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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

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 Syria, 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 as a religion began.

Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity (312) and decriminalized it 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". 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. Similarly, Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Catholic Church in the Reformation (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. 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.

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 four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1 %), Protestantism (920 million/36.7 %), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million/both together 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the logos incarnated—who ministred, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible (scripture). Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.

Selected article

Secondo Pia's 1898 negative of the image on the Shroud of Turin has an appearance suggesting a positive image. It is used as part of the devotion to Holy Face of Jesus.
The Shroud of Turin (or Turin Shroud) is an ancient linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have been physically traumatized in a manner consistent with crucifixion. The image can not be seen on the shroud with the naked eye and for several centuries the shroud had been displayed without it. The image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate when amateur photographer Secondo Pia was unexpectedly allowed to photograph it.

The shroud is presently kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. The Roman Catholic Church has approved this image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Some believe it is the cloth that covered Jesus when he was placed in his tomb and that his image was somehow recorded as a photographic negative on its fibers, at or near the time of his proclaimed resurrection. Skeptics contend the shroud is a medieval hoax or forgery — or even a devotional work of artistic verisimilitude. It is the subject of intense debate among some scientists, believers, historians and writers, regarding where, when and how the shroud and its images were created.

Arguments and evidence cited for the shroud's being something other than a medieval forgery include textile and material analysis pointing to a 1st-century origin; the unusual properties of the image itself which some claim could not have been produced by any image forming technique known before the 19th century; objective indications that the 1988 radiocarbon dating was invalid due to improper testing technique; a 2005 study proving that the sample used in the 1988 radiocarbon dating came from a medieval patch and not the original Shroud; and repeated peer-reviewed analyses of the image mode which contradict McCrone's assertions. Also, pollen from many places the shroud was said to have gone through are found, such as pollen from plants that exist only in certain areas near Jerusalem.

Selected scripture

The Temptations of Christ, 12th century mosaic at St Mark's Basilica, Venice
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. He ate nothing in those days. Afterward, when they were completed, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”

The devil, leading him up on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. The devil said to him, “I will give you all this authority, and their glory, for it has been delivered to me; and I give it to whomever I want. If you therefore will worship before me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered him, “Get behind me Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”

He led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here, for it is written,

‘He will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you;’

and,

‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest perhaps you dash your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answering, said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until another time.

Selected biography

Augustine of Canterbury (c. first third of the 6th century – 26 May 604) was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 598. He is considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder of the English Church.

Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him in 595 to lead a mission, usually known as the Gregorian mission, to Britain to convert the pagan King Æthelberht of the Kingdom of Kent to Christianity. Kent was probably chosen because it was near the Christian kingdoms in Gaul and because Æthelberht had married a Christian princess, Bertha, daughter of Charibert I the King of Paris who was expected to exert some influence over her husband. Before reaching Kent the missionaries had considered turning back but Gregory urged them on and, in 597, Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet and proceeded to Æthelberht's main town of Canterbury.

King Æthelberht converted to Christianity and allowed the missionaries to preach freely, giving them land to found a monastery outside the city walls. Augustine was consecrated bishop of the English and converted many of the king's subjects, including thousands during a mass baptism on Christmas Day in 597. Pope Gregory sent more missionaries in 601, along with encouraging letters and gifts for the churches, although attempts to persuade the native Celtic bishops to submit to Augustine's authority failed. Roman Catholic bishops were established at London and Rochester in 604, and a school was founded to train Anglo-Saxon priests and missionaries. Augustine also arranged the consecration of his successor, Laurence of Canterbury. Augustine died in 604 and was soon revered as a saint.

Selected image

Credit: User:Boston

Christ the King is a title of Jesus based on several passages of Scripture. It is used by most Christians.

Did you know...

...that Seventh-day Adventists believe that the Roman Catholic Church did not have the authority to change the Biblical Sabbath, and therefore keep Saturdays holy instead of Sunday?

...that one of the most often quoted verses from the Bible is John 3:16:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life"?

...that Ukrainian Eastern Catholic Josyf Cardinal Slipyj's 20 year internment in a Siberian Soviet labor camp and later rise to the rank of Cardinal inspired the 1963 novel The Shoes of the Fisherman, a number 1 best seller on the Publishers Weekly fiction list?

...that Christian demonology has assigned the colours red and black to represent Satan?

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