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Christianity is one of the world's major religions, dominating in Europe and the Americas, as result of a powerful historical force and cultural influence. This religion was founded by the followers of Jesus in Palestine in mid-first century.
Christianity is based on the New Testament, comprised of four Gospels by different authors, narrating the life. Also Christians accept the Old Testament, Judaist’s sacral scripture, as sacred and authoritative Scripture. Therefore Christian ethics and concept were significantly influenced by the tradition Judaism, presented in the Old Testament, including the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments). However some or even significant differences may exist in interpretation of this text based on the teachings of Jesus and his practice. Moreover there are different forms of Christianity which have different interpretations of particular parts of sacred texts and different approach to worship organization (i.e. the role and function of clergy, church institutions, sacraments and rituals). However major traditional forms of Christianity may be characterized my practicing of corporate worship, writes and sacraments, which are conducted by the trained clergy in established churches.
The central idea of traditional Christianity teaching is that Jesus who is the Son of God, and complement the Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ coming to earth, his crucifixion and Passion, with subsequent resurrection and ascension into heaven are considered to be proofs of God's love for humanity and His forgiving of humanity sins. Christians claim that by in Jesus a person may attain salvation and eternal life.
One of the essential doctrines for mainstream Christianity is Trinity a multiplicity and unity of "Father”, “Son” and “Holy Spirit", representing God’s both the immanence and transcendence. While God is believed to infinite, His existence may be perceived through the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the actions of Jesus (Fowler: 58). This three distinct entities are believed to
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Trinity comprises three distinct, eternally co-existing entities, with the God having no source and the Son and the Spirit begotten from Him. These three persons, though being distinct, cannot be separated but not in sense that each of them is a third of the divinity, but rather, each of them is fully God.
At the early ages of Christianity there have been some disputes regarding the nature of Jesus. Commonly excepted notion in current Christianity is that Jesus was an incarnation of the God’s Son entity as "the true God and the true man", being both fully divine and fully human. As a fully human, Jesus suffered from mortal man’s pains and temptations. As fully God, he did not commit a sin and rose to life after death. According to the New Testament, after his raise from the dead, Jesus ascended to heaven and took his place on the right hand from God and will ultimately return to accomplish remaining part of the Messianic prophecy. This part of the Prophecy implies Resurrection of the dead for the Last Judgment Day and final establishment of the Kingdom of God.
Christianity, as a result of schism, caused by different views on Christian teaching and approach to the church organizational differences, has today is separated into three divisions: Roman Catholic (predominantly Central and Western Europe, Americas), Eastern Orthodox (predominantly Eastern Europe) and Protestant (predominantly Western Europe and Americas). While Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox are rather unitary divisions separated in early ages (1054 AD), Protestantism is in fact a large number of divergent denominations founded as alternative to Catholicism comparatively recently in the 16th century.
Christianity is a direct descendant of Judaism. Jesus, as well as his immediate followers, were Palestinian Jews and is considered by Christians, to have fulfilled prophecies regarding the Savior, or “Messiah”, contained in the Judaist sacral Old Testament. In his sermon Jesus referred to the notions of the Old Testament, however he preached that some of its norms are misunderstood and preached other interpretations, as well as revised some of the norms or developed them further. Jesus and his early followers initially converted portion of Judaists into their religion, though at that time it was rather a Judaist sect. After that Christianity began its expansion to other peoples and religions. Early missionaries spread Jesus’ teachings in Asia Minor (Turkey), Alexandria, Greece, and Rome. One of the most notable early missionary was St. Paul, who not only made significant contribution towards Jesus’ teaching spreading within neighboring nations but also formulated many of the cornerstone elements of Christian doctrine. Missions were one of the success factors contributing towards turning Christianity into world religion and remained one of the major elements in Christianity doctrine today.
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It is not quite clear how Christianity developed for the first three centuries of as there were no chronicles. However it is known that as early as in the 4th century institution of Christian church was quite established, with bishops being the rulers of the churches in separate cities subordinate to the bishop of Rome, who claimed being the head of all the churches. By that time many Christian rituals where introduced and canonized, such as liturgy celebration entailing sacrament and sacrifice.
In its quest for expansion Christianity on early stages faced problems with tendency of many theorists and common public to interpret Christian teaching in habitual pagan terms, such as Gnosticism, for example. In addition for about 250 years Christianity was a prosecuted religion in Roman Empire as Christians refused to worship the empire and the Roman emperor. Only 313, Constantine I and Licinius announced that Christianity would be tolerated in the Edict of Milan.
Within other dominating state of that time, the Byzantine Empire, after a period of persecution, Christianity became controlled by emperor. This fact in many cases caused problem for the Christianity of that region (Orthodox Church), while in the West the church (Roman Catholic) remained independent from the state due to the weakness of the emperor and strong authority of the bishop of Rome.
By the 9th century Eastern and Western Christianity, though sharing common concepts and religious roots, were distinctively different both in cultural sense (comprising of different ethnic groups), with different worship and ritual procedures, as well as having differences in some theological concepts and institutional issues. Besides a conflict regarding supremacy of bishops of Constantinople (Byzantium) and Rome existed. All this lead to alienation and legal separation of Christianity in 1054 into Orthodox Eastern Church and Roman Catholic Church.
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