Wikijunior:World Religions/Christianity

How many people follow Christianity?

Countries shown in purple have 50% or more Christians; countries shown in pink have 10% to 50% Christians.

About two and a half billion people follow some form of Christianity. That's about the same number of people as live in the USA, European Union and China put together.

Where is Christianity practiced?


Christianity is practiced all over the world. It is the majority religion in much of the world, including North and South America, most of Europe, Australia, and sub-Saharan Africa, and a minority religion in large parts of Africa and Asia.

What are the main beliefs of Christianity?


Christianity is a monotheistic religion: it teaches that there is one God. It teaches that, about two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born in human form to a virgin mother called Mary, was killed by crucifixion, rose from the dead, and ascended back into Heaven. His death is regarded as atoning for the sins of humanity, allowing humans to be saved.

Christianity says that those who are saved will enter the kingdom of Heaven with God. Different forms of Christianity teach different things about who will be saved. A very common teaching is that those who lead a good life will enter Heaven when they die. Some other teachings are that everyone will be saved, that those who confess their sins before death will be saved, or that who will be saved has already been determined before we are born.

An ornate Christian cross. The picture in the center is Christ, and the pictures at the four points of the cross are the authors of the Gospels in the New Testament.

Crucifixion is a form of execution that was practiced by the ancient Roman empire; the person to be killed is attached (often nailed) to a cross and left to die. A cross is a common symbol of Christianity. The Cross may be shown as a simple shape, or may be shown with a likeness of Jesus Christ attached to it. A Christian cross with a likeness of Jesus attached is called a crucifix.

A small crucifix.

Most Christian sects consider Jesus himself to be God, holding that he is the second person of the Trinity, which is the doctrine that God is three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). These three are nonetheless considered to be one God.

The God of Christianity is considered to be the God of Abraham, just as with Judaism and Islam.

What texts does Christianity hold sacred?


The holy books of Christianity are gathered in one large text called the Bible.

The Bible has two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament comes from the Jewish tradition, and tells the story of God's love for the Jewish people. The New Testament is originally Christian, and tells the story of Jesus Christ, and the spread of Christianity through Paul. Four books of the New Testament, called Gospels, each tell the story of Jesus Christ. The authors of the four Gospels are traditionally Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What are some main holidays and practices of Christianity?

Christmas gifts under a tree

One of the major holidays of Christianity is Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Christ. It is on December 25, and is usually celebrated with presents and family gatherings.

Another major Christian holiday is Easter, a Sunday in March or April which commemorates the resurrection of Christ. "Easter Eggs" are often hunted for or decorated as part of the celebration.

Many Christians go to churches to pray. This is often done on Sunday.

What is the history of Christianity?


This religion was founded when Jesus Christ began to preach of heaven at the age of 30. Three years later, Jesus died on the cross and, according to Christian teachings, rose from the dead, which was when this religion truly began. The first Christians were called Christians at Antioch in Syria.

Who are some famous people who have practiced Christianity?


Anthony the Great. 251–356.

Augustine of Hippo. 354–430.

Francis of Assisi. 1181–1226.

Thomas Aquinas. 1225–1274.

Martin Luther. 1483–1546.

Mother Teresa. 1910–1997.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929–1968.

Desmond Tutu. Born 1931.

Stories from Christianity

A nativity scene

One of the stories of this religion is the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

A woman named Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph, but they were not yet married. One day, the angel Gabriel came to earth to tell Mary that she was pregnant with the Son of God. When Joseph found out she was pregnant, he decided to not marry her, but he too was visited by an angel who changed his mind. Just before Jesus was born, they had to travel to Bethlehem for a census. Because so many people had also travelled to Bethlehem, the inns were full, and there was no place for Joseph and Mary to stay. They ended up staying in a stable, and that is where Jesus was born.

A story of Forgiveness

Jesus told this story to insist that if we do not forgive others, our sins too will not be forgiven by God: A man owed his master ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him only a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’. So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’. And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. When the master heard this, he called him and said , ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.