Portal:Christianity
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Portal:Christianity

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The Christianity Portal

Introduction

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible – the textual basis for the Old Testament in Christianity – and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers as of 2020. Christians make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories.

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. Their creeds 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; this is 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 heterodox sects existed at the same time, including Gnostic Christianity 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 in multiple denominations split 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 Oriental Orthodoxy (62 million/Orthodoxy combined at 11.9%), amid various 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 Creation of Adam, restored
The restoration of the Sistine Chapel frescoes constitutes one of the most significant art restorations of the 20th century. The Sistine Chapel was built within the Vatican immediately to the north of St. Peter's Basilica by Pope Sixtus IV and completed in about 1481. Its walls were decorated by a number of famous Renaissance painters of the late 15th century, including Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Botticelli. The Chapel was further enhanced under Pope Julius II by the painting of the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1508-1512 and with the painting of the Last Judgement, commissioned by Pope Clement VII and completed in 1541. Together the paintings make up the greatest pictorial scheme of the Renaissance. Individually, some of Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling are among the most famous works of art ever created. The frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, and in particular, the ceiling and accompanying lunettes by Michelangelo have been subject to a number of restorations, the most recent taking place between 1980 and 1994. This most recent restoration had a profound effect on art lovers and historians, as colours and details that had not been seen for centuries were revealed. It has been claimed that "Every book on Michelangelo will have to be rewritten". Others, such as the art historian James Beck, of ArtWatch International, have been extremely critical of the restoration, saying that the restorers have not realised the true intentions of the artist. This is the subject of continuing debate.

Selected scripture

Doubting Thomas
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

Clement (died 1258) was a 13th-century Dominican friar who was the first member of the Dominican Order in Britain and Ireland to become a bishop. In 1233, he was selected to lead the ailing diocese of Dunblane in Scotland, and faced a struggle to bring the bishopric of Dunblane (or "bishopric of Strathearn") to financial viability. This involved many negotiations with the powerful religious institutions and secular authorities which had acquired control of the revenue that would normally have been the entitlement of Clement's bishopric. The negotiations proved difficult, forcing Clement to visit the papal court in Rome. While not achieving all of his aims, Clement succeeded in saving the bishopric from relocation to Inchaffray Abbey. He also regained enough revenue to begin work on the new Dunblane Cathedral.

He faced a similar challenge with the impoverished bishopric of Argyll in the 1240s. He was given the job of restoring the viability of the diocese and installing a new bishop; this involved forming a close relationship with King Alexander II of Scotland. Clement was with the king during his campaign in Argyll in 1249 and was at his side when he died during this campaign. In 1250 Clement had been able to install a new bishop in Argyll and had become one of the Guardians appointed to govern Scotland during the minority of King Alexander III. By 1250 he had established a reputation as one of the most active Dominican reformers in Britain. Clement helped to elevate Edmund of Abingdon and Queen Margaret to sainthood. After his death, he received veneration as a saint himself, although he was never formally canonised. (Full article...)

Selected image

A rendering of the Last Supper made from salt, Wieliczka salt mine, Poland
Credit: User:Akumiszcza

A rendering of the Last Supper made from salt, Wieliczka salt mine, Poland

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