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What good things have Christians done?
What good do Christians do? Wow. Carte blanche! Such an open-ended question gives me a lot of latitude! I might be able to cover the entire 2000 years!I’m going to enjoy this.EqualityOriginally, one of the first impacts of Christianity — noticed by Pliny the Younger and other Romans—was its egalitarian nature. Rome had a social caste system, and early Christianity, as Pliny disgustedly says in some of his letters, had people from the “country and the city, rich and poor, slave and free, male and female” all meeting together! Imagine!This was seen as a social threat to the stability of Rome. It probably was too, because Rome was built on slavery as much as its military might—(that military was especially good at keeping Rome supplied with new slaves)—and telling owners and slaves they were brothers, as Paul does in Philemon, could only lead to social unrest. Accordingly, Pliny tortured all the Christians he caught and killed those who would not recant.We take equality for granted now—we fuss and fume over the details of ten dollars per hour vs fifteen because it has become such an innate part of culture; we expect and demand it now. We no longer consider where the concept of equality first came from.It came when Christianity introduced a whole new way of being human—and it caught on. The world has never been the same since.Human Rights and Natural LawThroughout much of history, people acquired rights through their membership in a group – and justice meant different things for those in the group and those outside the group. The concept of an innate value to simply being human was for many centuries a uniquely Christian ideal. Thomas Aquinas took this thought and wrote what became the foundation of modern human rights.According to Aquinas, every law is ultimately derived from what he calls the eternal law: God’s ordering of all created things. For Aquinas, a human action is good or bad depending on whether it conforms to reason, and it is this participation in the eternal law by the rational creature that is called “natural law.” Natural law is a fundamental principle that is woven into the fabric of our nature. It illuminates and gives us a desire for the goodness that facilitates human flourishing.Secularists such as Hugo Grotius later took the idea of human rights and ran with it.Basically, this says being moral and reasonable is the best path to happiness. That should sound familiar to Americans and enable us to recognize the foundation of similar statements in our Constitution. Internet Encyclopedia of PhilosophyFor most of the world, it wasn’t until the horrors of World War II that governments began embracing this idea of innate human value. But eventually they did: at the US founded United Nations, on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the 56 members of the United Nations. It claims that—because human rights are interdependent and indivisible— how a government treats its own citizens is now a matter of legitimate international concern, and not simply a domestic issue.And Christianity was its cradle. (Secularism was its nanny.) :-)WomenThe New Testament refers to a number of women in Jesus’ inner circle.There are several Gospel accounts of Jesus imparting important teachings to women: his meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well, his anointing by Mary of Bethany, his public admiration for a poor widow who donated two copper coins to the Temple in Jerusalem, his stepping to the aid of the woman accused of adultery, his friendship with Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus, and the presence of Mary Magdalene, his mother, and the other women as he was crucified.Blainey concludes that "as the standing of women was not high in Palestine, Jesus' kindnesses towards them were not always approved by those who strictly upheld tradition." (Blainey, Geoffrey. A Short History of Christianity, Penguin Viking; 2011; pp 19-20)He did it anyway.When Jesus told his followers men could not divorce their wives on any whim that took them, in effect, that made women equal to men. Paul continued this by stating church elders could only have one wife. These social changes began the process of elevating the status of women. It has been three steps forward, two steps back ever since, but it has also been a powerful social shift.According to the book Reasons for God by Tim Keller (page 249), It was common in the Greco-Roman world to throw out new female infants to die from exposure because of the low status of women in society.The church forbade its members to do so.Greco-Roman society saw no value in an unmarried woman, and therefore it was illegal for a widow to go more than two years without remarrying.Christianity was the first religion to not force widows to marry. They were supported financially and honored within the community so that they were not under great pressure to remarry if they didn't want to.Pagan widows lost all control of their husband's estate when they remarried,but the church allowed widows to maintain their husband's estate.Finally, Christians did not believe in cohabitation. If a Christian man wanted to live with a woman he had to marry her, and this gave women legal rights and far greater security.Also, the pagan double standard of allowing married men to have extramarital sex and mistresses was forbidden.In all these ways Christian women enjoyed far greater security and equality than did women in the surrounding culture.From the very beginning of the Christian church, women were important members of the