How did Christianity become the largest religion in the world? It’s interesting that it could have lost out to Islam and maybe even Buddhism, but it managed to hold the edge. The answer lies in the twists and turns of history. It’s fascinating, in any case.
- At first, the movement spread slowly but steadily. It helped that Senators and slaves alike could join the movement… there was no wealth requirement. Worship was not sacrificing a bull (expensive) but sharing a meal of bread and wine, and repeating stories about Jesus.
- It also helped that the Christian community believed in charity, especially among its own. To join the movement was to gain a safety net.
- The big turning point was the conversion of Constantine, turning the Roman Empire from its enemy to its greatest resource. Soon, despite Julian the Apostate, Christianity was co-extensive with the Empire.
- But Islam posed an existential challenge, taking away North African, Southeastern Euope, and (for a while) Spain.
- But during this time, Christianity made up for the loss of devotees by spreading north to Scandinavia, Britain, Ireland, and east to Russia.
- The next big turning point was the age of exploration and colonization. Soon, Christianity opened up huge new continents to convert.
- As European colonization continued, Christianity picked up some more converts in Asia and central and South Africa.
- Even though Christianity was not as universally successful in these later areas, it still helped bolster the numbers.