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The Rise Of Christianity Essay

1158 words - 5 pages

In the space of a few hundred years, a small, often brutally persecuted cult rose to become the dominant religion of the West. The story of Christianity’s rise to prominence is a remarkable one, but the traditional story of its progression from a tiny, persecuted religion to the established religion in the medieval West needs to be cut down. While the Roman Empire weakened and crumbled, a new force - Christianity - developed within it (Adler 138). One of the many factors that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire was the rise of this new religion. The spread of Christianity was made a lot easier by the efficiency of the Roman Empire, and despite its growing popularity Christianity's principles were sometimes misunderstood and membership of the sect could be dangerous (PBS.org). Widely criticized after the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, the Emperor Nero tried to divert attention away from his own failings by providing an easy scapegoat: the Christians (Heinrich). Through the hardships, as time went by Christianity became powerful and more organized than the old Roman culture and eventually became the new Rome.
Christianity was one of the fastest spreading religions of its time. From the first century, Christians have claimed that the world was uniquely prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ and the birth of Christianity. To be a Christian during the time of the fall of the Roman Empire would not be a delightful time to live. Christians dedicated their lives, minds, hearts and souls to God, and by doing so were often persecuted. After the death of Jesus is when Christianity began to grow rapidly. Christianity was distinguished from other religions because everyone was eligible to be a Christian. Christianity offered a message of hope and optimism. Not only were they promised a blessed life to come, but the prospects for a better life appeared to be good. Christians were far ahead of their rivals in the spirit of mutuality that marked the early converts. They also appealed to idealism. They emphasized charity and unselfish devotion in a world dominated by the drive for wealth and power (Adler 139). Christian cells sprang up in all the major towns across the Mediterranean basin. In the early fourth century Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, which announced the official toleration of Christianity and that it was favored at the imperial court. While on his deathbed in 337 he became a Christian and all emperors in the East and West as well. In 381 Emperor Theodosius took the final step of making Christianity the official religion of the empire (Adler 139). Constantine's recognition of Christianity would both aid and hinder the new religion. It gave Christianity a favored status and support from the secular government. This linked the Christian church with the state and it would forever have its imprint on the Roman Empire. Under Constantine Christians organized their church on Roman Civil Models. Christian Doctrine made it easier to...

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