The Origin of Christianity
Christianity is one of the most followed religion around the globe. If we look at the reports publish in 2015, majority of the population practice Christianity (31.2%), followed by Islamism (24.1%), Hinduism (15.1%) and the Buddhism (6.9%). Moreover, approximately, 6% of the world population follow traditional or folk religions. Adherents of lesser-practiced religions including Jainism, Sikhism and Baha’i, populate less than 1% of the world population. About 0.2% of the population recognised themselves as the followers of Judaism, and remain mostly concentrated in the US and Israel.
Over several years, Jews started dominating the society both politically and culturally. Tension between the concepts of monotheism with the concept of universal ideal of salvation and the notion of God’ special choice for Israel existed from Amos, which flourished during the 8th Century CE. The Jews were dispersed through the kingdoms of the eastern Mediterranean and Roman Empire, which helped in reinforcing the present universalistic tendency especially, during the Hellenistic Age (323 BCE to 3rd Century CE).
However, the attempts of the foreign rulers, especially Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in 168- 165 BCE tried imposing Greek culture in Palestine. This movement by the Syrian king started provoking zealous resistance among some of the Jews, which further lead to the revolt of Judas Maccabeus against Antiochus. Separation and exclusiveness formed the main note among the Jews in the Palestine region. The Jewish missionaries and other areas strictly followed the distinctive customs predominant among the Jews including Sabbaths, kosher food and circumcision.
However, with the birth of Jesus Christ, Jews became the part of the Roman Empire. But, they suffered persecution under the Romans because of their difference in beliefs and practices. While the Jews were monotheists, the Romans were polytheists, and tried to ascribe their practices over the Jews. The Jews soon frustrated due to the sudden introduction of the Romans culture, beliefs and practices. They wanted to get rid of the Romans, and believed that the Messiah would come to save them.
The Birth of Jesus Christ.
Around 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ took birth in Judea, a part of the modern day Israel, who lead his life as a common Jew and started preaching around 30. He claimed himself as a Messiah, promised in the Jewish text, whom the God sent to save the Jews. Even today, the followers of Christianity consider Jesus as a significant, just and kind minister of God.
The Apostolic Period
When Jesus started teaching, He recruited 12 apostles to help Him in his work. He chose twelve of his closest followers, who would preach his gospel among the people on his behalf. He continue to perform miracles and helped the sick to heal, which brought more people to follow and worship him.
Persecution and the Roman Empire
Jesus became a threat to the leadership of the Romans. The Jewish leaders also has similar conscience and felt that Jesus undermined their teachings claiming himself the Messiah. However, Jesus in turn questioned the leadership of the Jews and later on called them hypocrites. Even one of His disciples betrayed him and made a deal with the Jewish leaders. Later on, they found Jesus and handed Him over to the Romans.
Crucifixion and Resurrection
Jesus died by crucifixion, a common punishment by the Roman law. However, three days after His death, when some women visited His tomb, they found the stone rolled away with the absence of Jesus’s body. Soon they realized that God resurrected Christ as His Son, after which the apostles and other disciples continued the spread of Christianity.
During the first year of Jesus’s resurrection, the Christians faced immense difficulty. They had to suffer a lot under the roman rulers. Emperor Nero, responsibly took the deal of both Peter and Paul in Rome, which changed when Constantine became the emperor of Rome in 312 CE. His mother introduced him to Christianity, and the cross, helped him to become the emperor as he won the battle.
The net year, in 313, Constantine declared Christianity as a legal in Rome. In 325, the Council of Nicaea cemented the beliefs of Christianity, and soon became the official religion of Rome.
The Three Denominations and The Schism
Today, you will come across three denominations in Christianity: Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant. Before 1054, Christianity became a religion ruled by the Catholic Church. But, the same year marked the great schism with the breaking of the Orthodox Church. All the three denominations believe Jesus as the Son of God and His resurrection. Then, how do they differ? They differ in terms of manner of worship and other theological beliefs.
The Orthodox Church
How did the Orthodox Church form? It spilt from the Roman Catholic Church during the Great Schism and the stemmed from a fundamental belief of salvation. Do you know the difference between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches? The Orthodox Church, unlike the Catholic Church, governs geographically rather than an overseeing church. They allow the married men to become priests, but cannot become a Bishop.
The Church believes that Jesus works through the entire body of the Church rather than considering only the Bishops and the priests. They also believe that any Christian can attain salvation and not to those who associates themselves with any specific Churches
The Roman Catholic Church
Saint Peter, who ministered in Rome after Jesus’s resurrection founded the Roman Catholic Church. He is the Bishop of Rome, or Pope according to the official terms. How did he start? Christ chose Peter to be the main destination or the “rock” where the church would stand. Even today, the Catholics consider the Pope, who is a direct successor to Saint Peter as the leader of the Church. The Church allows celibate men as the ordained priests and believes in true salvation through the Church.