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Portal:Christianity

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Introduction

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. The creeds promulgated during the first seven ecumenical councils (which are considered the baseline of orthodoxy by the vast majority of the world's Christians), state that Jesus is 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 the Oriental Orthodox churches (62 million) (Orthodox churches combined at 11.9%), though thousands of smaller church communities exist despite 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...)

Selected article

Graduale Aboense 2.jpg
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed mainly in the Frankish lands of western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions. Although popular legend credits Pope Gregory the Great with inventing Gregorian chant, scholars believe that it arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman and Gallican chant.

Gregorian chant was traditionally sung by choirs of men and boys in churches, or by women and men of religious orders in their chapels. It is the music of the Roman Rite, performed in the Mass and the monastic Office. Gregorian chant supplanted or marginalized the other indigenous plainchant traditions of the Christian West to become the official music of the Roman Catholic liturgy. Although Gregorian chant is no longer obligatory, the Roman Catholic Church still officially considers it the music most suitable for worship. During the 20th century, Gregorian chant underwent a musicological and popular resurgence.

Selected scripture

Jesus taught turning the other cheek during the Sermon on the Mount
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.
For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Selected biography

Illustration from The Little Lives of the Saints. London: Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1904.
Ælfheah (954 – 19 April 1012; Old English: Ælfhēah, "elf-high"), officially remembered by the name Alphege within the Church, and sometimes called Alfege, was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester, later Archbishop of Canterbury. He became an anchorite before being elected abbot of Bath Abbey. His perceived piety and sanctity led to his promotion to the episcopate, and eventually to his becoming archbishop. Ælfheah furthered the cult of St Dunstan and also encouraged learning. He was captured by Viking raiders in 1011 and killed by them the following year, after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed. Ælfheah was canonized as a saint in 1078. Saint Thomas Becket, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, prayed to him just before his own slaying in Canterbury Cathedral.

Selected image

Salt Lake Temple
Credit: User:Entheta

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a temple is a building dedicated to be a House of the Lord, and they are considered by church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time (an "Open House"). During the Open House, the church conducts tours of the temple with missionaries and members from the local area serving as tour guides, and all rooms of the temple are open to the public. Mormon temples are used for their baptism for the dead, washing and anointing (or "initiatory" ordinances), the endowment, and Mormon marriages. The temple is then dedicated as a "House of the Lord", after which only members who are deemed worthy are permitted entrance (tithing is paid in full). Thus, they are not churches ( meetinghouses) but rather places to do Mormon practices. The church is a prolific builder of temples as they hold a key place in LDS theology.

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