This Lead Article
pulls together all information
contained in this section.
principles and beliefs of Christianity are presented here, with the
intention of demonstrating what sets this religion apart from others.
An earlier section of this website,
“Faith and reason”
tries to present a credible
21st Century explanation of
God’s being and his relationship to the existence of our universe and ourselves.
Importantly, you will note that there is no conflict between modern
scientific and religious theory in explanations provided there.
The following section
of the website, “Believing in God”
explains how we can, in a
sense, recognise God’s presence in our lives through the
of faith. Surprisingly to many people I guess, we really can
prove to ourselves, beyond reasonable doubt, that God does exist.
Whereas an explanation of 'what God is' is provided in “Faith and reason”, this particular section of the website discusses 'who God is' and how he relates to each of us personally.
This section then aims to give a
deeper understanding of where Christianity is ‘coming from’.I maintain that Christianity has simple
simple truths are, in fact, what sets it apart from the other
great monotheist religions, Judaism and Islam.
However bear in mind that, as far as I am
concerned, followers of all the three monotheist religionsbelieve in the
same God, even though they do call him by different names. I have absolutely no
towards those who choose either Judaism or Islam as their religion.
I personally chose Christianity for a
number of reasons. Although
perhaps surprising to the uninitiated again, one
reason was the probablity
of fact that
becomes evident when studying the Christian scriptures and
supporting secular writings of the era they were produced. This is allied to the
apparent self proving nature of Christianity when it is applied with
life. Regular contact across the broad Christian Church has
also importantly provided me with the chance to witness God's presence there. I know ... I know ... this may be hard to accept, but see details of my own experiences throughout the article “God within the Church”. I admit I was surprised by what I saw and experienced there during my early years of faith!
But, what impresses me most
Christianity though is the value it places on 'love'. Importantly, from our human understanding of
God, his love of us is encapsulated in the concept of“grace”. And it was grace that ultimately drew me to Christianity. More on that later.
This Lead Article, in the website section of the same
name, begins with a brief overview of
Christian beliefs. If you wish to gain deeper knowledge on
any of the subjects that follow, then (as with the other
of this website) you can drill down into supporting articles.
can be done either by using the links as they appear within this
article, or by
articles directly from the Section Contents at the top left of the page. The
article continues with
explanations of Christianity’s
rules of love and the behavioural attitudes
that Christians are expected to display within their lives.
2. ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN BELIEFS
follows here is a brief overview of Christian
beliefs. It endeavours to provide a solid platform for understanding
the balance of
this article and other articles within this section of the website.
2.1 God's Love for Us
I wrote earlier, "grace" was what drew me to Christianity. The term
relates to the way our loving God is always ready to give us
humans far more than we rightfully deserve (not to be confused with
financial riches). Grace, more than anything
else, demonstrates that God really
wants a loving personal relationship with each one of us. I read somewhere that the
concept of grace is so
far out there, that no human could ever have ‘dreamt
it up’. I'll again expand on that later.
So, God’s love for us is the underlying theme in
for this article. I add that this subtitle should not be construed as
that God loves Christians more than Jews or Muslims. I do not think
that for a
moment. Rather, the title highlights how we, as Christians, primarily
ourselves within our relationship with God.
2.2 The Holy Trinity
The vast majority of Christians hold the Holy Trinity,
the concept of a triune God, as a central belief of their
religion. Christians believe that
Jesus is an essential identity within the ‘Trinity’.
consists of God
the Father, God
the Son (or Jesus the Son of God) and God the Holy Spirit ... three persons in one God. So,
despite the concept of the Trinity, all Christians believe
that there is only
The concept and God’s reason for it, is not as complicated as at
first imagined – again please see the article, “The
Holy Trinity”. The Trinity, as explained there, began with God's need to place his
loving presence in human form on Earth whilst still maintaining the existence of all
2.3 Jesus and the "Cross"
Following on then, most Christians believe that
whilst alive amongst us as a fellow human being over 2000 years ago,
was God incarnate,
i.e. Jesus was, and still is for that matter, God.
