In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' " From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
Gospel of John 1: 1-181
One of the major world religions; an outgrowth of Judaism based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth whom Christians believe to be the Creator of the Universe in human form. Jesus left no written record of his teachings and that which we know is communicated through the four biographies of him known as the Gospels and a series of Pastoral letters written by his followers to the early Church.
These writings, an account of the formation of the early Church and a book of apocalyptic prophesy apparently concerning the end of the world comprise the New Testament of the Bible which is the sole authoritative source of Christian scripture - although whole libraries have been written in commentary and analysis and in the production of additional "guidance notes" down the ages. There also exist a number of 'alternative' works that claim a place in the New Testament but were rejected by its compilers. There are a lot of conspiracy theories about why some of these works were rejected, but in general the true reason will revolve around them not being traceable to someone who knew what they were talking about.
The remainder of the Bible is made up of the Old Testament, comprising those Jewish scriptures considered authoritative and useful by the Rabbinate of Jesus's lifetime - again, this has its own satellite books of lesser authority which may or may not be included in a given printing of the Bible. These include books of Jewish Law attributed to Moses, histories of the Jewish people, religious songs and poems (including one extended love poem, allegedly written by a King of Israel) and books of prophecy - some already fulfilled and some for the future.
The Jewish Law incorporated in the Old Testament is included for guidance and instruction, to be viewed through the lense of the New Testament with the interpretations put upon it by Jesus - this means that some parts are effectively repealed (especially those dealing with temporal punishments for sin, animal sacrifice and ritual purity), whilst others are reinforced. Generally the New Testament points away from a rigid, rules based compliance towards a model based on goals and principles.
Being goals and principles driven Christianity is open to a great deal of variation in its practice and has historically fought some uncecessary and frankly blasphemous internal conflicts over very minor points of disagreement but has been equally prone to losing its way and accumulating cruft from all sorts of places. It is worthy of note that the border between Christianity and Judaism (other than recognition of Jesus as the Messiah) is largely artificial2 - all of the early Christians were observant Jews (many of them ultra-orthodox by modern standards) and it is quite possible to be an observant Jew and a follower of Jesus today without any disconnect.
One of the key divisions in Christianity is between clerical denominations (those who distinguish between priests and lay members) and protestant ones (which don't) - although telling one congregation from another may be harder than might be imagined.
By way of a glossary:
Christian: One who follows the Christ, "Christ" being a Greek translation of Jesus's Hebrew title "Messiah", originally a term of derision which was thoroughly annexed by those it targetted.
Church, The: All Christians, sometimes phrased as "The Church in…" to mean the Christian population of a given location. The word church may also refer to a church building or to a specific Christian denomination (e.g. The Church of Rome).
Disciple: From the Greek word for 'pupil', one of those who followed and studied under Jesus during his life on earth - traditionally limited to the twelve who were with him at dinner on the night before he was crucified.
Apostle: One specifically and personally comissioned by God (usually by Jesus) to spread his teachings - includes eleven of the "twelve disciples" and a Rabbi called Paul (originally Saul) who was originally a zealous persecutor of the Church and then executed a heel-face turn after meeting God on the road to Damascus.
Gospel: A biography of Jesus, of which four are attested as authentic.
This article is a stub. Please expand on it!
- News: Christian Soldiers