World Vision International
World Vision International is an Evangelical Christian humanitarian aid and advocacy organization. It prefers to present itself as interdenominational and employs staff from non-evangelical Christian denominations, it was founded in 1950 by Robert Pierce as a service organization to meet the emergency needs of missionaries. In 1975 development work was added to World Vision's objectives, it is active in nearly 100 countries with a total revenue including grants and foreign donations of more than $2 billion. The charity was founded in 1950 as World Vision Inc. by Robert Pierce and co-founder Frank Phillips with a first office in Portland, Oregon. The charity operated as a missionary service organization meeting emergency needs in crisis areas in East Asia, where in 1954 it opened an office in South Korea. In order to restructure the organization World Vision International was founded in 1977 by Walter Stanley Mooneyham the president of World Vision. In 1967, the Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center was founded by Ed Dayton as a division of World Vision International.
It became the organizational backbone of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and published data about "unreached people" and published the "Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas". During the 1970s, World Vision began training families to build small farms by teaching agricultural skills aiming to make lasting effects in the communities they were helping by promoting self-reliance The organization began installing water pumps for clean water in communities which caused infant mortality rates to drop. Volunteers now use the fresh water to teach communities gardening and irrigation and promote good health. During the 1990s, World Vision International began focusing on the needs of children, orphaned in Uganda and Somalia in response to AIDS, civil war, respectively, they began educating other African communities on AIDS after realizing its impact. They joined the United Nations peacekeeping efforts to help those affected by civil war. World Vision started to promote the international ban on land mines.
In 1994 World Vision US moved to Washington State. According to Forbes magazine, as of December 2014, World Vision is the 11th largest charity in the United States with total revenue of over 981 million dollars. World Vision Partnership now operates as a federation of interdependent national offices governed by the same agreement but with three different levels of central control. National Offices- under strong central control by World Vision International, registered in the host country as a branch of the main organization. Intermediate Stage National Offices with a separate board of directors Interdependently National Registered Offices- autonomous in internal decision but are expected to coordinate with World Vision International and are bound to the Covenant of Partnership; the Covenant of Partnership is a document that all national members of the World Vision Partnership have to sign. According to this document all national offices have to accept policies and decisions established by the International Board and must not establish an office or program outside their own national borders without the consent of World Vision International and the host country.
Except for direct project founding, all funds intended for outside their national borders have to be remitted through World Vision International. The financial planning and budget principles adopted by the International Board have to be accepted as well as an examination of the financial affairs of the national offices by Partnership representatives; the president of World Vision International has a seat on all national offices with their own national board. The partnership offices – located in Geneva, Nairobi, Los Angeles, San José, Costa Rica – coordinate operations of the organization and represent World Vision in the international arena. For making large scale decisions, the international organization considers opinions from each national office, whether in the developed or developing world. An international board of directors oversees the World Vision partnership; the full board meets twice a year to appoint senior officers, approve strategic plans and budgets, determine international policy.
The current chairperson of the international board is Donna Shepherd. The international president is Kevin J. Jenkins. World Vision's staff comes from a range of Christian denominations, its staff includes followers of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Around the world its staff includes followers of different religions or none, its staff participates in weekly services. They stress. However, World Vision respects other religions that it encounters, stating that "to promote a secular approach to life would be an insult to them". Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US, stated that World Vision has a strict policy against proselytizing, which he describes as "...using any kind of coercion or inducement to listen to a religious message before helping someone". The World Vision Partnership and all of its national members are committed to the concept of transformational development, cast in a biblical framework and in which evangelization is an integral part of development work. Activities include: emergency relief, health care, economic development, promotion of justice.
The organization has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO, financial records reveal that it has funded evangelical activities all over the world. Its approach to aid is to first help people and their commun
In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians who specialize in evangelism are known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field, although some Christian traditions refer to such people as missionaries in either case; some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position. Christian groups who encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelist; the scriptures do not use the word evangelism, but evangelist is used in Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:5. The word evangelist comes from the Koine Greek word εὐαγγέλιον via Latinised evangelium as used in the canonical titles of the Four Gospels, authored by Matthew, Mark and John; the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον meant a reward given to the messenger for good news and "good news" itself. The verb form of euangelion, occurs in older Greek literature outside the New Testament, making its meaning more difficult to ascertain.
