Essay, Research Paper: Christianity


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A common type of Email that we receive states that "denomination X" is
not Christian" -- where "X" may refer to the Jehovah's Witnesses,
Mormons, Roman Catholics, the United Church, Unity Church, etc. What the Emailer
is really saying is that their own faith group are real Christians, and that
anyone who holds beliefs that are significantly different are, in their opinion,
not Christian. Two widely different definitions of "Christian" are: By
Fundamentalist Christians: Have been filled with the Holy Spirit and are thus
part of the body of Christ. A necessary pre-requisite to salvation is to repent
of one's sins, and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Email continued by saying
that most Americans are not Christians, because they are "not filled with
God's Spirit and anyone not filled with His Spirit is in opposition to
God..." Probably about 1 in 3 adult Americans would meet his definition. ?
By governments: A Christian is a person who seriously considers themselves to be
a Christian. Some are Roman Catholics, others are Southern Baptists. Some are
members of the Assemblies of God; others of the Jesus Seminar....and some are
not affiliated with any group or denomination. Surveys consistently show that
about 7 in 8 adult Americans meet this definition. No matter which definition we
use, we will continue to receive hate Emails. We prefer to be on the side of
inclusiveness. We don't like drawing lines in the sand, by telling some very
devout folk that they are not following the religion that they think that they
are following. That activity can lead to serious problems, even genocide as in
Bosnia. Given the tradition of religious intolerance in some areas of the world,
it is only a small jump to go from "You are not a real Christian" to
"You are sub-human" to "You have no right to live." We thus
use the definitions adopted by the government census on this web site. ? Brief
Overview Christians follow the teachings of and about commonly referred to as
Jesus Christ. (Jesus is the Greek form of Yeshua; Christ is Greek for the
Messiah or the "anointed one.") He was a Jewish itinerant preacher who
was born circa 4 to 7 He who was executed by the Roman occupying authorities in
Palestine probably on 30-APR-9 Most Christians regard him as the son of God.
They further believe that he is God, the second person in the Trinity. (The
Trinity consists of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three separate persons, all
eternal, all omnipresent, who form a single, unified deity). Most Christians
believe that Jesus co-existed with God before the creation of the world, was
born of a and was three days after his death. Many conservative Protestant
Christians believe that people are born and remain sinful; they will end up
being eternally punished in unless they are Roman Catholics believe that
salvation is obtained through repentance and church sacraments. Religious
liberals generally interpret hell symbolically, not as an actual place of
punishment. About 33% of the world's population regard themselves as Christian.
This percentage has been stable for decades. (The second most popular religion
is Islam, which is expected to become the dominant religion of the world during
the 21st century.) 87% of North Americans identify themselves as Christian. This
has been dropping very slowly in recent years, mainly due to the sudden increase
in non-theists, such as Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, etc. Other factors are
the increase in minority religions, largely caused by immigration and the
emergence of new religions like New Age, Wicca and other Neopagan religions.
Christianity in North America is a severely divided faith consisting of over
1,000 denominations, which are often categorized into conservative, mainline and
liberal wings: ? Many Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christians regard
themselves as the only true Christians. They maintain separate religious
denominations, radio stations, publishing houses, local ministerial
associations, etc -- even exercise videos. They tend to look upon Christianity
not as a religion, but as a living relationship with their Savior. ? Mainline
Christians tend to be much more inclusive. They accept as Christian anyone who
follows the teachings of and about Jesus Christ. ? Liberal Christians agree with
mainline Christians, and are even more inclusive. Some theologians, particularly
those who are members of the Jesus Seminar, have abandoned or reinterpreted most
traditional Christian beliefs. The main purpose of this section of our Web site
is to help Christians understand the great diversity of beliefs and practices
within Christianity, and how they developed through time. We try to compare and
contrast the beliefs of the most conservative and liberal Christians. We realize
that many, if not most, Christians hold intermediate views. We also describe the
beliefs of the early Christian church movements, which are generally quite
different from those of modern Christians. We receive many critical Emails about
these essays. Some are quite angry and hateful. Some accuse us of promoting our
own liberal beliefs. Some say that we are a stealth Islamic, Satanic,
Scientology or Mormon group trying to undermine Christianity. Others perceive us
as lacking any deeply held beliefs. Still others say that we are just plain
wrong. None of these are true. We are simply reporting the wide diversity of
belief within Christianity. Yet many of our readers are distressed at seeing
their beliefs described beside those of other wings of Christianity.
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