Aids to the Growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire
In the Roman Civilization where the prevalent worship of Roman gods were impersonal and did not provide a moral base or a message of hope, in the fourth century Christianity was formed, born as a movement within Judaism. Christianity emphasized the personal relationship between God and people, slowly spread through the Roman Empire until ultimately dominating the western culture. Three of the several factors that aided to the growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire were: the central beliefs and value of Christianity, prominent figures, and Christianity appeal to women. Christianity offered hope to many, for it was the time of grace and freedom, the time to rebuild the future and lay the foundations for a life with equal rights for all
Christianity obtained much growth from the great moral force of its central beliefs and values.
The Christian message was one of salvation through the crucified and risen Lord. “Through this man,” said Paul in 13:38, "forgiveness is proclaimed to you." In Peter's speeches, this forgiveness was confined to forgiving the Jews for crucifying Jesus. For Paul it included much more: "You are freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the Law of Moses" (13: 39). In other words, the requirements of the law to be circumcised, to sacrifice in the temple, to keep the food laws of the Jewish people did not offer freedom but slavery. But in Christ the person is freed from the false requirements that do not bring life and is ushered into the new life in Christ (Eberts 305).
Additionally, in a society where many suffered crisis Christians successfully responded to the challenges of social chaos caused by poverty, disease, and famine, as a result singling itself out as the only movement to deal effectively with the large scale social problems of the Roman Empire.
Christianity prevailed over paganism because the former successfully offered a new culture that could make sense of an increasingly chaotic world and because it was not weakened by the pluralism inherent in ancient paganism. With its insistence on exclusive monotheistic worship of the Christian God it won where paganism could only fail, in demanding solitary allegiance to its movement (Hamilton 38).
In demanding such commitment, those won to Christianity were far more connected to its goals and purposes than believers to the general pagan movement. Further, “for Christians that were already firmly committed, the benefits of esteem and other worldly rewards far outweighed whatever cost in suffering martyrdom might bring. Paganism had nothing analogous to win such enthusiastic commitment” (Hamilton 38). Whereas, Christianity promised life after death in heaven while in the Roman religion, only gods went to heaven; emperors were considered gods, everyone else went to the underworld.
In addition, there were prominent figures and leader during this time that also aided in the growth of...