Item description for How Christianity Changed The World by Alvin J. Schmidt...
Overview A survey of the various ways--often unrecognized and overlooked--whereby Christianity has impacted the world, making the world a better place and enriching our everyday living. Formerly titled Under the Influence.
Publishers Description Western civilization is becoming increasingly pluralistic, secularized, and biblically illiterate. Many people today have little sense of how their lives have benefited from Christianity s influence, often viewing the church with hostility or resentment. How Christianity Changed the World is a topically arranged Christian history for Christians and non- Christians. Grounded in solid research and written in a popular style, this book is both a helpful apologetic tool in talking with unbelievers and a source of evidence for why Christianity deserves credit for many of the humane, social, scientific, and cultural advances in the Western world in the last two thousand years. Photographs, timelines, and charts enhance each chapter. This edition features questions for reflection and discussion for each chapter."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.2" Width: 5.85" Height: 1.2" Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Release Date Dec 12, 2004
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310264499 ISBN13 9780310264491 UPC 025986264499
Availability 0 units.
More About Alvin J. Schmidt
Alvin J. Schmidt (PhD, University of Nebraska) retired in 1999 as professor of sociology at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he still lives. He is the author of several books, including The Great Divide: The Failure of Islam and the Triumph of the West, and served as a consulting editor for Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult.
Alvin J. Schmidt currently resides in the state of Illinois.
Reviews - What do customers think about How Christianity Changed The World?
Major Eye Opener Jan 27, 2007
I have always known that Christianity had an enormous impact on the world, but I didn't realize the depth and scope of its influence, until reading Alvin Schmidt's amazing book. No other religion, ideology, or person has affected the course of history like Christianity.Schmidt explores the different fields and institutions that have been produced or improved upon by the world's largest and most widespread religion. I especially liked the chapters on science and education, which no doubt, will spark some controversy, particularly, by atheists and scientists. But history shows that contrary to prevailing thought, science and the institutes of higher learning got an incalculable boost from Christianity. Monasteries were the predecessors of the modern university. Schmidt also correctly pointed out that Christ's passionate directive to "teach all nations" was the true driving force behind global civilization, not merely military conquest.Women were elevated in status. Children were rescued from exposure, and sick people who weren't rich or important by societal standards, were cared for and sparked the rise of today's hospitals. Also, Schmidt cogently argues that Jesus has been the single greatest artistic inspiration for the past 2000 years. From the Pieta to the Last Supper, the Ascension to the Descent From the Cross, Schmidt clearly shows how Christ poignantly influenced artists as diverse as DaVinci, Durer, Raphael, and the incomparable Michaelangelo. This book will be a major eye opener for everyone who reads it. Even atheists and secularists will be hard pressed to disprove its claims. May Dr. Schmidt receive undying praise for his marvelous effort to enlighten our world about the greatest religion ever founded.
How Christianity Changed the World Jan 18, 2007
This book exposes the truth behind the institutions of compassion and education that secularism has conveniently eliminated from the pages of history. Knowing these truths opens ones eyes to the reality of true Christianity in our world. A must read for truth seekers.
In Defense of the Faith Jan 10, 2007
In an age when denigrating true Christianity has become the in thing to do this book brings forth solid answers and reasons for christians to be bold and confident in their faith. Dr. Schmidt is meticulous in his footnoting of sources. He also has written the book in a very reader friendly style that even reluctant readers can easily follow and enjoy.
What a difference this man has made Feb 11, 2006
In this well-documented volume of over 400 pages, Schmidt marshals the evidence for the transforming power of the Christian faith. He shows how Jesus has the power to transform men, who in turn are able to transform society. And on every level, that is exactly what has happened. Several specific examples can be mentioned.
In spite the claims of some today that Christianity oppresses women, the historical record shows just the opposite. Women were oppressed in almost every culture prior to the coming of Christianity. By elevating sexual morality, and by conferring upon women a much higher status, the Christian religion revolutionised the place and prestige of women.
