Christianity is the world's most
widely-practiced religion, with 2.1 billion adherents, including
1.1 billion Roman Catholics, 510 million Protestants in a number
of traditions, 216 million Orthodox, 158 million Independents
(unaffiliated with the major streams of Christianity), as well as
31.7 million belonging to other groups with less clear status
(including Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons).
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and
teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament
writings of his early followers. It shares with Judaism
the Hebrew Bible (historically called by Christians the Old
Testament), and for this reason is sometimes called an Abrahamic
religion along with Judaism and Islam.
names "Christian" and hence "Christianity"
come from the Christian New Testament writings in Acts 11:26, "and when he had found him, he brought
him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and
taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were
first called Christians (Gr.
)". Christianity encompasses numerous religious traditions
that widely vary by culture and place, as well as many diverse
beliefs and sects. It is usually represented as being divided into
three main branches, at least since the Reformation:
Catholicism (includes the largest group, the Roman
Catholic Church, including Eastern Catholics, representing over
one billion baptized members),
Eastern Christianity (includes the second-largest coherent group,
the Eastern Orthodox Church, as well as the Oriental Orthodox
Protestantism (many denominations and schools of thought,
including Anglicanism, Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Anabaptist,
Evangelicalism, Charismatic and Pentecostalism)
have always correctly viewed Christianity as the fulfillment and successor of
Judaism. Christianity carried forward much of the doctrine and
many of the practices from the Hebrew faith, including a form of
monotheism, the belief in a Messiah (or Christ from the Greek
Christós, which means "anointed one") spoken of in
hundreds of prophecies, certain forms of worship (such as prayer, and reading
from religious texts), a priesthood (although most Protestants
assert the "priesthood of all believers" is the only
valid priesthood today), and the correct belief that worship on Earth is
modeled on worship in Heaven.
central belief of Christianity is that by faith in the sacrificial
death and resurrection of Jesus, individuals are saved from death—both
spiritual and physical—by redemption from their sins (i.e.,
faults, misdeeds, disobedience, rebellion against God). Through God's grace, by faith and repentance, men
and women are reconciled to God through forgiveness and by
sanctification or theosis to, during the here and now, and after death, find their place with
God in Heaven, and, at the end of time, to be resurrected from the
dead, to die no more.
beliefs in Christian teaching are Jesus' incarnation, atonement,
crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead to redeem humankind
from sin and death; and the belief that the New Testament is a
part of the Bible. Many Christians today (and traditionally even
more) also hold to supersessionism, the belief that Christianity
is the fulfillment of Biblical Judaism.
emphasis on God the Father giving his son, or the Son (who is God)
becoming incarnate for the sake of humanity, is an essential
difference between Christianity and most other religions, where
the emphasis is instead placed solely on humans working for
His love for us has allowed His truth to continue to be expressed
through the most
uniform and broadly accepted tradition of doctrine, with the
longest continuous representation, repeatedly reaffirmed by
official Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant definitions.
These truths assert that
specific beliefs are essential to Christianity, including but not
* God is
a Trinity, a single eternal being (with no beginning and no end to
His existence) that exists as three persons:
Father, Son (Divine Logos, incarnated as Jesus Christ), and Holy
Christ is both fully God and fully human, two "natures"
in one person. (Jesus became flesh in order that God the Creator
would have the ultimate understanding of His creation. God's
design and creation of mankind is wondrous, but He also chose to
actually exist as that creation through the physical body of
Jesus. This incomprehensible self-sacrifice by God brought about
His (now empathetic) sympathy for our weaknesses and needs as
Salvation from spiritual death, a separation from God due to
mankind's sin, is available to individual believers through the
person and work of Jesus Christ by the grace of God. New Testament
teaching maintains that personal faith in Jesus Christ is
necessary for salvation and that their is no other way to receive forgiveness
of our sins by God.
John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
* Faith without the associated
"good works" is a "dead" (illegitimate) faith.
Faith in Jesus as the only redemptive sacrifice offered by God
for forgiveness of our sins brings a filling or indwelling to believers
of God's Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit brings about
the desire to love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul.
