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With an estimated 2.1 billion adherents, Christianity is the world's largest religion. Its origins are intertwined with Judaism, with which it shares much sacred text and early history; specifically, it shares the Hebrew Bible, known in the Christian context as the Old Testament (see Judeo-Christian). Christianity is considered an Abrahamic religion, along with Judaism and Islam.
In the Christian scriptures, the name "Christian" (and so by implication "Christianity") is first attested in Acts 11:26: "For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch Jesus' disciples were first called Christians" (Gr. χριστιανους, from Christ Gr. Χριστός, which means "the anointed").
Within Christianity, numerous distinct groups have developed, with diverse beliefs that vary widely by culture and place. Since the Reformation, Christianity is usually represented as being divided into three main branches:
- Catholicism: The Roman Catholic Church, the largest single body — which includes several Eastern Catholic communities — as well as certain smaller communities (e.g., the Old-Catholics), with more than 1 billion baptized members.
- Eastern Christianity: Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, with a combined membership of more than 240 million baptized members.
- Protestantism: Numerous denominations and groups such as Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed, Evangelical, Charismatic, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Anabaptists, and Pentecostals. The oldest of these groups separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. The later groups typically formed as separations from the older ones. Some Protestants identify themselves simply as Christian, or born-again Christian. Others, particularly among Anglicans and in Neo-Lutheranism, identify themselves as being "both Catholic and Protestant". Worldwide total is just under 500 million.
Other denominations and churches which self-identify as Christian but which distance themselves from the above classifications together claim around 275 million members. These include African indigenous churches with up to 110 million members (estimates vary widely), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also called Mormons) with more than 12 million members, Jehovah's Witnesses with approximately 6.6 million members, and other groups. The early leaders of most of these groups were originally Protestant adherents.
These broad divisions do not themselves encompass unanimity. On the contrary, some branches contain vast internal disagreements, while in other cases the divisions overlook strong sympathies between and among the groups. Nevertheless, this tends to be the standard overview of distinctions, especially as viewed in the Western world.
Enormous diversity of belief exists among Christians. Nevertheless, certain doctrines have come to characterize the mainstream of Christian theology.
- Main article: Trinity
Jesus Christ as God and man
This is the belief that Jesus is both fully God (divine) and fully human. Jesus is believed to be fully human in all respects, including mortality, to have suffered the pains and temptations of mortal man, yet without having sinned. As God, Jesus is believed to have the ability to save humanity and to conquer death. The Chalcedonian Creed defined this as Christ having "two natures in one person" (see Christology).
Crucifixion and Resurrection
Jesus Christ as Salvation
This is the belief that salvation from "sin and death" is available through the person and work of Jesus. Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians have arrived at several explanations as to exactly how this salvation occurs. (See soteriology.)
Most Christians interpret salvation to mean being able to enter heaven (and escape hell) after death, though some theologians have lamented this tendency. The question of "who is saved" has long been considered a dark mystery by many theologians, though most Protestants consider it a relatively simple issue of whether or not one has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- Main article: Second Coming
Christian views of the afterlife generally involve heaven and (somewhat less frequently) hell, with Catholicism adding an intermediate realm of purgatory. Except for purgatory (whose denizens will ultimately enter heaven, after "purification"), these realms are usually assumed to be eternal. There is, however, some debate on this point, for example among the Orthodox.
It is generally unclear how the afterlife fits together with the doctrine of the General Resurrection —whether eternal life begins immediately after death, or at the end of time; and whether this afterlife will involve the resurrection of one's physical body (perhaps in a glorified spiritual form). Most Christians hold that one's consciousness, the soul, survives the death of the physical body, although the Jehovah's Witnesses, among others, reject this, saying that those who practiced good things will be resurrected to life and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.
Differences in beliefs
- Main article: Nicene Creed
One statement describing the beliefs of a majority of Christians is the Nicene Creed, ratified as the universal creed of Eastern and Western Christendom by the Council of Ephesus in 431. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians disagree about the Filioque clause, which the Western Churches included later. Some Protestants reject the concept of formal creeds. The overwhelming majority of Christians accepts at least the content of the Nicene creed.
