From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"The poor wretches [Christians] have convinced themselves, first and foremost, that they are going to be immortal and live for all time, in consequence of which they despise death and even willingly give themselves into custody; most of them. Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one another after they have transgressed once, for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws. Therefore they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property, receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence. So if any charlatan and trickster, able to profit by occasions, comes among them, he quickly acquires sudden wealth by imposing upon simple folk." --Lucian, The Death of Peregrine
"But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness [...]." -- The Essence of Christianity (1841) by Ludwig Feuerbach
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. Christianity is the world's largest religion, with approximately 2.2 billion adherents, known as Christians. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the savior of humanity prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequentially, Christians refer to Jesus as Christ or Messiah.
The foundations of Christian theology are expressed in ecumenical creeds that are accepted by followers of the Christian faith. These professions state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father. Most denominations teach that Jesus will return to judge all humans, living and dead, and to grant eternal life to his followers. He is considered the model of a virtuous life. His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection are often referred to as the gospel, meaning "Good News" (a loan translation of the εὐαγγέλιον, euangélion). The term gospel also refers to written accounts of Jesus's life and teaching, four of which—the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—are considered canonical and are included in the Christian Bible.
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion that began as a Jewish sect in the mid-1st century. Originating in the Levant region of the Middle East, it quickly spread to Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Egypt. It grew in size and influence over a few centuries, and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire, replacing other forms of religion practiced under Roman rule. During the Middle Ages, most of the remainder of Europe was Christianized, with Christians also being a sometimes large religious minority in the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia and parts of India. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to the Americas, Australasia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world through missionary work and colonization. Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization.
Worldwide, the three largest groups of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the various denominations of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox patriarchates split from one another in the schism of the 11th century, and Protestantism came into existence during the Reformation of the 16th century, splitting from the Roman Catholic Church.
Few Christian churches built in the first half millennium of the established Christian Church were not built upon sites already consecrated as pagan temples or mithraea, the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva (literally Saint Mary above Minerva) in Rome being simply the most obvious example. Sulpicius Severus, in his Vita of Martin of Tours, a dedicated destroyer of temples and sacred trees, remarks "wherever he destroyed heathen temples, there he used immediately to build either churches or monasteries" (Vita, ch xiii), and when Benedict took possession of the site at Monte Cassino, he began by smashing the sculpture of Apollo and the altar that crowned the height.
The British Isles and other areas of northern Europe that were formerly druidic are still densely punctuated by holy wells and holy springs that are now attributed to some saint, often a highly local saint unknown elsewhere; in earlier times many of these were seen as guarded by supernatural forces such as the melusina, and many such pre-Christian holy wells appear to survive as baptistries. Not all pre-Christian holy places were respected enough for them to survive, however, as most ancient European sacred groves, such as the great Irminsul (whose location is now lost, but was possibly located at Externsteine), were destroyed by Christianizing forces.
During the Reconquista and the Crusades, the cross served the symbolic function of possession that a flag would occupy today. At the siege of Lisbon in 1147, when a mixed group of Christians took the city, "What great joy and what a great abundance there was of pious tears when, to the praise and honor of God and of the most Holy Virgin Mary the saving cross was placed atop the highest tower to be seen by all as a symbol of the city's subjection." (De expugnatione Lyxbonensi)
History of Christianity
Christianity emerged in the Levant (now Palestine and Israel) in the mid-1st century CE. Christianity spread initially from Jerusalem throughout the Near East, into places such as Syria, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Asia Minor, Jordan and Egypt. In the 4th century it was successively adopted as the state religion by Armenia in 301, Georgia in 319, and the Roman Empire in 380.
Christianity became common to all of Europe in the Middle Ages and expanded throughout the world during Europe's Age of Exploration from the Renaissance onwards to become the world's largest religion. Today there are 2 billion Christians, one third of humanity. Christianity divided into the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church in the Great Schism of 1054. The Protestant Reformation split the Roman Catholic Church into many different denominations.
Criticism of Christianity
- Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums (1986 - 2013) by Karlheinz Deschner
- The Darkening Age (2017) by Catherine Nixey
- Adam and Eve
- Christianity and Paganism
- Christianity in film
- Christian mythology
- Christianity and sexuality
- Persecution of Christians
- Sexuality in Christian demonology
- Criticism of Christianity
- Christian art
- Christian philosophy
- Christian symbolism
- Heaven and hell
- Ludwig Feuerbach
- Mortification of the flesh
- Not peace, but a sword
- Passion (Christianity)
- Søren Kierkegaard