The Development Of Christianity In America

1558 Words7 Pages
As Christianity spread through the Western world, it rarely followed a linear path: different pockets of faith and doctrine were developed by a variety of peoples in an even greater variety of locales. Nowhere is this more evident than in Roman Britain and the era of Anglo-Saxon migrations. In five centuries, English religious culture transformed from one of pagan worship to that of leadership in the Christian world. Controversies included more than merely pagan-Christian dynamics; the Christians were greatly divided, and Christian efforts went through many ebbs before becoming firmly established. One must evaluate the development of both Rome and England to gain an adequate understanding of early English Christianity. Fifty-five years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar encountered the Druidic religious culture in his invasion of Britain. Although only recently established in Caesar's day, the Druids exerted tremendous influence over British society; they were the priests of the primitive government, and possessed considerable authority as such. In addition to their spiritual duties, Druid priests were responsible for educating the youth, remained immune from military duty and taxes, and presided over civil and criminal legal matters (to the point of deciding controversies among states). They were the expression of both a local government and a community spirituality that were bound to a larger whole. They ruled with an iron fist - decisions by Druid priests were final and irrefutable. Their penalties were swift and severe, with many individual Celts and Britons banished from contact with civilization. Many aspects of Druidic culture surfaced in the formation of Celtic Christianity. Druidism was a polytheistic c... ... middle of paper ... ... Germanic chieftain. The eastern empire continued in the new capitol city of Constantinople (ancient Byzantium), but was gradually transformed from Roman to Byzantine in nature. Church structure underwent further expansion as Christianity grew in the fourth and fifth centuries; bishops became crucial to Church administration. The position of bishop evolved from the president or chief priest of each Christian community, as these high-level priests assumed administrative functions within the growing communities. At first, bishops' duties included administering the sacraments of baptism and communion, but as the bishops' administrative areas increased, these duties fell on priests. The primary concern for priests was the parish. Each major city of the empire came to have its own bishop and became known as a bishopric, approximately equal in size to a Roman city-state.
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