Central Christian beliefs which are affirmed in the Nicene Creed include, but are not limited to:
- The Trinity
- Jesus is both true God and true man.
- Salvation is available through the person, life and death of Jesus Christ.
- The virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming of Jesus.
- The resurrection of the dead, in which all people who have ever lived will rise from the dead at the end of time, to be judged by Christ.
Some groups, however, deviate from tenets which most others hold as absolutely basic to Christianity. On account of these deviations they are considered heretical or even non-Christian by many of the mainstream Christian groups. Most such disputes center on the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, or both. The words of the Nicene Creed frequently target certain opposing beliefs of other early Christians, which the council regarded as heretical. Examples would include Adoptionist groups who denied Jesus' divinity, as well as Docetist groups who denied that Christ was a human being, and Arians, who denied that the Father and the Son were "of one being" (ομούσιος). Other early heresies included Simonianism, Marcionism, Ebionitism, Gnosticism and Montanism. Again, while some churches take exception to some of these articles, to the extent that they do so, this usually represents a conscious departure from the Christian mainstream. Some Christian traditions, such as those of the Baptists and the Churches of Christ, would accept these beliefs but not the creed itself, since they regard all creeds as unnecessary and even counter-productive.
Authority and different parts of the Bible
Virtually all Christian churches accept the authority of the Bible, including the Old Testament and the New Testament. Differences exist in the canons of the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches — primarily their treatment of the Deuterocanonical books used by Catholic and Orthodox Churches but rejected by Protestants as Apocrypha. This issue affects doctrines only indirectly. More theologically significant is the Swedenborgian churches' rejection of the New Testament Epistles, a stance which has not won acceptance from any other denomination.
Whereas Jews see the Torah as the most important part of the Bible, most Christians regard the Gospels, which tell of the life and teachings of Jesus, as central. Ornamental books of the four gospels are sometimes used in church liturgies. These may be carried into the church in procession, and laid upon the altar during the first part of the service. The "gospel" means the "good news" of the Christian message, which Christians regularly disseminate to others. This may include missionary work as well as the translation and distribution of Bibles, as practiced by Gideons International, Wycliffe Bible Translators and others.
Though Christians largely agree on the content of the Bible, no such consensus is forthcoming on the crucial matter of its interpretation, an issue which divides denominations from within as well as from one another. "Biblical literalism" or "Christian fundamentalism" describe well-known conservative Christianity hermeneutic stances with respect to Christian scriptures, and are mainly associated with Protestantism.
Catholics, the Orthodox, and some Anglicans consider the Bible as having been produced by one phase (albeit formative) of the development of church tradition, or "Holy Tradition." This Holy Tradition has been established and perpetuated through the decisions of the ecumenical councils, the writings of the Church Fathers, the lives and teachings of the saints, liturgical practice, sacred art, and papal statements (for Roman Catholics), and is thought to be alive today. Indeed, one Orthodox theologian has characterized Holy Tradition as "the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church."
Protestants, meanwhile, tend to strongly reject portions of "Holy Tradition" while readily accepting other portions. Most Protestants tend to accept Martin Luther's dictum of sola scriptura, which sees the Bible as the ultimate, or only, source of faith and doctrine. Protestantism also assumes that any Christian believer is capable of rightly interpreting the Bible. Even Protestants concede that this view raises difficulties, especially given the wide variety of practices and beliefs which have some arguable claim to biblical warrant and, based on these divergences, because Protestantism has spawned such a large variety of denominations and traditions.
