Christianity

Introduction
I am writing this Hub in response to a request on this topic: What Christianity Means to Me. It is a personal statement and is not intended to represent anyone else or any individual church or denomination.
Brief History of How the Church Came to Be
Christianity is a religion based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Because he was called The Christ by his followers, they became known as Christians. In the Book of Acts Luke records that followers were first called Christians in the city of Antioch in Syria (Acts 11:19-30). Jesus called his followers “the Church.” After Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the Living God, Jesus said “I will build my church upon this rock (Matthew 16:16-18).” In Acts 2 we find the dejected disciples formed into a cohesive body of believers by the coming of the Holy Spirit. They were filled with power and energy to spread the Gospel message to the known world. Now Christianity and “the Church” have become synonymous.
Although there was only one recognized Church until the Reformation, there was much argument over beliefs and practices. A great deal of what the Church practiced as sacraments and holy acts was challenged as human interference in God’s plan. Even before the Reformation there were times when the Church was tested and purified. The human element in the Church contaminated God’s intent, and periodically, it was dealt with. After the Protestant Reformation in Europe and the English Reformation, many denominations were formed and are still forming today.
These diverse groups and organizations all belong under the grand umbrella of Christianity as long as they proclaim the core beliefs found in the New Testament: the divinity of Jesus, the virgin birth, the death and bodily resurrection of Jesus, the authority of God the Father, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the triune God, the communion of believers, and eternal life
My Take on Christinity
To me, Christianity means the attempts of human agents to build a mechanism of worship and work to honor and glorify God. The fact that we are human with flawed character and sinful natures allows errors and distortion in the vehicle Jesus envisioned. The Church as we see her on earth has not always been beautiful; sometimes she was arrogant or self-serving rather than humble and God-serving. Martin Luther took her to task with 95 theses describing her failures to honor her God and her mission. She was the cause of the bloody and violent instances of the Crusades killing innocent people and ravaging cities and populations for relics or gold or glory. The Indians of North and South America were ravaged, murdered and violated unless they engaged in mass conversions. Constantine and Charlemagne converted armies or massacred them in the name of the Church.
I feel shame when I find flaws in Church doctrine or beliefs that cause harm to people or populations. I try to justify or correct those things when I speak with friends or when I write about them. Sometimes I forget that my connection to God is not through the Church, but it is the assembly of people I worship with or perform acts of mercy in mission with—the Church is the vehicle to operate in the world. From my perspective, the Church, even with all the denominations and presentations in our world, is flawed. We fight among ourselves to be right or powerful or big.
A Better View
Sometimes I am proud of the Church: It ministers to needs and preaches salvation and provides education and clean water and homes for orphans. I rejoice in the efforts of the Church even if it is not my denomination that is doing the work. I still identify myself with it. In spite of my somewhat negative and painful evaluation of the Church, I find myself giddy with excitement to be included in it. I am but one drop of water in the ocean called the Church, one brick in the wall Paul called the Temple, one cell in the Body of Christ on earth. I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’s description in The Screwtape Letters . Screwtape, a demon, writes to his nephew Wormwood that the humans cannot see “the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.” When I consider the Church from that perspective, I am filled with everlasting joy.

Q: Christianity!?
Who here wouldn't mind giving me a brief overview of the beginning of Christianity, or at least a few links to some good sites? Will be very appreciated....

