Introduction to Christianity

Introduction to Christianity

If you're new to Christianity, all the different variations of the religion can be confusing, but they are mostly more alike than different.
Christianity is a major religion in the world, and if you don't know a whole lot about the basic principles of the religion, this can leave you in the dark on a lot of things. Many customs, holidays, and beliefs that the United States of America was originally founded on - as well as continue to make us the country we are - are rooted in Christianity. However, once you learn the basics, Christianity is a relatively easy religion to understand. It's also important to know the differences between the major sub-religions under the umbrella of Christianity in order to understand the faith.

Basic Tenets of Christianity

The major thing that separates Christianity from all other religions is the belief that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died for our sins. The major religious text for Christians is the Bible. Because they believe in Jesus, most emphasis is put on the New Testament, which begins after Jesus' birth; however, they also do read the Old Testament and take lessons from that part of the Bible as well. Christians mostly celebrate the Sabbath day, or the day of rest, on Sunday. This is also the day that most practicing Christians attend church. Major holidays celebrated by Christians include Christmas, which is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus, as well as Easter, which is celebrated as the day Jesus was resurrected after being crucified, proving him as the Son of God. These holidays are typically celebrated by attending church services for the occasion and, more commercially, by giving gifts to family members and receiving gives by Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny respectively. Gift giving on these holidays is not really a Christian belief, however. That is something that was added later on and stores latched on to that idea in order to sell merchandise.

Catholicism

One of the major, and first, Christian religions is Catholicism. Catholicism is deeply rooted in tradition and ceremony. When attending a Catholic mass, it is usually held in a large cathedral-type church with ornate stained glass windows and pulpit. Those participating in Catholic mass are usually wearing robes and closely follow all traditions of the mass. Other elements that separate Catholics from other religions under the umbrella of Christianity are the fact that Catholic priests cannot marry, and women cannot become priests. The Catholic religion does, however, accept nuns who are also not allowed to marry, but who are not afforded the same power as a priest. Because of the incredible tradition that is incorporated into Catholicism, Catholic masses are usually longer than other Christian religions' masses are. Also, many Catholic churches hold mass on many different days, including Sundays. The final thing that separates Catholicism from the rest of the Christian religions is the worship of the Saints.

Protestant Religions

With tradition comes the spending of money, and that is the problem that the first Protestants had with the Catholic religion. Protestant churches are usually much more modest, and the masses, while traditional, are usually shorter and more informal. Masses in most Protestant religions are also only held on Sunday. Preachers in Protestant religions are usually allowed to get married and have families, which is another important distinction from Catholicism. Saints rarely appear in Protestant Christian religions, and are not prayed to like they are in the Catholic religion.

There are clearly some important distinctions between Christian religions, but once you understand them, it's simple to understand. Most Christian religions have the same basic principles, but celebrate those principles in very different ways.
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