The Beginings Of Christianity Essay Research Paper

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The Beginings Of Christianity Essay, Research Paper From the time that man became a thinking and reasoning being, there has been a driving need to explain what is unknown to us. Man?s fear of the unknown and his need to explain it gave rise to various different religions that attempted to provide answers to all of man?s mystical questions. The different religions of the world competed for followers and through time many died out, just as new religions were born. Eventually there came about there came about the birth of one of the biggest religions of today?s world, this was Christianity. Unlike most new religions Christianity grew and spread throughout the entire world. How did Christianity become this successful? Many different elements contributed to making Christianity

what it is today, one key element was Christianity?s ability to adapt characteristics from other religions so it could replace them. The biggest competitor of Christianity was paganism “?with its multiplicity of divine powers, rituals of sacrifice, temples, statues of deities, votive offerings, and periodic festivals”, therefore to become more popular with the people Christianity borrowed elements from the existing pagan religions so it could eventually replace them (Ferguson p.3). This method of drawing followers could be viewed as cut throat in retrospect, but it was tactics such as this combined with giving the people what they wanted that helped to make Christianity what it is today. With the coming of Christianity to the Roman Empire no one paid this new religion much

thought. The cities were full of every type of religion imaginable from Judaism to various religions devoted to Greek gods. “If you walk the streets at the western edge of town, you pass: a temple of Mithras, a temple of palmyrene gods, a Jewish synagogue, a temple of Adonis, a sanctuary of Tych, a Christian house church, a shrine to Zeus Kryios” (Ferguson p.1). At this point the Christian Church was an infant religion that was taking its first steps. With the maelstrom of different cults and religions which surrounded it, Christianity was somewhat vulnerable. Being one of the minority of religious faiths that sought to convert others, Christianity began to distinguish itself from the crowd. “As Christianity took over the empire it needed urgently to define its own

doctrines. Above all it must decide who Christ was” (Murray p.32). One of the ways in which Christianity drew the amount of followers which it did was to increase its appeal to the people of the times. When new movements are started they often draw their strength from those members of society who seek hope, generally the less wealthy and unfortunate who want to improve their state, who want something to believe in, “?they direct their appeal to the poor, the downtrodden, the disenherited, who are filled with fierce resentment toward those superior to them socially, intellectually, and economically?” (Larson p.427). people who walk through life with this frame of mind are easily won to a cause, especially one which offers the rewards given by Christianity. A faith which

provides the redemption of sins along with, and most importantly, the concept of an immortal soul which will spend eternity in paradise after gaining salvation. Few religions other than Christianity offered long term rewards such as these. “?no pagan cult held out promise of afterlife for the worshiper as he knew and felt himself to be. Resurrection in the flesh was thus a truth proclaimed to be a decisive advantage of the church” (Macmullen p.136). As Christianity started to build its foundation and establish its doctrines it was not without heavy criticism from pagan philosophers and other non-Christian scholars. The critics of Christianity eagerly advanced upon this new and barely established religion. One of the biggest questions that arose through this criticism was if