The way Jesus treated women was in stark contrast to the surrounding culture. In Roman law a man's wife and children were little more than slaves, often treated like animals. Women had no property rights and faced severe social restrictions. Jesus of course changed all that. The way he treated the Samaritan woman was one remarkable example. And this was not lost on the early disciples. We know from the New Testament documents that many women exercised various leadership roles in the early church. Indeed, during this period Christian women actually outnumbered Christian men.
Admittedly there were some anomalies later in the church's history, when chauvinistic and anti-feminine views were allowed to re-enter parts of the church. But such aberrations must not detract from the truly revolutionary elevation of the status of women achieved by Christianity.
Consider also the issue of health care. Prior to Christianity, the Greeks and Romans had little or no interest in the poor, the sick and the dying. But the early Christians, following the example of their master, ministered to the needs of the whole person. During the first three centuries of the church they could only care for the sick where they found them, as believers were then a persecuted people. Once the persecutions subsided, however, the institutonalisation of health care began in earnest.
For example, the first ecumenical council at Nicea in 325 directed bishops to establish hospices in every city that had a cathedral. The first hospital was built by St Basil in Caesarea in 369. By the Middle Ages hospitals covered all of Europe and even beyond. In fact, "Christian hospitals were the world's first voluntary charitable institutions".
Care for the mentally ill was also a Christian initiative. Nursing also sprang from Christian concerns for the sick, and many Christians have given their lives to such tasks. One thinks of Florence Nightingale, for example, and the formation of the Red Cross.
Education, while important in Greek and Roman culture, really took off institutionally under the influence of Christianity. The early Greeks and Romans had no public libraries or educational institutions - it was Christianity that established these. As discipleship was important for the first believers (and those to follow), early formal education arose from Christian catechetical schools. Unique to Christian education was the teaching of both sexes.
Also a Christian distinctive, individuals from all social and ethnic groups were included. There was no bias based on ethnicity or class. And the concept of public education first came from the Protestant Reformers. Moreover, the rise of the modern university is largely the result of Christian educational endeavours.
As another example of the Christian influence, consider the issue of work and economic life. The Greeks and Romans had a very low view of manual labour, and so it was mainly the slaves and lower classes that were forced to toil with their hands. The non-slave population lived chiefly for personal pleasure. In these early cultures slaves usually greatly outnumbered freemen.
Thus there was no such thing as the dignity of labour in these cultures, and economic freedom was only for a select few. The early church changed all this. Jesus of course was a carpenter's son. Paul was a tentmaker. And the early admonition, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" was taken seriously by the early believers. Thus work was seen as an honorable and God-given calling. Laziness and idleness were seen as sinful.
The idea of labor as a calling, and the idea spoken by Jesus that the laborer is worthy of his wages, revolutionised the workplace. The dignity of labor, the value of hard work, and the sense of vocation, soon changed the surrounding society; the development of a middle class being one of the outcomes. The development of unions is another result. Indeed, the works of Weber and Tawney, among others, records the profound effect the Protestant Reformation has had on work and modern capitalism.
Other impacts can be noted. The commandment against stealing of course redefined the concept of private property and property rights. And the protection of workers and workers' rights also flows directly from the biblical worldview. The early unionists were Christians, and concerns for social justice in the workplace and beyond derive from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Other great achievements might be mentioned. The Western political experience, including genuine democracy at all levels of society, equality, human rights and various freedoms, all stem from the Christian religion, along with its Hebrew forebear. The rise of modern science has been directly linked with the biblical understanding of the world. The many great achievements in art, literature and music also deserve mention. For example, how much poorer would the world be without the Christian artistry of da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Bach, Handel, Brahms, Dante, Milton, Bunyan, and countless others?
The bottom line, as Schmidt notes, is that if Jesus Christ had never been born, to speak of Western civilisation would be incomprehensible. Indeed, there may never have been such a civilisation. The freedoms and benefits we enjoy in many modern cultures are directly due to the influence of this one man. Schmidt deserves an enormous amount of gratitude for this sterling collection of information and inspiration. Christians have made many mistakes. But they have also achieved many great things, all because of the one whom they follow.