A: One of the better sites for Christian origins is: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html However, unless your willing to do a significant amount of reading and comparing of theories, using only superficial examination will likely make you more confused about this subject. One thing that is not typically discussed is that origins within the apostles dedicated to the Jesus lore were focused on converting Jews to this new Jewish based sect. For example only those who remained within the Jewish dietary requirements and were circumcised were welcome. This remained fairly constant until Paul came along and took his conversion efforts from Africa to Europe and the Gentiles and in doing so dropped many requirements such as the dietary restrictions and being circumcised. It was at this time that this new (Jewish) sect began to lay the foundation for major growth. Constantine plays an interesting role in the establishment of Christian power. He was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337; was born in 274, at Naissus in Upper Moesia, a son of Constantius Chlorus and Helena, and was, after the death of his father at York (July 25, 306), proclaimed emperor by the legions of Gaul. He immediately took possession of Britain, Gaul, and Spain; and after a series of brilliant victories over Maxentius, ending with the bloody battle at the Milvian Bridge, just under the walls of Rome, he also became master of Italy (312). He now ruled over the ‘Western Empire, as Licinius over the Eastern: but war broke out between them in 314; and in 323, after the battle of Chalcedon, in which Licinius was killed, Constantine became sole lord of the whole Roman world. He died in 337, at Nicomedia. Tradition tells us that he was converted to Christianity suddenly, and by a miracle. One evening during the contest with Maxentius, he saw a radiant cross appearing in the heavens, with the inscription, "By this thou shalt conquer." The tradition is first mentioned by Eusebius, in his De Vita Constantini, written after the emperor’s death. This miracle has been defended. with ingenious sophistry by Roman-Catholic historians and by Card. Dr. Newman (Two Essays on Biblical and on Ecclesiastical Miracles, 3d ed., Lond., 1873, pp. 271 sqq.), but cannot stand the test of critical examination. Constantine may have seen some phenomenon in the skies; he was no doubt convinced of the superior claims of Christianity as the rising religion; but his conversion was a change of policy, rather than of moral character. Long after that event he killed, his son, his second wife, several others of his relatives, and some of his most intimate friends, in passionate resentment of some fancied infringement of his rights. In his relation to Christianity he was cool, calculating, always bent upon the practically useful, always regarding the practically possible. He retained the office and title of Pontifex Maximus to the last, and did not receive Christian baptism until he felt death close upon him. He kept Pagans in the highest positions in his immediate surroundings, and forbade every thing which might look like an encroachment of Christianity upon Paganism. For political reasons, however, unity and harmony were necessary; and in 325 the Emperor convened the first great oecumenical council at Nicæa to settle the Arian controversy. It was the first time the Christian Church and the Roman State met each other face to face; and the impression was very deep on both sides. When the emperor stood there, among the three hundred and eighteen bishops, tall, clad in purple and jewels, with his peculiarly haughty and sombre mien, he felt disgusted at those coarse and cringing creatures who one moment scrambled sportively around him to snatch up a bit of his munificence, and the next flew madly into each other’s faces for some incomprehensible mystery. Nevertheless, he learnt something from those people. He saw that with Christianity was born a new sentiment in the human heart hitherto unknown to mankind, and that on this sentiment the throne could be rested more safely than on the success of a court-intrigue, or the victory of a hired army. The only rational legitimation which the antique world had known of the kingship was descent from the gods; but this authority had now become a barefaced lie, and was difficult to use even in the form of a flattery. At Nicæa, however, the idea of a kingship of God’s grace began to dawn upon mankind. Constantine also met there with men who must have charmed and awed him by their grand simplicity, burdened, and almost curbed, as he was by the enormous complexity of Roman life. After the Council of Nicæa, he conversed more and more frequently and intimately with the bishops. his interest in Christianity grew with the years; but, as was to have been foreseen, he was sure to be led astray, for the needle lacked in the compass. He was more and more drawn over to the side of the Arians, and it was an Arian bishop who baptized him.
Q: What was the difference between christianity and other religions?
How did christianity gain so many followers? We all know what happened after the roman empire embraced it as the official religion, but my question concerns what happened before that. Im certain that it wasn't the only religion, so im curious about how did christianity stand out among all the other religions.

A: The first century mission of the apostles was to proselytize and establish churches. We know most about Paul and Peter's works, and there are some lesser known people such as Barnabas. Churches were established mostly along the east and north of the Mediterranean, and much of the NT is composed of Paul's letters to the various churches: Corinthians are letters to the church in Corinth, Romans to the church in Rome, Ephesians to the Ephesian church, etc. Paul appears to have been most invested in the Romans, and probably thought that the most important church -- the seat of the early Christian church. Others who lived during Paul's time and after include Ignatius of Antioch (who first coined the terms Catholic and Christian), Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen. A critical part of the work of the time was establishing the doctrine and practices of the church. You may be interested in the recently aired NOVA show on the Biblical archeology. The full show is online here (click the Play Video link on the right side of the page): http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/dever.html
Q: What characteristics of Christianity make it so appealing as an ideology to dominate others?
Christianity was tailored to be the new state religion of the Roman Empire, and it has continued to be the state religion of the empires of conquest and domination since its adoption by Rome. Let's figure out why that is.

