Christianity

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Christianity[note 1] is a Abrahamic monotheistic[1] religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who serves as the focal point for the religion. It is the world's largest religion,[2][3] with over 2.4 billion followers,[4][5][6] or 33% of the global population, known as Christians.[note 2] Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of humanity whose coming as the Messiah (the Christ) was prophesied in the Old Testament.[7]


History[edit]

Early Church and Christological Councils[edit]

File:Inside of Saint Ananias.jpg
Chapel of Saint Ananias, Damascus, Syria, an early example of a Christian house of worship; built in the 1st century AD
File:Ephesus IchthysCrop.jpg
An early circular ichthys symbol, created by combining the Greek letters ΙΧΘΥΣ into a wheel. Ephesus, Asia Minor.
File:Kadisha Valley cross.jpg
Kadisha Valley, Lebanon, home to some of the earliest Christian monasteries in the world.

Christianity began as a Jewish sect in the Levant of the middle east in the mid-1st century. Other than Second Temple Judaism, the primary religious influences of early Christianity are Zoroastrianism and Gnosticism.[note 2][8][9][10] John Bowker states that Christian ideas such as "angels, the end of the world, a final judgment, the resurrection, and heaven and hell received form and substance from ... Zoroastrian beliefs".[11] Its earliest development took place under the leadership of the remaining Twelve Apostles, particularly Saint Peter, and Paul the Apostle, followed by the early bishops, whom Christians consider the successors of the Apostles.

According to the Christian scriptures, Christians were from the beginning subject to persecution by some Jewish and Roman religious authorities, who disagreed with the apostles' teachings (See Split of early Christianity and Judaism). This involved punishments, including death, for Christians such as Stephen[Acts 7:59] and James, son of Zebedee.[Acts 12:2] Larger-scale persecutions followed at the hands of the authorities of the Roman Empire, first in the year 64, when Emperor Nero blamed them for the Great Fire of Rome. According to Church tradition, it was under Nero's persecution that early Church leaders Peter and Paul of Tarsus were each martyred in Rome.

Further widespread persecutions of the Church occurred under nine subsequent Roman emperors, most intensely under Decius and Diocletian. From the year 150, Christian teachers began to produce theological and apologetic works aimed at defending the faith. These authors are known as the Church Fathers, and study of them is called Patristics. Notable early Fathers include Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. However, Armenia is considered the first nation to accept Christianity in AD 301.[12][13][14]

King Trdat IV made Christianity the state religion in Armenia between 301 and 314, it was not an entirely new religion in Armenia. It penetrated into the country from at least the third century, but may have been present even earlier.[15]

End of Roman persecution under Emperor Constantine (AD 313)[edit]

File:Jesus-Christ-from-Hagia-Sophia.jpg
An example of Byzantine pictorial art, the Deësis mosaic at the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

State persecution ceased in the 4th century, when Constantine I issued an edict of toleration in 313. On 27 February 380, Emperor Theodosius I enacted a law establishing Nicene Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire.[16] From at least the 4th century, Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization.[17]

Constantine was also instrumental in the convocation of the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which sought to address the Arian heresy and formulated the Nicene Creed, which is still used by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglican Communion, and many Protestant churches.[18] Nicaea was the first of a series of Ecumenical (worldwide) Councils which formally defined critical elements of the theology of the Church, notably concerning Christology.[19] The Assyrian Church of the East did not accept the third and following Ecumenical Councils, and are still separate today.

The presence of Christianity in Africa began in the middle of the 1st century in Egypt, and by the end of the 2nd century in the region around Carthage. Mark the Evangelist started the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in about AD 43.[20][21][22] Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity includes Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Cyprian, Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo. The later rise of Islam in North Africa reduced the size and numbers of Christian congregations, leaving only the Coptic Church in Egypt, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Horn of Africa, and the Nubian Church in the Sudan (Nobatia, Makuria, and Alodia).

In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Byzantine Empire was one of the peaks in Christian history and Orthodox civilization,[23] and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in size, wealth, and culture.[24] There was a renewed interest in classical Greek philosophy, as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek.[25] Byzantine art and literature held a pre-eminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west during this period was enormous and of long lasting significance.[26]

Early Middle Ages[edit]

With the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the papacy became a political player, first visible in Pope Leo's diplomatic dealings with Huns and Vandals.[27] The church also entered into a long period of missionary activity and expansion among the various tribes. While Arianists instituted the death penalty for practicing pagans (see Massacre of Verden as example), Catholicism also spread among the Germanic peoples,[27] the Celtic and Slavic peoples, the Hungarians, and the Baltic peoples. Christianity has been an important part of the shaping of Western civilization, at least since the 4th century.[28][29][17]

Around 500, St. Benedict set out his Monastic Rule, establishing a system of regulations for the foundation and running of monasteries.[27] Monasticism became a powerful force throughout Europe,[27] and gave rise to many early centers of learning, most famously in Ireland, Scotland and Gaul, contributing to the Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century.

