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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. 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; 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 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...)
was an attempt by five Evangelical Christian missionaries
from the United States
to make contact with the Huaorani
people of the rainforest
. The Huaorani, also known as the Aucas (the Quechua
word for "savage"), were an isolated tribe known for their violence, both against their own people and outsiders who entered their territory. With the intention of being the first Protestants
to evangelize the Huaorani, the missionaries began making regular flights over Huaorani settlements in September 1955, dropping gifts. After several months of exchanging gifts, on January 2, 1956, the missionaries established a camp at "Palm Beach", a sandbar
along the Curaray River
, a few miles from Huaorani settlements. Their efforts culminated on January 8, 1956, when all five—Jim Elliot
, Nate Saint
, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian
—were attacked and speared
by a group of Huaorani warriors. The news of their deaths was broadcast around the world, galvanising the missionary effort in the United States and sparking an outpouring of funding for evangelization efforts around the world. Their work is still frequently remembered in evangelical publications, and in 2006, was the subject of the film production End of the Spear
. Several years after the deaths of the men, the widow of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth
, and the sister of Nate Saint, Rachel
, returned to Ecuador as missionaries to live among the Huaorani, eventually leading to the conversion of many, including some of the killers of the men.
Huldrych Zwingli (1 January 1484 - 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism. He continued his studies while he served as a pastor in Glarus and later in Einsiedeln where he was influenced by the writings of Erasmus.
In 1518, Zwingli became the pastor of the Grossmünster in Zurich where he began to preach ideas on reforming the Catholic Church. In his first public controversy in 1522, he attacked the custom of fasting during Lent. In his publications, he noted corruption in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, promoted clerical marriage, and attacked the use of images in places of worship. In 1525, Zwingli introduced a new communion liturgy to replace the mass. Zwingli also clashed with the Anabaptists, which resulted in their persecution.
The Reformation spread to other parts of the Swiss Confederation, but several cantons resisted, preferring to remain Catholic. Zwingli formed an alliance of Reformed cantons which divided the Confederation along religious lines. In 1529, a war between the two sides was averted at the last moment. Meanwhile, Zwingli's ideas came to the attention of Martin Luther and other reformers. They met at the Marburg Colloquy and although they agreed on many points of doctrine, they could not reach an accord on the doctrine of the presence of Christ in the eucharist. In 1531 Zwingli's alliance applied an unsuccessful food blockade on the Catholic cantons. The cantons responded with an attack at a moment when Zurich was badly prepared. Zwingli was killed in battle at the age of 47. His legacy lives on in the confessions, liturgy, and church orders of the Reformed churches of today.
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The following are images from various Christianity-related articles on Wikipedia.
Saint John indicating Christ to Saint Andrew
Adoration of the Trinity by Albrecht Dürer (1511): from top to bottom: Holy Spirit (dove), God the Father and the crucified Christ
Cristoforo Majorana, before 1491.
Trinity (from top to bottom God the Father, the Holy Spirit (dove) and the crucified Christ in an illuminated Italian manuscript by
Mark, by Sargis Pitsak (14th century): "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God".
First page of
Francesco Albani (d. 1660)
God the Father (top), and the Holy Spirit (represented by a dove) depicted above Jesus. Painting by
Welsh manuscript. c. 1390-1400
Father, The Holy Spirit, and Christ Crucified, depicted in a
fresco of Athanasius of Alexandria, the chief architect of the Nicene Creed, formulated at Nicaea.
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