Other works in addition to Scripture
Some Christian groups have also elevated additional writings to the status of inspired scripture. Well-known examples would include the Book of Mormon, considered to be "another Testament of Jesus Christ" by the Latter Day Saints; several works of Ellen G. White, considered inspired by many Seventh-day Adventists, but is considered as a lesser light with the bible being the greater light; and Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. Others, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, have produced translations of the Bible which they hold to be wholly reliable. This elevation of other writings to the same level as accepted scriptures is a major cause for disputes between these groups and mainstream Christians. One might expect Lutherans and Calvinists to regard the interpretations of Martin Luther and John Calvin, respectively, with similar reverence, but most theologians agree that their writings are a mixture of good and bad and are not "inspired."
Worship and practices
Orthodox and Catholic believers describe Christian worship in terms of the seven sacraments or "mysteries." These include baptism, the Eucharist (communion), matrimony, Holy Orders, confirmation or Chrismation, penance and reconciliation, and the Anointing of the Sick.
Many Protestant groups, following Martin Luther, recognize the sacramental nature of baptism and communion, but not usually the other five in the same way. Anabaptist and Brethren groups would add feet washing. Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Holiness Churches emphasize "gifts of the Spirit" such as spiritual healing, prophecy, exorcism, and speaking in tongues. These emphases are used not as "sacraments" but as means of worship and ministry. The Quakers deny the entire concept of sacraments. Nevertheless, their "testimonies" affirming peace, integrity, equality, and simplicity are affirmed as integral parts of the Quaker belief structure.
In general, Protestants tend to view Christian rituals in terms of commemoration apart from mystery. Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Old-Catholic and many Anglican and Lutheran Christians hold the commemoration and mystery of rituals together, seeing no contradiction between them.
Virtually all Christian traditions affirm that Christian practice should include acts of personal piety such as prayer, Bible reading, and attempting to live a moral lifestyle. This lifestyle includes not only obedience to the Ten Commandments, as interpreted by Christ (as in the Sermon on the Mount), but also love for one's neighbor in both attitude and action — whether friend or enemy, Christian or non-Christian. This love is commanded by Christ and, according to him, is next only in importance to love toward God; which includes obedience to such injunctions as "feed the hungry" and "shelter the homeless", both informally and formally. Christianity teaches that it is impossible for people to completely reform themselves, but that moral and spiritual progress can only occur with God's help through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within all faithful believers. Christians believe that by sharing in Christ's life, death, and resurrection, they die with Him to sin and can be resurrected with Him to new life.
Weekly worship services
Justin Martyr (First Apology, chapter LXVII) describes a second-century church service thus:
- And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.
Justin's description, which applies to some extent to most church services today, alludes to the following components:
- Scripture readings drawn from the Old Testament, one of the Gospels, or an Epistle. Often these are arranged systematically around an annual cycle, using a book called a lectionary.
- A sermon. In ancient times this followed the scripture readings; today this may occur later in the service, although in liturgical churches, the sermon still often follows the readings.
- The Eucharist (also called Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper)— a ritual in which small amounts of bread and wine are consecrated, and then eaten and drunk. Some Christians say these represent the body and blood of Christ whereas Orthodox, Catholics, and most Anglicans say that they become the body and blood of Christ (the doctrine of the Real Presence). Churches in the "liturgical" family (Orthodox, Catholic, and some Anglican) see this as the main part of the service, while some Protestants may celebrate it less frequently. In many cases there are restrictions on who may partake, concerning which visitors should apprise themselves. For example, only Catholics free from unconfessed mortal sin may receive Communion in a Catholic church, though it is rare for the Eucharist to be denied to anyone.
- A "collection" or "offering" in which the people are asked to contribute money. One common method is to pass around a collection plate. Christians traditionally use these monies not only for upkeep for the church, but also for charitable work of various types.
Several variations or exceptions exist. Sometimes these are due to special events, such as baptisms or weddings which are incorporated into the service. In many churches today, children and youth will be excused from the main service in order to attend Sunday school. Many denominations depart from this general pattern in a more fundamental way. For example, the Seventh-day Adventists meet on Saturday (the biblical Sabbath); not Sunday, the day of Christ's resurrection. Charismatic or Pentecostal congregations may be spontaneously moved by the Holy Spirit, rather than follow a formal order of service. At a Quaker meeting, participants sit quietly until moved by the Holy Spirit to speak.