Parallel texts of the Gospels of Luke and Mark reveal a synonymous relationship between the verb euangelizo and a Greek verb kerusso, which means "to proclaim". Some Christians distinguish between evangelism and proselytism, the latter viewed as unethical because it is taken to involve the abuse of people's freedom and the distortion of the gospel of grace by means of coercion, deception and exploitation; the term "proselytize" might be used when one group does not approve of the missional activities of another when one group is losing members to another group. Different denominations follow different theological interpretations which reflect upon the point of, doing the actual conversion, whether the evangelist or the Holy Spirit or both. Calvinists, among other Christian denominations, believe the soul is converted salutary to Christ only if the Holy Spirit is effective in the act. Catholic missionary work in Russia is seen as evangelism, not proselytism. Archbishop Kondrusiewicz stated, "that proselytism is unacceptable and cannot constitute a strategy for the development of our structures either in Russia or in any other country in the world".
Regarding claims by the Orthodox church that spreading the faith and receiving converts amounts to proselytism, the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document called "Doctrinal Note on some Aspects of Evangelization" which states that evangelism is "an inalienable right and duty, an expression of religious liberty...", added, "The incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and age. It is entrance into the gift of communion with Christ...." In recent history, certain Bible passages have been used to promote evangelism. William Carey, in a book entitled,'An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens' popularised a quotation, according to the Bible, during his last days on earth Jesus commanded his eleven disciples as follows: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And I am with you always, to the end of the age. However, recent scholarship by Chris Wright and others has suggested that such activity is promoted by the entire Bible, or at least the wider term'mission', although the meaning of the word'mission' and its relationship to'evangelism' is disputed amongst Christians. Breaking from tradition and going beyond television and radio a wide range of methods have been developed to reach people not inclined to attend traditional events in churches or revival meetings. Dramas such as Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames have gained enormous popularity since the 1980s; these dramas depict fictional characters who die and learn whether they will go to heaven or hell. The child evangelism movement is a Christian evangelism movement that originated in the 20th century, it focuses on the 4/14 Window which centers on evangelizing children between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. Beginning in the 1970s, a group of Christian athletes known as The Power Team spawned an entire genre of Christian entertainment based on strong-man exploits mixed with a Christian message and accompanied by an opportunity to respond with a prayer for salvation.
Other entertainment-based Christian evangelism events include live theater and music. The Christian music industry has played a significant role in modern evangelism. Rock concerts in which the artist exhort non-believing attendees to pray a prayer for salvation have become common, just as common are concerts that are focused on activity not on prayer and conversion, thus forming an environment, not driven by conversion, but instead relaying of a message. Evangelists such as Reinhard Bonnke conduct mass evangelistic crusades around the world. Hundreds of church denominations and organizations participate in an evangelism movement known as the Billion Soul Harvest, a comprehensive initiative to convert a billion people to Christianity. New opportunities for evangelization have been provided in recen
A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups, called missionaries, across boundaries, most geographical boundaries, for the purpose of proselytism; this involves evangelism, humanitarian work among the poor and disadvantaged. There are a few different kinds of mission trips: short-term, long-term and ones meant for helping people in need; some might choose to dedicate their whole lives to missions as well. Missionaries have the authority to preach the Christian faith, provide humanitarian aid. Christian doctrines permit the provision of aid without requiring religious conversion; the earliest Christian mission the Great Commission and Dispersion of the Apostles, was active within Second Temple Judaism. Whether a Jewish proselytism existed or not that would have served as a model for the early Christians is unclear, see Circumcision controversy in early Christianity#Jewish background for details. Soon, the expansion of the Christian mission beyond Judaism to those who were not Jewish became a contested issue, notably at the Council of Jerusalem.
