The Spread of Christianity
Kenneth Scott Latourette examined factors which he cited as influential and determinative in what he teams variously the Victory of Christianity over other results and philosophies with which it competed in the Graeco-Roman world.
There were a number of factors Latourette says, one of which was crucial although it might not have carried the victory in the absence of all others.
As factors, Latourette cites that the Emporer Constantine tolerated it and subsequently endorsed it; a wakening of other ideas and religions when the people holding them come in with each other under the Roman rule
Christianity was one of the few cults that was truly encompassing. It had members of all races, classes, and sexes and flaunted this, attracting more members. The mystery cults never were really accepted by the majority of the population. They were comprehensive, and lived little room for the uneducated. Even though some people held it against Christianity that they attracted the ignorant and uneducated, it helped gain major support from many peoples. All people could understand the teachings of Jesus, and could lift a meaning from the sacred text of Christianity, the Bible. Even though most learned men rejected Christianity because of it s simplicity, it was more successful than the other mystery cults in commanding the respect of the educated. A huge factor in the success of Christianity is that it allowed both male, and female members. Most of Christianity s main rivals were only open to male member. Open to both rich and poor, to become Christian, you did not need financial success. There was no expensive initiation into the cult. Because Christianity accepted so many different races, classes, and both sexes, it gained much more following, than it would if it limited it s membership.
Christianity had many miracles credited to it. Other cults had their own miracles, but people were not disappointed most of the time when they looked at other cults as when they looked at Christianity. Primitive beliefs were in full swing, some left over from other religions, and some apparent because of the super-natural nature of ancient peoples. The Christian miracles were relevant to the times. They claimed to be able to excorsise demons and evil spirits, and cite instances of their success. Many people became faithful because Christianity cited the physical cures they had successfully performed. The emperor Constantine was said to swear his allegiance because of a miracle performed by the Christian God. Apparently he believed that the Christian God helped him achieve dominance in the empire. The limited knowledge of these times allowed many miracles to seem astonishing, miraculous, and extroardinary. Their claim to success helped make many people turn to Christianity in hope of a better life.
The historian Latourette suggest many factors in the spread of Christianity. He believes that the main reasons are the strength of Jesus s message and his example. When people turn to a religion, they look for guidance, aid from God, and an all around better life. Although Jesus s message was a positive and good standard for people, it would serve to severe and limited for the masses liking. In a culture where violence and force were power, how could a religion gain a majority following that said turn the other cheek and pray for your enemies. In those ancient times, people were brutish, incapable of peace for long stretches time since it was in their nature to destroy each other. How could a religion even survive that was basically praising to people to submit to foreign dominance. The people who became Christians did because it did not discriminate, and were looking for miracles for the common man, ones not including the expensive price tag. It is even shown later in the world of Christianity, that the faithful did little to fulfill Jesus s peaceful message; going off on quests like the crusades and the inquisition. If they truly believed in peace, would they truly assimilate members like they did?
When Jesus laid the roots of Christianity, he believed he founded a religion where peace was the ultimate goal, to create a utopian society. Although his goal was partially realized, the majority of Christians were people who made war on each other, even though in the name of their religion. Latourette is wrong in conveying that Christianity spread in the early centuries because of the example of Jesus, or even the message of the religion. It obviously spread because of it s appeal to common men and women, which were the majority of the population. People looking for help from the Gods, people who wanted to be the recipients of miracles were the core of Christianity s. Because it was so inclusive, and of it s apparent success in it s claimed miracles, Christianity spread rapidly through the ancient world.