Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: The Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change it Again

Christianity is dangerous.  It is supposed to be.  The Gospel subverts worldly morals and wisdom. She stands up in the face of tyrants and libertines.  She disrupts the plots of the devil himself.  There is a reason that Satan attempts to tempt Jesus away from His mission.  There is a reason Satan feared what Jesus would bring into existence.  There is a reason he does battle with Jesus' followers.  In their book, Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again, Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea. look at the reasons Christianity was persecuted in the early centuries.  They cite seven seismic shifts that Christianity brought to the known world and how those shifts were deemed so dangerous by civil authorities, that Jesus' apostles and their followers were regularly martyred.  They also detail how these seismic shifts could not be quelled by any earthly power.

We take for granted in our own day and age the holy partnership of marriage and the care parents are to have for children.  We take for granted the ideas that freedom of religion,  the dignity of the human person, and that our rights derive from God, not man. We see as a positive the duty we have to our fellow man, to their welfare, and that we must respect their dignity and integrity.  We do not view women and children as possessions to be disposed of at the whim of the husband.  These common place observations were radical and dangerous positions to hold in the Roman Empire.  What seem to be benign propositions in our history were seen an fundamentally corrosive to the foundations of society in the Roman Empire, and consequently to every despot since.

In their astounding perseverance, our early Christian forefathers' willingness to embrace this new way of life, this Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if it meant losing everything won the day.  The Gospel of Christ brought hope to the overwhelming number of peoples not fortunate enough to be born into the patrician classes of their day.  It spoke hope to those whose lives were a matter of convenience.  It raised the dignity of women and children.  It brought about an understanding that every human life was precious and to be respected and that societal constructs should reflect this truth.  Going through each of the seven ways Christianity upset the accepted order, the authors, show clearly the teachings, the consequences, and the victory each revolution brought.

This is, however, more than a history book.  The premise for writing about these revolutions is to stir up the Christian faithful to regain the truth and the fervor for the truth that the Gospel of Jesus Christ first brought.  In so many places in the industrialized world, society is going back to the barbarism that existed before the advent of Christianity.  Once again the practices that denigrated the family, marriage, human sexuality,   economic justice, and the practice of religion have gained social acceptance.  The west is re-paganizing.  This brave new world is every bit as hostile to the undiluted Gospel of Christ as was the Roman Empire of old.  The authors leave us with a clarion call to grasp again the same willingness to evangelize, be gloriously subversive, and to lose all for Christ.

Christianity has never been victorious when treated with mediocrity or complacency.  It has never succeeded when carried by the lukewarm or cowardly.  It has grown when approached with bravery, truth, and compassion for all.  It succeeds when we become a reflection of the Christ who gave us this Gospel. Let us not forget the revolution that was started by Jesus; a revolt against the most evil depravity the devil could concoct. This call to arms is timely, necessary, and a call to excellence!

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