Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch - one of the world's leading historians - reveals the origins of Christianity and explores what it means to be a Christian
Diarmaid MacCulloch's own life story makes him a symbol of a distinctive feature about Western Christianity - scepticism, a tendency to doubt which has transformed both Western culture and Christianity. In the final programme in the series, he asks where that change came from. He challenges the simplistic notion that faith in Christianity has steadily ebbed away before the relentless advance of science, reason and progress, and shows instead how the tide of faith perversely flows back in. Despite the attacks of Newton, Voltaire, the French Revolutionaries and Darwin, Christianity has shown a remarkable resilience. The greatest damage to Christianity was actually inflicted to its moral credibility by the two great wars of the 20th century and by its entanglement with Fascism and Nazism. And yet it is during crisis that the Church has rediscovered deep and enduring truths about itself, which may even be a clue to its future.
Diarmaid MacCulloch traces the growth of an exuberant expression of faith that has spread across the globe - Evangelical Protestantism. Today, it is associated with conservative politics, but the whole story is distinctly more unexpected. It is easily forgotten that the evangelical explosion has been driven by a concern for social justice and the claim that one could stand in a direct emotional relationship with God. It allowed the Protestant faith to burst its boundaries from its homeland in Europe. In America, its preachers marketed Christianity with all the flair and swashbuckling enterprise of American commerce. In Africa, it converted much of the continent by adapting to local traditions, and now it is expanding into Asia. But is Korean Pentecostalism and its message of prosperity in the here and now an adaptation too far?