Humans are fascinating individuals whose beliefs and practices differ considerably. The beliefs that they hold in high regard influence their thought processes, value systems, behaviors, and general wellbeing. Characteristic spirituality is comforting and provides answers to a host of questions regarding the existence of humanity. The values that humans derive from religion contribute significantly to tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Moral values influence desirable behavior, and help in preventing social conflicts. They enhance the productivity of the society and enable populations to lead satisfying lifestyles.
Christianity is an important global religion that has spread significantly since its emergence. Statistical evidence ascertains that it is currently the most popular religion and has the largest number of adherents (Hale 72). This implies that its teachings are invaluable and its belief system is credible. Christians have a deeper relationship with the Higher Power as compared to other religions. This explains why most Christians lead moral lifestyles and are tolerant with one another. Christian teachings offer practical ways that believers use to live uprightly. The laws and rules have direct impacts on the wellbeing of the believers and can be applied in their day-to-day activities. Christianity has unique religious practices that are incomparable to the rest of the religions. The preceding desirable attributes informed decision making with respect to the type of religion to explore.
Guy (32) traces the origin of Christianity in the mid first century in the present day Israel and Palestine. Later, it spread from Jerusalem to other regions, including Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Different states, including Georgia, Armenia, and the Roman Empire later adopted it as their state religion. Nestorian Schism took a step to create a Christian faction, the Church of the East after 431 (Guy 41). In 451, The Council of Chalcedon further divided the religion into Chalcedonian and Oriental Orthodoxy. Further, in 1054, the Great Schism sub divided Chalcedonian Christianity into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic. After this, the protestant reformation separated from the initial Catholic Church and developed various communities or denominations. In the middle age, both Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholic spread widely in Europe. After the renaissance, Christianity spread across the globe and currently, it is considered the world’s largest religion.
Basic Beliefs and Teachings
Christian beliefs and practices are derived from the teachings of Jesus Christ. First, Christians believe in the existence of one God who assumes three forms; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He has one son named Jesus Christ, whom he used to extend his love to humanity. He accepted to come to the world and underwent suffering in an effort to save human beings (Cooper 41). He taught humans about the Kingdom of God and later died for their sins on the cross, resurrected, and is now alive in heaven. Christians believe that since He is the co-creator, He will come soon to judge the human race.
Further, Christians believe in the existence of the Holy Spirit that empowers them and enhances establishment and sustenance of an ideal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. He guides Christians and enlightens them, especially with regard to supernatural experiences. With respect to humanity, Christians believe they are sinful and need to repent in order to reconcile their differences with God. Jesus promises them forgiveness whenever they repent their sins. Believers are promised everlasting life in heaven while sinners’ final destination is hell.
With respect to understanding the notion of humanity, Christians believe that man is an important aspect of God’s creation. They trust that man assumes the image as well as likeness of the creator (Guy 71). Although God created him, Christians acknowledge that man failed to obey the creator by participating in sin. This had far-reaching implications on the general wellbeing of humanity. Nonetheless, God introduced repentance through which man can be saved from unrighteousness. The church is another important teaching of the Christian doctrine. This encompasses an assembly of believers who share common believes about the existence of God and God’s expectations.
Christians also believe in the existence of angels whose purpose is to glorify God (Guy 72). Angels are powerful, mighty, and play an instrumental role of ministering to God. The angels that abandoned God are wicked and influence humans to engage in sin. According to Christians’ understanding, there will be the end of time when God will undertake judgment. Humans who would not be saved at this particular time would be condemned to eternal death while those that are saved will join the angels in heaven.
Besides presenting their grievances to this Higher Power, Christians praise God and repent their sins through prayer. Another important teaching of Christianity entails fasting. In this regard, believers engage in intense prayer and deny themselves certain comforts. During this time, they seek wisdom from the Higher Power and concentrate on attaining righteousness (Guy 81).
Sacred Writings and Practices
Sacred texts are important aspects of any given religion because of their ability to instill character and spirituality in the followers. The Christians’ bible comprises of various books and letters and Christians refer to them as Holy Scriptures. The Old Testamentis foundational, relevant, authoritative, and details vital information regarding the Jewish way of life. The New Testament comprises of various writings including the biographies of Jesus, apocalyptic work, and letters to emergent churches. Unlike the Protestants’ bible, the bible used by the Orthodox and Catholic churches has an additional thirteen books referred to as the Apocrypha (Guy 89).
