Under the Influence
by Alvin Schmidt, Zondervan Publishing,
ISBN 0-310-23637-1, $24.99,
hardback, 2001, 423 pages.
For many years I have hoped that someone with some real ability would write a book on what the real results have been of Christianity. The modern media loves to be able to tell stories of religious figures who have made terrible mistakes, but when good things are done by Christians, these rarely if ever get any press. This book has fulfilled my wishes and hopes.
Schmidt is a Ph.D. in sociology, and he is very versed in history and the connections between the past and the present. He starts the book by showing that biblical people were transformed by their contacts with Jesus using people like Saul, James, and Stephen as examples. This is followed by a discussion of first-century martyrs with a brief reference to modern cases.
The remainder of the book cites areas where Christianity has made enormous contributions to the improvement of the human condition. Areas considered are: (1) The sanctity of human life including infanticide, abortion, and human sacrifice, (2) The elevation of morality, (3) Women's reception of freedom and dignity, (4) Charity and compassion, (5) Hospitals and health, (6) Education, (7) Labor, economic freedom and dignity, (8) Science, (9) Liberty, freedom, and justice for all, (10) The abolishment of slavery--a Christian accomplishment, (11) Art and architecture, (12) Music, (13) Literature. Schmidt gives exhaustive documentation of how Christianity has benefited each of these areas and what has been unique about the Christian influence. Numerous charts that are very useful are given listing the areas benefitted and how Christianity has responded to the need.
There is a listing of terms and holidays given that is interesting and shows how the words connect to the history of Christianity, This is a book that has a lot of valuable information in it. We recommend it highly to all readers and as a reference source. Jesus said it best when he said "By their fruits shall ye know them," and this is a great way to learn what the real fruits of following the Christian system as it is portrayed in the Bible are.
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MarApr03.