Christianity was founded early in the 1st century CE and is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. According to Christian belief, Jesus was a divine being born to a Jewish woman. Followers came to him as he taught, preached, and performed miracles around Jerusalem. He was eventually crucified for his interpretations of Jewish law and his assertion that he was the Messiah. After death, he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.
Christians believe in a single God who is composed of three parts: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Son in this Trinity, and often mediates between worshipers and God. Christianity emphasizes that freedom from sin is achieved through acceptance of Jesus and his teachings. Christians also believe in an afterlife obtained through faith and moral action.
The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible, composed of the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament contains parts of the Jewish Torah, while the New Testament describes the life of Jesus and the early church. Many Christian denominations have commentaries on the Bible and some have additional sacred texts.
Christianity places special importance on public congregation and worship. Christians typically meet on Sundays in churches, chapels, cathedrals, or meeting halls. Services are often led by a specialized priest or pastor, but informal clergy (such as a deacon!) may also perform this function. Spiritual leadership can vary from clergy presiding over a single church to Catholicism where the Pope is the leader of all congregations.
- Listen to a WFU student speak about her experiences with Christianity here.
Catholic – The Catholic Church is the largest denomination of Christianity with over 1 billion followers. Catholicism spread with European colonists and merchants during the Renaissance, and so has a large presence in Europe, North and South America, Central Africa, and the Philippines.
Protestant – This broad category includes many churches that originated from theological disputes within the Catholic Church. Protestants include Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Moravians, and many Evangelicals.
Eastern and Oriental Orthodox – These churches split from the Catholic Church during political instability in the European Middle Ages, though all are more similar to each other than to Protestantism. Large Orthodox congregations are found in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia.
Nontrinitarian – Some Christians reject the idea of the Trinity of God—the belief in a unified divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and interpret Jesus’s teaching in other ways. Nontrinitarians include Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarians.
Colors are used to represent beliefs, traditions, and concepts in many religious traditions. In this exhibit, purple is used for Christianity. In ancient times, purple dye was very expensive and could only be afforded by royalty and elites. Christians use this association to symbolize the sovereignty of Christ. Purple can also represent faith, patience, trust, and repentance.
White was chosen as the exhibit’s background color because it is meaningful to each of the five religions. In Christianity, white represents purity, innocence, and the virgin birth of Jesus. White can also symbolize the brightness of day. White clothes are usually worn during baptisms.