The International lmpact of Christianity

April 3, 2019 10:08 pm

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Christianity. The world’s largest religion that dates back to 392 AD, it is followed by 2.1 billion people worldwide, in over 100 countries and originated in Judea, Israel. Carrying a Monotheistic (the belief that there is only one God) ideology, there are a variety of strands that spread across an array of countries, including Catholicism, Protestantism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The religion also carries the belief that Jesus was a human living on earth, who was sent to save the world from its own sins. It is also thought that God is split into three ‘sons’, The Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son. Whether you are a devout Christian or are just starting out on the path, Christian Theology is a fascinating subject to study. A close link to biblical studies, the philosophy, teaching, practices and history of Christianity.

For those who are looking to have a career in the religious sector (such as a clergy member or priest) or in similar occupations, online Christian degrees will educate them on how to read scripture and develop their faith above all that is included in Christian Theology. Offered by many universities and colleges across the world, they are an interesting way of delving deeper into how the religion came about and how it can be practiced today as part of a modern lifestyle.  

The impact Christianity had on the Roman Empire

Many believe that the religion Christianity grew to fruition in the Roman Empire. Developed in Judea, its roots come from Judaism. Moulded into what we see today by the culture and politics of the Roman Empire, at the beginning it was persecuted by residents of Rome that believed that Roman Gods were paramount.

After Constantine the Great (famously known as the first Christian Roman Emperor) came into power in the Roman Empire in 272 AD, he diminished the persecution that Christians faced and legalized the religion. From then on, churches came to be constructed throughout the empire and the religious beliefs quickly spread throughout the world.

Why people believe in Christianity

As with all religions, Christianity has the foundation of community. People who share their beliefs in the religion come together to pray and give thanks for what they have been through. It is also a way of asking for assistance or helping those in need. This sense of society is one of the many reasons why religion has a mass appeal globally.

For Christians, carrying the belief that there is an afterlife and in particular that there is a heaven waiting for us (who have followed the path of righteousness), is the hope that there is something better awaiting us after our souls ascend from our bodies. With the horrors and travesties in the world that society faces, many turn to religion as a way of asking God to heal the world and save humanity.

The relationship between Christianity and politics

A complex affiliation, Christianity and politics have historically not gone hand in hand. Across the pond, Christianity is often thought to be divided into two wings of political beliefs (Christian Right and Christian Left), that each carry their own ideologies. Christian Right focuses on more conservative factors and has strong views on the definition of life, sexuality, religion and the sanctity of marriage.

Christian Left, however, focuses heavily on social justice and providing universal care to those who need it, whether they are facing hate or illness. An example of a Christian organization that fights for change in the deportation laws is the Sanctuary Movement.

The strength of the relationship between Christianity and politics varies enormously by your geographical location, with some countries having a more prominent stance on it.

Christianity and war: is there a connection?

Many believe that religion is the main cause of war. Although all religions focus on scripture that speaks of peace and coalition, differences in religion can sometimes cause rifts and in-turn, violence between them. With Christianity, the teaching of ‘love thy neighbour’ is prevalent with many of its followers, but is not followed by all that claim to be a child of God.

Throughout the years, the opinion that the church of Christianity has towards war and violence has greatly developed. With some retaining the belief of pure pacifism (that violence should not be tolerated in the Christian faith), the so-called Just War Theory and other views. The latter is broken into different sections, including Just Authority, Just Cause and the Last Resort. The first of which encompasses that for war to be just, it must be proposed by a powerful and authoritative political member within the political system. Secondly, to be thought of as Just Cause, the war in question must be morally justifiable. Finally, Last Resort is thought to be the pinnacle stage, which determines whether there is another way of tempering the situation, without the need for war and violence. This is only considered if they have seemingly exhausted all other options.

The Just War Theory is, however, up for debate and not followed by all members of the Christian community. To say that every Christian can be categorized in this way is false.

The portrayal of Christianity in Hollywood

It’s clear that the impact Christianity has had worldwide has been reflected in both a positive and negative light in cinema. When it is a key to the plot, the stance the filmmaker takes on the subject in question can result in either the church condemning the motion picture or praising it for showing it in a positive way. An example of films that are deemed, by many, to portray Christianity in a way that is respectful and acceptable, are Christian drama God’s Not Dead (2014) and A Walk to Remember (2002). Both carry the ideology that God surrounds us with love and will always be there for us. An interesting stance is taken by the 1998 drama What Dreams May Come, that delves into the different types of afterlife that people may face after they pass on.

On the other hand, some films released receive an avalanche of complaints upon release. One of the most renowned examples of this is Mel Gibson’s ultra-violent The Passion of the Christ (2004), which was considered by many to be anti-semitic and that it showcased an extremely unfavourable view of Jesus’ actions. Kevin Perry’s 1999 fantasy comedy, Dogma (starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), was also heavily criticised by those in the church, who claimed it was blasphemous of the faith due to how it portrayed heaven and Christ.

How does the modern world view Christianity

With all of the hate that’s in the world, people often start to blame God for what is happening to them or those around them. From natural disasters such as tsunamis to the unfortunate reality of life-threatening diseases, it’s easy at times to maybe think “why isn’t he helping the world” and lose touch with faith. In these times of crisis, however, others retain their faith that everything happens for a reason and that God has a better plan for those unfortunate people. As the religion has developed so much over the years, it has undeniably branched off into different sectors and some believe certain aspects more than others.

In times of hardship, people can also polarise and become more extreme in their views of the world. The western ideology of ‘extreme Christianity’ has always been around, as within any religion. And believes in more radical approaches to attempt to teach others their view of God and his actions. Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are often referred to as ‘missionary religions’. In Christianity, missionaries dedicate their lives to God and spread his word by visiting a variety of nations.

An example of a modern movement within Christianity is Ecumenism. This carries the view that Christian churches are united universally, and although some may have different cultural opinions and ideologies, they can all come together and will be cherished in the eyes of God.  In the modern day, as it was in the past, many people also believe that faith is hope and that with it, your life has structure and meaning.

Religion is always a challenging subject to discuss. At the end of the day, people can believe what they want to believe and there shouldn’t be pressure on anyone to think a certain way. It is fascinating to learn about the different types of religions that are out there in the world, and how they are impacting people’s actions and morals. With Christianity, as it is the largest and one of the oldest religions, it’s clear that its influence will continue to spread. No matter what religion you are, or even if you don’t possess religious beliefs, as long as you live your life respecting others with good morals and a good heart, you will be able to end your time on this planet with a clear conscience, safe in the knowledge that there was no aspect of your life that you regret.

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