8. Paganism was corrupt and dead Stark points contrasts paganism with Christianity. The old pagan gods were not necessarily good nor did they demand goodness. They were simply capricious supernatural beings who needed to be placated. Pagan gods did not demand moral goodness. They demanded a sacrifice and might reward the devotee with protection, peace or prosperity. Or they might not. There was no radiant goodness with paganism, nor was there an integrated theological or philosophical system to give life meaning. By the time of the rise of Christianity many Roman citizens had coe to doubt and dismiss the old gods. Furthermore, with the multiculturalism in the Empire there were too many gods and too many temples. How could they all compete? In the face of so many small gods and petty religions, the strong, clear monotheism of Christianity was very attractive. Combined with a clear moral and theological system was a good system of organization.
9. The Christian Church was Structured From the beginning, Christianity had structure. It had a theological basis and liturgical basis from its roots in Judaism. It had a strong moral and ethical structure from its Jewish roots and it offered a strong organizational and hierarchical structure which allowed it to be established around the empire swiftly and efficiently. Paganism, like New Age religion, was diffuse, individualistic, contradictory, self centered, superstitious and disorganized. There was no authority structure, no clear teaching, no moral boundaries, no theology and no structures of compassion and care. The Christians were organized, smart, involved with compassionate ministries, clear in their teaching, dynamic, involved, fresh and young.
10. The Christian Church Was Virtuous and Loving The most important factor in the growth of the Christian Church was that the Christian community members were loving and virtuous. In an arbitrary, absurd and violent world this was something amazing and new. “See how these Christians love one another!” the pagans said. The love they exhibited was not a soft or sentimental love, but it was courageous, sacrificial and strong. This love stayed put and ministered to the plague victims. This love reached out and helped the homeless, the hungry, the refugee and the lost. This love faced martyrdom with courage and torture with fortitude. This love was manifested in marriages and family life through faithfulness and service. This love was evident not only towards the Christians themselves, but to all who they encountered.
In short the truth is that Omnia Vinct Amor – Love Conquers All. It was Christ’s Love That Conquered Caesar, and all the other nine reasons were contributing factors. Finally there is this: what do these facts say about our modern attempts at evangelization? If the Catholic Church can simply be Catholic in all its dynamic, radiant loving fullness then she will continue to grow and prosper and we will be able to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s–this sad and frightening and violent world–and we will render unto God that which is Gods–the eternal souls of mankind powerful in splendor and splendid in power.