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Written by   56
11 months ago
Topics: Religion

The Founder:  Jesus of Nazareth

Christianity has a historical creator whose existence is documented by external sources. The account of Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian born in Jerusalem who eventually became a Roman citizen, is the most accurate of these sources. He makes some brief references to Jesus in his work, The Antiquities of the Jews, both as a Messiah and as a wise teacher. Josephus also records that Jesus was crucified, and that he was returned to life by his disciples. However after that, history is silent.

The four books of the Bible document much of the details about Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. However it is important to note here that these books were not written as biographies; their intent was rather to convince others that Jesus was God's son and the world's savior. They identify Jesus' life and ministry, therefore, as the one they believed to be God in the flesh. In other words, what we have in these four books of the Bible is an account of Jesus Christ, not a biography of Jesus the man from Nazareth, that is, "the anointed one or the chosen one."

What do Christians Believe about Jesus?

First and foremost, Christians believe that Jesus is both fully human and completely divine: "one person, two natures" is the technical formula. Christians believe that on the one hand, Jesus was neither just another enlightened teacher nor, on the other, a divine avatar-God in a human disguise. Instead, Jesus was both fully and absolutely divine in all his words and deeds and a true, embodied human being as well. "The language used by Christians to describe this is "incarnation." That is, Christians believe that in one human being, Jesus of Nazareth, son of a young woman named Mary, and her husband, Joseph, God became "incarnate," literally, "in-fleshed.

Second, Christians believe in Jesus that they have the clearest expression of the core essence of God, and how God wishes to be in relation to mankind and the universe. That's why the life of Jesus, his ministry, his associates, his followers, are all vital to God's Christian understanding. Christians believe that love is God's fundamental inclination towards life, and that everything God does in the universe is intended to manifest that love. Jesus is thought to embody the love in his person and in each act of his human life.

As it relates to the life and ministry of Jesus, another point needs to be discussed here and that is that Jesus was very transgressive, breaking social norms frequently and "queering" conventional conceptions of power and social status. He did not align himself with the Jewish rulers of the time, the Pharisees; indeed for their reliance on laws over citizens, they received frequent and repeated punishment from Jesus. Jesus, instead was surrounded by tax collectors, prostitutes, and other questionable members of society, hosting children on his lap, curing lepers, and talking to mysterious people. Jesus associated himself with strangers over and over again with the needy and the dirty, the underprivileged, and the unwanted.

The Bible

Christians have a holy text, the Bible, like the adherents of many religions, which is a collection of many smaller texts written by many writers, only some of whose names are recognized. Christians also describe the Bible as being "inspired," although that term has been interpreted in various ways. Although some Christians claim that the Bible should be read literally, even with respect to science and history, mainline Christians believe that the Bible was not written as a textbook, biography, or historical account of science, but rather as a witness to the one God who in history revealed himself in a covenant relationship first with the Jewish people, and then through Jesus Christ, to the one God who revealed himself in history. This opens up the potential for the Christian narrative to be harmonized with new findings in geology, anthropology, history, astronomy, etc.

The Christian Bible is divided into two main parts, historically called the Old Testament and the New Testament. The number of books in the Bible varies between various sects of Christians, but between the Catholic Bible's seventy-three books and the Protestant Bible's sixty-six books, in both the two major divisions.

The Christian Community

The birth of the Christian community, or "the church," is usually associated with the event recounted in the Bible book known as The Acts of the Apostles, when 3,000 people were baptized in Jerusalem after the extraordinary witness of the disciples of Jesus, who, after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, spoke in a multitude of foreign languages.

Conversation usually starts with Paul and the numerous letters he wrote to the emerging Christian communities across the Mediterranean while talking about the church (these letters now make up a considerable part of the New Testament). These societies were dealing with very real problems that the church is still struggling with today: Christian squabbles, sexual morality issues, segregation issues during worship, and the role of the law in a Christian's life. In many respects, the Christian church as it exists today was prefigured by these early communities: bound together in faith in Jesus Christ, but also differentiated by differing interpretations of doctrines and practices, and uniquely flavored by the particular geographical and cultural context in which they formed. Today, these numerous church bodies are usually called "denominations," and "ecumenical" is called dialogue/partnership between them.

There are two aspects of the Christian religion which are present in almost every Christian denomination across the globe. "Word" and "sacrament" are these characteristics. In this context, "Word refers to the Bible: readings of the Bible, as well as preaching. Any group that calls itself "church" meets and reads and meditates on scripture around the Bible.

The second characteristic of most churches is "sacrament." Perhaps Augustine is the most famous definition of a sacrament: "visible signs of an invisible grace." Sacraments, such as baptism and communion, are believed to be tangible experiences of the love and mercy of God that both an individual and the community receive in faith, in their physical bodies, in the greater physical body of the collected people.

It took many centuries for the church to figure out what Christians have come to accept the orthodoxy of the "orthodox church; and while official church doctrines have been known for millennia, debates still occur today over the same issues.

Christian Teachings

The Trinity: The doctrine of the Trinity is first and foremost among Christian beliefs, both fundamental to an interpretation of the Christian faith and yet exceedingly difficult to describe. The Trinity doctrine refers to the Christian belief that there are actually three persons" of the Same God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Christianity does not profess faith in three gods, but rather the three individuals share the same essence and in various ways make God known to humanity. These "people" are not separate distinct individuals.

Salvation: Salvation is another central Christian doctrine-the key Christian argument is that "Jesus Saves"-but what, precisely, that means remains to be addressed. How it applies to the way Christians interpret other religious practices is one of the most pressing aspects of a Christian conception of salvation. The conventional Christian perspective on redemption has been that there is no salvation beyond the Christian church. For millennia, this ideology drove the church's missionary activities, and still influences many different churches today: there was a strong impetus to convert people to Christianity so that after they died, they would go to heaven.

This understanding of salvation, however has been increasingly questioned in the 21st century and the possibility of other options has been raised, particularly the possibility of universal salvation. Many people believe that this is a new concept brought on by a dedication to a more liberal secular culture, but in the Christian tradition, this doctrine actually has a long history.

Lived Christian Identity

In large part, Christian life is concerned with "sanctification," which means rising in holiness, and with "justification," which means being made righteous before God. They point in tandem to two essential elements of Christian life: first to be saved; and second, to be changed in the light of redemption. To explain these two ideas, various religions use different languages, and not all of them emphasize both equally.

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Written by   56
11 months ago
Topics: Religion
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