Devotional Thoughts

What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?:
The Positive Impact Of Christianity In Society

by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe
(as found in What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?: The Positive Impact Of Christianity In Society)

[The Introduction and a brief excerpt from chapter 1:]

 
INTRODUCTION

We live in an age in which only one prejudice is tolerated—antiChristian bigotry. Michael Novak, the eminent columnist, once said that today you can no longer hold up to public pillorying and ridicule groups such as African-Americans or Native Americans or women or homosexuals or Poles, and so on. Today, the only group you can hold up to public mockery is Christians. Attacks on the Church and Christianity are common. As Pat Buchanan once put it, "Christianbashing is a popular indoor sport."

But the truth is this: Had Jesus never been born, this world would be far more miserable than it is. In fact, many of man's noblest and kindest deeds find their motivation in love for Jesus Christ; and some of our greatest accomplishments also have their origin in service rendered to the humble Carpenter of Nazareth. To prove that truth is the purpose of this book.

Chapter 1 - CHRIST AND CIVILIZATION: A Quick Overview of Christ's Impact on World History

A QUICK OVERVIEW

Despite its humble origins, the Church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement of force in history. To get an overview of some of the positive contributions Christianity has made through the centuries, here are a few highlights:

  • Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
  • Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world's greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
  • Literacy and education for the masses.
  • Capitalism and free enterprise.
  • Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment.
  • The separation of political powers.
  • Civil liberties.
  • The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times.
  • Modern science.
  • The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
  • The elevation of women.
  • Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic.
  • Higher standards of justice.
  • The elevation of the common man.
  • The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache.
  • High regard for human life.
  • The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
  • The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world's languages.
  • Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
  • The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel.
  • The eternal salvation of countless souls.

The last one mentioned, the salvation of souls, is the primary goal of the spread of Christianity. All the other benefits listed are basically just by-products of what Christianity has often brought when applied to daily living. The rest of this book is devoted to demonstrating how all of these benefits to mankind have their origins in the Christian faith.

When Jesus Christ took upon Himself the form of man, He imbued mankind with a dignity and inherent value that had never been dreamed of before. Whatever Jesus touched or whatever He did transformed that aspect of human life. Many people will read about the innumerable small incidents in the life of Christ while never dreaming that those casually mentioned "little" things were to transform the history of humankind.
 

[Remaining chapter titles and introductory remarks for each:]

 
Chapter 2 - IN THE IMAGE OF GOD: Christianity's Impact on the Value of Human Life

What is the most important thing to come out of a mine?" asked a French engineer of his students about a century ago. After the pupils named various minerals, he corrected them: "The most important thing to come out of the mine was the miner." I agree and submit that this view of human life is embraced only where the gospel of Jesus Christ has deeply penetrated.
     Prior to the coming of Christ, human life on this planet was exceedingly cheap. Life was expendable prior to Christianity's influence. Even today, in parts of the world where the gospel of Christ or Christianity has not penetrated, life is exceedingly cheap. But Jesus Christ -- He who said, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5) -- gave mankind a new perspective on the value of human life. Furthermore, Christianity bridged the gap between the Jews -- who first received the divine revelation that man was made in God's image -- and the pagans, who attributed little value to human life. Meanwhile, as we in the post-Christian West abandon our JudeoChristian heritage, life is becoming cheap once again.

Chapter 3 - COMPASSION AND MERCY: Christianity's Contribution to Helping the Poor

Saint Laurence was a deacon in the Christian Church, who was quite generous, especially to the poor. He lived in Aragon of the Roman Empire of the third century. During one of the persecutions, he was ordered to bring to a Roman official some of "the treasures of the Church." What he brought were some poor, downtrodden, and lame people, and he said of them, "These are the treasures of the Church." For this response, he was roasted to death on a gridiron.
     Today in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, area there is a day shelter for homeless people named after him -- St. Laurence Chapel. This shelter feeds the homeless, provides a mailbox, job counseling and referrals, a shower and bathroom, chapel services, a telephone, and more.
     While poverty has always been a part of life on earth, the Church of Jesus Christ has done more -- and often still does more -- than any other institution in history to alleviate poverty. Furthermore, it has set the pattern for relief that is copied worldwide. From Third World orphanages to inner-city rescue missions to the Salvation Army providing shelter for a family whose home just went up in flames, the sun never sets on Christians -- individually and corporately -- meeting human needs in the name of Jesus. It was He who gave us the example in the first place, and He taught us to imitate Him.