Because of God’s love for us, Jesus provided himself as a living
sacrifice, the Lamb of God,
in order to pay for humankind’s wrongdoings (sins). Through his
own death by crucifixion on the cross, Jesus thereby justified our
sins. As a result, ‘faithful’ Christians can be assured of eternal life
through the grace
of God. (Note this explanation makes use of the essential Biblical jargon that has been used for over two thousand years.)
Jesus felt the pain of
pre-execution torture and humiliation at the hands of his captors, and
then experienced physical exhaustion when forced to carry his own cross
the way to the place of his execution. He felt the nails go through his
flesh. Once on the cross, he
felt the agony of losing his ability to breathe
freely – in
effect experiencing the slow and tormented death that he had known
In simple English, the average Christian
believes that Jesus thus died for them,
and his physical death on the cross
for any sins they have or might yet commit. In essence, the cost of all
our sins accrued throughout our lives, i.e. which would normally mean a
punishment of permanent death, is brushed aside as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
It is also believed that the ‘resurrection’to new life and ‘ascension’ into heaven by Jesus, after his death ‘on the cross’, demonstrates most positively the victory
over death that is offered to us.
Again, the Christian religion's view of Jesus as God is essential
to understanding the depth of God’s
unconditional love for
us, and his “grace”, i.e. God became human so that he could
physically sacrifice himself for us. (Please see
the articles, “Jesus as God” and “Evidence of Jesus” for a better understanding).
For Christians, the common symbol of the 'cross' signifies: God’s love for us; his grace, our forgiveness and victory over death.
2.4 Jesus as "Our Lord and Saviour"
‘conjecture’ exists between theologians on the subject, we
Christians are safe if we
accept the view that the major requirement for being saved from
our sins, and coming to receive eternal life, is to commit ourselves through ‘faith’ to
Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
And a great proportion of Christians do accept this commitment. It is a
common term and therefore deserves an explanation here, even though it
is revisiting some of the beliefs already explained.
aspect of the above term requires explanation. It firstly refers to Jesus
as being God himself, i.e. the God of the Old Testament (the pre-Jesus
Books of the Bible); the great “I Am”. As I have already indicated above, the Father and the Son are two persons of the Holy Trinity.Both declared themselves to be I Am within the Bible. The Father did so in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14), possibly 500 to 600 years before Jesus was born, and then the Son did so in John 8:58.The two verses are quoted in full on the Home Page of this website. The ‘Lord’ aspect secondly relates to Jesus (as God) being ‘the boss’ to us humans, who are trying to obey him in life; to follow his guidance.
came to pass at the point of history that God knew would come. It was
time to relax on dogma. It was time to restructure rules and
relationships. It is clear now that we have a boss who dearly loves us all and deals with each and every one of us (and humanity as a whole) in an all knowing pragmatic manner.
aspect of the statement, as explained under the previous sub section, is straightforward. We are to believe that
Jesus laid down his physical life in a very painful manner to pay for
our wrongdoings; our sins, so as to enable us to have eternal life.
As a result of being saved through faith, Christians are freed to
concentrate on a close loving relationship with God. In essence, that is what
God desires above all else; that is why we have been created.
Further discussion on
what it ‘takes’
to be saved, as mentioned above, is included in the
supporting articles, “Christian
rules and laws” and “Heaven and hell”. The moral dilemma of wrongdoing (sin), and its impact on our lives now, is also expanded in the next section of this article.
3. CHRISTIANITY'S SIMPLE RULES OF 'LOVE'
monotheist religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) maintain that every one of us can enter into a
personal relationship with a God who: listens to each of us, tries to
each of us and offer guidance/ support to each of us. All three
believe that God
wants each of us to enter into that relationship with him. Actually, he
whatever means that become available to him to draw us into it
– encouraging us to respond to him. And, as with most religions,
despite God's love for us (or more likely because of it) Christians
accept that God has laid down rules to be followed. But unlike Judaism and Islam, Christianity views its rules in a different context.
