What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?
by D. James Kennedy
This book documents the positive impact Jesus Christ and the Christian Church has made on the world in nearly every conceivable area - morality, health, sex, hospitals, art, music, charity, economics, government, science, education and the founding of America. Some critics believe that all these advances would have happened sooner or later, but there is little evidence to support this other then hopeful conjecture. Despite excesses by self proclaimed Christians over the ages, the problems have not been due to Jesus' teachings, rather the failure to follow those teachings. Even with imperfect people, Christianity has had a much more positive impact on the world than any other religion. This book is desperately needed to counter the constant attacks on the Christian faith.
We need to understand that the changes made by Christianity did not happen overnight. Many people - most couldn't read or write - became Christian without examining or having the ability to examine current belief systems. At a time when books were only available to a select group of people - and then in limited number, it took decades for changes in morality to take hold of society as a whole.
It certainly is true that Christianity has had shortcomings. However, the sins of the Church were no worse then the pagan world. Christianity at its worst was far better then Paganism at its best. Whereas the pagan world could never advance morally, the shortcomings of the Christian church were an aberration that were corrected by itself over time.
Excerpts from the book:
"Jesus Christ, the greatest man who ever lived, has changed virtually every aspect of human life - and most people don't know it."
"Despite its humble origins, the Church has made more changes on earth for the good than any other movement or force in history. To get an overview of some of the positive contributions Christianity has made through the centuries, here are a few highlights:
• Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
• Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world's greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
• Literacy and education for the masses.
• Capitalism and free-enterprise.
• Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment.
• The separation of political powers.
• Civil liberties.
• The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times.
• Modem science.
• The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
• The elevation of women.
• Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic.
• Higher standards of justice.
• The elevation of the common man.
• The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache.
• High regard for human life.
• The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
• The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world's languages.
• Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
• The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel.
• The eternal salvation of countless souls!
The last one mentioned, the salvation of souls, is the primary goal of the spread of Christianity. All the other benefits listed are basically just by-products of what Christianity has often brought when applied to daily living. When Jesus Christ took upon Himself the form of man, He imbued mankind with a dignity and inherent value that had never been dreamed of before. Whatever Jesus touched or whatever He did transformed that aspect of human life. Many people will read about the innumerable small incidents in the life of Christ while never dreaming that those casually mentioned "little" things were to transform the history of humankind.
Christ's influence on the world is immeasurable. The purpose of this book is to glimpse what we can measure, to see those numerous areas of life where Christ's influence can be concretely traced.
Not all have been happy about Jesus Christ's coming into the world. Friederich Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century atheist philosopher who coined the phrase "God is dead," likened Christianity to poison that has infected the whole world.
Nietzsche said that history is the battle between Rome (the pagans) and Israel (the Jews and the Christians); and he be-moaned the fact that Israel (through Christianity) was winning and that the cross "has by now triumphed over all other, nobler virtues." In his book,The Antichrist, Nietzsche wrote:
I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian Church the most terrible of all the accusations that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruption; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, the worst possible corruption. The Christian Church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul.
Nietzsche held up as heroes a "herd of blond beasts of prey, a race of conquerors and masters." According to Nietzsche, and later Hitler, by whom or what were these Teutonic warriors corrupted? Answer: Christianity. "This splendid ruling stock was corrupted, first by the Catholic laudation of feminine virtues, secondly by the Puritan and plebeian ideals of the Reformation, and thirdly by intermarriage with inferior stock." Had Jesus never come, wailed Nietzsche, we would never have had the corruption of "slave morals" into the human race. Many of the ideas of Nietzsche were put into practice by his philosophical disciple, Hitler, and about 16 million died as a result.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler blamed the Church for perpetuating the ideas and laws of the Jews. Hitler wanted to completely uproot Christianity once he had finished uprooting the Jews. In a private conversation "shortly after the National Socialists' rise to power," recorded by Herman Rauschning, Hitler said:
Historically speaking, the Christian religion is nothing but a Jewish sect.... After the destruction of Judaism, the extinction of Christian slave morals must follow logically... . I shall know the moment when to confront, for the sake of the German people and the world, their Asiatic slave morals with our picture of the free man, the godlike man.... It is not merely a question of Christianity and Judaism. We are fighting against the most ancient curse that humanity has brought upon itself. We are fighting against the perversion of our soundest instincts. Ah, the God of the deserts, that crazed, stupid, vengeful Asiatic despot with his powers to make laws! ... That poison with which both Jews and Christians have spoiled and soiled the free, wonderful instincts of man and lowered them to the level of doglike fright.
