The books in the New Testament of the Bible tell the story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and of the early years of the Christian Church. These events were a continuation of God's plan of redemption which he revealed to his chosen people, the Jews. The books of the Old Testament contain amazing prophecies about a Messiah (Christ) who would come from heaven to earth and redeem all who were willing to repent from their sins. Jesus selected 12 disciples, later called Apostles, who he commissioned to start a church on his behalf. After the death and miraculous resurrection of Jesus, the Apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit becoming able to teach the faith boldly, to preserve it from heresy and to pass it on to subsequent generations. Thus the Church was born. Within a few decades, this church was referred to as the "Catholic" (universal) Church.
What do Christians believe?
- Christianity is based on the truths expressed in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. It is also surrounded by the doctrines of the historical Christian Church.
- Christians understand God to be eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and personal.
- God is one, but has three centres of personhood. This is called the Trinity. Within the trinity there are three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).
- God created the universe and everything in it. He created humans that we might serve Him, love Him, and glorify Him.
- The first humans – Adam and Eve, were created with the power of free will to choose to obey or to disobey God's commands.
- They chose to disobey God and as a result the universe and humantity were cursed.
According to Christian teaching in both the Old and New Testament:
- They belive God is holy, just and righteous. God hates sin, but he loves those whom he created even though they are sinners.
- They believe God is just, he must punish sin but because he is merciful he made a way for those who will received it to return to fellowship with him.
- God's only Son, Jesus Christ was sent down to earth in human form to live a perfect life and accept the just punishment for humanities sin by being crucified on the cross. He died, then resurrected from the dead to ascend back to heaven leaving the Holy Spirit on earth. Christians believe this the ultimate expression of love, self sacrificing love by God.
- Christian's message is that if we will receive his gift of salvation in Faith, God will forgive our sins and accept us into his family once again.
Within all denominations of Christianity there are many diffferent practices, for examples
- Infant of adult baptism
- First Communion
- Communion (taking the bread and wine)
- The Lords Prayers
- Days of Observance (e.g Sunday)
Although the Golden Rule for every Christian denomination is to:
- Love God with all your heart
- Love you neighbour as you love yourself
Place of Worship
Christians worship in a Church, in secular society Church would be understood as a building but for the first Christians and many today the Church is a body or group of believers. However this congregation do meet in a building of which will vary depending on the Christian tradition, for example some may meet in a person's home, a school building or community centre although others meet in a purpose build building: a Church. If it is purpose built, it's architecture is extremely relevant, for example a typical Church building may feature the shape of a cross on it's exterior, ornately decorated with the altar at the front.
Church of England (Anglican) – Founded in 1534 by King Henry's Act of Supremacy, the roots of Anglicanism go back to one of the main branches of Protestantism that came about after the 16th century Reformation. Facts: Priests and Bishops, women can be ordained, infant and adult baptism, Communion recalls the act of Jesus on the cross, open to the use of Tongues and Spiritual gifts.
Roman Catholic - Though many claim that the disciple, Peter, was the first Pope, historians give this title to the Roman Bishop Leo I (440-461). He was the first to claim ultimate authority over all of Christendom. The current Pope is Benedict XVI. Facts: Priests are celibate, women cannot be ordained, Infant Baptism, Believe in Transubstantiation (the bread and wine miraculously transform into Jesus’ body and blood), Exorcism, Pray to Saints especially the Virgin Mary, Engage with icons and images.
Lutheran – The origins of the Lutheran denomination trace back to the 16th century and the reforms of Martin Luther, a German monk and professor who has been called the "Father of the Reformation." Facts: Pastors and ministers, division regarding women ordination.
Baptist - The Baptists trace their origins to John Smyth and the Separatist Movement beginning in England in 1608. In America, several Baptist congregations came together in Augusta, Georgia in 1845 to form the largest American Baptist organization, the Southern Baptist Convention. Facts: Ministers, division regarding women ordination, adult baptism only.
Methodist - The Methodist branch of Protestantism traces its roots back to 1739 when its development in England was the result of the teachings of John Wesley. While studying at Oxford, Wesley and his brother Charles, as well as several other students, formed a group devoted to study, prayer and helping the needy. They were labelled "Methodist" because of the way they used "rule" and "method" to go about their religious affairs. Facts: Ministers, Women can be ordained, Infant and adult baptism, open to the use of Tongues and Spiritual gifts.
How does Christianity relate to Restorative Justice?
Christians believe that God forgives EVERYONE who asks for his forgiveness through his Son, Jesus Christ, and through His GRACE, MERCY and LOVE. Therefore, Christians desire to become more Christ-like, forgiving and loving unconditionally regardless of the sin. They would also believe that whatever the sin there is always HOPE for that individual to reform through the work of God in their life.