How Christians Can ‘Outthink, Outlive, Outpray’ Today’s Many Small Gods

Ancient, false religion has been reinvented in our day. Early Christians’ answers can guide us.

By Tom Gilson

Christians today could learn a lot from our earliest fathers in the faith. Overcoming great obstacles, they led the Church to explosive growth. They did it, many say, by outthinking, outliving, and outpraying those who opposed them.

Old answers are relevant in new ways now, as ancient religion has resurfaced in reinvented form. Western progressives have rediscovering the worship of multiple gods: millions of them, actually. Today’s progressives are too sophisticated to believe in supernatural beings, but they’ve deified themselves anyway. They may not be pagan like the ancient Greeks and Romans, and their gods are certainly smaller, but they’ve got just as many.

It’s a bizarre world we live in: We’ve never seen widespread self-deification quite like this before. Yet we can recognize something familiar in it, if we view it as a sort of re-invented polytheism. Christianity has plenty of experience with that, including the first few centuries after Christ’s ministry on earth.

Christianity grew like crazy during those first few hundred years — about 40 percent per decade, according to Rodney Stark. (It’s still growing rapidly — a fact too few people are aware of — in Asia, Africa, and South America.)

So yes, we could learn something from the first several centuries of the faith.

Then and Now

I wouldn’t want to overlook the contrasts between then and now. The old pagan gods were distant, living high above the mortals on Mount Olympus. The gods of self-deification, in contrast, work in offices with us, teach in our schools, produce our films, music and TV shows, and bring lawsuits in our courts…

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How Christians Can ‘Outthink, Outlive, Outpray’ Today’s Many Small Gods | The Stream