Stark is my hands down favorite sociologist. He can always be read with profit. I consider his work pivotal in my walk with Christ.
“Epidemics Revealed the Heart of Christianity
One of the factors for this exponential growth, Stark proposes, is the response of Christians to devastating epidemics that ravaged the Roman Empire.
When on one day, 5,000 people died in Rome alone, and when the pagan priests and doctors and authorities fled the cities, discarding even their dearest, it was Christians who heroically cared for the sick and the dying knowing they could be infected and die from the disease.
Priests, deacons and laypeople died in their efforts to save their pagan sick neighbors. In 362 AD, the Roman emperor Julian complained that the pagans needed to equal the virtues of Christians, for recent Christian growth was caused by their “moral character, even if pretended,” and by their “benevolence towards strangers and care for the graves of the dead.”
Stark slams his fellow historians of Rome and early Christianity for completely omitting this critical factor in their writings. “The words ‘epidemic,’ ‘plague’ and ‘disease’ do not even appear in the index of the most respected recent works on the rise of Christianity,” he laments, even though Cyprian, Dionysius, Eusebius and other Church fathers thought the epidemics were crucial contributors to Church growth.
The academic posits three reasons to explain why epidemics drove the surprising numbers of middle-class people to Christianity.”
atheistic author is correct in his conclusion.
Lord, how long will your people languish under faithless woeful leaders.
“ It’s good that these religious institutions are doing their part to avoid spreading a dangerous virus. That being said, you can’t really deny the irony, either. These same churches worship a god they believe created all living things on Earth, presumably including viruses. They bless water to protect themselves. And yet their own spiritual shields are now coming after them.
At least they’re listening to scientists on this one instead of just praying for immunity.”