The Development of Christianity in America

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As Christianity spread through the Western world, it rarely followed a linear path: different pockets of faith and doctrine were developed by a variety of peoples in an even greater variety of locales. Nowhere is this more evident than in Roman Britain and the era of Anglo-Saxon migrations. In five centuries, English religious culture transformed from one of pagan worship to that of leadership in the Christian world. Controversies included more than merely pagan-Christian dynamics; the Christians were greatly divided, and Christian efforts went through many ebbs before becoming firmly established. One must evaluate the development of both Rome and England to gain an adequate understanding of early English Christianity. Fifty-five years…show more content…
Christianity gained a foothold in Britain by the mid-second century, but had yet to gain anything approaching religious supremacy on the island. Early Christian churches were local communal affairs - each board of elders was elected democratically by the community 's inhabitants. Early Christians refused to bow before Roman authority as the Jews had previously done, and many were persecuted as enemies of the state (quite similar to the Druidic situation in Britain). Rome would tolerate native religious rites, but would brook no treason. The universality of the empire, however, paved the way for the universality of Christianity, as Christian missionaries traveled easily along Roman roads on evangelistic expeditions. As Christianity spread throughout the empire, the Roman government found Christian refusals to worship Roman gods and participate in Roman festivals increasingly distressing; Christians endured persecution in the first and second centuries, but on an individualized, local scale. The third century proved disastrous to the empire: an outbreak of the plague, increasing barbaric invasions from the north, and fifty years of relentless civil war tarnished the image and reputation of Rome. Manpower shortages due to plague sharply decreased trade and commerce. Persians
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