In the 7th century Muslims conquered Syria (including Jerusalem), North Africa and Spain. Part of the Muslims' success was due to the exhaustion of the Byzantine empire in its decades long conflict with Persia.[30] Beginning in the 8th century, with the rise of Carolingian leaders, the papacy began to find greater political support in the Frankish Kingdom.[31]

The Middle Ages brought about major changes within the church. Pope Gregory the Great dramatically reformed ecclesiastical structure and administration.[32] In the early 8th century, iconoclasm became a divisive issue, when it was sponsored by the Byzantine emperors. The Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (787) finally pronounced in favor of icons.[33] In the early 10th century, Western Christian monasticism was further rejuvenated through the leadership of the great Benedictine monastery of Cluny.[34]

Hebraism, like Hellenism, has been an all-important factor in the development of Western Civilization; Judaism, as the precursor of Christianity, has indirectly had had much to do with shaping the ideals and morality of western nations since the Christian era.[29]

High and Late Middle Ages[edit]

In the west, from the 11th century onward, older cathedral schools developed into universities (see University of Oxford, University of Paris, and University of Bologna.) The traditional medieval universities—evolved from Catholic and Protestant church schools—then established specialized academic structures for properly educating greater numbers of students as professionals. Prof. Walter Rüegg, editor of A History of the University in Europe, reports that universities then only trained students to become clerics, lawyers, civil servants, and physicians.[35]

Originally teaching only theology, universities steadily added subjects including medicine, philosophy and law, becoming the direct ancestors of modern institutions of learning.[36] The university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the Medieval Christian setting.[37][38] Prior to the establishment of universities, European higher education took place for hundreds of years in Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools (Scholae monasticae), in which monks and nuns taught classes; evidence of these immediate forerunners of the later university at many places dates back to the 6th century AD.[39]

Accompanying the rise of the "new towns" throughout Europe, mendicant orders were founded, bringing the consecrated religious life out of the monastery and into the new urban setting. The two principal mendicant movements were the Franciscans[40] and the Dominicans[41] founded by St. Francis and St. Dominic respectively. Both orders made significant contributions to the development of the great universities of Europe. Another new order were the Cistercians, whose large isolated monasteries spearheaded the settlement of former wilderness areas. In this period church building and ecclesiastical architecture reached new heights, culminating in the orders of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and the building of the great European cathedrals.[42]

From 1095 under the pontificate of Urban II, the Crusades were launched.[43] These were a series of military campaigns in the Holy Land and elsewhere, initiated in response to pleas from the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I for aid against Turkish expansion. The Crusades ultimately failed to stifle Islamic aggression and even contributed to Christian enmity with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.[44]

Over a period stretching from the 7th to the 13th century, the Christian Church underwent gradual alienation, resulting in a schism dividing it into a so-called Latin or Western Christian branch, the Roman Catholic Church,[45] and an Eastern, largely Greek, branch, the Orthodox Church. These two churches disagree on a number of administrative, liturgical, and doctrinal issues, most notably papal primacy of jurisdiction.[46][47] The Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) attempted to reunite the churches, but in both cases the Eastern Orthodox refused to implement the decisions and the two principal churches remain in schism to the present day. However, the Roman Catholic Church has achieved union with various smaller eastern churches.

Beginning around 1184, following the crusade against the Cathar heresy,[48] various institutions, broadly referred to as the Inquisition, were established with the aim of suppressing heresy and securing religious and doctrinal unity within Christianity through conversion and prosecution.[49]

Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation[edit]

File:95Thesen.jpg
Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in 1517 with the Ninety-Five Theses, going against the Catholic Church interpretation of the Bible

The 15th-century Renaissance brought about a renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. Another major schism, the Reformation, resulted in the splintering of the Western Christendom into several branches.[50] Martin Luther in 1517 protested against the sale of indulgences and soon moved on to deny several key points of Roman Catholic doctrine.[51]

Other reformers like Zwingli, Calvin, Knox and Arminius further criticized Roman Catholic teaching and worship. These challenges developed into the movement called Protestantism, which repudiated the primacy of the pope, the role of tradition, the seven sacraments, and other doctrines and practices.[51] The Reformation in England began in 1534, when King Henry VIII had himself declared head of the Church of England. Beginning in 1536, the monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland were dissolved.[52]

Thomas Müntzer, Andreas Karlstadt and other theologians perceived both the Roman Catholic Church and the confessions of the Magisterial Reformation as corrupted. Their activity brought about the Radical Reformation, which gave birth to various Anabaptist denominations.

File:Michelangelo's Pieta 5450 cropncleaned edit.jpg
Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica, The Catholic Church were among the patronage of the Renaissance[53][54][55]

Partly in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church engaged in a substantial process of reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reform.[56] The Council of Trent clarified and reasserted Roman Catholic doctrine. During the following centuries, competition between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism became deeply entangled with political struggles among European states.[57]

Meanwhile, the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought about a new wave of missionary activity. Partly from missionary zeal, but under the impetus of colonial expansion by the European powers, Christianity spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Throughout Europe, the divides caused by the Reformation led to outbreaks of religious violence and the establishment of separate state churches in Europe. Lutheranism spread into northern, central and eastern parts of present-day Germany, Livonia and Scandinavia. Anglicanism was established in England in 1534. Calvinism and its varieties (such as Presbyterianism) were introduced in Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland and France. Arminianism gained followers in the Netherlands and Frisia. Ultimately, these differences led to the outbreak of conflicts in which religion played a key factor. The Thirty Years' War, the English Civil War, and the French Wars of Religion are prominent examples. These events intensified the Christian debate on persecution and toleration.[58]

Post-Enlightenment[edit]

In the era known as the Great Divergence, when in the West the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific revolution brought about great societal changes, Christianity was confronted with various forms of skepticism and with certain modern political ideologies such as versions of socialism and liberalism.[59] Events ranged from mere anti-clericalism to violent outbursts against Christianity such as the Dechristianisation during the French Revolution,[60] the Spanish Civil War, and general hostility of Marxist movements, especially the Russian Revolution, and the persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union under the doctrine of state atheism.[61][62][63][64]

