CNN examines the tumultuous early years of Christianity in a special narrated by Liam Neeson. Watch “After Jesus: The First Christians,” Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – She walked into the Roman arena where the wild beasts awaited her. She trembled not from fear but from joy.
Her name was Vibia Perpetua. She was just 22, a young mother singing hymns as the crowd jeered and a lion, leopard and wild cow encircled her.
One of the beasts attacked, hurling her to the ground. She covered an exposed thigh with her bloody robe to preserve her modesty and groped in the dust for her hair pin so she could fix her disheveled hair.
And when a Roman executioner approached Perpetua with a sword, her last words before collapsing were aimed at her Christian companions: “Stand fast in the faith, and love you all one another and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”
Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.
According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.
But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories – with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua's – were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.
“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”
“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”
Do Christians have a martyr complex today?
The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.
But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.
Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.
Professor Candida Moss, author of "The Myth of Persecution," says most stories of Christian martyrs were fabricated.
She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose "The Myth of Persecution" was recently released.
The problem with invoking persecution is it implies your opponents are evil – and no common ground can be found with evil, Moss says.
“When someone is persecuting you" she says, "there is no room for dialogue."
Others say Moss’ claim is dangerous.
People such as Perpetua did die because of their beliefs. The first Christians were tortured, reviled and held in contempt by Romans – and their example helped the church grow, they say.
The Rev. Robert Morgan, author of "On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes, " says it’s true that some of the accounts of martyrdom were “undoubtedly embellished” and that many of the persecution stories were “handed down in an atmosphere of confusion and pressure.”
Still, being a Christian in the first century was a risky move – persecution was significant. Jesus and most of his apostles were executed, he says.
“To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says.
Some opposition to contemporary Christians is indeed evil, Morgan says. Christians are being killed today in places such as Nigeria and North Africa.
“Christians do not have a victim’s mentality,” Morgan says. “They take their stands, they know what they believe and they do good in this world. They are the ones who have established orphanages, hospitals and charitable institutions. For some reason, there’s this animosity against them.”
Hatred of Christians is woven into much of the New Testament. Jesus constantly warned his followers to expect persecution. The Apostle Paul wrote many of his epistles from jail. And the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is dramatically recorded in the New Testament book the Acts of the Apostles.
The Easter message itself is a story of martyrdom – Jesus, unjustly executed by the Romans. The idea that Christians are at war with demonic forces in the world is reflected throughout the New Testament, says Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
“If Jesus was just a soft moral teacher who taught us to love one another and petted little babies, the Romans wouldn’t have crucified him,” Litfin says. “Jesus is a polarizing figure, then and today. The early Christians weren’t foisting a narrative out of the blue about being martyrs. ”
'Like the action heroes of the ancient world'
If the first Christians pictured themselves as waging war against the world, the martyrs were their version of the Navy SEALs. They were the elite Christians who inspired and united others of their faith.
There was a purpose behind spreading stories of persecution: Nothing brings a new group closer together than a common enemy, Moss says.
“The idea that you are persecuted forges a concrete identity,” Moss says. “It really solidifies your sense of group identity.”
The stories of Christian persecution were so popular that they spawned a market during the first centuries after the crucifixion. The places where martyrs were born and died became early tourist stops. Towns competed with one another to draw rich pilgrims seeking martyr memorabilia, Moss says.
“People would go and buy the equivalent of a T-shirt,” Moss says. “You’d have all these little combs with saints on them that people would buy, and lamps with saints on them. People would also buy fruit from trees that grew in the vicinity of martyrs’ graves. Of course, the prices were completely jacked up.”
Church leaders began to embellish and invent stories of martyrdom to inspire the faithful but also to settle theological feuds, Moss says. If, say, a bishop wanted to denounce a rivals’ theology, he spun a story in which a martyr denounced the same doctrine with his last breath, Moss says.
“Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda.”
But how often did Romans force Christians to endure torture or die for their faith? Christianity took roughly 300 years to conquer Rome. The emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 and gave Christians religious freedom. Christianity became the official religion of Rome by the end of the fourth century, scholars say.
For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were often ridiculed and viewed with contempt. But Roman leaders spent about "less than 10 years" out of the first 300 actually persecuting Christians, Moss says. There are only six reliable cases of Christian martyrdom before A.D. 250 out of “hundreds of stories,” including Perpetua’s, she says.
