West Midlands Faiths Forum

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Christianity

christian

Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ who lived in the Holy Land 2000 years ago.  His life, teachings, death and resurrection are described in the four gospels of the New Testament which are contained in the Bible, Christianity’s sacred text.  

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and he came to earth as a man to restore the relationship between humans and God which had gone wrong.  Jesus taught his followers to pray to God as Father.  Christians believe that God is present in the world through the Holy Spirit, a gift from God after Jesus left this world to be with his Father in heaven.  Christians understand God to be One as a Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This mystery of One God as Three in One is a central belief for all mainstream Christianity. 

The life of Jesus is celebrated through its festivals: his birth at Christmas, death on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Pentecost is a celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Christians gather to pray and worship in buildings, normally called Churches or places of worship.  Most Churches hold a service of worship on Sunday at which Christians gather to pray, sing hymns and choruses, and listen to preaching and readings from the Bible.  Different churches have different styles of worship, reflecting the diversity of Christianity as a world-wide religion. 

For the majority of Christianity, a central part of worship is the Eucharist, which is also called the Holy Communion, Mass, the Lord's Supper or the Divine Liturgy.  The celebration of the ‘Eucharist’, is a sharing in the Last Supper, the final meal that Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his arrest and death by crucifixion.  At this meal Jesus ate bread and wine and instructed his disciples to do the same in memory of him.  Different churches have different ways of understanding its meaning and the spiritual significance of the celebration.  While worship is often thought of as those occasions when Christians come together in a group, individual Christians can worship God on their own, and in any place.  Christians may also meet during the week for prayer, bible study or discussion, for Christian education, to share in community work or for social gatherings.

Christianity is the majority religion of Britain but a much smaller proportion of the 70% who declared themselves Christian in the 2001 Census are active participants.  The spread of Christianity in Britain is normally associated with the mission of Augustine in 597 AD, however Christianity had arrived in the 1st Century AD.  With the 16th century Protestant Reformation and the evangelical revival of the 18th century the character of Christianity changed and new denominational forms or traditions were developed.  The more recent migration into the West Midlands has added to the diversity of Christianity represented in the region including, Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, Anglican, Free Churches, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers, African Instituted Churches and Black Led Churches.

Whilst the Trinitarian understanding of Christianity is central to the belief of all mainstream Christian traditions, there are other groups who may call themselves Christians without adhering to this core belief, for example, Unitarians, Jehovah Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Unification Church and Mormons.

More information on the BBC website