What is Christianity


Jesus' message: charity

When Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed the message of God and his unconditional love for people in the rural areas of Galilee, it was not foreseeable that more than two billion people would one day adhere to his doctrine of the faith. Because there were many preachers in Roman occupied Palestine. But Jesus, the son of a Jewish craftsman from Nazareth, was evidently the most convincing of them.

And not only the person Jesus fascinated people, it was above all the messages with which he cast a spell over people. Jesus preached about God's love for people and the charity that people should show one another.

These messages are at the core of Christianity. The preacher from Galilee thus stood for a new image of man. Because before God, so was his message, all people are equal.

This was well received in times of social inequality and oppression. Women in particular, who played a lower role in a male-dominated society, felt addressed.

Many Jews saw in the charismatic preacher the Messiah mentioned in the Old Testament: an end-time savior who is supposed to redeem humanity. Messiah, in German "the anointed", translated into Latin means Christ - and this is the nickname his followers gave Jesus.

Jesus was a Jew

Before Jesus traveled the country as an itinerant preacher, he had lived according to the Jewish faith. He went to the synagogue regularly and knew the Jewish laws. Even his followers were almost exclusively Jews at the beginning - today the community would be called a Jewish sect.

There are many indications that Jesus took over the Jewish rituals, but implemented them less dogmatically than is customary in Judaism. This was particularly popular with the less religious Jews.

The core of the Christian faith comes from Judaism. Christians and Jews have a lot of beliefs in common. In both religions, people believe in the same God, with the difference that in Christianity he is triune, i.e. he appears as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The fact that the Old Testament in Christianity is also the Holy Scriptures in Judaism shows the close connection - although the Jews interpret less than the Christians. And last but not least, Jews and Christians believe in redemption and a better life after death.

Old and New Testament

The Bible plays a central role in Christianity. It consists of the Old and New Testaments. The New Testament consists of the so-called Acts of the Apostles and the four Gospels (Greek for "good news"), which describe the work and miracles of Jesus.

The Old Jewish religious texts can be found in the Old Testament. In addition, there are the ten commandments, which should give the believer an orientation for a Christian life. In addition to love and charity, this includes renouncing violence and material goods.

A special feature of Christianity is the so-called Trinity (Trinity). Although there is only one God in Christianity - as in Judaism or Islam, for example - he appears in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Christians have been persecuted for a long time

The new religion was uncanny to the Roman occupiers. For the Christians, for example, did not celebrate sacrificial festivals in the open air, but withdrew to worship and worship in their homes. They were quickly decried as a light-shy sect that was guilty of high treason because they did not worship the Roman emperor as a god.

When the Romans saw that Jesus was pulling more and more people under his spell, they feared for their power. For them the preacher was a troublemaker who endangered internal security. So it was that Jesus - probably in the year 30 AD - was tried and he was finally executed. He died an agonizing death on the cross, and so did many of his followers in the years that followed.

After Jesus' death, Christians had to continue to hide. For their services, they often met in private rooms - often wealthy parishioners made the rooms available.

In the early days of Christianity, the communities were initially still small. In the second century the office of bishop was introduced. He took care of one church at a time. Meanwhile the persecution continued, in the year 233 there was even another cruel climax: The Christians were not persecuted in locally limited areas as before, but throughout the entire Roman Empire.

The Romans were particularly critical of the rejection of their gods. Because on them, so the people in antiquity believed, the well-being of the state depended. The persecution of Christians only ended in 313 with an edict of tolerance by the Emperor Constantine. In 380 Christianity became the state religion.

Bloody struggle for power

With the recognition by the state, a sometimes bloody struggle for power and interpretive sovereignty began, which was to drag on for many hundreds of years. Church and state were closely interwoven and the popes and cardinals often lived in pomp and show.

In the 4th century AD, many large church buildings were also built in which services were held. With the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, a new wave of proselytizing began.

In 1096 the first of six crusades began, in which many people lost their lives. The goal was Jerusalem - for the Christians at that time one of the most important pilgrimage sites. Because in the Holy City, as it is also called, Jesus is said to have died and rose again. Although the Christians were able to conquer Jerusalem for a few years, in the end the country remained under Islamic rule.

Much blood also flowed during the times of the Inquisition, which is certainly one of the darkest chapters of Christianity. During this time, thousands of people of different faiths and doubters were tortured and executed.

Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant

Because Constantine had made the city of Constantinople next to Rome the second capital of the Roman Empire, the empire had split into two parts. In Constantinople a patriarch was the head of the church, in Rome the pope resided. There were always disputes between the two leaders.

The Eastern Church with its center in Constantinople demanded equality with Rome, the Pope refused this. But there were also substantive disputes. Church leaders disagreed about the role of the Holy Spirit.

Although they were always reconciled, there was a final break in 1054. The trigger was a personal quarrel between the Pope and the Patriarch. Catholic crusaders had invaded Constantinople before that. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches emerged from the "Great Schism", as theologians call the split in the church.

With the Reformation in 1517 there was another separation: the Protestant Church split off from the Catholic Church. Various currents also formed within Protestantism. The most important are the Lutheran, Reformed and Anabaptist ones, from which the Free Churches arose.

Spread all over the world

From the 16th century onwards, a large-scale wave of proselytizing led to Christianity spreading to America, China and Africa, among others.

Today there are countless churches and denominations around the world. The largest is the Roman Catholic Church, of which the Pope is the head. There are also many millions of Protestant, Orthodox and Free Church Christians.

But despite all the differences: all Christians agree on the main festivals. First and foremost, this includes Sunday. The most important annual festivals are Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ, Good Friday as the day of his crucifixion and Easter as the feast of his resurrection.

Pentecost is also a high Christian holiday on which, according to Christian belief, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to people.