Why the Spread of Christianity?

Jesus In The Sisiine Chape
I believe the History of Christianity by Kenneth Scott Latourette, the esteemed Yale historian, is the most comprehensive and rich overview of the Christian movement ever written.

The genius of the work is in its perspective. Unlike reading dry church history—which for me is akin to eating sawdust—Latourette is dynamic and vibrant. He brings to life the great epochs of the Faith and views Christianity through the twin lenses of expansion and decline. His is a history of a movement.

In his first volume, he outlines an array of reasons that led non-believer to embrace the Christian faith. In summary, the reasons are:

Signs and wonders, supernatural healing and demonic deliverance.
An explanation of the purpose of life.
People’s religious hunger and a sense of moral impotence were met.
The discovery of ‘truth’ in Christ.
Christian churches were the most inclusive and the strongest of all the various associations in the Roman world. They cared for the poor, the imprisoned, the aged and the infirmed. Solidarity of fellowship.
Inclusive of all races and classes, both men and women
Combination of flexibility and uncompromising adherence to its basic convictions.
Constancy of the martyrs.
Christianity lived the moral transformation which it demanded. High morality.
Miracle of moral rebirth.
Immortality by pointing to the historic Jesus.
Committed fellowship and a community of worship and mutual aid.
A faith sanctioned by immemorial antiquity as it pointed to the long record preserved in what it termed the Old Testament.
Intellectual satisfaction by presenting literature prepared by some of the ablest minds of the day.

    But he leaves the best for last. He points to one feature that stands out above all else. He writes:
    “Careful and honest investigation can give but one answer, Jesus.

    It was faith in Jesus and his resurrection which gave birth to the Christian fellowship and which continued to be its inspiration and its common tie. It was the love displayed in Christ which was, ideally and to a marked extent in practice, the bond which held Christians together.

    The early disciples united in declaring that it was from the command of Jesus that the Gospel was proclaimed to all, regardless of sex, race or cultural background. The new life in Christ might express itself in many forms, but its authenticity was to be proved by high, uncompromising moral qualities as set forth by Jesus. Hence the combination of flexibility and inflexibility.

    As against the mystery religions, those cults which had so much superficial similarity to Christianity, it was partly belief in God, partly a theology, a metaphysic, which gave the latter its advantage, but it was chiefly that as against the mythical figures at the heart of the mysteries, Christians could point to Jesus, an historical fact.

    Through the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus came the moral transformations which were so marked in the Christian fellowship. The loyalty of the martyrs was to Christ, and his example and the promise of eternal life through him sere their sustaining strength. It was through the sign of his cross or by the use of his name that miracles were wrought. It was a true insight, even if exercised in derision, which named the members of the new faith Christians and in the city where non-Jews were first won in large numbers. Without Jesus, Christianity would never have been and from him came the distinctive qualities which won it the victory.”

    *Painting is Christ at the Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel, Rome.

    “A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500” (Kenneth Scott Latourette)

    “A History of Christianity: Reformation to the Present (Volume 2: AD 1500 - AD 1975)” (Kenneth Scott Latourette)

3 Responses to “Why the Spread of Christianity?”

  1. David Aldrich Says:

    K. Scott Latourette provides an even more detailed look at Christian history in his 7 volume work entitled “The History of the Expansion of Christianity.” It is fascinating read.

  2. Sam Says:

    My understanding is that the 2 volume work (which I referred to) is the abridged version of the 7 volume tome. I admire anyone who has the time and the tenacity to go for the 7!

  3. Tiffany Says:

    I think Chrisianity spread because so many just want to be led…. they have no real will of thier own and need guidance to jusify the hell that is living…. they will get “eternal life” if they live the christian life…

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