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Cities Of God

Author: Rodney Stark
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0061739979
Size: 65.72 MB
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How did the preaching of a peasant carpenter from Galilee spark a movement that would grow to include over two billion followers? Who listened to this "good news," and who ignored it? Where did Christianity spread, and how? Based on quantitative data and the latest scholarship, preeminent scholar and journalist Rodney Stark presents new and startling information about the rise of the early church, overturning many prevailing views of how Christianity grew through time to become the largest religion in the world. Drawing on both archaeological and historical evidence, Stark is able to provide hard statistical evidence on the religious life of the Roman Empire to discover the following facts that set conventional history on its head: Contrary to fictions such as The Da Vinci Code and the claims of some prominent scholars, Gnosticism was not a more sophisticated, more authentic form of Christianity, but really an unsuccessful effort to paganize Christianity. Paul was called the apostle to the Gentiles, but mostly he converted Jews. Paganism was not rapidly stamped out by state repression following the vision and conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, but gradually disappeared as people abandoned the temples in response to the superior appeal of Christianity. The "oriental" faiths—such as those devoted to Isis, the Egyptian goddess of love and magic, and to Cybele, the fertility goddess of Asia Minor—actually prepared the way for the rapid spread of Christianity across the Roman Empire. Contrary to generations of historians, the Roman mystery cult of Mithraism posed no challenge to Christianity to become the new faith of the empire— it allowed no female members and attracted only soldiers. By analyzing concrete data, Stark is able to challenge the conventional wisdom about early Christianity offering the clearest picture ever of how this religion grew from its humble beginnings into the faith of more than one-third of the earth's population.

Who Were The First Christians

Author: Thomas A. Robinson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190620544
Size: 29.84 MB
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It has been widely assumed that there were 6 million Christians (or 10% of the population of the Roman Empire) by around the year 300. The largely-unexamined consensus view is also that Christianity was an urban movement until the conversion of Emperor Constantine. On close examination, it appears that these two popular views would nearly saturate every urban area of the entire Roman Empire with Christians, leaving no room for Jews or pagans. In Who Were the First Christians?, Thomas Robinson shows that scenario simply does not work. But where does the solution lie? Were there many fewer Christians in the Roman world than we have thought? Was the Roman world much more urbanized? Or, is the urban thesis defective, so that the neglected countryside must now be considered in any reconstruction of early Christian growth? Further, what was the makeup of the typical Christian congregation? Was it a lower-class movement? Or was it a movement of the upwardly mobile middle-class? Arguing that more attention needs to be given to the countryside and to the considerable contingent of the marginal and the rustic within urban populations, this revisionist work argues persuasively that the urban thesis should be dismantled or profoundly revised and the growth and the complexion of the early Christian movement seen in a substantially different light.

The Urban World And The First Christians

Author: Steve Walton
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
ISBN: 0802874517
Size: 32.35 MB
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In the tradition of The First Urban Christians by Wayne Meeks, this book explores the relationship between the earliest Christians and the city environment. Experts in classics, early Christianity, and human geography analyze the growth, development, and self-understanding of the early Christian movement in urban settings. The book's contributors first look at how the urban physical, cultural, and social environments of the ancient Mediterranean basin affected the ways in which early Christianity progressed. They then turn to how the earliest Christians thought and theologized in their engagement with cities. With a rich variety of expertise and scholarship, The Urban World and the First Christians is an important contribution to the understanding of early Christianity.

Understanding Christian Mission

Author: Scott W. Sunquist
Publisher: Baker Academic
ISBN: 1441242147
Size: 23.31 MB
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This comprehensive introduction helps students, pastors, and mission committees understand contemporary Christian mission historically, biblically, and theologically. Scott Sunquist, a respected scholar and teacher of world Christianity, recovers missiological thinking from the early church for the twenty-first century. He traces the mission of the church throughout history in order to address the global church and offers a constructive theology and practice for missionary work today. Sunquist views spirituality as the foundation for all mission involvement, for mission practice springs from spiritual formation. He highlights the Holy Spirit in the work of mission and emphasizes its trinitarian nature. Sunquist explores mission from a primarily theological--rather than sociological--perspective, showing that the whole of Christian theology depends on and feeds into mission. Throughout the book, he presents Christian mission as our participation in the suffering and glory of Jesus Christ for the redemption of the nations.

