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The term Christianity does not necessarily refer to a specific religion. Rather, it would be more accurate to consider Christianity a “religious classification.” Religions that worship Jesus Christ as the lord and savior and preach his message are considered Christian. However, even with this common ground there are nearly 21,000 separate denominations of Christianity. These are separated into a series of 156 main groups.

David B Barrett’s “World Christian Encyclopedia” (1994) update cited that there were approximately 1.9 billion Christians world-wide. It is estimated that this number increased to 2.1 billion by 2001. Given that the estimation was correct, Christians make up approximately 33% of the world.

Life of Christ

The date of his birth is subjected to debate. However, it is agreed that he was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is called, “the new Moses." Events within the lives of Jesus and Moses seem synonymous and strikingly similar, even when they’re viewed secularly from a historical point of view.

As a young child Jesus was forced to escape from his birthplace when an order was set to have all children under the age of two murdered. Jesus escaped the genocide and moved about from place to place, living in relative peace. At the age of thirty Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, when he was reportedly led by the spirit into the wilderness to be subjected to trial. Jesus wandered about blindly for 40 days, and was supposedly tempted by Lucifer who employed the scriptures against him by citing what would become the OT out of context.

Jesus returned and began to preach a gospel and a new law of love. Moses too narrowly escaped genocide as a small child. He was tempted, led by the God, wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and after spending 40 days on Mt. Sinai returned with the laws we now know as “The Ten Commandments.” (Scholars believe that 40 may have been a figure of speech meaning a long time. Similar to how we might say, “He's been gone for a million years!” Crudely put, it’s biblical talk for “a long time.”)

Jesus Christ’s philosophy was revolutionary within Jewish thinking in that it devalued obedience in favor of faith, love, and hope. (Where love is the most important piece, as is evidenced in the verse of 1 Corinthians 13:13.)

Jesus valued love and peace above all other things, but describe faith as the path to salvation, and himself as the door to salvation. While some debate the divinity of Christ few would venture to debate his declaration of divinity. Kreeft presents several specific examples of where and when Jesus says, undeniable, that he is Christ the son of God. (Recalling that Christ is the Greek form of Messiah, so saying Jesus Christ is saying Jesus the Messiah. Messiah means, "anointed one.")

Jesus was crucified at the age of 33 on Cavalry after Pontius Pilot ( a roman official) judged that he had declared himself a king and thus challenged the authority of Rome. He was beaten and then forced to carry his cross up the steep of Via Dolorosa.

Though Pharisees had intended to have him executed for heresy, he was not found guilty of it. However, because he was not a Roman citizen he was still subjected to the cross. (In ancient Rome, Roman citizens were executed by beheading [statues of St. Paul show him holding his head, because he was executed as a Roman.] but for non-citizens death was considerably more painful.)

In most Christianity it is accepted that Jesus was resurrected three days later, and his empty tomb was discovered by a saved prostitute named Marry Magdalene and other women. (Another oddity in Christ’s methods for teaching was that he was very unprejudiced. He feasted with outcasts and had female followers-who many Christian scholars consider to have been his most loyal and stalwart of students.)


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The Bible

The major cannon of divine literature within Christianity is the bible, which is composed of two sections. The former is what we commonly call the Old Testament, and later is what we know as the New Testament. The O.T is what a Jew may call the Tanakh, a collection of Hebrew Scriptures which were canonized in 90 C.E.

The New Testament, however, is what created the rift between Christians and Jews during the early movements. In the beginning, pun intended, Christians were collectively called Ebionites, or “poor ones.” However, they were still considered a part of the Jewish religion and actively participated in the synagogue. Origen wrote, “The Jews who accept Christ are called Ebionites," (c. Cels., II. 1). However, after the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed Rabbis collected their scriptures, the Tanakh, and called them the end of the Jewish cannon. Thus, disbelief in Christ as the messiah became an identifying mark for Jews and the Christian movement went its separate way.

The New Testament is composed of twenty-seven documents written by the students of Christ. Amongst these are what scholars call, “The Synoptic Gospel.” The Synoptic Gospels are made up of the first three NT books, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They are called Synoptic because they tell the same stories from different points of view.

