Christianity and social stability

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St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital. Christian hospitals subsequently spread quickly throughout both the East and the West.[1] See: Christianity and hospitals

There are numerous resources pointing out the benefits of Christianity/religion as far as social stability:

Protestant missionaries and economic and societal development

See also: Protestant cultural legacies

The atheist and Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson declared: "Through a mixture of hard work and thrift the Protestant societies of the North and West Atlantic achieved the most rapid economic growth in history."[2]

The article The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries published in Christianity Today notes:

In his fifth year of graduate school, Woodberry created a statistical model that could test the connection between missionary work and the health of nations. He and a few research assistants spent two years coding data and refining their methods. They hoped to compute the lasting effect of missionaries, on average, worldwide...

One morning, in a windowless, dusty computer lab lit by fluorescent bulbs, Woodberry ran the first big test. After he finished prepping the statistical program on his computer, he clicked "Enter" and then leaned forward to read the results.

"I was shocked," says Woodberry. "It was like an atomic bomb. The impact of missions on global democracy was huge. I kept adding variables to the model—factors that people had been studying and writing about for the past 40 years—and they all got wiped out. It was amazing. I knew, then, I was on to something really important."

Woodberry already had historical proof that missionaries had educated women and the poor, promoted widespread printing, led nationalist movements that empowered ordinary citizens, and fueled other key elements of democracy. Now the statistics were backing it up: Missionaries weren't just part of the picture. They were central to it...

Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

In short: Want a blossoming democracy today? The solution is simple—if you have a time machine: Send a 19th-century missionary." a conference presentation in 2002, Woodberry got a break. In the room sat Charles Harper Jr., then a vice president at the John Templeton Foundation, which was actively funding research on religion and social change. (Its grant recipients have included Christianity Today.) Three years later, Woodberry received half a million dollars from the foundation's Spiritual Capital Project, hired almost 50 research assistants, and set up a huge database project at the University of Texas, where he had taken a position in the sociology department. The team spent years amassing more statistical data and doing more historical analyses, further confirming his theory.

...Woodberry's historical and statistical work has finally captured glowing attention. A summation of his 14 years of research—published in 2012 in the American Political Science Review, the discipline's top journal—has won four major awards, including the prestigious Luebbert Article Award for best article in comparative politics. Its startling title: "The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy."

...over a dozen studies have confirmed Woodberry's findings. The growing body of research is beginning to change the way scholars, aid workers, and economists think about democracy and development. [3]

David Beidel wrote in his article The Bloodless Revolution: What We Need to Learn from John Wesley and the Great Awakening

In the 18th Century, most of Europe was on fire. Bloody civil wars and revolutions were decimating nation after nation. Unrestrained injustice, government and Church corruption, slave trade and the oppression of the poor created a powder keg for violence. Miraculously, Great Britain escaped the horrors of civil war and the brutal savagery that revolutionary anarchy engenders.

Few ancient monarchies are still in place today. The mystery of the UK’s capacity to honor the old guard, while raising up a more democratic system without a revolution, is a sociological wonder. Many credit the Great Awakening, in particular the Methodist movement, launched by John Wesley, for this extraordinary and peaceful transition.

Methodism unleashed an army of “little Christ’s” all over Europe. They cared for the poor, took in unwanted and abused children, fought unjust laws and labor conditions, visited prisoners, and battled against slavery; They joined hands with the Apostles and “turned the world upside down.” Eventually compassion became fashionable...

America is in desperate need of a Christ-infused revolution of compassion. We are a land of churches, who are well positioned to hear and answer the cries of our struggling communities. If a critical mass of congregations committed themselves to radically sharing the Gospel and passionately serving under-resourced/at-risk communities, we will see peace powerfully rise in these times of trouble. This will also enable, as in the days of John Wesley, wise reformation to take place because the true Christian Church is theologically hardwired to bring about peaceful, meaningful change that benefits all. I have written much about this in my book, Samaria, The Great Omission, and treasure every opportunity to strategize with churches who have a heart to minister in this way.

Let us stand in the gap as cultural/community peacemakers and healers in this season of sorrow and division. May our magnificent obsession be Jesus, the everlasting, ever loving, rescuer of the oppressed and Father of all.[4]

See also

External links

  • The Christian origin of hospitals
  • The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China By Hugh Whelchel on September 24, 2012
  • Christianity Today, The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries, January 8, 2014
  • The Bloodless Revolution: What We Need to Learn from John Wesley and the Great Awakening by David Beidel