Based on the paper titled “Modern Challenges in Christianity” by Misty Smith. Originally published on May 4, 2015, for REL/134 at the University of Phoenix.
*Disclaimer: I am a lifelong learner; therefore, I study various topics including religions and cultures. I do not intend to promote one over another and believe that everyone has the right to believe as they wish (or do not believe).
Modern Challenges in Christianity
Ca. 4 BCE a child was born in a manger to a virgin mother who was turned away at the Inn while she and her husband, both Jews, were on a journey required by their rulers for taxations. This child would grow up to be called Jesus Christ, the Messiah of prophecy returned to Earth to save mankind. Jesus grew up to become a teacher and a healer, and eventually, an accused criminal who was crucified upon the cross and then rose from the dead three days later. This is the story that is the foundation of Christianity, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, The Holy Bible KJV)
Furthermore, “The Book of Acts records that after Jesus’s ascension to heaven forty days following his resurrection, his disciples were gathered, full of fear, wondering what to do next. The Book of Acts then tells how the Spirit of God came upon them in the form of fire, giving them the courage to spread their belief in Jesus as the Messiah. This first preaching of the Christian message has been called the Birthday of the Church” (Molloy, 2013).
Common Characteristics Shared With Other Religions
Christianity shares numerous characteristics with other religions, especially Judaism and Islam. First, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all three monotheistic religions, which were founded in the Middle East region. “Often grouped together as “Abrahamic religions,” these three faiths share common history and traditions, a respect for the Bible, a conviction that there is one God, a belief in prophets and divine revelation, and a holy city in Jerusalem, among other things. However, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism also differ significantly in matters of belief and practice, from their understanding of God to the identity of the prophets and Jesus and the authority of various scriptures” (Religion Facts, 2015).
Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God, the Savior, and Messiah. Most Christians believe that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity and the incarnation of God on earth and that his message was the direct words of God (Religion Facts, 2015). In a like manner, followers of Islam believe that Jesus was a true prophet sent to man by God, but his message was corrupted and therefore he was superseded by Muhammad (Religion Facts, 2015). However, followers of Judaism, the religion of Jesus, believe that he was a false prophet and that the Messiah is still to come (Religion Facts, 2015).
Roles of Women In Christianity Over Time
During the very beginnings of Christianity, women were seen as equals to men, “Jesus had many female friends and followers. He seems to have treated women as equals, and he spoke to them in public without hesitation. In one gospel, he is shown asking a woman for a drink of water at a well (John 4). In another gospel, he speaks with a Canaanite woman, whose child he cures (Matt. 15:21–28). We find repeated mention of the sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany as close friends of Jesus (see John 11). The gospels also speak of other women disciples, such as Joanna and Susanna (Luke 8:3). The gospels tell how women stood by Jesus at his crucifixion, even when most of his male disciples had abandoned him. And the most prominent among the female disciples was Mary Magdalene, who was the first witness of his resurrection (John.20:11–18)” (Molloy, 2013).
However, the viewpoint of the role of women within the church quickly turned during the first centuries following the death of Jesus. The writings of Paul called for women to be silenced within the church. “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, The Holy Bible KJV) Furthermore, Paul declared that women were to be under mans authority as they had the only authority of Christ and to stay covered, not only silent, at all times,
“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Corinthians 11:3-7, The Holy Bible KJV)
However, during the past few decades, some denominations of the Christian church have started to allow women to become active within the church, including the roles of Pastor. “Some Christian denominations have recently begun to allow women to be priests or ministers (eg, Church of England and the Methodist Church). However, some remain opposed to the notion of women becoming active or leaders within the church (eg, the Roman Catholic Church). Some Christians believe that women are second to men, that men should lead and women should follow (see 1 Timothy 2:8–15). So although Christianity teaches that everyone should be equal and should be treated the same, this doesn’t always happen” (BBC News, 2014).
Challenges in the Modern World
Although Christianity encompasses a following of 2 billion individuals worldwide, Christianity is still frowned upon in various cultures and social circles, and in many cases simply being a Christian can be a death sentence. For example, in the Middle East and Africa “Several of the world’s worst terrorist groups, like ISIS and Al-Shabaab, aim to create societies governed by strict, distorted versions of Sharia law. That means anyone who doesn’t subscribe to such extremist views are enemies and in danger — Christians included” (Botelho, 2015).
Furthermore, within the confines of the United States, numerous Christians are being called out for not following the teachings of Christ because many of them discriminate against and judge others who they deem “sinners”. However, most of the Christians who have been accused of discrimination claim that they are simply following the rules in the bible. For example, the sin of homosexuality, “Homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible. It undermines God’s created order where He made Adam and Eve, a man and a woman, to carry out his command to fill and subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28)” (CARM, 2014). On the other hand, the individuals who point to Christians as being un-Christian like when placing judgment claim that Jesus loved everyone equally and that Christians no longer follow all the rules listed in the Bible.
In conclusion, Christianity has evolved in many aspects, including the view of the roles of women within the church. However, numerous anti-Christian groups throughout the world kill Christians just for their beliefs. Furthermore, numerous Christians are being condemned for their interpretation of biblical rules in modern-day America.
BBC News. (2014). Christian: prejudice and discrimination. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/prejudice/christianityrev3.shtml
Botelho, G. (2015). CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/24/world/terrorists- attacks-on-christianity/
CARM. (2014). What does the Bible say about homosexuality?. Retrieved from https://carm.org/bible-homosexualityindex.html
King James’ Bible. (2002). The Holy Bible KJV. : .
Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the Worlds Religions (6th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.
Religion Facts. (2015). Compare Christianity vs. Islam vs. Judaism. Retrieved from http://www.religionfacts.com/compare/christianity-islam-judaism