A: Convenience. Interpreting the bible to support ideas like Manifest Destiny and saying you are god's warriors can justify almost anything. Couple that with a still expanding empire an you have the spread of christianity.
Q: What is it that christianity does not have compared to any other belief?
Christianity is lacking a virtue that all other beliefs do not lack. Can anyone tell me what that virtue is? I can absolutely boil it down to one word. Can you? All of the other beliefs ( religions ) have it, but christianity does not. So tell me what it is that christianity lacks?

A: Loyalty to their religion. No matter how much they believe in their religion, they will not go out of their way to defend it. They would rather be more politically correct, than stand up for their faith. Example: look at what happened when some people draw picture depicting their prophet. Riots, fire, damage, and murder to defend their prophet. But the Christian will never do that. Some time ago, someone draw Jesus with someone peeing on him. No riots, damages or any murder, to defend Jesus nothing. But a bunch of fat heads, saying 'oh, no that is not respectful you shouldn't have done that!' well, bull. I am not advocating violence, but showing how far others will stand for their religions, and how much the Christian stand for theirs.
Q: What are the reason Christianity spread so fast in Europe during the middle ages?
Is it because ancient European's cult practices are like being an atheist and that is why Christianity influences them so fast? I was also thinking of today's situation where Europe is becoming more secular and Islam is spreading in Europe. For this reason, Muslims can easily influence and convert Europeans into Muslims as well, isnt it? Please give me some details.

A: it spread because it was not a free democracy like we have today. If the king shows up with an army and says be baptized or die. that causes very fast conversion rate. these conversions may not be all that sincere,but fear will keep people quit about there own beliefs mean while publicly all agreeing with what the church says. Children raised hearing only the public thoughts of the adults,and going to the state sanctioned church will be christian.
Q: How does Christianity impact philosophy if they have nothing to do with eachother?
So I was told Christianity has helped mold philosophy but I cant understand how that is when they are 2 totally different things. Didnt philosophy occur waaaaay before Chiristianity, or is it the other way around? But really how does Christianity or "religion" tie into philosophy? I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with anything. I'm not trying to form an opinion; I'm simply just asking for understanding.

A: The purported goal of both is to seek truth. Personally I think Christianity doesn't seek truth so much as declare what it thinks it is, but that's beside the point. Prior to the 19th century most philosophies rooted all truths in natural truth, i.e. God. The ideas that loving your neighbor is good, greed is bad, sexual promiscuity is bad, etc. have no objective truth, they are simply declared to be basic truths by Christianity. Philosophies were molded around these ideas for centuries. It wasn't really until the existentialists that we started to break free of the template and start to come up with other bases for basic truths, or lack of basic truths.
Q: How did the extreme right hijack Christianity?
What I mean is surely Christianity is more 'liberal, live and let live, love thy neighbour, let the meek inherit the earth, and so on. All good stuff, so how has right wing politics, which believes the rich are entitled to inherit the earth etc, managed to convince ordinary religious people that their politics remotely resembles their 'original' religious beliefs. Thanks for your opinions.

A: I think it goes to the extreme right hijacking the Bible Belt, they hijacked it after the Civil Rights Act..as LBJ put it, he lost the South for the Dems for a "a generation" (turned out to be more) after signing that. It pissed the South off then, and even though the South today isn't that racist, the culture of dislike towards the Democrats has developed in accordance with other events, of course. And since the South is quite religious, when they associated with the extreme right, it weirdly blended with their religion too.
Q: Whenever globalization is complete, do you think Christianity as a whole will go underground and fight?
Seeing as how this appears to be a natural evolution of society with the advent of global communications... It seems that the misinterpretation of revelations with the one world government (all things being Rome) and all - I wonder how it will be with christianity when it happens. Do you think that is why so many in the US is against anything remotely close to globalization? Will it be a self-fulfilling prophesy with persecution if they cause a raucous?

A: Globalization will not be Christianity's downfall. It's the corruption and immorality within Christianity itself that will ultimately do that if it happens at all. All institutions have their time and then they die.
Q: Why are Christianity, Judaism and Islam considered superior to all the other myths in history?
Is it all to do with politics and power at various times in the past 2000 years? I mean, every society needs to something to believe in, right? It hardly seems to matter if Christianity, Judaism or Islam are right or wrong just so long as they serve to control the plebs, right?

A: Do you actually expect a serious answer when you begin your question with such a smug assertion? Your ignorance is astounding. Go back to class little boy.
Q: What would Christianity be like today without the influence of the ancient Romans?
Suppose Rome never existed, how would Christianity be like today? Would it be a small sect; off-shoots of Judaism? Would it have spread throughout the world as it did in our past history? Finally, how would it effect Islam? Would Islam still be around?