Especially pressing in Europe was the formation of nation states after the Napoleonic era. In all European countries, different Christian denominations found themselves in competition, to greater or lesser extents, with each other and with the state. Variables are the relative sizes of the denominations and the religious, political, and ideological orientation of the state. Urs Altermatt of the University of Fribourg, looking specifically at Catholicisms in Europe, identifies four models for the European nations. In traditionally Catholic countries such as Belgium, Spain, and to some extent Austria, religious and national communities are more or less identical. Cultural symbiosis and separation are found in Poland, Ireland, and Switzerland, all countries with competing denominations. Competition is found in Germany, the Netherlands, and again Switzerland, all countries with minority Catholic populations who to a greater or lesser extent did identify with the nation. Finally, separation between religion (again, specifically Catholicism) and the state is found to a great degree in France and Italy, countries where the state actively opposed itself to the authority of the Catholic Church.[65]

The combined factors of the formation of nation states and ultramontanism, especially in Germany and the Netherlands but also in England (to a much lesser extent[66]), often forced Catholic churches, organizations, and believers to choose between the national demands of the state and the authority of the Church, specifically the papacy. This conflict came to a head in the First Vatican Council, and in Germany would lead directly to the Kulturkampf, where liberals and Protestants under the leadership of Bismarck managed to severely restrict Catholic expression and organization.

Christian commitment in Europe dropped as modernity and secularism came into their own in Europe,[67] particularly in the Czech Republic and Estonia,[68] while religious commitments in America have been generally high in comparison to Europe. The late 20th century has shown the shift of Christian adherence to the Third World and southern hemisphere in general, with the western civilization no longer the chief standard bearer of Christianity.

Some Europeans (including diaspora), Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and natives of other continents have revived their respective peoples' historical folk religions. Approximately 7.1 to 10% of Arabs are Christians,[69] most prevalent in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

Demographics[edit]

There are many charismatic movements that have become well established over large parts of the world, especially Africa, Latin America and Asia.[70][71][72][73][74] Since 1900, primarily due to conversion, Protestantism has spread rapidly in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America.[75] From 1960 to 2000, the global growth of the number of reported Evangelical Protestants grew three times the world's population rate, and twice that of Islam.[76] A leading Saudi Arabian Muslim leader Sheikh Ahmad al Qatanni reported on Al Jazeera that every day 16,000 African Muslims convert to Christianity. He claimed that Islam was losing 6 million African Muslims a year to becoming Christians,[77][78][79][80][81] St. Mary's University study estimated about 10.2 million Muslim convert to Christianity in 2015.[82] as well a significant numbers of Muslims converts to Christianity in Afghanistan,[83] Albania,[82] Azerbaijan[84][85] Algeria,[86][87] Belgium,[88] France,[87] Germany,[89] Iran,[90] India,[87] Indonesia,[91] Malaysia,[92] Morocco,[87][93] Russia,[87] Netherlands,[94] Saudi Arabia,[95] Tunisia,[82] Turkey,[87][96][97][98] Kazakhstan,[99] Kyrgyzstan,[82] Kosovo,[100] United States,[101] and Central Asia.[102][103] It is also reported that Christianity is popular among people of different backgrounds in India (mostly Hindus),[104][105] and Malaysia,[106] Mongolia,[107] Nigeria,[108] Vietnam,[109] Singapore,[110] Indonesia,[111][112] China,[113] Japan,[114] and South Korea.[115]

In most countries in the developed world, church attendance among people who continue to identify themselves as Christians has been falling over the last few decades.[116] Some sources view this simply as part of a drift away from traditional membership institutions,[117] while others link it to signs of a decline in belief in the importance of religion in general.[118] Europe's Christian population, though in decline, still constitutes the largest geographical component of the religion.[119] According to data from the 2012 European Social Survey, around a third of European Christians say they attend services once a month or more,[120] Conversely about more than two-thirds of Latin American Christians and according to the World Values Survey about 90% of African Christians (in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe) said they attended church regularly.[120]

Christianity, in one form or another, is the sole state religion of the following nations: Argentina (Roman Catholic),[121] Tuvalu (Reformed), Tonga (Methodist), Norway (Lutheran),[122][123][124] Costa Rica (Roman Catholic),[125] Kingdom of Denmark (Lutheran),[126] England (Anglican),[127] Georgia (Georgian Orthodox),[128] Greece (Greek Orthodox),[129] Iceland (Lutheran),[130] Liechtenstein (Roman Catholic),[131] Malta (Roman Catholic),[132] Monaco (Roman Catholic),[133] and Vatican City (Roman Catholic).[134]

There are numerous other countries, such as Cyprus, which although do not have an established church, still give official recognition and support to a specific Christian denomination.[135]


Criticism and apologetics[edit]

File:SummaTheologiae.jpg
A copy of the Summa Theologica, a famous Christian apologetic work.