To love God brings about the need to worship Him, to serve Him,
and to bring glory to Him. As part of the desire to serve God
"good works" come naturally to the Spirit filled
Christian and can be seen as an outward sign of their Christian
faith. If a Christian is not seeking to serve God through good
and honorable works
while here on earth, then he or she should question their own
faith and their rightful standing with God. Faith and acceptance
in Jesus as the sacrificial gift of God is not merely a
"religious" statement or a ticket to membership in a church,
but is a palpable state of being.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works:
show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
fulfilled hundreds of Bible prophecies in regards to Messianic predictions.
the virgin mother of Jesus, bore in her womb and gave birth to the
Son of God, who, although eternally existent as God, was humanly
formed in her womb by the Spirit of God. From her humanity he
received in his person a human intellect and will, and all else
that a child would naturally receive from its mother.
is the Messiah hoped for by the Jews, the heir to the throne of
David. He reigns at the right hand of the Father with all
authority and power forevermore. He is the hope of all mankind,
their advocate and judge. Until he returns, the Church has the authority and obligation to preach the
Gospel and to gather new disciples of Jesus.
I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.
was innocent of any sin. Through the death and resurrection of
Jesus, believers are forgiven of sins and reconciled to God.
Christians are baptized into the death, resurrection and new life
of Christ. Through faith, they live by the promise of resurrection
from death to everlasting life through Christ. The Holy Spirit is
sent to them as was promised by Christ to bring hope, to lead mankind into true
knowledge of God and His purposes, and to help them grow in
will return personally, and bodily, to judge all mankind and
receive the faithful to himself, so they will live forever in the
intimate presence of God.
Bible is an authoritative text, inspired by God, but written by
men under the supernatural guidance of God's Holy Spirit. Some, particularly in the West, refer to the Bible as the
"Word of God." Other Christians, particularly in the
East, reserve to Jesus alone the title, Word of God. Both are
beliefs are stated in a number of creeds, of which the most
important and widely used are probably the Apostles' Creed and the
Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, commonly known as the Nicene
Creed. These statements of belief were written in the first few
centuries after Christ to reject certain heresies.
Love is basic to many forms of Christianity, based in part on
Christ's answer to the question, "Which is the greatest
commandment?" To which he answered, "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." (Matt. 22:36–39 NASB).
persons and groups throughout history have had varying ideas about
the basic tenets of the Christian faith, from ancient sects such
as Arians and Gnostics to modern groups who have different
understandings of fundamental Christian ideas. Some of these more
modern groups are the Jehovah's Witnesses, who have a different
and un-Biblical theological understanding of Jesus, God and the Bible;
also I should mention here the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who foolishly believe that in 1829 God
restored the apostolic priesthood to their leader Joseph Smith,
Jr., making possible continuing revelation (including Biblically condemned
teachings and scripture); and then there is the Unification
Church; Note: In order to expose the occult practices of the
Unification Church we, have added a page to this web site dedicated solely to
warn of their heretical teachings.
Rev Sun Myung Moon
Denominations and traditions
This would include categorizing the Miaphysite Oriental Orthodox
Churches and the allegedly Nestorian Assyrian Church of the East
as branches distinct from the Chalcedonian Christianity of most of
the West (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism).
Groups with restorationist beliefs--including the Churches of
Christ, some Anabaptists, the Church of the New Jerusalem, the
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and others--sometimes
regard themselves as entirely separate from Protestantism, with
which they have often been included. The Anglican Communion
churches speak of themselves as a "middle way," that is,
"both catholic and protestant", and therefore are also
sometimes listed separately.
man-made traditions and non-biblically founded groups exist today, including Jehovah's Witnesses, the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism), and
others, which often describe themselves as Christian, however they
usually recognized as true Christians by other Christian denominations, as
their apostate teachings are held by Bible scholars and learned Christian
laymen to be unorthodox and or
the 19th and 20th centuries many historically Christian countries,
including many legally-designated Christian states, especially in
Western Europe, saw increasing social trends of secularization.
