Christianity
Section One: General

1 An overview

DEFINITION

The Christian religion is based on the teachings of Jesus and on the belief that he is the incarnate Son of God. Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Factfile

SUMMARY

The Christian religion teaches me two points—that there is a God whom men can know, and that their nature is so corrupt that they are unworthy of him.

Blaise Pascal

We are told that Christ was killed for us, that his death has washed out our sins, and that by dying he disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.

C. S. Lewis

SUMMARY OF PRACTICES

Christianity is not primarily a theological system, an ethical system, a ritual system, a social system or an ecclesiastical system—it is a person: it's Jesus Christ, and to be a Christian is to know him and to follow him and believe in him.

John R. W. Stott

There are no formal practices in Christianity of the kind that are found in, say, Islam. But over the centuries a number have emerged as essential planks of the faith, with different traditions within Christianity giving differing weights to each. Such essentials include spending time with God in prayer and worship, spending time with fellow Christians in Christian fellowship, being baptized and attending the Lord's Supper, and living a Christian life in line with the teaching of Jesus.

SUMMARY OF BELIEFS

Christians believe in:

The Trinity God

Jesus The Holy Spirit

THE TRINITY

The vast majority of Christian Churches take belief in the Trinity as their defining feature. Christianity affirms that there is only one God who exists as three distinct persons. Although the word "Trinity" never appears in the Bible, the concept of God as God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is deduced from a number of biblical passages where the three "persons" of the Trinity are mentioned together. (See Matthew 3:16, 17; 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14.)

BELIEF IN GOD

God is the almighty creator and sustainer of the universe. (Genesis 1).

God is both perfectly loving, and perfectly just. (Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 2:2; 5:8).

God is all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing.

(1 Samuel 2:3; Psalm 65:6).

BELIEF IN JESUS

Jesus was God in human form.

Jesus lived on earth and taught and performed miracles.

He was crucified dying as a sacrifice for our sins.

He conquered death and rose again to life through his resurrection.

He ascended into heaven and acts as the link between God and humankind.

(See following section "Christianity's founder" for relevant Bible references.)

BELIEF IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

Like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit acts as only a person can: he hears, convinces, speaks, testifies, shows, leads, guides, teaches, prompts speech, commands, forbids, desires, helps, and prays with groans. (See John 14:26; 16:7-15; 15:26; Acts 2:4; 8:29; 13:2; 16:6-7; 21:11; Romans 8:14, 16; 26-27; Galatians 4:6; 5:17-18; Hebrews 3:7; 10:15; 1 Peter 1:11; Revelation 2:7.)

Jesus stated that the Holy Spirit mediates knowledge of, and union with Jesus himself, even though he has now ascended and has been glorified.