Chapter 4 - EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE: Christianity's Contribution to Education

Every school you see -- public or private, religious or secular -- is a visible reminder of the religion of Jesus Christ. So is every college and university. This is not to say that every school is Christian. Often the exact opposite is true. But the fact is that the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in Christianity. Nor is this to say that there wasn't education before Christianity, but it was for the elite only. Christianity gave rise to the concept of education for everyone. Furthermore, the phenomenon of the university has its roots in the Christian faith as well; the greatest universities worldwide were started by Christians for Christian purposes. While many of them may be quite hostile today to the Christian faith, the fact is that it was through the sweat and sacrifice of Christians that Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and others were created.

Chapter 5 - GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE: Christianity's Impact on the Founding of America

In late 1992, Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice raised a firestorm of controversy by [publicly] declaring that America is a "Christian nation." So much so that by the end of the week of his declaration, he felt forced to apologize. One newspaper, in commenting on the whole story, summed it up well: "The label 'Christian nation' has become fighting words."
     Many years ago, a leading American had the audacity to say something similar to what Governor Fordice said:

I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Saviour have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. . . . Whether we look to the first Charter of Virginia . . . or to the Charter of New England . . . or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay . . . or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut . . . the same objective is present; a Christian land governed by Christian perspectives.
     Who made this outlandish, politically incorrect statement? Jerry Falwell? Billy Graham? Dan Quayle? No, it was no less than Earl Warren. Warren, who was then governor of California, spoke these words in 1954. He later became chief justice of the Supreme Court and ironically did much, whether inadvertently or purposefully, to chisel away America's Christian heritage, which he had apparently admired earlier in his life.
     Exactly how much is -- or was -- America a "Christian nation"? The purpose of this chapter is to show how the Christian faith played a vital role in the development of the United States of America and has given the world a great model of good government. Had Jesus never been born, there never would have been an America. And as we move away from Christ in this nation, we are cutting off the very root of what has made this nation great in the first place. Two resources that are quite helpful on this subject are David Barton's Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion (Aledo, TX: WallBuilders, Inc., 1996) and John Eidsmoe's Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987).
     In the history of the world, there has never been a nation like the United States of America in terms of the religious, political, and economic liberties we've enjoyed. Like no other country before it, the United States has helped pave the way for similar representative governments around the world. America has been a beacon to the world. Even today, people voting with their feet will risk death (e.g., on the open seas) to take advantage of the source of these freedoms. Take away Christianity, and there would be no America as we know it. Although Christianity has brought much good in the political shaping of other nations, we want to focus on the United States in this chapter because it seems to have emerged in the last two hundred years as the world's best hope and as the highest model for freedom.
     Today there are those who gnash their teeth at the very mention of the fact that America was founded as a Christian nation. But the facts of history are not easily dismissed, though they are certainly ignored in our schools and in many of our modern, revisionist history books. Consider even the phrase "government of the people, for the people, by the people." That comes from fourteenth-century Oxford professor, John Wycliffe, "the Morning Star of the Reformation," who initiated the first complete translation of the Bible into English. He declared, "This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Chapter 6 - FREEDOM FOR ALL: Christianity's Contribution to Civil Liberties

Radio commentator Paul Harvey tells of an experiment involving a chimpanzee to which scientists were determined to teach written communication. For fourteen years, project directors labored diligently and patiently with this chimpanzee, providing things in its cage to enable it to form certain syllables.
     Finally, the day arrived when it seemed that the chimpanzee was actually going to construct a sentence from the symbols it had been learning. Word went out, and other scientists crowded into the room and gathered around the cage. They watched breathlessly as symbols were formed into words and into a sentence. At last, the first message from the world's most pampered, most cared for, most patiently trained chimpanzee was about to come forth. The scientists could hardly contain themselves as they pressed around the cage to read the history-making sentence.
     Said the chimpanzee: "Let me out!"
     All of the training, all of the pampering, all of the feeding does not mean a thing as long as there is no freedom. And Christianity has contributed so greatly toward human freedom and civil liberties that had Jesus never been born, I daresay freedom would not exist at all, or if did, it would be the exclusive domain of the elite.
     Jesus Christ is the greatest emancipator in the history of the world. What freedom we have in this world we owe to Christ and to His Word. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Wherever the Word has gone, tyrants have trembled, despots have been cast from the throne, and people have become free. The tremendous liberties and freedoms we own in this country we owe primarily to the Word of God. Andrew Jackson said, "That book, sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests." When that book falls, I assure you that the liberties you enjoy will go with it.

