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The Social and Historical Impact of Christianity

by Jimmy Williams

Introduction

W.E.H. Lecky has commented on the Enlightenment that "The greatest religious change in the history of mankind" took place "under the eyes of a brilliant galaxy of philosophers and historians who disregarded as contemptible an Agency (Christianity) which all men must now admit to have been . . . the most powerful moral lever that has ever been applied to the affairs of men."

And yet, the West is in the process of abandoning its Judeo-Christian base which was the very source of this social development (Is this good or bad? Can we even ask such questions of history?).

The Negative Charge:

Christianity has been a repressive force against the advancement of civilization.

A. Karl Marx termed Christianity an opiate of the masses, a tool of exploitation.

B. Sigmund Freud called Christianity an illusion, a crutch, a source of guilt and pathologies.

C. Bertrand Russell: "I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of the moral progress in the world."

D. Arnold Toynbee: "When the Greco-Roman world was converted to Christianity, the divinity was drained out of nature and concentrated in a single, transcendent God. Man’s greedy impulse to exploit nature used to be held in check by his awe, his pious worship of nature. Now monotheism, as enunciated in Genesis, has removed the age-old restraint."

E. Gloria Steinem observed that human potential must replace God by the year 2000.

F. Lyn White: "Christians, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions, not only established a dualism of man and nature, but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends. The crisis will not abate until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man…

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The Social and Historical Impact of Christianity – Probe Ministries