A: I think it would have stayed more middle-eastern in essence.
Q: Why do non-Christians feel a need to constantly misrepresent Christianity in order to reject it?
I am constantly reading questions that deal with some version of "This is what Christianity says (fill in the blank with some exaggerated or misrepresented view of Christianity). Why would I believe anything so stupid, hurtful, mean, etc?" Why do non-Christians have a need to skewer Christian beliefs in order to ridicule or deny Christianity? What is it about Christianity that makes people seem to have such a strong need to twist its beliefs in order to deny it?

A: Maybe because deep down they are actually afraid!
Q: What kind of Christianity should I chose?
Recently I have decided to convert to Christianity. I was wondering if I should become a member of the Roman Catholic Church or a Protestant Denomination. Any suggestions as to whether the Roman Catholic Church or a Protestant Church is better for a rather liberal minded, just got out of college, 23 year old? I think some of the Catholic practices are kind of cult-like and reminiscent of the middle ages, but then again some American Protestant Denominations are a little crazy themselves. Suggestions are greatly appreciated, but please don't be rude or snide. And please, no stupid answers. I'd like honest answers with sound evidence. Thanks.

A: Praise God!! I am a recovering catholic. You are correct in your observations. To get you on the right track, remember it is NOT a religion! It is about having a close, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. A great Bible teaching, believing church is beneficial, but you don't need a man with a cap and gown in between you and The Lord. 1) Jesus Christ died, rose, and sits at the right hand of The Father, He is not on the cross, as a friend of mine put it ,Jesus has left the building.. 2) At the time of His death, the veil was torn from the top, to the bottom, showing that God had done this, allowing, as I stated before, direct access to God. 3) Ten Commandments clearly state no graven images before me. How many statues do you see inside many of today's mainstream churches?? 4) After Jesus turned water into wine, Mary is referred to as woman. Several places in The Bible it states, there will be NONE above me. (reread#3) And there are several more. I found the churches that I frequent now by checking with my local Bible book store, The small "home" type churches are very good in my area. I also go to an evangelical church, which is starting to get a real movement of The Holy Spirit, that is very exciting, and full of joy. Start reading the Bible. I recommend starting in Romans& Ephesians to begin to understand who you really are in Christ! Pray! As you press in to The Lord, He does talk to you, ask Him where He wants you. Heavenly Father, I pray for this young soul to seek You out, grant him wisdom and knowledge, allow his feet to take him where You need him to be. Bath him in Your love and comfort. Thank You, In Jesus Name. Amen.
Q: What are the basic reasons for the success of Christianity during the first three centuries of its existence?
Basically what were some reasons that were responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout the roman empire starting in A.D.

A: Just my opinion - based on some facts. I think it more has to do with the fact that Christianity became the religion of the down-trodden. Remember the first Christian Churches were made up of Arab and African tribes who had been subject to overtaking by the Roman Empire, and in some places the Jews. As the Apostles spread out of Jerusalem around Arabia, Asia Minor and Eastern and Northern Africa they brought a message of hope and salvation to the masses. They gave the Assyrians, Arabs, Ethiopians, and Egyptians a sense of pride and belonging. Overtime, this caught on. And, probably the most important person in the history of Christianity - besides Christ himself - gave freedoms to Christians in the New Roman Empire and later converted. Some of Constantine's mandates made Christianity even more popular: - In New Rome, Constantine put an end to persecution of Christians - In New Rome, it was illegal for a Jew to hold a Christian slave - After conversion, Constantine mandated that Sunday would be the Christian Sabbath, and that people should not work. - In New Rome, Constantine made it so no slave could be branded on the face or upper body - all prisoners were allowed daily time outside and sunlight - instead of total darkness. Granted, Constantinople and New Rome were in no way as civil as societies today. But, these changes were HUGE compared to the laws and treatment of outsiders by the Old Roman Empire and Jewish Rule.
Q: What would an open-minded person say in the debate between Christianity and Atheism?
While me and a friend were having a debate concerning religion, he asked me to see it from an open-minded view of Christianity and it's implications, but he said that the open-minded perspective is that Christianity is "historically wrong." So I have to ask three things: What is your religious affiliation? What would an open-minded person religiously believe? Do you believe that Christianity is "historically" wrong? By that, I mean has Christianity done more good or bad things in a historical view?

