Who brought Christianity to America

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Conversion of non-believers and non-believers to Christianity

Passing on the message is one of the basic tasks of Christianity because it has a universal claim that applies to all people. In the New Testament mission is recorded as a mandate in the last lines of the Gospel of Matthew: "Go to all peoples, teach all men and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19).

Christian mission already in antiquity

This so-called “mission command”, placed in the mouth of the risen Christ, was written down at a time when Christian missions had been going on for several decades: the apostles, especially Paul, traveled to the Middle East, Asia Minor and Greece. They preached first in synagogues, then also at meetings of the Gentiles, and built up Christian communities.

But also because of the great mobility within the Roman Empire, which mainly affected traders and soldiers, the message spread despite repeated persecutions. Christianity reached Scotland and Persia as early as the 2nd century.

Increasing political importance of the mission

With the toleration of Christianity by Emperor Constantine and later by the elevation to the state religion by Emperor Theodosius I, mission took on a different character: It became a state political task and therefore more and more enforced by force. The baptism of a prince was often the occasion for the Christianization of a tribe or the population ruled by it (for example the baptism of the Merovingian Clovis I 498).

Since the 6th century, Irish Scottish monks evangelized northern Europe independently of Rome. Its forerunner was Patrick of Ireland (385 to 461), who established the Irish Scottish Church and is venerated today as the national saint. The Wiener Schottenstift was only founded in 1155 in a later phase by Irish Scottish monks from Regensburg.

An important missionary and church reformer was the native East Frisian Bonifatius (673 to 755), who promoted the mission among the Teutons. Most recently he was bishop of Mainz and Utrecht. Charlemagne subjugated the Saxons (772 to 704) in bloody wars in order to incorporate them into the Frankish Empire and at the same time to forcibly Christianize them. Therefore he made all actions against priests, churches and monasteries under the death penalty.

Slavic peoples evangelized from Byzantium

The brothers Cyril and Methodius evangelized the Slavic peoples from Byzantium in the 9th century. You were born in Thessaloniki in 815/827. Their merit is the translation of the Bible and the writing of the Old Slavonic language.

A new turning point was brought about by the Reconquista in Spain and the discovery of America. Spain was "cleansed" of Jews and Muslims; the peoples of America were considered to be underdeveloped and unbelievers, which justified military action against them along the lines of the European fight against heretics.

Role of the orders in the missionary work of new continents

The newly founded orders became increasingly involved in missionary work and carried Christianity over the extended trade routes to Africa and India. The Jesuits penetrated as far as India (Franz Xaver, d. 1552) and China (Matteo Ricci, d. 1610). Missionary efforts also derive their energy from the conviction that no one can be saved who dies unbaptized. Therefore, mass baptisms were quite desirable.

Various groups of the Reformation churches became active from the 18th century onwards and proselytized mainly in North America and Canada from England, in Australia and New Zealand from the Netherlands. The Protestant churches were also the first to see in the 19th century that missionary work had to be coordinated in order not to make Christianity untrustworthy through internal differences.

Mission in Africa and Asia

Colonialism drew, depending on which European nation appropriated overseas territories, different denominations for missionary work, which at the same time served to justify the colonial conquests. The mission conferences since 1878 were the nucleus of the ecumenical movement, to which the Roman Catholic Church only under Pope John XXIII. connected. Today, various mission societies and the Pontifical Mission Societies support missionary work in Asia and Africa, which primarily take on social and economic support without wanting to “turn” people into Christians.

After centuries of experience in which coercive missionary methods had damaged the credibility of the Christian message, today mission is understood as the witnessing of Christians in a non-Christian environment.

Increasing need for "inner mission"

The missionary work of the monotheistic religions is largely rejected, especially the mission among Jews, for which only fundamentalist circles stand up. The growing de-Christianization of Europe, on the other hand, has made the necessity of the “inner mission” clear. It was created under this name at the beginning of the 19th century in northern Germany (Hinrich Wichern, 1808 to 1881) and combined religious education and social help for people in need in the Protestant churches.

On the Catholic side, the “people's mission” movement developed: preachers visited parishes and tried to reassert ecclesiasticalness and Christian convictions. Large wooden crosses on the outer wall of churches, marked with dates, remind of the popular mission that took place there.

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