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The CHRISTIANITY PORTAL
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Introduction

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.

Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles, and their followers, spread it around Syria, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Asia, despite initial persecution. It soon also attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, and the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and decriminalized it 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 sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united communion of the "orthodox" Christian churches before their schisms. 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. Similarly, Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and papal primacy. 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.

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 four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion), Protestantism (920 million), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million), amid various efforts toward ecumenism Their theology and professions of faith, in addition to the Bible, generally hold in common that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, descended into the grave and rose from the dead to grant eternal life to those who believe in him for the forgiveness of their sins. His incarnation, earthly ministry, crucifixion and resurrection are often 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 Jewish Old Testament as the Gospel's respected background.

Selected article

Catholic doctrine regarding the Ten Commandments is largely based on the Old and New Testaments and the writings of the early Church Fathers. In the New Testament, Jesus acknowledged their validity and instructed his disciples to go further, demanding a righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees. Summarized by Jesus into two "great commandments" that teach love of God and love of neighbor, they instruct individuals on their relationships with both. The first three commandments demand respect for God's name, observation of the Lord's Day and prohibit the worship of other gods. The others deal with the relationships between individuals, such as that between parent and child; they include prohibitions against lying, stealing, murdering, adultery and covetousness. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church — the official exposition of the Catholic Church's Christian beliefs—the Commandments are considered essential for spiritual good health and growth, and serve as the basis for Catholic social teaching. A review of the Commandments is one of the most common types of examination of conscience used by Catholics before receiving the sacrament of Penance.

Selected scripture

Stained glass window based on the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Charleston, South Carolina
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming close to him to hear him. The Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.”
He told them this parable.
“Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
Or what woman, if she had ten drachma coins, if she lost one drachma coin, wouldn’t light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she found it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I had lost.’
Even so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting.”
He said, “A certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of your property.’ He divided his livelihood between them. Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living.
When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any.
But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.”’
“He arose, and came to his father.
But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate; for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’
They began to celebrate.
“Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on.
He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.’
But he was angry, and would not go in.
Therefore his father came out, and begged him. But he answered his father, ‘Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
“He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’”

Selected biography

Ely Cathedral, where Nigel may be buried
Nigel (c. 1100 – 1169) (sometimes Nigel Poor or Nigel of Ely) was an Anglo-Norman bishop of Ely. He came from an ecclesiastical family; his uncle Roger of Salisbury was a bishop and government minister for King Henry I, and other relatives also held offices in the English Church and government. Nigel owed his advancement to his uncle, as did Nigel's probable brother Alexander, who like Nigel was advanced to episcopal status. Nigel was educated on the continent before becoming a royal administrator. He served as Treasurer of England under King Henry I of England, before being appointed to the see, or bishopric, of Ely in 1133. Following the accession of Henry I's successor, King Stephen, Nigel remained as treasurer only briefly before his family was ousted from political office by the new king. Nigel rebelled and deserted to Stephen's rival Matilda, but eventually reconciled with Stephen. On the king's death, Nigel was returned to the treasurership by the new king, Henry II. Nigel's second tenure as treasurer saw him return the administration to the practices of Henry I. Most historians, then and now, have felt that Nigel's administrative abilities were excellent; he is considered to have been more talented as an administrator than as a religious figure.

Selected image

Conversion of Saint Paul
Credit: User:Irmgard

Conversion to Christianity is the religious conversion of a previously non-Christian person to some form of Christianity. It has been called the foundational experience of Christian life. Conversion to Christianity primarily involves belief (faith) in the Christian God, thinking that they are far short of the Christian God's apparent "glory and holiness" (sin), repentance of "sin", and confession of their belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the all-sufficient and only means by whom one's sin can be atoned for and therefore the only route to salvation.

Did you know...

...that Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches celebrate Mass, while Eastern Christian churches instead celebrate Divine Liturgy?
...that the length of a Church service can vary widely, depending on the denomination and priest, and can range from 40 minutes to 3 hours?
...that Mandarin Chinese translates the word "Christ" as Jidu (基督)?
...that the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Côte d'Ivoire is listed by Guinness World Records as the largest church in the world?

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