Many scholars have greeted Moss’ contention that Roman persecution of Christians was exaggerated with a shrug. They say it was common knowledge in the academic world.
“There weren’t that many Christians who were persecuted,” says Gail O’Day, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in North Carolina. “When you actually read the Roman historical records, the Christians just weren’t that important to them. Most Christians just got along with empire.”
When Roman persecution did occur, though, it was vicious. The Emperor Nero covered fully conscious Christians with wax and used them as human torches. Other Christians were skinned alive and covered with salt, while others were slowly roasted above a pit until they died.
One of the most famous martyrs was Perpetua.
She lived in Carthage in North Africa (modern-day Tunisia) and was arrested in March 203 with four others as they prepared for baptism. The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had decreed that any new conversion to Christianity would result in death.
History remembers Perpetua because she kept a diary during her imprisonment. It’s called "The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity" (Felicity was a slave girl arrested with Perpetua). It’s the oldest-surviving document from a Christian woman. The emotion in the diary is almost unbearable. Perpetua describes the pain of leaving her infant son, who she was still nursing. She describes a prison visit from her weeping father, who kissed her hands while trying to get her to renounce her faith.
Perpetua's father visited her in prison, begging her to think of him and renounce her faith.
A narrator picks up the story in the diary after Perpetua was sent to her death. He says in the diary that Perpetua’s faith was so inspiring it caused the prison’s warden, a man called Pudens, to convert. The narrator also describes Perpetua's death.
While she was imprisoned, Perpetua says God gave her visions to reassure her. After one, she wrote:
“I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil. But I knew that mine was the victory.”
You can’t discount the power of such stories, even if persecution “wasn’t extremely common,” says Litfin, the Moody Bible Institute professor.
Persecution was central to the rise of the early church, he says.
“How many people in your church would have to be pulled out and executed and tormented for it not to have a tremendous effect for many years on your memory and self-perception,” Litfin says. “The early Christians are not foisting a narrative out of the blue about being matyrs.”
The early Christians' secret weapon
Other scholars say it wasn't simply persecution that helped the church grow. Instead, they say, Christians had a secret weapon.
The martyrs may have gotten all the press, but it was ordinary Christians who got it done by the way they treated friends and strangers.
Life in ancient Rome was brutal and nasty, says Rodney Stark, author of "The Triumph of Christianity." Stark’s well-regarded book gives one of the most detailed descriptions of the early church and ancient Rome.
Forget those antiseptic portraits of Roman cities you see in biblical moves such as “The Robe.” Roman cities were overcrowded, raw sewage ran in the streets, people locked their doors at night for fear of being robbed and plagues were rampant. Soap had not yet been invented, Stark says.
“The stink of the cities in the summertime must have been astounding,” Stark says. “You would have smelled a city miles before you got to it.”
Christians stood out because they created a “miniature welfare state" to help the less fortunate, Stark says. They took in infant girls routinely left for dead by their parents. They risked their lives to tend the sick when plagues hit and others fled in terror. They gave positions of leadership to women when many women had no rights, and girls as young as 12 were often married off to middle-aged men, he says.
Ordinary Romans might have thought Christians were odd but liked having them for neighbors, Stark says.
“If people had really been against them, I don’t think they would have grown like they did,” Stark says.
Christianity became so popular that when Rome did unleash one of its sporadic waves of persecutions, the empire couldn’t stop the church’s momentum, Stark says.
“If you knocked off a bishop, there were 20 guys waiting to be bishop,” Stark says
Christian belonging, not blood, is what drew many people, another scholar says.
The Easter story of a risen savior wasn’t distinctive in Rome’s competitive religious marketplace. Dying for one’s beliefs wasn’t considered heroic; it was expected in the Roman world, says Selina O' Grady, author of "And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus."
The early church, though, was radically inclusive. First-century Rome was undergoing globalization. The peace of Rome had made travel easier. People left homes and tribal ties for Rome. The empire was filled with rootless and excluded people: immigrants, traders, slaves.
The Christian message offered guidelines for living in this strange new world, she says.
“Its universal message, its proclamation of equality, unconditional love, offered everyone in the Roman Empire a new family, a new community, and a way to live,” O’Grady says.
Roman rulers eventually found reasons to support the church, she says.