In some denominations (mainly liturgical ones), the service is led by a priest. In others (mainly among Protestants), there is a minister, preacher, or pastor. Still others may lack formal leaders, either in principle or by local necessity. In addition, there are "high" church services, characterized by greater solemnity and ritual, and "low" services at which a more casual atmosphere prevails, even if the service in question is liturgical in nature.
In Orthodox churches, the congregation traditionally stands throughout the liturgy (although allowances are made for human weakness). Many Protestant churches follow a pattern in which participants stand to sing, kneel to pray, and sit to listen (to the sermon). Roman Catholics tend to do the same, though standing for formal prayer is more common. Others services are less programmed, and may be quite lively and spontaneous. Music is usually incorporated, and often involves a choir and/or organ. Some churches use only a cappella music, either on principle (many Churches of Christ object to the use of musical instruments in worship) or by tradition (as in Orthodoxy).
In many non-denominational Christian churches, as well as some Protestant denominations, there is usually a worship music portion of the service that precedes the sermon or message. This usually consists of the singing of hymns, praise and worship music or psalms. Many churches believe that worship is important to usher in the Presence of God for the rest of the service.
A recent trend is the growth of "convergence worship" which combines liturgy with spontaneity. This sort of worship is often a result of the influence of charismatic renewal within Churches which are traditionally liturgical. Convergence worship has spawned at least one new denomination, the Charismatic Episcopal Church.
Catholics, Eastern Christians, and about half of the Protestants follow a liturgical calendar with various holidays (from "holy day"). These calendars include feast days (where special worship services are held, to mark a special anniversary) as well as days of fasting. Typically, a feast will be found preceded by a traditional fast. The best-known fasting period is Lent.
Even Christians who do not follow a liturgical tradition can generally be found celebrating Christmas and Easter, despite some disagreement as to dates. A few churches object to the recognition of special holidays and may object to the pagan origins of Christmas and Easter.
The best-known Christian symbol is the cross, of which many varieties exist. For convenience of recognition, several denominations tend to favor distinctive crosses: the crucifix for Catholics, the crux orthodoxa for Orthodox, and the unadorned cross for Protestants. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. Other Christian symbols include the ichthys ("fish") symbol, or in ancient times, an anchor.
History and Origins
- Main article: History of Christianity
See also Timeline of Christianity
Christianity began within the Jewish religion among the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Under the leadership of the Apostles Peter and Paul it welcomed Gentiles, gradually separating from Rabbinical Judaism. Some Jewish Christians rejected this approach and developed into various sects of their own, while others were joined with Gentile Christians in the development of the church, in which there also existed great diversity of belief. Professor Bentley Layton writes, 'the lack of uniformity in ancient Christian scripture in the early period is very striking, and it points to the substantial diversity within the Christian religion.' A church hierarchy seems to have developed by the time of the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim 3, Titus 1), and was certainly formalized by the 4th century. Christian leaders from the apostolic period onwards not only spread the Christian Gospel, but also preached against those they regarded as false teachers, among the earliest of whom was the semi-legendary Simon Magus.
Christianity spread across the Mediterranean Basin, enduring persecution by the Roman Emperors. As Christianity expanded beyond Palestine, it also came into increased contact with Hellenistic culture; Greek philosophy, especially Platonism, became a significant influence on Christian thought through theologians such as Origen. Elements of mystery religions such as Mithraism may have been incorporated into Christianity, although scholars differ on the extent to which the developing Christian faith adopted identifiably pagan beliefs. Amid the multiplicity of religious beliefs of the time, Christians struggled to establish an agreed orthodoxy, and groups whose teachings or interpretations of doctrine diverged too far from the norm were characterized as heretical; among the most notable of the groups which eventually came to be regarded as heretical were the Arians, who did not accept the Trinitarian doctrine, and the various Gnostic Christians.