movement. Deaconesses are recorded in extra-biblical histories of the first century church such as Pliny’s letters, and in the New Testament many women are listed by name as “important” to the work of the church.It’s historically documented that women were ordained to leadership roles in the early and medieval church. There was a rite for the ordination of women deacons in the Roman Pontifical, (a liturgical book), up through the 12th century.For women deacons, the oldest rite in the West comes from an eighth-century book, whereas Eastern rites go all the way back to the third century—and there are lots more of them.Then in the 13th-century Roman Pontifical, that prayer for women deacons is gone. The 12th century is the last time a reference is made to a woman deacon. Ordination gets re-defined in the 12th and 13th centuries and applied only to those who serve at the altar.This is the same time period when Aristotle was rediscovered and Aristotle was a misogynist. I can’t help but wonder if this was one of those examples of the church being led into error because of adopting secular views. Aristotle’s geocentrism sure did give the church grief!Still, even in the High and Late Middle Ages, women always had their own ministries. Poor Clare | religious orderThen there are the abbesses of Las Huelgas near Burgos in Spain, who acted as extraterritorial bishops until the 1870s. They established parishes for the 36 villages under them. They dismantled parishes. They had to give faculties to any priest who heard confessions or said Mass in their diocese. They held their own synods. An abbess did everything a bishop did except ordain priests. Get the facts in order: A history of women's leadershipAround that same time, Christian missionaries were a major influence in stopping the forced immolation of a man’s widow in India. Talk about respecting other cultures all you want, but things like burning a woman alive because her husband died is one practice that simply needed changing.In the 19th century, the Protestant churches established orders of women, called deaconesses who dedicated themselves to nursing services. This movement began in Germany in 1836 when Theodor Fliedner and his wife opened the first deaconess motherhouse in Kaiserswerth on the Rhine. It became a model, and within half a century there were over 5,000 deaconesses in Europe. The Church of England named its first deaconess in 1862. The North London Deaconess Institution trained deaconesses for other dioceses and some served overseas. History of hospitals - WikipediaWe’ve come a long way baby—and Christianity was a part of that.With all this history, it is confusing that many think the church is anti-female. I suppose fundamentalism is part of that, but I also think it’s at least partly because secular culture has never forgiven the church for not supporting women’s suffrage.Come on—we all make mistakes!ChildrenIn the ancient world—even of classical Rome and Greece—infanticide was legal. It was commonly held in Rome that killing one's own children could be an act of beauty. But Jesus said ‘allow the little children to come to me—their angels in Heaven always see the face of God.’ Christianity put an end to infanticide wherever it spread.A Christian document called the Didache, dated from the late first century or early second century, contains instructions against abortion. The modern movement of protecting the life of an unborn child remains mostly a Christian movement to this day. Protecting children is not exclusively a Christian concept of course, but it is still very much a Christian ideal.We take ‘the family’ so much for granted—it remains such a powerful ideal in our society even when actual family life falls short— that we forget the central premises on which it is based. In Christianity there are only three institutions recognized by God: the church, human government—and the family. And the family is considered the most sacred.CharityHistorians record that, prior to Jesus, the ancient world left little trace of any organized charitable effort. An old Chinese proverb says, 'the tears of strangers are only water.' The ancient Romans and Greeks held a view quite commonly held even today: “yes, that is a problem, but it is not our problem.” Looking out for number one is the most common way of the modern world. On the other hand, Jesus has had such an enormous impact on charity in every community where Christianity appears—all through history—that one wonders how different things would be in the world today if he had never been born.Christianity, rooted as it is in Jewish ethics, believes in elevating those oppressed by society, helping the neediest and lowliest, and aiding those that society rejects and grinds down.Feeding and clothing the poor, visiting prisoners, supporting widows and orphan children has always been a part of Jesus’ mission. