Christianity is a monotheistic religion, and one of the major world religions recognized today. It includes groups of religious traditions that trace their origins to Jesus Christ, a Jew of the first century, and assert that he is the son of God and the Lord and sole Savior of all humanity as the Jewish Messiah.

Christianity has many branches, including Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the various religious denominations of Protestantism. Other forms of Christianity have arisen that claim a separate history, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to a 1993 estimate, Christianity was the world's most widely accepted religion, with 2.1 billion adherents (1 billion Catholics, 500 million Protestants, 240 million Orthodox and 275 million others), followed by Islam with 1.1 billion and Hinduism with 1.05 billion.

Christianity emerged from Judaism in the first century. Christians brought many ideas and practices from Judaism, including monotheism; the belief in a messiah (or Christ, which means "anointed one"); certain forms of worship, such as prayer, reading from religious texts; a priesthood; the idea that worship here on earth is modeled on worship in heaven. The book of Acts, in the Christian New Testament (NT), says that Christ's followers were first called Christians by non-Christians in the city of Antioch, where they had fled and settled after early persecutions in Palestine, probably just a few years after Jesus' death and ascension.—Acts 11:19, 26.

The central belief of Christianity is that by faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ individuals are saved from death both spiritual and physical by Redemption from their sins (i.e. faults, misdeeds, disobedience, rebellion against God). By faith, repentance, and obedience men and women are reconciled to God through sanctification or theosis and returned to their place with God in Heaven.


The most crucial beliefs in Christian teaching are Jesus' incarnation, atonement, crucifixion, death and resurrection to redeem mankind from sin and death. These events are believed by Christians to be the basis of God's work to reconcile humanity with himself. Many Christians believe that this emphasis on God giving his beloved Son for the sake of humanity is an essential difference between Christianity and 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:

Christianity is considered by Christians to be the continuation or fulfilment of the Jewish faith. However, many 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 such as 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 Fundamentalist 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 part of Christianity. ? 2004

See Abrahamic Religions

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