The Apostle Paul was an early proponent of this expansion, contextualized the Christian message for the Greek and Roman cultures, allowing it to reach beyond its Hebrew and Jewish roots. From Late Antiquity onward, much missionary activity was carried out by members of religious orders. Monasteries followed disciplines and supported missions and practical research, all of which were perceived as works to reduce human misery and suffering and glorify the Christian God. For example, Nestorian communities evangelized parts of Central Asia, as well as Tibet and India. Cistercians evangelized much of Northern Europe, as well as developing most of European agriculture's classic techniques. St Patrick evangelized many in Ireland. St David was active in Wales. During the Middle Ages, Ramon Llull advanced the concept of preaching to Muslims and converting them to Christianity by means of non-violent argument. A vision for large-scale mission to Muslims would die with him, not to be revived until the 19th Century.
Additional events can be found at the timeline of Christian missions. During the Middle Ages Christian monasteries and missionaries such as Saint Patrick, Adalbert of Prague propagated learning and religion beyond the boundaries of the old Roman Empire. In the seventh century Gregory the Great sent missionaries, including Augustine of Canterbury, into England; the Hiberno-Scottish mission began in 563. In the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, Franciscans such as William of Rubruck, John of Montecorvino, Giovanni ed' Magnolia were sent as missionaries to the Near and Far East, their travels took them as far as China in an attempt to convert the advancing Mongols the Great Khans of the Mongol Empire. One of the main goals of the Christopher Columbus expedition financed by Queen Isabella of Spain was to spread Christianity. During the Age of Discovery and Portugal established many missions in their American and Asian colonies; the most active orders were the Jesuits, Augustinians and Dominicans.
The Portuguese sent missions into Africa. These are some of the most well-known missions in history. While some of these missions were associated with imperialism and oppression, others were peaceful and focused on integration rather than cultural imperialism. In both Portugal and Spain, religion was an integral part of the state and evangelization was seen as having both secular and spiritual benefits. Wherever these powers attempted to expand their territories or influence, missionaries would soon follow. By the Treaty of Tordesillas, the two powers divided the world between them into exclusive spheres of influence and colonization; the proselytization of Asia became linked to Portuguese colonial policy. Portuguese trade with Asia proved profitable from 1499 onwards, as Jesuits arrived in India around 1540, the colonial government in Goa supported the mission with incentives for baptized Christians; the Church sent Jesuits to China and to other countries in Asia. The Reformation unfolded in Europe in the early 16th century.
For over a hundred years, occupied by their struggle with the Catholic Church, the early Protestant churches as a body were not focused on missions to "heathen" lands. Instead, the focus was more on Christian lands in the hope to spread the Protestant faith, identifying the papacy with the Antichrist. In the centuries that followed, Protestant churches began sending out missionaries in increasing numbers, spreading the proclamation of the Christian message to unreached people. In North America, missionaries to the Native Americans included Jonathan Edwards, the well-known preacher of the Great Awakening, who in his years retired from the public life of his early career, he became a missionary to the Housatonic Native Americans and a staunch advocate for them against cultural imperialism. As European culture has been established in the midst of indigenous peoples, the cultural distance between Christians of differing cultures has been difficult to overcome. One early solution was the creation of segregated "praying towns" of Christian natives.
This pattern of grudging acceptance of converts played out again in Hawaii when missionari
Judaism and violence
Judaism's doctrines and texts have sometimes been associated with violence. Laws requiring the eradication of "evil", sometimes using violent means, exist in the Jewish tradition. Judaism contains peaceful doctrines; this article deals with the juxtaposition of Judaic law and theology to violence and non-violence by groups and individuals. Attitudes and laws towards both peace and violence exist within the Jewish tradition. Throughout history, Judaism's religious texts or precepts have been used to promote as well as oppose violence. Normative Judaism is not pacifist and violence is condoned in the service of self-defense. J. Patout Burns asserts that Jewish tradition posits the principle of minimization of violence; this principle can be stated as " Jewish law allows violence to keep an evil from occurring, it mandates that the minimal amount of violence be used to accomplish one's goal." Judaism's religious texts endorse compassion and peace, the Hebrew Bible contains the well-known commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself".
