Christianity within the Context of Historical and Contemporary Expansionism (3)

A Brief History of Christianity

Christianity started as an offshoot of Judaism in the first century A.D. Christian Church owes much to the social and religious culture of the Jewish nation in her emergence. Until emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 324 A.D., early Christian communities were often persecuted. It was then that the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire, and its capital relocated from Rome to Constantinople (formerly Byzantium and now Istanbul). The development of Christian groups derived from primary and minor splits. The Orthodox Church and its patriarch split away from the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope in 1054 C.E. because of political and doctrinal differences. In the 16th century, Martin Luther, upset at the corruption of the Catholic papacy, spearheaded a reformation movement that led to the development of Protestantism.

Christian missionaries proselytize worldwide, and there are significant populations of Christians on every continent on Earth, although the forms of Christianity practiced varying. Today, Christians in the Middle East include Copts, Maronites, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholics, Assyrians, and Protestants. These groups have different liturgical languages, rituals, and customs and different leaders who direct their faith. There are Christian communities of different sects living today in Syria (10 percent of the population), Jordan (6 percent), the West Bank (8 percent), and Iraq (3 percent), with smaller percentages in other Middle Eastern countries. [1] In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many Christians from what is now Syria and Lebanon (then the Ottoman Empire) emigrated to the United States and other countries. Although Christians are a minority in the Middle East today, more than 75 percent of Arab descent are Christian.


Jewish Socio-Cultural Influence on Christianity:

The Jewish home was religious from all perspectives. Jewish spiritual life can barely be separated from social, economic, and political life. The Jewish religious activities were not limited to the Temple or Synagogues. But some religious practices were also carried on in their houses. In the tenth century, King Solomon built the first Temple, known as the Golden Temple (c.960 – 950 B. C). Phoenician skilled workers built the magnificent. Temple for good seven years was looted and ravished by the Babylonians in about 587 B. C. There were also other Temples like Zerubbabel’s Temple and Herod’s Temple. The Temple at Jerusalem provided an excellent meeting point for Jesus to propagate His Message to the house of Israel, especially during the annual nation feasts and festivals. In the New Testament, the Christian community as the eschatological congregation of Jesus Christ is described as God’s “new Temple” [1]. More than any other institution, the Synagogue gave character to the Jewish Faith and, above all, set the phase for Christianity. [2]


Historical and Contemporary Expansionism of Christianity:

The Apostles were the great promoters of the spread of Christianity, in obedience to Christ’s commandment to proclaim the gospel to all nations. The earlier bearers of the gospel were ordinary, humble people like civil servants, soldiers, enslaved people, and people in business. By the time the Church obtained its freedom in the 4th century, Christianity was deeply rooted in many parts of the near east: Syria, Asia Minor, and Armenia; and in the West, Rome and its surrounding area in Latin Africa. The gospel also had a considerable presence in the Nile valley and various parts of Italy, Spain, and Gaul. [3]. St. Paul’s missionary journeys took the gospel to Asia Minor and Greece, where he founded and directed many churches. Paul’s long captivity allowed him to bear witness to Christ before the Sanhedrin, the Roman governors of Judea, and King Agrippa 11. When Paul was taken to Rome, he was set free by Caesar’s courts and probably made a missionary journey to Spain during this period. Paul was imprisoned for a second time when he was found guilty and died as a martyr in the imperial city. Christianity spread by way of four tactics that are still effective today:

1). Conversion of people from their former religions to Christianity. The conversion started with the people of Palestine and then in Rome. The conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (306-337 A.D.) made Christianity a legal and State religion. Rome was converted and set the spawn of conversions over Europe and the rest of the world. Ancient Persia was converted, but the Islamic whirlwind wiped out all the gains. Converts are of two types: Direct converts and Crypto-Christians. Crypto-Christians are secret converts to Christianity and are found mainly in (a) scheduled caste converts, (b) tribal converts, and (c) Socially well-placed converts. The scheduled cast converts lost their constitutional rights to reservations on open conversion and sustained campaigns to extend reservations to “scheduled caste” Christians. The tribal converts are seen where there is a strong and violent reaction within the particular tribes to conversions. The conversion is hidden until the converts achieve enough numbers to come out openly. The socially well-placed feel they serve the cause better by remaining crypto-Christian and working in secret than declaring their conversion openly.

