Like the Jews, Christians believed that God (the Creator, the Lord, the Almighty, etc.) created the universe, Angels and Man in six days. The Lord created the first man, Adam, "in His Own image and likeness," and then, from his rib, He created a woman, Eve, and settled them in the Garden of Eden.
An important point of this teaching is that the likeness of man to the Almighty was not so much physical (bodily) as spiritual. According to believers, apart from angels, only man of all living beings received from God the spirit and will – the freedom to choose between good and evil.
Man lost the very first battle of Good and Evil in his soul. According to legend, God allowed Adam and Eve to use everything that is in Eden, forbidding only to eat the fruits from the Tree of Knowledge.
Instigated by Satan, who acted through the serpent, Eve plucked the Forbidden Fruit (the Apple of Knowledge) and, having tasted it herself, gave it to Adam. So man committed the original sin, succumbing to the temptation of Evil, for which he was expelled from Eden.
Since then, the number of human sins has been constantly multiplying and this, according to believers, must inevitably lead to the End of the World – the destruction of humanity and the World by the Almighty Creator.
According to the "holy scripture", God, having expelled people from Paradise and populated the whole earth with them, continued to take care of them, "revealing" Himself and His will through prophets endowed with the gift of Revelation. Through the prophets, he concluded covenants with humanity – contracts, observance, the fulfillment of which gave people a chance to prolong human existence on earth.
In these revelations, it was repeatedly mentioned about the Messiah – Savior, God's Messenger, who must appear in the world just before its end in order to become a Judge over all mankind as a whole and each person individually and establish the Kingdom of God.
Christians consider Jesus Christ, after whom the creed is named, to be such a Savior of the World.
The date of his birth became the starting point of the beginning of our or a new era, marking colossal changes in the attitude, consciousness of a person, in the idea of the meaning of life.
So, Jesus Christ was born in the city of Bethlehem in the I century AD. His mother was the Virgin Mary, and his father... was God himself, who performed the miracle of the immaculate conception through the Holy Spirit.
(In painting it is customary to depict the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove).
However, Jesus is not only the Son of God, according to Christians, he is God Himself (one of His hypostases), incarnated in a human body (incarnated) in order to atone for original sin by martyrdom.
From this was born the understanding of the essence of God as a Trinity, including the hypostases of God the Father (Sabaoth), God the Son (Christ) and the Holy Spirit.
The dogma of the Holy Trinity is the fundamental difference between Christianity and other Abrahamic religions.
Little is known about the childhood and youth of Christ, sources with his biography – the Gospels – report mainly only about the last years of his life (he lived on earth for 33 years in total), from the moment when Christ began to preach his teaching, then he was betrayed by one of his disciples (Judas) and executed, according to the Roman custom, on the cross.
The main thing was the subsequent Resurrection of Jesus and his ascension (spirit and body) to Heaven. This fact served as proof of the divine essence of the Messiah, the correctness of his words, and the possibility of resurrection after death for every person following His precepts.
Then, according to Christians, the second coming of Christ will follow, which will mark the End of the World (the Apocalypse), the Last Judgment, the destruction of World Evil (the final victory over Satan) and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
All this is narrated in the main book of Christianity – the Bible, which consists of two parts:
1. "Old Testament" - books based on the Jewish Holy Scripture, which includes stories about the history of the Jewish people, starting from the creation of the world by God, as well as books of various prophets and their prophecies.
2. The "New Testament" is the second part of the Bible, which includes four "Gospels" (from Greek. "The Good News"), written by his disciples, who are commonly called the Evangelistic Apostles - Luke, Mark, Matthew and John. The Gospels describe the events of Christ's earthly life, as well as the basics of his teaching. The New Testament also includes stories about the acts of the apostles and their messages to the Church and believers.
The Bible concludes with the "Revelation of John the Theologian" - the vision of the Apostle John about the End of the World, called the Apocalypse.
The Christian Church. Denominations
In the first centuries of its existence, the new religion was subjected to the most severe persecution in all corners of the Roman Empire, however, despite the terrible tortures and executions to which early Christians were betrayed, their number constantly multiplied.
After all, at the beginning of the fourth century (313), the Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the official state religion.
Gradually, a specific organization was formed that unites all believers, exercises control over them and instructs in the faith – the Christian Church.
