‘I give you a new commandment; love one another; as I have loved you, so
you are to love one another’
Jesus to his disciples
There are over 1 billion Christians in the world today, making it the world’s largest religion.
Christians believe that a man born about 2,000 years ago called Jesus Christ was the son of God. Christians
follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as well as the teaching of the various churches within Christianity.
In Great Britain, according to the 2001 census, there are approximately 30 million people describing
themselves as Christians.
The main denominations within Christianity are:
· Roman Catholic: The Roman Catholic Church is headed by the Pope, and its claim to authority in
the Christian world rests upon the belief that the Pope is in a continuous line of succession from St
Peter, on whom Jesus Christ bestowed authority in the Church. Clergy are not permitted to marry.
· Within the Anglican church, there are many different strands of belief, but traditionally the Anglican
church sees itself as part of the universal catholic and apostolic church, while not accepting the
authority of the Pope. The Scriptures and the Gospels, and writings of the early Church Fathers,
provide the foundations for Anglican faith. Clergy are permitted to marry.
· Protestantism: Martin Luther may be regarded as the “father” of Protestantism. It is difficult to
accurately categorise all forms of Protestantism because there are so many and they are varied.
Lutheranism is based on Martin Luther’s teachings and it forms the second largest Protestant group.
Reformed and Presbyterian churches are based on the teachings of John Calvin. Free, or
independent churches (like Baptist and Congregationalist) exercise congregational government.
Each congregation within the groups is autonomous. Clergy are permitted to marry.
· Eastern Orthodoxy: Eastern Orthodoxy denies the authority of the Roman Catholic Pope to speak
and act for the entire church by himself without a church council. Parish priests are expected to be
married, but bishops are chosen from among monks, and are therefore not married.
· A belief that there is only one God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, but that there are three Persons in
one God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
· A belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who for the salvation of humankind became a human
being, lived on earth, was crucified, died and was buried, but rose again from the dead.
· A belief that through the faith in Jesus, his death and resurrection it is possible to have a right
relationship with God.
· A belief in Life after Death on earth.
· A belief that Prayer is the vehicle to communicate with God. Prayers can be formal or informal.
· A belief that Christians should receive a baptism for the remission of sins.
· A belief in the Eucharist (also called the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, The Mass, the Divine
Liturgy and Blessed Sacrament). It consists in the ritual of repeating Christ’s actions at his last
supper with his disciples.
The most important Christian religious Christian practices are the sacraments, rites or ceremonies regarded
as instruments or symbols of spiritual benefit from Christ to the worshipper. The Holy Scripture for
Christians is called the Bible (which consists of an Old Testament (shared with Judaism) and the New
Testament (which includes the life and teachings of Jesus).
The Holy day in the Christian Church is Sunday. On this day worshippers congregate in churches. In most,
but not all churches, there is the singing of hymns, prayers, scripture reading and talks (most often by the
clergy of the church).
Holy Days, Festivals and Rituals
The Roman Catholic church recognizes seven sacraments:
· The Eucharist
· Holy Orders
· Extreme Unction (the sacrament of anointing of the sick, especially when administered to the dying)
The Protestant churches for the most part only recognise Baptism and the Eucharist because these alone
can be proved from Scripture to have been instituted by Christ himself. Protestant churches do have formal
ceremonies for matrimony, but it is not regarded as a sacrament.
Holy Days and Celebrations
Different forms of Christianity celebrate different festivals and observe different holy days, but all forms
observe (though might not celebrate it in the same way) the following 6 holy days:
· Christmas: 25th December. Marks the birth of Jesus Christ.
· Epiphany: 6 January. Marks the Journey of Three Kings to worship Jesus in Bethlehem
· Good Friday: The Friday before Easter (March/April), it commemorates Jesus’ passion (suffering) on
· Easter: (March/April) Marks the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb.
· Ascension: Forty days after Easter, the ascension of Christ to heaven is commemorated.
· Pentecost: The seventh Sunday after Easter. Marks the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles,
which began the work of the Church.