This great falling away from the biblical Christian faith
was most prevalent in the Communist states of the mid- to late-20th
century, which were governed by avowed atheists. Coinciding with
the (failed) attempt to discredit the literal interpretation of the
Bible's account of the earth's origin, there has been a shift of
social and scientific ethics from a Christian to a secular
reference. This shift from faith to the pseudo science of evolution
THEORY is willful ignorance by those that do not wish to be held accountable for
their actions before a Holy God. At the same time, among those
Christians that recognize and accept their position under the
authority of their Creator, there has been growing resistance to
secularism and to the secular anti-God, anti-Christ developments of the 19th and 20th
Spirit filled Christians oppose the ever changing religious trends
and fads that many contemporary "christians" accept without
questioning their validity against Biblical reference. Included in
these disagreements is the public debate of Abortion, Euthanasia and Suicide,
acceptance of Homosexual lifestyles, laws governing marriage and divorce, parental rights,
and the legal
status of community standards. The debates go far beyond these few
listed here and encompass a broad spectrum of other
matters in addition to the public controversies usually associated with
example, the appropriateness of religious instruction alongside of
secular views in public school classrooms (as in the creationism
Chronology of Christianity
Not all people identified with, or
self-identified as, Christians accept all, or even most, of the
theological positions held by their particular churches. Like the
Jews, Christians in the West were greatly affected by The Age of
Enlightenment in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Perhaps
the most significant change for them was total or effective
separation of church and state, thus ending the state-sponsored
Christianity that had existed in European countries. Now one could
be a free member of society and disagree with one's church on
various issues, including the right to freely to leave one's
church altogether. (Nonetheless, even the 21st century, despite
many global changes, state-sponsored or established Christian
churches do exist in a number of world regions, especially Europe
and parts of Latin America.)
accord with the Biblical prophecies of 2Th 2:3 many did
resist or abandon Christianity, developing rebellious belief systems such as
Deism, Unitarianism, and Universalism, or becoming
agnostics, or humanists.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for
that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
instead, created the liberal wings of the Protestant Christian
tradition. Modernist Christianity in the late 19th century
encouraged new forms of thought and expression that did not follow
traditional lines, but was better suited to keep the church pews
filled by not being a teaching that would require its hearers a
time of self examination.
2Ti 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
to the Enlightenment and Modernism triggered the development of
literally thousands of Christian Protestant denominations, Roman
traditionalist splinter groups of the Roman Catholic Church that
do not recognize the legitimacy of many reforms the Roman Catholic
Church has undertaken, and the growth of hundreds of
fundamentalist groups that under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit
interpret the entire Bible in a more
literal fashion, exclusive text-centered fashion.
In Europe, and to a lesser extent the
United States, the growth of philosophical and ideological
liberalism since the 19th century has also led to increased
secularism. Some Christians have long since stopped participating
in traditional religious duties, attending churches only on a few
particular holy days per year or not at all. Many of them recall
having highly religious grandparents, but grew up in homes where
the practice of Christianity as such was no longer a priority.
They have developed ambivalent feelings towards their religious
background. The consideration of worshiping their Creator and
being grateful for the gift of Salvation offered through His Son Jesus
does not even enter the equation with most of them.
They cling to their traditions for
identity reasons; while allowing the influence of the secular
Western mentality, the demands of daily life, and peer pressure to
tear them away from traditional Christianity. Marriage between
Christians of different denominations, or between Christians and a
non-Christians, while once taboo, has become commonplace; some
correlate such trends with decline in religious identity among
many societies and social segments. The populations of many
countries and regions traditionally strong in a particular
tradition, such as Roman Catholicism (e.g. Latin America, France,
Italy) or Lutheranism (e.g. Scandinavia) have largely become
agnostic or secular.
note: When using the term "religious" it is not
being used to refer to a Biblically correct relationship with God.
Many "religious" people do not know the God of the
Bible or His Son Jesus, but are merely following man-made
religious traditions, rituals, and teachings in order to belong to
a particular group, denomination, or church.
