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Why Christianity?

Discussion in 'World History' started by Giotto, May 17, 2004.

  1. Giotto

    Giotto Eagle

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    Why do you guys suppose Christianity became sortof the "dominate religion" in the western world? If you are a christian I suppose you could just say "because it's the correct one", but I'm more interested in the viewpoints of non-christians or atheists. They say that there were several religions in the time floating around, some of which were very similar to Christianity. So why did Christianity in particular rise to the top? Why not, say, the Cult of Mithra or some other religion of the time?

    It would be nice to have some specific reasons not just general statements and the standard anti-religious stuff we see in any thread relating to religion (and even in non-religion threads).

    Could it have just been a fairly random chance that brought Christianity to the top? They say that a whole lot of fads start this way. I'm not saying Christianity is a fad or anything but you get my drift.

    What was so appealing about Jesus's story that made it acceptable to so many?
     
  2. FearlessLeader2

    FearlessLeader2 Fundamentalist Loon

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    It didn't. Catholicism did, and that branched off into Protestantism. Christianty is a tiny minority.
     
  3. KaNick

    KaNick Deity

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    An emperor of Rome (forget who Constantine maybe) halucinated a cross over a battle field and won. Afterwards he change the religion of Rome to Christianity. The rest of Europe used this Religion because it was a good way to retain power. The idea of one god helps out with monarchy. After that when people came to America they kept the religion and passed it down to thier family members. It has survived to this day because people like to use religion to make themselves feel safe in the world.
     
  4. Giotto

    Giotto Eagle

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    @fearless

    Maybe Christianity isn't hte right word then... Whatever the word is for whatever religions follow Christ as the savior and son of god and all that... that's what I'm talking about. I dunno much about the history of religions as u can tell!
     
  5. Souron

    Souron The Dark Lord

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    Jesus appealed to the poor. When Rome fell, every one was poor.

    Also Jesus preached active preaching of the gospel to non-Christians. This was not true of Judaism or pagan religions. No other religions were available that preached such.
     
  6. Souron

    Souron The Dark Lord

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    What are you talking about?

    Christianity includes Cathlics, Prodistants, and Orthodox Christians.
     
  7. CivCube

    CivCube Resist.

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    It wasn't that it was appealing, but rather it was enforced. Because of the clause in the faith that Jesus Christ is the only son of God, the Church tried to make certain that all other religions were gone. Rather sad when it is the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted us to know.
     
  8. Zarn

    Zarn Le Républicain Catholique

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    No, you are right. Catholics are Christian. Don't let Fearless tell you otherwise. He's being stubborn. That's all. ;)

    As for dominance, I would guess Rome had some influence in it, since they became Catholics, eventually.
     
  9. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    For 200 years christianity (in multiple forms) competed with both pagan religions and gnosticism. In the 4th C, after Constantine made it cool to be christian, christians began to get their own house in order and presented a more uniform front to the world. After 500 AD the east and west began to drift apart in Roman and Orthodox churches. Martin Luther split the Roman church in the early 1500s; Henry VIII created the church of england; and since then the prostestants have formed hundreds of very different sects over the years. There hasn't been one christian church for any significant period of time. There are so many different versions because people were dissatisfied with some other version and wanted their own.

    Catholics and Prostentants have gone to war over who's right. Many of the fringe evangelical prostestants label the pope as the anti christ. Not very christian! I'm not so sure there is one story that is so popular. Perhaps, christianity and Islam are just the most current manifestations of the "religion gene". We need something to fight for; something to believe in.
     
  10. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Moderator Action: Moved to History.
     
  11. Knight-Dragon

    Knight-Dragon Unhidden Dragon Retired Moderator

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    Mithraism, altouugh popular, had one major weakness. Women were not allowed into it.
     
  12. Ramius75

    Ramius75 Deity

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    Four words: Aggressive marketing and prosecution.

    Ramius
     
  13. TheTruth

    TheTruth Knowledge is the KEY!

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    Christianity isn't to high minded about women either.

    The church make women promise to obey.

    The church hunted down and burned women ( witches )

    O, and the best one of all is:

    Women are the reason behind original sin.

    Gotta luv that one.



    I think, christianity spread because it had the power and the money, behind it.
     
  14. Mongoloid Cow

    Mongoloid Cow Great Khan

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    I read somewhere that it wasn't until about the 12th Century when Christians even formed a majority in Germany. The greatest strength of Christianity was that ever since Constantine, most Roman emperors were also Christian, and when Rome fell, the upper class of the Franks, Goths and so forth were eager to conform to the Roman customs and religion.
     
  15. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    I'll go with Souron on this one. No, it wasn't the money and power that made it spread, well at least not the early church. Quite the opposite I'd say. Christianity embraced the sick, the poor, the weak, people of the female persuasion (two kinds in ancient Rome, wives and whores), slaves etc. More importantly, the early leaders of the church knew how to organise. So they get these nobodies to pull together, to help each other. There has been so much insincere ramblings about Christian love, and the Christian thing in helping thy neighbour, that people tend to forget that this was what the first Christians did in a big way. Part of the success was the fact that they filled vital social needs for all the little people that the ruling segment of soceity couln'd have cared less about. If you were a non-citizen commoner in the Roman empire you were pretty much free to die the best way you could. So they had to help each other, and Christianity became the most succesful framework to do that within.

