I have now decided (I think) that my next book will be about how Christianity revolutionized the world in a way that most of us would agree is particularly good, even though most do not realize it was a specifically Christian accomplishment. It has to do with wealth and giving to charity.
Jesus himself said “the poor you will always have with you,” and in fact, for the entire history of the human race the vast majority have been poor, often (usually?) to the point of destitution. That’s still true today, even though in our world today we could easily feed everyone on earth if we wanted to. We simply lack the moral drive and the political will to do so. But before now, before the 19th century CE, it simply wasn’t even an option: solving world hunger requires modern methods of agricultural production; machinery; mass transportation systems, and so on.
Jesus could also have said “the rich you will always have with you,” since that’s true enough as well. But wealth, in and of itself, has almost never been seen as a bad thing. People who do not have it want it and those who have it want to keep it. They often take extraordinary measures to do so.
With respect to wealth, one very big difference between the modern and ancient worlds is that throughout antiquity, wealth – anything substantially above mere subsistence – was incredibly rare. Most people don’t realize just how dire the situation was,
This is an little-understood topic, and crucial for seeing the enormous difference Christianity made in the world. Want to learn more? Join the blog! Click here for membership options