(Unbiblical) Christianity grew rapidly during the early 20th century in Europe
and North America, by the 1960s gaining the leadership of many of
the larger U.S. and Canadian mainline denominations. However, this
trend has reversed. At the turn of the 21st century, though
secular society would like to consider the more accommodating and
as the representatives and spokesmen of Christianity, the mainline
liberal churches are shrinking. This is partly due to a loss of
evangelistic zeal of liberal pastors due to no empowerment of
God's Holy Spirit, partly due to movement of their membership to
Christian churches which are associated with a more conservative
Christianity, and partly due to the failure (as expected) of one
liberal generation to
pass on liberal Christianity to the next. Among the larger Protestant
denominations in the United States, only the conservative Southern
Baptist is growing. In addition, many other conservative
denominational churches are growing along with many conservative
Enlightenment had much less impact on the Eastern Churches. Having
to face a much more hostile secular society, especially during the
rise of Communism, the church clung to ancient beliefs, even as
its membership eroded or, in many cases, went underground, at
least to public acknowledgement of one's faith.
Eastern Europe and Russia, a renewing trend is taking place. After
decades of communist-instated atheism, there is widespread
interest in Christianity. Many
Orthodox churches and monasteries are being rebuilt and restored
while Protestants of many denominations are pouring in to evangelize and
America and Africa, Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity form
rapidly growing movements that are increasingly sending
missionaries to Europe and North America. This is also true of
Asia where many of the underground "house churches"
intend to send hundreds of thousands of missionaries out over the
next decade. This is especially true of China.
A large and growing movement within
Christian populations, especially in the West and most visible in
the United States, is the Evangelical movement. Being a
cross-cultural, cross-denominational movement, there is no single
agreed definition of the term, and as a result certain elements
which claim, or are labeled by this term are not seen as being
properly 'Evangelical' by other elements within Evangelicalism.
Some significant characteristics of the Evangelical movement
include : the centrality of the cross (the substitutionary
atonement of Christ's death on the cross as the most important
Christian doctrine, which should therefore be central in Christian
practice and preaching), 'sola scriptura' (the God-breathed
authority of scripture as the final rule of faith), the need for
personal repentance and belief for Salvation, placing a high
priority on world-wide evangelization (including, but not limited
to, cross-cultural mission), belief in the eventual literal return
of Christ and a belief in the miraculous. Most mainstream
Protestant denominations have a significantly active Evangelical
minority and, in some cases, a dominant majority. Evangelicals are both ontologically and
methodologically "trans-denominational" and therefore
are generally more willing to have formal and informal
relationships with Evangelicals from outside their denomination
than to have the same sort of relationship with non-Evangelicals
within their denomination.
Two areas regarding which evangelicals display significant
internal variation are Election (A doctrine popularly associated
with the 16th Century reformer John Calvin, the idea that before
individuals are born God has effectually chosen those who will
respond to him in faith) and the place and work of the Holy
Spirit, especially with regard to the more spectacular charismatic
gifts (e.g. glossolalia, words of knowledge.) Other movements
within Christianity which fall to a greater or lesser extent
within the broad category 'Evangelical' include Dispensationist,
Pentecostal, Charismatic and Fundamentalist.
relationship with other faiths
Christianity's relationship with other
faiths is at times rather complicated. Historically Christianity
was often used to subjugate and oppress members of other faiths,
particularly faiths considered "pagan" in nature. At the
same time, early Christians did great deal of almsgiving to the
poor not only to fellow believers but to pagans as well. The
anti-Christian pagan emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363 AD),
stated "These godless Galileans (i.e. Christians) feed not
only their own poor but ours: our poor lack our care". Also, it is argued that Christianity had a role in the growth of
tolerance in the West. In addition, in modern times,
prosecutions for blasphemy have been rare in nations such as the
United States which is a fairly religious country with many
Christians. However, due to its diverse history and its
numerous denominations and branches it is difficult to give an
accurate account of Christianity's current relationship with the
many non-Abrahamic faiths. The relationship of Christianity with
faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and the many so called
"pagan" faiths of the world can vary from region to
region and denomination to denomination. As such this segment will
focus on Christianity's relationship with Abrahamic faiths.
religion scholars attempt to find commonality between religions;
and, the description of Christianity as an Abrahamic religion
arises from this effort, using the term to point out supposed
commonalities especially in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,
which each refer to Abraham as important to their faith. The Jews
see Abraham as the progenitor of the people of Israel, through his
descendants Isaac and Jacob, and Muslims admire Abraham (whom they
call Ibrahim) as a great prophet and as the father of Ishmael,
whom they believe to be the progenitor of Muhammad and whom they
believe Abraham was to sacrifice rather than Isaac.
their part, Christians point to Abraham as a spiritual ancestor
and an exemplar of justifying faith. (This relationship is not to
be confused with Abraham's role as a blood ancestor of Jesus, as
described in the genealogies of Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter
3.) They see Jesus as Abraham's spiritual descendant, in whom God
promised that all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen.
