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The influence of Christianity on Western Art

May 10, 2018

In the fourth Century, the first Christian Emperor, Constantin, was born in ancient Rome. Under his asylum, Christianity was transformed from a persecuted Pagan to orthodox religion. After unarmed Jesus defeated Caesar with sword, Christianity gradually conquered the spirit of the westerners and made many contributions to the development of Western civilization.


First, the taming of the barbarians' Christianity


From the point of view of the evolution of human nature, especially on the spiritual and ethical level, Christianity, in addition to the rational spirit of ancient Greece, provides a unified and enduring transcendental belief, the expectation of heaven appeasing the hardships of the earth, the conscience of the believer against the insolence of the secular power, and the mention of the saints' martyrs and repentance. For example, after the death of Jesus, the martyrs of St. Peter and St Paul, and the confession of St. Augustin. This belief, this paradigm, promotes the spiritual world of Westerners, and also serves as a link between moral cohesion and social cohesion. The transcendental ethics formed by the combination of the metaphysics of Christianity and ancient Greece has the absolute value of transcending secular utility in Western civilization and gradually evolved into a universal and effective standard of public morality. The supernatural grace and sanction from the heavens may give the good to the good of the heavens, to the eternal punishment of the perpetrators of the hell, and to the redemption and the opportunity of redemption through the way of repentance. Jesus, the son of God, takes the "original sin" at the cost of a willing cross, confronting violence with absolute non violence, and giving in to all sinners with absolute love and forgiveness. A man born of sin is only able to pray and confess to God all his life, and to act well and accumulate virtue in his actions, so that he can approach heaven in the infinite way of atonement. It is the transcendental ethics of this kind of punishment, redemption, and conscience, and gradually tame the ferocious barbarian and the greedy mercenary, and tame the civilized man of peace, temperance and introspection, that is, to raise the instinct to a rational man of faith.


From a historical perspective, Christianity flourished in the time when the Rome empire began to decline. The invasion of the northern barbarians, the internal tyranny, the extravagance of corruption, the conspiracy of power and the bottom of the rebellion, have lost the moral direction of the Rome Empire, and powerful force can only bring more disaster. Fortunately, the Rome empire lost to the barbarians in force, but Christianity tamed the barbarians in spirit and made them gradually civilized. The unity tradition of the ancient Rome Empire and the separatist forces of the northern barbarians took place in the conflict of force. In the secular sense, it contributed to the decline of the Rome Empire and the independence of the national state, but in the spiritual sense, the belief under the power and the unity of the church were equal to the continuation of the former unity of the former Rome empire in the alternative significance. As Winston Churchill, the greatest political leader in British history, said: "after the destruction of the Rome Empire, the victorious barbarians are also fascinated by the gospel of Christ. Although they are no better able to restrain their evil desires than today's men and women, they share common doctrines and spiritual inspiration. One is connected to all the nations of Europe. A cosmopolitan organization is all over the world. It is extremely powerful and is the only institution that survives in the Rome era. The head of this organization is the bishop of Rome, who has regained the authority that the emperor of Rome has lost in spirit or at least in the form of teaching. (the first volume of English national history, the birth of Britain), Winston Churchill, Xue Limin Lin Lin, south press, 2003 edition P83


It is the inspiration of the saints, the transcendental authority of the church, the universal justice of the doctrines, the consolation of the sermon, the solemn charm of the ritual and the steadfast piety of the believers... Only then can we cultivate social ethics such as mutual help, charity, restraint and asceticism. The monks opened the land, the church and the monastery gave shelter to the disadvantaged, the relief of the poor, the adoptive loneliness, the stray passengers, the church hospital to save the dead, especially the abandoned criminals and the infectious patients. And so on, religious places are not only the place of virtue and death, but also the source of world peace. The warring parties are not allowed to enter the religious places and have become the general rules of the world.


Two. Christianity that changes the social structure


From the perspective of social development, Christianity has three major functions in the development of Western society.


1, the church has become the organizational bond and autonomy authority of the social family, and has also become the source of order and peace. Not only is the Holy See of Rome providing the unified authority of the western spiritual world, but also the local churches have become the core of the organization of community autonomy. This kind of order formed by the core of the church is far more powerful than the secular government in ending the anarchic chaos. No wonder someone has joked: "the Vatican's world authority is the" United Nations Headquarters "in the religious field. But compared with the present United Nations, the Vatican's unified authority has a long tradition, and the authority of the United Nations is only a product of the Post War World War II, so the Vatican's authority over the Catholic church around the world is far from the authority of the member states of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Vatican mandate has a strong binding force on Christians around the world, but UN resolutions are hard to constrain the behavior of sovereign states.


2, the Christian faith gradually condensed the consensus of the whole western believers, thus forming a transcendental conscience relative to the secular power and its interests. With the popularization and expansion of the church, the universal consensus of moral or spiritual independence, independent of the secular power, became a highly organized religious authority. Under the situation that the secular regime itself could not form the internal institutionalization of the supreme power, Christianity, as the spiritual authority of the society, played a role in restricting the secular power from the outside. Therefore, Christianity has changed the whole structure of the western society, that is, in addition to the authority of the secular government, it has created another independent spiritual authority, which constitutes the coexistence of two kinds of authority, two sets of laws and two kinds of responsibilities. The establishment of theocracy and the legalization of the church property made the religious belief of the westerners from polytheism to monotheism, and the one legacy of ancient Greece withdrew from the historical stage. The power structure of the western society gradually changed from one yuan to two yuan, the divine right and the king power, the church and the government, the monks and the clergy, and the laity. Religious law and secular law... The coexistence of the two elements of the social structure of ancient Rome: one is the coexistence of monks and customs and the separation of politics and religion, and the two is the coexistence of the top-down feudalism and the self-government from the bottom to the bottom. It is in the confrontation between the two different social forces and their systems that the western society can gradually form an authoritative balance between the two dominant forces and provide a mature social condition for the evolution of the western system to the free constitutionalism.


3, provide a transcendental basis for the formation of the rule of law in the West. After Christianity became the national religion of ancient Rome, not only the church law provided the object for the secular law, but also the transcendental basis for the rule of law from the transcendental justice, so the Westerners gradually formed the idea of the rule of law: if the law was to form a stable and universal rule, the law was first. First, the law is the will of God, but it is good law and not evil law. The five classics of Mose is the prototype of the law; and if the law is only from Caesar, it will easily become the evil law that serves the will of the rulers. Secondly, only by being believed, can the law be respected and voluntarily obeyed, and the whole society will have the public will to honor discipline and abide by the law. Otherwise, the law will become a "evil law" and serve only the will of the ruler, or it will be replaced by the hidden rules outside the law.