According to the 1947 Columbus Platform of Reform Judaism, "Judaism, from the days of the prophets, has proclaimed to mankind the ideal of universal peace, striving for spiritual and physical disarmament of all nations. Judaism rejects violence and relies upon moral education and sympathy."The philosophy of nonviolence has roots in Judaism, going back to the Jerusalem Talmud of the middle 3rd century. While absolute nonviolence is not a requirement of Judaism, the religion so restricts the use of violence, that nonviolence becomes the only way to fulfilling a life of truth and peace, which Judaism considers to be the three tools for the preservation of the world; the biblical narrative about the conquest of Canaan, the commands related to it, have had a deep influence on Western culture. Mainstream Jewish traditions throughout history have treated these texts as purely historical or conditioned, in any event not relevant to times; the Second Temple period experienced a surge in militarism and violence aimed at curbing the encroachment of Greco-Roman and Hellenistic Jewish influence in Judea.
Groups such as the Maccabees the Zealots, the Sicarii at the Siege of Masada, the Bar Kochba revolt, all derived their power from the biblical narrative of Hebrew conquest and hegemony over the Land of Israel, sometimes garnering support of the rabbis, at other times their ambivalence. In Modern times, warfare conducted by the State of Israel is governed by Israeli law and regulation, which includes a purity of arms code, based in part on Jewish tradition. However, tension between actions of the Israeli government on the one hand, Jewish traditions and halakha on the conduct of war on the other, have caused controversy within Israel and have provided a basis for criticisms of Israel; some strains of radical Zionism justify them with biblical texts. Forced conversions occurred under the Hasmonean kingdom; the Idumaens were forced to convert to Judaism, either by threats of exile, or threats of death, depending on the source. In Eusebíus, Judaism Harold W. Attridge claims that “there is reason to think that Josephus’ account of their conversion is accurate.”
He writes, "That these were not isolated instances but that forced conversion was a national policy is clear from the fact that Alexander Jannaeus demolished the city of Pella in Moab,'because the inhabitants would not agree to adopt the national custom of the Jews.'" Josephus, Antiquities. 13.15.4. Maurice Sartre has written of the "policy of forced Judaization adopted by Hyrcanos, Aristobulus I and Jannaeus", who offered "the conquered peoples a choice between expulsion or conversion". William Horbury has written that "The evidence is best explained by postulating that an existing small Jewish population in Lower Galilee was massively expanded by the forced conversion in c.104 BCE of their Gentile neighbours in the north."In 2009 the BBC defended a claim that in 524 CE the Yemeni Jewish Himyar tribe, led by King Dhu Nuwashad, offered Christian residents of a village in Saudi Arabia the choice between conversion to Judaism or death and that 20,000 Christians had been massacred stating that "The production team spoke to many historians over 18 months, among them Nigel Groom, our consultant, Professor Abdul Rahman Al-Ansary."
Inscriptions documented by Yousef himself shows the great pride he expressed after massacring more than 22,000 Christians in Zafar and Najran. While the principle of lex talionis is echoed in the Bible, in Judaism it is not applied, was interpreted to provide a basis for financial compensation for injuries. Pasachoff and Littman point to the reinterpretation of the lex talionis as an example of the ability of Pharisaic Judaism to "adapt to changing social and intellectual ideas." Stephen Wylen asserts that the lex talionis is "proof of the unique value of each individual" and that it teaches "equality of all human beings for law." While the Bible and the Talmud specify many violent punishments, including death by stoning, decapitation and strangulation for some crimes, these punishments were modified during the rabbinic era by adding additional requirements for conviction. The Mishnah states that a sanhedrin that executes one person in seven years — or seventy years, according to Eleazar ben Azariah — is considered bloodthirsty.