12:3; 22:18), and thus they consider themselves heirs of that
promise (Gal. 3, especially vv. 7,14,29; Rom. 9:6–8). Unlike
Judaism and Islam, Christians see Abraham's willingness to offer
his son, Isaac, to God, as foreshadowing God's giving of his son,
Jesus, for the salvation of men (Gen. 22:1–14; Heb. 11:17–19).
some members of each faith see Abraham as a basis for
understanding between Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but when
Christians use the "Abrahamic roots" language, they do
not mean that true Christianity is found in some kind of average
of religions with overlapping traditions, but merely that, the
Christian faith has elements in common, which may provide a
helpful basis for constructive relationships between peoples of
the divergent traditions. Two representatives of the Roman
Catholic Church, for instance, have recently referenced the
Abrahamic roots of the Christian faith publicly: In a statement to
the United Nations in 2001, Apostolic Nuncio Renato Cardinal
Martino, spoke of "the peoples of the Holy Land" as
"cousins in the Abrahamic faith." Joseph Cardinal
Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) struck the same theme in his
statement in 2000 in an effort to repair damaged Jewish-Roman
Catholic relations: "Even if the most recent, loathsome
experience of the Shoah [the Holocaust] was perpetrated in the
name of an anti-Christian ideology, which tried to strike the
Christian faith at its Abrahamic roots in the people of Israel, it
cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this
atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an
inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam Compared
Unfortunately there have long been some sentiments of
anti-Semitism in Christianity (see
Christian attitude toward Jews) , but especially since the Holocaust, there has been
much dialogue between Christians groups and Jews aimed at
Christian-Jewish reconciliation and Christian attitudes toward
Jews have greatly improved. Many conservative evangelicals support
Christian Zionism, which is tied to the common belief that the
Jewish people are "God's chosen people". Many are
dispensationalists, who believe that the ingathering of Jews to
the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
They await the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, which they
believe to be one of the final signs that Jesus is returning soon
to rescue the Church from the Great Tribulation, and to save the
Jews from the Antichrist, after which Jesus is expected to reign
over the earth from Jerusalem, during the Millennium.
More: Christianity and Judaism Compared
A common Jewish criticism of
Christianity is that Jesus did not fulfill prophecy. Christians by
and large believe that Jesus did fulfill prophecy, but Jewish
scholars and religious leaders argue that many of the
prophecies remain unfulfilled. Some such prophecies include the
following: The Hebrew people were expecting a descendant of King
David, anointed by God, who would restore the Nation of Israel and
the Davidic Kingdom, ushering in an everlasting age of peace on
earth. The Messiah was also to end all earthly bondage and
servitude (Particularly to the Romans). Many Jews today believe
that were Jesus the true Messiah (or anointed one) it would be in
the power of none to deny him. Christians, by and large, believe
in the Second Coming in which Jesus will fulfill all
prophecy. While most Jews today understandably tend to avoid
considering the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah sent by God
and their ancestors had not recognized Him, many are studying Old
Testament prophecy and see that Jesus truly was the Messiah and
are turning to the Christian faith.
Messianic Judaism refers to a religious movement,
self-identified as Jewish, holding that Jesus
is or was the Messiah. Messianic Jews may hold a wide range of
religious beliefs and practices, ranging from Evangelical
Christian Judaism to Christian Orthodox Judaism. Messianic Jews
vary in their adherence to Jewish religious law and worship
practices, such as keeping of Kosher and observing the Sabbath.
Even though Messianic Jews are typically of a Jewish ethnicity,
some Messianic temples may be composed entirely of gentiles. There
are also Jewish members of Christian churches that are not
affiliated with Messianic Judaism.
Jews are not considered part of the Jewish religion by mainstream
Jewish groups, who dismiss Messianic Judaism as Christianity with Jewish undertones.
