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densome, man-made traditions,
and was not afraid to castigate
them for their religious hypoc–
risy (Matt. 23; Luke 18:10-14).
After Christ's departure, the
early Church was initially
highly successful in propagat–
ing His gospel. But it wasn't
long before many of the Jewish
and Hellenistic elements of so–
ciety were up in arms over the
impact of His message. Their
reaction was so violent that
Stephen was stoned to death by
an incensed group of Jewish re–
ligious leaders. James was mar–
tyred by Herod, and Paul met
violent resistance in Asia Minor
on two separate occasions when
he threatened to burst the
bubble of local pagan divinities.
He was mocked by Stoics and
Epicureans at Mars
Hill,
and in
Thessalonica was accused of
"turning the world upside
down" (Acts 17:6).
Fading Back Into Normalcy
Under such circumstances
something was bound to give.
As the early apostles passed
from the scene, the visible
church began to accommodate
itself to many of the Hellenistic
philosophies and doctrines then
in vogue. Some felt such a ma–
neuver was essential for the fu–
ture survival of Christianity.
According to Arnold
Toynbee: "Even Christianity
The White Horse: False Religion
might have found it hard to
make headway in the Hellenic
world if it had not, like its com–
petitors, presented itself in Hel–
lenic dress"
(Hellenism,
p. 277).
Toynbee went on to say: "The
Christian propagandists of the
second century sought to com–
mend Christianity to the edu–
cated minority of the Hellenic
public by presenting it as the
crown of all known philosophic
systems. And this minority
could not be won for Christian–
ity without translating Chris–
tian beliefs into Hellenic
philosophy's technical term–
inology ..."
(ibid.,
p. 228).
Edwin Hatch, author of
The
Influence of Greek Ideas on
Christianity,
also described this
process:
"It
was impossible for
Greeks, educated as they were
with an education which pene–
trated their whole nature, tore–
ceive or to retain Christianity
in its primitive simplicity"
(p.
49).
So the process of Helleniza–
tion began in earnest. Visible
Christianity took on a com–
pletely different form as Greek
elements flooded into the vis–
ible church.
James Shiel explains what
happened: "On their [the
Greek's] conversion many of
them retained current pre–
occupation with the religious
concept of 'salvation,' mingled