3.1 Jesus' answer
I have repeatedly mentioned in this article why I chose
over the other two monotheist religions: Judaism
the oldest of the three,
Islam the youngest. Simply put, it is Christianity’s principle of ‘love’:
God’s love of us, encapsulated within his grace that
is given freely to us; and our
love of him. The rules of Christianity, or “Commandments” as they are called, are also ‘love’ related.
it comes to actual laws and rules for guidance in our lives,
himself provided clear advice. When asked, in the form of
a challenging question, which of the Ten Commandments (from the Bible's pre-Jesus Old Testament) was the most
important, Jesus answered, “Love
the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
all your mind.” Then continuing, Jesus added, “Love
your neighbour as yourself” [Luke ].
In answer to that question then, Jesus in effect provided two new
commandments that more than adequately covered the essence of the old
So, love of God and our fellow humans
fundamentally underpins Christian ‘law’.
Mind you, this is not to
say that other laws, i.e. within the Old Testament,
are of no relevance at all. Also Jesus himself added further standards
to follow, and these are documented in the New Testament. Please see the article, “Christian
rules and laws”
to better understand
how rules and laws affect Christians.
God will definitely try
into what is
appropriate in our actions, if there
is any doubt about what is ‘right
within our lives. This
in effect provides us with an element of proof
existence. Please see the article, “Finding God within our lives” which includes an explanation of God’s ‘guiding hand’.
By the way,
the word ‘love’
in the Bible (in relation to our fellow humans) means more ‘to deeply care about’ than as we apply
the word today, i.e. a deeper or more
significant emotion reserved for those who are very close
to us personally.
3.2 Love of God
it is no surprise that if God did love us enough to become human and
subsequently die for us in agony, then he would expect love from us in
return. And Jesus highlighted the extent of love that is expected of
us, “...with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
all your mind”.
Note too that Jesus provided us with the
ideal example of a human being to follow – himself! The Gospels
Testament books of
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) contain the words and actions of Jesus.
The concept of Jesus’‘revealing’
nature is incorporated within one of his alternative titles, “The Word”. With regards to loving God (in his case the Father) the human Jesus clearly demonstrated that he did.
God’s point of view, it is a case of the more Christ-like we can
become with his grace,
the closer our loving relationship with him becomes. As the Word, in this context,
Jesus is our guiding light. Ultimately, contentedness with life
as growth towards Christ-likeness takes place, and our love of God increases.
3.3 Love of our
With regards to our neighbours (i.e.
our fellow humans), it basically comes down to ‘love’again. Each one of us is a loved child of God, and he
wants us all to deeply care for his other children. When we grasp that, we
can see that the old
Ten Commandments, i.e. those ones that relate to our fellow human
need to be stated. For example, everybody should understand
that it is
wrong to steal from people
love (i.e. people that we ‘care about’ as much as we ‘care
about’ ourselves)! Similarly, we would not covert
or enter into adultery
with the life partner of
we deeply care for etc.
In other words,
new love-based law again encompasses the essence of all those
laws, and indeed goes beyond them! Please
rules and laws”
for a better
I suppose we can look to the
twentieth century example of Mother Theresa of Calcutta
personification of love towards neighbour. This way of life (loving
others) offers so much in return to us. All Christians are called to
there is no better medicine for the human psyche than assisting others
time of need. It has the potential to lift us from the mire of self
– leading us away from our all too common self destructive
tendency to dwell
problems, needs and wants.
as God himself came to serve his beloved children through self sacrifice, in
the person of Jesus, so we Christians are called to serve our fellow
Even to the coldest enemies of
Christendom, it must be obvious how much good that Christians do in the
through their outreach services. Committed Christians always seem to be
thick of it, where there is pain and suffering throughout Western
nations and the
world as a whole. It is their
commitment to faith, and recognition of the commandment to love one
that drives these people on – at times putting their own mortal
lives at risk.
Simply put, it is what Jesus would have done.
3.4 If we are saved anyway, why obey the rules?
Most Christians accept that while obedience
to rules and laws (the ‘two rules of love’
or for that matter complying with the Ten Commandments etc)
not necessarily critical for the soul or its salvation.