Jews argue that Jesus failed to fulfill numerous prophecies from
the Jewish scriptures, and that therefore he could not have been
the true Messiah. However Messianic Jews believe in the Second
Coming of Jesus and that those prophecies which Jesus did not
fulfill will be fulfilled upon his eventual return. From the
Christian view the rejection and execution of the Messiah fulfills
numerous prophecies from the Old Testament.
More: Judaism Explained
Christianity and Islam
Adherents of Islam have historically
referred to themselves, Jews, and Christians (among other
religious adherents) as People of the Book since they all base
their religion on books that are considered to have a divine
origin. Christians accept the Old Testament as part of their
Biblical canon, but they neither consider the Qur'an to be a book
of divine revelation or a part of their faith nor agree with
Islam's view that Jesus was a prophet, on par with Muhammad. Also
most Christians believe that they were forewarned expressly by
Jesus to be aware of false prophets, a category often applied to
Muhammad by Christians.
for their part, believe that parts of the Gospels, Torah and
Jewish prophetic books have been forgotten, misinterpreted, or
distorted by their followers when in actuality there is much
documented historical proof that Islam is based entirely on a
re-written and corrupted version of the Old and New Testaments.. With that
interpolated perspective, Muslims mistakenly view
the Qur'an as corrective of Jewish and Christian scriptures.
Muslims, believe that God (or, in Arabic, Allāh) revealed his direct words for mankind to
prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and
eventually Muhammad (c. 570–632). Muslims believe that the
messages of all of the prophets were similar. Therefore, Muslims
respect Jesus as they do Muhammad, but they don't share with
Christians the God given Trinity beliefs nor view Jesus as God.
surprisingly, the relationship between the two faiths has had its
share of controversy and conflict (an example being the Crusades).
Indeed, many Christians forcefully reject the entirety of the
Muslim faith system, citing Jesus' statement that anybody who is
not with him is against him. Today, it is common to hear
Christians emphasize the view that Islam contradicts the teachings
of the Messiah, or that Muhammad was a false prophet. When a knowledgeable
study of the teaching of Muhammad, along with particular attention
being given to the extremely unreliable methods used in recording
his teaching, one can but agree with the Christian perspective on
Christianity and Islam Compared
Historically, Christians, both as groups
and individuals, like many other religious traditions, have been
both the victims and perpetrators of persecution. Some forms of
persecution of Christians and on the part of Christians continue
to the present day.
Christian martyrs in the first three
centuries were crucified, torn apart by chariots and wild animals,
cut down, or impaled on pikes in much the same manner as other
Roman political prisoners and rebels. Many were forced to fight in
Roman coliseums as fodder for famous gladiators, or forced to
fight each other for entertainment and as punishment. When early
Christians refused to fight each other, wild beasts or gladiators
would often be set loose to slaughter them, providing sinister
entertainment for betting Roman citizens. Bets were often cast on which Christian would die first,
whether or not one would raise arms against another, and how long
one would last before having his or her torso ripped apart. They
are recognized till this day, as it shall be on the Day of Judgment,
as Christian martyrs because they chose to die rather than
renounce their Christian faith in God and His once offered gift of
salvation through Jesus. This type of faith
shows supernatural empowerment of the like which is beyond human
capacity to face death before renouncing one's true God. In times
of fear, torture, and weakness of human character and will, their
love for God prevailed.
the modern Middle East and Africa, Christians today face a great
deal of persecution, including arrests for "blasphemy"
in the Middle East and even being targeted for assassination and
acts of terrorism. Though such violence against Christians is
extremely uncommon in China, Christians in China are treated as
second class citizens, and are often the victims of public insults
and persecution by government officials. In China there are also
laws against proselytizing, so while it's not illegal to convert
to Christianity, one can be fined or imprisoned for attempting to
convert others, especially publicly. Predominantly Christian
regions (such as East Timor) have chosen independence partly for
this reason. Because of this, many Christian converts from these
parts of the world have left for Europe, the United States, Canada
and Australia only to find a growing persecution against
Christians in those nations also.
Christians have not only been the
victims of persecution. After the Roman Emperor Constantine
converted to Christianity, Christian mobs frequently molested
pagans and destroyed their temples, sometimes with government
support. The philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was murdered by
such a mob in 415.
