Origins of Christianity

Christianity has an approximated global following of a little over 2 billion adherents making it the most popular religion in the world today. But other than its affiliation to Jesus Christ, do you know where Christianity emerged from to enjoy the solid following it has today? This article seeks to address how Christianity came to be and what shaped its course of direction to where it is at present.

What most people are not aware of is the fact that Christianity started as a sect off Judaism. In the article “Origins of Judaism” we highlighted some of the primary sects making up Judaism in ancient times namely; the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and Essenes. As times progressed other sects emerged, among them, Christianity.
Jesus Christ, who is credited as the foundation against which Christianity is established, was typically a Jew who practiced Jewish traditions his entire life. Incidentally, his earliest followers were also Jews who followed Jewish traditions even after his death. There are accounts which indicate that their primary intention at that time was never to start a new religion.

Even though they were Jews practicing the Jewish faith, early Jesus followers’ point of distinction from other Jews, was the fact that they ascribed to Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, their Jewish counterparts did not.

Most Jews in those times anticipated a different form of Messiah who would annihilate their enemies and cement their position as God’s chosen people.

Gradually, the Jesus following began taking shape of a new religion distinct from Judaism and its practices. Initially, it bore the name “sect of the Nazarenes” which subsequently changed to “Jesus movement” The reference Jesus movement was made to depict those who followed Jesus and his teachings when the movement was primarily Jewish.

While the movement still maintained its monotheistic aspect (worship of one God), by and large, it developed into a complete distinct faith from Judaism. This came about after other groups, notably the gentiles (non-Jews) began to join it as a choice of their preferred faith. A movement made up of gentiles (who were looked down upon by the Jews) could no longer be deemed a Judaism sect. From then on until date, the movement came to be known as Christianity.

As time progressed major and minor differences among the group emerged which led to a split into various groups and denominations. Key among these denominations are; the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox Christians, and the Protestants. From these three stemmed numerous other denominations and sects. These groups and sects differ to a certain degree on their beliefs and practices.

Beliefs

Even through Christianity is an Umbrella to numerous sects and denominations, there are some inherent elements shared by these split factions, key among them being the belief in Holy Trinity.

The Christian faith holds the belief that God is revealed through three aspects: God the Father, God the son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit.

Other than belief in the Holy trinity, is the common synopsis shared by these different groups that Jesus (son of God), born of the Virgin Mary, came into the world to liberate mankind from sin and eventually lead them back to God’s kingdom of eternal glory.

There is also the belief in life after death where souls will be rewarded with heaven or punished through eternal damnation in accordance to the lives they led while still on earth.

Basically, Christianity derives its authoritative teachings from the Holy Bible; made up of the Old Testament (Hebrew bible) and the New Testament (which entail early Christian writings post Jesus’ death).

Many Christians turn to the Bible not only for teachings as regards to spiritual law but also as a source of divine inspiration and spiritual guidance.

Influence 

Since its inception, Christianity has enjoyed a massive spread across the globe. As early as the fourth century it had already spread to faraway places like Europe, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, Asia Minor and so on and so forth.

Through its spread, Christianity displaced and assimilated other religious faith and practices in areas of those people whom it had converted. Christianity also bears significant influence not only on some religions, but also across society in the modern era. Much of contemporary civilization witnessed in the world today can be traced back to Christianity influence; from schools, to hospitals and even the Christian calendar that most countries across the globe draw their timelines from.

Then there is the notion of Jesus whom most religious faiths acknowledge the divine attributes he possessed. Islam for instance acknowledges Jesus as a prophet but deny he is God. Through the holy Quran, Muslims acknowledge that Jesus whom they refer to as Isa was a miracle worker and a divinely wise teacher, and that his disciples were filled with mercy and compassion as a result of his teachings.

And even though both modern and ancient Jews deny that Jesus was the promised Messiah, they agree on a few facts about him; that he was a rabbi, an influential teacher, and a miracle worker. Then there is the Hindu faith that revere Jesus for his divinely attributes.

These are just few examples of religious faiths that Jesus Christ and by an extent Christianity might have exerted some influence on.

Ever since the time of Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire who declared Christianity as a state religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity has been able to hold the same status of state religion in most countries across the world.

Incidentally, the Church has been in the forefront in implementing development initiatives and delivering aid across the globe through missionary work. It is also through the said mission work that some Christian values have been assumed in most places globally. For instance in the family setting where monogamy is deemed as the standard in marriage solely due to Christian influence.

As Thomas Nelson, points out in his book Nelson’s Dictionary of Christianity: Christianity as a formal religion, affirms the world order, it solidifies the moral and social order of the universe. He goes on to say that there are Christian psychologists and pastors who have taken it upon themselves to instill moral values such as ambition, discipline, order, and obedience all which establish the legitimacy of the world system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *