The Rise of Christianity (2 paragraphs). Who did the followers of Jesus of Nazareth believe him to be? What principles of Christianity may have contributed to its success? Why were the early Christians persecuted by the Roman Empire?

The followers of Jesus regarded him as the anointed son of King David. The gospel of Matthew recounts several records of different people referring to Jesus as the Son of David. The genealogy of Matthew 1 also verifies his lineage as a descendant of David ("GotQuestions.org," 2020"). Christianity became successful mainly because of its religious appeal. Christianity brought a strong moral structure to the world. Jesus himself had a high sense of morality and embodied integrity. He was the source of morality and righteousness.

However, some scholars believed that a lot of people were drawn to Christianity because of the way the church took care of the sick and poor in the community ("Morison, 2014). Emperor Nero first persecuted Christians in 64AD. The persecutions were mainly based on accusations and rumors rather than factual information. Historical literature points to Christian's refusal to sacrifice and worship Roman gods and emperor as the main reason for their persecution. Secondly, Christians were accused of cannibalism, incest, and conducting strange rituals, which would lead to prosecutions and death (Rockliffe, 2011). 

The Spread of Christianity (two paragraphs). In what way could Christianity be said to be a “missionary” faith? How the early Christian “church” organized and what was were its two most important sacraments?

Christianity is referred to as a missionary faith because it spread to the gentile world by missionaries. Missionaries initiated believers into the religion, and most converts learned of the religion from the missionaries.

The first churches were plain and simple. People gathered in people’s private homes to listen to scriptures, worship God, pray, and commemorate biblical events. Later, a more formal organization was established. The pope acted as the supreme leader of the church (Hays, 2018). Bishops were second in the hierarchy and were assigned the power to ordain, control, and oversee dioceses. Dioceses consisted of many churches in a given area. The cathedral, which was made of clergy members, followed the dioceses in the hierarchy. The church’s organization was based on the belief that Jesus bequeathed priestly authority to male apostles that saw him after the resurrection. The apostolic positions were succeeded by the lineage of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples (Hays, 2018)


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The two most important sacraments of the early church were baptism and communion (Hays, 2018). Baptism was attributed to blessing, the forgiveness of sins, restoration, and acceptance of the Holy Spirit. The practice involved water, which symbolized life in the ancient world. The communion, on the other hand, refers to Christians sharing a “meal”. Jesus initiated the communion during the last supper. Communion involves sharing bread and wine, which symbolizes the body of Jesus Christ and blood, respectively. Priests were responsible for carrying out the holy sacraments in the early church (Hays, 2018).

The Fall of the Roman Empire (two paragraphs). What are the difficulties involved in explaining the fall of the Roman Empire? What explanation would you give?

The conundrum of why Roman fell has weathered a multitude of theories -over 210 theories have been made- and it still remains unsolved. Most of the theories lack evidence to support their claims. For example, the theory that Rome fell because of immorality and perverse sexual indulgence is baseless. Christianity had a powerful influence at the time leading up to the fall, and Romans had adopted it as their only religion (“History and Civilization,” 2019).

The best way to approach the cause of the fall is by evidence. There is considerable evidence on the events that led to the fall. I would explain the fall of the Roman Empire based on these events because they are grounded on facts. Historical data has demonstrated the economic, political, and population factors that led to the Roman downfall. The economic woes of the empire, political instability, and chaos, and the decline of the Roman population weakened the state (“History and Civilization,” 2019). To sum up, the direct causes of the Roman downfall are unclear, and some lack of supporting evidence. However, the events leading up to the cause can be used as the proxy for the causes.

References

  1. GotQuestions.org. (2020, January 22). What does it mean that Jesus is the son of David? Retrieved from https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-son-of-David.html
  2. Hays, J. (2018, September 16). Facts and Details: Early Christian churches, rituals and church structure. Retrieved from http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat55/sub353/item1405.html
  3. History and Civilization. (2019).  The Fall of Rome: Facts and Fictions. Retrieved from http://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320HistandCiv/chapters/08ROMFAL.htm
  4. Morison, J. H. (2014). Why did christianity succeed? - the great appeal | from Jesus to Christ | Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/why/appeal.html
  5. Rockliffe, S. L., (2011). Ancient History in depth: Christianity and the Roman Empire. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/christianityromanempire_article_01.shtml
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