Excellent resource, I would definitely recommend Dec 24, 2005
In this book, Schmidt goes through many different areas of life (education, health care, etc.) and shows how they are a result of Christianity. For example, we would not have universities or higher education without Christianity (esp. monks). Monks are also responsible for the transmission of many (if not all) ancient texts (i.e. Plato and Aristotle among others). In the area of hospitals, Christianity is once again the reason we have them. During Jesus earthly ministry the blind, lame, deaf, crippled, and diseased were brought to Jesus, and he healed them. These miracles were one of the defining features of Jesus ministry, occurring constantly and during his ministry. His apostles also carried on that tradition in the book of Acts, healing many as they spread the gospel message. Christians throughout the ages have carried on this tradition in their own manner, with most not being blessed with the gift of miracle healings. This was done through the introduction and rise of hospitals, which were built by Christians, not the pagans, because they wanted to follow in their Lord’s footsteps in having compassion on the sick, giving whatever support they could to them in their illness. The pre-Christian world had a gaping void when it came to medical aid. I think that this was because of their often fatalistic worldviews. If someone if fated to die, then why should they try to interfere? As Dionysius says, the pagans threw the sick into the streets to die, and treated them with “utter contempt” as they lie dying. In the Roman Empire, the above described behavior was the standard. Even the pagan emperor Julian lamented the lack of medical aid and compassion for the sick and dying, through to the best of my knowledge he did nothing to improve the situation. The Romans tended to view sickness as a sign of weakness, thus they looked down upon those who were sick. I think that something of this attitude can even be seen in the apostles, for when Jesus came to heal a blind man, they questioned him as to whether the blind man or his parents had sinned. They assumed a connection between sin and sickness. If this connection is made, then one would have to conclude that sickness is God’s judgment upon the person who is sick. If this is the case, then if you are trying to help someone get well, you would then be attempting to thwart God’s plan, which was to let hat person suffer or die. Thankfully, early Christians were able to escape from this type of thinking. They saw that each person was redeemable and valuable to God, since we are created in his image. They also did not have the fear of death which preoccupied many pagan cultures. They knew that death in this life only led to better things in the coming life, so they were not afraid to put their health at risk by working with the sick and potentially contracting the sicknesses that they were trying to heal. The first recorded mention of one of these Christians who gave medical aid to the sick is Benjamin of Dijon, who nursed children and infants who had been either been crippled or deformed due to failed abortions or being exposed and left to die by their parents. When we think of medical aid, we usually think of doctor’s offices or hospitals. Strange as it may seem to us, these things did not exist in the ancient world. Given the pagan’s fear of contracting sicknesses, and their fatalistic attitude toward them, they never established hospitals. Christians, however, with their compassion towards the sick and lack of fear towards death, were able to do what the pagans could not. At the council of Nicea it was decreed that Christians should establish a hospice in every city which had a cathedral. The first real hospital was built in 369 by Basil, which housed physicians and nurses in it. A second was built in Fabiola, then a third was built in Rome around 390. These hospitals brought the sick in off of the streets and cared for them. After this, hospitals began to spring up all over Christendom. Chrysostom was instrumental in having them built all over the East, and Augustine did the same in the West. By the 6th century, hospitals were “securely established” in Christendom, and they were ever further established by the Council of Orleans, who passed a canon assuring the protection of hospitals. Hospitals soon began to be a part of monasteries, and many monks worked as nurses. The Crusades, despite the terrible things done during them, also helped to advance the caring for the sick in the East. While the Western knights were fighting in and near Jerusalem, they founded many hospitals, which gave aid to both Christians and Muslims during the wars. As you can see, Christianity played a major role in the development of hospitals and the care for the sick. Whereas pagan cultures possessed worldviews which did not support medical treatment centers, early Christians, with the example of Jesus and his apostles, their lack of fear for death, and their Lord’s command to show kindness to the world, had a perfect worldview to support these hospitals. Contrary to many of the claims of today’s critics, Christianity did make the world a better place.
These are just two of the many topics covered by Schmidt, which makes this a very worthwile book to have. However, there is one major weakness that I see in Schmidt's approach to this subject: he fails to mention that if Christianity had not ruled, something else would have, and there is no real way to know that this other something would not have led to some of the same things that Christianity did. This is why he loses a star and gets dropped to 4.