Why did the early church in the West grow? This question has fascinated scholars and led to much debate—a debate that increasingly has to do with approaches to illness and medicine.
One approach common among eminent scholars highlights the early Christians’ prayers for divine miracles. Their exorcisms of demonic powers, these scholars claim, were often associated with healing of illnesses. According to Ramsay MacMullen, miracles were “the chief instrument of conversion” and are a primary explanation for the church’s growth.