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Basics of Christianity

Summary

Christianity is a monotheistic religion, referred to as an Abrahamic religion (a group of monotheistic religions making up about half of the world’s religious people, which includes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

It is based on the birth, life, teachings, death by crucifixion, and resurrection of a Jew named Jesus of Nazareth ( Nazareth was a city in what is now northern Israel ) as described in the New Testament (a portion of the Bible written about the life of Jesus and the early Church).

Although Christians are monotheistic, the one God is thought, by most Christians, to exist in three divine persons, called the Trinity. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God and the Messiah (savior) of the Jews as prophesied in the Old Testament (a portion of the Bible written about the life of the Hebrews / Israelites before Jesus).

Over the past two thousand years, Christianity has been grouped into three main branches: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. It is the world's largest single religion, with over 2.2 billion followers.

The term "Christ" is derived from the Greek noun Χριστός Khristós which means "anointed one", and is a translation of the Hebrew word Moshiach (Hebrew: משיח , also written "Messiah"). Christian means "belonging to Christ" or "of Christ".

Monotheistic Religion referred to as an Abrahamic religion

Trinity

One God in three persons

St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain this concept to the Celts in Ireland

  God the Father

    • creator of Heaven and Earth, created humans in his image

  God the Son

    • Jesus – took human form so that he could die as a sacrifice for peoples’ sins

  God the Holy Spirit

    • the spiritual presence of God; God’s active force

The Bible

Old Testament

  • known as “the scriptures”
  • stories about early Hebrews (Isrealites) such as Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc.

New Testament

  • written by the followers of Jesus
  • about the life of Jesus, his teachings, about living the Christian life, and about the early Church

Jesus

Birth

  • God takes human form (around 4 BC)
  • city of Bethlehem in modern Israel (celebrated as Christmas Day)
  • earthly parents were Mary and Joseph, but Jesus is considered to be the son of God (Mary was a virgin)

Youth

  • grew up in the city of Nazareth
  • Joseph was a carpenter, so Jesus grew up learning to be a carpenter
  • knew his Jewish scriptures (the Torah, the Old Testament)

Adulthood

  • began to teach the scriptures and to preach about God’s love for man
  • performed miracles (healing, multiplied food, calmed storms, etc.)
  • gained disciples (followers)
  • was hated by jealous priests and teachers

Death

  • accused of blasphemy (speaking against the teachings of Judaism)
  • convicted of blasphemy by a Roman governor named Pontius Pilate
  • sentenced to death by crucifixion (hung on a cross) in Jerusalem (around AD 30)

Resurrection

  • rose from the dead after three days (celebrated as Easter Sunday)
  • appeared to his disciples after he rose from the dead
  • Church was founded and led by Peter “the rock” (the first Pope)
  • ascended (went up) into Heaven; rules Heaven and Earth with the Father and Holy Spirit

Judgement

Some day in the future, Jesus will return to Earth to judge the souls (inner spirits) of people to determine whether they are worthy of living forever in Heaven

Goals of Christianity

Salvation – being forgiven of sin (bad things) so that one can please God

Everlasting Life – by achieving salvation, one can be judged worthy to live forever in Heaven

Heaven – a peaceful place where God and his faithful followers spend eternity

Hell – a fiery place to avoid where Satan (an evil demon) and sinners (people who do bad things) spend eternity

Saints
(not all Christians have the same view of Saints)

People who have died and are in Heaven (also, according to some Christian groups, people on Earth who will be in Heaven when they die are also considered to be Saints)

Angels

Spiritual beings who serve God in Heaven

  • Satan was formerly an Angel known as Lucifer who thought he was better than God. God banished Lucifer to Hell.
  • several angels followed Lucifer into Hell and are now considered to be demons who try to corrupt the souls of people on Earth

Teachings

Ten Commandments (from Judaism – Old Testament)

  • have only one God
  • keep the Sabbath day as a day of worship and rest (Christians celebrate on Sunday)
  • don’t use God’s name as a way of cursing
  • obey your parents
  • don’t lie, steal, sleep with someone without being married to him/her, etc.

Beatitudes (from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount)

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are they who sorrow: for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after holiness: for they shall be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are you when [men] shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
  • Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.

Great Commandment

  • Love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself. (referred to as the “golden rule”)

Statement of Faith (belief)

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Creator of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried.

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
    and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
    whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and life everlasting.

Amen.

* The word "catholic" with a small letter “c” refers to the entire universal Christian Church.

Early Church Leadership Hierarchy

(still part of the Roman Catholic Church)

Pope

  • human leader of the entire Church. Originally, Peter (one of the disciples) was Pope.

Cardinal

  • elects the Pope and governs a large territory

Bishop

  • leader of several different churches (northwest Ohio for example)

Priest

  • pastor or minister to one or more churches

Deacon

  • assists the priest

Types of Christianity

Roman Catholic

  • Christian church organized with a structural hierarchy of priests and bishops under the pope, a liturgy centered in the Mass, veneration of the Virgin Mary and saints, clerical celibacy, and beliefs including transubstantiation (the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ)

Eastern Orthodox

  • Christian churches in eastern Europe and Asia that form a loose federation giving supremacy of honor to the patriarch (Eastern Pope) of Constantinople and adhering to the decisions of the first seven ecumenical councils and to the Byzantine rite

Protestant

  • a member of any of several church denominations denying the universal authority of the Pope and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the supremacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth; broadly: a Christian not of a Catholic or Eastern church


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