Written by Ray Peach
The Rise of Christianity
Continuation from Part 1
The Christian era has been mischaracterized as being a time when the enlightenment of Rome was extinguished, and the world fell into a dark age. The term “Dark Ages” seems to have originated with the Italian writer Francesco Petrarca (AD 1304 – 1374) who was referring to the departure of literature from what he called, the classical style. The idea that Europe fell into a Dark Age was vastly expanded during the “enlightenment” by 17th and 18th century proto-Marxists such as Voltaire, who described it as a time when “barbarism, superstition, [and] ignorance covered the face of the world.” The constant repetition of such propaganda has created a myth that is described as a “fact” in today’s literature and reference material; but as always, the empirical evidence says exactly the opposite of what socialism is telling us.
The truth is that after being freed from the grip of tyranny, the Christian era will witness an extraordinary outburst of innovation in science, technology, literature, art, music, human rights, law, and political economics. What is called the “Dark Ages” will lay the foundations for the industrial revolution, by creating the world’s first economies that depended on non-human power.
Ancient Israel had started out as a classless association of equals, where the citizens believed in a personal monotheistic deity. They believed in equal opportunity under the law and rejected an authoritarian central government – creating the first known representative democracy. Life was sacred, slavery was illegal, science was expanding, and political economics were based on what we would today call the middleclass (bourgeoisie), who owned and operated their own small businesses.
In contrast, the world that Jesus was born into was evil, corrupt, and dysfunctional. The Judean priesthood served at the pleasure of the Roman Senate, as did king Herod. The Sadducees and Pharisees were much like today’s Democratic and Republican parties, where some members were true believers, but most were only interested in their own personal welfare. This all took place under the direction of a centralized, corrupt, and evil Roman dictatorship, which ruled the known world without pity or remorse.
Within several months of the Crucifixion there were perhaps 120 Christians. This small messianic movement grew at a rate of 40 percent per decade to become the predominant faith in Western civilization. This growth took place in an atmosphere of extreme persecution, where the state did all it could to extinguish Christianity. By the time Emperor Constantine (r. AD 306 – 337) came to power, the movement was so large and so strong, he really had no real choice but to embrace it.
Jesus and his followers started off as middleclass tradesman and entrepreneurs. Jesus was a carpenter, and since he wasn’t a slave and didn’t work for the state, temple, or an international corporation, which didn’t exist yet, he must have worked for himself. While the prior occupations of nine of the twelve disciples are unknown, we do know that two were fishermen and one was a tax collector. It is important to note that Rome contracted out the business of collecting taxes, so tax collectors were self-employed. When Jesus became angry with the moneychangers at the temple, he attacked a corrupt central banking system, which was a hallmark of the Hellenistic world. Nowhere in scripture does he ever attack a small business owner, or the making of a profit. Yes, he reached out to the poor, but he and his followers came from the affluent middle class business owners of the day. The early church was well funded and was known for sending money to Christians where needed. Around AD 170, Bishop Dionysus of Corinth wrote to the Roman Church saying, “From the start it has been your custom to treat all Christians with unfailing kindness, and to send contributions to many churches in every city, alleviating the distress of those in need”.
When Jesus created a faith that removed the secular aspects from the law, He created a faith that was free from ethnicity. By AD 300, Christianity had become a revitalization movement that recognized the importance of the individual combined with a strong sense of duty to one’s fellow man. It had arisen in opposition to a Hellenistic, Greco Roman world and as a response to misery, fear, repression, and brutality. It created a worldview that provided solutions to urban problems, support for widows and orphans, and provided a new and expanded sense of family. Children and grandchildren were once again blessings, so that when you kiss a baby’s face, you also kiss the face of God.
The world would again see the advancement of science, technology, medicine, literature, and art, which would flourish for the first time in a thousand years. Modern concepts of equal protection under the law, private property, and free market economics would become the standard for Western civilization. The Church would start what would become the modern university system, and create a body of laws, which would become the modern system of jurisprudence; something that history books like to attribute to the Romans, whose only view of the law was based on the Greek principle that the strong take what they want, and the weak endure what they must.
Hebrews and Christians believe that God created the temporal universe from nothing (ex nihilo), placing God outside of our temporal existence. This belief is unique as all pagan faiths believe that “The cosmos is all there was or ever will be,” as preached by Carl Sagan in his book Cosmos.