Criticism of Christianity and Christians goes back to the Apostolic Age, with the New Testament recording friction between the followers of Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes (e.g. Matthew 15:1-20 and Mark 7:1–23).[136] In the 2nd century, Christianity was criticized by the Jews on various grounds, e.g. that the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible could not have been fulfilled by Jesus, given that he did not have a successful life.[137] Additionally a sacrifice to remove sins in advance, for everyone or as a human being, did not fit to the Jewish sacrifice ritual, furthermore God is said to judge people on their deeds instead of their beliefs.[138][139]

By the 3rd century, criticism of Christianity had mounted, partly as a defense against it, and the 15-volume Adversus Christianos by Porphyry was written as a comprehensive attack on Christianity, in part building on the pre-Christian concepts of Plotinus.[140][141]

By the 12th century, the Mishneh Torah (i.e., Rabbi Moses Maimonides) was criticizing Christianity on the grounds of idol worship, in that Christians attributed divinity to Jesus who had a physical body.[142] In the 19th century, Nietzsche began to write a series of polemics on the "unnatural" teachings of Christianity (e.g. sexual abstinence), and continued his criticism of Christianity to the end of his life.[143] In the 20th century, the philosopher Bertrand Russell expressed his criticism of Christianity in Why I Am Not a Christian, formulating his rejection of Christianity in the setting of logical arguments.[144]

Criticism of Christianity continues to date, e.g. Jewish and Muslim theologians criticize the doctrine of the Trinity held by most Christians, stating that this doctrine in effect assumes that there are three Gods, running against the basic tenet of monotheism.[145] New Testament scholar Robert M. Price has outlined the possibility that some Bible stories are based partly on myth in "The Christ Myth Theory and its problems".[146]

Christian apologetics aims to present a rational basis for Christianity. The word "apologetic" comes from the Greek word "apologeomai", meaning "in defense of". Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle. The philosopher Thomas Aquinas presented five arguments for God's existence in the Summa Theologica, while his Summa contra Gentiles was a major apologetic work.[147][148] Another famous apologist, G. K. Chesterton, wrote in the early twentieth century about the benefits of religion and, specifically, Christianity. Famous for his use of paradox, Chesterton explained that while Christianity had the most mysteries, it was the most practical religion.[149][150] He pointed to the advance of Christian civilizations as proof of its practicality.[151] The physicist and priest John Polkinghorne, in his Questions of Truth discusses the subject of religion and science, a topic that other Christian apologists such as Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox and William Lane Craig have engaged, with the latter two men opining that the inflationary Big Bang model is evidence for the existence of God.[152]

Quotes[edit]

SRG HHCE

Hindu temples were the most visible symbols of the Brahmana religion. They became targets of Christian attack like all other Pagan temples. “According to the Syrian writer Zenob,” writes Dr. R. C. Majumdar, “there was an Indian colony in the canton of Taron on the upper Euphrates, to the west of Lake Van, as early as the second century B.C. The Indians had built there two temples containing images of gods about 18 and 22 feet high. When, about AD 304, St. Gregory came to destroy these images, he was strongly opposed by the Hindus. But he defeated them and smashed the images, thus anticipating the iconoclastic zeal of Mahmud of Ghazni.” The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume II, The Age of Imperial Unity, Fourth Edition, Bombay, 1968, pp. 633-634.


SRG VIND BY TIME

50. When Carpini was sent to China in the 13th century apparently to expound to the heathen the truth of Christianity, he went in reality on a Mission of Espionage, an instance of religion being used for political purposes (pages 376-77, Asia and Western Dominance-Panikkar). Writing about Missionary activities in China even the Missionary historian Latourette had to point out that “the church had become a partner in Western Imperialism” (page 425 ibid).



Most people in the targeted countries do not know that the first missionaries sent out by the Pope Innocent IV after the Council of Lyons in 1245 CE were spies commissioned to gather information about the strength and resources of the Mongols who had swept over West Asia and were posing a serious threat to Christendom in Europe. The second mission was that of John de Monte Carvino commissioned by the Pope to visit the court of Kublai Khan at Peking for the, same purpose. He started to smuggle Christianity in China surreptitiously by buying slaves and baptizing them and building a few churches. The Pope in Rome felt great joy that the ‘only true faith’ was spreading in China. But within a few years of Carvino’s death in 1328 the entire edifice built by him collapsed and not a trace of it was left except in his letters to the Pope.4






China

It was in China that Christian missions achieved their greatest success as well as met their greatest failure. Backed by the gangsterism of European powers, particularly Britain and France, the mission’s spread their tentacles far and wide shattered the political, social and cultural fabric of China, and prepared the way for Communist take-over after the Second World War.

There were a large number of Chinese in Malacca when the Portuguese captured this place in 1511. It was from these Chinese that the Portuguese heard of the vast riches of China. They started sending commercial embassies to China. But the real purpose of these embassies was to spy and gather intelligence; they were planning invasion and conquest. A Portuguese embassy under Thomas Pires was sent to Peking and the Chinese Emperor showed readiness to receive it. But Simon d’Antrade who had accompanied Pires landed a party of Portuguese on the Chinese land and started building a fort. “The Chinese fleet attacked him and he was driven out. When news of Simon d’Artrade’s piracies reached Peking, the Chinese Government naturally refused to receive the ambassador who was sent back to Canton where he died in prison in 1523.”26 Francis Xavier had also cast covetous eyes on China after his return from Japan. “He set out for China. But waiting for a ship on a little island off the Kwantung coast the indomitable old man died (1552).”27

On the other hand, unofficial trade between the Portuguese and some Chinese on the coastal areas was proving profitable to both parties. A Portuguese ship helped a Chinese admiral who was chasing pirates, and the Portuguese had given rich presents to the local governor of Chuang Chao and Ningpo. So the viceroy allowed the Portuguese to establish a trading post on the small deserted promontory of Macao in 1557.28 In 1565 the Jesuits built a residence in Macao and Christian missionaries started arriving. By now the missionaries had evolved a new policy. They tried to be of special service to high Chinese officials and use their patronage for propagating Christianity. Matteo Ricci reached Macao in 1582 and travelled to the Chinese Capital at Peking in 1595 He gained the favour of the Court by presenting chiming clocks, other scientific toys and by showing his skill in mathematics. At that time a conflict had arisen in China between Buddhism and Confucianism. Seeing that the Court was inclined towards Confucianism, he sided with this creed. “He quoted from the Confucian texts in support of the Christian doctrines and tried to show that Confucian doctrines did not conflict with Christianity.”29