During the Late Antiquity, the tendency of not applying the death penalty at all became predominant in Jewish c
The Eucharist is a Christian rite, considered a sacrament in most churches, as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper; the elements of the Eucharist, sacramental bread and sacramental wine, are consecrated on an altar and consumed thereafter. Communicants, those who consume the elements, may speak of "receiving the Eucharist", as well as "celebrating the Eucharist". Christians recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about how and when Christ is present. While all agree that there is no perceptible change in the elements, Roman Catholics believe that their substances become the body and blood of Christ. Lutherans believe the true body and blood of Christ are present "in, under" the forms of the bread and wine. Reformed Christians believe in a real spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Others, such as the Plymouth Brethren and the Christadelphians, take the act to be only a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper and a memorial. In spite of differences among Christians about various aspects of the Eucharist, there is, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "more of a consensus among Christians about the meaning of the Eucharist than would appear from the confessional debates over the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist, the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated"; the Greek noun εὐχαριστία, meaning "thanksgiving", appears fifteen times in the New Testament but is not used as an official name for the rite. Do this in remembrance of me"; the term "Eucharist" is that by which the rite is referred to by the Didache, Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr. Today, "the Eucharist" is the name still used by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans. Other Protestant or Evangelical denominations use this term, preferring either "Communion", "the Lord's Supper", "Memorial", "Remembrance", or "the Breaking of Bread".
Latter-day Saints call it "Sacrament". The Lord's Supper, in Greek Κυριακὸν δεῖπνον, was in use in the early 50s of the 1st century, as witnessed by the First Epistle to the Corinthians: When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk; those who use the term "Eucharist" use the expression "the Lord's Supper", but it is the predominant term among Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, who avoid using the term "Communion". They refer to the observance as an "ordinance"; those Protestant churches avoid the term "sacrament".'Holy Communion' are used by some groups originating in the Protestant Reformation to mean the entire Eucharistic rite. Others, such as the Catholic Church, do not use this term for the rite, but instead mean by it the act of partaking of the consecrated elements; the term "Communion" is derived from Latin communio, which translates Greek κοινωνία in 1 Corinthians 10:16: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The phrase appears in various related forms five times in the New Testament in contexts which, according to some, may refer to the celebration of the Eucharist, in either closer or symbolically more distant reference to the Last Supper, it is the term used by the Plymouth Brethren. The "Blessed Sacrament" and the "Blessed Sacrament of the Altar" are common terms used by Catholics and some Anglicans for the consecrated elements when reserved in a tabernacle. "Sacrament of the Altar" is in common use among Lutherans. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the term "The Sacrament" is used of the rite. Mass is used in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, by many Anglicans, in some other forms of Western Christianity. At least in the Catholic Church, the Mass is a longer rite which always consists of two main parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in that order; the Liturgy of the Word consists of readings from scripture (the
Latin liturgical rites
Latin liturgical rites, or Western liturgical rites, are Latin tradition Catholic liturgical rites employed by the Latin Church, the largest particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, that originated in Europe where the Latin language once dominated. Its language is now known as Ecclesiastical Latin; the most used rite is the Roman Rite. The Latin rites were for many centuries no less numerous than the liturgical rites of the Eastern autonomous particular Churches, their number is now much reduced. In the aftermath of the Council of Trent, in 1568 and 1570 Pope Pius V suppressed the Breviaries and Missals that could not be shown to have an antiquity of at least two centuries. Many local rites that remained legitimate after this decree were abandoned voluntarily in the 19th century. In the second half of the 20th century, most of the religious orders that had a distinct liturgical rite chose to adopt in its place the Roman Rite as revised in accordance with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.