Christianity essentially places
faith in Jesus
as Lord and Saviour above all
else, although it certainly does not ignore obligations that we should
is the big difference between Christianity and the other major
religions of Judaism and Islam. Those religions place ‘compliance
religious rules/ laws’ at the same level of importance as ‘belief
The best summary in the Bible of how the law itself (rules, commandments etc), God’s saving grace, and upholding those laws, all fit together is provided by St Paul. Please read Romans 3:19-34.
In essence, as Christians, we should
want to do his bidding because we do not want to disappoint our
loving God –
not because we are afraid of losing our souls. Of course, God expects
best race’ that we can, with the help of his grace.
And when we do wrong (commit sin) we should admit it to God and try
hard to not do it again. We love him, as we should love our human
as with them, we don’t want to disappoint him.
This principle, based on love
and faith, rather than rules
and faith, obviously offers
a shift from the Jewish and Islamic concentration on laws/
rules or ‘legalism’ as it is termed. Again, and all importantly,
it is not primarily about the rules, it is about having that deep personal, loving
relationship with God that we are called to.
4. CHRISTIAN ATTITUDES
Much of what is
expected of us by God in our day to day lives relates to this love of
humans – monogamous relationships, ethical dealings, placing
people and his
other creations above our personal desires etc.
attitudes towards our fellow humans should obviously flow from
commandment. Jesus certainly would have denounced the ‘holier
attitude held by so many Christians over the centuries. As to our
personal presentation within the community, the prophet Micah offered this guidance
what does the Lord require
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Even as a Protestant Christian myself, I recognise that
the late Catholic Pope John
Paul II presented us with an excellent example of holy humility during
papacy. The present Pope Francis is shaping up in a similar manner.
principle of deeply caring for, and helping, others in need is in directconflict
negative and memorable associations that so many people have with
– the ongoing behaviour of its bigots, its history of holy wars
etc. These rest
so sadly with our religion of love. (Of course fervent atheists forget
balance Christianity’s past and present good works against these
be a religion where its followers judge no one [Matthew 7:1-6,
James 4:12]. I offer the
example when Jesus was
whether an adulterous woman should be stoned to death as punishment
8:1-11]. What was Jesus’ response? It was perfect, “Let
whoever has not sinned,
throw the first stone!” Shamed by the answer, the small crowd
leaving Jesus and the woman alone together. Jesus compassionately
that the woman change her ways, i.e. repent.
Christianity is about recognising
the problems in our own
primarily trying to do something about that, and not fussing too much
wrongs in the lives of others. In essence, the life of a Christian
should be his
or her statement to others on how to live.
This is not to say
we must condone all wrong committed by others. The laws of our society
be served for instance. And Christians are expected to stand up for the
oppressed. We should also make a non violent stand against those who
threaten the lives and souls of our fellow humans.
explains desirable Christian attitudes than the following verses
provided to us by Jesus, referred to as “The
Blessed are the poor in
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
are those who are
persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of
Most importantly, remember that Christianity
is a religion that does not need a lot of theoretical knowledge,
you can practise it. Just be open to God; begin that relationship with him, and see how Jesus can
transform your life. If you need guidance on how
develop your belief in God, then read the article, “Believing in God”.
You will read there how to involve our loving God in your life; to walk
the walk. I am confident, just like so many other Christians, that
anyone can prove to themselves, beyond reasonable doubt, that God is real by simply putting faith to work within their lives.
Let God love you freely, and love him
back. He has an awesome presence once faith has been fully established.
recognising this, life will never be the same again.
There is no denying that deeper knowledge
of the Bible can, and should, come later due to the incredible depth of
and guidance that is contained within it. It is not difficult to see
purpose for Christianity through the Bible’s themes –
which I have tried hard
to summarise in this article.
Exposure to Christianity, through church attendances, also offers us the opportunity to experience this essence at work; to feel it!
Further evidence of God’s
presence can be witnessed there as well. It is also there within the
Church that we are provided with the opportunity, when finally ready,
to commit ourselves to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
‘Love’ is at the heart of
Christianity – God’s love for us, our love for God and his
other children. Initially,
it demands little of us as individuals, other than developing a
with the God who became human and then painfully sacrificed his mortal