Portal:Christianity
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Portal:Christianity

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The Christianity Portal

Introduction

Christianity is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. Its adherents, known as Christians, make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible (called the Old Testament in Christianity) and chronicled in the New Testament.

Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. The creeds of various Christian denominations generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God--the Logos incarnated--who ministered, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; and referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news". Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, with the Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.

Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around the Levant, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity slowly separated from Judaism. Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the "Great Church" (though divergent sects existed at the same time, including Gnostics and Jewish Christians). The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology, while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East-West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. Christianity played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly in Europe from late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Following the Age of Discovery (15th-17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.

The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (230 million), and the Oriental Orthodox churches (62 million) (Orthodox churches combined at 11.9%), though thousands of smaller church communities exist despite efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Despite a decline in adherence in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents. Christians remain persecuted in some regions of the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, East Asia, and South Asia. (Full article...)

Selected article

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch
The Sermon on the Mount was, according to the Gospel of Matthew, a particular oration given by Jesus of Nazareth around AD 30 on a mountainside to his disciples and a large Galilean crowd (Matt 5:1; 7:28). It is thought by some contemporary Christians to have taken place on a mountain on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum. The recounting of the Sermon on the Mount comes from the Gospel of Matthew 5–7.

The Sermon on the Mount may be compared to the similar but more succinct Sermon on the Plain as recounted by the Gospel of Luke (6:17-49). Opinion is divided as to whether they are the same sermon, similar sermons exploring the same themes, or even that neither sermon really took place but were simply conflations of Jesus' primary teachings as put together by Matthew and Luke.

Arguably the best-known segment is the Beatitudes, found at the sermon's beginning. It also contains the Lord's Prayer and the injunctions to "resist not evil" and "turn the other cheek", as well as Jesus' version of the Golden Rule. Other lines often quoted are the references to "salt of the Earth," "light of the world," and "judge not, lest ye be judged." Many Christians believe that the Sermon on the Mount is a form of commentary (midrash) on the Ten Commandments. To many, the Sermon on the Mount summarises the central tenets of Christian discipleship.

Selected scripture

Parable of the Unjust Judge by John Everett Millais (1863)
He also spoke a parable to them that they must always pray, and not give up, saying, "There was a judge in a certain city who didn't fear God, and didn't respect man. A widow was in that city, and she often came to him, saying, 'Defend me from my adversary!' He wouldn't for a while, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God, nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will defend her, or else she will wear me out by her continual coming.'"
The Lord said, "Listen to what the unrighteous judge says. Won't God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them? I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

Selected biography

Woodcut of John Day from the 1563 and subsequent editions of Actes and Monuments
John Day was an English Protestant printer. He specialised in printing and distributing Protestant literature and pamphlets and produced many small-format religious books, such as ABCs, sermons, and translations of psalms. He found fame, however, as the publisher of John Foxe's Actes and Monuments, also known as the Book of Martyrs, the largest and most technologically accomplished book printed in sixteenth-century England. Day rose to the top of his profession during the reign of Edward VI (1547-1553). At this time, restrictions on publishers were relaxed, and a wave of propaganda on behalf of the English Reformation was encouraged by the government of the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. During the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I, many Protestant printers fled to the continent, but Day stayed in England and continued to print Protestant literature, which led to his arrest and imprisonment in 1554. Under Queen Elizabeth I, Day returned to his premises at Aldersgate in London, where he enjoyed the patronage of high-ranking officials and nobles. With their support, he published the Book of Martyrs and was awarded monopolies for some of the most popular English books. Day, whose technical skill matched his business acumen, has been called "the master printer of the English Reformation".

Selected image

The Life of Jesus Christ

The Life of Christ as a narrative cycle in Christian art comprises a number of different subjects, which were often grouped in series or cycles of works in a variety of media, narrating the life of Jesus on earth, as distinguished from the many other subjects in art showing the eternal life of Christ, such as Christ in Majesty, and also many types of portrait or devotional subjects without a narrative element.

Did you know...

...that Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches celebrate Mass, while Eastern Christian churches instead celebrate Divine Liturgy?
...that the length of a Church service can vary widely, depending on the denomination and priest, and can range from 40 minutes to 3 hours?
...that Mandarin Chinese translates the word "Christ" as Jidu ()?
...that the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Côte d'Ivoire is listed by Guinness World Records as the largest church in the world?

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