Christianity is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in the four scriptural gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and other New Testament writings. It also considers the Hebrew Bible, referred to as the ‘Old Testament’, to be canonical (religious/sacred law).
Christianity began as a Jewish sect in the mid-1st century. It originated in the region of the Middle East (modern Israel and Palestine). It grew in size and influence and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire. Following the Age of Discovery (15th – 17th century), through missionary work and colonization, Christianity spread across the world and currently represents about a third of the world’s population. It is the world’s largest religion and has approximately 2.2 billion followers. Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping Western civilization.
Though there are many important differences of interpretation and opinion of the Bible on which Christianity is based, Christians share a set of beliefs that they hold as essential to their faith. Worldwide, the three largest groups of Christianity are the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and various denominations of Protestantism.
The mainstream Christian belief is that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human and anointed by God as the savior of humanity. Because of this, Christians commonly refer to Jesus as Christ or Messiah. (‘Messiah’ comes from the Hebrew word meaning anointed one).
Death and resurrection of Jesus
Among Christian beliefs, the death and resurrection of Jesus are two core events on which much of Christian doctrine and theology is based. According to the New Testament Jesus was crucified, died a physical death, was buried within a tomb, and rose from the dead three days later. Jesus’ death and resurrection are commemorated by Christians in all worship services, with special emphasis during Holy Week which includes Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The death and resurrection of Jesus are usually considered the most important events in Christian Theology, partly because they demonstrate that Jesus has power over life and death and therefore has the authority and power to give people eternal life.
Trinity refers to the teaching that the one God comprises three distinct, eternally co-existing persons; the Father, the Son (incarnate in Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity, ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’, is an essential doctrine of mainstream Christianity. God is believed to be infinite and God’s presence may be perceived through the actions of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The concept was developed by theologians at the beginning of the 3rd century to facilitate an understanding of the New Testament teachings of God as Father, God as Jesus the Son, and God as the Holy Spirit. Since that time, Christian theologians have been careful to emphasize that Trinity does not imply three gods, nor that each member of the Trinity is one-third of an infinite God; Trinity is defined as one God in three Persons.
The Ten Commandments, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, and adultery. Different groups follow slightly different traditions for interpreting and numbering them.
Christianity regards the Old Testament and New Testament, as the inspired word of God. The traditional view of inspiration is that God worked through human authors so that, what they produced was what God wished to communicate. However, like followers of other religions, some Christians may have varying biblical interpretations.
Death and afterlife
Christians believe that the second coming of Christ will occur at the end of time after a period of severe persecution (the Great Tribulation). Most Christians believe that human beings experience divine judgment and are rewarded either with eternal life or eternal damnation. Jesus will fully establish the Kingdom of God in fulfillment of scriptural prophecies.
Christian liturgical worship takes place on a Sunday, when all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, and the reader exhorts the congregation to follow these scriptures. After the prayers have ended, bread and wine and water are distributed among the congregants and these are accompanied by prayers and thanksgivings. Donations are made by those willing to do so and these are given to orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in need.
Baptism is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which a person is admitted to membership of the Church. Beliefs on baptism vary among denominations. Some churches affirms the belief that baptism creates or strengthens a person’s faith, while others simply acknowledge it as a purely symbolic act.
These commemorate an event in the life of Jesus or the saints, such as Christmas, Easter and Lent (a period of spiritual upliftment, during which worshipers are expected to be involved with projects that help the poor).