Brief summary of Christianity
Current status of Christianity
Current status of Christianity:
Christianity is the largest religion in the world, with a litle over 2 billion
members. It is significantly larger than the second largest religion:
Islam, which has about 1.6 billion members. About one third of the world's
population currently identifies themselves as Christian.
Christianity is the largest religion in the U.S. and Canada, with profoundly deep
influences on American and Canadian culture and politics. In particular,
conservative Christians provide the main opposition to freer
abortion access; equal rights for gays, lesbians,
bisexuals and transsexuals, including the right
for same-sex couples to marry; comprehensive
sex education in public schools, etc.
Worldwide, Christianity is now widely fragmented into tens of thousands of
faith groups, large and small. About 50% of persons who identify themselves as
Christians are Roman Catholics.
Classifying individual faith groups:
Many people view Christianity as a group of religions rather than a single
religious entity. Individual faith groups have been classified as:
Sometimes the Anglican Communion is considered part of Protestantism; other
times it is classified as a separate group.
The basis for their religious beliefs:
The main foundations for a Christian faith group's beliefs are:
Conservative groups tend to weigh the Bible and church tradition more
heavily. Liberal groups tend to give greater weight to personal experience and
Many core beliefs are common to most Christian
faith groups. e.g. the Trinity, the atonement, salvation by grace, etc. But many
define the terms differently; they may agree on the name of the belief, but not
Interpretation of the Bible:
Christian denominations approach the Bible with very different
preconceptions. Although Christians largely agree on what the Bible says, they carry away
very different beliefs about what the Bible means. They interpret the Bible in
very different ways.
|Some conservative Christian groups view the original autograph copies of the books in the Bible as
inerrant -- without error -- written by authors who
were directly inspired by God. The Bible is viewed
as totally consistent from Genesis to Revelation.|
|More liberal groups often view the Bible as a collection of historical documents written by
fallible authors, each promoting their own spiritual and religious
understandings and those of their faith groups. |
With such a different fundamental understanding of the nature of the Bible,
denominations will inevitably disagree about the
atonement, nature of the deity,
origin of the species, the Earth and the rest of the
universe, divorce and remarriage,
the "fall" of humanity,
concern for the environment, and dozens of other
Among the denominations and faith groups that define themselves as Christian
-- including the Catholic Church, Mormon churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, Southern
Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, the United Church of Christ, Unification
Church, etc., -- it is difficult to find a single belief upon which everyone
will agree completely.
Different Christian faith groups often
define terms such as Protestant, Christian,
salvation, etc. quite differently.
Every great moral
and ethical conflict, including human slavery, the
role of women, abortion access,
homosexual and bisexual rights has produced a major
within Christianity. Some have led to actual schisms. Transsexual rights appear to be
next topic on the horizon.
Copyrighted © 2009 & 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2009-MAR-24
Last updated 2010-JUN-14
Author: B.A. Robinson