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Christianity in Western Civilization and Thought


Christianity is one of the most widespread and developed religious systems. And although it is present on every continent, it is predominantly the religion of the West. The adoption of Christianity as a formal religion by the majority of peoples of Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe occurred between the 9th and 11th centuries and was triggered by multiple changes in the social and political structures of the society that took place during this short period. Later, Christianity, in its turn, had a strong impact on all spheres of life including culture and, in this way, significantly affected the development of the Western Civilization

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Protestant Reformation

It is possible to say that the religious values and views which were formed during Reformation have contributed most to Western thought and society as we know it now. Reformation designated that the times of inquisition and the total control over individuals’ minds and spiritual life were over1. Both Catholicism and Protestantism acknowledged that God should be separated from other social activities that are not linked to religion. It is possible to say that the separation of the church from the state and various spheres of business, which were the direct results of the Protestant Reformation, played an important role in the successful development of Western capitalism.

Christian Values and the Society

Christianity shaped new perceptions of nature and human beings. The foundation of those ideas was the justification for the individual’s creativity and human liberty2. Of course, initially, Christian perspectives on liberty were realized mainly within the spiritual-moral context but later found the practical implementation within the social, legal, and political spheres contributing to the transformation of views on human rights and freedoms. Additionally, the new perspectives on nature and human existence which appeared under the influence of Christianity triggered the development of new movements in culture, as well as humanitarian and scientific cognition. Without Christianity, European art would probably not be focused on the human soul and the sacred spiritual experiences. Moreover, the ideological basis of the contemporary natural sciences was also shaped due to Christian theology. It eliminated the semantic gap between the natural and artificial phenomena because people started to regard the world as the creation of the omnipotent and free individual God.

Contribution to Art and Culture

As a whole, with the assistance of Christianity, the society of the West became wealthier and much more civilized than during the time of the Roman empire. Such outcomes can be correlated with the enhancement of religious teachings and the organization of the church. For instance, during the medieval period, the gothic art movement appeared. The major purpose of gothic art was the contrast of the spiritual and material forms, as well as the creation of the balance between them3. The religious and spiritual implications can now be traced to gothic architectural objects. Along with architecture, other forms of art were developed including fine arts, sculpture, theater, etc. For instance, such literary masterpieces as “The Song of Roland” and “The Story of the Rose” were created during this epoch.


Overall, Christianity was integrated into all spheres of life during the medieval period in the West. Christianity influenced the masses. It appealed to all nations and created the connections between people regardless of their ethnic, political, and social backgrounds. In this way, the Christian theology which was developed throughout the feudal times became the ideological and ethical regulator of social life, a form of self-consciousness, and the basis of cultural unity in Europe at the later stages of development and made a significant contribution to the Western way of thinking and the overall social order.


Beyer, Cassie. “Symbolic and Liturgical meanings of Gothic Architecture.” Web.

Fieser, James. “Renaissance and Early Modern Philosophy.” The University of Tennessee,Web.

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Reid, Patrick. Readings in Western Religious Thought: The Middle Ages through the Reformation. New York: Paulist Press, 1995.

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