The Jesuits who followed Ricci served the Ming Emperors as astrologers and gun manufacturers, which activities brought them patronage but in no way promoted-Christianity. Adam Schall who had succeeded Ricci in 1630 “was nominated Vice-President of the Imperial Sacrifice, the Superintendent of the imperial Stud and High Honourable Bearer of the Imperial Banquet strange posts for a Christian priest to hold.”30 The mission at Peking was closed after the Ming dynasty was overthrown by the Manchus and Schall was jailed. He died in 1666. But another Jesuit, Ferdinand Verbiest, succeeded in winning the favour of the Manchu King, Kang Hsi who needed the Jesuit’s skill for manufacturing cannon for suppressing a rebellion. The new king permitted the missionaries to preach their religion. Verbiest appealed to the king of France to send missionaries to China from the newly established (1664) Congregation de Missions Estrangers in Paris, and six French priests left for the Far East in 1685. One of these French fathers, Gerbillion was “a brilliant linguist who rendered brilliant service to the Chinese Government during the Sino-Russian border disputes which led to the Treaty of Nertchinsk (1689). As a reward for his ability and tact an ‘Edict of Tolerance’ was issued by the Emperor (1692) which declared that the doctrines taught by the Europeans in charge of Astronomy and the Tribunal of Mathematics, ‘are not evil’ and permitted people ‘to go to the churches freely to worship God’.”31

But the Jesuits had gone too far in compromising the Christian doctrines and rites. They were practising astrology for the Chinese Court. “The head of the Jesuit mission as the Honourable Bearer of Dishes at the Imperial Banquet, or as the President of the Rites was not likely to find favour either in Rome or in Paris, and this was the problem that was raised at the Vatican itself, by the Dominicans,”32 The Pope sent to China the Vicar General who gave a decision against the Jesuits. The Jesuits appealed to the Chinese Emperor for declaring that the Chinese rites were not in conflict with the Christian practices. The Emperor confirmed the Jesuit position, which was resented by the Pope. He sent a Legate for further enquiry. The Legate prohibited the Jesuit practices. The Emperor sent the Legate to jail where he died in 1710. On the other hand, a Papal Bull was issued against missionaries in China practising any Chinese rites. “In 1724, the preaching of the Christian religion was officially suppressed and the foreign missionaries, except those employed at the Court, were deported to Canton. Thus came to an end the grandiose scheme of the Jesuits in China.”33

Christian missions entered China in a big way with the arrival of Britain, France and the U.S.A. on the scene in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Opium trade which was forced on China by the British East India Company led to the opium wars, defeat of China, and acquisition of extraterritorial rights by the various Western powers. Christian missions gained the right to operate not only in the extra-territorial enclaves but all over China. They also shared the indemnities exacted from China in the aftermath of various wars. All sorts of questionable characters became converts to Christianity and sought the protection of imperialist powers. “Christianity in China was involved with the Taiping rebellion… Protected by foreign authority these converts looked down upon the Chinese and took up an aggressive attitude towards them…” The Christian missionaries created mischief everywhere but were protected by the consuls of foreign powers.34

“But there was not a single province or area during all this time where the common man, as well as the mandarin, did not make it clear that the missionary was an unwelcome intruder… Not a single year passed without violent manifestations in some town or other against missionary activity. The Boxer rebellion could only be understood against this background. It was the missionary and the ‘secondary devil’, the native convert, who were the special objects of the Boxer’s fury. Indeed the Chinese Christians had to pay dearly for being ‘secondary devils’ suspected to be supporters of foreign aggressors.”35

One particular incident in the history of Christianity in China deserves special notice. The French had built a cathedral on the site of a Chinese temple in Tientsin. An orphanage was also established by Catholic nuns. “These sisters arranged for the payment of a sum for every child brought to the orphanage, that is, in plain words established a kind of purchase system, encouraging the less scrupulous Chinese middlemen to kidnap children… Naturally, the Chinese public was greatly agitated by the procedure.”36 The matter was represented to the Imperial Commissioner who took it up with the French consul. The consul resisted enquiry by a committee of the Chinese and fired at the mob which had collected outside the orphanage. The consul was murdered and the Cathedral as well as the orphanage was destroyed. The French threatened war and were supported by the British, the Americans, the Russians and the Italians. The situation was saved by the Franco-Prussian war in Europe in which the French were defeated.37

The Boxer war gave an opportunity to the Christian missions to acquire monopoly over education in China. The Treaty that followed “provided for the suspension of official examinations for five years in towns where foreigners had been molested - a device meant to give a chance to the missionary educated young men and Christians to be employed in service…”38 In the next ten years the missionaries established a monopoly over education in China. Missionary education in turn created spiritual chaos. Instead of a Chinese renaissance based on Confucianism or Buddhism what followed was a basically antireligious movement - the Chinese New Tide which paved the way for “penetration of revolutionary ideas of Marxism”. The leader of the New Tide, Chen. Tu-hsiu, became in due course the founder of the original Communist Party of China.39

Christian hopes in China revived when Sun Yat-sen, a Christian, emerged as the leader of the Chinese Republic after the overthrow of the Manchus in 1911. “But he showed that he was more interested in the greatness and welfare of China than in the promotion of Christianity. The disappointment which Sun Yat-sen felt at the attitude of the Christian powers of the West and the influence which the October Revolution in Russia exercised on him led him away further and further from the missionaries to whom he had at one time looked for support. Moreover, the rising tide of nationalism, against unequal treaties and against imperialism, was unfavourable to Christianity The Anti-Christian Federation founded in Shanghai in 1922 asserted that Christianity was an ally of capitalism and imperialism and thus an instrument for oppression of weaker nations.”40

Seventy years of sustained missionary effort for Christianizing China had inflicted great damage on Chinese society and culture. The missionaries had also helped the Western powers in destroying the political system of China. “Anarchical conditions in China were expected to be favourable to missionary hopes. Anarchical conditions did come about in Chinese society, but the beneficiaries were others.”41


1K.M. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance, London (1953), Seventh Impression, 1967, p. 15.