The Christian message of obeying earthly masters – “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's" – reduced the potential for social unrest, O’Grady says.
“Christianity told the poor and lowly that their status was noble and that there would be recompense in the afterlife,” O’Grady says. “It was a wonderful recipe for creating good, obedient Roman subjects.”
A turning point for the early church was the conversion of Constantine. Scholars still debate Constantine’s motive. By that time the empire was rife with division, and Christians had become a major political bloc with members in the highest reaches of Roman society, says Stark, the sociologist.
“Constantine was interested so much in church affairs for the rest of his life, but I don’t think there’s a reason to not think he was a sincere Christian,” Stark says. “But he was also an egomaniac and an emperor.”
The growth of Christianity was too complex to be attributed to any one factor – whether it be Constantine, persecution or Christianity's message of compassion and inclusion, Stark says.
“I don’t think there was a primary reason,” he says. “It was a collection of things. It was all part of a package.”
Wrapped in that package, though, were the persecution stories of people such as Perpetua.
Today, churches have been named after Perpetua; films and graphic novels have been made about her life. She is considered a saint.
Her words still inspire. People still read her diary. There’s probably a Christian somewhere in the world now facing danger who is taking courage from Perpetua’s ordeal.
One passage in Perpetua’s diary is particularly luminous.
Perpetua stopped keeping her diary just before she was sent into the arena. No one knows for sure what she felt when she faced her moment of death, but she did write what she expected to see afterward.
She wrote that God gave her a reassuring vision while in prison. In the vision, she saw a great bronze ladder ascending to heaven. At the foot of the ladder was a great serpent surrounded by swords and knives.
Perpetua said she ignored the serpent and climbed the ladder. When she arrived at the top, she saw a great garden and a white-haired man in shepherd’s clothing milking a sheep. He was flanked by thousands of others Christians dressed in white.
“And he raised his head and beheld me and said to me: Welcome child.”
The man gave Perpetua curds from the milk of the sheep, and she said it tasted sweet.
She then wrote:
“And I took it with joined hands and ate it up: and all that stood around said, Amen.”
Centuries later, millions of people who look to Perpetua are still saying amen.
Fellow Christians.. Don't just talk about how CNN can INSULT us on one of our Holy Days. Do something about it.... CNN is off my bookmark list Forever. Bye Bye CNN!!
Anther xtian bites the dust...
BTW.... Agreed with Mark.
That's why you took that time to post Beth....now leave!
LOL!= little troll. Ha ha. I'm with Mark on this I'm out!
I agree with LOL.
Beth and Mark: Why are you using Atheist created products on your holiest day of the year?
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Lol...how dare anyone question your delusions. Buh-bye.... You're right...you should only surround yourself with fellow kool-aide drinkers.
Im with you too Mark. I'm Outee. Going out to enjoy an Amazing Easter dinner with family and friends. Something these folks don't have. CHeers!
Aww the perfect judgemental Christians getting their little feelings hurt? Just wait for the persecution some of you claim is happening to get worst lol silly Christians
Your Lossers ha ha: No, you're wrong...we still celebrate, we just do so for the purpose of spending quality time with family and friends.
rofl. Oh the poor persecuted christians that don't even realize a good 90% of their so called holiday comes from the pagans. The bunny? Pagan. The easter eggs? Pagan. The actual day itself? Pagan. How twisted do you have to be to celebrate the death of someone from torture.
Oh and btw... I do celebrate easter, but not for the same reason you do. For me, it's time with family that I don't get to see very often. And that's just as valid as your religion, if not more so. Besides, you aren't celebrating jesus anyway, if you were, you wouldn't be giving your kids candy on easter sunday. That's pagan too.
Thank you Mark! Isn't it funny how these people get so incensed when Christians stick up for themselves. : ) They keep bullying and bullying. Happy Easter Sunday!
Dont let the door hit you on the azz.
Sorry – you have a typo in your post. It's Eostre, not Easter. It's amazing how all of the "non-christian" elements of easter (bunny, eggs, etc.) are all associated with Eostre... who's main holiday was the spring equinox... hmmm....
Besides in the good old days of the Roman empire, Christians weren't the only ones being "persecuted" as they would have you believe MANY, MANY others were too. As for crucifixtion thousands were crucified everyday in Rome not just Christians. All religions on this planet simply need to get over themselves and move on.