Both Nietzsche and Hitler wished that Christ had never been born. Others share this sentiment. For example, Charles Lam Markmann, who wrote a favorable book on the history of the ACLU, entitled The Noblest Cry, said: "If the otherwise admirably civilized pagans of Greece and their Roman successors had had the wit to laugh Judaism into desuetude, the world would have been spared the 2000-year sickness of Christendom."
... the point of this book is to say to Nietzsche, Freud, Hitler, Robert Ingersoll, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Madalyn Murray O'Hare, Phil Donahue, the ACLU, and other leading anti-Christians of the past and present, that the overwhelming impact of Christ's life on Planet Earth has been positive, not negative.
What these people refuse to acknowledge is that civil liberties have been bequeathed by Christianity and not by atheism or humanism.
Prior to the coming of Christ, human life on this planet was exceedingly cheap. Life was expendable prior to Christianity's influence. Even today, in parts of the world where the gospel of Christ or Christianity has not penetrated, life is exceedingly cheap. But Jesus Christ ... gave mankind a new perspective on the value of human life. Furthermore, Christianity bridged the gap between the Jews - who first received the divine revelation that man was made in God's image - and the pagans, who attributed little value to human life. Meanwhile, as we in the post-Christian West abandon our Judeo-Christian heritage, life is becoming cheap once again.
In the ancient world, child sacrifice was a common phenomenon. Only about half of the children born lived beyond the age of eight, in part because of widespread infanticide, with famine and illness also being factors.
Infanticide was not only legal, it was applauded...it was commonly held in Rome that killing one's own children could be an act of beauty.
But then Jesus came. Since that time, Christians have cherished life as sacred, even the life of the unborn. In ancient Rome, Christians saved many of these babies and brought them up in the faith. Abortion disappeared in the early church. Infanticide and abandonment disappeared. Foundling homes, orphanages, and nursery homes were started to house the children. These new practices, based on this higher view of life, helped to create a foundation in western civilization for an ethic of human life that persists to this day - although it is currently under severe attack. And it all goes back to Jesus Christ. If He had never been born, we would never have seen this change in the value of human life.
Prior to Christian influence, a woman's life was also very cheap. In ancient cultures, the wife was the property of her husband. Prior to the Christian influences in India, widows were voluntarily or involuntarily burned on the husbands funeral pyres - a grisly practice known as suttee. Furthermore, infanticide - particularly for girls - was common in India, prior to the great missionary William Carey. These centuries-old practices, suttee and infanticide, were finally stopped only in the early nineteenth century...
In other areas of the globe where the gospel of "Christ has not penetrated, the value of woman's lives is cheap. How ironic that feminists today do not give any credit to Christ or Christianity.
Half of the population of the Roman Empire was slaves. Three fourths of the population of Athens was slaves. The life of a slave could be taken at the whim of the master. over the centuries, Christianity abolished slavery, first in the ancient world and then later in the nineteenth century, largely through the efforts of the strong evangelical William Wilberforce. It didn't happen over night, and certainly there have been dedicated Christians who were slaveowners. nonetheless, the end of slavery, which has plagued mankind for thousands of years, has come primarily through the efforts of Christians.