Need To Know

Author: John G. Stackhouse Jr.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199376972
Size: 38.44 MB
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How should a Christian think? If a serious Christian wants to think seriously about a serious subject--from considering how to vote in the next election to choosing a career; from deciding among scientific theories to selecting a mate; from weighing competing marketing proposals to discerning the best fitness plan--what does he or she do? This basic question is at the heart of a complex discourse: epistemology. A bold new statement of Christian epistemology, Need to Know presents a comprehensive, coherent, and clear model of responsible Christian thinking. Grounded in the best of the Christian theological tradition while being attentive to a surprising range of thinkers in the history of philosophy, natural science, social science, and culture, the book offers a scheme for drawing together experience, tradition, scholarship, art, and the Bible into a practical yet theoretically profound system of thinking about thinking. John Stackhouse's fundamental idea is as simple as it is startling: Since God calls human beings to do certain things in the world, God can be relied upon to supply the knowledge necessary for human beings to do those things. The classic Christian concept of vocation, then, supplies both the impetus and the assurance that faithful Christians can trust God to guide their thinking--on a "need to know" basis.

Seven Revolutions

Author: Mike Aquilina
Publisher: Image
ISBN: 0804138974
Size: 14.83 MB
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Combining history, politics, and religion, Mike Aquilina and Jim Papandrea provide practical lessons to be learned from the struggles of the Early Church, lessons that can be applied to the day-to-day lives of Christian readers. Prolonged, multiple wars in the Middle East. Waves of immigrants crossing the borders. Ongoing economic recession. Increasing political polarization, often with religious overtones. Conflicts over ideologies that pit the progressive against the traditional. Sound familiar? These conditions not only describe the United States, but the situation of the Roman Empire in the third century. That situation led to religious persecution and the eventual collapse of the empire. In the middle of the third century, the Roman Empire was roughly the same age as the United States is now. In this book, authors Mike Aquilina and Jim Papandrea examine the practices of the Early Church—a body of Christians living in Rome—and show how the lessons learned from these ancient Christians can apply to Christians living in the United States today. The book moves from the Christian individual, to the family, the church and the world, explaining how the situation of the Early Church is not only familiar to modern Christian readers, but that its values are still relevant

Sociology Of Religion

Author: Kevin J. Christiano
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780742561113
Size: 56.66 MB
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Sociology of Religion charts changes in the sociology of religion without ignoring the continuing relevance of Weber, Durkheim, and Marx. Veteran sociologists Christiano, Swatos, and Kivisto address both the foundations and the profound changes in the field, placing new conceptions against their historical background. Charts, pictures, down-to-earth examples, and a readable style keep the history and new developments within the reach of undergraduates. Instructors who want to give their students a current and comprehensive overview of the field should take a look at Sociology of Religion: Contemporary Developments.

One True God

Author: Rodney Stark
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691187851
Size: 76.32 MB
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Western history would be unrecognizable had it not been for people who believed in One True God. There would have been wars, but no religious wars. There would have been moral codes, but no Commandments. Had the Jews been polytheists, they would today be only another barely remembered people, less important, but just as extinct as the Babylonians. Had Christians presented Jesus to the Greco-Roman world as ''another'' God, their faith would long since have gone the way of Mithraism. And surely Islam would never have made it out of the desert had Muhammad not removed Allah from the context of Arab paganism and proclaimed him as the only God. The three great monotheisms changed everything. With his customary clarity and vigor, Rodney Stark explains how and why monotheism has such immense power both to unite and to divide. Why and how did Jews, Christians, and Muslims missionize, and when and why did their efforts falter? Why did both Christianity and Islam suddenly become less tolerant of Jews late in the eleventh century, prompting outbursts of mass murder? Why were the Jewish massacres by Christians concentrated in the cities along the Rhine River, and why did the pogroms by Muslims take place mainly in Granada? How could the Jews persist so long as a minority faith, able to withstand intense pressures to convert? Why did they sometimes assimilate? In the final chapter, Stark also examines the American experience to show that it is possible for committed monotheists to sustain norms of civility toward one another. A sweeping social history of religion, One True God shows how the great monotheisms shaped the past and created the modern world.

Embracing Obscurity

Author: Anonymous
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
ISBN: 1433677814
Size: 32.38 MB
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Argues for a life based on humility, service, and sacrifice instead of the accepted worldview of a life valuing fame and recognition.

The Triumph Of Christianity

Author: Rodney Stark
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0062098705
Size: 52.22 MB
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Celebrated religious and social historian Rodney Starktraces the extraordinary rise of Christianity through its most pivotal andcontroversial moments to offer fresh perspective on the history of the world’slargest religion. In The Triumph of Christianity, the author of God’sBattalions and The Rise of Christianity gathers and refines decadesof powerful research and discovery into one concentrated, concise, and highlyreadable volume that explores Christianity’s most crucial episodes. The uniqueformat of Triumph of Christianity allows Stark to avoid densechronologies and difficult back stories, bringing readers right to the heart ofChristian history’s most vital controversies and enduring lessons.