Chapter 7 - THINKING GOD'S THOUGHTS AFTER HIM: Christianity's Impact on Science

Ours is preeminently the scientific age, where science has come to its mastery of the world. It used to be said that we live in the age of the steam engine or the electric age. Now, more properly, it is called the nuclear age, the atomic age, the electronic age, the computer age, the information age, or the space age. All of which is simply to say that we live, unquestionably, in the age of science.
     It may seem strange to many people that we would include a chapter on science in a book on the blessings Christianity has bequeathed to the world. Hasn't religion always been the enemy of science? No! Furthermore, many scholars agree that the scientific revolution that gained great momentum in the seventeenth century was birthed for the most part by Reformed Christianity. If Jesus had never been born, science would likely not have come into being.
     Think of all the ways in which our lives have been improved by the scientific revolution. I believe that had Christ never come, you would not be reading this book by electric light. You would not have a microwave oven, a television, or a radio. If Christ had never been born, there would be no computers or microchips, no planes or rocket ships. If Christ had never been born, we would never have had the scientific revolution that came into being when people began to "think God's thoughts after Him."
     A number of scholars have commented on how Christianity gave birth to modern science. Francis Schaeffer mentions a few of them:

Both Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967) have stressed that modern science was born out of the Christian world view. Whitehead was a widely respected mathematician and philosopher, and Oppenheimer, after he became director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1947, wrote on a wide range of subjects related to science. . . . Whitehead [in his 1925 book, Science and the Modern World] said that Christianity is the mother of science because of "the medieval insistence on the rationality of God."
     What is science and what is the Christian view of it? Science comes from the Latin term scientia, which simply means "knowledge." God is said to be omniscientia, or omniscient -- all-knowing. But modern science is that peculiar blend of deduction and induction, of rationalism and empiricism that came into being in the sixteenth century and has given rise to what we know as the Scientific Age.

Chapter 8 - FREE ENTERPRISE AND THE WORK ETHIC: Christianity's Impact on Economics

Fidel Castro has on occasion reluctantly admitted that he admires many of the evangelicals in Cuba. This is because they are hard workers; they show up to work on time; they don't cheat the system. In short, although he would vehemently disagree with their worldview, the Communist dictator recognizes the utilitarian value of their putting into practice the Christian work ethic. This is the same ethic that helped to bring about prosperity in America, which he so often vilifies.
     If Jesus had never been born, it is unlikely that capitalism and the free enterprise system -- which has brought unparalleled prosperity to billions of people -- would ever have developed. In this chapter, I will trace the links between the Christian faith and the prosperity enjoyed in the West, particularly in the United States. As John Chamberlain writes in The Roots of Capitalism, "Christianity tends to create a capitalistic mode of life whenever siege conditions do not prevail."

Chapter 9 - THE BEAUTY OF SEXUALITY: Christianity's Impact on Sex and the Family

In the historical novel The Last Days of Pompeii, one character says of another: "Ione has but one vice -- she is chaste." This one statement from a fictional character well sums up the attitude toward sex prior to the coming of Jesus Christ. It is also the attitude many have adopted today with the rise of neo-paganism.
     The impact of Christianity on sex has been positive or negative depending on whom you ask. The hedonist -- ancient or modern -- will tell you the Christian faith has had a terrible record on the issue of sex. One modern protester's placard sums it up well: "Get your Bible out of my pants!" But from a Christian perspective, sex is holy in the context of marriage. Any deviation from that is wrong. While the Church has had some problems along the way with some anti-sex heresies and even some important leaders who appeared to be against sex (apart from sex for procreation), the overall track record of the Church has been extremely positive.
     Christianity has helped to preserve the family as the basic unit of society. It has prevented millions of people from getting sexually transmitted diseases. And it has prevented much unhappiness on the part of those who obey the biblical teaching. This is still the case today: Many Christians (we would wish more) have saved their virginity until marriage and are spared from all manner of diseases and sorrows. Today, in the wake of the Sexual Revolution, with the extensive spread of sexually transmitted diseases, many people are beginning to see that the Bible was right all along.