Many scholars, however, feel that there may perhaps be some minor contradictions in the accounts. However, it is most commonly accepted that these result from varying perspectives and intentions within the writings. That is to say in one of the gospels this detail may have been irrelevant to the message and so it was excluded, while in another the detail was crucial to the story.

Chronologically speaking the NT books are disarrayed. Crudely speaking, the early church amalgamated and voted on which scriptures to include in their official cannon and in what order. Some documents were excluded while others were not, based on what the general Christian population felt was the will of God.

Something else that may have been noted by the early church was the uniqueness of the chosen scriptures. All the scriptures included within the New Testament are written in what was a revolutionary form of literature. While the apocryphal texts are written in fashions similar to old mythologies, the New Testament books carry the same fashion as an eye-witness account similar to those historians use to reveal the past. It has long been argued; therefore, that the bible is as reliable, and more so, than many other texts relied upon for history.

A brief timeline can give us the information of which document was written first:

30/33 Jesus’ life.

34 Conversion of Paul. (Paul was originally called Saul, however he felt a calling to the gentiles of Greece and so changed his name to a Greek form.)

49-67 Paul writes his letters

70 Mark is written

80 Matthew, Luke, and Acts are written.

90/95 John is written

95 Revelations is written.

(The latest letters of Paul became NT books such as Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and others.)

Most Scholars believe that Matthew and Luke used Mark and an outside source called ‘Q’ to write their books. (Article Q is a hypothetical pseudigraphical document suggested by J. Weiss. He called the article Q after the German word, “Quelle,” meaning “source.” This theory is the most popular because it explains the hitherto baffling attribute of common-ground found within Matthew and Luke but not in Mark. Some Christians believe, however, that the similarity comes not from common man-made sources, but from a common foundation in the word of God.)

So, why was Matthew chosen as the first book of the NT, and not Mark-which was written much earlier? Simply put, because Matthew included a “Christmas Story,” or accounting of the birth of Christ Jesus. Also, the book of Matthew cites the OT 53 times to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ. This means that it has more OT references than any-other NT book.

While most churches denominations accept the order and inclusions of the NT as accurate and intended by God, many disagree. Some of the early Christians felt that certain rabbinical articles such as the Apocrypha should’ve been included. When these were rediscovered they were at first viewed as a historical curiosity, but recently they’ve been granted great value.

Still, many of these are historically considered pseudigraphical (written under the name of a well known person.) The most famous of the Apocryphal texts, the Gospel of Thomas, is a good example. The Early Christian church felt that these sources contradicted other major and more reliable sources and thus labeled them as the works of man. This was a controversial decision, and recent propaganda has led many Christians to believe the falsehood that the Apocrypha was included and then removed.

This is a misconception and fabrication created as an attack on the reliability of early authority and the resulting modern churches. However, historically speaking, it is accepted that -no- book that was included into the bible was remove, though there are some documents that many feel should’ve been placed within it that were not. (Vice versa, at that. Revelations barely made the cut-a single vote being its salvation.)

Other Christian Cannons
Other texts commonly considered “Christian” include the Antilegomena and what the Orthodox Christians call the Deuterocanonical Books. There is also the Book of Mormon, written by a man named Joseph Smith. (Who is said to have received the word from God.)

Despite these arguments and confusions all Christianity revolves around the life of Jesus Christ. (Christian means: "Christ Like") While there are certain contradicting views on Christ's life, some historical aspects seem almost universally agreed upon. An example comes in the arguement of Christ's origion through man or through God.

In modern humanistic Christology (which, ironically, isn’t at all a modern concept,) Jesus Christ is not literally seen as the son of God, but rather, a very good man. Peter Kreeft summarizes it in his book, “Between Heaven and Hell,” in the quote: “The ideal man, the man so perfect and wise that his followers called him divine. Not God become man, but man become God.”

However, Kreeft attacks this belief system. His argument against it is summed up with a Latin phrase: “Aut deus aut homo malus,” or “Either God or a bad man.” (The argument actually gets far deeper than this, and is an extremely worthy read for Christians and non-Christians alike.)


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Creation

The Jews and Christians share a common creation view. (Though some Christians have varying beliefs about the scriptures.) In Genesis there are -two- creation stories. One is the creation of matter and the universe, and the other is the creation of civilization. In the first God speaks into the darkness to create the light.

