Church 

How Many Christians?

Philip Jenkins asks, ‘how many Christians were there in the year 200?‘ and the answer is not very many. At least not when you consider the population of the Roman Empire. For the sake of argument, let us suggest a global Christian population of perhaps 250,000. That represents a stunning expansion from the small groups we glimpse in apostolic times, but the number is tiny when we think of the vast geographical extent of the large world, from Mesopotamia to Britain. It is also a tiny fraction of that world…

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Links 

The Curiosity Index (16.01.2018)

How Early Christians Managed to Offend Just about Everybody A good post here from Michael Kruger and a key lesson for today’s church. Why Norwegians Aren’t Moving to the U.S. I’m not quite sure why President Trump thinks Sweden is going to hell but Norway is so great but there you go. Anyway Norway seems to be doing OK. Renewables are about to become our cheapest form of energy “2018 will finally mark a shift in our use of global energy. [This] year will see onshore wind and solar energy…

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Christians, the early church & child abuse

One of the great tragedies of our day is that the church (and I use that in its widest form) has increasingly become known as a place where children have been abused. There are too many scandals, too much secrecy, too many cover ups of abusers using the cover of priesthood and religion. It is religion at its very, very worst. The church cannot, must not, tolerate the abuse of children. It wasn’t always this way. In fact in its earliest days Christians were famous for the opposite – the protection…

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Christian Living 

Tim Keller on the early church & mission today

On Monday I posted about the not quite so astonishing growth of the early church and today I read a post by Tim Keller on the same subject. Keller writes, Christianity did not adapt to culture in order to gain more adherents, but neither did it remain a small, withdrawn band. Christianity confronted and critiqued the culture, believers suffered for it, and yet the faith also convinced many people, attracting growing numbers of converts daily. It is obvious that in western societies Christians are again seen as too exclusive and narrow,…

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Articles 

The not quite so astonishing growth of the early church

I’ve recently finished reading Alan Hirsch’s The Forgotten Ways which is a fascinating book and like many books he wrestles with the question of the decline of the church in the West and what can be done to reverse it. Like many (myself included) he advocates that we look to the early church for inspiration or the Chinese church for a more contemporary example. Hirsch recounts listening to Rodney Stark ask three important questions: How many Christians do you think there were in the year 100 AD? Stark’s answer as few as…

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Book Review: Cities of God

How did Christianity move from being a provincial movement in Palestine to the leading religion of the Roman Empire? This is the question the historian Rodney Stark sets out to answer and along the way challenges a number of well-established myths. Was the missionary activity of the apostles key to the growth of Christianity? No, not really. Was Paul really just focused on the mission to the Gentiles? Nope. How important were the eastern cults of Cybele and Isis to the success of Christianity? Very. Did Christian emperors seek to…

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