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Has Christianity Had a Bad Influence on History?

Introduction: Addressing the Complex Legacy of Christianity

Christianity, as a faith and cultural force, has profoundly shaped human history. However, it has also been associated with significant atrocities and moral failures committed by those who claimed to follow Christ. It is essential to address these historical realities honestly while recognizing the prophetic warnings in the New Testament about such deviations. Despite these dark chapters, true Christianity, as exemplified by the teachings and life of Jesus Christ, has endured and thrived.

New Testament Warnings of Future Apostasy

Forewarnings by Jesus

Jesus Christ Himself warned that not all who claimed to follow Him would adhere to His teachings. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks about false prophets and leaders who would lead many astray.

Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." Matthew 24:11-12: "And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold."

These warnings underscore the reality that deviations from true Christian teachings were anticipated.

Apostolic Prophecies of Apostasy

The apostles also warned of future apostasies. Paul, Peter, and John all spoke of a time when many would depart from the faith.

1 Timothy 4:1: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons." 2 Peter 2:1: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." 1 John 2:18-19: "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us."

These passages highlight the expectation that not all who profess Christianity would remain faithful to its core teachings.

Historical Atrocities Committed in the Name of Christianity

Religious Wars and Persecutions

Throughout history, there have been numerous instances of religious conflict and persecution conducted under the banner of Christianity.

The Crusades: A series of religious wars from the 11th to the 13th centuries, often marked by brutal violence against Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Christians. The Inquisition: A period of intense persecution, particularly in Spain, where those accused of heresy faced torture and execution. Religious Conflicts in Europe: Conflicts such as the Thirty Years' War saw Catholics and Protestants engage in prolonged and devastating warfare.

These events are stark reminders of how Christian institutions have at times strayed far from the teachings of Jesus.

Moral Failures of Religious Leaders

There have been many instances of moral failure among religious leaders, ranging from sexual immorality to corruption and abuse of power.

Clerical Abuse: The widespread sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, involving thousands of cases of child molestation, have caused immense harm and disillusionment. Concubinage and Immorality: Historical records reveal that some clergy maintained concubines or engaged in other immoral behaviors, undermining their spiritual authority.

Colonialism and Conquest

The era of European colonialism saw the spread of Christianity accompanied by violence and exploitation.

Conquest of the Americas: Spanish and Portuguese conquests in the Americas often involved forced conversions and brutal subjugation of indigenous peoples. Enslavement and Exploitation: The transatlantic slave trade was, in part, justified by a distorted interpretation of Christian doctrine.

True Christianity Amidst the Corruption

The Faithful Remnant

Despite the corruption and moral failures of many who professed Christianity, there has always been a faithful remnant who adhered to the teachings of Jesus.

1 Kings 19:18: "Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." Romans 11:4-5: "But what is God's reply to him? 'I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.' So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace."

Throughout history, individuals and groups have exemplified true Christian virtues, often at great personal cost.

The Fruits of the Spirit

True Christianity is marked by the fruits of the Spirit, as described by Paul.

Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

These virtues have been evident in the lives of countless Christians who have served selflessly and upheld the teachings of Jesus.

Christianity’s Positive Influence on History

Contributions to Education and Science

Christianity has been a driving force behind the development of education and science.

Establishment of Universities: Many of the world's first universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard, were founded by Christians with the aim of advancing knowledge and faith. Scientific Advancements: Prominent scientists such as Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, and Gregor Mendel were devout Christians who saw their work as a means to understand God's creation.

Social Reforms and Humanitarian Efforts

Christianity has also inspired significant social reforms and humanitarian efforts.

Abolition of Slavery: Christian leaders like William Wilberforce and the Quakers were instrumental in the movement to abolish slavery. Humanitarian Aid: Christian organizations such as the Red Cross, World Vision, and Compassion International have provided aid and relief to millions around the world.

Prophetic Fulfillment and the Restoration of True Christianity

Prophecies of Apostasy and Restoration

The New Testament not only foretells apostasy but also anticipates a future restoration of true Christianity.

2 Thessalonians 2:3: "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction." Acts 3:19-21: "Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago."

These passages point to a period of apostasy followed by a divine restoration, aligning with the historical pattern observed in Christianity.

The Role of True Christians

True Christians are called to remain faithful amidst widespread apostasy and to be agents of restoration.

Matthew 5:14-16: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Faithful Christians are to exemplify the teachings of Jesus and work towards the restoration of true Christian principles.

Conclusion: A Call to True Christianity

While the history of Christianity includes significant failures and atrocities, these are not reflective of true Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ. The Bible anticipated such deviations and called for a return to genuine faith. True Christians have always existed and will continue to uphold the teachings of Jesus, serving as beacons of light in a world often marred by human sin and corruption.

About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).



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