Another product of our public school system.
I hope you are referring to the Christians who think they are the only ones being persecuted. As for the crucifixion comment, SNAPPA is correct. It was a common punishment.
If you are going to insult someone elses education, you might want to make sure you have one to speak of.
Did the Christians forget about all the blood they have spilled? Lol silly Christians
!'m 37 and for 20 of those years i studied the bible, only to find out it was a complete rip off of Hebrew Scripture, but why?, The best way to hide the truth is within a LIE. Jesus and Christians NEVER existed. All the events that took place because of the NAME YESHUA all happend! real POWER! not one roman, greek, philistine,persian ect. deity has ever done anything! Americawas built so you will have an opportunity to find the truth. Common Sense, research, and Historical Facts will lead you to it, but ONLY YEHOVA (YHVH) can draw you to HIS SON YESHUA. lord,god,jesus,jehova all English not Hebrew. No Power in english, and don't have any meaning. Rome conquered only because YHVH told Daniel a Hebrew Prophet of ELOHIM to prophecy about the end. He raised up Rome to Scatter! His people for disobedience, But He didn't tell Rome to rewrite His Scripture! and White Wash History. Many Greeks and Romans and Asians and Hispanics are already calling on the true names.....You all should too.
Thanks be to God for His matchless gift: Jesus the Christ.
Thanks be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for his matchless gift: PASTA
HAHa you got to love pasta! Well played. I love the great spagetti monster!
Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7 <<<Crazy crud from the bible
one more question
for a person to die
the spirit has to leave the body
for a baby to come to life
who puts the spirit in him as a infant in the growing stages the angels do
IF JESUS died for three
HOW DID He bring him self back to life
how did he put his spirit back in his body
if he was dead then he had now powers to put his spirit back in himself
GOD put the spirt back in humans
only GOD can do that
so his not a GOED or son of GOD
use u r brain
Actually, using your logic – HE WOULD HAVE TO BE GOD. And He is (1 Timothy 3:16).
Yeah dude, I think we all get your point that you for some reason don't like religion. Perhaps just Christianity. We gather this from your myriad of ridiculous posts, you sure spend a lot of time posting retarded stuff about something you don't like. Why is that? Are you for some reason unable to just click onto another story or perhaps you are just attempting to belittle that what you don't like?
The funny part is, nobody cares what you think. You are nothing more than the letters "nick" on a computer screen. Instead of being a half wit, why don't you just teach yourself to be humble. Once you realize that the universe don't revolve around what you think then you are on your way to leaving other people alone. If they have their religion and their faith, really, what is it to you?
We get it, you don't like religion, just please don't spend all day here telling us how much.
Its easier for me to believe in the Easter bunny than a Jewish zombie. I wonder just how empty your life is that you need to cling to a make believe religion made up by a small group of people 2000 years ago that has no relevance in todays world. When you die, you're dead and will be going no where, I will guarantee it. In your mind your life has NO meaning unless there is some "god" behind it, I wonder if you were to place a piece of bread on your counter and allow life to form (mold) on that bread would they suddenly worship you as their "god"?
Every passing year, Jesus is getting better looking and more muscular.
I received a flyer on my door and on one side he looked like Brad Pitt.
On the other side he had the body of an MMA fighter.
Certainly, no one in 21st Century knows – but come on, he was a carpenter. They are strong by trade.
That's all sinew length, etc. Doubt he was feed enough meat to be that muscley...
HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!!! THE LORD REIGNS AS KING OF kings AND LORD OF lords!!!
The monster evolution created chomp .
brains, must eat brains...arrrrrrgh!!!
This is a Christian bashing?
Christians would prefer another gay bashing in the name of Love.
The difference is, bashing keeps us strong in the Lord, unlike gay people, they whine and throw fits.
...and have kiss-offs at fast food restaurants they don't like. Such drama.
Whine and throw fits ? Is that what they call asking for equality now ?
Lol thats why i dont hire Christians i always tell them i found someone more qualified
Joey- That comment is way out of line. The vast majority of Christians do not hate in the way you speak of. You just stereotyped an entire group of people. Nice job.
Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7
So, you are going to kill people today, closed minded fool?