Early in the 4th century, the Emperor Constantine the Great legalized Christianity, giving the church a privileged place in society, and in 391 Theodosius I established orthodox Christianity as the official and, except for Judaism, the only legal religion of the Roman Empire. From Constantine onwards the history of Christianity becomes difficult to untangle from the history of Europe. The Church assumed some of the imperial political and cultural roles of the former pagan Roman institutions, and with the support of the secular authorities, acted to suppress both the old pagan religions and the various sects condemned as heretical. The 'Catholic Encyclopedia' notes, "from the time of Constantine to Theodosius and Valentinian III (313-424) various penal laws were enacted by the Christian emperors against heretics as being guilty of crime against the State. Theodosius is said to be the first who pronounced heresy a capital crime." 
Further attempts were made to develop an agreed orthodoxy by means of dogmatic definitions, debated and decided by ecumenical councils. This established the shared central doctrines of the main Western (Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) Churches, and led to the eventual disappearance of the distinct Arian form of Christianity, though various of the Oriental Orthodox Churches dissented from the decisions of later councils (especially the Council of Chalcedon, 451).
Various forms of Christian monasticism developed, with the organization of the first monastic communities being attributed to the hermit St Anthony of Egypt in around 300. The monastic life spread to many parts of the Christian empire during the 4th and 5th centuries, as many felt that the Christian moral and spiritual life was compromised by the change from a persecuted minority cult to an established majority religion, and sought to regain the purity of early faith by fleeing society.
The Christian Church of the Roman Empire divided into the Latin-speaking west, centred on Rome, and the Greek-speaking east, centred on Constantinople. There were also significant communities in Egypt and Syria. Outside the Empire, Christianity was adopted in Armenia, Caucasian Iberia (now Georgia), Ethiopia, Persia, India, and among the Celtic tribes. During the Migration Period, various Germanic peoples adopted Christianity; at first Arianism was widespread (as among Goths and Vandals), but these later converted to orthodox Catholic Christianity, beginning with the Franks. The Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe generally adopted the Byzantine form of Christianity, as in the Baptism of Kievan Rus' in Russia (988). Cultural differences and disciplinary disputes finally resulted in the Great Schism ((conventionally dated to 1054), which divided Christendom into the Catholic west and the Orthodox east.
From the 7th century, Christianity was challenged by Islam, which quickly conquered the Middle East and Northern Africa. Numerous military struggles followed, including the Crusades, the Spanish Reconquista and the eventual conquest of the Byzantine Empire and south-eastern Europe by the Turks.
Western Christianity in the Middle Ages was characterized by cooperation and conflict between the secular rulers and the Church under the Pope, and by the development of scholastic theology and philosophy. Later, increasing discontent with corruption and immorality among the clergy resulted in attempts to reform Church and society. The Roman Catholic Church managed to renew itself at the Council of Trent (1545-1563, but only after Martin Luther published his 95 theses in 1517. This was one of the key events of the Protestant Reformation which led to the emergence of Christian denominations. During the following centuries, competition between Catholicism and Protestantism became deeply entangled with political struggles among European states, while many Orthodox Christians found themselves living under Muslim rulers.
Partly from missionary zeal, but also under the impetus of colonial expansion by the European powers, Christianity spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. As the European Enlightenment took hold, Christianity was confronted with the discoveries of science (including the heliocentric model and the theory of evolution), and with the development of biblical criticism (linked to the development of Christian Fundamentalism) and modern political ideologies such as Liberalism, Nationalism and Socialism. In the 19th and 20th centuries, important developments have included the rise of Ecumenism and the Charismatic Movement.
Christians have frequently suffered from persecution. During the first three centuries of its existence, Christianity was regarded with suspicion and frequently persecuted in the Roman Empire. Adherence to Christianity was declared illegal and, especially in the 3rd century, the government demanded that their subjects (the Jews only excepted) sacrifice to the Emperor as a divinity —a practice that Christianity (along with Judaism) rejected. Persecution in the Roman Empire ended with the Edict of Milan, but it persisted or even intensified in other places, such as Sassanid Persia, and under Islam.
Christians have also been perpetrators of persecution, which has been directed against members of other religions and also against other Christians. Christian mobs, sometimes with the government support, have destroyed pagan temples and oppressed adherents of paganism (such as the philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, who was murdered by a Christian mob). Jewish communities have periodically suffered violence at Christian hands. Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Christians suffered persecution during the era of the Crusades. Christian governments have suppressed or persecuted dissenting Christian denominations, and denominational strife has sometimes escalated into Religious wars and inquisitions. Witch hunts, carried out by secular authorities or popular mobs, were a frequent phenomenon in parts of early modern Europe and, to a lesser degree, North America.
There was some persecution of Christians after the French Revolution, during the attempted Dechristianisation of France. State restrictions on Christian practices today are generally associated with Muslim nations on the one hand and Communist states on the other. For example, the People's Republic of China allows only government-regulated churches and has regularly enforced restrictions against house churches or underground Catholics. The public practice of Christianity is outlawed in Saudi Arabia. On a smaller scale, Greek and Russian governmental restrictions on non-Orthodox religious activity occur today. Some people cite anti-abortion violence in the United States and the ongoing "troubles" in Northern Ireland as examples of 'persecution by Christians', despite the frequent condemnation of such activities by the vast majority of Christians. Complaints of discrimination have also been made of and by Christians in various other contexts.
History and denominations
- Christian history
- Christian theological controversy
- Eastern Christianity portal
- Great Schism
- List of Christian denominations
- Social Gospel
- Religions by Adherents Adherents.com.
- While sharing the Hebrew Scriptures or "Old Testament", Christianity nonetheless disagrees with many points of the Jewish understanding of these texts, or their significance for practice, based on the understanding found in the "New Testament" and predominantly understandings found within the Pauline epistles.
- Christianity (2005) Adherents.com.
- Witness Membership 2005.
- Many Christians identify themselves as such not by the adherence to a set of religious rules or rites but instead by their personal relationship to Jesus Christ.
- Chambers, Mortimer; coauthours - Crew, Herlihy, Rabb and Woloch, The Western Experience Volume II:The Early Period, 1st edition, 1974, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., ISBN 0394317343, chapter 21
- See the canons of the Council of Nicaea, especially canon 6.
References and select bibliography
- A World History of Christianity by Adrian Hastings (Editor)  (A through review of this book, in this Journal of Theology:
- Rubenstein, Richard When Jesus Became God, p. 179. 
- The Story of Christianity, Gonzalez, Justo L., 1984, 1985, 1999, ISBN 1565635221
- Christian Theology: An Introduction, McGrath, Alister, ISBN 0631225285
- Christian Theology Reader, McGrath, Alister, ISBN 063120637X
- Mere Christianity, Lewis, C.S
- Oden, Thomas. Systematic Theology (an ecumenical trilogy)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav (5 Volumes published between 1971-1989).The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine.
- Tolstoy, Leo (1894). The Kingdom of God is Within You. ISBN 0803294042.
- Tomkins, Stephen (2005). A Short History of Christianity (Lion).
- Ellegard, Alvar (1999). Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ.
- Burton Mack (2001) The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy. Social formation of myth making.
- Vermes, Geza and Martin D. Goodman, eds. The Essenes according to the Classical Sources. Sheffield: Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies and JSOT Press, 1989.
- Christianity at Wikimedia Commons
- ReligionFacts.com: Christianity Fast facts, glossary, timeline, history, beliefs, texts, holidays, symbols, people, etc.
- WikiChristian, a wiki book on Christianity, church history and doctrine, and Christian art and music
- Rosicrucian Interpretation of Christianity, an esoteric view of Christian teachings.
- Cathar Interpretation of Christianity, a gnostic view of Christian teachings.
- Asia is becoming one of the largest Christian populations in the world in the next 30 years.
This article was forked from Wikipedia on March 24, 2006.
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