Christians have various practices and rituals that give meaning to their religion. Although some of these differ amongst denominations, they are useful for strengthening their faith and beliefs. Baptism entails immersion in or application of water accompanied by a blessing pronouncement. Both adults and children are baptized in order to attain salvation, publicly express faith, and cleanse sins (Cooper 53). Another common practice amongst Christians pertains to bible study. This entails reading the scripture, understanding the message contained therein, and applying this to the Christian’s way of life. Individuals and churches assume different approaches to bible study. The orthodox and catholic factions practice the Eucharist that enables believers to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Symbols and their Meanings
Cooper contends that Christianity has a host of signs and symbols that followers use in worship (Cooper 52). To begin with, Christians recognize the cross that represents the wooden structure that Jesus was nailed on during crucification. In most instances, the cross is placed in churches although it also appears in Christian readings and jewelry. To symbolize humility and devotion to the Christian doctrine, Christians pray while kneeling. In liturgical churches, Christians greatly value holy water. Besides baptism, this water is used tobless the congregation, caskets before burial and new buildings (Cooper 72).
In addition to holy water, Christians use oil to denote good health and healing. Further, ashes are used during the lent period and specifically on Ash Wednesday to signify that death is inevitable. Then, they burn incense to symbolize purification of thoughts as well as reverence and prayer. In addition, they use candles during worship to imply enlightenment or new understanding. In liturgical traditions, Christians use pictures and statues of Jesus, Mary, and the angels (Cooper 76). The statutes have special meanings depending on the occasion. In addition, Christians use the fish to symbolize Jesus’ strong desire for Christians to spread this faith.
Christianity Vs Judaism
With respect to similarities, both religions believe in the existence of a Higher Power that is referred to as God (Hale 61). They agree that God is powerful, merciful, resides in heaven and communicates with humans through scriptures. The believers from both religions have faith that there is heaven and hell for the righteous and the wicked respectively. With regard to teachings, both religions acknowledge that God has a good plan for the believers.
According to Hale, the religions differ in their definition and understanding of Jesus Christ (Hale 42). Unlike Christians, Jews do not perceive Jesus the ultimate messiah. They trust that the messiah will be human and responsible for restoring Israel and building the Jerusalem temple. Christians on the other hand believe that Jesus is the messiah who has already fulfilled the promises of Good with respect to delivering Israel. They have faith that through Jesus, they will be able to attain everlasting life. In addition, Jews believe that humans are able to sincerely repent their sins and lead righteous lives. They trust that indeed, God can forgive humans their sins and give them a chance to lead righteous lifestyles. This is unlike Christianity that teaches that man cannot attain absolute righteousness. Christians believe that humans are sinful and however much they try, they cannot quit their wicked ways (Hale 45). According to Christianity, it is only Jesus that had the ability to obey God’s commands
Intrigues of Christianity
Certainly, Christianity has various beliefs and teachings that guide worship and which are held in high regard by the followers. These also influence the values and behaviors that followers assume. One fascinating component of this religion pertains to the concept of the holy trinity that postulates that there exists one God who constitutes of three different persons (Guy 98). Further, each person in the trinity can be considered a full God, but there is only one single God. This aspect of Christianity is not only fascinating but it is also confusing. It does not provide a clear definition of who God really is. From the outlook, it presents Christianity as a polytheistic religion.
Another intriguing facet of Christianity includes the belief that Jesus became human, died, rose from dead, and ascended in heaven (Hale 51). In addition, from an objective point of view, it is not possible for an individual to die and rise again. Once an individual is dead, he/she cannot rise. This doctrine implies that there exists a Higher Power that is too complex for human understanding. Indeed, the concept of God and Jesus requires deep faith for Christians to believe in the miracles and other works of Jesus.
Finally, the notion of prayer that includes communicating with God is fascinating. There are no set rules with respect to when Christians pray and as such, Christians can talk to their creator at any time and place. According to the teachings, prayer strengthens the relationship between God and the believers (Hale 59). What is intriguing about this concept is the fact that Christians talk to a God that cannot be seen. They praise, repent sins, and present their petitions to a Higher Power that is invisible.
Humans rely on religion to provide answers to questions relating to their existence. Seemingly, Christianity has undergone various transformations and currently comprises of different factions. The followers believe that there exists a Higher Power that constitutes three important forms. They also understand that the bible is an important book that guides their behavior and mannerisms. Further, they acknowledge the existence of angels whose main aim is to minister to God and glorify him. Adherents believe that they are sinful but can ask for forgiveness from God through prayer. In addition to baptism, Christians practice bible study and commune in the holy Eucharist. Their symbols range from the cross and holy water to oil, ash, fish, incense, and so forth. The religion shares certain beliefs such as the existence of God with Judaism but differ with it regarding the belief in Jesus and atonement of sin. From an individual point of view, the major intrigues about this religion pertain to the doctrine of the holy trinity, prayer, and death and resurrection of Jesus.
Cooper Derek. Christianity & World religions: An introduction to the world’s major faiths. USA: P & R Publishing, 2013. Print.
Guy Laurie. Introducing early Christianity: A topical survey of its life, beliefs & practices. New York: IVP Academic, 2011. Print.
Hale Rosemary. Understanding Christianity. New York: Duncun Baird, 2005. Print.