What is Christianity?
Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, believed by Christians to be the Son of God. This faith tradition emerged in the 1st century CE and has since grown into the world’s largest religion, encompassing numerous denominations and traditions.
Christianity revolves around the Bible, a collection of sacred texts divided into the Old Testament (containing Jewish scriptures) and the New Testament (writings on the life and teachings of Jesus). The central themes of Christianity include love, redemption, forgiveness, and faith in Jesus as the path to eternal life.
What do Christians Believe In?
At the core of Christianity’s main beliefs is the understanding of who God is. Christians believe in a single, eternal, all-powerful God who created the universe and everything in it. This God, however, is understood to exist in three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit — a concept known as the Trinity.
Jesus is central to Christian beliefs. He is seen as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament and God incarnate — God in human form. Christians believe that Jesus’ life, sacrificial death, and resurrection provide salvation for humanity, freeing us from sin and offering eternal life. Christians believe that faith in Jesus and following his teachings are the path to this salvation.
Christian practices involve prayer, studying the Bible, participating in sacraments (such as Baptism and Eucharist), and gathering for worship. Believers are also called to love their neighbors, show forgiveness, live righteously, and spread the message of the Gospel.
Do Catholics and Christians Believe the Same Things?
What’s the difference between Catholicism and Christianity? To start, there can be confusion about the terms “Catholic” and “Christian,” so it’s important to clarify. All Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholics. Catholicism is a denomination within Christianity. It is the largest Christian group and follows a distinct set of traditions and doctrines, including the authority of the Pope and the veneration of saints.
So, is there a difference between Catholic vs Christian beliefs? While there are differences in practices and some beliefs between Catholics and other Christian denominations, they share the core beliefs of Christianity: the divinity of Jesus, his resurrection, and the importance of the Bible are some of the primary similarities. The differences often lie in interpretations of these beliefs, church structures, and practices.
Free Video Lesson: What are the Differences between Christians? Catholics vs Protestants
The Apostles’ Creed Prayer – What all Christians Believe
The major beliefs of Christianity shared among most denominations is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed. This prayer encapsulates the essence of Christian doctrine, and while it isn’t directly found in the Bible, it’s based on historical biblical teachings.
Here is the Apostles’ Creed prayer:
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”
This creed is an affirmation of faith that beautifully encapsulates the core of true Christianity and the fundamental Christian beliefs.
Though Christianity is a diverse faith with an array of beliefs and practices across its numerous denominations, this prayer showcases the fundamental heart of Christianity that has remained the same throughout history and denominations.
If you haven’t already, you may enjoy checking out our online sermon series, We Believe, to get an even deeper understanding of Christianity and the Apostle’s creed.
Living as a Christian: Beliefs in Action
Christianity is more than just a system of beliefs; it is a way of life. It’s a real relationship with Jesus. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles guide Christians in how they should conduct themselves, both personally and socially. The primary moral instruction, according to Jesus, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
This encompasses numerous actions, such as caring for the needy, showing kindness and forgiveness, and pursuing justice. Additionally, Christians are called to spread the Gospel, the ‘good news’ about Jesus, and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
Variations and Unity in Christianity
Despite the numerous denominations in Christianity, the Christian community worldwide is linked by the shared belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. There are, however, variations in the way Christians practice their faith. These differences do not negate the fact that all believers in Christ are part of the Christian faith.
For instance, while Catholics recognize the Pope as the Vicar of Christ and the head of the Church, Protestants do not. Eastern Orthodox Christians honor the Patriarch of Constantinople as their spiritual leader, but they do not view him with the same authority as Catholics view the Pope.
While differences are apparent, the unifying elements of Christianity – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, belief in the Bible as the Word of God, and that Jesus is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6) – bind the faith together. The Apostles’ Creed is a testament to this unity, accepted by many denominations as a concise summary of the faith’s core tenets.
Christianity: A Journey of Faith
Understanding the depth and breadth of Christianity requires more than a simple exploration of beliefs. It’s about recognizing how these beliefs shape the lives of followers, influence their actions, and guide their moral compass.
Christianity is a journey of faith, a lifelong process of growing closer to God, becoming more like Jesus, and living in harmony with His teachings. It’s about recognizing that, in the Christian view, every person is loved by God and called to love others in return.
In conclusion, Christianity is a rich and diverse faith, characterized by shared beliefs in the Gospel message and diverse interpretations of those beliefs. As you delve deeper into understanding Christianity, remember that the heart of the faith lies in the transformative power of Jesus’ love and the promise of eternal life through Him.
In the words of the apostles’ creed prayer, “I believe in God…” – a simple yet profound statement that encapsulates the essence of the Christian faith.
Free Video Lesson: Catholics vs Christians – A deep-dive into the history and key differences
Interested to learn more about the major differences and similarities between Christians, Catholics, and Protestants? Download our free, exlusive 30-minute video lesson from Pastor Derek Sanford on the history and beliefs of Catholics and Christians.