The Christian faith is a truly interesting one to study. One of the major religions of the world, Christianity is also the only “major” religion that can accurately be described as an off-shoot of another.
While many modern practitioners don’t consider Christianity an off-shoot of Judaism (on either side of that equation) historically this would be accurate. In fact the Old Testament of the Christian Bible completely contains books from the Tanakh, one of the major holy books of the Jewish faith.
That being said, there’s no question that the Christian faith has definitely firmly branched off from Judaism to create a unique and vibrant religion that is widely followed to this day.
Jesus Christ as Messiah
Jesus of Nazerene is the main historical figure around which these two faiths split. In Christianity he is the primary figure, the Christ which translates to “Messiah.” In the overwhelming majority of branches in Christianity Jesus is the divine Son of God and therefore was not just a prophet or teacher but divine himself and the key to God’s promise to his people for reconciliation.
The crucifixion of Jesus was a pinnacle moment. That sacrifice is seen as the bridge that allows God to forgive the sins of humans, but according to those who believe in Christianity this was necessary because prior to that the sins (misdeeds) of humans made it impossible to re-join with God. Jesus’s death allowed that, and the belief that three days later he returned to life to defeat death itself showed that everything he taught was true. It also showed reconciliation with God was possible.
One important thing to note is that with over 33,000 different “denominations” of Christianity, there can be a lot of argument and in-fighting when it comes to theology that even a main set of core beliefs can become hard to agree upon. That being said, there are some core beliefs that virtually all major and most minor denominations will agree with.
1) There is one god who is divine and sinless
2) Jesus was his son, and God in the flesh so as to be divine himself
3) The death and resurrection of Jesus was necessary for reconciliation to take place
4) Belief in Jesus is necessary for this salvation
Core beliefs after that can vary greatly, but generally this is the foundation that everything else is built off of.
Symbolism of Baptism
This specific story of Jesus is what makes baptism so important in the Christian faith. This is a ceremony that to some denominations is symbolic and to others it is a mandatory part of accepting salvation. The going underwater symbolizes dying to the world, as Jesus did, then coming up is symbolic of the resurrection and being “born again.” This is a connection to that key story that is crucial to Christianity.
The Great Schism & The Reformation
There have been several times in history where the church split, causing an explosion of denominations to take place. The Great Schism was the first in 1054 and saw the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church create the first major denominations while later on the Reformation ushered in not only Lutheranism, but Protestantism in general. These are great historical events to study to get a better understanding of this faith’s history.