Chapter 10 - HEALING THE SICK: Christianity's Impact on Health and Medicine

In 1931 some North American missionaries started a Christian, short-wave radio station in Quito, Ecuador, that ministered throughout Latin America and beyond. After a while, indigent people from neighboring countries came to the radio station seeking medical help. They somehow assumed that these people who were ministering to their souls would also minister to their bodies. So in the 1950s, this station -- HCJB, Voz Andes ("Voice of the Andes") -- added a hospital to its mission, and today it is one of the chief hospitals in the whole country. This is one of thousands of examples in the Christian era of believers meeting health needs in the name of Christ -- a natural outworking of Christianity in action.
     Christianity has made significant contributions in the realm of health. First of all, applied Christian living is healthy. Second, Christianity played an important role in the development of the institution of the hospital, to the point that some historians attribute the creation of the hospital per se to Christianity. The example and teaching of Jesus has inspired ministers, priests, monks, nuns, missionaries, and untold numbers of laymen to bring medical help to the poor in virtually every country of the world. Often, Western medicine has been introduced to a Third World country or to a primitive culture by Christian missionaries. In short, had Jesus not come, medicine would not be as widespread, nor would it ever have been as compassionate.

Chapter 11 - THE CIVILIZING OF THE UNCIVILIZED: Christianity's Impact on Morality

In the last century, there was a great attack on foreign missionaries in the London Times. An experienced traveler wrote a letter to the editor in which he criticized this attitude. The letter writer said that such an attitude on the part of a voyager was particularly inexcusable -- for should he happen to be cast ashore on some uncharted island, he would devoutly pray that the lesson of the missionary had preceded him! The writer of the letter was no less than Charles Darwin, later an enemy of the Christian faith. Nonetheless, he recognized the utilitarian value of the faith.
     Nothing in the annals of history compares to what Christianity has done, and can still do, to civilize barbaric people. Nothing! Much of the "civilized" attitudes we have in society ultimately come from our Judeo-Christian heritage.
     The Western world in particular owes a great debt of gratitude to the Christian faith for the way it has changed the uncivilized tribes, peoples, and nations into a much more humane lot. This includes the Franks, from whom comes the name France, the Anglo-Saxons, and the notorious Vikings. Even today, when we do not act humane, it is by a Christian criterion that our behavior is deemed inhumane. Like no other force in history, Christianity has elevated the standard of morality worldwide.

Chapter 12 - INSPIRING THE WORLD'S GREATEST ART: Christianity's Impact on the Arts and Music

You've probably seen them repeatedly throughout your life. You've seen them reproduced in books, magazines, wall plaques, and in embroidery. What we're talking about is "the praying hands," which are based on a 500-year-old woodcut by Christian artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) from Germany. But do you know the touching story behind that woodcut? Dürer and an older friend were aspiring artists. But they were both so poor that they lived together to cut down on their expenses. They entered into an agreement that one would work so the other could study and paint; and then after a few years, the other would reciprocate. Dürer volunteered to work first, but his friend, seeing greater potential in Dürer's abilities, insisted that his younger friend study and paint first.
     [After] several years of hard work, when it was time to trade places, the friend of Dürer could no longer paint; his hands were too worn and stiff. He had missed his chance to paint so that the world would be made richer by Albrecht Dürer's God-given talent. But being a man of prayer, he wasn't embittered. One day, when Dürer found his friend in prayer, his "work-worn" hands inspired him to make the wood cut. And now you know the significance of those praying hands that you've seen countless times.
     Jesus Christ has given art its loftiest themes. As one writer put it, the idea that God spared not His Son but delivered Him up for us all has "inspired the highest flights that pictorial art has reached." Many of the greatest masterpieces in the world have had a Christian theme or base. Often the Church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, has been a major patron of the arts. The great cathedrals of Europe are among the finest architectural masterpieces known, and their inspiration comes from Jesus. It was a servant of Christ, Bach (a man who dedicated every note he wrote to the glory of Jesus Christ), who changed Western music for all time. Had Jesus never been born, art would depict only the finite. The attempt to capture the Infinite on canvas or in stone would never have been introduced. In short, had Jesus never come, the world would be poorer, even in the realms of art and music.
     Unfortunately, many Christians today don't seem to put much emphasis on the fine arts. They are, as Franky Schaeffer once put it, "addicted to mediocrity." But we believe that in all areas, our lives must be explicitly offered to God and to His glory. All the world is to be subdued for Jesus Christ. We are called to be conquerors in the name of the King. We are, as it were, the copartners of God in the conquest of this world. We need to go and conquer in the name of Christ and bring His Word to bear on all things and then offer them to His glory. This is as true in the arts as in any other field.
     Both the Old and the New Testaments have provided art with some of its greatest subjects. Prior to Christianity, Jews interpreted the second commandment so strictly that visual art was rare. Richard Muhlberger, an art museum curator and author of The Bible in Art: Old Testament and The Bible in Art: New Testament, writes: "The advent of Christianity brought forth a desire to match words with images, and since then the texts of the Old Testament have held a place in art equal to those of the Gospels and Epistles." If Jesus had never been born, there would be no art from the Old Testament as well as the New.