Christians haven't been persecuted in the first world since the days of the Romans. The Christians are the single most powerful religion in the west that exists today. And no, being told to butt out of other peoples lives and that you can't force your religion in to law is NOT persecution.
Melissa, Christians don't force their religion into law. Christians propogate their moral values just as non-religous individuals propogate their own moral values with the hope those moral values will be passed into law. You say Christians force their "religion" on others. Christians have the same argument. It can be said that non-religous individuals force their moral values and judgements on Christians and other religious individuals. Hence, we have social contract theory. You stand up for what you believe is right, and I will stand up for what I believe is right, and ultimately society will determine where we come out. It doesn't mean either of us is wrong for propogating our moral values. Lastly, "persecution" is all subjective. Take the most recent debate on gay marriage. Those who support gay marriage will say they are "persecuted" by Christians and that all Christians are bigots because they don't support the ideas of the gay and lesbian community. Wellif that is true, then it works both ways. Christians can argue the exact same thing. Or, maybe we can just accept that there are different views in this world and just because someone doesn't hold our same values doesn't mean they are a bigot at all, but that might really be too much to ask in today's America.
Yes, you do. Gay marriage and abortion, anyone?
Yes you do. Anti Contraception, Anti Gay rights, Anti teaching science in school, Anti Abortion. all things you could gladly wall yourselves off from in the privacy of your home, but no, thats not good enough for you. You insist other people obey your insanity.
GOD said to adam be and he was... the same with jesus
it was a miracle in the age of medicine
that was all
did moses split the sea by his own power... no god did
so what ever jesus did it was the power of GOD through jesus
he did do anything on his own power
also how can he be a GOD or son of GOD
when GOD had to create him and bring him into existence
it is a lie a money making machine
JUUST USE U R BRAIN AND IF IT IS LOGICAL..... IT IS NOT LOGICAL
wake up. jesus was never a god. he was just a man like you or me or george clooney.... he was dragged and nailed , he was helpless and god is not helpless...jesus died the death of a shameful man
Nick you speak as if you believe in God. Your only hope of finding peace with God is through His Son. If you will call on the name of Jesus, you will be saved. You will understand the truth of who Jesus is and you will receive a peace the would can not give.
CNN: so, the "news" on Easter is an occasion for Christian-bashing? Nice work. I want you to know that God forgives you. Being an imperfect Christian, it will take me a little longer.
I know you guys don't like facts, but the date on the story is yesterday, not Easter. But then again you guys don't understand that being cruified on a Friday afternoon, and rising on Sunday morning does not make three days.
Rabid: thanks for your trolling posts. You do much to advance the cause of atheism. Sarcasm off.
Awww Elliott Carlin did you get butthurt?
I don't think the account said "three" days. Rather it said, "on the 3rd day".
Friday = 1st dday
Saturday = 2nd day
Sunday = 3rd day.
And there weren't "three" wise men. There were three gifts from wise men from the east.
This is not bashing. Most religions avoid discussing the more day to day, human side of religious development to keep it mythical. Perhaps its simply that they don't believe it happened. Regardless if some people find evidence of alternate explanations, it doesn't make it bashing; just worth discussing. Also, I like how you think you are being persecuted, the very point this article was trying to make. I'll forgive you, though. Even faster than your imperfect Christian self can imagine. Martyr.
This article appears to be intentionally hurtful towards christians. Although thinly veiled as "informational" its true intent is obvious. Does the author believe denying the persecution is any less hateful towards christians than denying the Holocaust? Why is permissible to attack christians on their holy day? I understand the ignorance of the author, but I think CNN management owes an apology.
CNN and its affiliates HATE Biblical Christianity – PERIOD.
The author IS CHRISTIAN, and we have actual evidence for the Holocaust.....Christian martyrs.......not so much.
In this instance, it is willful an wanton ignorance on the part of the writer and CNN. They do this EVERY year because it is part and parcel of CNN culture.
I agree. Unfortunately it seems the united states is turning from God and CNN is right in the middle. I think I will view my news from a different source from now on. Jesus lives today. Mark 16:16- He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
So get out of here already Blake!
No surprise that CNN and other news outlets continually run articles critical of Christianity. I am surprised though that they chose to do it on this the highest Holy Day of the Christian faith.
"No surprise that CNN and other news outlets continually run articles critical of Christianity. "
Because Christianity deserves to be criticized, the people in your religion are the most intolerant in the world next to the Taliban!