A: I'm a liberal Christian, which means that on some issues I am closer to atheism than to Christian fundamentalists. And without open-mindedness we're all doomed. Historically I would have to say that Christianity's record is mixed; as an open-minded person I don't trust anyone who pronounces that the good outweighs the bad or vice versa, so I think your friend is either an amazingly well-read historian, able to form a considered judgement having looked at Christianity's achievements in every country on earth; or less open-minded than he thinks. The easiest part of the record to defend is war. People fight and drag their religion into it. Atheists show no sign whatever of being any more peace-loving than religious people: they have their tribal loyalties too. The big story in the UK as I write this is about gang war in Liverpool. We're talking about kids raised by disfunctional families, with no sense of values at all; atheists in other words. And they are trying to rule their little piece of turf with firearms. Howl all you like, atheists, this is not the behaviour of religious people. It's not the behaviour of good secular humanists either but that is not the terminology this question invites us to use. It's both inhuman and godless. Less excusable is the intellectual tyranny, the oppression of women and minorities, the sense that in every battle for moral liberation the Church has fought on the wrong side; and in some quarters continues to do so. And yet, certainly in the UK, there are schools and hospitals because the Church cared about education and healthcare. There are ten thousand charities because ordinary Christians are prepared to work for them as volunteers. Community life has been maintained over the centuries through the involvement of clergy and church leaders; now that role is not there for them, I have a sense of a much more privatized society with a consequent increase in loneliness, depression and alcohol abuse. Secularization comes at a price. You will find good and bad in Christianity's record. We can argue about the relative proportions, but anyone who thinks that religion is nothing but bad news is frankly just as much a bigot as some of the fundies who think all atheists are evil.
Q: Is Christianity primarily a fear based religion?
I am sure beyond all reasonable doubt that when I die I will totally cease to exist, and thats OK by me. Christianity seems to say that if you don't believe in its creed and follow its rituals you will be tortured for eternity after death ( even if you never learned of Christianity). If you do follow its creed and do appropriate rituals you can spend eternity praising god which sounds very sycophantically boring. To me both options are fearful.

A: Hi there! Well actually, Christianity doesn't say that "... if you don't believe in its creed and follow its rituals you will be tortured for eternity after death". Here's what Christianity is really about: (I'm going to make this simpler by using dot points) - God made the world so that we were rulers over it under him - However, we decided to rebel against him (which is doing anything bad, such as lying, stealing, committing adultery, hating others, etc.) - Because God is perfect, he can't let bad go unpunished. (Think about it this way: a righteous judge can't let a crime go unpunished) and so, the punishment for this rebellion against God is death, and after death to be in Hell, which is a really, really bad place (where you are in constant pain) - But then, because God loved us so much, he wanted to offer us a way out of this pain and punishment, so what he did was to send his only Son, Jesus, to earth, who willingly took our place of punishment by dying painfully for us on the cross (crucifixion) - In this way, the price for rebellion against God is paid (like someone paying bail for you so that you can get out of jail) and we can be forgiven! And because we are forgiven, it means that we don't need to be punished in Hell, instead, we go to Heaven, to be with the very person who saved us from the punishment that we deserved. I hope this helped your understanding of Christianity. As you can see, Christianity isn't based on fear! It's based on the love of God and the hope of forgiveness because that's what it's all about. Misconceptions of Christianity are usually due to seeing it as a religion, which I assume is where you got the "...creed and follow[ing] rituals" part of your question. I usually name it the DO vs DONE concept. Many people see Christianity as a 'DO' concept, where you have to do stuff to be a good person, etc. The reality is that we'll never be good enough, because God's standard is PERFECT!!! (And the truth is, we'll never get there in our own efforts). So instead, Jesus died and rose again for us (signalling his triumph over death and sin, which is the bad stuff we've done), to pay for our wrongdoing because he loved us so much, and because he did this, we can go free. Jesus has already DONE it all for us. And as with the concept of the unfairness of Hell even if you haven't heard of Christianity, let me tell you this. A person isn't punished because they aren't Christian. They are punished because they aren't forgiven for their sins, and they need to pay for them. But Christians, (people who've accepted Jesus Christ's payment for their sins) are forgiven, because someone has basically paid bail for them, and they can go free. I hope you understood this! Any questions, [email protected]
http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Christianity/435099

Christianity 9 of 10 on the basis of 2610 Review.