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) is a classic illustration.Christians continue to out-give and out-volunteer all other groups. And while some say it doesn’t “count” because Christians give to their churches, that overlooks the fact churches pass that on in the form of charitable activities. Christians don’t just give to their churches—they give through them.Statistics on U.S. Generosity | The Almanac of American Philanthropy | The Philanthropy RoundtableHospitalsChristians have been leaders in medicine and the building of hospitals as long as there have been Christians because Jesus of Nazareth healed the sick during his ministry on earth. (see Matt. 9; 10:8; 25: 34-26) The early church not only endorsed medicine, but championed care for the sick. Monasteries and nunneries all provided medical care and made real contributions to the practice of medicine in their day.Albert Jonsen, University of Washington historian of medicine, maintains:“the second great sweep of medical history begins at the end of the fourth century, with the founding of the first Christian hospital at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and concludes at the end of the fourteenth century, with medicine well ensconced in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe.”That first Christian hospital came after the death of Eusebios in 370 and the election of Basil as bishop of Caesarea—a position he eventually came to see as, not merely a burden, but also an opportunity to help others.Basil established the first formal soup kitchen, hospital, homeless shelter, hospice, poorhouse, orphanage, reform center for thieves, women’s center for those leaving prostitution and many other ministries. All the while, Basil was personally involved and invested in the projects and process. He gave all of his personal wealth to fund the ministry to the poor and downtrodden of society.All of these ministries were given freely to all who sought help regardless of their religious affiliation. Basil himself would put on an apron and work in the soup kitchen. He would refuse to make any discrimination when it came to people who needed help saying that “the digestive systems of the Jew and the Christian are indistinguishable.” St. Basil the Great and Christian PhilanthropyThis Christian practice did not end with Basil—instead, it spread. Charles Rosenberg documents that modern hospitals owe much of their origins to Judeo-Christian compassion. (Charles E. Rosenberg, The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America’s Hospital System (New York: Basic Books, 1987),By just after the mid 1800’s, American hospitals were being established in large numbers, and most of them were religious. Evidence of the vast expansion of faith-based hospitals is seen in the legacy of their names: St. Vincent’s, St. Luke’s, Mt. Sinai, Presbyterian, Mercy, and Beth Israel. These were all charitable hospitals, some of which began as foundling hospitals to care for abandoned children.Similarly, in Europe, great hospitals were built under the auspices of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Indeed, an ancient French term for hospital is hôtel-Dieu (“hostel of God”).In 1863, the Société Genevoise d’Utilité Publique called on Swiss Christian businessman Jean Henri Dunant to form a relief organization for caring for wartime wounded. Thus, the emblem of the Red Cross was codified in the Geneva Convention one year later.In Britain, Dame Cicely Saunders founded the hospice movement by establishing St. Christopher’s Hospice in the south of London in 1967. The Christian Origins of HospitalsSisters of Charity - WikipediaEducation and UniversitiesFrom the beginning of Judaism, from which Christianity is derived, there was an emphasis on the written word. But the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in the Protestant Reformation.One of the things Protestants believed was the right of every man to read the Bible for himself without being told what to think by the spiritual elite. For that, every person needed to be able to read. Toward this end, many of the world's languages were first put in writing by Christian missionaries.In America, the first law to require education of the masses was passed by the Puritans.All but one of the first 123 colleges in colonial America were Christian institutions.Historically, the University system was begun by Christianity back in the 13th century. About the same time, Christianity was also laying the foundations of modern science. Christianity is based on the belief in a rational God who is the source of rational truth. This gives rise to the possibility of scientific laws. Nearly all the early founders of modern science were Christians. These include men such as Keppler, Boyle, Pascal, Pasteur, Newton, etc. Tim O'Neill's answer to Why did science make little real progress in Europe in the Middle Ages?The Work EthicMany historians credit theologian John Calvin from 200 years ago as the person who is most responsible for putting together the principles (that were always in the Bible) into an economic system adapted by the American founders. We now call its more developed form capitalism.The ArtsArt, Music, Literature and ArchitectureAn exhaustive list of the influence of Christianity on the arts is simply not possible. But here are a few by Age.Fourth CenturyDuring the fourth century, Christian writing and theology bloomed. What resulted was a “Golden Age” of literary and scholarly activity unmatched since the days of Virgil and Horace. Many of these works are still influential today.A new genre of literature was also born: church history.The Fall of RomeAfter the Roman empire died, culture in the west returned to a subsistence agrarian form of life. What little security there was in this world was provided by the Christian church; they also did what they could to preserve education and salvage what literary works could still be found. It is not unreasonable to say Christianity saved what was left of “civilization”. Many great texts of the Classical period would have been lost without the dedication of Christian monks.The Age of the MonkThe period between 500 and 1000 could easily be designated the Age of the Monk. Christian leaders, like St.Benedict (480–543) vowed a life of chastity, obedience and poverty in order to live as a monk dedicated to God. After rigorous intellectual training