Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Evangelization - part iii...

Continued here is the Oct. 26, 2007 address of Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput at St. John's University School of Law in Queens, New York. The talk is titled "Church and State Today: What Belongs to Caesar, and What Doesn't." It is well worth reading and saving:

“I'm not a historian or a sociologist, so I'll leave it to others to fully evaluate Rodney Stark's work.* But Stark does address a couple of key questions: How did Christianity succeed? How was it able to accomplish so much so fast? Stark is not only a social scientist, but also a self-described agnostic. So he has no interest in talking about God's will or the workings of the Holy Spirit. He focuses only on facts he can verify.

“Stark concludes that Christian success flowed from two things: first, Christian doctrine, and second, people being faithful to that doctrine. Stark writes: "An essential factor in the [Christian] religion's success was what Christians believed. ... And it was the way those doctrines took on actual flesh, the way they directed organizational actions and individual behavior, that led to the rise of Christianity."

“Let's put it in less academic terms: The Church, through the Apostles and their successors, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People believed in the Gospel. But they weren't just agreeing to a set of ideas. Believing in the Gospel meant changing their whole way of thinking and living. It was a radical transformation. So radical they couldn't go on living like the people around them anymore.

“Stark shows that one of the key areas in which Christians rejected the culture around them was marriage and the family. From the start, to be a Christian meant believing that sex and marriage were sacred. From the start, to be a Christian meant rejecting abortion, infanticide, birth control, divorce, homosexual activity and marital infidelity—all those things widely practiced by their Roman neighbors.

...continued next week

*“The Rise of Christianity" by the Baylor University scholar Rodney Stark