By Alvin Schmidt
Book Review by Jason Benedict
How Christianity Changed the World is worthy of the commitment it takes to finish. In this lengthy work, Alvin Schmidt does an excellent and thorough job of showing how Christianity and the teachings of Christ have changed the world for the better. He traces the impact of Christianity on values that many in the world take for granted.
This impact can be seen in many places, but none more evident than in the value we put on human life. Our modern day value of human life was rooted in teachings of Christ and the actions of early Christians in rescuing newborn babies abandoned on the trash heaps of Rome. Whether through infanticide, gladiatorial games, glorification of suicide or human sacrifice there was an almost global attitude that human life was cheap before Christianity.
The most beneficial institutions of our society find their roots in the influence of Jesus Christ. Early Christians founded the first hospitals, orphanages, and feeding programs combating the pervading view of the time than it would be better to just let the sick, the poor, and the orphans die. Monastic libraries provided the inspiration for the first universities in the twelfth and thirteenth century.
Even government institutions and our concepts of liberty, justice, and equality are rooted in the law of God and biblical patterns. The list goes on and on as Schmidt shows the impact of Christianity on labor and economic freedom, science, art, architecture, literature, music, holidays, words, symbols, and expressions.
Of particular interest to Christians in business is the way that Christianity has impacted labor and economic freedom. The Romans despised physical labor, but early Christians honored labor, trade, and skill. Jesus was a carpenter; Paul was a tentmaker. In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul dignifies labor by saying, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). He goes on to detail the influences of the Christian work ethic on business and economics through the centuries.
Furthermore, this book as a whole expands our thinking about how biblical truth impacts every area of life, and tears down the idea that biblical truth is somehow regressive, irrelevant, or outdated.
I recommend this book to those who have a passion for transformation. As you read how the Gospel and God’s people have been involved in transformation historically, your faith will be bolstered for transformation in our times.