Hinduism's basic tenet is that many roads exist by which men have pursued and still pursue their quest for the truth and that none has universal validity.
The history of Christianity, therefore, must be of concern to all who are interested in the record of man and particularly to all who seek to understand the contemporary human scene.
That free will was demonstrated in the placing of temptation before man with the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree which would give him a knowledge of good and evil, with the disturbing moral conflict to which that awareness would give rise.
The primary source of the appeal of Christianity was Jesus - His incarnation, His life, His crucifixion, and His resurrection.
Freedom was conditioned by man's physical body, heredity, and environment.
Compared with the thousands of years in which human life has been on this planet, Christianity is a recent development.
In contrast, Christianity, while acknowledging the presence of suffering, declares that life can be infinitely worth living and opens the way to eternal life in fellowship with God Who so loved the world that He gave Himself in Christ.
In both the presence of evil and the eventual triumph over evil the sweep is cosmic. It embraces the entire universe, what to man is both seen and unseen. The victory is to be accomplished through Christ.
Christianity is usually called a religion. As a religion it has had a wider geographic spread and is more deeply rooted among more peoples than any other religion in the history of mankind.
This means that to man God gave a degree of free will.
When contrasted with the much longer time that life has been present, the course of Christianity thus far is but a brief moment.
We must, however, note that what are usually called the high religions made their appearance within about twenty-five hundred years - most of them within fifteen hundred years.
The most that one of Jewish faith can do - and some have gladly done it - is to say that Jesus was the greatest in the long succession of Jewish prophets. None can acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah without becoming a Christian.
Christianity emerged from the religion of Israel. Or rather, it has as its background a persistent strain in that religion. To that strain Christians have looked back, and rightly, as the preparation in history for their faith.
The prophets and the writers of the Psalms were clear that God was continuing to work in the universe and in all history. They declared that He had created the universe.
The Psalms, the anthology of the hymns of Israel, are still used by Christians.
Religiously the Empire was pluralistic and marked by a search for a faith which would be satisfying intellectually and ethically and would give assurance of immortality.
Although when Christianity appeared the total population of the planet was only a fraction of that of the twentieth century, most of the earth's surface was quite outside the Mediterranean world, Persia, India, and China.
John the Baptist, who we are told was related by blood to Jesus, was preaching the impending judgement of God, urging repentance and moral reform, and baptizing in the Jordan River those who responded.
We know something of the history of the spread of Christianity, but much passed from recorded memory and much was transmitted by tradition whose accuracy has been repeatedly questioned.
In the third century after Christ the faith continued to spread.
Christians were regarded as separated from society and therefore destructive of the Greco-Roman way of life.