Christianity religion was founded in Palestine by the followers of Jesus. One of the worlds major religions, it predominates in Europe and the Americas, where it has been a powerful historical force and cultural influence, but it also claims adherents in virtually every country of the world. Central Beliefs The central teachings of traditional Christianity are that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In Latin Trinity is define as threefoldness, fundamental doctrine in Christianity, by which God is considered as existing in three persons. While the doctrine is not explicitly taught in the New Testament, early Christian communities testified to a perception that Jesus was God in the flesh; the idea of the Trinity has been inferred from the Gospel of St. John. The developed doctrine of the Trinity purports that God exists in three coequal and coeternal elementsGod the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
It sees these persons as constituted by their mutual relations, yet does not mean that God in his essence is Father, or a male deity. Jesus spoke of a relation of mutual giving and love with the Father, which believers could also enjoy through the Spirit. Christians also believe that Jesus life on earth, his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into heaven are proof of Gods love for humanity and Gods forgiveness of human sins; and that y faith in Jesus one may attain salvation and eternal life.
This teaching is embodied in the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, but Christians accept also the Old Testament as sacred and authoritative Scripture (Weaver 5). Christian ethics derive to a large extent from the Jewish tradition as presented in the Old Testament, (Carmody, Christian Ethics 15) particularly the Ten Commandments, but with some difference of interpretation based on the practice and teachings of Jesus.
Christianity may be further generally defined in terms of its practice of corporate worship and rights that usually include the use of sacraments and that are usually conducted by trained clergy within organized churches. There are, however, many different forms of worship, many interpretations of the role of the organized clergy, and many variations in polity and church organization within Christianity. Divisions within the Religion In the two millennia of its history Christianity has been divided by schism and roiled by heresy, based on doctrinal and organizational differences (Carmody, Christianity 49).
Today there are three broad divisions, Roman Catholic, Orthodox Eastern, and Protestant; but within the category of Protestantism, there are a particularly large number of divergent denominations. The Roman Catholic Church is headed by the pope, the bishop of Rome. Its commonest title in official use is Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Roman Catholic is a 19th-century British coinage and merely serves to distinguish that church from other churches that are Catholic. The term Roman Church, when used officially, means only the archdiocese of Rome (Weaver, 58).
Roman Catholics may be simply defined as Christians in communion with the pope. The chief teachings of the Catholic church are: God’s objective existence; God’s interest in individual human beings, who can enter into relations with God (through prayer); the Trinity; the divinity of Christ; the immortality of the soul of each human being, each one being accountable at death for his or her actions in life, with the award of heaven or hell; the resurrection of the dead; the historicity of the Gospels; and the divine commission of the church.
In addition the Roman Catholic Church stresses that since the members, living and dead, share in each other’s merits, the Virgin Mary and other saints and the dead in purgatory are never forgotten (Craig, What Chrsitians Believe 32). The church is seen as having from God a system of conveying God’s grace direct to humanity. The ordinary Catholic frequents the sacraments of penance (required at least once a year) and the Eucharist (required once every Easter time). The Eucharist is the center of public worship, often embellished with solemn ceremony, the Mass.
Protestantism, a form of Christian faith and practice that originated with the principles of the Reformation. The chief characteristics of original Protestantism were the acceptance of the Bible as the only source of infallible revealed truth, the belief in the universal priesthood of all believers, and the doctrine that a Christian is justified in his relationship to God by faith alone, not by good works or dispensations of the church. There was a tendency to minimize liturgy and to stress preaching by the ministry and the reading of the Bible.
Although Protestants rejected asceticism, an elevated standard of personal morality was advanced; in some sects, notably Puritanism, a high degree of austerity was reached. Their ecclesiastical polity, principally in such forms as episcopacy (government by bishops), Congregationalism, or Presbyterianism, was looked upon by Protestants as a return to the early Christianity described in the New Testament. Orthodox Eastern Church, community of Christian churches whose chief strength is in the Middle East and E Europe.
Their members number over 250 million worldwide. The Orthodox agree doctrinally in accepting as ecumenical the first seven councils and in rejecting the jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome (the pope). This repudiation of the papal claims is the principal point dividing the Orthodox from Roman Catholics. Eastern Christians who have returned to communion with the pope are called Eastern Catholics; in every respect apart from this obedience to Rome, they resemble their Orthodox counterparts.
The ritual that developed at the patriarchate of Constantinopleknown as the Byzantine ritegradually replaced other local rites in the Orthodox East, and after the 13th century became, with local variations and translations, the standard of Orthodox worship (Craig, 31). It is sometimes called the Greek rite, because the original language was Greek, but the liturgy has been adapted into Slavonic, Arabic, Estonian, and many other languages. The liturgy is not usually celebrated daily as in the West, and it is always sung.
Leavened bread is used in the Eucharist, and communion is given to laymen in both kinds (i. e. , both bread and wine). Infants receive communion and confirmation. The other sacraments are similar to those of the Latin rite, except in details; e. g. , confirmation is conferred by priests. The frequency of confession varies in the different self-governing churches. The church buildings are generally square, with a solid sanctuary screen covered with icons. Parish priests may marry prior to ordination; monks and bishops may not marry.