Chapter 13 - AMAZING GRACE: Lives Changed by Jesus Christ

In the nineteenth century, Charles Bradlaugh, a prominent atheist, challenged a Christian man to a debate on the validity of the claims of Christianity. The Christian, Hugh Price Hughes, was an active soul-winner working among the poor in the slums of London. Hughes told Bradlaugh he would agree to the debate on one condition.
     Hughes said, "I propose to you that we each bring some concrete evidences of the validity of our beliefs in the form of men and women who have been redeemed from the lives of sin and shame by the influence of our teaching. I will bring 100 such men and women, and I challenge you to do the same."
     Hughes then said that if Bradlaugh couldn't bring 100, then he could bring 50; if he couldn't bring 50, then he could bring 20. He finally whittled the number down to one. All Bradlaugh had to do was to find one person whose life was improved by atheism and Hughes -- who would bring 100 people improved by Christ -- would agree to debate him. Bradlaugh withdrew! If such a debate challenge and counterchallenge were offered today, the response would be comparable. People are not improved by atheism, unless they so define that as abandoning a twisted form of Christianity that isn't Christianity at all! But people are improved by the gospel of Christ. In this chapter, we'll meet:
     • a Parisian playboy
     • a fourth-century skeptic who lived according to the flesh
     • a twentieth-century skeptic who lived according to the flesh
     • a woman with seven demons
     • a cheat who lived high off the hog on his neighbors
     • an accomplice to murder
     • a ruthless politician who used dirty tricks to advance his politics
     • a drunk
     • a slave-trader
     • a headhunter
     • a prisoner of war consumed by hatred of his captors
     • the Japanese captain who led the raid on Pearl Harbor
     See if you recognize them as you read along. All of these people have one thing in common: They were changed from what they were to a new creation in Jesus Christ. This change was from "the inside out."
     Jesus Christ is in the business of changing people's lives. From the first century to the present, He has been active in the miracle of transforming human hearts. In His own day, there was a dishonest and greedy tax collector named Zacchaeus, whom Christ changed into a generous man (Luke 19:1–9). As a tax collector at that time and in that context, he was living well through the extortion of his neighbors -- until he met Jesus. On the occasion of Zacchaeus's conversion, Jesus said: "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).
     There was a woman of ill repute -- Mary Magdalene -- from whom Jesus cast out seven demons; He then made her part of His mission. In God's providence, He allowed Mary Magdalene to be the first person to see Christ after His resurrection. He took a life that was meaningless and menacing to society and changed that life into one that had meaning and was contributory to society.
     Jesus transformed the life of an accomplice to murder into one of those who would have the greatest impact on the world, and particularly Western civilization -- the apostle Paul. In a special issue of U.S. News & World Report magazine, historian Daniel J. Boorstin wrote an article entitled, "History's Hidden Turning Points," and subtitled, "The true watersheds in human affairs are seldom spotted quickly amid the tumult of headlines broadcast on the hour." The first major watershed he wrote about was "The Momentous Mission of the Apostle Paul." Boorstin observes:

