Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why so... Comprehensive?

A fourth reason for Christianity's success is to be found in its inclusiveness. More than any of its competitors it attracted all races and classes ... Judaism never quite escaped from its racial bonds ... Christianity however gloried in its appeal to Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian. The philosophies never really won the allegiance of the masses ... they appealed primarily to the educated [the morally and socially cultured] ... Christianity, however ... drew the lowly and unlettered ... yet also developed a philosophy which commanded the respect of many of the learned ... Christianity, too, was for both sexes, whereas two of its main rivals were primarily for men. The Church welcomed both rich and poor. In contrast with it, the mystery cults were usually for people of means: initiation into them was expensive ... No other [religion] took in so many groups and strata of society ... The query must be raised of why this comprehensiveness came to be. It was not in Judaism. Why did it appear in Christianity?

-- K.S. Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity.

1 comment:

  1. "Christianity, too, was for both sexes"

    Christianity was still a bit patriarchal, which you can see in passages such as 1 Corinthians 11:4-15, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, and Ephesians 5:22-24.

    I think the biggest reason for Christianity's expansion is because of the aggressive missionary campaigns performed by the Europeans when they colonized the Americas and Africa. Of course, there are numerous other reasons (not all cynical) for why Christianity become widespread.