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# What Is Christianity? By:  Jason Malec ExploreGod.com Where did Christianity come from? How did it begin? What is it? > Christianity is the greatest intellectual system the mind of man has ever touched.Francis Schaeffer > > Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in ‘another’ or ‘better’ life.Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy > > Christianity is one of the strongest and perhaps most misunderstood movements in the world. Perceptions of the religion and its adherents range from Nietzsche’s, which borders on the militant, to Schaeffer’s, which celebrates Christianity as the climax of humanity. Indeed, as the last two thousand years of history attest, Christianity has been—at the very least—a polarizing movement. ### In the Beginning Many people place the beginning of Christianity some two thousand years ago with the life of Jesus. In actuality, Christianity began as a reform movement within Judaism, which had been established nearly two thousand years earlier. To understand Christianity, we must go back to the roots of Judaism. We find aspects of the history of the Israelites recorded in the Bible, which is ultimately a collection of writings conveying the story of God’s relationship with humanity. “In the beginning,” the Scriptures state, “God created the heavens and the earth.”1 However, sometime after creating humanity, things began to go awry. People chose to defy God’s command, and sin entered the world. ### Rebellion As a direct result of this disobedience, humans have since been struggling with broken relationships with God, themselves, others, and creation.2 Even worse, through that act, death was introduced to the world. In order to restore everlasting relationship with his creation, God chose one righteous person—Abraham—and initiated a plan of redemption. Through Abraham’s family, a people became a nation that was destined to be a light, a blessing, and a model to the entire world: Israel.3 Though there were moments when they forgot who they were and neglected God’s commands, in time the Israelites succeeded in being God’s faithful people—despite threats and attacks leveled against them from surrounding nations. In the Christian understanding, the Israelites’ presence in the world and their message of the one true God prepared the peoples of the earth for the next phase of God’s plan. ### Hope for Resolution Through his prophets, God foretold a final resolution to the broken relationship between God and humans: God himself would enter the world in the form of a human being. He would experience what we experience. He would suffer the pain that we suffer, endure the temptations we endure, feel the emotions we feel. But more than that, he would be beaten, broken, and crushed.4 In his death he would take on all the sins of man, until “by his wounds we [would be] healed” and set free from the bondage of sin.5 And in the end, he would restore his scattered and dispirited people, ushering in an era of unending peace. ### The Promised One? Enter Jesus. A Jewish carpenter who lived two thousand years ago, Jesus is called the Son of God.6 Christians believe Jesus to be fully man and fully God, equally human and divine. Early in his life, Jesus distinguished himself as an unusually precocious child, demonstrating tremendous spiritual wisdom and maturity.7 When Jesus sensed the moment was right, he left behind his home and embarked on a new path. He began to preach, teach, perform miracles, and gather around him a band of rag-tag disciples. Eventually, they recognized him as the hoped-for messiah. What his followers did not realize was that God’s plan was going to take an unusual turn. He was going to restore the nation of Israel, as they hoped, but he would do it in a most unexpected way—not through shows of power and the oppression of enemies but through selfless love and compassion. According to Christians, Jesus, the Son of God, was crucified, died, and rose from the dead. He conquered sin and death in order to restore humanity’s broken relationship with God, the Father. Jesus did what we cannot: he lived a perfect, sinless life and paid the price for our transgressions. Christians believe that Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity saved us from the permanent consequence of our sins—eternal separation and isolation from God. Through Jesus, we can attain eternal life in relationship with God. Indeed, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life,”8 and that whoever “believes in [him] will live, even though they die.”9 One day, Jesus promised, he will return to reign over his faithful followers in a peaceful kingdom where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”10 In the interim, he has sent the Holy Spirit to live and dwell with his followers, leading them in the way of truth.11 ### Now Today, Christianity is practiced in three primary forms: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. Within each of these three branches, there are numerous subsets and denominations. However, each group concurs on the general story and purposes described above; they divide mainly in the details of how principles should be applied practically. Over the years, Christianity has seen its fair share of glorious, proud moments and all too many humiliating, shameful ones. But this is less an indictment on God, Jesus, or Christianity than it is on his followers. Mahatma Gandhi allegedly once said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” He voiced the inconsistency found between the Son of God and those who claim to follow in his footsteps. And yet, should that surprise anyone? The Bible tells story after story of those who failed to live as God called them to live. This is not true just for Christians but for all people. This is why we need a messiah, a redeemer, a savior. ### Everyone’s Story Chuck Colson once said, “Christianity is an explanation of all of reality.” Simply put, we all know the world is broken. The whole world, including me and you, needs fixing. And no matter how many different fix-it methods we try—whether self-help or sex, missionary work or money—none of them can fill the void that all of us feel. Christianity, from creation up through God’s restoring work in Jesus, is both the explanation of and solution to that emptiness. Ultimately, Christianity is the story of God’s powerful, redemptive love for his people. 1. _The Holy Bible_, New International Version © 2011, Genesis 1:1. 2. These ideas are developed more fully in Scot McKnight’s book, _The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible_ (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008). 3. Interestingly, all three of the world’s major monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—trace their lineage back to this one man. 4. _The Holy Bible,_ Isaiah 53:4–6. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and he Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 5. Ibid., Isaiah 53:5. 6. Ibid., Matthew 11:27; John 5:23, 26. 7. Ibid., Luke 2:41–52. 8. Ibid., John 14:6. 9. Ibid., John 11:25. 10. Ibid., Revelation 21:4. 11. Ibid., John 14:15–31. 12. Photo Credit: motorolka/shutterstock.com [Read the original article on ExploreGod.com »](http://www.exploregod.com /what-is-christianity)

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1 Cary W = "Unfortunately this is true for some Christians who look more to the life to come than the precious moments they have right now on this perfect Earth.  Jesus taught us the Kingdom of Heaven is now, in our midst and that it is not a place of time at all, but rather and inward experience of the very life and Spirit of God."
2 Sarah R = "For more on this, check out these articles on deily:Jewish Roots of ChristianityThe Inseparable Connection between the Old and New Testaments"
3 Sarah R = "There is no evidence that Abraham was necessarily a righteous person when he was chosen. He came from a family that worshiped idols. He lived in an idolatrous land. But God saw something in him, and called Abraham out of that mess and into His grace. And Abraham obeyed God... mostly. We see him falter, and get into trouble, and miss the mark, but in his journey with God he learned and grew a lot, and the Bible says that Abraham's "faith was credited to him as righteousness." Just goes to show that God can take anyone from their mess, into grace, through a journey to faith."
4 Sarah R = "Most theologians say that God's plan of redemption started before even the creation of the world. God, in His foreknowledge and great wisdom, knew we would need it, and formed the salvation plan. When sin entered the world, it did not surprise God or catch Him unaware. Things were already at work."For [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." - 1 Peter 1:20,21"
5 Cary W = "No other religion or philosophy claims that God Himself came here to live and bear our burdens and sins, and then take our due punishment for any transgression and pay for it fully by His own death.  Salvation is a gift, which must be freely received as it is freely given."