It is important for Christians to understand other cultures and religions, but it is also important for them to know their own beliefs. As we conclude learning about faiths, this post will aid in our understanding of our own belief system. As stated before, I do not believe that all religions lead to the same end or that all religions are equally true. However, I do believe in Religious Liberty. This is the idea that people should be free to practice whichever religion they choose. While we may not agree with one another regarding our spiritual beliefs, we can seek to understand one another and treat one another with kindness and respect.
Christianity in Conversation with other Religions
Christians trust in the Lord God who created the Heavens and the earth. We believe that our God is not tied to any geographic location and we do not believe that he chooses one race of people over any others. He is a God for all of humanity and he desires for all people to worship him. Christians should be knowledgeable in their beliefs and their lives should be a testimony to the God they serve. We can learn a lot from other faiths about personal devotion, community, reverence, and other practices. We firmly hold to a belief in objective truth – namely that our God is true and that because he exists, there are laws governing nature and morality that are true for all people of all times in history.
Scott and Paul discuss the basic beliefs and some current issues in Christianity.
An Overview of Christianity
Christians believe that God created the world and everything in it. They believe that God’s creation was good and without sin, but that Adam and Eve were led astray by the devil in the Garden of Eden. Once they chose to follow the snake and disobey God, their eyes were opened and a curse was put upon all of creation – that curse resulted in spiritual death. Over time God continued to reveal himself to people and planned to send a Messiah to rescue humanity and bring them back into proper fellowship with God. As God revealed himself through history he spoke through Prophets, Judges, and Kings. He guided Noah to build an Ark, he lead Moses to the desert and gave him the writings of the Law. Other prophets and leaders included Joshua, Samuel, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, and others. Eventually, the Messiah arrived – he was God’s own Son – Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the Cross for the sins of the world. After his death, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. After his resurrection, Jesus went back into Heaven and a new group of Prophets known as the Apostles continued to share his story and write down his Gospel. All the books that contain God’s revelation of himself to humanity were completed by the end of the first century AD.
The Bible – The Bible is made up of 66 books. It contains all of the books of the Hebrew or Jewish Bible (39) and 27 additional books known as the New Testament. The world “Testament” means “covenant” the connotation of the New Testament is that there is a new piece of God’s covenant with humanity wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. The 27 books contain 4 books about the life and ministry of Jesus, a number of letters to churches, a few letters to people in churches, and a book about the history of the early church after Christ was crucified (put to death).
Christians believe that God is a triune being made up of three beings who share the same divine essence. Those beings include God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ the Messiah), and the Holy Spirit.
God the Father created the world through the Son who worked out creation by the Holy Spirit.
God created people to be his stewards of the earth and to be the caretakers of his world.
Humanity sinned and became separated from God in the garden, now all people are born with an inclination to do things that are outside of God’s will for who we are to be.
God the Father planned to build a new bridge to replace the one that was broken because of sin so that humanity could once again experience fellowship with God.
The Son was sent to die for our sins as a sacrifice to bridge the gap between God and humanity. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was raised from the dead, proving that his sacrifice was accepted by the Father on our behalf.
Christians believe that when a person believes that Jesus is the Messiah that they are saved and once again able to have fellowship with God the Father. At the moment of belief, the Holy Spirit indwells the human heart as a symbol that no spiritual death with come to those who believe.
Christians believe that one day Jesus will return again and make all things new. He will right all wrongs, and we will be given new bodies and will live with him in the New Heavens and the New Earth for eternity.
Christians are to care about social issues because God calls us to be his caretakers of the world. This includes caring for plant life, animal life, and human life.
Christians tend to speak out against abortion because they believe that all people deserve a chance to live and because they believe that all life has value.
Christians speak out against racism because we believe that all people regardless of skin color, nationality, or gender are created in God’s image and that all people are to be treated with dignity and respect.
Christians speak out for the poor and oppressed because we believe that everyone should have opportunity to have basic needs met and because no one should be a victim of persecution.
Christians are called to love others as they love themselves. This includes Christians and non-Christians alike, it even includes those who hate Christianity or seek its demise.
In Christianity there are a number of denominations. Each denomination has distinctive traditions and practices, but all Cristian denominations teach the same things about the nature and character of God, about salvation, and about the return of Christ.
Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Transformation Media Ministries, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for over 10 years. Scott is married and has three children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges in America every day.