This post is to restore a sense of honor to followers of Christ who have been hammered by slander about the history of Christianity by ignorant people & made to feel unwarranted shame & guilt. The vast significant contributions of Christ worldwide far outweigh the alleged negative things done in his name. Yes the Crusades were done in the name of Christ, & there were times that missionary efforts by Europeans piggybacked on the secular Colonial power of European nations, but those negative examples are small compared to the global positive contributions of Christ. The contributions are so vast, I don’t pretend that a few paragraphs will do them justice, but I do think I can say enough to reinstall a sense of honor to my fellow believers.
The start of the Christian church was at Pentecost, “devout men out of every nation under heaven…heard them speak in his own language.” ACTS 2:5,6 The Spirit showed in the beginning that Christ’s teachings were for all cultures, yet the original disciples of Christ had a hard time breaking out of their cultural idolatry, even though Yahshua had repeatedly intentionally broken cultural norms to show them the difference between his teachings & their culture. Peter by revelation from God began the broadening process, but it was Paul, inspired by the Spirit, who really led believers into cross cultural tolerance. Paul demolished cultural idolatry by emphasizing God’s freedom to choose anyone & the freedom of anyone to accept God’s offer of salvation. By the way, he in no way destroyed the value of the Torah (teachings of God), a mistaken idea of the modern apostate church that was foreign to the early Christians as well as those devout Christians who came to America for religious freedom, for example: the Pilgrims, Mennonites & Amish. Modern Christianity would have no need for their members to leave their homes for religious freedom. Christ is a new way of life, not a 5 min. reading of the sinner’s prayer. He said “follow me”, he never said, all you need to do is read this short prayer.
After Pentecost, missionaries, inspired by divine love for people in other cultures, began spreading to the entire known world incl. India, China, Africa & Europe. And these people, if they had writing soon had Christian literature in their own language scripts, for instance the Copts of Egypt. When the Christians shifted the manuscripts from being scrolls to bound books (codices), they began introducing the Word of God into the vernacular languages of people. When a people did not have a script, the Christian missionaries often created an alphabet for them. The Cyrillic alphabet, created by 2 pioneer missionaries, has allowed many Slavic national groups to create a national/cultural identity. The Slavic peoples have come under attack from various directions, & it is likely that w/out their own writing & literature, they may well have lost their identity. A prime example of Christian missionaries preserving a people is the ancient nation of Armenia. Christians gave them a new alphabet & literature, which, w/out a doubt, were factors that preserved them as a nation under tremendous intense trials over the centuries. Hungary is a similar example. So contrary to the false accusation that Christianity has destroyed diverse cultures, all over the world are thousands of cultures who first received writing from Christian missionaries, and that ability to write their language has preserved them. The idea of a standard German language was created by Luther’s Bible translation. Tyndale’s translation helped Eng. amalgamate although not as much as Luther’s. Carey’s Bengali trans. started a Renaissance of Bengali literature. The Br. East India Co. tried to for years to suppress Carey’s missionary efforts; they said his work was undermining British colonial rule. Indeed, overall, the work of missionaries in Africa & Asia helped break colonial rule, even though a few bad-example missionaries did have cultural idolatry & used colonial secular power. When the secular colonial govt.s left Africa, Christian membership quadrupled in 20 years! In fact, German colonial power had been used in Togoland to help the Muslims fight the pagans. Ending colonialism helped Christianity to flourish.
Scholars have noticed God’s Torah brought the ideas of freedom & liberty to the ancient world. One wrote, “It is Israel who in bringing us the divine law, has laid the foundation of liberty.” God was upset at tyrants (cf. ISA 14:4-6 & others). The picture of justice’s evenly weighted balances comes from LEV 19:35-36. (Yes, the anc. Egyptians used a similar but different concept of scales representing divine judgment in the afterlife, in contrast with God’s civil law.) The concept of equality of all men before the law is a divine Biblical concept found for instance in LEV & many other places: “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.” LEV 24:22. No other ancient country was so legally fair to foreigners as Biblical Israel. Equality of law was strange to pagans; for instance, Hammurabi’s famous legal code had different sets of rules & punishments for different classes of people. During Yahshua’s life one of Caesar’s advisors, Seneca the Younger, complained how every nation which conquered Israel (Persia, Greece & Rome) had ended up incorporating their Bible law (Torah) into their own legal system. The impact of God’s Torah on Western Law is extensive. The contribution of Roman law has been overstated, and God’ divine law’s contribution understated. The concept of “Natural Laws” that don’t change was a Biblical concept picked up by many. Amer.’s Decl. of Independence is based upon “the laws of Nature & of Nature’s God”. Colonial law in Mass. and Penn. was Bible based. Much more could be said about that. So many tiny things in our legal system like having “two witnesses” for a legal act, and 12 jurors come from the Bible. The fact that Latin was chosen for legalese language obscures the Bible’s contribution to our legal system. Resistance to tyranny was inspired by the Bible, & perhaps no people have fought their powerful neighbors & conquerors so fiercely for freedom as ancient Israel. Masada is a symbol of this.
This has been a brief look at the positive contribution of Christ & the Scriptures to the world. While this post does not do justice to the subject, hopefully it will be enough to alleviate the unfounded shame & guilt that unknowledgeable slanderers lay upon Christians.