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Christian community beliefs were the subject of changes throughout the history, being inspired by religious leaders, philosophers, writers, and governors among others. Therefore, there are differences between the old and the modern Christianity not only in baptism and worship practices, but also in the worldview and beliefs. The period of the early Christianity started when the teaching of Jesus Christ began to spread among His followers, and lasted until the time of the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Therefore, the period of early Church is divided into the Apostolic Age and Ante-Nicene period. It is well-known that the first Christians were Jewish by their origin, and they were encouraged to accept the Good News of the Gospel orally for the first time. The accents were set appropriately: God is the protagonist, Satan is the antagonist, and God’s people are agonists. As the time passed, up to the Middle Ages and the modern Christianity, the teachings and practices were reworked to be applied to the new conditions. So, one can observe certain differences between the old and modern Christianity. In fact, nowadays, there are approximately 20,000 of Christian organizations registered worldwide.
The Old and Modern Christianity: Comparative Analysis
Early Christianity is considered to be the synthesis of Neo-Platonic philosophy that was adjusted to the realities of that period in history. Christians were united in communities. Often, it happened that individuals sold their property to share with other people in their groups and to give charity to the poor, thus following the recommendations of Jesus. In this period, the Christian model of charity and organizational behavior was formed and developed. They believed that all members of a community should share everything in life (grief and sorrow; bad and good) in order to be the equal members of the body of Jesus Christ that the Church was. “Love is the bond of perfection”, states John Winthrop (1630), considering this Christian value to be one of the most important for the future development of communities. Love was related to mercy to brethren who were in need, as “he that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord and He will repay him even in his life and hundredfold to him or his” (Winthrop, 1630, p. 3). Later, as Christianity developed, the values of mercy and the spirit of community decreased, as everyone desired to have their own property, sufficiency in money and treasures of the world instead of collecting spiritual treasures in heaven. Earthly values may be the subjects of theft and robbery, but they do even more harm to human souls that have troubles with constantly thinking of the material values. In many modern Christian communities, there is lack of care about each other, lack of love, friendship, communication, and the ability to help others in need.
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Unlike the early Christianity, modern Catholicism was more inspired by Aristotelian philosophy, with later respect to Thomas Aquinas. If the early followers tried to stay separately from the state that gave them the status of sect, modern Catholicism gives respect to the state as an integral part of the social and political system to meet the needs of a nation. Modern Church is involved in standing for morality, keeping the ethical law and education of new generations. In relation to the Holy Scripture, Christians of the early ages believed that it was divine-inspired, giving much respect to the texts. Nowadays, the Old and the New Testaments are easily accessible from printed and web sources, so the feel of “holiness” and “specialty” of the Sacred Books has been decreasing.
Protestantism is one of the modern trends in Christianity that has many differences with the orthodoxy views. Therefore, many Orthodox Christian groups treat it as heresy. For instance, early Christians used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, while Protestants use the Masoretic Tanakh version that arose in the Middle Ages. Radically, there is a significant difference between early Christians and Protestantism in relevance to the concept of “free will”. For instance, Orthodox Christians believe that free will is granted to any human by God. On the contrary, Protestants believe that there is no free will for people. This point of view was stated by Martin Luther in his work “The Bondage of the Will”. According to Thomas Hobbes, liberty is the main virtue for a man related to “the absence of external impediments” (Hobbes, 1651, p. 4) as the part of a man’s power. In relation to baptism, early Christians considered it to be a part of culmination of life, unlike modern Catholics who value it as an introduction to life. Eschatology was not developed in the early Christian communities, and they treated The Book of Revelations not more than an allegory. On the contrary, in the modern world, eschatology is a strong belief for some radical Christian sects. In most cases, it is related to the totalitarian sects with charismatic leaders who try to seduce the free will of the followers.
The early and modern Christianity have much in common, as they both tried to follow Jesus with respect to His divine nature. However, differences between the old and modernity exceed the limits in worship and baptism practices, the attitude to the concept of the free will, church services, tolerance, versions of the Old and New Testaments, eschatological issues etc. Each of the modern Christian organizations respect religious values provided by Jesus and His followers, and stand strong in their rights to get involved in praying and praising God. Lack of unity in the secondary issues does not mean lack of unity in the most important ones.
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