A Historian on Christianity

Will Durant was a prominent historian and philosopher.  He and his wife Ariel were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1967 and the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.  His life’s work is the eleven volume The Story of Civilization published between 1935 and 1975.  In it he writes

All in all, no more attractive religion has ever been presented to mankind.  It offered itself without restriction to all individuals, classes, and nations; it was not limited to one people, like Judaism, nor to the freemen of one state, like the official cults of Greece and Rome.  By making all men heirs of Christ’s victory over death, Christianity announced the basic equality of men, and made transiently trivial all differences of earthly degree.  To the miserable, maimed, bereaved, disheartened, and humiliated it brought the new virtue of compassion, and an ennobling dignity; it gave them the inspiring figure, story, and ethic of Christ; it brightened their lives with the hope of the coming Kingdom, and of endless happiness beyond the grave.  To even the greatest sinners it promised forgiveness, and their full acceptance into the community of the saved.  To minds harassed with the insoluble problems of origin and destiny, evil and suffering, it brought a system divinely revealed doctrine in which the simplest soul could find mental rest . . . Into the moral vacuum of dying paganism, into the coldness of Stoicism and the corruption of Epicureanism, into a world sick of brutality, cruelty, oppression, and sexual chaos, into a pacified empire that seemed no longer to need the masculine virtues or the gods of war, it brought new morality of brotherhood, kindliness, decency, and peace.

So molded to men’s wants, the new faith spread with fluid readiness.  Nearly every convert, with the ardor of a revolutionary, made himself an office of propaganda (Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, 602). 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s