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A history of early christianity in western civilization

How Christianity sparked Western civilization Letter to a cadet: You mentioned that your history professor at West Point downplays the role of Christianity in the development of Western culture. I would like to give a different view. To the contrary, Christianity is the most important factor in shaping our culture. Jesus Christ is the author of Western civilization. Without Him it would not exist. Every blessing you and I enjoy is a result of His walking the earth.

Huntington says language is the second most important factor. No one has trouble seeing Islam as the dominant force shaping the Middle East, or Hinduism shaping India, Confucianism shaping China, or Buddhism the various southeast Asian nations.

It has shaped Western culture for over fifteen hundred years. The great men of the Renaissance were spiritual men even when they were most deeply immersed in the temporal order.

Letter to a cadet: How Christianity sparked Western civilization

It was from the accumulated resources of their Christian past that they acquired the energy to conquer the material world and to create the new spiritual culture. Christianity is the dominant religion of Western civilization and has no serious religious competitors.

The first and most important step was the Barbarian Conversion. The dominant institution in the West for a thousand years was the monastery. Learning, research, philosophical contemplation, the transmission of ancient culture, and much more occurred here.

Most modern institutions were created in this period. During those nine hundred years between the coming of Saint Augustine of Canterbury and the triumph of Renaissance and Reformation at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there developed in Britain the general system of law that we inherit: Medieval civilization…is more immediately related to American institutions and even to American thought than is the legacy of Greece and Rome.

While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guide to religious truth. How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success Stark lists capitalism, technological innovation, and the rise of science as indisputably fathered by Christian influence The Protestant Reformation The end of the Middle Ages was not the end of Christian influence.

Quite the opposite; while the unity of Christendom waned in Europe the spread of the Christian faith was only beginning. In both its Protestant and Roman Catholic forms it launches out to become the first truly world religion.

Protestantism fragmented Christianity but expanded its cultural power. He looked not to tradition or authority for his motivation but the inner workings of the mind and spirit of a man. His insistence that a man is made right with God through faith alone revolutionized Christianity and the world. A history of early christianity in western civilization if they want others to yield to the authority of Scripture then they must teach others to read.

Thus modern education is born. The Puritans in New England insisted it must be compulsory and universal. Christians in the West were the innovators and creators of modern education.

  1. For on the tilma was the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, just as described by Juan Diego, and is still preserved today in original condition in Tepeyac on the outskirts of Mexico City.
  2. But the unity of Scripture and Tradition began to be questioned with the decline of the Church.
  3. Catherine's Monastery on Mt.
  4. His insistence that a man is made right with God through faith alone revolutionized Christianity and the world.
  5. Christianity continued to thrive in the New World as our young Nation developed.

Woe to the culture that does not follow the Christian example. In his book on India, In Spite of the Gods, British journalist Edward Luce bemoans the massive illiteracy of the sub-continent and then explains it with this comment: All callings are divine callings for the Calvinist, the merchant as much as the minister.

This theological validation of hard work and capitalism propelled Western economies. The legendary work of Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, crediting Calvinism and the Reformation for modern growth economies has long been debated. It occurred in one place. It was driven by men who were all of the same cultural substance—Christian. When I was an undergraduate Christianity was labeled an enemy of science.

It was only after many years of reading outside academic orthodoxy that I realized it was the mother of science. Without the Christian faith there would have been no scientific revolution. Science depends on certain assumptions—theological assumptions—for its existence.

If the laws changed daily—or every century—there would be no point in scientific research.


The Modern West Christianity is the exclusive religion of Western Culture and is the dominant religion in the world today. Huntington notes that the only cultural issues up for debate come out of the West. The West is not seriously contemplating adopting the values of other cultures. Schmidt lists about fifteen major social issues that have been created or affected by the Christian faith.

But let me hit just a few of the highlights. The sanctity of life, in my opinion, is the most important social concept in the history of Western culture. In my study of civilization I have found that it exists nowhere else but among people informed by the Bible. The sanctity of human life is the central theological concept of our society and is strictly Judeo-Christian in origin, emerging first from Genesis 1: When I taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder, I found that virtually every professor —even those farthest to the left—believed to some degree in the sanctity of life.

I pointed out that this concept would not flow from a neo-Darwinian view of the world. Nor did ancient Greek and Roman pagans adhere to it.

It is not wrath, but reason, thus to separate the useless from the healthy. And given our belief in the supernatural origin of the Bible, we can say it was God Himself who insisted on the inherent worth of all human beings. Ironically, I have yet to meet an atheistic college professor who did not accept this basic bit of biblical theology.

It is true that our cultural elite now favor abortion on demand. But notice that their defense of this barbaric practice almost always includes defining the unborn as non-human. Harry Blackmun in his execrable Roe v. This is a backhanded acknowledgement of the sanctity of life ethic.

Compassion for the poor flows logically from belief in the sanctity of life. The poor have infinite value and worth. In fact, there is no personal freedom without this underlying assumption. Personal freedom is the basis for a democratic political system which produces limited government and a balance of power. Valuing personal freedom has its obvious expression in free markets. Natural law arises from what we believe about God. Surely Tozer was right in saying no society can rise above its conception of God and the most important thing about any individual is what he believes about God.

Jews and Christians took the words from Genesis 1: He did not create a capricious world but one subject to His laws—a natural order. This view was absolutely essential to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. All technological advance is dependent on this assumption.

Free markets, come from the same theological source.

Since human beings are sinful they are motivated almost exclusively by self-interest. That self-interest moves easily to selfishness and evil unless restrained in some way. A man or woman running a business in a free marketplace cannot treat customers in an evil manner.

If they do the customers will take their business elsewhere. In a socialist economy a business owner—or government official—can treat people with contempt because they pay no price for their evil. Novak argues that free market capitalism succeeds because it understand that men are sinners. Socialism fails because it believes men are saints and this false theology destroys the economic life of a society.

Free market economies are the only growth economies in world a history of early christianity in western civilization. Economic freedom produces this growth because an individual must be free to keep the work of his hands and mind or he will not put forth the necessary effort to produce it. This freedom allows men and women to be like God in this sense: The wealth of our society comes from something completely non-material—the mind, the ideas, the innovative ability God has given us. And that is the source of all our economic treasure.

Thomas Sowell is surely right: These are all necessary for economic growth. They cannot exist without the rule of law. The rule of law came into existence because of belief in the personal God of the Bible.

The Role of Christianity in Spreading Western Culture I would be remiss if I did not mention the spread of our culture around the world.

Huntington argues that the rest of the globe is discussing how much Western Culture to absorb but every idea they are considering comes from the West. The spread of this culture has been led by various forces but primary is the greatest collection of cross-cultural agents of all time: Roman Catholics led the way and have played a significant role since at least the time of Gregory the Great sixth century A.

The modern Protestant missionary movement did not begin until 1793 but has exploded since then. Christians minister to orphans, build hospitals, establish schools and universities, champion human rights, aid economic development, and provide a host of other compassionate ventures that aid the poor of the rest of the world.

One of the most astonishing statistics in world history is the reversal of the world Christian population. By 2000 the numbers were reversed. Christianity has exploded across the earth and with it comes Christian culture the most powerful civilizing force for good that has ever existed. The most powerful movement in the world right now is an offshoot of American Protestantism, the Pentecostal movement.

Starting at the beginning of the twentieth century it now has the allegiance of nearly 500 million people and Philip Jenkins predicts that by 2050 that number will be one billion.