What is Christianity? - Center for Religious & Spiritual Life (2023)

What is Christianity? - Center for Religious & Spiritual Life (1)The Founder: Jesus of Nazareth

Christianity has a historical founder whose existence is verified by outside sources. The most reliable of these sources is the account from Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian born in Jerusalem, who eventually became a Roman citizen. In his work,Antiquities of the Jews,he makes several brief references to Jesus, both as a Messiah and as a wise teacher. Josephus also records that Jesus was crucified, and that his followers believed he was restored to life. Beyond that, however, history is silent.

The most information about Jesus is recorded in four books of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is important to note here, however, that these books were not written as biographies; their purpose rather was to persuade others that Jesus was the son of God and the savior of the world. Thus, they describe the life and ministry of Jesus as the one they believed was God in the flesh. In other words, what we have in these four books of the Bible is an account of Jesus the Christ—that is, “the anointed one” or “the chosen one”—not a history of Jesus the man from Nazareth.

What do Christians Believe about Jesus?

First and foremost, Christians believe that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine: the technical formula is “one person, two natures.” Christians believe Jesus was neither just another enlightened teacher on the one hand, nor a divine avatar on the other—God in a human disguise. Instead, in all his words and deeds, Jesus was both fully and completely divine and also a real, embodied human being. The language Christians use to describe this is “incarnation.” That is, Christians believe God became “incarnate”—literally, “in-fleshed”—in one human being, Jesus of Nazareth, son of a young woman named Mary, and her husband, Joseph.

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Second, in Jesus, Christians believe they have the clearest expression of God’s core nature, and how God wants to be in relationship with humanity and the world. This is why Jesus’ life—his ministry, his friends, his disciples—all are crucial to a Christian understanding of God. Christians believe that the fundamental disposition of God toward creation is love, and that everything God does in the world is meant to manifest that love. In his person and in every act of his human life, Jesus is thought to embody that love.

Another point needs to be mentioned here as it relates to Jesus’ life and ministry, and that is that Jesus was very transgressive, repeatedly violating social norms and “queering” traditional notions of power and social status. He did not align himself with the Pharisees, the Jewish authorities of the time; indeed, they received regular and repeated chastising from Jesus for their emphasis on rules over people. Instead, Jesus surrounded himself with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other questionable members of society, welcoming children onto his lap, healing lepers, and conversing with strange women. Over and over again, Jesus aligned himself with outsiders: with the poor and the polluted, the underprivileged, and the unwanted.

The Bible

Like the followers of many religions, Christians have a sacred text, the Bible, which is a compilation of many smaller texts written by many authors, only some of whose identities are known. The Bible is often described by Christians as being “inspired,” although that word has been interpreted in different ways. While some Christians believe that the Bible should be read literally, even as regards matters of science and history, mainline Christians believe that the Bible was not written as a science textbook, biography, or historical account, but instead, as witness to the one God who revealed Godself in history in a covenantal relationship first with the Jewish people, and then, through Jesus Christ, to the whole world. This leaves open the possibility for harmonizing the Christian story with new discoveries in geology, anthropology, history, astronomy, etc., etc.

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The Christian Bible is divided into two major sections, which traditionally have been called the Old Testament and the New Testament. The number of books in the Bible varies among different Christian denominations, but the two main divisions are between the Catholic Bible, which has seventy-three books, and the Protestant Bible, which has a total of sixty-six books.

The Christian Community

The birth of the Christian community, or “the church,” usually is associated with the event recounted in the book of the Bible known as The Acts of the Apostles, when 3,000 people were baptized in Jerusalem after the extraordinary witness of Jesus’ disciples, who spoke in a multitude of foreign tongues after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When talking about the church, conversation usually begins with Paul and the various letters he wrote to the fledgling Christian communities around the Mediterranean (these letters now make up a considerable part of the New Testament). These communities were struggling with very real issues that the church still struggles with today: squabbles between Christians, questions around sexual morality, issues of discrimination during worship, and the role of the law in the life of a Christian. In many ways, these early communities prefigured the Christian church as it exists today: bound together in faith in Jesus Christ, but also separated by different interpretations of doctrines and practices, and uniquely flavored by the specific geographic and cultural context in which they developed. Today, these different church bodies typically are called “denominations,” and dialogue/partnership between them is called “ecumenical.”

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The Christian community has two components that are found in almost every Christian denomination around the globe. These features are “word” and “sacrament.” “Word,” in this context, refers to the Bible: Bible readings, as well as preaching. Any community that calls itself “church” gathers around the Bible, reading and meditating on scripture.