The Apostle Paul built the Christian Church, and without his guidance there would be no Christian Church anywhere in the world today. Paul conceived of man's nature as being tripartite – body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess 5:23). The person is essentially the soul, and the body is the medium through which the person associates with this earth; and the person communicates with God through his spirit – “the spirit of the man which is in him” (1 Cor 2: 11) linking the soul with the Spirit of God. This belief is the exact opposite of the Pantheism of pagan societies where, Thoth controls what people think and do.
Christianity was founded on the doctrine that humans have the capacity to determine their own actions, making us responsible for what we do. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) wrote that we “possess a will,” and that “from this it follows that whoever desires to live righteously and honorably, can accomplish this.” To suggest otherwise is to blame one’s sins on God. What is interesting is that the Hebrews and Christians are the only faiths in the history of the world based on the concept of other worldly sin and free will.
This view is not inconsistent with the doctrine that God knows ahead of time what choices we will make, as God exists outside our temporal universe. Augustine of Hippo asserted that, “God knows all things before they come to pass, and that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it. But that all things come from fate we do not say; nay we affirm that nothing comes to pass by fate.” While God knows what we will freely decide to do, he does not interfere! Therefore it remains up to us to choose virtue or sin.
Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) reaffirmed Augustine when he taught that the doctrines that humans are free to make moral choices and that God is omnipotent are entirely compatible: “A man can direct and govern his own actions also. Therefore the rational creature participates in the divine providence not only in being governed but also in governing.”
Today we are told that all religions are the same, but Asian languages have no words for sin or freedom; and while Greek and Latin have words for freedom, freedom in ancient Greece and Rome stood in contrast to a mass of slaves, where freedom was a privilege, not a right.
In Ephesians (6:5, 8), Paul is supposed to have written, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, in fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ ... knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and forbear threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” The only problem with this passage is that the word “bondservant” was mistranslated as slave, just as it was elsewhere in the bible. In the Hebrew world a “bondservant” referred to an apprentice who would learn a trade and then move on to start his own business. This aside, Paul’s words are a fundamental pillar of a Christian worldview where God treats everyone equally, so that “all may be saved.” It was this belief in equality, that encouraged the early church to convert slaves, and when possible to purchase their freedom. In fact Pope Callistus (d. 236) had himself been a slave. (note: some translations get this right).
Along with equality and freedom comes responsibility, causing Paul to say, “He who does not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess 3:10). This implies that there is a relationship between having a willingness to work and an opportunity to work, so that our own economic wellbeing depends on both. Without something to work on or for, we cannot work; and without a desire to work or a need to work, nothing will get done. In Christianity, freeloading is not considered a virtue; and there isn’t a slave master to direct a person’s labor. So it is up to the individual to acquire knowledge and skills and then apply those skills in order to care for one’s family. This is in direct conflict with paganism, where Plato referred to those who worked at a trade as vulgar. In fact, Chinese Emperors grew their fingernails long as proof they did no work.
About money, Paul remarked, “the love of money is the root of all evil,” making greed a vice, not the mere possession of wealth. He went on to say “it is rather a useful tool, to be used as any tool for the purpose for which it was invented,” which he said was “measuring the value of exchange.” Paul’s position on private property, free markets, and charity will eventually form the basis of Western economic thought.
Augustine maintained it was heresy to say that those who have wealth cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, or that it is a sin to own property. Yes it was true that some of the apostles renounced their property, but others did not, and Jesus did not require them to do so. Without property, the virtue of hospitality would become impossible, since no one would own a home. Augustine also ruled that price was a function not simply of the seller's costs, but also of the buyer's desire for the item sold. Business, he said, was like eating, an act, which can be Good or Evil depending on the ends. Slavery had begun to decline in the latter days of the Roman Empire, as there were no more victorious commanders, and the fertility rates were very low among the Romans and their slaves. This would force the development of labor saving devices, and the conversion of agriculture and industry into a free market economy.
Usury, as practiced by the Greeks and Romans, would be replaced with the concept of interest, where the investment of capital in the purchase of equipment made the independent banker and the small business owner partners. If the business owner defaulted, his financial partners repossess the equipment, dissolving the partnership. Unlike pagan societies, credit was not offered for the purpose of meeting daily obligations, and no one was pressed into slavery.
The Church established missions and monasteries throughout Western Europe that preserved ancient literature, created schools, and produced the forerunner to the modern Hospital. Christianity would see the resurgence of innovation and science including the invention of clocks, the development of the fireplace and chimney, the development of the modern saddle with stirrups, the modern wagon with pivoting front wheels that could turn, bridals and horse collars that allowed teams of horses to pull a wagon, horse shoes, animal husbandry, advances in agriculture, and many other things. What has been called the Dark Ages would better be called the Age of the Commercial Revolution, rather than the age where “the lights went out on all learning, and superstition replaced knowledge.”
Aquinas was interested in the understanding of the existence of God, and the nature of the Universe, something called Natural Law. Natural law, he said, is “nothing [other] than the rational creature's participation in the eternal law,” where eternal law is defined as “God's wisdom, in as much as it is the directive norm of all movement and action.” The concept of Natural Law says that commerce and politics must agree with Christian morality and ethics, creating the concept of political economics. Natural Law would become the foundation of Western Science, Law, Economics, Politics, and the foundation of America’s creation.
Father Francisco de Vitoria (1492 – 1546) is considered the father of international law and one of the major contributors to the theory of a just war. In 1512, he, with the backing of the Church, forced Spain to enter into international agreements. Known as the Laws of Burgos (1512), they were the world’s first international laws and included prohibitions against slavery.
Father Vitoria’s work would be expanded by the Protestant Dutch philosopher Hugo Grotius (1583 – 1645), who around 1609 developed the first set of internationally accepted laws on trade and warfare. He also worked to break up the international trade monopolies of the day.
Murray N. Rothbard was an American historian who, during the early 1950s, studied economics under the economists Ludwig Mises and George Reisman. In 2006, he published the book, “On The History of Economic Thought.” In that book, Murray attributes the history of modern economics to the insights of the late Scholastics of the Catholic Church, whom he described as brilliant social thinkers and economic analysts. Rothbard was heavily influenced by the Austrian born economist Friedrich Hayek, who wrote “The Road to Serfdom” in 1944.” Hayek asserted that command economies destroy the “information function of prices,” and that authority over the economy leads to totalitarianism. In other words, artificially controlling things like wages, and the cost of commodities destroys the natural principles of supply and demand. As a result, the economy requires more and more governmental intervention until authoritarianism results. Hayek had a strong influence in the 1980s in rejecting Marxist / Keynesian economics which are based on controlling the price of labor, keeping it at a subsistence level (living wage). Never forget that the only way to assure that everyone is equal in outcome is to make everyone equally poor. Everyone, that is, but the elite.
President Reagan used Hayek’s theories to create the Reagan miracle, the only time since Nixon that the number of gainfully employed workers increased, and the number of people on food stamps decreased. In contrast, Obama has reduced the employment level to the lowest it has been since the great depression, and the number of people on food stamps has grown to over 46 million people.
The Greek definition of morals and justice would be re-branded by the Italian proto-Marxist NiccolÃ² Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) in his book The Prince – the quintessential playbook on power politics. The Italian priest and diplomat Giovanni Botero (c.1544–1617) took exception to Machiavelli and the Athenians, pointing out that will to force, state mandated morality, and corruption never worked. In The Reason of State, Botero pointed out that nations and their citizens did much better when they followed the Christian teachings of Thomas Aquinas than they did following the teachings of Machiavelli, arguing for a more sophisticated relationship between the state and its citizens. Botero would contribute to such liberal thinkers, as John Locke and Adam Smith; but these people believed in personal liberty rather than social liberty where freedom means the freedom to obey the state.
Over time, Hellenism would return as neo-Platonism (the teachings of Plato), most notably by an Arab named Muhammad in the 7th century; but Christianity would prevail until the Renaissance and the age of enlightenment, when neo-Platonism would seriously question Christianity in the west. The word Renaissance is French for rebirth or revival. So the question is, the rebirth and revival of what? The answer is the rebirth and revival of Hermeticism and Hellenism, as described by the speculative reason of Plato and Aristotle. It will be the rebirth of a faith, whose worldview has resulted in the bloodiest, most repressive states to ever commit evil in history, and its new name will be Socialism.
The End of part 2. Part 3 will begin with the rise of socialism.
This article is documented in Totalitarianism: How the Socialist Faith is Destroying America Volumes 1 and 2.Learn More
Mr. Peach (visit his website) ·is a retired engineer who spent a great deal of his life traveling the world to solve problems for fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Government.·After serving 8 years in U.S. Naval Air he went to work for Litton Guidance Systems as a field engineer, working in the Middle East and Asia. For the next 12 years he worked as a systems engineer for Hughes Aircraft where he was involved with the F-14D, F-15E, and the F/A-18 tactical aircraft...........read more