[The Introduction and a brief excerpt from chapter 1:]
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:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Chapter 16 - WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?: Fulfilling Our Purpose in the Twenty-First CenturyThere 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.