The second feature of most churches is “sacrament.” Perhaps the most famous definition of a sacrament comes from Augustine: “visible signs of an invisible grace.”[1]Sacraments—such as baptism and communion—are believed to be tangible experiences of God’s love and mercy that both an individual and the community receive in faith, in their physical bodies, in the greater physical body of the gathered people.

It took the church several centuries to sort out what Christians have come to consider “orthodox” church doctrine; and, even though official church teachings have been established for millennia, debates about the same questions still continue today.

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Christian Teachings

The Trinity:First and foremost among Christian teachings is the doctrine of the Trinity, which is both central to an understanding of the Christian faith and also extremely difficult to explain. The doctrine of the Trinity refers to the Christian belief that the One God actually exists in three “persons”: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These “persons” are not separate, different individuals—Christianity does not profess belief in three gods—but rather, the three persons share the same essence and make God known to humanity in different ways.

Salvation:Another key Christian doctrine is salvation—the core Christian claim is that “Jesus Saves”—but what, exactly, that means continues to be debated. One of the most pressing aspects of a Christian understanding of salvation is how it relates to the way Christians view other religious traditions. The traditional Christian view regarding salvation has been that outside the Christian church, there is no salvation. This idea drove the missionary practices of the church for centuries—and still drives many different churches today: there was a strong impetus to convert people to Christianity so that they would go to heaven after they died.

However, in the 21stcentury, this understanding of salvation has been increasingly challenged, and the possibility of other options has been raised, particularly the possibility of universal salvation. Many people assume that this is a modern idea, brought about by engagement with a more liberal, secular society, but this doctrine actually has a long history in the Christian tradition.

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Lived Christian Identity

Christian living is concerned in large part with “sanctification,” which means to grow in holiness, and “justification,” which means to be made righteous before God. In tandem, they point to two important aspects of Christian life: first being saved; and second, being transformed in light of that salvation. Different denominations use different language to describe these two concepts—and not all of them emphasize both equally

For Further Reading:

Confessions,by Augustine
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith,by Marcus Borg
A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament,by Michael Coogan
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church,edited by F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone
The Story of Christianity,by Justo Gonzalez
Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought,by Alister McGrath
Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Systematic Theology,by Daniel Better
Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey,by Mark Allan Powell

[1]As quoted in Daniel Best,Faith Seeking Understanding: an Introduction to Christian Theology,3rd edition, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), 291.

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What is the religious center of Christianity? ›

Jerusalem church

Jerusalem was the first center of the Christian Church according to the Book of Acts.

What is the religious affiliation of TCU? ›

The University is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a denomination that values "true community, deep spirituality and a passion for justice".

What are the 5 basic beliefs of Christianity? ›

The 5 are: 1) Uniqueness of Jesus (Virgin Birth) --Oct 7; 2) One God (The Trinity) Oct 14; 3) Necessity of the Cross (Salvation) and 4) Resurrection and Second Coming are combinded on Oct 21; 5) Inspiration of Scripture Oct 28.

What is an example of a religious center? ›

Temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues are examples of structures created for worship. A monastery may serve both to house those belonging to religious orders and as a place of worship for visitors.

What is the main place for Christianity? ›

Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Jerusalem is generally considered the cradle of Christianity.

What is the summary of Christianity? ›

A brief overview of Christianity

Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christians believe that God sent his Son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins.

Can Catholics go to TCU? ›

Because we are NOT a parish, but an outreach towards TCU Catholic students, we welcome TCU students in joining us for mass and all other sacraments and events hosted at the TCU Catholic Newman Center!

What is TCU best known for? ›

Texas Christian University is the biggest religious university associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is open to students of any faith. There are more than 20 religious organizations for students to join, among more than 200 others.

Does TCU require you to go to church? ›

At the same time, we do have over 60 different faiths represented on campus and there aren't any mandatory chapel services or religious codes of conduct that students must adhere to. The long story traces its roots all the way back to our founding.

What are three main rules of Christianity? ›

Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Forgive others who have wronged you.

What are the 4 rules of Christianity? ›

Go to God in prayer daily (John 15:7). Read God's Word daily (Acts 17:11); begin with the Gospel of John. Obey God moment by moment (John 14:21). Witness for Christ by your life and words (Matthew 4:19; John 15:8).

What are 3 main concepts of Christianity? ›

Its points include: Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

What are the five centers of the Church? ›

Eventually, five great centers of Christianity emerged with distinctive Christian customs, but the same faith. These centers were Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople.

What is the difference between a Church and a religious organization? ›

Religious organizations are not churches but can still qualify for 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status. Religious organizations include nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, and organizations whose main purpose is to study or advance religion.

What are 3 examples of religious experience? ›

perceptions of visions, near death experiences, perceptions of voices and conversion experiences are all examples of religious experiences.

