RELIGION

 

RELIGION_Christendom  
(A handbook of religion was published by the Foundation for Pluralism in August 2004. All the groups were given the same set of questions, and some are really silly like denominations in Atheism.  Here is the production of such writings from Atheism to Zoroastrianism and every one in between; it is in two parts, essence of the faith and general information about it. We invite you to send your suggestions to suggestions@foundationforpluralism.com  for updates and new information.- Please send us the preferred websites to be linked at the bottom - THE INFORMATION IS IN TWO PARTS)

PROFILE & ESSENCE

Compiled by: Rev. Frederick Masih.

Origins: On the day of Pentecost [50th day after the resurrection of Jesus Christ] [AD 33
Originator: Jesus Christ

People who shaped the religion: 12 Apostles, Paul and his followers

People who wrote the books: God inspired about 40 people who lived in various cultures and countries and in a time span of about 1500 years [starting with Moses and ending with John]

Who is worshiped? God

Holy Books (Original Language) Bible [Hebrew and Greek]

Holy Places of Worship: Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus Christ name that is the place of worship. Jerusalem.

Key Tenets: We believe the Holy Scriptures to be the verbal, inspired Word of God, authoritative, and without error in the original manuscripts. We further believe that the Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments are designed for our practical instruction in faith and conduct. (2 Tim. 3: 16-17; 2 Peter 1:21)

We believe that the God head eternally exists in three persons-the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit-and that these three are one God.(Deut.6:4; Gen. 1:26;Matt.28:19)

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, came into the world that He might manifest God to men, fulfill prophecy, and become the Redeemer of the lost world. To this end, He was born of the Virgin Mary, received a human body and a sinless human nature without ceasing to be God (Luke 1:30; John 1:1, 14, 18; Heb. 4:15; Phil. 2:5-11)

We believe that , in infinite love for the lost, He voluntarily accepted His Father's will and became the divinely provided sacrificial Lamb and took upon Himself the punishment of the sins of the world.(Rom. 3:25-36; 2Cor. 5:14; Heb. 10:5-14)

We believe that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, dwells in every believer immediately after the places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that God provides, through the Holy Spirit, power to live the Christian life. (Rom. 5:5; 8:9-1; Gal. 5:16-25)

We believe that every believer receives grace from God in the form of spiritual gift(s), which enables him or her to function as a member of the body of Christ. (Rom.. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 4:7)

We also believed that once this salvation is accomplished , we and all true believers everywhere shall be kept saved forever.( John 10:28-29; Rom. 3:24, 8:35-39; 2 Tim. 2:11-13; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:5, 8-9)

We believe that all who are united to the risen and ascended Son of God are members of the Church, which is the body of Christ.( 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Acts 2:24-47)

We believe that explicit message of our Lord Jesus Christ to those whom He saved is to make Christ known to the whole world and that this is the purpose of the Church through the individuals within it (Matt. 28:18-19;Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:11-21)

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the ordinances of water baptism and the Lord's Supper to be observed by all believers until His return,( Matt. 28:19; Luke 22:19-20; Acts 10:47-48.)

Prayer Rituals: There is freedom in prayer ritual. The liturgical Church like the Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Methodist, and Presbyterians use their respective prayer book in conducting their worship service. The non-liturgical Churches like Baptist, Bible, Pentecostal, and other independent Churches do not use prayer book. However, they follow the same pattern as found in the prayer book (that is Opening Prayer, Prayer of Praise to God, Songs, Prayer of confession, Prayer of thanksgiving, and Reading from the Old Testament and followed by New Testament, Sermon by the Pastor, Offering, Holy Communion Closing Prayer, and Benediction.

Current Leadership: There is freedom and flexibility in leadership. Pope for the Catholics. Archbishop for the Episcopalians and Anglicans. Regional Bishop for the Methodists. President for the Presbyterian, and Baptist Churches. Pastor of the Churches like Bible, Pentecostal, and other independent Churches are the leaders of their respective Churches.

Decision Makers: There is freedom and flexibility, both the people and the Pastor(s)

Interpretations: There is freedom and flexibility. Majority are those who interpret the Bible literally and see God unfolding His plan from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation.

Denominations: There are 18 major branches of Christianity, viz: Catholics, Orthodox churches (Greek, Syrian, Armenian, Russian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Indian), Episcopalians, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Mormons, Marthomites,  Mennonites, Baptists, Southern Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and other Independent Bible Churches (full list for 2nd edition)

Major Festivals: Christmas, Good Friday and Easter.

Dietary Laws Sensitivities: There is a flexibility and freedom.   

What is not polite? Principal:"Everything is Permissible-but everything is not beneficial. Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others"

Customs from birth to death: None

Textual support for Pluralism: Matthew (23:15) " "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves".

While the earliest Christians believed in evangel ion** (the spreading of good
news) they did not subscribe to Proselytization. Who is a true follower of Jesus? The one who demonstrates loving kindness and generosity toward others: I was hungry and you
gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit (Matt 25:35-36).

World Population: 

US population: 

North Texas Population:

** ..”That is because none of these original churches embraced the imperial aspirations of the western nations for expanding either the latter's mercantile interests or their
desires for political hegemony” – Alex Alexander.