He is said to have spent 6 days creating the universe, and then to have rested on the seventh. (again, seven is considered a number of completeness.) Most Christians believe this to be a metaphor, but some take it literally.

There are nearly as many contradicting views amongst Christians on the creation as there are on the end of times. Some “modernized” Christians, for example, believe that the creation in the bible does not describe the spawn of matter, but rather the creation of the universe from pre-existing substances. Most Christians, however, disagree with this. They believe that this theory limits God, suggesting he is only as capable as the material about him.

End of Times



The end of times is another major aspect of Christianity. The main source of information for the Christian beliefs on this matter is the final book of the NT, and the most famous piece of apocalyptic literature known to man. It is: John’s “Revelation,” or “Apocalypse.” (Apo is the Greek form of UN, and calypso is lid, so it’s “Un-lidding,” synonymous with modern “Unveiling,” or “Revelation.”)

The book of Revelations predicts multiple catastrophes, not the least of which is a great war in a place called Armageddon from, “Har Magedōn” Har means mountain, and Magedōn is the name of an ancient Israelite city fortified on a hilltop. So, Armageddon is usually translated as, “Mountain of Megiddo.” Many, however, feel that the title was given as a geographical comparison. Still others believe it was a metaphor, since the city of Magedōn was the sight of many battles.

Nobody is exactly sure how the book of revelations should be interpreted. We know that it was written in about 95AD by John, but even he seemed ambivalent about certain aspects of his vision. (Revelations is unique in that it is presented in different form than any other book of the bible.) John was certain to put “I saw,” or “I heard,” never stating things as though it was his prediction.

In literary form the book of Revelations begins similar to all epistles. It introduces the writer (John,) and the recipients. (The Seven Churches of Asia.) However, by the third verse of the first chapter it identifies itself as a prophecy.

John’s actually vision begins in the “throne-room” of God. It goes on to describe a great scroll with seven seals, that nobody can open, until the lamb (commonly considered a metaphor for Jesus Christ,) comes. He tears open the scroll and with each seal a plague is released on mankind. However, the plagues are interrupted by interludes. One mentions the salvation of a group (the actual number given is 144,000 people, but most believe this is a figure of speech,) of believers are first whisked away. Those who remain are not yet dammed, but still forced to suffer the plagues that must come with the end of times.

Revelations is known to use more mathematically metaphors and imagery than any other book within the bible. Numbers play a great and symbolic importance. 12,666,777,144,000 all make appearances. However, the number seven is the most commonly used. (7 was often considered a symbol of completeness in the time.)

There are 7 churches, 7 spirits about God’s throne, seven golden lamp stands, seven stars, seven horns on the Lamb, seven Eyes on the Lamb, seven seals on the scroll, seven bowls, seven thunders, seven crowns on the dragons, seven horns on the dragon, seven plagues, seven heads on the beast, seven hills on the city, seven kings of the earth.

However, Revelations boggles protestants and Catholics, Jews and gentiles. It is considered one of the most profound works of literary art ever written-even by secular examiners and studiers. Nobody knows how to attack this book, but there are many methods.

Futurists interpretation the predictions in revelations to be of events that will happen -immediately- before the return of Christ. This time is what Christian call “the tribulation.” Christians debate over rather the tribulation is truly sent from God, or if God will simply save us from it; moreover, Christians also argue about rather or not believers and followers of Christ will suffer the tribulations along with those who shun God.

Historicists interpretation views the book as a description of the churches progress and history from the time of John to the time of Christ’s coming. Events within the book have been considered symbolic to events in Church history. However, even the apostles managed to interpret invents in a manor with which to convince themselves that they were the last generation-and this has continued throughout history for every generation.

Idealist interpretation views the book as a metaphor for God’s age old struggle with Satan and a prediction of his victory.

Preterist interpretations largely consider the book a failure on John’s behalf. In these the book of Revelations is claimed to deal with events of the first century of the church and Rome (along with other opposition.) In this view revelations failed because it was supposed to predict the churches victory over her enemies with the coming of Christ. Others, however, believe the scripture has already been fulfilled with the fall of Rome.




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Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society

The Teen Study Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1993, 1998 by Zondervan.

The Essential Bible Companion

Copyright © 2006 by Theodore W. Cooper Jr., John H. Walton, and Mark Strauss.

