The History of Christianity
The true history of Christianity began with the earliest times of the Jewish religion. The Messiah concept had been an integral part of Jewish thought and sacred writings from its inception. In other religions in other cultures, similar beliefs were also common. The Christ principle (Messiah) was predicted in many societies, and it came to mankind in the Greco-Romanized Hebrew nation of the proto-Israel. So it was in the first century that Jesus was born to save mankind. His mission was novel, as it was based on LOVE, and redemption through LOVE, and Jesus’ Divine Sacrifice. God so loved the world He gave his only Son…
Moreover, a history of Christianity must encompass first the life of Jesus (and an understanding of the Jewish religion and how it had become), then Jesus’ teachings, and those he left behind (the 12 Apostles), and finally the establishment of the Christian Church, and how till now, it has evolved and served humanity.
Thinking of the world at the beginning of the first century, one finds an all powerful Rome with a Hellenized intellect. The great Greek philosophies had spread throughout the world, and had been infused in Roman culture. The Holy Land of the Jews was a vast breeding ground for world change, and the people were primed in waiting for the coming of a Messiah. There were signs from the Jewish scripture, and people could see them being fulfilled.
Such began the history of Christianity, with the Passion of Jesus, and the message of Jesus came across to the simple man; every man, as a clear road to his eternal redemption.
The history of Christianity cannot forgo even for a moment the principle that Jesus’ life was also his message, and that an ultimate sacrifice would be made to save mankind. This sacrifice was Jesus’ own life, and through the principle of “resurrection”, He showed that even death can be conquered. This became the major premise of the Christian message…and eventually became the Gospel, or Good Words.
The history of Christianity passed through Roman Empire, and eventually conquered it. The Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 legalized Christianity and in 380 became the official religion of Rome. The early Christians kept most of their Jewish heritage, until the great missionary period where the religion was brought to the non-Jewish world at large. There are many periods in the history of Christianity and indeed it’s a story now of over 2100 years. With the age of discovery, the Spanish, Portuguese, English and French brought Christianity to a great part of the world. Today there are over 2 Billion Christians following various interpretations of Christianity, but the Roman Catholic Church still remains the dominant institution. This is followed by the Russian-Greek-Eastern Orthodox Churches.
Although there is much dissention between the various approaches to Christianity, it is still embracing all who come to it for salvation. Unlike other religions that could not adapt to modern times (and there are today such religions that do not seem to fit the evolution of life and our world) the Christian Church (as a whole) has never lost its appropriateness, and its seemingly eternal youth. Gold is gold, no matter how long it is kept, and where, its basic quality remains. Such is the basis of Chrisitanity.
There are periods of great advances and retreats when one studies the history of Christianity, and not a few great Saints that have blessed it with their great lives. Indeed, one cannot study the history of Christianity without studying the history of man himself.