and self-denial, monks were required to live by the “Rule of Benedict.” This “Rule” became the foundation of law in many areas across what is modern day Europe.Monasteries were models of productivity and economic resourcefulness. They were havens for the poor, hospitals, hospices for the dying, and centers for copying texts which were then protected in their libraries. Their illuminated manuscripts are samples of medieval painting.They established schools, and for several hundred years, nearly all secular leaders were trained by monks and selected from monasteries. It is often overlooked that the study of classical and secular texts did exist in monasteries.Monasteries provided a stable environment for learning in a Medieval Europe that was not particularly stable.Medical practice was highly important in medieval monasteries, and they are best known for their contributions to medical tradition, but they also had a hand in advances in some other sciences such as astronomy as well.What these Christian communions had in common was not only the confession of Christ but a social effect that was only partially intended. The formation of new organized bodies of believers, distinct from both political (royal or imperial) and familial (sib, clan, or tribal) authorities, gradually carved out a series of social spaces in which various interests claimed and eventually won the legal right to exist in independent institutions.It revolutionized social history. Christian Social MovementsEarly Middle AgesIn the 800’s under Charlemagne there was an early Renaissance sometimes called the Christian Renaissance. During that era Charlemage created the most efficient and centralized state since Rome. Many of his innovations remain extant. He invented lower case letters in handwriting. How Charlemagne Changed the WorldMusic became an integral part of church liturgy during the early medieval era. Gregorian chants began here, and polyphony—two lines of melody—was invented in the church in the ninth century giving roots to all the secular and sacred music of the modern west.The High Middle Ages (aka The Christian Centuries)Art and Architecture were glorified in this era and though the church was the artist’s primary customer, it did not prevent artistic experimentation.Church cathedrals of this time show Romanesque architectural style with its bays, and stained glass windows as a means of venerating God. The Gothic style, with its ribbed vaults and flying buttresses, and the choir where the service was sung, grew out of the Romanesque. Then there are always the gargoyles.In music, polyphony and tropes emerged from church music, leading to a new musical genre, the liturgical drama.The basic system for music composition was developed in this era by an Italian monk named Guido of Arezzo—musical notation, the invention of the musical staff, naming the notes, dō, re, mi… these innovations are what make modern music possible.The writings of Dante, the courtly love movement, vernacular literature and the Knights of the Round Table—are all part of the legacy of the “Christian Centuries.”The Late Middle AgesBy the 1300’s, hard times had come to Europe. The unique culture which had blended the spiritual and the secular to such glorious results in the High Middle Ages began to come undone.The first English Bible is published by John Wycliffe in this Age. Some of the world’s greatest Cathedrals are built during this—the church’s most corrupt era—and painting and sculpture began to be liberated from their service to architecture.The Early and the High RenaissanceModern Times are thought to begin here. What was innovative in the sixteenth century has become second nature to the twenty first.“The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the first major book printed using mass-produced movable metal typein Europe.It marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book in the West.” Gutenberg Bible - Wikipedia (Thank you to Christina Lincoln)Art flourished during the Renaissance at least partially due to Christianity’s support and patronage. There is too much to list. Suffice it to say that without Christianity, much art would simply not exist.The Religious Reformations and the Sixteenth centuryWhile Italy was experiencing Renaissance, Germany became the epicenter of a spiritual earthquake known as the Reformation. Martin Luther led the first generation of reformers becoming one of the most influential men in history. He advocated the idea of public education for ordinary people.John Calvin led the second generation and his thought impacted political, social and economic life promoting the “Protestant work ethic” and the beginnings of Capitalism.The Reformation spawned the Counter-reformation and the founding of the Jesuits who had impact in missions to the Far East and North and South America and all across Europe for the next two hundred years. Their vow of loyalty was not to Jesus—but to the Pope.Christian humanism was invented in this era by Erasmus.The Baroque EraHandel and Bach and the powerful compositions written for church and God, date from this Age. Some of the most admired and enduring artworks in Western history were created during this era including Bernini’s Ecstacy of St.Theresa and Rembrandt’s works. The church of Saint Peter’s in Rome, St.Paul’s cathedral in London are living monuments of the grand religious and political ideals of this age.The Baroque Age II ; The Scientific Revolution; The New WorldMany have no idea the roots of the scientific revolution lie in the Christian church, but the path to modern science was begun after Aristotle was rediscovered in