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Christian Beliefs, The Doctrine of Christianity

Christian Beliefs, The Doctrine of Christianity

Christians often view Christianity as the fulfilment and successor of Judaism, and Christianity carried forward much of the doctrine and many of the practices from the Hebrew faith, including monotheism, the belief in a Messiah (or Christ from the Greek Christůs, which means "anointed one"), certain forms of worship (such as prayer, and reading from religious texts), a priesthood (although most Protestants assert the Universal Priesthood of All Believers), and the idea that worship on Earth is modelled on worship in Heaven.

Central Christian Beliefs

The central belief of Christianity is that by faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, individuals are saved from death - both spiritual and physical - by redemption from their sins (i.e. faults, misdeeds, disobedience, rebellion against God). Through God's grace, by faith and repentance, men and women are reconciled to God through forgiveness and by sanctification or theosis to return to their place with God in Heaven.

Crucial beliefs in Christian teaching are Jesus' incarnation, atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead to redeem humankind from sin and death; and the belief that the New Testament is a part of the Bible. Many Christians today (and traditionally even more) also hold to supersessionism. Supersessionism is the belief that the Jews' chosenness found its ultimate fulfillment through the message of Jesus: Jews who remain non-Christian are no longer considered to be chosen, since they reject Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. This position has been softened or even completely abrogated by some churches where Jews are recognized to have a special status due to their covenant with God, so that this continues to be an area of on-going dispute among Christians.

The emphasis on God giving his son, or the Son (who is God) coming down to earth for the sake of humanity, is an essential difference between Christianity and most other religions, where the emphasis is instead placed solely on humans working for salvation.

The most uniform and broadly accepted tradition of doctrine, with the longest continuous representation, repeatedly reaffirmed by official Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant definitions (although not without dissent, as noted below) asserts that specific beliefs are essential to Christianity, including but not limited to:

God As A Trinity

God is a Trinity, the single eternal being existing in three persons: Father, Son (Divine Logos, incarnated as Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. Jesus is both fully God and fully human, two "natures" in one person. Mary, the mother of Jesus, bore in her womb and gave birth to the Son of God (who is, himself, likewise God), who although eternally existent was formed in her womb by the Spirit of God. From her humanity he received in his person a human intellect and will, and all else that a child would naturally receive from its mother.

Jesus is the Messiah hoped for by the Jews, the heir to the throne of David. He reigns at the right hand of the Father with all authority and power forevermore. He is the hope of all mankind, their advocate and judge. Until he returns at the end of the world, the Church has the authority and obligation to preach the Gospel and to gather new disciples.

Jesus was innocent of any sin. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, believers are forgiven of sins and reconciled to God. Although virually all Christians agree on this, there are a variety of views on the Significance of Jesus' resurrection. Believers are baptized into the resurrection and new life (or death in some groups) of Christ. Through faith, they live by the promise of resurrection from death to everlasting life through Christ. The Holy Spirit is sent to them by Christ, to bring hope and lead mankind into true knowledge of God and His purposes, and help them grow in holiness.

Jesus will return personally, and bodily, to judge all mankind and receive the faithful to himself, so they will live forever in the intimate presence of God. Some Christians, particularly in the West, refer to the Bible as the "Word of God." Other Christians, particularly in the East, believe that Jesus alone is the Word of God, and see Scripture as an authoritative book, inspired by God but written by men. As a result of these differing views, many Christians disagree to varying degrees about how accurate the Bible is and how it should be interpreted.

These beliefs are stated in a number of creeds, of which the most important and widely used are probably the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. These statements of belief were written in the first few centuries after Christ to reject certain heresies. Although there are arguments about specific parts of these creeds, they are still used by mainstream Christians to state their basic beliefs. (See also: Athanasian Creed)

Mainstream Christianity

Christianity is considered by mainstream Christians to be the continuation or fulfillment of the Jewish faith. However, many self-proclaimed Christian organizations throughout history have had varying ideas about the basic tenets of the Christian faith, from ancient sects such as Arians and Gnostics to modern groups who have different understandings of fundamental Christian ideas. Some of these groups are the Jehovah's

Witnesses who have a different theological understanding of Jesus, God and the Bible; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who believe that in 1829 God restored the apostolic priesthood to their leader Joseph Smith, Jr., making possible continuing revelation (including additional teachings and scripture), and the Unification Church. While various groups may differ in their approach to the specifics of Christ's role, ministry, and nature (some calling him a god or Gods, and others calling him a man), Christ is generally assumed to have cosmic importance. Some of these groups number themselves among the Christian churches, or believe themselves to be the only true Christian church.

Furthermore, present-day liberal Protestant Christians do not define Christianity as necessarily including belief in the deity of Jesus, the virgin birth, the Trinity, miracles, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ, or the personality or deity of the Holy Spirit. Liberals may or may not recommend belief in such things, but differentiate themselves from conservative Christians by defining as included within genuine Christianity anyone who explains their views or teachings principally by appeal to Jesus.

It is common for those who hold the more traditional tenets of faith described in the paragraph above to assert that some or all of these groups are not true Christians, principally because they feel that by denying fundamental teachings about the nature, actions and teachings of Jesus, such liberals are following a different person, or one of their own devising. Conversely, liberals are often feel that 'traditional' Christians have been misled by political organizations spanning thousands of years, and follow dogma designed to assign power to certain institutions.

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