Jewish leader Gamaliel rightly said during the early stages of Christianity, " If what they (Christians) are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God (Acts 5:38-39)."

  • For the article on the question of why Christianity succeeded, click here.

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