Owing in large part to Hollywood and often because of our own sympathy or antipathy towards religion, we tend to overlook the fact that Christianity was spread by individuals.
Over the course of our semester, we have seen both laymen and clergy engaged in the task of “making Christians,” often through conversation and persuasion, yet sometimes through force.
For this paper, review the instances of conversion that appear in our sources, with specific attention to the Xavier letters and the Mills/Taylor sources. You must also find at least one other source from the rest of our readings from throughout the semester.
For this paper, consider how the “work of conversion” was performed, insofar as our sources speak about it. What conditions were required for successful missions? What social factors? What political or institutional ones? What kind of resources, both material or spiritual, did missionaries require in the sixteenth century? Discuss the spread of Christianity as a human endeavor, that is, a work of persuasion or coercion (giving specific examples), rather than as something foreordained by a divine power.
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