Origins

  • Christianity began in the land of Palestine (Israel), primarily in Galilee and Judaea.
  • Founded by Jesus of Nazareth (c. 4 BCE – c. 29 CE), who has left no writings of his own.
  • Jesus began teaching and healing around the age of thirty.
  • Jesus was born a Jew who prescribed changes within Judaism.
  • Jesus was arrested, sentenced, and crucified by the Romans in Jerusalem.
    The New Testament states that Jesus rose from the dead three days after his execution and then visited his disciples before ascending to Heaven.

Beliefs

  • God exists as one being that incorporates three parts known as the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
  • God the Father, is essentially the God of the Old Testament (God as creator and judge).
  • God the Holy Ghost is present as the strength and guidance within Christians as they strive towards accomplishing God’s will.
  • God the Son is Jesus of Nazareth; ‘Jesus Christ’.
  • Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary.
  • By sacrificing himself, Jesus atoned for the original sin of Adam, the first man, reconciling mankind’s estrangement from God.
  • The cosmos contains three distinct realms: Heaven, Hell, and Earth.
  • There will be a second coming of Jesus as the Messiah, and he will bring about a Judgement Day when all human beings will be raised from the dead and judged by God.
    Those who believe in Jesus and his act of salvation will receive the mercy of God and be granted an eternal life in Heaven.
  • Those who do not believe in God will receive eternal damnation in Hell.

Important Religious Ceremonies

  • Baptism
  • Eucharist/Holy Communion
  • Confirmation
  • Confession/Penance
  • Marriage
  • Holy Orders/Ordination
  • Extreme Unction (Last Rites)

Major Denominations

Roman Catholics

  • Recognize authority of the Vatican and leadership of the Pope.
  • Acknowledge the role of the priests as instructive.
  • Priests are responsible for imparting God’s wisdom.
  • Recognize the sacraments (spiritual rites of passage) as an integral part of Christian life.

Protestants

  • Recognize the authority of the Bible above the religious teachings of church leaders.
  • Believe it possible to communicate directly with God without the need for a spiritual intermediary, such as a priest.
  • Have replaced traditional prayers with personal prayers.
  • Protestantism arose during the Reformation in the sixteenth century, as a result of the “protests” by theologians, such as Martin Luther (1483-1546), John Knox (1514-1572), and John Calvin (1509-1564), against the authority of the Pope and the traditions of the Catholic church.
  • There are now thousands of different Protestant denominations throughout the world, including: Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran and Unitarian.

The Eastern Orthodox Church

  • Incorporates the Orthodox Churches of countries such as Russia, Greece and Romania.
  • Each country has its own church hierarchy.
  • Acknowledges the role of the priests as teachers.
  • Acknowledges the sanctity of the sacraments.

Scriptures

  • The Christian Bible includes the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  • The contents of the Old Testament are shared by Judaism, Christianity and Islam; they were written before the birth of Jesus.
  • The New Testament was written after the death of Jesus and includes many accounts of his deeds and words.
  • The Apocrypha is a part of the Old Testament that was rejected by Protestants but accepted by Catholic and Orthodox Christians.

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