the 1100’s. John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham asserted that reason, the senses, and empirical evidence could enable human beings to discover the natural world. They were both monks.Ockham’s keen intellect broadened the path to modern science that was then followed by Roger Grosseteste and Francis Bacon who advocated the use of an experimental method. He demonstrated his “scientific method” in his studies of optics, solar eclipses, and rainbows and wrote treatises on mathematics, physics and philosophy. They too were monks whose work was supported by the Christian church.In the fourteenth century, Nicholas Oresme answered Aristotle’s objections concluding it was possible the earth rotated around the sun.The Scientific Revolution was both an outgrowth of and a rejection of Aristotelian cosmology and its geocentrism, and it took about 150 years—and some famous conflicts—before the church accepted Aristotle and geocentrism were wrong.The advances made by Johannes Kepler, a committed Christian, contributed to that shift.Kepler’s Christian faith led him to a pattern of thinking which eventually enabled him to solve the riddle of planetary motion where so many other scientists had given up trying. Kepler had sought and found a simple logical pattern for planetary motion which reflected God’s wisdom. As Kepler said: ‘We see how God, like a human architect, approached the founding of the world according to order and rule and measured everything in such a manner.’ Johannes KeplerTo secular scholars, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a martyr to religious bigotry, demonstrating how pious superstition can shackle human knowledge. To Protestant historians, Galileo's fate is a sharp contrast to the freedom other Enlightenment luminaries enjoyed in Reformation regions.But there's more to Galileo's story. The astronomer experimented, observed, and published his findings without ecclesiastical restraint [and with church support] for almost seventy years before his run-in with papal authorities. He lived and died just as faithful to the Roman Church as Boyle was to the Anglican, or Kepler to his Lutheran roots. Galileo and the Powers AboveIsaac Newton was a genuinely pious Christian who did not believe his contributions to science were his greatest legacy. He too based his scientific work on the belief that, since God was a God of order, it was possible to use orderly method and discern the laws God established to create our universe. He devoted his last years to demonstrating prophecies in the Bible. He also invented a form of calculus.There were several revolutions in thought that took place in this era. The church contributed to some and had trouble keeping up in others.One negative consequence of the opening of the New World was that slavery—an institution the Christian church had virtually stamped out—was reintroduced, and now the church had only a few weak voices of opposition and was instead actually complicit in many ways. Eventually the Christian church was again the voice that stopped slavery in the west.SlaveryChristianity has had one foot in both camps on slavery, with some Christians owning slaves and others working to free them. Christianity was used to keep slaves under control and Christianity is also what gave slaves personal dignity, consolation and hope.According to historian Glenn Sunshine in his book Why You Think the Way You Do, "Christians were the first people in history to oppose slavery systematically. Early Christians purchased slaves in the markets simply to set them free."It is also true that modern slavery was ended in great measure by Christian activists. For example, historians credit the British evangelical William Wilberforce as the primary force behind the ending of the international slave trade (which happened prior to the American Civil War).Two-thirds of the members of the American Abolition Society in 1835 were Christian ministers.A 5th century monk, Telemachus is credited as being the pivotal force ending the gladiator spectacles.Missionary followers of Jesus are credited with stopping cannibalism in many primitive societies.The Age of ReasonThe Enlightenment was devotedly anti-religion. The Church and the Pope came under heavy attack. However, the church adapted and absorbed some of the concepts: the ideas of religious freedom and tolerance find their roots here, and since it has been effectively empirically demonstrated that religious freedom is one of the keys to peace, this concept—once again a union of secular and sacred—has significance for all people everywhere. Institute for Economics and PeaceThe American RevolutionThat America would not be what she is—would not be at all—without the input of Christianity is indisputable.That America would not be what she is without partial secularism is also indisputable.America represents a return to that synthesis of the High Middle Ages between the secular and the sacred that produced the Golden Age of the High Middle Ages.America's first constitution was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The Puritan framers of this document required that each aspect of it be grounded in Scripture. Other constitutions to follow contained many similarities to this one.At least 50 of the 55 signers of the U.S. Constitution were orthodox Christians.There is no doubt that the concept of our Constitutional checks and balances system is a direct result of the biblical doctrine of the sinfulness of mankind. All of our founders understood the importance of this doctrine to the social order.America's foundational idea of The Rule of Law rather than the authority of man traces back to the Old Testament, beginning with the Ten Commandments.The idea that all men are created equal as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence is a biblical doctrine.The notion of the sovereign authority of God (as mentioned in the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, all 50 state constitutions, our currency, etc.)