2). Military Strategy: This strategy sees conversion as a perpetual war carried out on war tactics with complete military precision. International Bodies serve as think tanks with multi-billion dollar budgets, which plan and execute the conversion campaigns in different countries with armies of foot soldiers of Christ. Their budgets and strategies are not secret documents or products of the fevered imaginations of opponents: they are set out in detail in black-and-white in their publications and are referred to and quoted by opponents. [4]

3). Hidden Indoctrination: This is hidden indoctrination through educational institutions. A significant proportion of the white-collar and the upper crust segments of society are educated in English schools, and Catholic or other Christian organizations run most of them. An increasing number of educational institutions run by Christian organizations also give education in regional languages, particularly in semi-rural and tribal areas. These educational institutions turn out ex-students in the millions who occupy positions of importance in all fields of society.

4). Popular Perception-Building: This tactic builds up a popular image and perceptions that neutralizes public opposition to Christian expansionism. This took Christian influence beyond its converts and strategic allies and indoctrinated students into the domain of ordinary people not otherwise influenced by Christianity in general. The people are attracted to Christianity due to the communistic life. Christians’ houses were a sort of hospital in which all the poor and the forsaken found asylum and assistance. Christianity expansionism was indeed a great blessing to the world. Along with Judaism, Christianity was instrumental in spreading a higher conception of God and Purer moral standards. Many people learned about the Trinitarian God: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit from Christianity. Christianity is the only religion that deals effectively with humankind’s sins. Jesus Christ is the central focus in the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament. To believe in Jesus Christ in the Biblical sense is an act of the will of God and not of the intellect. To have eternal life is to come directly and personally to Jesus Christ and believe that He died for human sins. His death, resurrection, and coming again are the triangular anchor of the Christian faith.

Christianity’s view of salvation encompasses the past (Adamic sin), the present (present depravity), and the future (eternal life). Past deliverance points forward to present and future deliverances that, in turn, look back to past deliverance. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the focal points. ‘Being saved from sin to righteousness, therefore comes about through calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – (Rom. 10:9-13). And the name of Christ involves entrance into the kingdom of God (Mark 10:23-27) and the Church as the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-28).

Today, no legitimate scholar denies that Jesus is a historical figure who walked on this Earth over 2,000 years ago. He did remarkable miracles and acts of charity. He died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. The emotionally charged dispute focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead three days after His Crucifixion. Many people have dealt with this “spiritual” dispute by intellectually accepting Jesus as a great man, teacher, or prophet. However, Jesus and His inspired followers didn’t mince words when they declared Him God (John 1:1-3, John 10:30-38, Matthew 16:13-17, Mark 14:61-64, John 14:6, Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:16, John 12:40-41 (Isaiah 6:1-10). Therefore, any intellectual compromise calling Jesus a “good man” is logically inconsistent. Jesus himself claimed to be God when he said, “The Father and I are one”- John 10:30. Christianity’s encounter with early philosophers formed the bedrock of significant scholarly works and scientific fields: philosophy, chemistry, medicine, mathematics, arts, and music.

[1] See 1 Cor. 3:16f; 2Cor. 6:16, 17; Eph. 2: 19-22; 1 Peter 2:5; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19f

[2] S. A. Fatokun, and Tiwalola A. Falaye, “Jewish Socio-Cultural Influence on The Rise of Christianity” in Transformation: Crowther Journal of Theology and Missions, Vol. 1. No. 1. November 2016, Abeokuta: Crowther Publishers Nigeria, 2016, 31

[3] Jose Orlandis, A Short History of the Catholic Church, 2001

[4] In India, notably in the writings of Ram Swarup and in related Voice of India publications



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