Founded in Palestine by the followers of Jesus . One of the
world's 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.
Christianity is in a direct sense an offshoot of Judaism , because
Jesus and his immediate followers were Jews living in Palestine and Jesus
was believed by his followers to have fulfilled the Old Testament
prophecies of the Messiah . Following a trend of proselytization in the
Judaism of that period Christianity was from its beginnings expansionist.
Its early missionaries (the most notable of whom was St. Paul , who was
also responsible for the formulation of elements of Christian doctrine)
spread its teachings in Asia Minor, Alexandria, Greece, and Rome. Missions
have remained a major element in Christianity to the present day.
For the first three centuries of Christianity, history is dependent on
apologetic and religious writings; there are no chronicles
. Historians differ greatly on how far back the 4th-century
picture of the church (which is quite clear) can be projected, especially
respecting organization by bishops (each bishop a monarch in the church of
his city), celebration of a liturgy entailing a sacrament and a sacrifice,
and claims by the bishop of Rome to be head of all the churches
. There is evidence for these features in the 2d cent. A first
problem for Christians was how to resist attempts to interpret the new
beliefs in pagan terms (e.g., Gnosticism). The earliest sectarian
deviations were those of Marcion and of Montanus. They were
handled resolutely by the church; the teachers of novelty were expelled (excommunicated).
For 250 years it was a martyrs' church; the persecutions were fueled by
the refusal of Christians to worship the state and the Roman emperor.
There were persecutions under Nero, Domitian, Trajan and the other
Antonines, Maximin, Decius, Valerian, and Diocletian and Galerius; Decius
ordered the first official persecution in 250. In 313, Constantine I and
Licinius announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan. In
the East the church passed from persecution directly to imperial control (caesaropapism),
inaugurated by Constantine, enshrined later in Justinian's laws, and
always a problem for the Orthodox churches. In the West the church
remained independent because of the weakness of the emperor and the well-established
authority of the bishop of Rome.
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 ; that his life on earth, his crucifixion,
resurrection , and ascension into heaven are proof of God's love for
humanity and God's forgiveness of human sins; and that by 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.
Christian ethics derive to a large extent from the Jewish tradition as
presented in the Old Testament, 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 rites 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.
DENOMINATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
* * *
Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, a Roman
Catholic order for men founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola in 1534.
Roman Catholicism has broad based sympathies and
ideas. The Universal Christian church belieives in liberality of ideas
and universality. The Pope heads Roman Catholic Church.
Protestants - Protestant Episcopal Church conforms to
the practices & principles of the Church of England. Reforms under the
leadership of Luther, Calvin, Wesley and other heads of protestant
The Church of England - Basically the episcopal
church of England is an Anglican Church. It is an established Church
with the Episcopal sovereign as the head.
The Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saint's -
The members of this church are called Mormons, founded in U.S.A. in
1830, by Joseph Smith.
The Methodist Church - This church preaches
Protestant Christian teachings that developed from the Evangelistic
teachings of John & Charles Wesley.
Mormons - Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
the Latter Day Saints founded in U.S.A. in 1830 by Joseph Smith.
The Eastern Orthodox Churches - These churches regard
monasticism as an essential feature of their tradition. Practically all
eastern orthodox religions follow the teachings of St.Basil. Two
charachteristic features are liturgical worship (fixed form of public
worship) and fasting.