What do Christians believe? ›

Followers of the Christian religion base their beliefs on the life, teachings and death of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in one God that created heaven, earth and the universe. The belief in one God originated with the Jewish religion. Christians believe Jesus is the “Messiah” or savior of the world.

What is the biggest part of Christianity? ›

Catholicism is the largest branch of Christianity with 1.345 billion, and the Catholic Church is the largest among churches.

What is the symbol for Christianity? ›

The cross is a universal symbol for the Christian faith and a reminder of Christ's death and resurrection.

What is the simple message of Christianity? ›

The foundation of the Christian life is our faith in the Good News of God's grace. The Living and True God is a God of justice and of mercy. Every person at one time bears the guilt of sinful rebellion against God and is separated by that sin from a relationship with Him.

What is Christianity in simple terms? ›

At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ. In this context, faith refers both to the believers' act of trust and to the content of their faith. As a tradition, Christianity is more than a system of religious belief.

What is Christianity definition simplified? ›

: the religion derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies. : conformity to the Christian religion.

How many Jews are at TCU? ›

According to the TCU Fact Book, 51 undergraduate students in fall 2017 self-identified as Jewish.

Does TCU teach religion? ›

All TCU undergrads take at least one religion course during their academic journey—as exploration. Our department offers courses delving into the origins and impacts of many faiths, and we encourage you to discover more about whatever facet of religion that captures your interest.

Does TCU have Bible study? ›

We do everything from weekly Bible studies, to worship nights, to mission trips all over the world!

Why do people go to TCU? ›

Many students are attracted to TCU thanks to its "very nice facilities," "great honors [college]," and the fact that the university "provides large amounts of merit-based financial aid." "Small class sizes" mean that students here are "not just a number." While the university has many fabulous departments and programs, ...

What are 3 interesting facts about TCU? ›

The name was then changed to AddRan Christian University in 1889 before the school moved to Waco in 1895. Once the Waco campus burned to the ground in 1910, TCU relocated to downtown Fort Worth where it currently resides. Inside TCU's football stadium stands the TCU Frog Horn, a 3,000 pound contraption built in 1994.

Who should go to TCU? ›

A student who is goal and career oriented, who wants to be the best in their field. TCU students should be well rounded in school and activities. The business and nursing programs at TCU are the most well known programs. If you are interested in either of these fields TCU is for you.

Does TCU allow alcohol? ›

The consumption, purchase, or sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on the campus except in specially designated areas authorized by the Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs. Furthermore, no person may provide any alcoholic beverage to any person less than 21 years of age.

How much do you have to pay for TCU? ›

Undergraduate Cost
Tuition based on 12-18 hours of enrollment for fall and spring semesters$57,130
Food / Cost for a basic meal plan$6,100
Book and supply costs vary by student. This is an estimate based on data from the TCU Bookstore.$800
Total Fall and Spring Estimated Direct Cost$72,820
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What percent of TCU is Catholic? ›

Catholic individuals make up 33 percent of the student population who claimed a religious preference, said the Rev. Angela Kaufman, TCU's campus minister. According to the 2018 Fact Book, there are more than 2,300 Catholic students at TCU.

What is not allowed in Christianity? ›

The only dietary restrictions specified for Christians in the New Testament are to "abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals" (Acts 15:29), teachings that the early Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, preached for believers to follow.

Can Christians get tattoos? ›

Some Christians take issue with tattooing, upholding the Hebrew prohibition. The Hebrew prohibition is based on interpreting Leviticus 19:28—"Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you"—so as to prohibit tattoos. Interpretations of the passage vary, however.

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Aramaic is best known as the language Jesus spoke. It is a Semitic language originating in the middle Euphrates. In 800-600 BC it spread from there to Syria and Mesopotamia. The oldest preserved inscriptions are from this period and written in Old Aramaic.

What are the 7 principles of Christianity? ›

Principles: As we seek to develop Christlike character, our actions will reflect Christian virtues, such as humility, faith, charity, courage, self-government, virtue, industry, and wisdom.

What are the 6 types of Christians? ›

Christianity is divided between Eastern and Western theology. In these two divisions there are six branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Assyrians. Restorationism is sometimes considered the seventh branch.

Do Christians have to follow the Ten Commandments? ›

The Ten Commandments, as written by the finger of God on two tablets of stone and given to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai, are no longer in effect. Christians are not obligated to live by them.

What religion was Jesus? ›

He was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues. He preached from Jewish text, from the Bible.

What are the gifts of the Spirit? ›

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are an enumeration of seven spiritual gifts first found in the book of Isaiah, and much commented upon by patristic authors. They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

What are the 7 true churches? ›

According to Revelation 1:11, on the Greek island of Patmos, Jesus Christ instructs John of Patmos to: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven Churches: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." The churches in this context refers ...