    Rome (and Ancient Greece) were based on pretty harsh aristocratic ideals. (Such as self-control and the extermination with extreme prejudice of all political opponents.) The Roman and the Greek ruling segment of society held that things such as compassion and pity were very base feelings, they were despicable "turpissimus" to the Romans. And in order to educate the public you get gladiatorial games, so that they will find blodshed, pain, mutilation etc. to be acceptable aspects of life. Mercy, they could understand, but only as something to be granted to an opponent (of equal standing) for political reasons. (I.e. his family/country etc. might do you a dirty one otherwise.) God help you if you were a rebellious subject.

    Enter the Christians; these guys have inverted all these ideals. The forgive their enemies, help each other, actually care for the little folk, and face death in its most agonizing forms without flinching. (Well, that was what one expected of any Roman patrician, but finding this kind of fortitude in common slaves... well, it was kind of disquieting, sort of indicated that the social order was maybe not as natural as everone had assumed.)

    So Christianity began as a grass root popular movement better att organising its members for mutual support compared with competing religions, and eventually it could challenge the established ideals of the political elite and win them over. After Constantine you get the pagan emperor Julian the Apostate, who tried to suppress Christianity and bring back the worship of the old gods. Still, Julian had to admit defeat in a sense, since his reforms of the ancient religion used the way the Christians had organised themselves as a blueprint. He actually saw the necessity of fulfilling the social function Christianity filled. It was by then impossible to go back to the old ways of lording it over slaves.

    And then Rome becomes Christian... Glory be, thinks all right thinking, church going Christians, from now on all should be well. But pretty soon you get all the kind of nasty problems you always get when combining secular and religious power...
     
  16. Stapel

    Stapel FIAT 850 coupé

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    As a converted atheist, I am very interested in these theories:

    The most common explination, also backed up by several christian historians:

    Christianity was really spread by Saul/Paul. All of his 7 (at least 7 can reasonably be assumed to be written by Paul himself) epistals were written before the 4 gospels. Paul travelled within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which easily clarifies the lack of christianity in today's Arab world, China or India. 99% of today's christians are Paulinic Christians.

    The question is, why did Christianity become so popular. How did Paul and his followers succeed in this job?

    The main reason might be that the time was ripe for a monotheistic religion. The Jewish religion, of course, could not be spread to non-Jews. The main reason for the tough oppression of Jews and early Christians by the Romans, was that their monotheistic believes did not allow the traditional Roman gods. The big difference with Paulinistic Christianity is that it is very very pro-Roman.
    Therefor, it had the potential to become popular.
     
  17. Mapache

    Mapache Coronel

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    Things that may have helped:
    Saints as an offer to polytheists. There are saints for all purposes.
    Control of intelectuals and information. The alphabet and latin language were part of the christian religion and other and older books were rapidly destroyed. Nonmembers of the church were not allowed to write or read books.
    Monotheism and Monarchy? Not sure if Monarchy can't coexist with Polytheism.
     
  18. HalfBadger

    HalfBadger The Great Whackyness

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    Dang I had a nice long reply, but I clicked something wrong, oh well I'll do a quick summary of what I said, instead of typing it all out again.

    Jesus was poor, helped prostitutes, murders etc was like the People's deity, everyone could be helped, no matter what you did/do.

    Jesus sacrificed himself for us, say for example, if you were stuck in a pit, would any other deity/god come by jump in, give you boost out, setting you free, while being stuck now themself?

    The ten commandments or what many current laws are based on, indirectly gives you freedom, for example you won't be killed without conqsequence/punishment for the killer.

    Also don't confuse how many have abused religious power, disobeyed the beliefes etc, this discussion, is why christianity is dominate in the west, why for example I choose to follow christian beliefes, than other beliefs.
     
  19. Gladi

    Gladi The ignored thread killer

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    :hmm: And I thought that modern laws come from old Roman and Germanic laws...
    And as Paul goes, was he also in Armenia, Ethiopia and Central Asia(lost)?
    I have to agree that it was at first christian preaching to the underclass, that helped them establish and alienate population from aristocratic pagan gods.
    Oppresion of early christians also helped, a lot. Many people think that it was persecution what made christianity so popular idea :confused: .
    Christianity spreads, now Emperor embraces christianity in order to strengthen his standing, smart political move.
    Rome fell but christianity already came to characterize civilization. Christinaity becomes a thing of a status. Pagan princelings want to get accepted by christian kingdoms-. they convert.
    Not one reason but many, some were derived from previous, but most others not.
     
  20. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    Interesting thread this...
    About Christianity as the fashionable thing in the Middle Ages. Well, it made perfect political sense. The brotherhood of Christian Princes were emphatically not allowed to conquer their neighbours. (Bit of a static view of political entities there.) Rome was pretty hard on those who did, since ideally Christian princes should keep the peace. Being recognized as a christian country also meant that it couldn't be assimilated so easily since its politcal boundaries would still be accepted.
    Pagans and their countries were not so protected. The more powerful the Christian countries, the more reason to convert and so gain a measure of protection from them. Denmark may have started like that and brought the rest of Scandinavia and the Baltic region into that kind of loop. When Charlemagne massacred the pagan Saxons there was a double message: 1.) Get yourself organized (ca 800), and become christians (a century or so later). This new country then hade the military and political clout to get the pagan Swedes to organize themselves (unified kingdom ca 1000), and so these two new Kingdoms start putting pagan Finns and Esthonians to the sword so thoroughly that these didn't have time to use the "go-christian-and-save-the nation" option.
     

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