Christianity is accurately the DNA by which world history finds its life and development, and as time moves forward, so its influence continues to grow and mature in our society. Many don’t realize, but almost every aspect of our western context finds its roots and foundational development in Christianity.
The Jesus movement has given our whole system of social organization its framework. (A movement that now occupies over a third of the world’s population.)
The architecture of our society is predominantly Christian-influenced, whether we admit it or not.
Here are 15 powerful (and surprising) ways Christianity changed world history and today’s society at large:
1. Christianity gave us the concept of holidays.
The word “holidays” came from the phrase “holy days,” a term of Christian origin to describe Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, and Pentecost. They were considered “holy days” because of what God had done for them. Sunday, the day Jesus rose from death, is the day that replaced the sabbath as a day of worship.
The word “Christmas” literally means “Christ’s Mass,” which is the most celebrated holiday in the world only next to Easter. Easter commemorates the most significant historical event of all time, the physical resurrection of Jesus.
2. Christianity gave us hospitals as we know them today.
The idea of the hospital grew out of the Christian emphasis on charity, especially toward the sick. In the days of Jesus, hospitals and physical treatment were reserved strictly for slaves, Roman gladiators, soldiers, and the rich. It was through the compassion of Jesus-followers that the average working-class citizen started receiving help.
It was decreed, beginning in the 4th century, that for every church built, a corresponding hospital be built next to it. Today, many of the hospitals we visit are Baptist, Presbyterian, or Catholic in origin and nature (Baptist Health, St. Vincent, Red Cross). Think about what the world would be like without immediate hospital care.
3. Christianity gave us adoption and foster care systems.
Throughout history, it has always been very common for children to be thrown away or drowned if not wanted, and in some cases (in ancient times) even sold for child sacrifice to be burned on an altar. The early Christians were the first ones to get the babies from the dumpsters and adopt them, as well as the first ones to open up adoption centers for the children that were being rejected from their homes. The early Christians recognized that all people are made in God’s image and deserve a chance at life. Jesus was pro-life.
4. Christianity (effectively) gave us the middle-class workforce.
Are you middle-class? Prior to the advent of Christianity, the middle-class was virtually non-existent. Throughout most of history, manual labor was only suitable for the slaves and lower-class citizens and was considered demeaning by the educated philosophers, theorists, freemen, and of course, royalty. So this meant that everyone was typically either rich or poor.
It was the Christian movement that first strongly emphasized that everyone should be required to work because it’s dignified and created by God for everyone. This movement eventually created a class in between the rich and poor. Middle-class America is the heart-beat of society, and now because of the Jesus movement.
5. Christianity gave us a higher view of sexuality and marriage.
Adultery and prostitution have always been prevalent. Men used to (and in some cases, still do) share their women like property, and (in ancient times) they often visited temple prostitutes as part of their weekly routine. But it was Jesus who revolutionized the most sacred way of viewing sex (even gazing at a woman lustfully is committing adultery in the heart).
It was Jesus’ influence on sexual morality that brought dignity and honor to the marriage institution. Think about it, Pastors always perform marriages, and it’s common (whether Christian marriage or not) that Bible verses shower the entire ceremony. The level of commitment for marriage is highest because, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.”
6. Christianity gave women greater dignity and freedom.
Jesus is the chief revolutionary for women’s rights. In Jesus’ day, women were the property of their husbands, so much so that if a man committed adultery, he was only punished if it were another man’s wife. If the wife committed adultery, then she was subject to capital punishment. Seriously? Yes, I fact-checked it. Men were able to mistreat and abuse their wives with no legal recourse, and women were not allowed to testify in court.
It was Jesus who continually befriended women as his own and included them in his ministry. He even chose two women to be the herald of the Christian message (Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James). It was scandalous, but Jesus revolutionized and elevated the status of women. Now, wherever Christianity spreads, then so does the value, respect, and dignity of women along with it.
7. Christianity gave children a higher status and importance.
History testifies that children were never valued by society and were often killed (under Roman law) if they were born with any deformities or ailments.
It was rare for families to raise more than one daughter because children were only considered to be valuable if they were potentially beneficial for Rome’s political fabric.
It was Jesus who welcomed children and elevated the status and sanctity of human life, inviting children to come to him and even saying, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” He gave children a seat at the table, and even required that we all become like them if we want to take our place as well.
8. Christianity gave history its most significant artwork and artists.
The Renaissance period was an EXPLOSION of Christian-influenced artwork. Leonardo’s Last Supper is hailed as one of the most magnificent paintings in the history of the world. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel of St. Peter’s in Rome. It’s universally acclaimed for its greatness and influence. Rembrandt, who is considered one of the greatest visual artists in human history, included several Biblical paintings that are among the finest works ever created (ever).
Christian art touches the soul and reaches into people who need hope. It’s powerful, and because of its magnificent quality throughout history, it is some of the most rewarding artwork the world has ever seen.
9. Christianity gave history its most excellent music and musicians.
Sebastian Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven were all Christian musicians that shaped the sound of history. History’s most famous songs are all Christian songs, including “Silent Night” and “Amazing Grace.” We have anthems because they were first used by Christians who sang in churches in response to the prescribed liturgy. Symphonies were first used in churches in the 1500s. The Sonata was created by a gifted church musician named Giovanni Gabrieli.
