History of ChristianityEdit
Christianity is the religion instituted by Jesus Christ that has defined an era in history continuously for the last 2000 years plus. It teaches that there is no salvation without Christ's atonement, without faith in God and a belief in the gospels. Though the great moral principles which it reveals and teaches and the main doctrines of the gospel have been preserved without interruption, the genius of the different nations and ages has materially colored its character. The first community of the followers of Jesus was formed at Jerusalem soon after the death of their Master in 30/33 AD. Another was formed at Antioch in Syria about 59/65 AD, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. The travels of the apostles spread Christianity through the provinces of the Roman Empire, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, the islands of the Mediterranean, Italy and the northern coast of Africa, as early as the first century. At the end of the third century almost one-half of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, and of several neighboring countries, professed this belief, and in the twenty-first century it is still spreading through missionary work. As a result of this missionary zeal, Christians have suffered persecution down through history, on the other hand, holy wars have been fought in the name of Jesus and free-thinkers have been subject to various inquisitions in the name of love, but the successes outweigh the setbacks and in the Christian viewpoint the world is a better place for the gospel outreach. Many offshoots sprang from the main trunk. The Gnostics who date from the days of the apostles professed a deeper knowledge of God’s hidden spiritual realities with a degree of asceticism, while incorporating Jesus in the system, but often combined this with a desire for moral freedom. The Arians of the fourth century believed the Son was created inferior to the Father. The Nestorians of the fifth century believed in two separate persons of Jesus, divine and human, in one personality. These early questions were representative of the dissonant voices which detracted from the message. The most important events in the subsequent history of Christianity were the division of the Roman Church in 1054 and the Western Reformation beginning in 1517. The number of Christians in the world in 1900 was computed at 477,000,000. Of these about 230,000,000 were Roman Catholics, 98,000,000 belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church and 149,000,000 were Protestants. The figures for the year 2000 approximate 1,000,000,000 plus for Catholics, 240,000,000 for Orthodox, 590,000,000 for Protestants, and 275,000,000 for other Christian identity groups. Of the various churches of Protestants the most numerous are the Lutheran and the Calvinistic churches.