Tuesday, December 12, 2017

How Christianity Prevailed in Ancient Rome

And what can we learn from it.



Starhopper said...

Despite revisionist claims to the contrary, the Roman persecutions were all too real. But there is also no denying that they were amongst the most inefficient persecutions in history. First of all, they were sporadic - blood curdlingly fierce in one generation, and practically nonexistent in the next. Also, they were never geographically consistent. Even during the worst of them, there were entire provinces of the Roman Empire in which their impact was minimal. (Cappadocia under Diocletian comes to mind here.)

The genocidal attacks against Christians today in some Islamic countries far exceeds the cruelty (and efficiency) of the harshest Roman suppressions of the Faith. Yet even so, there is no uniform anti-Christian persecution across the Islamic world. And if one can believe reports, conversions to Christianity even in the most extreme Islamic states are on the rise despite all the dangers of doing so.

I have had eyewitness testimony from a family member who witnessed an explosion of converts to Catholicism in West African states that are predominately Muslim.

Christianity's future is in the Global South - in Latin America, in Africa, and (yes, even) in Southwest Asia. It is also rebounding in Russia after decades of pitiless atheist suppression. And if current trends continue in China, Christianity will be the plurality religion before this century is out.

Europe may indeed apostatize, but if it does so, it will be the Odd Man Out.

Joe Hinman said...

my old under grad days as a sociology major I took sociology of religion from a major name in the field,Ansen Shoupe. mid 70s. He argument that the sporadic nature of Roman persecution allowed Christians to organize and thus lean how to evade it.

Mike Gerow said...

One should perhaps not blow the horn too loud.....An interesting counter-question is this: DID early Christianity prevail against Rome, or in the end was it effectually Romanized, standardized, and normalized by the Empire?

I think the realistic answer is, at best, there had to be some influence both ways?

Was "Christian" Rome significantly less brutal and imperialistic than the earlier pagan version...? Were the poor and weak, in particular, better cared for by the Empire once it was "Christianized"...?

Ive never heard anyone make any strong claims like that, at least. But strongly affirmative answers to such questions would be absolutely necessary, Imv, before Christians could claim they "prevailed" in those early Roman days. To what extent, one might ask, did the essence Christianity only "survive" in the Roman Empire (in a syncretic and inevitably somewhat compromised form) in spite of (and not because of) its "promotion" to official state religion?