What are the big 3 in church? ›

Paul wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13, NIV).

Can you be religious and not go to church? ›

Around 70% of Americans identify as “Christians,” but less than 30% attend church on a regular basis. If that statistic doesn't surprise you, it's probably because it hits close to home. You might be saying, “Sure, I'm a Christian, but I don't go to church very often.” If that's true of you, you're not alone.

What is the difference between spirituality and church? ›

Spirituality and religion can be hard to tell apart but there are some pretty defined differences between the two. Religion is a specific set of organised beliefs and practices, usually shared by a community or group. Spirituality is more of an individual practice and has to do with having a sense of peace and purpose.

What is the difference between Christianity and religions? ›

Religion is man's attempt to get to God on God's terms. Christianity is God's attempt to get to man on man's terms. At the heart of religion lies fear, ritual, sacrifice, a central place of worship and a “Do good Be good” effort on man's part to earn ad deserve their place with God in heaven.

What is a spiritual life? ›

Spirituality involves exploring certain universal themes – love, compassion, altruism, life after death, wisdom and truth, with the knowledge that some people such as saints or enlightened individuals have achieved and manifested higher levels of development than the ordinary person.

What is a spiritual experience in Christianity? ›

A spiritual experience in a Christian context signifies the interaction of God. Furthermore, spiritual experience is an important aspect of Christian spirituality that in essence indicates a relationship and interaction between the believer and God.

What are the 4 types of religion? ›

Four religions—Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism—account for over 77% of the world's population, and 92% of the world either follows one of those four religions or identifies as nonreligious, meaning that the remaining 9,000+ faiths account for only 8% of the population combined.

What is the center of the church? ›

A church is the place where the Christian community is gathered to hear the word of God, to offer prayers of intercession and praise to God, and above all to celebrate the holy mysteries; and it is the place where the holy sacrament of the eucharist is kept.

What is a religious Centre? ›

The Religious Centre is a multi-faith centre suitable for spiritual services, weddings, christenings, funerals, memorials, private prayer and seminars.

Which world's largest church is the Centre of Christianity? ›

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the largest church in the world.

What are the five centers of the church? ›

Eventually, five great centers of Christianity emerged with distinctive Christian customs, but the same faith. These centers were Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople.

What is the very center of our life and worship as Catholics? ›

The Eucharist: Jesus Christ Himself. The Eucharist is the center of the Catholic Church because Jesus Christ is the center of Catholic life and worship.

Why is the liturgy the center of Christianity? ›

It is indeed an important act because in worship services, people are together in the presence of God. Therefore, liturgy offers a communal and pastoral space for participants to serve God, each other and the world (De Klerk & Leuschner 2003:441). The worship service is central to people's lives.

What do center for spiritual living believe? ›

We are united in our belief in a Power greater than ourselves. We start with the simple idea that God, known by many different names in many different traditions, is a force for good — not only in the world, but also within each of us. We believe that this invisible force governs everything in the universe.

What is the spiritual center? ›

The Spirituality Center is a campus space that supports religious and non-religious spiritual engagement. The center supports the spiritual and holistic growth for members of the campus community through spiritual advising, worship services, reflection, meditation and prayer.

What is a spirituality Centre? ›

Your spiritual center is a mystical place within yourself where you achieve mental, physical and emotional peace, even if it is only for a short period of time. During yoga and meditation, you are often told to “ground and center” yourself.

What is the most true church in the world? ›

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ founded only "one true Church", and that this one true Church is the Catholic Church with the bishop of Rome (the pope) as its supreme, infallible head and locus of communion.

What is the biggest religion in the world? ›

Largest religious groups
ReligionFollowers (billions)Cultural tradition
Christianity2.4Abrahamic religions
Islam1.9Abrahamic religions
Hinduism1.2Indian religions
Buddhism0.5Indian religions
1 more row

What is the most holy church in the world? ›

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap
31°46′42″N 35°13′47″E
LocationChristian Quarter, Old City of Jerusalem
DenominationCatholic, Armenian Apostolic, Greek Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox
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1. Making the Most of Our Spiritual Life Through the Years
(SRF Online Meditation Center)
2. Spirituality Vs. Religion: A Deep Analysis
(The Curious Minds)
3. The Spiritual Life is not about Being Good, but Being Holy
(The Orthodox Ethos)
4. From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians, Part One (full documentary) | FRONTLINE
(FRONTLINE PBS | Official)
5. Dr. Jonathan AC Brown - "Is Islam-anti-Black?" | Center for Religious & Spiritual Life
(Dr. Jonathan Brown - Unofficial)
6. Dr. Brant Pitre Shares the HEART of the Spiritual Life | A Catholic Discussion
(Augustine Institute - Catholic Church Explained)


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