2Ibid., p. 314.

3Ibid., p. 297.

4Ibid., pp. 279-80.

5Ibid., p. 25.

6Ibid., p. 27.

7Ibid., p. 34.

8Ibid., p. 45.

9Ibid., p. 280.

10Ibid., p. 280.

11Ibid., p. 28 1.

12Ibid., p. 283.

13Ibid., p. 290.

14Ibid., pp. 290-91.

15Ibid., p. 291.

16Ibid., p. 242.

17Ibid., p. 249.

18Ibid., p. 295.

19Ibid., p. 282.

20Ibid., p. 288.

21Ibid., p. 289.

22Ibid., p. 242.

23Ibid., pp. 67 and 289.

24Ibid., pp. 66-67.

25Ibid., p. 293.

26Ibid., pp. 56-57.

27Ibid., pp. 282-83.

28Ibid., p. 58.

29Ibid., P. 283.

30Ibid., p. 286.

31Ibid., pp. 286-87.

32Ibid., p. 287.

33Ibid., pp. 287-88.

34Ibid., pp. 291-92.

35Ibid., pp. 292-93.

36Ibid., p. 13 8.

37Ibid., pp. 138-39.

38Ibid., p. 149.

39Ibid., pp. 150-51, 254, 259, 267.

40Ibid., p. 296.

41Ibid., pp. 296-97.

42Ibid., p. 294.

43Ibid., p. 163.

44Ibid., p. 164.

45Ibid., pp. 273-74.

46Ibid., p. 171. Emphasis in source..

47Ibid., pp. 172-73.

48Ibid., pp. 272-73.

49Ibid., p. 27 1.

50Ibid., pp. 294-95.

51Felix Alfred Planner, The Catholic Church in India: Yesterday and Today, Allahabad, 1964, p. 14.


SRG VIND BY TIME

51. In Japan also it was discovered in 1596 that the Christian Missions were being used for political purposes. A Spanish Captain of a ship admitted that the object of converting the people to Christianity was to secure allies in conquering their Mother country (page 843, Story of Civilization by Durant). It is with reference to Japan that Sir A. Toynbee observes that an aggressive foreign religion will in fact her an immediate menace to a society that it is assailing on account of “the danger of the converts being used as a fifth column” (p. 58, The World and the West B.B.C, Reith Lecture-1952).

14. World and the West Reith Lectures by Toynbee, 1951.




Japan

Francis Xavier’s vision was not confined to India. He was eying the whole of South East Asia and the Far East, China and Japan in particular. He had sailed to Malacca in Malaya in 1545 and then to Amboyna in Indonesia. While he was in Malacca again on his way back from Amboyna, he met a Japanese named Anjiro who was a fugitive from justice of his own country. “Anjiro gave him glowing accounts of the readiness of the people of Japan to receive the message of Christ.” Xavier trained this Japanese criminal at the College of St. Paul in Goa and then set sail for Japan with him in 1549. He was encouraged by a provincial feudal lord but opposed by the Buddhist priests. He travelled to the Capital of Japan, Miyako, in the hope of converting the Emperor of Japan. But the Emperor refused to see him and he returned disheartened to Goa in 1551. “The opposition of Buddhist monks had dashed his hopes and ignorant as he was of Eastern religions, to him the Buddha was a demon under whose influence the Japanese people were living in monstrous sin. But he did not give up hope. He wrote to Ignatius Loyola to send more workers for Japan.”19

Limited Christian missionary work continued in Japan mainly in the western part of the Island. Japan at that time was divided into a number of principalities. “The feudal rulers of that part of Japan were anxious at that time to attract Portuguese vessels to the harbours mainly with the object of strengthening themselves against other feudal Lords. They realized instinctively the close connection between the foreign powers across the seas and the missionaries who had come to preach the new religion.”20 It was at this time that the great Japanese leader Oda Nobunaga started his career of conquest to unite Japan. He was being opposed by the powerful Buddhist monasteries. “The Jesuits saw a chance of interesting him in their mission to the disadvantage of the Buddhist church. Nobunaga encouraged them and in 1568 he invited the Catholic missionaries to Kyoto and even gave them land on which to build a church. Under his powerful protection the mission made unexpected progress.”21

Hideyoshi who succeeded Nobunaga was also favourably inclined towards the missionaries. “But he was a keen-eyed observer. He noticed that the Portuguese had landed artillery to protect the area in which Christians lived. On a visit to a Portuguese vessel to see Father Coelho, he observed that the ship, though small, was heavily armed. He was also aware of the interest that the western daimyos were manifesting in the arms and equipment of the Portuguese and of their attempts to strengthen themselves by friendship with foreigners. Hideyoshi acted with firmness and in 1587 the activities of the missionaries were prohibited throughout the length and breadth of Japan.” By now the Spaniards had conquered the Philippines and were negotiating a commercial treaty with Japan. “The commander of a Spanish galleon which was driven ashore spoke of Spanish power and recounted to the local daimyo who had salvaged the vessel and claimed the cargo the glories and prowess of the Conquistadores in a boastful manner. Hideyoshi’s suspicious mind, already aware of Portuguese action in the East, ordered the arrest of all Spaniards in the country and had them crucified in Nagasaki as spies.”22

