This article first considers the nature and development of the Christian religion, its ideas, and its institutions. This is followed by an examination of several intellectual manifestations of Christianity. Finally, the position of Christianity in the world, the relations among its divisions and denominations, its missionary outreach to other peoples, and its relations with other world religions are discussed.
For supporting material on various topics, see angel and demon ; Bible ; biblical literature ; canon law ; creed ; Christology ; doctrine and dogma ; ecumenism ; eschatology ; exegesis ; faith ; grace ; heaven ; hell ; heresy ; Jesus Christ ; liturgical movement ; millennialism ; miracle ; monasticism ; monotheism ; New Testament ; Old Testament ; original sin ; papacy ; prayer ; priesthood ; purgatory ; sacrament ; salvation ; schism ; scripture ; theism ; theology ; and worship. At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ. As a tradition , Christianity is more than a system of religious belief.
It also has generated a culture , a set of ideas and ways of life, practices, and artifacts that have been handed down from generation to generation since Jesus first became the object of faith. Christianity is thus both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind. The agent of Christianity is the church, the community of people who make up the body of believers. Few Christians, however, would be content to keep this reference merely historical. Although their faith tradition is historical—i.
While there is something simple about this focus on Jesus as the central figure, there is also something very complicated.
That complexity is revealed by the thousands of separate churches, sects, and denominations that make up the modern Christian tradition. To project these separate bodies against the background of their development in the nations of the world is to suggest the bewildering variety. To picture people expressing their adherence to that tradition in their prayer life and church-building, in their quiet worship or their strenuous efforts to change the world, is to suggest even more of the variety.
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Given such complexity, it is natural that throughout Christian history both those in the tradition and those surrounding it have made attempts at simplification. Modern scholars have located the focus of this faith tradition in the context of monotheistic religions. Christianity addresses the historical figure of Jesus Christ against the background of, and while seeking to remain faithful to, the experience of one God.
It has consistently rejected polytheism and atheism. A second element of the faith tradition of Christianity, with rare exceptions, is a plan of salvation or redemption.
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That is to say, the believers in the church picture themselves as in a plight from which they need rescue. For whatever reason , they have been distanced from God and need to be saved. The agent of that redemption is Jesus Christ. It is possible that through the centuries the vast majority of believers have not used the term essence to describe the central focus of their faith.
The term is itself of Greek origin and thus represents only one part of the tradition, one element in the terms that have gone into making up Christianity. Add to Wishlist.
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