Christianity is one of the most significant monotheistic religions in the world. Its beliefs are closely linked to Judaism, from which it originated. The central focus of the Christian faith is based upon the belief of salvation made possible through the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God. “Christ” corresponds to the Jewish sovereign of “Messiah” or in Hebrew, “The Anointed One”.
Located in the New Testament of the Bible, the Gospels, of which the Gospel of Mark is the oldest, describe the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Mark’s gospels talk about Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, his journey to Jerusalem, his teachings, arrest, trial, death and resurrection. The word “Gospel” derived from the Anglo-Saxon “godspel” and the word “New Testament” in English, originates from the Greek “Evangelical”, which also means “good news”. Inspired by Mark, the next two gospel writers were Matthew and Luke. John comes after Matthew and Luke, but he does not use Mark as a source for his gospels. In the first step of the gospel writing, a canonical writing had to be claimed apostolic authorship and authority. It could have only been approved if it would have been written by an apostle like Matthew, John, Paul and Peter. Churches had to recognize their leaders and therefore their writings. The writings had to be weighed and the message of the writing had to be influential in the Christian beliefs. In Rome 145 C.E., Marcion rejected the Jewish Bible and created a Christian canon out of the “Gospel of Luke” and the ten Pauline letters. He argued that the God discovered by Jesus was not the creator god revealed in the Jewish Bible. Christian beliefs were promoted after Jesus’ death by retelling his parables and lessons within the emerging Christian communities. Initially retold orally, Jesus’ ministry was later collected and organized within a literary format.
The beliefs of early Christian authors are reflected in the stories of Jesus’ birth and life as a young man. The main message of Jesus was the renewal of Judaism in accordance with the kingdom of God. As the preachings of Jesus were often portrayed through allegories of rural life, stories of him healing the sick and helping the fringe groups of ancient Jewish society conveyed the Christian message to his mainly agrarian audience. The Sermon of the Mount (found in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew) compiled these teachings. Their primary theme was love, both for God and for one another. This message responds to intensely restrictive commandments in the Jewish Torah, with places limits on behavior and promised exacting punishment for wrongdoing. Jesus instead encouraged inclusive love and charity as a guide to behavior and social organization. Jesus considered himself a messenger of God while others declared him specifically as the “Messiah”. By addressing God as a “Father”, Jesus relayed a remarkably close relationship. Arriving in Jerusalem, the religious and political center of Judaism, this provocative claim was bound to trigger conflict between Jesus and the temple aristocracy, working under the law of the Romans. Arrested on charges of blasphemy, Jesus was executed. The descriptions of his death in the Gospels emphasize the fulfillment of prophecies of a Messiah, sent by God to redeem humankind, found in the Old Testament.
Soon the followers of Christ were accused of heresy and threatened by the majority of population who held other religious beliefs. Many fled to Samaria and a few to Antioch, where they were first referred as “Christians”. The transition of the new religion saw increased influence over the following decades. Overall, the remarkable lifestyle of the Christians aroused interest to join. Entire households, including both families and their slaves, made the decision to convert. Christianity spread rapidly from the Middle East, attracting both the educated and wealthy as well as the poor and enslaved. According to the Catholic understanding of faith the teachings of the Church are based on the Bible and Christian tradition. The word of God is explained through Church doctrines. The Reformers stressed their belief that the Bible alone was sufficient for the promulgation of faith, thus contesting the Church’s traditional domination over religious interpretation. While the Church assumes that a person “pays dues” in the process of receiving God’s salvation, Luther contended that God’s grace was passive; thus faith alone was sufficient. The hierarchically structured Church was considered to be the sole mediator between God and humanity; however, Luther emphasized a “priesthood of all believers”. Luther accepted only the first three of the Church’s seven sacraments (baptism, Eucharist, penance, confirmation, matrimony, priesthood and unction). Zwingli, on the other hand, considered baptism and the Eucharist to be mere symbols of faith. The Christian Church in the 20th Century expanded even more and many Protestant denominations developed and grew in membership.
The idea of a single “true” Christianity contains both The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament corresponds to the collections of Jewish Holy scriptures. Christians read in the Old Testament prophecies and predictions that foretell of the coming of Jesus Christ, as expressed in the New Testament. The Canon of the 27 New Testament scriptures evolved from the third century. It consists of the Gospels, stories of the apostles, letters (primarily by Paul) and the revelation of John.
Fundamentalist and Evangelical religious movements emerged throughout the developed and the developing worlds. Highly emotive communal experiences, such as the trancelike practice of “speaking in tongues”, often characterized these new religious expressions.
All the Christian branches and the new traditions are what make Christianity a new religion that came from the old Jewish sect to a new World Religion.