The Roots Of Judaism And Christianity Essay — страница 6

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religion, exists in all parts of the world. Certain basic doctrines drawn from Scripture (especially from the Gospels and the letters of Saint Paul), interpreted by the fathers of the church and the first four ecumenical councils, historically have been accepted by all three of the major traditions. According to this body of teaching, the original human beings rebelled against God, and from that time until the coming of Christ the world was ruled by sin. The hope of a final reconciliation was kept alive by God’s covenant with the Jews, the chosen people from whom the savior sprang. This savior, Jesus Christ, partly vanquished sin and Satan. Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, preached the coming of God’s Kingdom but was rejected by the Jewish

leaders, who delivered him to the Romans to be crucified. On the third day after his death God raised him up again. He appeared to his disciples, commanding them to spread the good news of salvation from sin and death to all people. This, according to Christian belief, is the mission of Christ’s church. Christians are monotheists (believers in one God). The early church, however, developed the characteristic Christian doctrine of the Trinity, in which God is thought of as Creator (Father), Redeemer (Son), and Sustainer (Holy Spirit), but one God in essence. Christianity inherited and modified the Jewish belief that the world would be transformed by the coming of the Reign of God. The Christians held that the bodies of those who had died would rise again, reanimated, and that

the righteous would be triumphant, the wicked punished. This belief, along with Jesus’ promise of “eternal life,” developed into a doctrine of eternal rewards (heaven) and punishments (hell) after death. A source of doctrinal uncertainty was whether salvation depended on God’s election in advance of a believer’s faith, or even in a decision of God before the disobedience and fall of the first man and woman. Although Christians today tend to emphasize what unites them rather than what divides them, substantial differences in faith exist among the various churches. Those in the Protestant tradition insist on Scripture as the sole source of God’s revelation. The Roman Catholics and Orthodox give greater importance to the tradition of the church in defining the content of

faith, believing it to be divinely guided in its understanding of scriptural revelation. They stress the role of ecumenical councils in the formulation of doctrine, and in Roman Catholicism the pope, or bishop of Rome, is regarded as the final authority in matters of belief. Christian societies have exhibited great variety in ethos, from mutual love, acceptance, and pacifism on the one hand, to strict authoritarianism and forcible repression of dissent on the other. Justification for all of these has been found in various passages in the Bible. A prominent feature of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches is Monasticism. Christians also vary widely in worship. Early Christian worship centered on two principal rites or sacraments: Baptism, a ceremonial washing that initiated

converts into the church; and the eucharist, a sacred meal preceded by prayers, chants, and Scripture readings, in which the participants were mysteriously united with Christ. As time went on, the Eucharist, or Mass, became surrounded by an increasingly elaborate ritual in the Latin, the Greek, and other Eastern churches, and in the Middle Ages Christians came to venerate saints–especially the Virgin Mary–and holy images. In the West, seven sacraments were recognized. The Protestant reformers retained 2 sacraments–baptism and the Eucharist–rejecting the others, along with devotion to saints and images, as unscriptural. They simplified worship and emphasized preaching. Since the 19th century there has been a certain amount of reconvergence in worship among ecumenically

minded Protestants and Roman Catholics, with each side adopting some of the other’s practices. For example, the Catholic Mass is now in the vernacular. Among other groups in both traditions, however, the divergence remains great. In most Christian churches Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection, is observed as a time of rest and worship. The resurrection is more particularly commemorated at Easter, a festival in the early spring. Another major Christian festival is Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Jesus. The age of Christian antiquity extends from the beginning of the Christian era (dated from the approximate time of Jesus’ birth) through the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire in the 5th century. After Jesus was crucified, his followers, strengthened