Difference between revisions of "Christianity"

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'''Christianity''' is the world's largest [[religion]], having 2.5 billion followers in 2020.<ref>https://www.gordonconwell.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2019/04/StatusofGlobalChristianity20191.pdf</ref> In terms of its geographic distribution, Christianity is the [[Global Christianity|most globally]] diverse religion.<ref>
*[https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/27/many-religions-heavily-concentrated-in-one-or-two-countries/ Many religions heavily concentrated in one or two countries]
*[http://wwwgordonconwell.com/netcommunity/CSGCResources/ChristianityinitsGlobalContext.pdf Christianity in its global context]</ref>  Christianity has always been the best way to turn one's life around, to achieve more, to overcome [[addiction]], and to enjoy life to a greater extent.
Christianity is the only religion that emphasizes justification by [[faith]] rather than works, and brings God closest to mankind through [[Jesus]] as the Son of [[God]].  Literally, Christianity means "of Christ," or "belonging to Christ," or "being like Christ."<ref>[http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=2661&dict=CALD Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary]</ref><ref>https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/christian-means-like-christ-bruce-ball-sermon-on-apologetics-general-84109</ref><ref>The early Christian faith was sometimes called ''That Way'', (Acts 19:1,9,23; 24:22), and its adherents were also called ''Nazarenes'' (Acts 24:5), evidently after the city of [[Nazareth]] where Jesus lived.</ref> The [[Acts of the Apostles|Book of Acts]] (Acts:11:26) records that "the disciples were called Christians first in [[Antioch]]." The title ''Christian'' is also used in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. Christians believe in [[God]], the [[virgin birth|virginal conception and the virginal birth of Jesus Christ]], the bodily [[resurrection of Jesus Christ]], [[Heaven]], survival of the [[soul]] after death, the [[Parousia|Second Coming of Jesus]], the [[resurrection]] of the dead, the [[Last Judgment]], the reality of [[Hell]], and the teachings of [[Jesus Christ]] as written in the [[Bible]].
== Main Christian Divisions ==
[[Image:Anglican Christ Church.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Anglican Christ Church in Western Australia]]
'''The three largest self-governing bodies of Christians are:'''
* The [[Roman Catholic Church]] (approx. 1.1 billion baptized members) traces its roots back to [[Saint Peter]] whom Catholics believe was appointed as the first leader of the church by [[Jesus Christ]] and the succession of [[Pope]]s as the spiritual leaders of Christendom.
* The [[Orthodox Church]]es (approx. 300 million baptized members) trace their roots back to the Apostles, in the five ancient [[patriarchate]]s of the undivided Church of the first millennium of her history, known as the [[Pentarchy]],<ref>[https://orthodoxwiki.org/Pentarchy Pentarchy (orthodoxWiki.org)]</ref> and are organized in [[Autocephalous]] national or regional churches in communion with each other. The Pentarchy consisted of the Churches of [[Church of Rome|Rome]], first in dignity of honor, [[Church of Constantinople|Constantinople]], [[Church of Alexandria (Coptic)|Alexandria]], [[Church of Antioch|Antioch]], and [[Church of Jerusalem|Jerusalem]]. Differing theological perspectives and the growing development of the doctrine of [[Petrine primacy]] in the Church of Rome led to the [[Great Schism]] between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches in A.D. 1054.
* [[Protestantism]]: the largest Communions are the [[Anglican Church|Anglicans]] (approx. 115 million baptized members) and the [[Lutheran]] World Federation (approx. 68 million baptized members). Protestantism has its origins in the European [[Reformation]]. The Protestant movement broke from the Roman Catholic Church under [[Martin Luther]] when differences over the nature of [[faith]] and works in the role of [[Christianity#salvation|salvation]], as well as other practices of the Catholic Church that Luther saw as unBiblical, were raised.
== Christian Beliefs ==
Christian beliefs [[Christian apologetics|are well supported via a large body of compelling evidence]].  Theologians, over two millennia, have debated a definitive summary of the Christian faith. While its interpretations vary drastically, probably the most commonly accepted statement of the faith is the [[Nicene Creed|Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed]].
Christians and Christian denominations agree on many points of doctrine while disagreeing on some. According to an online Harris poll from 2003, 99% of all American Christians believe in [[God]], 96% in the [[resurrection of Jesus Christ]], 93% in [[Heaven]], 93% in the virgin birth, 92% in the survival of the soul after death, 82% in [[Hell]], 50% in ghosts, 27% in astrology and 21% in reincarnation.<ref>http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/index.asp?PID=359</ref> Note that the latter two beliefs are in opposition to the religious tenets of most Christian denominations.
Nonetheless, the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed offers a general overall picture of what Christian theology looks like, and serves as a useful outline and historic standard. Other creeds may prove helpful in research. See the [[Apostles' Creed]] and the [[Athanasian Creed]].
God is a triune being.  Though there is only one Divine nature there are three Divine Personages: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The three Persons are collectively called the [[Trinity]] or the Holy Trinity. While God is tripartite, this does not imply that Christians are polytheists.  The doctrine of the Trinity is central to Christian theology, although several denominations that usually are considered Christian are non-Trinitarian. The God of the Christian is the creator of all things, is everywhere present, exists in all times, is transcendent, all-knowing (omniscient), just, and all-powerful (omnipotent).
A major theme of the Bible is [[love]].  In the Hebrew [[Old Testament]] the idea is expressed in the Hebrew word ''hessed'', which is variously translated as loyal love, tender mercy, steadfast love, mercy, goodness, etc.  in the [[New Testament]] the same idea is expressed in the Greek word ''[[agape]]'', which translates to love, compassion and charity.
[[Image:Jesus' Baptism.jpg|180px|left]]
During the reign of [[Augustus Caesar|Caesar Augustus]] the Son (i.e. the second Person of the Trinity) took flesh from a virgin woman and was incarnated as a man. He was born in the town of [[Bethlehem]] and was given the name [[Jesus]].  At approximately the age of thirty he was baptised by his cousin [[John the Baptist]] and began to preach in the area of [[Judea]] and [[Galilee]]. About three years later, his teachings and works of mercy prompted the Jewish authorities to plot Jesus' death. Jesus was [[crucified]]. He rose from the dead and was seen by over 500 people. He ascended to Heaven. The four [[Gospels]] contain the basic account of what Jesus did and said.
Jesus summarized his moral teachings in two commandments from the Old Testament:
"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets". ([[Gospel of Matthew|Matthew]] 22:37-39; [[Book of Deuteronomy|Deuteronomy]] 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)
The night he celebrated his [[Last Supper]] with the Twelve Apostles before he suffered, he gave a new commandment:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." ([[Gospel of John|John]] 13:34)
The fundamental principle in Christian moral teaching is [[love]] and forgiveness, as expressed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Testament. In the Hebrew [[Old Testament]] the idea is expressed in the Hebrew word ''hessed'', which is variously translated as loyal love, tender mercy, steadfast love, mercy, goodness, etc.  in the [[New Testament]] the same idea is expressed in the Greek word ''agape'', which is variously translated as love, compassion, charity, etc. 
There has been endless debate over how a person should express love for God in his or her moral behavior. This moral dialogue found expression in the New Testament, where the [[Apostle Paul]] addressed such controversies as [[circumcision]] ([[Epistle to the Romans|Romans]] 2:25-29), eating meat that was sacrificed to [[pagan]] deities (1 Corinthians 8), speculating about myths and genealogies (1 Timothy 1:3-5), and observing ceremonial dates and seasons (Galatians 4:9-11).
Regardless of a person's ethical interpretations, adherents commonly point to New Testament passages John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as scriptural depictions of love. The former states that <blockquote>"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life".</blockquote> The latter characterizes love, saying <blockquote>"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things".</blockquote>
Jesus Christ affirmed, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another". (John 13:35) In trying to understand the reason for the growth of Christianity in a pagan culture, it has been noted that while love of one's neighbor is not an exclusively Christian virtue, it appears that the primitive Christian church practiced it much more effectively than any other group.<ref>E.R. Dodds, 1970:136-137</ref>
In addition to sacrificially showing care for those within the community as well as to those without, (cf. Gal. 6:10) the Christians elevated the sanctity of life, opposing abortion, infanticide, child abandonment, suicide, and gladiatorial contests.<ref>Kenneth Scott Latourette, ''A history of Christianity'' p. 244</ref><ref>Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, Paul Copan, The Apologetics Study Bible, 274</ref>  While the primitive church tolerated the existing and pervasive cultural economic institution of slavery in the [[Roman Empire]], the mandate of equal pay and just treatment (Col. 4:1; Eph. 6:9) greatly ameliorated the treatment of slaves, while advising them to seek freedom if possible, (1Cor. 7:21) and requiring that the escaped slave Onesimus be received back not "as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved". (Philemon 1:6)  The Christian ethos of love also motivated a great expansion in the building of hospitals.<ref>Albert John Ochsner, Meyer Joseph Sturm, ''The organization, construction and management of hospitals'', p. 17</ref><ref>Roderick E. McGrew, ''Encyclopaedia of Medical Care'',  p. 135</ref> By A.D. 500, most large towns in in the Roman Empire had erected them.<ref>George D. Pozgar, ''Legal aspects of health care administration', p. 2</ref>
[[Image:Dalí The Christ of St. John of the Cross.jpg|thumb|The Christ of St. John of the Cross by [[Salvador Dalí]], 1951.]]
Christians believe with the New Testament that the death of Jesus, in conjunction with His resurrection, is an indispensable event for the reconciliation of lost sinners with God. There are three elements they see to the understanding of His death on the cross.
- Jesus having the knowledge that His path would lead to his own death, desired and willed that that take place, and persevered in that path though there was opportunity for Him to avoid it. "I have power to take my life and I have power to lay down my life. I lay down my life for the sheep".
- Jesus saw that in His death there would be a way for people to be brought back to the God from whom they were alienated and lost because of their sins. This would involve a substitution of Himself to effect, i.e. atone for, that development. "For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many".  How this would take place was not new to the Jews of His day from their understanding of contemporary everyday practice of substitute payment - as in redemption of the first-born (Pidyon Ha Ben), or in the understanding of what aggadic stories such as the Binding of [[Isaac]] implied (see [[Midrash]]), but it was not the prevalent view that the Messiah was to be that payment. Though while alive on earth, he had hinted at it in sayings such as "unless a seed falls and dies, it remains alone, but when it dies, it brings forth."; it was only after He had risen from the dead that He explained Scripture (the Old Testament) clearly about the necessity of His death to have taken place. The disciples would henceforth preach, and Peter among them, that the death of Jesus the Messiah and His resurrection was for-planned and for-ordained by God the Father, and foretold in the Scripture (Isaiah 53).
- Christians of all generations have looked to the perfect Atonement, and the hope for reconciliation, accomplished by Jesus on the cross, to provide the means of understanding the solution to the vexing problems of the mind and of life itself.
The Bible teaches that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". (Romans 3:23) This is often interpreted to mean that everyone has displeased God and is now separated from him in a kind of alienation and enmity that results from the fundamental conflict between selfish human interests and God's interests (Romans 8:5-8; James 4:4). Jesus offered a solution to this Biblical dilemma in that, by repentance of sins and faith in him (Jesus), their sins would be forgiven. He said that "...the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins". ([[Gospel of Mark|Mark]] 2:10) Jesus also said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". (Mark 2:17).
Jesus Christ taught that "unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God". ([[Gospel of John|John]] 3:3)  Protestant Evangelical Christianity often uses the terms "saved" and "born again" to mean conversion, with conscious acknowledgment of immediate divine juridical exoneration of all guilt, complete amnesty and full eternal pardon issued on acceptance of the redemptive, saving sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross in the place of each guilty sinner (Hebrews 1:3; 7:25-27), while other Christians, such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, use the phrase ''born again'' as a synonym for [[baptism|baptized]], referring to the [[sacrament]] of baptism through which the divine life of God in the blood of Jesus is actually infused by the power of his grace directly into the soul of the baptized by the washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5:25-27) and is entirely healed of the eternal deadly effect of all past sins, effecting an ontological change of spiritual birth by washing away the defect of sin, the power of God unto salvation flowing abundantly through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, through whom the baptized is united to Him and actually partakes of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
Christians are expected to continue living by Christ's teachings (John 8:31), as is appropriate for "children of Light". (Ephesians 5:8-10) Some believe that this is necessary in order to be saved. Others say that this is a common misconception of the text, that it refers instead to the "fruits" of saving faith. Still others say that the free, unmerited gift of salvation from sin and death in hell must be maintained or retained by actively producing the fruits of [[corporal and spiritual works of mercy]] according to ability, or it will be lost (Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 6:4-8), unless before death the fallen away believer repents and returns (James 5:19-20; 1 John 5:16-17). Christians in the [[Reformed]] tradition (following the teaching of the 16th century French lawyer and theologian [[John Calvin]]) say that salvation [[Eternal security (salvation)|cannot be lost]]. One Bible passage often cited is John 10:28-29 in which Jesus said of his own Apostles that they could not be snatched from his hand.
== Resurrection of Jesus Christ ==
[[Image:Jesus resurrected.jpg|thumb|left|200px|"The Resurrection" by Carl Heinrich Bloch]]
The [[resurrection of Jesus Christ]] is critical to the Christian faith.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain" (I Cor:15:14).  Traditionally, Christianity has believed in a physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.<ref>http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0056a.txt</ref>
In recent history, [[Gary Habermas]] is considered a leading [[Christian apologetics|Christian apologist]] for defending the resurrection of Jesus.<ref>Habermas, Gary, [http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/dialog_rexperience/dialog_rexperiences.htm Experiences of the Risen Jesus: The Foundational Historical Issue in the Early Proclamation of the Resurrection], ''Dialog: A Journal of Theology'', Vol. 45; No. 3 (Fall, 2006), pp. 288-297.</ref><ref>"Wildcat" and Holding, J.P., [http://www.tektonics.org/books/lichabrvw.html Book review of "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus"], 22nd June, 2004 (Tektonics)</ref><ref>Habermas, Gary, [http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/NTeSources/NTArticles/CTR-NT/Habermas-Resurrection1-CTR.pdf Jesus' Resurrection and Contemporary Criticism: An Apologetic] ''Criswell Theological Review'' 4.1 (1989) 159-74.</ref><ref>Habermas, Gary, [http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm Explaining Away Jesus' Resurrection: The Recent Revival of Hallucination Theories], Christian Research Journal / vol. 23, no. 4, 2001.</ref><ref>Habermas, Gary, [http://www.apologetics.com/default.jsp?bodycontent=/articles/historical_apologetics/habermas-nt.html Why I Believe The New Testament Is Historically Reliable] (Apologetics.com)</ref>
Other notable defenders of the resurrection include: [[William Lane Craig]],<ref>Craig, William Lane, [http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/historical.html Articles: Historical Jesus]</ref> [[Lee Strobel]], [[Josh McDowell]],<ref>McDowell, Josh, [http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html Evidence for the Resurrection], 1992.</ref> [[Edwin M. Yamauchi]],<ref>Jamauchi, Edwin M., [http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/yama.html Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History?]</ref> [[N.T. Wright]]<ref>Wright, N.T., [http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Early_Traditions.htm Early Traditions and the Origins of Christianity], ''Sewanee Theological Review'' 41.2, 1998.</ref> and [[Michael Horner]].<ref>Horner, Michael, [http://www.michaelhorner.com/articles/resurrection/index.html Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?]</ref>
===The  Meaning of the Resurrection for Christians===
The fact of the Resurrection of Christ is also believed to produce certain effects on the lives of Christians.
1. It is because Jesus rose from the dead that believers now can resort to a living Savior to help and deliver them from sin and from situations overwhelming for them by their own powers.
2. The New Testament sees in the resurrection of Christ a certain vindication of what apparently to the world and to all beings was a failure and an overcoming of Him by His crucifixion.
3. The coming of Jesus back to life means to the believer that, indeed, his sins are totally forgiven. This is because believers know that His death was as a payment for sins - a "wage of death" for our sins that He received in our stead. If He remained dead, believers would know that the wage had not been fully paid.
4. It is a now-living Savior that Christians know can go before them, can closely lead them through life &mdash; as He did when He was on earth. This makes following Him practical and real.
5. The New Testament reveals that it is the Risen Christ who received from the Father the Holy Spirit and He, through Himself, ascended to the Father, has given the Holy Spirit to us. This gives the believer in Christ both the knowledge and the power to live a godly life and live a life that can be an intimately and personally directed one.
6. The resurrected Christ was no mere reassembling of the molecules and particles of the Body that had been crucified. It was, indeed, a physical body, but one that was fully glorified. It was a "spiritual body". Christians know that likewise, they will one day be granted the nature of a spiritual body, and be full of health. They therefore are full of hope and consolation, and consider that, even now in this life, there is an overcoming through Him.
==Worship and the Sacraments==
Christians normally attend worship services at once a week, typically on Sundays.  Some denominations, such as the [[Seventh Day Adventist]]s, worship on Saturdays.  Commonly, [[megachurch]]es often hold services on both Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings to accommodate growing crowds.  More conservative denominations, such as independent Baptists and churches of Christ, hold services on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings as well.
The [[Catholic]] and [[Eastern Orthodox]] denominations have seven sacraments: [[baptism]], [[eucharist]], [[confirmation]], [[Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation|confession]], [[Anointing of the Sick|anointing of the sick]], [[marriage]], and [[Holy Orders|holy orders]].  Of these, Protestants observe only baptism and eucharist as sacraments,<ref>The term "eucharist" is rarely used within Protestant circles; common terms include Communion (often used in more traditional denominations) and The Lord's Supper (more frequent in conservative denominations who consider Communion to be a Catholic term).</ref> which are the only two for which they find Scriptural support.<ref>Although Protestants, especially conservative ones, hold to high views of marriage and believe it is taught in the Bible, they do not consider it to be a sacrament.</ref>
In what is called the [[Great Commission]], Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to preach the Gospel (literally "good news") and make disciples.
:'''Great Commission'''
:''But the eleven disciples proceeded to [[Galilee]], to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in [[heaven]] and on [[earth]]." Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the [[#God the Father|Father]] and the [[#God the Son|Son]] and the [[#God the Holy Spirit|Holy Spirit]], teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."'' --[[Gospel of Matthew|Matthew]] 28:16-20 [[New American Standard Bible|NASB]]
[[Image:Gleyre The Departure of the Apostles.jpg|thumb|240px|The Departure of the Apostles by [[Charles Gleyre]].]]
==Internet Evangelism==
{{See also|Internet evangelism}}
Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI) is one of the world's largest evangelism organizations within Christendom and has over 25,000 full-time missionaries. In 2006, Alan Beeber of CCCI predicted that internet evangelism will result in more conversion that all other forms of evangelism for CCCI combined.<ref>http://www.lausanneworldpulse.com/pdf/issues/LWP0206.pdf</ref> At [[YouTube]], Christians and Christian creationists have faced problems with [[atheist bullying|atheist cyberbullies]], but they [[Essay: Sharing your Christian/creationist videos on the internet|have developed methods to overcome this problem]]. [[Eternal Word Television Network]] (EWTN) is a worldwide broadcast and internet online and Facebook ministry proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord 24 hours a day with [[Christian apologetics]] programs, News Nightly news broadcast from a Catholic Christian perspective, The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, and daily broadcast worship and prayer seven days a week four times a day.<ref>https://www.ewtn.com<br>https://www.facebook.com/ewtnonline</ref> EWTN claims to be the largest religious media network in the world.
== Explosive growth of worldwide Christianity ==
[[File:Hong Kong Christians at Gateway Camp.jpg|thumbnail|left|200px|[[Hong Kong]] Christians at Gateway Camp. In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were [[Western World]] Christians.<ref>https://www.wnd.com/?pageId=30077</ref>
<small>(photo obtained from [https://www.flickr.com/photos/mckln/4815046728/in/set-72157624550425162 Flickr], see [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/deed.en license agreement])</small>]]
''see also:'' [[Global Christianity]] and [[Internet evangelism]] and [[Evangelical Christians]] and [[Resources on becoming a Christian]]
Christianity has seen tremendous growth over its 2000-year history.<ref>http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/BChristianIncrease12.htm</ref> Christianity has recently seen explosive growth outside the [[Western World]].<ref>
*[http://pewforum.org/Christian/Faith-and-Conflict-The-Global-Rise-of-Christianity.aspx The global rise of Christianity - Pew Forum]
*[https://www.wnd.com/?pageId=30077 Is Christianity taking over the planet?]
*[http://pewforum.org/Religion-News/The-stunning-growth-of-Christianity-in-China.aspx The stunning growth of Christianity in China]
*[http://gratefultothedead.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/the-african-apostles-how-christianity-exploded-in-20th-century-africa/ The African apostles: How Christianity exploded in 20th century Africa]</ref> In 2000, there were twice as many non-Western Christians as Western Christians.<ref>[https://www.wnd.com/?pageId=30077 Is Christianity taking over the planet?]</ref> In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western Christians as there were [[Western World]] Christians.<ref>https://www.wnd.com/?pageId=30077</ref> There are now more non-Western missionaries than Western missionaries.<ref>https://www.wnd.com/?pageId=30077</ref>
In 2011, the ''American Spectator'' declared concerning research published in the ''International Bulletin of Missionary Research'':
{{cquote|The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new [[Islam|Muslims]] every day, and 300 fewer [[atheism|atheists]] every day. These atheists are presumably disproportionately represented in the [[Western World|West]], while religion is thriving in the Global South, where [[Charismatic movement|charismatic Christianity]] is exploding."<ref>http://spectator.org/archives/2011/02/28/thriving-christianity</ref>}}
Despite strong persecution in the [[Middle East]], thousands of [[Muslims]] are turning to Christ.<ref>[https://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/11/thousands-muslims-reportedly-turning-to-christ-in-middle-east.html Thousands of Muslims reportedly turning to Christ in Middle East]. ''Fox News'' (from ''The Christian Post''). January 11, 2017. Retrieved January 14, 2017.</ref>
==Early Church Community and Commitment: The Biblical Period==
[[File:Hoffman Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.jpg|thumb|left|110px|[[Jesus Christ|Christ]] in the Garden of Gethsemane by Heinrich Hofmann.]]
The Bible records that that, at least initially, the church saw itself as united. In the community:
"...they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. {43} And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. {44} And all that believed were together, and had all things common; {45} And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. {46} And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common."(Acts 2:42-47; 4:32)
This community was soon "scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles," due to determined persecution which resulted in the dispersed disciples going "every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:1,4) Christian communities were primarily to be found in two separate cultural and liguistic entities—the Greek and Latin-speaking empires of Europe and the mid-east, and the Aramaic speaking sphere of the Parthian empire of the mid-east and far-east. This latter sphere encompassed not only the eastern portions of Syria, the Arabian peninsula, and Persia, but also extended to portions of southern India and even China. To this day there are many [[Aramaic Church]] members in the Kerala province of south India.
==Early Church Community and Commitment: the Post-Biblical Period==
[[Image:Orthodox churches icon artwork.jpg|thumb|left|200px|Orthodox Church's icon artwork.]]
'''Justin martyr  100 A.D. - 165 A.D.  From the "First Apology" (Defense)
But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. (Chapt. LXV - administration of the sacraments)</blockquote>
And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist = the Thanksgiving], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone... (Chapt. LXVl - of the Eucharist)
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead...(Chapt.LXVll - weekly worship of the Christians)
'''Tertullian (A.D. 160 -220), an Early ecclesiastical leader and writer, in his ''Apology'' (response to pagan charges) in describing the early church community wrote, ca. AD 197: '''
:We are a body knit together by one faith, one discipline and one hope. We meet together as a congregation, uniting together to offer prayer to God. We pray for the emperors and all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for peace and for the delay of the final end. We read our holy scriptures to nourish our faith, hope, steadfastness and good habits. We hear exhortations and rebukes. We take such judging very seriously – as befits those who believe they are in the sight of God – especially seriously when anyone sins so grievously we have to cut them off from our prayer, our congregation and all sacred things. Our elders preside over us, obtaining that honor not by money, but by their established character. There is no buying and selling in the things of God. Though we have a fund, but not because people can buy religion. Once a month, anyone who wants to makes a small donation – but only he who is able and willing; there is no compulsion. It is not spent on feasts, but to support and bury poor people, to provide for orphans, the elderly old persons, victims of shipwreck and those in prison for their faith.<ref>Defense by Tertullian (39), Trans. Rev. S. Thelwall. Modernized, abridged and introduced by Stephen Tomkins. Edited and prepared for the web by Dan Graves.</ref>
'''Pliny the Younger, the Roman governor of Pontus & Bithynia  (northern Turkey) from A.D. 111–113, reporting to emperor Trajan of Christians, whom such pagan rulers found intolerable:'''
:... Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ--none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do--these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.
:They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food &mdash; but ordinary and innocent food.<ref>Pliny the Younger Letters, 10.96</ref>
=== Implications of the growth of worldwide Christianity ===
''see also:'' [[Global Christianity]] and [[Internet evangelism]]
Given the increase in the public's access to global communications, it is thought that the more [[theology|theologically]] [[conservative]] non-Western Christian churches could influence Western Christianity to move in a more theologically [[conservative]] direction.<ref>http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18774</ref> For example, non-Western [[Anglican]]s are exerting influence within the worldwide Anglican Communion against the stance of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion's North American provinces with regard to [[homosexual]] practices.<ref>http://www.maravipost.com/malawi-politics/district/5751-bishop-mw-anglicans-totally-against-homosexuality.html</ref><ref>https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2156406/Anglican-church-schism-declared-over-homosexuality.html</ref>
== Positive effects of Christianity on societies  ==
[[Image:Stbasil.jpg|right|thumb|200px|[[Saint Basil|St. Basil]] of Caesarea founded the first hospital. Christian hospitals subsequently spread quickly throughout both the East and the West.<ref>[http://biblemesh.com/blog/the-christian-origins-of-hospitals/ The Christian origin of hospitals]</ref> See: [[Christianity and hospitals]] ]]
''See also:'' [[Christianity statistics]]
Historically, Christianity has had a positive effect on societies and there are a number of statistics which demonstrate this matter (see: [[Christianity statistics]]).
=== Christianity and social stability ===
See: [[Christianity and social stability]]
=== Christianity and hospitals ===
See: [[Christianity and hospitals]]
== Atheism vs. Christianity ==
''See also:'' [[Atheism vs. Christianity]]
In the latter half of the 1600s, there was [[French atheism#Clandestine French atheism in the 1600s and 1700s|an increase]] in the degree of ideological conflict between [[atheism]] and Christianity in the [[Western World]]. At first the conflict was of a secretive nature via the use of clandestine tracts.<ref>[http://fivebooks.com/interview/jonathan-israel-on-the-enlightenment/ Jonathan Israel on The Enlightenment]</ref><ref>The material was formerly at the University of Cambridge's Investigation Atheism website. A website which closed down. The material has been transferred to [http://www.mmfase.com/18th-century.html 18th Century History], Investigating Atheism</ref>
As a result of [[militant atheism]] in the 20th century, there was widespread persecution against Christians in [[Communist]] countries such as the former [[Soviet Union]] and various Communist countries such as China continue to persecute Christians (see: [[Communism and religious persecution]]). 
The 21st century is projected to be a century of [[desecularization]] and atheists are expected to lose influence in the West (and the world as a whole) as a result of religious immigration and the religious conservatives having a much higher fertility rate (see also: [[Growth of global desecularization]]).
In 2011, the ''American Spectator'' declared about the global population:
{{cquote|The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new [[Islam|Muslims]] every day, and 300 fewer atheists every day. These atheists are presumably disproportionately represented in the [[Western World|West]], while religion is thriving in the Global South, where [[Charismatic movement|charismatic Christianity]] is exploding."<ref>[http://spectator.org/archives/2011/02/28/thriving-christianity Thriving Christianity]</ref>}}
== Resources related to becoming a Christian ==
''see also:'' [[Essay: Resources on becoming a Christian|Resources on becoming a Christian]]
'''Below are some resources on becoming a [[Christian]]:'''
*[https://creation.com/good-news Are you a good person?]
*[http://www.newchristian.org.uk/ New Christian - UK]
*[http://www.thewordfortoday.org/?page=C2000 Free audio Bible and Bible audio streaming]
*[http://www.allaboutgod.com/ AllAboutGod.com]
*[[Christian apologetics|Evidence for Christianity]]
*[[Christian video testimonies]]
*[https://www.gotquestions.org/repentance.html Repentance]
* [https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/what-if-you-die-today/ What Must You Do To Be SAVED?]
'''Tips on choosing a Christian church:'''
*[http://www.allaboutreligion.org/choosing-a-christian-church-faq.htm Choosing a Christian Church]
'''Spiritual growth as a Christian:'''
*[http://www.navpress.com/product/9781576839324/The-Pursuit-of-Holiness-Jerry-Bridges The Pursuit of Holiness] by Jerry Bridges
*[http://www.navpress.com/product/9780891099413/The-Practice-of-Godliness-Jerry-Bridges The Practice of Godliness] by Jerry Bridges
*[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/529785.The_Complete_Book_of_Discipleship The Complete Book of Discipleship: On Being and Making Followers of Christ]
==See also==
'''Denominations or branches of Christianity'''
*[[Roman Catholic Church]]
*[[Eastern Orthodoxy|Eastern Churches  -- Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East]]
**[[Anglican]] ([[Church of England]])
***[[Episcopal Church]] (USA affiliate)
**[[Disciples of Christ]] and [[Churches of Christ]]
**[[Evangelical Christianity]]
**[[Religious Society of Friends|Friends (Quaker)]]
**[[Liberal Christianity]]
**[[Messianic Judaism]]
**[[Plymouth Brethren]]
*[[Christian Science]]
*[[Jehovah's Witnesses]]
*[[Latter-day Saints]]
*[[Seventh-day Adventist]]
*[[Liberal Catholic Church]]
'''Christianity in the World'''
*[[Global Christianity]]
*[[List of countries by number of Christians]]
'''American Christianity:'''
*[[American Christianity]]
'''Other articles'''
*[[Future of Christianity]]
*[[Christianity and social stability]]
*[[Essay: The earliest Christian Church, a prison in Armageddon]]
*[[Aramaic Church]]
*[[Apostolic Tradition]]
*[[Christian apologetics]] (Defense of Christianity)
*[[Christians and the Law of Moses: an essay]]
*[[Christianity and Science]]
*[[Christianity and women's rights]]
*[[Conservative Christianity]]
*[[Evangelical Apostolic Church of North America (Syro-Chaldean)]]
*[[Ex opere operato and ex opere operantis]]
*[[Christian apologetics|Evidence for Christianity]]
*[[Gospel reading in the Church: the Turgama]]
*[[Infant baptism]]
*[[Inspiration of Holy Scripture: An Eastern Christian and Jewish Perspective]]
*[[Jesus Christ]]
*[[New Testament understanding through the Jewish perspective]]
*[[Jewish Biblical way of interpretation: a solution for New Testament understanding]]
*[[Early Aramaic Jewish Christian prophesying]]
*[[First Century Aramaic Jewish Christian Gospel and poetry]]
*[[Aramaic Judaism, Jewish Aramaic Christianity, and John 1:1]]
*[[God on earth, the original!: an essay]]
*[[Passover Seder]]
*[[Persecution of Christians]]
*[[Revelation, Book of (historical exegesis)]]
*[[Red-letter Christian]]
*[[Sign of the Cross]]
*[[The Sign of the Cross: of Jewish Origin]]
*[[Essay: The Way of Salvation]]
*[[Gates of Hell]]
*[[Anti Abortion activism: a personal essay]]
*[[Transmigration of Words in Religion: an essay]]
*[[Singing the Hebrew Scriptures]]
*[[Christmas in the Holy Land: an essay]]
*[[Essay: How to "get" a church]]
*[[Essay: How to choose a Bible]]
*[[Essay: Water baptism cannot save, the Church cannot save, Born again by faith alone]]
*[[Bible translations]]
*[[Essay: The superiority of the King James Bible: Looking through!]]
*[[Essay:Christianity Needs Conservatism]]
*[[Essay:Christian First, Conservative Second]]
*[[Essay:How Many Christians In The World]]
*[[Essay:How Conservatism Is Essential to the Future of Christianity]]
*[[Essay:Important Christian Cities]]
*[[Essay:Virtue: Christian vs secular]]
*[[Essay:Counter-cultural Christianity]]
*[[Essay:Why Christianity is incompatible with Liberalism]]
==Further reading==
*  Bodensieck, Julius, ed. ''The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church,'' (3 vol 1965), ECLS perspective
* Brauer, Jerald C. ''The Westminster Dictionary of Church History'' (1971), 880pp
* [http://newadvent.org/cathen/index.html ''The Catholic Encyyclopedia'' (1907-1913)], old but highly detailed and online
** '' New Catholic Encyclopedia'', edited by the Catholic University of America, 17 vol. 1967–1979.
*Cross, F. L., and E. A. Livingstone, eds. ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church''  (3rd ed. 1997), 1840pp; [https://www.amazon.com/Oxford-Dictionary-Christian-Church/dp/0192802909/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_b excerpt and text search]; online at [[OUP]]
* Elwell, Walter A., ed. ''Evangelical Dictionary of Theology‎'' (2001) 1312 pages; articles by over 200 Evangelical or Fundamentalist scholars
*Hastings, Adrian et al. eds. ''The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought'' (2000) 808pp; 600 articles by 260 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox scholars; [https://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0198600240/ref=sib_dp_pt/105-4292297-2766841#reader-link excerpt and text search]; online at [[OUP]]
*''New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge'' (1911), major sources of older scholarly articles; mainline Protestant perspective 
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc01.toc.html Vol. 1: Aachen - Basilians]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc02.toc.html Vol. 2: Basilica - Chambers]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc03.toc.html Vol. 3: Chamier - Draendorf]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc04.toc.html Vol. 4: Draeseke - Goa]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc05.toc.html Vol. 5: Goar - Innocent]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc06.toc.html Vol. 6: Innocents - Liudger]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc07.toc.html Vol. 7: Liutprand - Moralities]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc08.toc.html Vol. 8: Morality - Petersen]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc09.toc.html Vol. 9: Petri - Reuchlin]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc10.toc.html Vol. 10: Reutsch - Son]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc11.toc.html Vol. 11: Son of Man - Tremellius]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc12.toc.html Vol. 12: Trench - Zwingli]
**[http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc13.toc.html Vol. 13: Index]
*Briggs, J. H. Y., Robert D. Linder, and David F. Wright. ''Introduction to the History of Christianity: First Century to the Present Day'' (2006) [https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-History-Christianity-Century-Present/dp/0800638123/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200823548&sr=8-4 excerpt and text search]
*Gonzalez, Justo L. '' A History of Christian Thought: Volume 1: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon'' (2nd ed. 1987); [https://www.amazon.com/History-Christian-Thought-Beginnings-Chalcedon/dp/0687171822/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200823941&sr=8-1 excerpt and text search vol 1]; ''A History of Christian Thought: Volume 2: From Augustine to the Eve of the Reformation'' (2nd ed. 1987) [https://www.amazon.com/History-Christian-Thought-Augustine-Reformation/dp/0687171830/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200823941&sr=8-3 excerpt and text search vol 2]; ''A History of Christian Thought: Volume 3: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century'' (1987) [https://www.amazon.com/History-Christian-Thought-Protestant-Reformation/dp/0687171849/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200808706&sr=8-12 excerpt and text search vol 3]
*Horsley, Richard A. ''Christian Origins: A People's History Of Christianity, Vol. 1'' (2006), 318pp [https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Origins-Peoples-History-Christianity/dp/080063411X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200886474&sr=1-2 excerpt and text search]
*Latourette, Kenneth Scott. ''A History of Christianity'' (2 vol 1975) [https://www.amazon.com/History-Christianity-Beginnings-1500-Revised/dp/0060649526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200823548&sr=8-1 excerpt and text search vol 1, to 1500], by leading Baptist scholar
*Latourette, Kenneth Scott. ''A history of the expansion of Christianity'' (7 vol 1939-1970), monumental history of missionary work worldwide
*MacCulloch, Diarmaid. ''The Reformation'' (2005), influential recent survey [https://www.amazon.com/Reformation-Diarmaid-MacCulloch/dp/014303538X/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200808706&sr=8-2 excerpt and text search]
*McGonigle, Thomas D.,  and James F. Quigley. ''A history of the Christian Tradition: From Its Jewish Orgins to the Reformation'' (1988); ''A History of the Christian Tradition, Vol. II: From the Reformation to the Present'' (1996) [https://www.amazon.com/History-Christian-Tradition-Vol-Reformation/dp/0809136481/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1200808706&sr=8-15 excerpt and text search vol 2]
*Pelikan, Jaroslav. ''Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine'' (5 vol 1975-91) [https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Tradition-Development-Doctrine-Medieval/dp/0226653757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201083460&sr=8-1 excerpt and text search v. 3, 600 AD -1300]; [https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Tradition-Development-Reformation-1300-1700/dp/0226653773/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201083460&sr=8-4 excerpt and text search vol 4, 1300-1700]; [https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Tradition-History-Development-Doctrine/dp/0226653803/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201083460&sr=8-3 excerpt and text search vol 5, 1700-present] This is the standard history of Christian doctrine.
*Ward, Keith. ''Christianity: A Beginner's Guide'' (2008), 195pp
===United States===
* Ahlstrom,  Sydney E. ''A religious history of the American people‎'' (1979) 1192 pages; classic history from broad perspective [https://books.google.com/books?id=5kFF6a1viGcC&dq=inauthor:ahlstrom&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=30&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES excerpt and text search]
* Balmer, Randall. ''Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism'' (2nd ed.  2004), 655pp [http://www.questia.com/library/book/encyclopedia-of-evangelicalism-by-randall-balmer.jsp ''Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism''  online edition]
* Lippy,  Charles H. and Peter W. Williams, eds. ''Encyclopedia of the American religious experience: studies of traditions and movements'' (3 vol 1988) 1872 pages; standard reference work; long essays by scholars
* Noll, Mark A. '' A history of Christianity in the United States and Canada‎'' (1992), by leading Evangelical historian [https://books.google.com/books?id=VGF3wbzzy9QC&dq=intitle:christianity+inauthor:noll&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=30&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES excerpt and text search]
* Queen, Edward L. et al., eds. Encyclopedia of American Religious History'' (3rd ed. 2 vol. 2009) 1200pp
* Reid, Daniel G. et al. eds., ''Dictionary of Christianity in America'' (199)
*  Wooley,  Davis C. ed. '' Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists‎'' (5 vol 1958–19820; 2565 pages)
==External links==
*[http://www.aim.org/wls/category/christians/ What Liberals Say - Category: Christians], [[Accuracy In Media]]
*[http://www.churchbud.com Christian] Social Network
*[http://bertschlossberg.blogspot.com/2012/11/jesus-through-fabric-of-our-lives.html Jesus through the Fabric of our Lives]
*[http://bertschlossberg.blogspot.com/ Real Life and Death: the interplay of Bible, Israel, America]
*[http://bertschlossberg.blogspot.de/2013/05/who-can-be-saved-who-can-not-be-saved.html Who can be saved? Who can not be saved?]
[[Category:Christianity| ]]
[[Category:Featured articles]]

Revision as of 16:32, 20 May 2020