Justin Martyr or his editor gives us a description of the technology of Christianity in his “Apology” It is done almost as an afterthought to his defense of Christians against charges of gross immorality and criminality.
He describes a baptism ceremony for the initiate (Chapter 64).
|But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.|
1. Initiate is brought to a place where the brethen are gathered
2. Initiate washed
3. Prayers for Brethren and Initiate are given
4. Everybody says Amen. (Agreed)
5. President gives thanks and everybody says amen again.
6. Deacons hand out wine and bread.
7. Distribution of bread and wine to those who are absent.
Now that the magic initiation ceremony is over. What does the initiate do for the rest of their life. He describes this in chapter 66:
|And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.|
This is what Christians do:
1. Remind each other about doctrines
2. Wealthy helps the needy
3. Hang out together.
4. Bless Jesus and the Holy Ghost
5. Gather on Sundays
- a. Memoirs of the Apostles or works of prophets are read if time permits
- b.President gives a pep talk to be good and act like Jesus and prophets
- c. People give thanks and say Amen.
- d. President gives thanks and everybody says Amen.
- e. Bread and wine are distributed. People drink and eat.
- f. Deacons send out bread and wine to those who are absent.
- g. There is a collection of money that the President gets. Theoretically, he uses this money to care care of anybody who needs it.
What is interesting is that the initiation ceremony is about the same as the regular Sunday ceremony minus the washing.
When we get past all the mystical nonsense, we see that Christianity begins as a primitive form of banking and insurance. People gather and give their money to a custodian (president) who holds it and gives it out to those who are in need. The drinking of wine and sharing of bread is simply a symbolic assurance that the customers (Christians) will get their money back when they need it. It is like the passbook and month accounting statements that the banks use to give out or the online activity and account statements that we now get when we bank online.
It was because it performed an important economic function (banking and insurance) that Christianity grew and continued.