I couldn't agree more. It's especially insensitive given the timing of the article and the situation today for Christians in parts of Africa and the middle East. Perhaps CNN forgot about this piece:
Oddly, CNN will happily use the label "persecuted" when it suits them in reference to even the perception of hostility among other groups:
Mexicans feeling persecuted flee U.S. http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/26/world/americas/mexico-leaving-us
Was there any discussion before they put this up? Maybe CNN needs to meet with some religious leaders who can help them shed light on why this piece is so wrong.
Christians are still being prosecuted and executed for believing in our Lord and Savior.
10 million children die every year of hunger...so tragic and horrible. Can you imagine what a death like that is like? I doubt it. Think about it, every day getter weaker no hope in sight... where is there god? I know you haven't read the bible so for laughs google the cure for leprosy in the bible. thats an easy one but dozens of crap like this are in the bible. it's redonkulous.
In Israel, people whose Christian ancestors lived there for centuries are called "Pallistinians". Why do America's Christians support their persecution?
Because people who resort to violence first and foremost, who think murdering children and genocide are okay deserve to be persecuted.
It's pretty straightforward really.
Insult Christians on one of their Holy Days. Hahahaha, only CNN has the guts to do that!! To0 funny. I think it's hilarious that CNN has a "Belief" blog with the sole mission of ridiculing these lower intelligent people. Awesome!!
and people are so stupid they do even use their mind to figure out it all a lie
and a money making machine
How about this... Christianity spread like a wildfire because Jesus' disciples witnessed his resurrection. Paul then saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. These early leaders of the Christian faith were driven because they had seen first hand the resurrection of Christ. This is the only reason why Christianity would spread so quickly. This would seem more likely than the author's suggestions. As for the theory of a Christian "martyr complex", maybe John Blake should visit:
YES!!! There has been so many lies behind the Roman Catholic church where they claim that Christianity started with them and those who know God through the Holy Ghost know this is a LIE and know that Christianity started with the DISCIPLES of Jesus Christ!
Actually Emperor Constatine adopting Christianity and forcing mass conversion under penalty of death was the real reason for Christianity taking off and spreading.
All right – you got it JB! No one would be willing to die over a story that fabricated. They so believed it that it changed them. THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE FOR ALL CHRISTIANS. Speak up – hold the fort! Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ without shame!
@ Seth, so, no one would be willing to die over a fabricated story? Have you met our friends, the Muslim suicide bombers? Does their willingness to die confirm Mohammad's story?
They do not die for their faith, but instead die trying to kill others for their faith.
f the christians and the jews with their media power they send billions of people to hell by lying 24 /7
Christians now suffer another form of persecution, this one by media sponsored hatred and the slaughter by muslims all over the world
Stop lying for Jesus. You majority Christians cry persecution for someone simply not believing as you do and to dare request the same liberties you enjoy. You're pathetic.
JJ – LOL....wow, dude, you are full of lies! when was the last time ANYONE was PROSECUTED for not believing? Have you been prosecuted for not believing. boy, the stupidity of atheism keeps getting dumber and dumber by the comment.
Really JJ? When was Islam not spread at the point of a sword? Look up "Mameluke" and "Janissary." Look up that slavery was legal in Saudi Arabia until the 1920's.
First invasions happened in the West? Greece by the Persians and again. A little payback from Alexander the Great. But then the invasion of Spain by the Moors. Then there was the destruction of the Byzantine Empire by the Turks. The attempted sack of Vienna (prevented by Christ's Will in the form of Jan III Sobieski).
Just do research and tell me how you are right?
If any man be ignorant let him stay ignorant.. The Lord is coming soon and none of these debates will matter anymore.. 1 thing is for sure , that the blood of the Saints is still in that bowl before the throne of God.. As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, (and not the Easter Bunny), I pray for the peace of mankind and to all that will come to Him..
Amen and you are so right.
Um, how soon is soon? I mean, it's only been 2,000 years. That's worse that how long I have to wait for the cable repair guy.
Raoul Duke, Jr – Umm, you want to know how soon? It can be today for any of us, including you. If you die today, you will see God for judgment day comes faster for others then some of us.....that's how soon.
Easter bunny candy is not good for the teeth.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.