Why did Christianity appeal to many people more than the old Roman religion? 

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are at least three reasons why historians might conclude that Christianity appealed more to many Romans than the old Roman religion did.  We must remember that these are ideas that historians propose and not necessarily those that religious people would accept.  Actual Romans might have said they preferred Christianity because God spoke to their hearts and told them it was true.  Historians have to be more cynical and look for worldly causes for religious belief.

One reason that Romans might have liked Christianity is because its god cared about people.  Roman religion was based on transactions.  If people performed certain actions, the gods would perform other actions in return.  It was like buying something on Amazon.  By contrast, in Christianity, God loves all people regardless of what they do or believe.  God hopes that people will do the right thing and will punish them if they do wrong, but he loves them as individuals even when they do bad things.  Historians say that Romans might have liked this idea because it fed their emotional need to feel that they were valuable and worth caring about.

A second factor in Christianity’s popularity might have been its moral code.  Roman religion really did not say much if anything about how people should act in their daily lives.  The gods did not care how people acted towards one another.  The Christian god, on the other hand, handed down a strict set of rules about how people were to behave.  This might have made people like Christianity because it made them feel that they had instructions about how to live their lives.

Finally, historians emphasize Christianity’s inclusive nature.  The Roman world was very unequal.  There were a few elites, a group of people who were well-off, and many, many poor people and slaves.  The Roman religion did not give any of the people of the lower classes a sense that they were valuable.  This is where Christianity was so different.  It taught that all people are equal in the eyes of God.  Historians believe that this would have made many people like the idea of Christianity because it gave them hope that god cared about them regardless of their status and that they, the “meek” would one day inherit the earth.

Historians suggest all of these as reasons why people in Roman times might have been attracted to Christianity.

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