They said ‘Vide, look! How the love one another.’ They did not say, ‘Aude, listen to the Christians’ message’; they did not say ‘Lege, read what they write. Hearing and reading were important … But we must not miss the reality: the pagans said look!
Alan Kreider, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church
The Roman Empire was “(almost) infinitely tolerant” of a variety of religions. Christianity, on the other hand, is rooted in a historical and exclusive truth claim about Jesus of Nazareth. Faced with these two realities, Kreider asks “Why in such a world did Christianity attract converts?”
His answer is that, in part, it was the embodied patience of the Christians that made the faith attractive. Christian behavior—how they buried their dead, care for one another, the poor, and orphans—was “deeply unsettling” and yet eventually attractive to their pagan neighbors.