John Stackhouse tackles the conundrum of why such a strange story was attractive to people in the Roman Empire.
The dramatic rise of Christianity in the early centuries, both around the Roman Empire and up and down the social scale, is a sociological conundrum. Because it’s a very strange story – the fate of the world depends on how you relate to this crucified Jewish rabbi. And it’s a very strange ethic – love your enemy, do good to those who persecute you, don’t seek for yourself wealth and power in the world. These don’t seem like very Roman virtues or aims.
And I frankly have to suggest that there must have been a kind of spiritual hunger among at least some people around the Roman Empire, that there has to be something more. Their intuition was that there has to be something more, there is a life to come that really will matter. And there is a solution to my problems that’s not being offered in the available religions. Because it’s not the kind of religion you would construct if you wanted to persuade Romans away from the very many options that they had available. As a Christian, I’m convinced that they were attracted to it because, as unlikely as it is, it’s true.