The Japanese had collected considerable intelligence about the doings of the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Spaniards and the British in the islands of the Pacific. They had also realized that the converts in Japan sympathised with and looked for support to the foreigners. So they put down with a strong hand efforts to convert more Japanese to a creed which was heaping abuse on the gods of Japan.” The local Christian community continued to exist as a minor and obscure sect subject to intermittent persecution mainly because of its affiliations with foreigners. However, in 1614 Iyeasu, the Tokugawa Shogun, made it clear that Christian teachings were no longer to be tolerated and an edict banning the religion was issued that year.”23 At the same time, the Japanese sent a special spy to the southern regions to report on the activities of the Europeans there. Information about a Spanish plan to invade Japan reached them in 1622. Then came the Christian rebellion in Japan in 1637. “It took a considerable army and a costly campaign to put down the revolt which was said to have received support from the Portuguese. The reaction of the Shogunate was sharp and decisive the firm policy of eliminating the converts was put into effect and a few years later the country was closed to the Westerners.”24

Japan remained closed to Christian missions till 1889 when the policy was revised under the Meiji Restoration. The Japanese remained suspicious about Christian missionaries but as the new Constitution included a clause about complete religious toleration. The doors were opened to foreign missions. By that time, however, both Shintoism and Buddhism had revived in Japan and Christianity continued to be looked down upon by the mainstream Japanese as an evil sect. “Finally the educational system in Japan was under national control and Christian teachings were suspected to be in conflict with the tradition of state dominance enjoined by Shintoism.”25


1K.M. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance, London (1953), Seventh Impression, 1967, p. 15.

2Ibid., p. 314.

3Ibid., p. 297.

4Ibid., pp. 279-80.

5Ibid., p. 25.

6Ibid., p. 27.

7Ibid., p. 34.

8Ibid., p. 45.

9Ibid., p. 280.

10Ibid., p. 280.

11Ibid., p. 28 1.

12Ibid., p. 283.

13Ibid., p. 290.

14Ibid., pp. 290-91.

15Ibid., p. 291.

16Ibid., p. 242.

17Ibid., p. 249.

18Ibid., p. 295.

19Ibid., p. 282.

20Ibid., p. 288.

21Ibid., p. 289.

22Ibid., p. 242.

23Ibid., pp. 67 and 289.

24Ibid., pp. 66-67.

25Ibid., p. 293.

26Ibid., pp. 56-57.

27Ibid., pp. 282-83.

28Ibid., p. 58.

29Ibid., P. 283.

30Ibid., p. 286.

31Ibid., pp. 286-87.

32Ibid., p. 287.

33Ibid., pp. 287-88.

34Ibid., pp. 291-92.

35Ibid., pp. 292-93.

36Ibid., p. 13 8.

37Ibid., pp. 138-39.

38Ibid., p. 149.

39Ibid., pp. 150-51, 254, 259, 267.

40Ibid., p. 296.

41Ibid., pp. 296-97.

42Ibid., p. 294.

43Ibid., p. 163.

44Ibid., p. 164.

45Ibid., pp. 273-74.

46Ibid., p. 171. Emphasis in source..

47Ibid., pp. 172-73.

48Ibid., pp. 272-73.

49Ibid., p. 27 1.

50Ibid., pp. 294-95.

51Felix Alfred Planner, The Catholic Church in India: Yesterday and Today, Allahabad, 1964, p. 14.


SRG VIND BY TIME


Indo-China

Christian missionary intrusion in Indo-China started with the activities of Alexander de Rhodes, a Jesuits who started work among Japanese Christian refugees (1662-27). But his success was not significant. His appeal to the Pope for support bore no fruit. The newly established Mission Estrangers in France (1659), however, provided help. “Some businessmen in Rouen had established a society for the double purpose of trade and religion. It was in their ship that Bishop Lambert, selected by Father Alexander de Rhodes for the mission, reached Tongking in the guise of a merchant (1662). The Trinh monarchs of Tongking however showed no desire to welcome missionary activity… The Dutch soon succeeded in destroying the French factory at Tongking, and the local people remained indifferent to the new religion. So there was nothing to report for nearly a century.” It was only in 1765 that Pigneau de Behaine of the Mission Estrangers arrived in Cochin China. The Nguen King of Hue was in exile at this time. Behaine fitted out an expedition and restored him to his throne. But Behaine died soon after (1779). Meanwhile, the Revolution had broken out in France and the mission could expect no help from the mother country. By the time of the Bourbon restoration in France “the new Emperor of Annam, Minh Mang, had become very hostile to Christian activity. In 1848 Emperor Tu-Doc declared the religion of Jesus to be a ‘perverse religion’ and ordered ministers of this religion to be thrown into the sea.”42

Tu-Duc’s hostility to Christianity provided an excuse to Napoleon III of France. He decided to use force. In a communique published on 14 November 1858, he announced that “ruthless persecutions of our missionaries have brought our warships on more than one than occasion to the coast of the Annamite Kingdom”. The Spaniards in the Philippines came out in support of the French expedition, “the commander-in-chief emphasizing the necessity ‘to avenge the insults to our sacred religion and our pious missionaries’.”43

