Why Christians must rub salt in society’s wounds

Apr 15, 2018 by

by Jules Gomes, Rebel Priest:

Rodney Stark is not a Christian. He is an agnostic. He holds the position of Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, Texas. He has undertaken extensive sociological research to explain the phenomenal growth of early Christianity.

‘How did a tiny and obscure messianic movement from the edge of the Roman Empire dislodge classical paganism and become the dominant faith of Western civilization?’ is his key question in his book The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries.


Stark estimates that there were no more than a thousand Christians in 40 AD. However, by the third century, Christianity was growing at the rate of 40 per cent per decade. There were 33million Christians in the Roman Empire out of a total population of 60million by 350 AD. Christians were so numerous at the dawn of the fourth century that Emperor Constantine found it politically expedient to embrace Christianity.

Stark claims that the Jesus movement grew exponentially in the Roman Empire because Christians were so audaciously counter-cultural and utterly unashamed of their distinctiveness that pagans were drawn to the new faith.

During epidemics, Roman priests and doctors fled but Christians heroically cared for the dying knowing they too could die. Roman society regarded mercy and pity as pathological emotions but Christians behaved mercifully because they had received mercy from God. Christian nobles treated slaves like brothers.

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