Monday, March 22, 2010

The Story of Christianity: Volume One, Ch. 1-6

I'm finally doing something that I've long had the desire to do: read up on church history.  I received both volumes of The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez for Christmas, and have found it very readable and interesting so far.  The first volume consists of 36 chapters cover the Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation.  Here are some main items of interest to me in the first sixth of the book:

(p. 15) "Rome had a vested interest in having her subjects from different lands believe that, although their gods had different names, they were ultimately the same gods...In that atmosphere, Jews and Christians were seen as unbending fanatics who insisted on the sole worship of their One God--an alien cyst that must be removed for the good of society."  (This, in combination with laws about emperor worship, was the reason for persecution.)

(p. 31-32) "Gentiles were invited to become children of Abraham by faith, since they could not be so by flesh.  This...was made possible because...Judaism had believed that through the advent of the Messiah all nations would be brought to Zion." (Early Christianity was not a rival religion, just another sect of Judaism.  Christians were initially persecuted by other Jews because they feared the Christian beliefs would incur the wrath of God for not being obedient enough. The distinction between Jews and Christians became clearer as more Gentiles converted and didn't want to be identified with the Jewish rebellion against Rome.)

(p. 35) "...all social activities [in Roman culture] --the theatre, the army, letters, sports--were so entwined with pagan worship that Christians often felt the need to abstain from them."  "Since Christians worshiped an invisible God, pagans often declared them to be atheists."

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