Christianity was both persecuted and nourished by the Roman Empire. In spite of the most strenuous efforts to suppress the faith, the expansion of Christ’s Church was amazingly rapid and proved to be remarkably durable.
The Historian’s Viewpoint
To examine the establishment of the Early Christian Church in an objective manner, we need to put aside belief in Divine Intervention and look at the rapid spread of Christianity as dispassionately as possible – viewing it simply as a historical phenomenon. However, the burning question is to explain how an obscure Middle Eastern cult could grow so rapidly to supplant long-held traditional beliefs and become the dominant world wide religion in just a few short centuries.
From a historian’s viewpoint, it is clear that Christianity owed much of its incredible growth to the ordered world of the ‘Pax Romana’ , where so many diverse nations and cultures were at peace with one another. Over the vast area of the Roman Empire, trade prospered and a strong universal authority facilitated the exchange of goods and ideas that could move freely around an interlinked network of stable urban centres – all brought closer together by good roads, safe harbours and a common language.