380, Roman emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the official
religion of the Empire and outlawed the practicing of paganism and
Manichaeism. Judaism remained legal, but Jewish communities
suffered from recurrent violent attacks and expulsions, especially
in the latter half of the Middle Ages.
the Crusades, Christian Crusaders committed atrocities against
Jews across Europe and massacred non-combatants in Palestine and
Syria. Crusaders also sacked and plundered the city of
Constantinople and persecuted many Pagans, Muslims, and Jews.
have at times persecuted other Christians over doctrinal and
ethnic differences. During the Arian disputes in the 4th century,
Arians harassed their orthodox brethren, and were supported in
this by various emperors. When Priscillian was executed by the
state in 385, this was widely denounced by leading Church figures
of the time. By the Middle Ages, however, the Church was the
executor of persecution, setting up the Inquisition to fight
heresy by judicial means including torture. The Crusades, while
primarily aimed at non-Christians, also included incidents such as
the sack and plunder of Constantinople. The Early Modern period
saw the phenomenon of Witch hunts, which were frequent in Western
Europe, especially Germany, and later also in New England. This
period was also typified by violence between Catholics and the
emerging Protestant movement.
the second half of the 20th century, ethnic or social conflicts
are sometimes reinforced by religious antagonism. In Northern
Ireland, the struggle for independence is exacerbated by
denominational differences; in general terms, Catholics support
independence, while Protestants desire to remain part of the
United Kingdom. The region of former Yugoslavia contains many
groups fighting for control, most of which are typified by strong
cultural and religious solidarity.
bigger, but not better;
the second half of the entertainment oriented 20th century the Mega-Church became a
significant phenomenon. These churches are generally characterized
by service forms designed to appeal to the non-Christian or none
Bible scripture adhering "christian".
Mega-Churches use contemporary music and multi-media presentation styles
to "draw a crowd" and often focus on practical helps for
living such as self awareness, self help, self esteem, living
single, and particularly "divorce recovery classes". They are most common in the
United States, and frequently target specific demographics. Criticized
by more traditional churches as 'watering down' the Christian
message and for their use of techniques akin to advertising spin, they
are typically not affiliated with a particular denomination.
Mega-Churches are usually located in the larger cities and draw a
crowd that seeks to have their "ears tickled" by non-threatening
"religious" teachings. Eternity, hell, damnation due to
sin, salvation through Christ, and other Biblically sound doctrines are
considered taboo terms of speech, and are seldom if ever
mentioned during Mega Church services.
Members of many Mega-Churches
outwardly show their lack of understanding and respect of God's
Holiness by dressing for Mega-Church services as though they are
out bar-hopping on a Saturday night. During my first visit I was embarrassed
and offended by the extremely provocative clothing worn to Sunday services
by the female members of a certain Mega-Church located in Houston
Being aware that Christ allows sinners to come to Him while still
in sin, yet demands they repent and change their sinful lifestyle
in a timely manner, I asked a member of this particular church if
these women were perhaps new to the Christian faith. I was
informed they were not. The overly loud "christian"
rock music, giant screens showing new-age imagery, a contemporary
dance troop on the alter platform, and the inappropriate dress
styles all added to an atmosphere that certainly was not conducive
to worshipping God in truth and Spirit. There were few attending
that day who recognized the majesty of God.
Being guided by the
Holy Spirit brings one to know the Holiness of God and causes you
to humbly bow before His great Majestic.
Archibald Robertson, The Origins of Christianity (1954, rev. ed.
The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez (1984, 1985, 1999,
Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister McGrath (ISBN
Christian Theology Reader by Alister McGrath (ISBN 063120637X)
Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis
Systematic Theology, an ecumenical trilogy by Thomas Oden
Volume 1: The Living God (1992, ISBN 0060663634)
Volume 2: The Word of Life (1992, ISBN 0060663642)
Volume 3: Life in the Spirit (1994, ISBN 0060663626)
The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of
Jaroslav Pelikan. 5 Volumes, published between 1971-1989.
The Kingdom of God is Within You  by Leo Tolstoy (1894, ISBN
Tomkins, Stephen. A Short History of Christianity (Lion, 2005)