Living Religions, Copyright © 2005, 2002, 1999, 1997, 1994, 1991, Mary Pat Fisher. Published by Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 07458. Pearson Prentice hall. Printed in Hong Kong.

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Jesus 1st public statement at the begining of his ministry can be found in matthew 4:17 it says from that time on Jesus began to preach "repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near"
you see Christ didnt bring a religion He brought with him a kingdom for in the book of Isaiah it said chapter 9:6 for onto us a child is born,to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. Pls read Matthew 13,18,20,21 and many others in the four gospels it will tell you more about the Kingdom.

The prophet Isaiah said a government will be on Jesus's shoulder(Isaiah 9:6), christ brought a whole kingdom, Heavens kingdom. Heaven is a country its just invisible, you see the invisible made the visible therefore what is invisible is more important than what is visible.
Your inheritance is not going to heaven but it is a kingdom that was prepared for you since the foundation of the world.This is what Adam lost but God being faithfull and true made a promise to the evil who caused this this can be found in the book of (Genesis 3: 14-15 ; So the Lord God said to the serpent, "because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.")

Now this Gospel of the Kingdom is what will bring Jesus back. God wants The kingdom to come to earth not for us to leave the earth and go to heaven that is why Jesus said "Thy Kingdom Come to earth as it is in heaven" Matthew 6:10
We are the yeast that the book of matthew talks about (matthew 13:33) we are going to infect the world with God's kingdom, that means your school,university, work place you name it, people of the earth will find God's kingdom through you and because we are Christ's ambassadors, the Sons and daughters of the most High.
People if we dont tell them(world) about the Kingdom of God who will tell them and how will they Know about the joy of being in his presence.

So seek (seek means pursue,study, go after) ye the kingdom of heaven and it righteousness(righteousness means to be in right standing with God) and all other things will be given (will be magnetized) to you as well (matthew 6:33)

So it does not matter if your catholic,methodist,peticostal or celestian my question to you is are you in the kingdom of heaven????

You see the Cross was just the begining of something bigger which is The Kingdom!!!!



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Posted 5/11/08 , edited 5/11/08
Again, before I delete this post (for the same reason as before)...actually, this post probably belongs here more than anywhere else...it would be the others I delete/lock. You obviously have something you want to say, but I'm missing the point. Perhaps this doesn't even belong in this group. I'll re-read, and think hard about it.

*edit* I appreciate the work that went into this post, and I'm interested to see if there is any response to it, however, you do not need to post the same thing in three different places. I've directed any responses to your comments to this thread. thx.
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Posted 8/11/08 , edited 8/11/08
Actually! i have some story about that! i heard from our teacher! that there are 3 religion whose there holy days are different!

Buddhist - Friday
Adventist - Saturday
Catholic - Sunday

means that in the center is Jesus Christ and the two men in the side of Him are the two Robberer! so funny! no offense im just want to share some logic! heheheh!
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Posted 8/11/08 , edited 8/11/08





God rested on the seventh-day right? and god hallowed it! Why is that people go to church on Sunday? i read it on the bible! on the ten commandments! exodus 20.
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Posted 8/19/08

Ros613 wrote:






God rested on the seventh-day right? and god hallowed it! Why is that people go to church on Sunday? i read it on the bible! on the ten commandments! exodus 20.

Well, if you choose to acknowledge the Sabbath then you can’t really go to church on it. Actually, if you’re strictly conservative you wouldn’t be able to so much as leave your house.

To answer your question, I’ve heard conflicting sources. One thing you might note is that Sunday is a very active day in the N.T. Jesus Christ was supposed to have been resurrected on Sunday, and if I recall the Pentecost event happened on Sunday. Some churches will tell you that this is why.

Historically speaking, there’s another theory. The early Christians did not go to church at all. They went to the same synagogues they’d visited as Jews. However, it didn’t take long for the relationship between Christians and Jews to deteriorate. Early Christians wound up ostracized from the synagogues and were forced to find a separate day of worship.

However, Christians do not typically acknowledge the Sabbath. Why is this? Because Jesus excused us from it. Jesus said, “Who of you, if his son or bull falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?"

This is why it is common to call the Sabbath the "Jewish Sabbath." Christian's don't -have- to participate.

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