10 Ways Christianity Has Made the World a Better Place

10 Ways Christianity Has Made the World a Better Place
Christianity has changed the world in so many significant ways, many of which we are probably not even aware of on a daily basis. In his new book "Unimaginable: What our World Would be Like without Christianity," Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston explores the ways in which Christianity has impacted the world for good and also what the world would be like if not for Jesus and the values He instills in every human life. Dr. Johnston looks at the impact Christianity has had--and is having--on the world from a cultural, historical, political, and personal standpoint. Below are excerpts based on Dr. Johnston's new book which draw attention to ten specific ways in which Christianity has influenced and changed the world for the better.

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

  • 1. The world looks radically different with the introduction of Christianity. What are the major changes, culturally?


    The single greatest change was the concept that God loved his creation and especially human beings. In the pre-Christian world the gods were indifferent to humanity. Indeed, sometimes the gods were jealous of humans. Humans feared the gods and tried to placate them, even bribe them. But Christians proclaimed that “God is love” and that God sent his Son to bring reconciliation between God and humanity. Ancient pagans had never heard of such a thing. The idea that God actually loved them and was willing to send his Son to serve humanity, even die for humanity was almost incomprehensible. 

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

  • 2. How has Christ changed the overall worldview of most people in our modern culture?


    The impact of Jesus Christ on the world is huge, probably impossible to measure fully. Thanks to Jesus most of the world now believes in one God (most of the pre-Christian world had been polytheistic). Moreover, most world believes that Jesus was a very significant person, even if many do not believe in him in the way Christians do. Consequently, many of Jesus’ teachings are heeded, at least to some extent. The result is that much of the world has been Christianized to some extent and that has resulted in an enormous improvement in quality of life.

     

    Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

  • 3. Why did Christianity attract such an incredible following so quickly?


    Christianity spread rapidly for two principal reasons: (1) Christians embraced the God of Abraham, that is, God of the Jewish people. Many pagans were sensing that Jewish monotheism made more sense than pagan polytheism. (2) The message of the resurrection, heavily backed by credible eyewitness testimony, provided the world with an assurance regarding salvation and life beyond this world that the world had never known or even imagined before. The message that God had raised up Jesus was the all-time game-changer.

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

  • 4. Why was a loving God, rather than a vengeful one so revolutionary?


    Most pagans believed that the gods felt little or no compassion for humans. Some gods were even jealous of humans who were beautiful, gifted, or whatever. The gods of the pagans were petty, easily offended, and vengeful. Indeed, the gods were often deceitful and could not be trusted. This is why the God of Jesus, described as a heavenly Father, who loved his children, who was patient with his children when they were foolish and sinful, and who was a wholly reliable, faithful God of truth was simply mind-boggling for pagans. 

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/leolintang

  • 5. How was the historic Jewish culture NOT embracing the values which Christianity brought to the table?


    The Jewish culture of the time of Jesus drew a sharp line between the Jewish people, on the one hand, and non-Jews (i.e., Gentiles), on the other. Jesus reached out in compassion to non-Jews. He even stated that food did not make anyone impure. These ideas were adopted by his followers, leading Paul, for example, to declare that in Jesus Christ “there is neither Jew nor Gentile.” Such an idea was revolutionary, both for Jews as well as for Gentiles. Jewish culture resisted such an idea. 

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

  • 6. The regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Mao Zedong all had atheist roots. Why were these men drawn to atheist thought?


    All four of these men had broken relationships with their fathers. Their fathers were violent or atheists or both. Atheism served Hitler and company well because without God one could easily do away with the Judeo-Christian world view and the ethics and morals that went with it. With God out of the picture it was easier to argue for the elimination of unwanted people, easier to justify violence, easier to justify war, easier to promote a superior race or ideology that trampled people under foot. In short, if you want to be a thug, it’s a lot easier without God muddying the waters.

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Alex Linch

     

  • 7. You attribute social and cultural freedoms of women to Christianity, too. Will you explain how Christ brought equality to fruition? Why was the early church so attractive to women?


    The Jewish scriptures taught that God made humans in his image. Jesus and his followers rightly inferred from this teaching that men and women were equal. Men and women may have different, complementary roles in family and the public, but in the eyes of God they are equals. Early Christians demonstrated this belief by entrusting positions of leadership to women. Gifted, educated women were permitted to speak in the Christian communities and churches and exercise leadership. The church also showed compassion to the sick, poor, and homeless. The church’s compassion and mercy attracted women, who often felt abused and unloved. 

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

  • 8. Why does our world still struggle with many of the values which Christ ingrained?


    Many of the values of Christ clash with selfish worldly values. Even when the human conscience tells us that this or that is wrong, we often will do it. Humans want to do what they want to do and they do not want any authority to say, “That is wrong.” It is a lot like discipline: The child gets angry and wants to strike out; or the child wants to eat ice-cream and not his dinner. So it is with adults. We often want to do things that will hurt ourselves or others. We are all too willing to cause long-term damage for immediate gratification. 

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/FotoDuets

  • 9. 'Unimaginable' highlights the traumas of many atheist figures; what differentiates the growth of hatred and love/redemption?


    Without forgiveness and redemption, trauma can lead to hatred and a desire for vengeance, even self-destruction. Hitler, Stalin, and other violent tyrants suffered traumas in childhood and youth and experienced no love and no redemption. Why some people respond to God’s loving grace and find redemption and others do not is difficult to say. Hitler himself had a moment when a priest confronted him and challenged to abandon his evil, violent past. He was initially shaken, but then chose to ignore the pastoral warning. Hitler hardened his hearted, even as Pharaoh did thousands of years ago, and then led Germany on a path that resulted in unimaginable death and destruction.

     

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

  • 10. How has Christianity ultimately brought the only redemption available to us?


    Christianity is the only faith that holds the view that God himself has purchased our redemption. In no other religious thought or system do we find God or a god who suffers for humanity and in doing so brings about redemption. All other systems teach either that we learn to accept life as it is or that we attempt to redeem ourselves. It is not a surprise that the Christian message of a loving, redeeming God has attracted 2.4 billion followers, more followers than in any other faith.

     

    Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D., is president of Christian Thinkers Society, a Resident Institute at Houston Baptist University where he also serves at Associate Professor of Early Christianity and author of the new book Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianitywhich will be released on December 5, 2017.

    Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstockphotos.com

    Publication date: November 28, 2017