The division in the IV century of the Roman Empire into two parts – Western and Eastern (Byzantium), which soon practically ceased all contacts, was the reason that the Christian Church began to develop differently in these territories. The rituals, forms of service, types of temple architecture were different, and even ideas about the most important dogmas of religion differed.
ВSoon the contradictions became insoluble and Christianity was finally divided into two branches in 1054 (XI century): Eastern (Byzantine or Greek) – Orthodox and Western (Roman) - Catholic.
At the beginning of the XVI century (1517), a new schism was already taking place in the Catholic Church – a part of the believers who advocated the reform of Catholicism separated from it. As a result, another direction of Christianity appears – Protestantism.
To date, the number of confessions professing Christianity continues to increase, but, one way or another, despite sometimes very significant differences in the form and content of their ritual and ceremonial side, they all grow from three main directions: Orthodoxy, Catholicism or Protestantism and have one common root - faith in the truth of the teachings of Christ.
What attracted Roman pagans so much to this religion? This was facilitated by the fact that Christ's Teaching was based on Love and Humility, and the fact that absolutely anyone could become a follower of Christianity, regardless of origin, social status and nationality.
However, perhaps the most important thing in this religious system was a new, compared to the pagan, vision of the meaning of human life and a different perception of death.
The fact is that Christians began to consider earthly human life as a kind of test, preparation for eternal life, which should follow after death. This idea was not fundamentally new (remember, for example, the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians), but the Christian doctrine was able to fill it with a different content.
According to this concept, the material side of the world turned out to be less important and significant compared to the spiritual, due to the fact that the material is mortal (originally intended to disappear, turn into dust/decay), while the spiritual component, immortal and imperishable, is what makes up the meaning of life.
This radically changed the ancient idea of man, based on the Greek principle of kalokagathy, when bodily beauty was a kind of guarantee of the presence of the best spiritual qualities. Everything seemed completely different in the Middle Ages: the body is regarded as a "vessel of sins" in which the eternal spirit "languishes", as in prison. That is, people, first of all, should not take care of the body, but of the soul enclosed in it.
Thanks to this, for the first time in the history of European culture and art, not so much aesthetic (as in Antiquity), but ethical (moral) categories of human existence begin to be comprehended, which was, of course, one of the highest achievements of the medieval era.
However, it is far from easy to keep the soul pure and immaculate. Despite the fact that the human spirit is constantly striving for Light, Goodness and God, it is too weak compared to the body. The seven deadly sins: Pride (Arrogance), Envy, Gluttony (Gluttony), Fornication (Lust), Anger (Malice), Greed (Greed), Despondency (Idleness), delighting human flesh and lulling consciousness, lead, according to Christians, to the destruction of the soul, which, succumbing to sin, loses the most The important thing is Love for one's neighbor, which is the basis of Christian doctrine.
A person who succumbs to temptation and falls into sin, according to Christianity, awaits a posthumous punishment – his soul goes to Hell, where eternal torment awaits it. If a person manages to resist temptations, then we can say that he performs a spiritual feat, rewarded after bodily death with the eternal bliss of the soul in Paradise. Thus, according to believers, the Highest Justice is being realized, which is simply unattainable for many on earth.
The main tenets of Christianity
1. Belief in One God (monotheism) existing simultaneously in three persons (the dogma of the Holy Trinity) – God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit;
2. The concept of God as Perfection (Absolute), which includes Omnipotence, Omniscience, Forgiveness and Love;
3. The doctrine of Jesus Christ as the God-man, the incarnate God (incarnated in a human body) for the salvation of people from original sin, damnation and death. As one of the fathers of the church, Athanasius the Great, said about this: "God became man so that man would be deified";
4. The doctrine of the God-likeness of man ("created in the image and likeness of God"), expressed in the presence of an immortal essence (soul) in him and freedom of will;
5. The idea of a dualistic structure of the universe and the absolute priority of the spiritual principle over the material and physical;
6. Belief in the existence of the afterlife and the immortality of the soul;
7. The idea of the ideal purpose of man, which consists in endless, comprehensive, spiritual improvement;
8. The presence of a strictly structured organization of believers – the Church, conceived as the embodiment of the Divine Order on earth.
Thus, Christianity "discovered" the spiritual world of man, declaring morality and morality the highest values of human existence and creating a fundamentally new model of human existence in the world and society.