The struggle between Tu-Duc and the French continued for fifteen years. The Annamite King appealed to China for help and the French suffered a defeat. But the relief was temporary. In the end Tu-Duc had to come to terms with France. He signed a treaty in 1874 ceding Cochin China to France and opening the Red River to French commerce. “This treaty… brought into existence the political structure of Indo-China with its separate areas of Cochin China, the Empire of Annam, the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Principality of Laos.”44

The cultural resistance offered by Buddhism and Confucianism in Cambodia, Laos and Annam proved to be weak and not very widespread. The missionaries had a field day. The social system showed signs of breakdown everywhere. Nor was there a strong national movement in this region till after the First World War. “When that movement started, the Russian Revolution had already become a major factor in Eastern Asia, and therefore from the beginning the new nationalism of Indo-China had a Marxist bias, which later developed into Communist leadership.”45

Slam (Thailand)

Siam was able to resist Western pressures for unequal treaties till 1855 when the changed position in China and the British annexation of a part of Burma persuaded her to negotiate with Britain. “Sir John Bowring, who negotiated the treaty of 1855, was able to secure the principle of extra-territoriality for British subjects, permission to build churches and exemption of all duty for import of opium.”46 France also found pretexts for using strong arm methods and acquired some sort of extraterritorial rights for all her Asian subjects by a treaty signed in 1893. But rivalry between France and Britain enabled Siam to maintain her independence as a buffer state. The greatest factor which came to the rescue of Siam, however, was a succession of strong and able kings who introduced reforms and revived native culture.47 Missionary activity had but little impact on the people in Siam due to the strength and vitality of the Buddhist Church. “The monarch of Siam assumed the title of the Defender of the Buddhist Faith in imitation of the British King’s title. The conservative but generally enlightened policy followed by the monarchy during the critical period between 1870 and 1920 had the effect of getting Siam through the transition without violent tumult and a disorganization of society, so that in the period following the First [World] War she was enabled to recover her natural independence in full by the gradual abolition, through negotiations, of the rights of extraterritoriality which the foreign nations possessed.”48

Burma

Burma after its annexation by the British remained a part of India till 1937 so that the rise of Indian nationalism had a strong impact on Burmese nationalism. Though Buddhism had ceased to be the state religion of Burma after its annexation, its influence amongst the people was not seriously affected. Nationalist leaders in Burma had to profess to be devout Buddhists to gain popular support. “An instance of this was the case of Dr. Ba Maw, who was baptized as a Christian in his childhood; when he had become a prominent national figure, he declared that he had returned to the mother (Buddhist) church.”49 Missionary activity in Burma was able to affect neither its social structure nor its religion except among the Karens, the backward tribals. “There was thus considerable missionary sympathy for Karen separatism - a movement which was at one stage a major threat to the cause of Burmese independence.”50



1K.M. Panikkar, Asia and Western Dominance, London (1953), Seventh Impression, 1967, p. 15.

2Ibid., p. 314.

3Ibid., p. 297.

4Ibid., pp. 279-80.

5Ibid., p. 25.

6Ibid., p. 27.

7Ibid., p. 34.

8Ibid., p. 45.

9Ibid., p. 280.

10Ibid., p. 280.

11Ibid., p. 28 1.

12Ibid., p. 283.

13Ibid., p. 290.

14Ibid., pp. 290-91.

15Ibid., p. 291.

16Ibid., p. 242.

17Ibid., p. 249.

18Ibid., p. 295.

19Ibid., p. 282.

20Ibid., p. 288.

21Ibid., p. 289.

22Ibid., p. 242.

23Ibid., pp. 67 and 289.

24Ibid., pp. 66-67.

25Ibid., p. 293.

26Ibid., pp. 56-57.

27Ibid., pp. 282-83.

28Ibid., p. 58.

29Ibid., P. 283.

30Ibid., p. 286.

31Ibid., pp. 286-87.

32Ibid., p. 287.

33Ibid., pp. 287-88.

34Ibid., pp. 291-92.

35Ibid., pp. 292-93.

36Ibid., p. 13 8.

37Ibid., pp. 138-39.

38Ibid., p. 149.

39Ibid., pp. 150-51, 254, 259, 267.

40Ibid., p. 296.

41Ibid., pp. 296-97.

42Ibid., p. 294.

43Ibid., p. 163.

44Ibid., p. 164.

45Ibid., pp. 273-74.

46Ibid., p. 171. Emphasis in source..

47Ibid., pp. 172-73.

48Ibid., pp. 272-73.

49Ibid., p. 27 1.

50Ibid., pp. 294-95.

51Felix Alfred Planner, The Catholic Church in India: Yesterday and Today, Allahabad, 1964, p. 14.

Notes[edit]

  1. From Ancient Greek Χριστός, Khristós (Latinized as Christus), translating Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ, Māšîăḥ, meaning "the anointed one", with the Latin suffixes -ian and -itas.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The term "Christian" (Greek Χριστιανός) was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch[Acts 11:26] about 44 AD, meaning "followers of Christ". The name was given by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch to the disciples of Jesus. In the New Testament the names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren", "the faithful", "elect", "saints", and "believers". The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" (Greek Χριστιανισμός) was by Ignatius of Antioch, around 100 AD.[1]

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Bibliography[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

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Goa Inquisition[edit]

Dharmic influence[edit]

St Thomas myth[edit]

Bible and Doctrines[edit]

Christian terror[edit]

Conversion[edit]


christianity[edit]