Where there is life, there is growth. So, I traveled to Waco, TX, and asked renowned American sociologist of religion, PhD Rodney Stark @BaylorISR, “Is Jesus Christ Unique?” Stark has spent a lifetime studying the impact of religion on people in the various nations of the world. He is a profound writer whose many books circle the globe and are worthy of your attention.
For instance, Stark, co-director of Baylor University’s Institute for the Studies of Religion, documents Christianity in China is surging – 40 new churches are starting up every week and that does not include the inestimable “underground”
America’s Christianity is shrinking while China’s is growing – there is something disturbing with this scenario. “In America, much of the slip in Christianity’s numbers is being driven by the millennial ‘me’ generation, well known for tending to avoid commitment and institutions of every kind, not just religious, “ wrote Michael Guillen of USNWR (May 14, 2015).
In 1966, the Cultural Revolution in China outlawed all belief systems entirely, except for atheism. But, it hasn’t worked! In fact, Stark reminded me that after six decades of teaching atheism to the people of the former Soviet Union, it registered only 7 percent “atheist’ – just one or two percentage points ahead of the United States of America. As we have learned Christianity is thriving in Russia.
Cristie Jo and I have filmed now with over 100 distinguished leaders of atheism, agnosticism, secularism, sociology, and Christian apologetics, and next week we will film with both Richard Dawkins and Richard Swinburne in Oxford, England – one is a noted atheist and the other is one of the most respected Christian philosophers in the world.
Repression has not worked in stopping or slowing Christianity. Rather, Christianity seems to thrive under adversity as the present phenomenon in numerous countries indicates. Regardless of what you believe about Jesus Christ, He certainly did make an impact, as Stark said, in a manner unequalled.
Jerry: Is Jesus Christ unique among the other figures or founders of faith?
Rodney: Certainly … what is so peculiar is that we know so little. You know he didn’t leave a book. Um … but uh … certainly no one else has ever had that impact. I mean, people like Buddha and what not, they’re just not very important by comparison. Um … yeah, I think he’s unique.