By Bill Muehlenberg, Culture Watch
One of the hallmarks of the spread of biblical Christianity is its life and society transforming powers. Everything changes when a vibrant Christian faith is on the scene. The whole world knows when Christians are at work, and that has been the story of Christianity for the past 2000 years.
Everywhere it went, the Christian faith has been a force for good. Individual lives are radically changed, as are entire societies. The story of the growth and spread of the early church is a clear example of this. Elsewhere I have documented how early Christianity changed the world around it.
Radical social implications of the gospel have been there from day one. In the dark, pagan days after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the light of the gospel resulted in a complete turnaround of society. The condition of women and children, the poor, slaves, and other marginalised groups all improved remarkably under the rise of Christianity.
As but one important source on this, consider Rodney Stark’s 1996 volume, The Rise of Christianity. There he documents how Christian compassion and social concern saw the faith grow rapidly, and change the world it found itself in.
Looking after the sick and needy, and treating victims of epidemics and pestilence, while the pagans fled, resulted in the conversion of many. The respect for the sanctity of life, and the rejection of common practices like abortion and infanticide also were noteworthy.
Infant abandonment, which was widespread back then, was another action radically turned around by the new faith. Christians looked after these abandoned babies, and changed the culture from a culture of death to a culture of life. Thus Christianity really did create Western civilisation, taking the world out of a bloody and uncaring pagan past.
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