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SHAPING CHRISTIANITY

Lyndsie R. Cook

APRIL 16, 2015


ANCIENT WORLD HISTORY
TR 10:30

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The Christian religion has become a very popular subject throughout the years, but how
did it become what it is today? Being a Christian myself, I was very interested to learn how the
religion developed and expanded throughout the world. After doing some reading, I found a lot
of information on the becoming of Christianity and how it stretched across the world. I was
intrigued to learn stuff outside of the bible and to see how the religion changed throughout the
years.
Christianity was founded in Palestine, an area in Western Asia, ruled by Rome, between
the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, in the first century C.E. as a Jewish sect. It later
accompanied Greco-Roman culture and together they controlled Europe in the religious sense
after the Classical Period. Palestine was one of the most restless Roman provinces and they had
a history of rebellion against Rome (Lockard, p.175). Within time, Christianity went from being
a small Jewish sect, to being a major faith of several emperors and rulers throughout Rome.
The main thought of Christianity arose from the teachings of Jesus, who was a Jew form
Nazareth. According to Christian tradition, Jesus was a Jewish carpenter, teacher, and healer,
who probably lived from around 7 or 6 B.C.E. to 30 C.E. (Lockard, p.175). Jesus was described
as an ethical activist who defied the Jewish leaders and Pharisees, according to the gospel. His
teachings were based off of two major commandments: Love God with all of you heart, soul,
and mind; and Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Lockard, p.176). By the people he was
considered much more than just a wise teacher and a healer. He was considered a divine man.
Although they considered him to be so miraculous, he didnt think that of himself. He just
wanted to help people. Jesus was accused of treason by the Roman Government and even a few
Jewish religious leaders because he thought that the rich should consider giving some of their
money to the poor because everyone should be allowed to live equally. He was convicted and

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crucified. He died for our sins, which inspired his followers to tell of his story and his good
deeds done among the people. This is what began to spread the word of Christianity. After the
word had gotten around there were several thousand believers all telling the story of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul had a big impact of the expansion of the Christian Religion. His
teachings emphasized Jesus as a divine being, the son of God who earned forgiveness for
humankinds sins by his death on the cross. (Lockard, p. 176). Paul taught the people that if
they accept Jesus as their savior, it would save them from living an eternity in Hell and would
give them everlasting life in Heaven, and that even a non-Jew could be a believer in Jesus. Paul
taught that Jesus was not a believer in social class or slavery, but in spiritual equality. Apostle
Paul didnt agree with the thought that all Christians had to follow Jewish laws to still be deemed
as Christians because one doesnt have to be a Jew to be a Christian, and he proposed that
thought to the Apostle Peter. Peter, Jesuss chief disciple, finally agreed with Paul that God
made no distinction between Jews and others (Lockard, p.176). Peter approving of this idea was
a crucial part of expanding Christianity of world religion because he later became Romes first
bishop, and pope and expressed his approval for non-Jewish Christians. There was a Jewish
revolt from 66 to 73 C.E. that caused the Jewish temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed by the
Romans. Because of this, many Jews went to other lands such as North Africa, Southern Europe,
and Western Asia, which resulted in even more dispersion of the Christian religion and more
believers in Jesus Christ.
Christianity became quite popular over the less wealthy people because of its sensitive
appeal suggesting spiritual equality and a major apprehension for the poor. Christians believed in
life after death, meaning that part of ones self or perception is left behind even after the body
has passed away. In this case it is referring to an eternity in Heaven or Hell after one dies. They

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practiced this belief by baptism, basically a cleansing of the soul and accepting Jesus Christ as
your Lord and Savior. In 313 C.E. the Christian faith became a legal religion and gained greater
acceptance among the Romans. Roman emperor Constantine believed that God had helped him
win a battle and thats is why he allowed this to be so. In 400 C.E. Christianity became the main
religion of Rome and non-Christian faiths became illegal (Lockard, p.176). Christians practiced
Arianism, a Christian sect that taught that Jesus was not divine but rather an exceptional human
being, as well as Asceticism, austere religious practices, such as intense prayer that were used
to strengthen spiritual life and seek a deeper understanding of God (Lockard, p. 177). Practices
like these, as most Christians know, are still used today but it doesnt go by those specific names.
In church we are taught to pray and talk to God, not just about our problems, but about
everything. One should thank God for everything that they have been blessed with, as well as ask
for help in difficult times; this is how we build our relationship with God, which is the same as
they did it back then, just without the specific label.
Early in the fifth century Christians were the leaders in most Roman cities in every
aspect; political, spiritual, and social. But because of their power among the cities, some
Christians started to get out of hand. They became troubled by their success. The leaders were
doing everything the bible told the not to do. They were supposed to focus on spiritual success
and not personal or worldly success, and on the importance of Heaven instead of their
importance on Earth. It began to confuse the people that looked up to them. They were being
taught to do as the bible said by their leaders words but were being shown otherwise by their
leaders actions. The Bishop of North Africa, Augustine, felt that he had to redefine the meaning
of Christianity to the Romans because they had been so mislead. His concepts of Christian
morality and history dominated western Europe culture (Lockard, p.177) and I believe that was

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a big part of what shaped our evaluation of Christianity today and the way we live our lives as
Christians.

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Work Cited
Lockard, Craig A. Societies, Networks, and Transitions: A Global History. Third ed. Vol. 1.
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.