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Christianity: The Base Of Society In Europe

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When you wake up in the morning, what do you do? Do you brush your teeth, shower, eat, or maybe even hit snooze on your alarm too many times? All of this seems like the norm with society nowadays, and there isn’t any problem with that. Have you ever thought about how you’ve got into this situation though? Maybe not the waking up routine, but more of your life as a whole. What do you do everyday that has been a routine all of your life, and where did these ideas come from? Well, I can provide a little insight into those questions, or more specifically, Christianity can. Early Christianity in Europe can link us to almost all modern culture without being very relevant to this day. But, to get a more firm grip on this concept, we need to know about the roots of Christianity in Europe, the fall of Christianity in Europe, and Christianity’s effect on modern society.

The most logical way to go about this, as with everything else, is to start at the beginning, and what better way to start than with the roots of christianity itself:

The coming of Christianity to Europe may in some ways be read as the leitmotif of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament… The church in Gaul is thought by many scholars to have been the source of the earliest Christian missions to the British Isles, which date from the second or third century, when some of the Celtic inhabitants of Britain were converted (hence the usual designation ‘Celtic church’) (encyclopedia).

From this quote we can see that christianity not only started as a religion in Europe very early on, but what was written in the New Testament was written with the purpose of spreading Christianity into Europe, and it’s impact was felt. The religion spread like a wildfire and took almost anything into its grip. People started including this idea into their everyday life. This could have been due to a lot of things, but the main thought was that when people started to think about death or what happened after life, they got scared, and they needed something to fall back onto. Because of this, they turned to religion. And while it was quite obvious that this religion could fuel the actions of almost anyone to do anything, it wasn’t proven until Emperor Constantine:

The event with the most far-reaching consequences for the history of European Christianity, indeed for the history of Christianity everywhere, was the conversion of the emperor Constantine and the ensuing transformation of the Roman Empire into a Christian empire. That change took place on European soil when, in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312, Constantine defeated the forces of his rival Maxentius, who was emperor for Italy and Africa, and thus became sole emperor. Attributing his victory to the Christian God (encyclopedia).

But, reading this does bring up some questions in most people’s minds, the biggest one being, is all of this power really good for the people? The answer, it seems, is a little more complicated.

Christianiy was able to keep a sort of peace for a while, if you exclude people taking things uncontested “in the name of God”. But, as all things do, Christianity brought some full fledged violence:

Germany, France, and the Netherlands each achieved a settlement of the religious problem by means of war… The population of Lutheran Württemberg, for example, which was occupied by the imperialists between 1634 and 1638, fell from 450,000 to 100,000; material damage was estimated at 34 million thalers (Weinstein).

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As the quote states, the most common way to settle disputes was war, and it clearly took a toll. With just a very broad view of what was a very intense time, it’s easy to see that these wars did nothing but damage the integrity of everyone. People are smart though, and even if it did take them a long time to figure out, they did figure out that war was not the best answer:

One hundred and ninety-four European rulers, great and small, were represented at the Congress of Westphalia, and talks went on constantly from the spring of 1643 until the autumn of l648. The outstanding issues of the war were solved in two phases: the first, which lasted from November 1645 until June 1647, saw the chief imperial negotiator, Maximilian, Count Trauttmannsdorf, settle most issues; the second, which continued from then until the treaty of peace was signed in October 1648 (Weinstein).

These resolutions that they discussed for many years seemed to work. And even though countries like France didn’t always agree with the compromises, they knew that they were better than the alternative. With the wars finally behind the countries, the story of christianity leading up to modern day seems to be that of any other religion or leadership. There was corruption, deceit, discontent, and even some rebellion, but at the end of the day, it has lasted the test of time.

With the background of christianity in Europe known, it’s easy now to make connections to modern culture. Obviously I could talk about corruption and war, but what I want to talk about is Christianities effect on modern society, like religion and beliefs:

Surprisingly, Islam has a lot of the same foundations that Christianity has. People of both faiths believe in similar rules given by God for all people and obeying them keeps humankind in a right relationship with God. Both Muslims and most Christians believe Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was born miraculously (Bailey).

As the quote says, there are religions that have some similar beliefs that Christianity has. Now, this is not to say that all religions, even ones with similarities, are direct offshoots of Christianity, but with transformations of many things, including religion, over the years, it is quite safe to say that Christianity has some sort of influence on religion, even if it’s miniscule. But, what about things outside of religion:

A recent study has shown that the rise and spread of stable democracies in the non-Western world can be attributed primarily to the impact of Protestant missionaries. According to a study by sociologist Robert Woodberry,{28} the impact of these missionaries far exceeds that of fifty other control variables such as gross domestic product and whether or not a nation was a British colony. One would think that having a healthy amount of production per individual would be one of the biggest factors leading to a stable democratic government. But the data shows that it has been much more important to have the teaching and leadership development provided by Protestant missionaries (Cable).

As the quote says, christian missionaries not only had an important part in spreading “the word of God”, but they also had an important impact on the leadership roles in current day society. With this being known, it makes me wonder how different society could be today without the impact of christianity, but that research is for a diferent time.

Now that we understand not only the history of Christianity, but the impact it has as well, it’s easy to see how Early Christianity in Europe can link us to almost all modern culture without being very relevant to this day. That’s not to say that it isn’t relevant to this day, but it doesn’t have to be to mold our culture. And whether or not you are religous, there is almost always going to be a connecion to religion in your everyday life.

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Christianity: The Base Of Society In Europe. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/christianity-the-base-of-society-in-europe/
“Christianity: The Base Of Society In Europe.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/christianity-the-base-of-society-in-europe/
Christianity: The Base Of Society In Europe. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/christianity-the-base-of-society-in-europe/> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
Christianity: The Base Of Society In Europe [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2023 Feb 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/christianity-the-base-of-society-in-europe/
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