***.. Proselytization stems from the political needs of the rulers, seeking security thru numbers. All the religious wars have to do with the insecure politicians and nothing to do with religion. I would like to be challenged that any faith believes strongly in conversions. When Jesus wanted his message to go out, that message was to be loving human beings and not the literal meaning of that message. If we go by the essence of what Jesus taught, every one qualifies to be a Christian, same formula applies to all the faiths. – Mike Ghouse

ESSENCE

By Dr. Ingrid Shafer                      

Christianity is one of the religions of Abraham, and like its source, Judaism, Christianity evolved around the conviction of the possibility of a human relationship with a personal, caring, and just God who is also the omnipotent Creator of the universe.  For Christians, this relationship is defined by the core belief that the divine became revealed in a unique, historic person, Yeshua/Jesus of Nazareth, the Incarnation of God, the Anointed One, the Christ.

Thus, for Christians, Jesus is both the primary way of relating to God and the model to be emulated in life. The Christian is called to follow Jesus whose Hebrew name means “YHWH (Yahweh) is salvation.” In other words, for Christians, Jesus of Nazareth--his manner of thinking, acting, and being--is the standard that informs (or should inform) life as it is lived in the present.

Jesus lived almost 2000 years ago at a time when divinity was understood primarily in terms of imperial power and demand for absolute obedience.  Jesus preached a message of radical love rooted in his experience of the Father as an implacably, passionately loving cosmic force, and that message is as relevant today as it was two millennia ago. The essence of Christianity, the living center, is that “radioactive” love that can spread, purify, and transform whatever it touches.  Jesus challenges us not only to love family, friends, and associates, but to love our enemies.  Jesus challenges us to turn the other cheek, to be kind to those who hurt us, to give to others without expecting anything in return, to go the extra mile. Jesus challenges us to overcome all innate tendencies we might have to hate or “get even,” no matter how serious the provocation. He lived by his own principles to the end. As he hung on the cross he asked that his tormentors be forgiven. Jesus challenges us to be the best we can be and to remember that we are created in the image of God, called to actualize the divine spark within us. This call to the practice of radical love is the essence of Christianity, and it transcends all denominational boundaries.

Jesus was born between 4 and 6 B.CE (Dionysius Exiguus, a sixth century scholar-monk miscalculated when he reformed the calendar to start with the birth of Christ) in Palestine, a small Jewish territory in the vast Roman Empire, a loose amalgamation of countless nations, languages, cultures, religions, cults, and competing deities.  His preaching aroused the envy of some Jewish religious leaders and his popularity made him suspect among Roman authorities who routinely crucified political enemies and were always prepared to nip another Jewish insurrection in the bud. Jesus was executed, but after he was dead and buried his tomb was found empty and his followers reported seeing him alive in a resurrected body that bore the marks of his crucifixion. In that form he stayed with them for several weeks before being bodily taken up beyond the clouds toward the heavens.

Jesus had promised that he would never leave his people, and fifty days after his resurrection his followers were gathered together for the Jewish feast of Shavuot, a wheat harvest festival and a celebration of the giving of the Torah to Moses. Suddenly, as reported in the Book of Acts, the room was filled with a violent storm and tongues of fire leapt among them and they were filled with the Spirit of God, also called the Paraclete, who would give them the ability to share the message of their ascended Lord, the Good News of the Father’s implacable love, with the world. Christians still celebrate that day annually as Pentecost, “The birthday of the Church.”

This pivotal experience of their living, dying, and resurrected Lord became the kernel round which Christianity began to coalesce, first as one Jewish sect among others, and eventually as an independent religious tradition. For the first three centuries the Romans tried to suppress Christianity, in part because Christian pacifism was considered an expression of disloyalty to the military ethos of the state.  Despite sporadic persecutions, the Christian Church as an institution became organized according to efficient administrative practices of the Roman Empire, with bishops as heads of dioceses and in charge of priests and other functionaries in parishes.  Ironically, in 313 CE Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity because, according to tradition, he had won a major battle with the aid of the Christian God.

Twelve years later he called the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council, to decide such issues as the nature of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the dating of Easter. Some 300 bishops participated.  They wrote the Nicene Creed which is still affirmed in many Christian churches.  In 380 CE, Emperor Theodosius declared Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire, persecution of non-Christians began, and by the end of the fourth century the canon of the New Testament was established, except for some disputed works. In 1054 CE the Catholic (Western) and Orthodox (Eastern) branches of Christianity formally separated, and in the early sixteenth century, Martin Luther, a German Catholic priest and theologian, started the Reformation which would lead to the eventual splintering of the Western Church into thousands of major and minor denominations whose “divisions are so extreme . . . that sincerely and devoutly held beliefs by the most conservative Christians may well be considered blasphemy by the most liberal, and vice-versa” ( http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_divi2.htm ). According to Adherents.com, The Encyclopedia Britannica now lists four major branches of Christianity – Orthodox (217,948,000), Catholic (968,000,000), Protestant (395,867,000), and Other Christians (275,583,000) ( http://adherents.com/adh_branches.html#Christianity ).

Creeds, doctrines, dogmas, rules, holidays, liturgies, rituals, attitudes toward icons, saints, the role of scripture, beliefs concerning afterlife, are all part of the countless institutionalized traditions of Christianity and differ widely from denomination to denomination. Thus, the Catholic and Orthodox churches, along with some Anglicans, accept seven sacraments: Baptism, the Eucharist (Communion), Confirmation (or Chrismation), Penance (Confession), Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. Most Protestants accept two sacraments, Baptism and Communion (the Lord’s Supper). Some Christian groups accept no sacraments.  This diversity can be deplored as a tragedy or grasped as an opportunity to shift our focus from the historic and doctrinal accidents that divide us toward the center that unites us: the essence of Christianity, Jesus and his call to the practice of radical love.

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