The Role of Christianity in Europe

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The Role of Christianity in Europe

Christianity has always been playing an important role in people’s lives. In the past, it was the unifying power between nations; today, it has a great concern in secular issues; and what the future will bring ? We can only guess. Christianity is the largest religion practiced in the world, with an estimated number of believers ranges between 1.5 billion and 2.1 billion, split into around 34,000 separate denominations. Chiristianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus. Its followers, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the only Son of God and the Messiah predicted in the Hebrew Bible. To Christians, Jesus Christ is a teacher, the model of a virtuous life, the revealer of God, as well as an incarnation of God, and most importantly the savior of humanity who suffered, died, and was resurrected to bring about salvation from sin.

To understand the importance of Christianity we have to concern the development of the religion. Christianity goes back high in the past. In Europe it begins with Paul the apostle, who was the most notable of early Christian missionaries. Beside his Christian activities, the most important achievement was his 13 New Testament books, called epistles. These letters provide an insight into the beliefs of formative Christianity and, they have also been, and continue to be, foundational to Christian theology and ethics. Christianity in Europe at Paul’s time was missionary in spirit. Christians looked upon themselves as a new race, the true Israel, and possessing a heavenly citizenship reaching down to earth. To become a Christian, a person had to believe in the truth of the Christian message and commit to live the Christian lifestyle. After that, a person could belong to the church through baptism. Services occurred mainly on Sundays but on other days as well. There were two types of meetings: one was a meeting where reading the Scriptures, preaching, song, and prayer took place. The other was a common evening meal followed by the Lord's Supper (communion). The church in Rome became prominent as a source of true Apostolic teaching, passed on from the apostles to the succeeding bishops. Because of the apostles' association (especially that of Peter and Paul) with the church at Rome and its generosity and steadfastness in the face of persecution, it gained a place of leadership and prominence. The Roman practice of celebrating Easter with a vigil and the Lord's Supper held on Sunday became common practice about 200. Around the late 200's there was a time of peace and rapid growth of Christianity. By 300 Christianity was found in all parts of the Roman Empire, including central Italy, southern Gaul and Spain. Around 313, Constantine, a Christian and the Roman emperor, proclaimed freedom of conscience for the people, made Christianity on a full legal equality with any religion in Rome, and ordered all church property restored that had been confiscated during the most recent time of persecution. The next step for Constantine was to make Christianity the state religion of Rome.

Constantine I adopted Christianity following his victory in the Battle of Milvian Bridge 312. Under his rule, Christianity rose to become the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, and for his example of a "Christian monarch" Constantine is revered as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The accession of Constantine was a turning point for the Christian Church. In 313, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christian worship, and the emperor would be a great patron of the Church and set a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor within the Church that would be followed for centuries.

As we see, Christianity had gone through decades until it reached its present-day shape. It was very essential to people in the past to have a religion like this that is why it played an outstanding role in the past of Europe. It was a unifying...
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