Biblical Studies/Christianity/The essence of Christianity
Jesus of Nazareth was a historical person who Christians and their texts claim fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish expectations of a Messiah, the one Anointed by God to bring about the salvation of mankind and establish the reign of God. He lived his life in the Roman Tributary of Galilee, during the rule of Herod Antipas, and the Province of Judea, during the governorship of Pontius Pilate, by whose order he was beaten, tortured, mocked, and crucified as an enemy of the Roman State. His message is best summarized in the words of the Gospel writers, called the "Evangelists": "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." However, Paul the Apostle would later write in a letter that the summation of Christian belief is in the fact of Jesus, the Son of God, taking on human form, dying on the cross carrying all human sin from the beginning to the end of time, and rising again on the third day, which was witnessed by many.
Thus, it is to be said that Christianity is a religion based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded the Holy Bible , which includes the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures, about the religious life of the ancient Hebrews, and the New Testament, which contains both stories about the actions of Hebrew religious reformers in the first century AD, including Jesus, his disciples, and the earliest converts, and letters from the most influential of the apostles: Peter, Paul, and John. Collectively, this book is also known as "the Scriptures" or the short form, "Bible". According to the Bible, there is one (male) God who created the universe from nothing. He favors the morally good, choosing to reveal himself and his universal laws through various holy men known as prophets (those after Moses) and patriarchs (those before and including Moses). This being said, Christians regard the Bible as being a record of what is known as "Salvation History", beginning with the Creation and Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden (at which time they assert sin and death entered the world), followed by the stories (in order) of Noah and the Great Flood, the call of and promise to Abraham and his descendants, the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan, the establishment of the Israelite nation and the Davidic dynasty, the Exile to Babylon, and the Wisdom and Prophetic Traditions. This story culminates in the story of Jesus' life, death on the cross, and resurrection, where Jesus, as the Son of God, explains the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures, instructs the subjugated Hebrew people in morality, and performs miracles, which include his own rising from the dead.
The practice of Christianity includes the Sunday church service and special festivals, the most important of which are Easter (celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus), Christmas (the celebration of Christ's birth on December 25), and Pentecost (the celebration of the beginning of the Apostles' ministry). These services always include a particular structure in which parts of the Bible are read to the audience, followed by a short speech from the presbyter, who is known by various titles in each of the different sects, called denominations. These speeches are called sermons or homilies and usually center on guiding the Christian community into a closer relationship with God, which includes moral living, as outlined by the Scriptures. During the Catholic mass the congregation takes communion together using bread and wine in the ritual of transubstantiation. Many Protestant denominations are opposed to drinking alcohol, so these communities will often substitute grape juice for the wine. Despite the difference in drinking preferences, this ritual is universally known as the Eucharistic Rite or the Communion Rite. In addition to the Sunday service, Christians are encouraged to pray everyday, and often do, whether they follow prescribed, such as Rosaries, Chaplets, or the "Lord's Prayer"/"Our Father", or free-form prayers, which usually follow the format of " Father, please do this thing, and we/I will do that pious practice/for the glory of Your Name. We/I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen." For Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and some denominations the Sign of the cross is used to open and close prayer. The sign of the cross was used by Martin Luther although not all Protestants use it. Grace is encouraged to be said prior to all meals. In Catholicism and Orthodox Churches, there are Patron Saints who may be prayed to which is called the Intercession of saints.
It should be noted that some Christian theologians and laymen argue that there is no "essence of Christianity", per se, because Christianity was formed in a different paradigm than the primarily-Greek paradigm that uses the language of "Essence". In the early Christian church, the "essence" was reported by some as simply "Jesus is Lord." Creeds were formed to replace this as a refinement of the statement, and over the centuries countless theologians, mystics, and monks have added to and argued about what the essence of Christianity is. It can be quite clearly seen that the basic love of Jesus was not of a majority point of view, even down to the present day, but Jesus distinguished himself from others by his concern for the weak, the disenfranchised, the revelation of Truth to their oppressors, and the evidence for the hereafter he presented.
|“||The Christian religion is specially distinguished from other religions in this, – that no other has given equal prominence to the salvation of man.||”|
—Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 1841