Christianity Impact On Western Civilization

Renowned Jamaican theologian and scholar Dr. Clinton Chisholm in a rebuttal to Dr. Patrick White’s column in the Daily Gleaner of August 3, 2015 (Christianity Set Back Civilization) argued that the church’s contribution to western civilization should not be taken lightly and must be seen within the context of scholarship and research.

He posited the following:

ChristianityDespite its faults, the Church of Jesus Christ has been responsible for some of the best traditions of the western world. I list just a few below.

As I provide these slices of history now please be clear that I am not offering them as sufficient causes of what transpired in the societies but as significant contributory factors in societal change. Causation as you all should know is notoriously difficult of proof.

A Legacy of Societal Transformation & Challenge Toward Transformation

Value on human life

  • The brutality of Roman culture is well known (murder by/of Emperors, gladiatorial games, infanticide, child abandonment, crucifixion)
  • The Philosopher Seneca (ca. 4 BC – AD 65), chief advisor to Nero, said, “We drown children who at birth are weakly and abnormal.” (De Ira 1.15).
  • Christians countered the brutal nature of Roman culture and the gladiatorial games were eventually banned arising from their influence. Christians did not only denounce the entrenched Greek and Roman cultural practice of child abandonment but they also provided refuge for abandoned children. As an antidote to the common Greco-Roman practice of child abandonment and even infanticide, Christians took abandoned children into their homes and raised them as their own. This Christian practice gave rise to orphanotrophia [orphan-rearing centres]. Infant orphans or newborn foundlings were nurtured and cared for in brephotrophia [child-rearing centres]. Both of these institutions mark the formal beginning of orphanages, later to become common, especially in the West.

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