--rather than the sovereignty of the state--is certainly biblical.The existence of moral absolutes (a biblical concept) is an important idea in our Declaration of Independence--specifically, self-evident truths and unalienable rights from the Creator.Many other aspects of our laws come directly from the Bible--for example the judicial, legislative and executive branches trace to Isaiah 33:22. Fair trials with witnesses have numerous Old and New Testament support.Regarding civil liberty, founding father John Adams (and others) emphasized 2 Corinthians 3:17 as the basis for American civil liberty. The slogan on the Liberty Bell is "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof" is from Leviticus 15:10. Kennedy and Newcombe argue that Jesus himself was the greatest civil libertarian of all time."Here we see, in its embryo, the idea of limited government. This idea derives from the Christian notion that the ruler's realm is circumscribed and there are limits beyond which he simply must not go....Our modern idea of limited government takes the Christian notion of space that is off-limits to state control and extends it to the whole private sphere...." (Dinesh S'Souza) The Impact of ChristianityOur Modern DayMoving on into the modern era, it becomes apparent the activities of the church blossomed under its separation from secular government and the freedom of religion that created. There is no part of American culture that has not been influenced by Christian thought and/or practice.Christian Pacifism has produced many social movements in America that have spread outward. Martin Luther King Jr is an example of an American Christian whose faith had impact that continues to reverberate throughout our modern world.“…religious beliefs and practices have been integral to every movement promoting liberty, equality, and solidarity. From Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the nineteenth century to Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., and Starhawk in the twentieth, American radicals have maintained a deep faith in the human capacity to transform the world.”Prophetic EncountersHow the social gospel movement explains the roots of today's religious leftChristian Social MovementsConclusionChristians still study and write and teach and make music and serve each other, their community, and their country — and they pray for everyone. They love. They work. They care for their families and do much of the same kind of good that most people do. But Christians also have an extra layer of motivation, beyond that which all humans have, to be good, to do good, and to promote goodness.And they do as much good as they are able. Christians help their neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit prisoners and aid the downtrodden to this day. Catholic Charities USA has more than 2,500 local agencies that serve 10 million people annually and are supplemented by many other Catholic-affiliated groups including St. Vincent De Paul societies, social justice committees, soup kitchens, food pantries, and other similar programs organized independently by thousands of Catholic parishes each year.The Salvation Army remains an active church organization to this day.The YMCA, another Christian organization, is number five on the list of charities. The 100 Largest U.S. CharitiesThere are many Christian organizations on that list.Every local church does something to make their community a better place—for everyone.Are Christians the only ones who do “good deeds”? Of course not—but Christianity—as the Bible says—is like “salt”—it flavors everything around it and stimulates a thirst for more of what’s good. Non-Christian people are often stimulated to respond in kind. There is research to support that hanging around good-deed-doing stimulates more good-deed-doing by everyone. (haidt.2008.misunderstanding-of-religion.pub046-for-Schloss.doc)Remember when I said, “Historians record that, prior to Jesus, the ancient world left little trace of any organized charitable effort”? That is certainly no longer true. There are currently more than 400 leading charitable organizations in this country alone and hundreds more small local ones.I chalk that up to the impact of Jesus both directly and indirectly.Has the Christian church only done good? Of course not. Being populated with fallible humans means the church can only be as good as the people in it, and that has not always been either the church’s or humanity’s best.Christianity has not always lived up to its own ideals, but mostly it tries— which at least shows it has ideals. That matters too.Do individual Christians fail? I know I do. I don’t always care like I should. But I also try to remember there is a vast difference between failure and hypocrisy.It is fair and accurate to say Christianity has done more good than evil, and the good it has done has made our country what it is and has directly and indirectly influenced the world for the better.That is the good Christians do. Not too shabby huh?References:The Impact of ChristianityThe Western Humanities by Roy T. Matthews and F. Dewitt PlattThe Limits of Ancient Christianity edited by William E. Klingshirn and Mark VesseyChristianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch