Christianity developed out of Judaism in the 1st century C.E. It is founded on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and those who follow him are called "Christians." Christianity has many different branches and forms with accompanying variety in beliefs and practices. The three major branches of Christianity are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, with numerous subcategories within each of these branches. Until the latter part of the 20th century, most adherents of Christianity were in the West, though it has spread to every continent and is now the largest religion in the world. Traditional Christian beliefs include the belief in the one and only true God, who is one being and exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the belief that Jesus is the divine and human Messiah sent to the save the world. Christianity is also noted for its emphasis on faith in Christ as the primary component of religion. The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible, including both the Hebrew scriptures (also known as the Old Testament) and the New Testament. Central to Christian practice is the gathering at churches for worship, fellowship, and study, and engagement with the world through evangelism and social action.
Christianity can also be used as an umbrella term as many sects of Christianity exist all over the world. Aside from the agreed upon fundamental beliefs mentioned above, some Christians ascribe to different cultures, customs, doctrines, and practices that differ from church to church. Patheos' library acts as a compendium of resources to help people understand what these different branches believe.
Quick Fact Details:
- Formed: This is the traditional date for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some scholars date the rise of Christianity as a religious belief system later in the first century under the leadership of the apostles.
- Fundamentals: Christians believe in God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. They believe Christ came to atone for the sins of mankind and through Him all will be saved.
Quick Fact Sources include www.adherents.com, www.bbc.co.uk/religion, The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (2006), The Encyclopedia of Religion (2005), The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (2002), and the Encyclopedia of World Religions (1999).