The sound of Christ has reverberated throughout history and continues to be the most energetic and most beautiful tune the earth has ever heard.
Christian music speaks Gospel truth and gives hope to the hopeless. God created E Minor, and Jesus creates songs of truth and grace.
10. Christianity gave history its most excellent works of literature.
According to Guinness World Records, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with over 5 billion copies sold and distributed. The City of God, written by Augustine, has sold more copies than any other book than the Bible and is considered by many scholars to be the most important book ever written.
Geoffrey Chaucer, a Christian, wrote the Canterbury Tales, which continues to be a requirement for almost everyone who attends a University or College. The Pilgrim’s Progress has been translated into virtually every language and is considered the most creative and emotional books ever written.
Christianity has not only made immense contributions to history, but also endorses literature as a whole as well as higher-education.
11. Christianity created the foundation for America.
The American Declaration of Independence has a direct link with Christian influence in many ways. Nowhere has there been a better example of liberty and justice than in the United States of America, and this is because America was founded on Christian principles.
The American Constitution was signed by 39 men, most of whom were professing Christians. Supporters of socialism, communism, and fascism have a strong distaste for the freedom of the individual. However, it was Jesus who emphasized the importance and significance of the individual person, and that inherent in individual freedom and rights is the concept that God values every person.
Our freedom of rights is a Christian concept. Take that, leftist.
12. Christianity created the foundation for our education systems.
Kindergarten originated from a Christian man named Friedrich Froebel. Graded levels of education (1st grade, 2nd grade) came from Johann Sturm, who was also a Christian who thought that advancing to the next level would be a reward for his students.
It was Christian men and women who pioneered formal education systems for the blind and deaf. Sunday school originated from Christians that wanted common, poor people to have an education, so a man named Robert Raikes decided to start teaching them on Sundays before church. Most colleges and universities in American that are well known today began as Christian schools, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia.
Men and women being formally educated in the same setting was also mostly a Christian innovation. Before this, it was only the boys that got an education. There’s another one for the girls.
13. Christianity created the foundation for science.
From the 13th century onward into the 18th century, every principal scientist explained his motivations in religious terms. Leonardo Da Vince is known for being an artist, but he was also a scientific genius. He was a pioneer in physiology and biology.
Johannes Kepler, a devout Christian, became famous for discovering three laws of planetary motion.
Galileo discovered the moon’s surface had valleys and mountains, and it had no light of its own but reflected the light from the sun.
Isaac Newton discovered the laws of gravity, and his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy is considered one of the most significant single contributions in the history of science.
Blaise Pascal stands out for his “Pascal’s Law” and for inventing the syringe and the hydraulic press, and also for constructing the first adding machine. He boldly said, “We know God only through Jesus Christ.”
William Thomas Kelvin established the scale of absolute zero, first by conceptualizing energy and by founding thermodynamics. Hundreds of Christian men were at the front lines of scientific discovery.
The woeful reality is that modern textbooks and universities omit this information in an attempt to divorce science with faith. The truth is that science can refine our faith, and our faith can refine our science.
14. Christianity is the most powerful force in abolishing slavery.
Slave auctions were once practiced in the United States, and unfortunately, many slave owners called themselves Christians. But the true Jesus-followers, called abolitionists, eventually paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 that freed all black slaves.
In 1957 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which assumed a posture of Christian nonviolence to promote its objectives.
Today, modern slavery still exists. But Christian organizations like A21 and End-it Movement are the forerunners of the abolition of modern sex trafficking and other forms of slavery. Christians have always viewed every human being as equal, whether “slave or free.”
15. Christianity is the most powerful force in charity work.
Almost all charitable organizations find their conception from Christian influence. Innumerable lives have been saved and impacted because of the Christian principles to love your neighbor and to care for the poor. Samaritan’s Purse,
Compassion International, Feed My Starving Children, Children’s Cup, Salvation Army, Operation Christmas Child, and hundreds of organizations have covered the world in love and compassion.
The Jesus movement is not stagnant in the fight to truly love your neighbor. It’s a movement of relentless care and compassion for those who need to be saved from the world’s tragedies. Jesus always has the final say.
The Greatest Influencer in History Is Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus of Nazareth is the most influential person in the entire narrative of human history, regarded by Christians and non-Christians alike. Our systems of social organization, literature, the arts and music, architecture, education, and sciences, as well as the ceremonies of marriage and death, have all been shaped by Jesus.
No person before him and no one since has ever caused such a prodigious surge of influence, supremacy, authority, or mastery over his initiatives. The Jesus movement makes up over a third of the world’s population, rendering him the most significant influencer and leader ever to live.
Timothy Kellar said it best when he said, “If you want to live intelligently in the world, then you need to know something about this man.”
Someone once said, “Image a world without Disney.” Although a great proposition, I would argue that the world as we know it would be exceedingly different without the influence and imprint of Jesus of Nazareth.
All the honorable and virtuous characteristics that one might say about a man can all be said about him. Jesus changed every part of our world, and his influence in history is all but a collection of memorials for greater wonders to come.