Portal:Christianity

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Introduction

Christianity is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. Its adherents, known as Christians, make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible (called the Old Testament in Christianity) and chronicled in the New Testament.

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 creeds of various Christian denominations generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the Logos incarnated—who ministered, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; and referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news". Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, with the Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.

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 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 slowly separated from Judaism. Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity 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" (though divergent sects existed at the same time, including Gnostics and Jewish Christians). 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. Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. Christianity played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly in Europe from late antiquity and the Middle Ages. 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.

The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (230 million), and the Oriental Orthodox churches (62 million) (Orthodox churches combined at 11.9%), though thousands of smaller church communities exist despite efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Despite a decline in adherence in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents. Christians remain persecuted in some regions of the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, East Asia, and South Asia. (Full article...)

Selected article

The Diocletianic Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman empire. In 303, Emperor Diocletian and his colleagues Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empireweakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Constantius' son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property confiscated during the persecution. The persecution failed to check the rise of the church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, and Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in the deaths ofaccording to one modern estimate3,000 Christians, and the torture, imprisonment, or dislocation of many more, most Christians avoided punishment. The persecution did, however, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority (the traditores), and those who had remained "pure". Modern historians have tended to downplay the scale and depth of the Diocletianic persecution.

Selected scripture

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: [then] came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace [be] unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

Selected biography

Mary Helen MacKillop RSJ (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909) was an Australian religious sister who has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church, as St Mary of the Cross. Of Scottish descent, she was born in Melbourne but is best known for her activities in South Australia. Together with Julian Tenison-Woods, she founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), a congregation of religious sisters that established a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand, with an emphasis on education for the rural poor.

The process to have MacKillop declared a saint began in the 1920s, and she was beatified in January 1995 by Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI prayed at her tomb during his visit to Sydney for World Youth Day 2008 and in December 2009 approved the Catholic Church's recognition of a second miracle attributed to her intercession. She was canonised on 17 October 2010, during a public ceremony in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. She is the first Australian to be recognised by the Catholic Church as a saint. Mary MacKillop is the patron saint of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. (Full article...)

Selected image

The First Vision of Joseph Smith
Credit: User:COGDEN

The First Vision (also called the grove experience) refers to a vision that Joseph Smith said he received in the spring of 1820, in a wooded area in Manchester, New York, which his followers call the Sacred Grove.

Did you know...

...that there are approximately 2.5 billion Christians worldwide?
...that the Bible was the greatest passion of Sir Isaac Newton, who said, "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."?
...that the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is credited with miraculously saving the Polish monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Hill) from a Swedish 17th century invasion, known as the Deluge?

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