What is Christianity?

ChristianityChristianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and miracles of Jesus Christ. It is the biggest religion in the world with over more than 2.4 billion adherents acknowledged as Christians. Christians trust that Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus is coming as the Messiah (saviour of mankind). The religion is based on a holy book known as the Bible.


Around the year 1500 the Catholic Church had to deal with major critics from their adherents. Adherents criticised different aspects of the Catholic church. For example, the way the priests were unschooled and the enormous influence of the pope around the world. Martin Luther was a public criticist who in 1517, nailed his 95 complaints (95 thesis) about the church on a church door.
Similarly was Calvin a public criticist who believed the Catholic Church did not sufficiently focus enough on the bible. He believed distractions such as golden sculptures and paintings should all be removed from the Catholic Church. Martin Luther and Calvin were both banned from the Catholic Church meaning Luther and Calvin ensured their own Protestant churches. The autocracy of the Catholic Church ended, because within Christianity new streams were present. This process is called the Reformation. In Europe, the differences caused by the Reformation led in Europe to the setup of separate state churches and religious violence. Lutheranism expanded to Scandinavia and northern, eastern and central parts of Germany. Calvinism spread in the Netherlands, France, Hungary, Switzerland and Scotland. Eventually these diversities resulted in the outbreak of conflicts where religion and culture played the main role. The English Civil war and the Thirty Years’ War are clear examples. These wars made the Christian debate on persecution and toleration more forceful.


The belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ) is the main principle in Christianity. Adherents of Christianity believe that Jesus was put on earth by God to be the saviour of humanity. When a Christian believes and accepts the death and rebirth of Jesus, sins can be appeased with God and the Christians are then promised the eternal life. Christians believe that Jesus is a true God and a true human. Jesus became fully human when he suffered physical sufferings as a mortal man. And as fully God, he resurrected back to life. Since the 20th century, both Christians and non-Christians acknowledged that Jesus was a real person. Scholars focus their study on the Gospels which were written about Jesus around 60-90 AD. There are four different Gospels that were all written by four different men. The Gospel of Matthew, The Gospel of Mark, The Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John are the names of the Gospels. This is also the order in which they are organized in the New Testament of the Bible.  The Gospels all illustrate the story of the Life of Jesus, but from different perspectives, because each writer had several reasons to portray the Life of Jesus in a different way.


Christianity contains several symbols that are used in individual churches and in the bible. The most common symbol of Christianity is the Christian Cross. Christians acknowledge that the Romans crucified saviour Jesus Christ. The cross is of big importance to Christians. Jesus’ death means that he sacrificed himself for the sins of adherents. The Christian Cross symbolizes God’s love for humanity. Similarly, there is the symbol referred to as the Crucifix. The Crucifix has the same meaning as the Christian Cross, however on this symbol Jesus’ body is still hanging on the cross. Another important symbol within Christianity is the lamb. The lamb portrays Jesus himself as the sacrifice for humanity. Furthermore, a dove is also a symbol which is frequently used in Church. The dove is a bird and it represents the Holy Spirit. When Jesus Christ was baptised, the Holy spirited visited Jesus as a dove and eased him. Moreover, the Shepherd is also often used as a symbol. The Shepherd also represents Jesus himself. This symbol was often used in arts in the early stages of Christianity. In the Bible, Jesus calls himself a good shepherd who takes good care of his sheep. INRI is a symbol which is not used as much in Church compared to the previous mentioned symbols. It’s a Latin acronym meaning ‘’Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.’’ This message was written on the cross Jesus died on to show everyone what Jesus was punished for. Nowadays, Christians use the symbol to portray that Jesus is the King of all kings.


Christian culture, during most of its history, has had a lot of similarities with Western culture. The greater population of the Western hemisphere up until today could be characterized as cultural Christians. The concept of the ‘’Western World’’ has connections with Christianity. Many people believe that Christianity is the key culture that created a unified Europe today. Even though Western culture had multiple polytheistic beliefs in the period of the Early Middle Ages, the supremacy of the Catholic Church was the most powerful force in Europe. This is due to the centralized Roman Empire which caused the Catholic church to be so powerful. Christianity has had a large influence on different aspects of science, education and medicine. The Catholic Church contributed to the founding of universities in the Western World and also invented the bases of the Western education system. Throughout history, many chaplains have had a huge influence on science, in particular on the expansion of science. The cultural influence on Christianity contains founding hospitals, economics, politics, architecture, literature, social welfare and family life. Cultural Christians are people who are born in a religious family who may not believe in the standards of Christianity, but do believe in a popular culture, art, music etc. Another characteristic of the Cultural Christians is that they believe in a society of mixed religious backgrounds.


There are multiple forms of Christian prayer and prayer is an substantial activity in Christianity. Various type of prayers exist. Prayers can be very impulsive, or read completely from a text. Among Christians is the ‘’Lord’s Prayer’’ the most ordinary prayer that exists. According to the Gospel of Matthew, The ‘’Lord’s Prayer’’ explains how Jesus Christ taught his adherents to pray. This prayer is an ideal for confession and petition in Christianity. Prayer in Christianity contains three stages. It begins with spoken prayer, moving on to meditation and finally reaches a period of reflection on the prayer. Christian prayer contains two main characteristics which are public and private. Public prayer encompasses prayer within public places or the worship setting. These prayers are most likely held by a priest and those prayers can be formal and written prayers or informal and improvised prayers. When a private prayer takes place an individual is most likely to pray in their own way in a private setting. Prayer contains within several different worship contexts and can be structured differently. These can include Liturgical, non-Liturgical and Charismatic contexts. Liturgical is a form of prayer that is well known and is often held within the Catholic Church. It is an orthodox service with adherents who visit the bible readings and a sermon. Non-Liturgical is a form of prayer which is improvised and often seen within Evangelical church. It is an unscripted prayer and therefore informal in structure. Charismatic prayers are frequently held in gospel churches. This form of prayer most likely includes a song and a dance, or any other cultured expressions. There is no clear structure for this type of prayer, because the worshippers are led by the Holy Spirit and also improvise a lot during the prayer.


An important characteristic of Christianity is the Trinity, which relates to the guidance that one God is co-existing with two persons. The Father (God), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that they are distinct from another, meaning the three different persons cannot be divided from one another. There is also a symbol that portrays the Trinity, namely the three-ring symbol. This symbol has three rings which are bound together meaning that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all one. The Trinity is an important principle of common Christianity. Since the early Middle Ages the Christians believe that through prayer, meditation and practice that God needs to exist as a unity and trinity. This doctrine does not portray the message that each person is equally one third of the whole. The doctrine portrays that every person of the three is a own God but are seen as one, because of their relation of one towards another.


Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 7816x
Added: 25-08-2016 09:15
Last modified: 18-09-2016 17:52

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