"Once the gospel did spread, the seeds were sown for the eventual dissolution of slavery. Thus by reforming the heart, Christianity, in time, reformed the social order!
"Robert E. Lee, who freed the slaves he had inherited by marriage, once wrote that the War between the States was needless bloodshed in terms of ending slavery, for he believed the evil institution would have eventually withered away because of Christianity."
Evolution, which simply reduces man to the animal kingdom and ultimately makes him no different from an animal, leads to the kind of thinking today which prompts people to go to enormous lengths to save the eggs of turtles but do nothing to save an unborn human being!
"The morality of any society can be easily judged by the view it holds of human life. In 1844, H. L. Hastings visited the Fiji Islands. He found there that life was very cheap and that it was held in low esteem. You could buy a human being for $7 or one musket! That was cheaper than a cow. He returned a number of years later and found that the value of human life had risen tremendously. In fact, you could not buy one for seven million dollars. Why? Because across the Fiji Islands there were 1,200 Christian chapels where the gospel of christ had been proclaimed, and people had been taught that we are not our own; that we have been purchased with a price, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ."
Remove Jesus Christ from the history of the world and the value of life would indeed be just as Jack London's character Wolf Larsen put it: "Life? Bah! It has no value. Of the cheap things it is the cheapest."
Compassion and Mercy:
The world before Christianity was like the Russian tundra - quite cold and inhospitable. One scholar, Dr. Martineau, exhaustively searched through historical documents and concluded that antiquity has left no trace of any organized charitable effort. Disinterested benevolence was unknown. When Christ and the Bible became known, charity and benevolence flourished.
While poverty has always been a part of life on earth, the Church of Jesus Christ has done more - and often still does more - than any other institution in history to alleviate poverty. Furthermore, it has set the pattern for relief that is copied worldwide.
All charity points back to Jesus Christ, whether people recognize it or not.
Christianity has helped to preserve the family as the basic unit of society. It has prevented millions of people from getting sexually transmitted diseases. And it has prevented much unhappiness on the part of those who obey the biblical teaching.
"Of course, many today do not share this view of sexuality. They feel that as long as "there is love," then virtually anything is permissible. They feel as if, at long last, humankind has emerged emancipated from the slavery of sexual taboos! Well, one writer is not greatly impressed. He said:
Sexual anarchy assumed extreme forms and spread through a large part of the population. Side by side with an increase of sexual perversions, a shameless sexual promiscuity also greatly increased. They seduced members of the same family. Relations between father and daughter . . . son and mother . . . remained not unknown. . . Homosexual love entered the mores of the population. The contemporary authors seem to sadistically enjoy the enumeration of a variety of . . . sexual perversions. They describe all the aberrations of morbid eroticism [of] . . . rape, unnatural sexual relations, flagellations, and sodomy.
Sound quite familiar, doesn't it? But it was written by an author at the time of the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, 4,500 years ago!
"There certainly have been those - in the church and out of it - who have looked at sex as something evil. But they have forgotten that it was God who created sex in the first place, and He said of His creation: It was good. These people look upon sex as something unclean, evil and distasteful, and nice girls or boys never even think about it or talk about it.
What they do not realize is that while they think they have adopted a christian attitude, in truth they have simply exchanged one pagan attitude toward sex - of the deification of sex - for another pagan attitude toward sex - the vilification of sex.
"Every school you see - public or private, religious or secular - is a visible reminder of the religion of Jesus Christ. So is every college and university. ...the fact is that the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in Christianity. Christianity gave rise to the concerpt of education for everyone."
"...the roots of education for the masses goes back to the Reformation and, especially, to John Calvin."
"Calvin also strongly emphasized that education must have a moral relevance. Calvin would never have been so naive as o say what Socrates said: that knowledge is virtue. He had too deep a concept of human depravity and the sinfulness of the human heart to ever suppose that knowledge, in itself, necessarily would make people better. It must be connected with the spiritual teachings of Jesus Christ, the renewing power of the grace of God, the redemption that is in the cross of Christ. And if these factors are not present, then indeed education will produce Frankenstein monsters. We have seen that in this century...at Auschwitz!"
"Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French philosopher, when he came here in 1835, said that he was amazed at how much responsibility Americans placed on an enlightened citizenry. And he pointed out that unless the people of this country were educated there would be no hope of such a system of government as ours."
Education in early America was Christian and highly successful. Today, public education in America is in crisis, despite spending huge sums of money.
John Dewey is the man responsible for the undoing of good, quality education in America. "Dewey was the first president of the American Humanist Association. He was signer of the Humanist Manifesto I. He did not believe in Christianity; in fact, he felt that Christianity was the principle problem that needed to be solved by our public educational system."
Since secular based education became widespread after WWII, problems never imagined before have befallen our public schools. Crime, police and guards in schools, increasing illiteracy, poor math and ever increasing costs have put our schools in crisis.
Christianity's impact on the founding of America:
"In the history of the world, there has never been a nation like the United States in terms of the religious, political, and economic liberties we've enjoyed. Like no other country before it, the United States has helped pave the way for similar representative governments around the world. America has been a beacon to the world. What is the true source of these freedoms? Take away Christianity, and there would be no America as we know it."
"All nations that have ever existed have been founded upon either a theistic or an anti-theistic principle - here we think of the Hinduism of India, the Judaism of Israel, the Islam of Saudi Arabia, or the atheism of the former Soviet Union. ...we know that America was founded upon Christ and His Word."
de Tocqueville recognized the tie between freedom and morality: "Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot."
George Washington, in his farewell address of September 1796, warned Americans of the dangers of separating morality from Christianity:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government." (1)
"If Jesus had never been born, it is unlikely that capitalism and the free enterprise system - which has brought unparalleled prosperity to billions of people - would ever have developed. In this chapter, I will trace the links between the Christian faith and the prosperity enjoyed in the West, particularly in the United States."
"Hasn't religion always been the enemy of science? No! Furthermore, many scholars agree that the scientific revolution that gained great momentum in the seventeenth century was birthed for the most part by Reformed Christianity."
Here is a list of some of the outstanding bible-believing scientists who founded the following branches of science:
• Antiseptic surgery, Joseph Lister
• Bacteriology, Louis Pasteur
• Calculus, Isaac Newton
• Celestial Mechanics, Johannes kepler
• Chemistry, Robert Boyle
• Comparative Anatomy, Georges Cuvier
• Computer Science, Charles Babbage
• Dimensional Analysis, Lord Rayleigh
• Dynamics, Isaac Newton
• Electronics, John fleming
• Electrodynamics, James Maxwell
• Electromagnetics, Michael Faraday
Energetics, Lord kelvin
• Entomology of Living Insects, Henri Fabre
• Fluid Mechanics, George Stokes
Gas Dynamics, Robert Boyle
• Genetics, Gregor mendel
• Gynecology, James Simpson
• Hydrostatics, Blaise Pascal
• Natural History, John Ray
Sins of the Church:
"Despite all the good done in the name of Christ that we've explored in the preceding chapters, we would be remiss not to address the issue of the negative aspect of the church's record in history. To some people the Church's credibility has been forever ruined by these "sins of the Church." But that is as fair as saying that Judas Iscariot is representative of the twelve apostles!"
Where do we go from here?:
Is secularism inevitable? From Harvard University to the YMCA, so many of the institutions we discussed in this book were started by Christians for Christian purposes, often at great sacrifice and expense; and then eventually they drifted away from their original [intent]. Is this trend unavoidable?
"Religion begat prosperity, but the daughter hath consumed the mother." Cotton Mather made this observation toward the end of the seventeenth century after the Christianity of the Pilgrims and Puritans had begun to wane. They had only been in the New World for three or four generations, and they were already beginning to allow the prosperity they enjoyed to crowd out the cause of that prosperity; Christianity.