Contemporary historians did not deem him worthy of a single mention, having no inkling of how great a tent maker Paul of Tarsus was. They could not know that he was erecting the theological tent of Christianity, making it broad enough to accommodate all manner of humankind, to girdle the globe and to survive two millenniums as a major force in history.
     This achievement is even more significant when we realize that Paul initially persecuted the Christians and was a willing accessory to the murder of Stephen, the first recorded Christian martyr (Acts 7:58; 8:1, 3). But the Saul who had been active in serious persecution of Christians became a totally new man thanks to Jesus Christ. As Paul (formerly Saul) himself wrote, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17 KJV).
     But this story, written on human hearts, is no mere quaint tale that happened long ago and far away and is no longer seen in our day -- like the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. The story of Christ changing the human heart is found throughout the centuries and is happening today. Even many of you reading this book can testify that Jesus has changed you for the better. Had Jesus not come, these lives would yet be in their sins; many of them might be dead because of drugs or alcohol or suicide or gang membership.
     In accounting terms, Jesus takes liabilities to society and transforms them into assets. He did it in His day; He has done it through the centuries; He does it in our day; He can do it for you. The liability becomes an asset, when Christ is part of the equation. In this chapter, we will explore a few prominent conversions through the centuries and conclude by showing how Christ can change your life too if you don't know Him.

Chapter 14 - THE SINS OF THE CHURCH: Negative Aspects of Christianity in History

Despite all the good done in the name of Christ that we've explored in the preceding chapters, we would be remiss not to address the issue of the negative aspect of the Church's record in history. To some people the Church's credibility has been forever ruined by these "sins of the Church." But that is as fair as saying that Judas Iscariot is representative of the twelve apostles!
     The Church has never been perfect. Far from it. But the total record should be examined. In doing so, the good far, far outweighs the bad. Besides, Christian belief is in Christ, not in Christians. Despite all the good the Church has done and continues to do, we're reminded ad nauseum about the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch-hunts -- as if they are the sum total of the Christian record in history.
     I heard a man recently talk about evangelical Christianity, saying that the endeavors of religion trying to affect the life of mankind have only led to incidents like the Inquisition, or to men like the Ayatollah Khomeini. I thought how ignorant this person must be. There are so many who do not even know enough about history to be aware that evangelical Christians were receiving the tortures of the Inquisition and not giving them. To compare evangelical Christianity to the fanatical Muslim faith of the Ayatollah Khomeini, for whom Christianity has long been one of the most despised of faiths, is like saying, "Rulers and governors have been a great scourge upon earth. Think about the terrible rulers of the world and what a mixed curse they have been. There have been Genghis Kahn, Attila the Hun, Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, George Washington, and Joseph Stalin." Anyone who would offer such a mixture is simply saying that he knows absolutely nothing about history, government, or politics.
     Genuine Christianity must be distinguished from nominal Christianity. Some people have called themselves "Christians" who have lived in total opposition to the principles and teachings of the Master from Nazareth. But when we distinguish between name and reality, we see that genuine Christianity has been an unmixed blessing on the world.
     One last introductory observation: While Jesus told us to love our neighbor and even our enemies, He did predict that Christianity would prove divisive per se. Jesus said:

Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51–53)
     Now, the Scripture teaches we are to be at peace with all, inasmuch as it is up to us (Rom. 12:18). But we are to put Christ first in our lives, even if that goes against the wishes of family members. True faith can elicit a hostile reaction, even when practiced with a gentle and humble spirit. The division that Christ talked about here is the natural outworking of unbelief reacting against godliness, or belief reacting against ungodliness. Now, let's examine some of the most prominent, dark moments in Church history.

Chapter 15 - A CRUEL WORLD: What Happens When Christian Restraints Are Removed

During one of the darkest periods of World War II, after the collapse of France and before American involvement, Churchill wrote that the question in the minds of friends and foes was: "Will Britain surrender too?" At the time, he made a speech that contained this sentence: "What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation." The great statesman -- probably the finest in the twentieth century -- recognized the link between Christianity and civility, in contrast with neo-paganism and tyranny. Providentially, Christian civilization won. But where it has lost, all manner of terrors have been unleashed.
     In the preceding chapter, we looked at the sins of the Church. In this chapter, we want to look at the sins of atheism, particularly in the twentieth century.

Chapter 16 - WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?: Fulfilling Our Purpose in the Twenty-First Century

There are countless blessings that the Christian faith has helped bring about that are not mentioned in this book because of space limitations or because the authors weren't even aware of them. We have clearly geared this book to a North American audience; similar books could be written to audiences of other continents. We pray that God would use this book to spawn similar studies for His glory.
     "Religion begat prosperity, but the daughter hath consumed the mother," so wrote Cotton Mather, the great Puritan divine. As we have seen on page after page of this book, many of the good things we enjoy today grew out of the religion of Jesus Christ, but He is often denied the credit.
 

Related: The Genesis of Human Dignity: What the World Owes the Bible