Christianity (31- ) is the largest religion in the world and the main one outside of Asia and north Africa. A third of mankind is Christian. Like Islam it grew out of Judaism and shares many of the same beliefs. Where Jews follow Moses and Muslims follow Muhammad, Christians follow Jesus Christ, saying he is not just a man but the Son of God.
Of Christians, half are Catholic, a third are Protestant, a ninth are Orthodox and one in 30 are Anglican.
Christianity is the religion that the West is based on, although now many in the West are Christians in name only or not at all. Christianity is weakest in Europe where it was once strongest.
The holy book of Christians is the Bible. It contains both the Old Testament – the books of the old Jewish Bible – and the New Testament – the writings of the the first followers of Jesus, the apostles.
Christians worship in church on Sundays (some on Saturday). Their minister is a priest or, for Protestants, a pastor. Some churches are led by bishops. The Catholic church is led by the bishop of Rome, called the pope.
Christians say that in the beginning when God created the world, he created the first man and the first woman, Adam and Eve. Like the angels he gave them a free will so that they could love him. He put them in the Garden of Eden. Everything was perfect and wonderful. God made just one rule: Never eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil or from the Tree of Life.
In the garden Satan, a fallen angel, took the form of a snake. He talked Eve into turning against God and eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Eve talked Adam into doing the same.
This was the original sin. Sin means turning against God to do what is wrong. But this particular sin was not just the personal fault of Adam and Eve – it wound up making human nature what it is today: sinful. We know what is right and want to do it, but too often we wind up doing the wrong thing! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
So life is a constant battle between good and evil within our soul.
To help us and to set things straight God sent his only Son Jesus soon after Israel had fallen under Roman rule. Jesus gathered a large following. The Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities saw him as a trouble-maker and put him to death by nailing him to a cross. But the story does not end there: Christians say on the third day Jesus rose from the dead.
But if Jesus rose from the dead, then he is the Son of God as he claimed and all the other things he said are true…