We all come to a time in our life when we begin to question things. Sometimes, this happens when we loose faith in long held beliefs, other times, it is a result of coming across an entirely new concept. The concept we are going to look at today is Christianity.
Or, more specifically: The Development of Christianity. What a gargantuan task!
Christianity is a complex religion spanning many philosophical subjects and day-to-day life experiences. Just before we start, I want to qualify this piece of writing by saying this: Christianity as a religious stance is largely open to interpretation (there are over 34,000 different denominations and sects which ascribe to the title 'Christianity' in some way or form.). Everything I say in this article will be my interpretation of the Bible. I will not use any other sources for doctrine, history or information on spiritual matters. That being said, it is still my interpretation of a sometimes difficult and intricate book, so there will always be a reasonable chance that some will not agree with what I say.
Alright! Now that that's over, lets take a step back and start from the beginning.
Let There Be Light...
The Christian holy book (called the Holy Bible, split into two parts: Old and New Testament.) begins with the book of Genesis, and, as the name suggests, it deals mostly with the early days of the Earth, with accounts ranging from a creation story, to a global flood, all the way to the beginnings of God's chosen nation: the Israelites. The seeds of this people are planted and cultivated all throughout this first book, until they are eventually living in Egypt.
The second book (Exodus), deals with, you guessed it, the Israelite exodus from Egypt to 'The Promised Land', a journey of forty years which eventually lands them in and around the area of modern day Israel. The next 37 books of the Old Testament are comprised of historical accounts, laws, some prophesies, poetry, and even a love song, all involving the life and times of the Jewish people.
Why, you ask, are you telling us about the Israelites? What has this got to do with the development of Christianity?
Well, that's the point. It has everything to do with Christianity. Indeed, Christianity could have never developed if it was not for Judaism. The Jews had long awaited a Savior, prophesied about by numerous people. A man to save their nation in its darkest hour. A Christ: And at the very center of Christian doctrine is a Christ. Jesus Christ.
Unto You a Child is Born...
Christ, meaning Messiah, a concept which is the logical continuation of religious evolution from Judaism to Christianity. Paul writes later, in the New Testament, that Jesus Christ is the 'chief cornerstone' of the church. He is the founding leader.
The life of Jesus is written in the four first books of the New Testament, the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They tell of a Jewish man who traversed the troubled lands of ancient Palestine, at that time under Roman occupation. These accounts state that Jesus performed many miracles, taught the people of that day, and ultimately met his death on a cross, only to rise from the dead 3 days later.
We have covered how events led up the the founding of the Christian church, composed of followers of Jesus Christ. We have yet to examine the Spiritual aspect of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.
It is necessary to examine the Jewish model of atonement for sins to fully understand the Christian stance. It is this doctrine which is probably the most fundamental in the Christian church. The Old Testament give account of how the Jew annually sacrificed animals to Yahweh, as payment for sins throughout the year. The progression Christianity has move to is this: At the death of Jesus Christ, an innocent, the sins of humanity, past, present, and future, were atoned for. There is no need for yearly sacrifice anymore, all has been paid in full. There is also a caveat: eternal life and blessing may only be attained if one accepts the free gift of Salvation.
So, wrapping up, we can now see that:
-Judaism is responsible for the prophetic promise of a Christ
-Christianity is the continuation of the Messianic model in Judaism
-Christianity is based on the the person of Jesus Christ
-Comparisons can be drawn between the atonement doctrine of Judaism and Christianity
There is much more to be covered on the general subject of Christianity, and one could even go into more depth on the finer details of its development. I have just given a quick overview to hopefully help you understand a little bit more about the history of the Christian religion.