A few such liturgical rites persist today for the celebration of Mass, since 1965-1970 in revised forms, but the distinct liturgical rites for celebrating the other sacraments have been completely abandoned. The Roman Rite is by far the most used. Like other liturgical rites, it developed with newer forms replacing the older, it underwent many changes in a half of its existence. The forms that Pope Pius V, as requested by the Council of Trent, established in the 1560s and 1570s underwent repeated minor variations in the centuries following; each new typical edition of the Roman Missal and of the other liturgical books superseded the previous one. The 20th century saw more profound changes. Pope Pius X radically altered the rubrics of the Mass.. Popes continued to make such changes, beginning with Pope Pius XII, who revised the Holy Week ceremonies and certain other aspects of the Roman Missal in 1955; the Second Vatican Council was followed by a general revision of the rites of all the Roman Rite sacraments, including the Eucharist.
As before, each new typical edition of an official liturgical book supersedes the previous one. Thus, the 1970 Roman Missal, which superseded the 1962 edition, was superseded by the edition of 1975; the 2002 edition in turn supersedes the 1975 edition both in Latin and, as official translations into each language appear in the vernacular languages. Under the terms of Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, the Mass of Paul VI is known as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite; the Tridentine Mass, as in the 1962 Roman Missal, is still authorized for use as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite under the conditions indicated in the document Summorum Pontificum. The Ordinariate Use is a variation of the Roman Rite, rather than a unique rite itself. During the Liturgy of the Eucharist the Eucharistic Prayer, it is closest to other forms of the Roman Rite, while it differs more during the Liturgy of the Word and the Penitential Rite; the language used, which differs from that of the ICEL translation of the Roman Rite of Mass, is based upon the Book of Common Prayer written in the 16th century.
Prior to the establishment of the personal ordinariates, parishes in the United States were called "Anglican Use" and used the Book of Divine Worship, an adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Divine Worship has been replaced with the similar Divine Worship: The Missal for use in the ordinariates worldwide. Anglican liturgical rituals, whether those used in the ordinariates of the Catholic Church or in the various prayer books and missals of the Anglican Communion and other denominations trace their origin back to the Sarum Use, a variation of the Roman Rite used in England before introduction during the reign of Edward VI of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, following the break from the Roman church under the previous monarch Henry VIII. In the United States, under a Pastoral Provision in 1980, personal parishes were established that introduced adapted Anglican traditions to the Catholic Church from members' former Episcopal parishes; that provision permitted, as an exception and on a case by case basis, the ordination of married former Episcopal ministers as Catholic priests.
As personal parishes, these parishes were part of the local Roman Catholic diocese, but accepted as members any former Anglican who wished to make use of the provision. On 9 November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI established a worldwide provision for Anglicans who joined the church; this process set up personal ordinariates for former Anglicans and other persons entering the full communion of the Catholic Church. These ordinariates would be similar to dioceses. Parishes belonging to an ordinariate would not be part of the local diocese; these ordinariates are charged with maintaining the Anglican liturgical and pastoral traditions, they have full faculties to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical functions in accordance with the liturgical books proper to Anglican tradition, in revisions approved by the Holy See. This faculty does not exclude liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite; the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was set up for England and Wales on 15 January 2011, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter for the United States and Canada on 1 January 2012, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for Australia on 15 June 2012.
As of 2017
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, prayer, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations hold regular group worship services. Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism, it soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, to Ethiopia and some parts of Asia. Constantine the Great decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan; the First Council of Nicaea established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire.
By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon over differences in Christology; the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism over the authority of the Pope. In 1521, Protestants split from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, other ecclesiological and theological disputes. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity was spread into the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy.
Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the New Testament, the names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren", "the faithful", "elect", "saints" and "believers". Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. While Christians worldwide share basic convcitions, there are differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based. Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds, they began as baptismal formulae and were expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.
The Apostles' Creed is the most accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Western Rite Orthodoxy, it is used by Presbyterians and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 9th centuries, its central doctrines are those of God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period; the creed was used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its main points include: Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit The death, descent into hell and ascension of Christ The holiness of the Church and the communion of saints Christ's second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful; the Nicene Creed was formulated in response to Arianism, at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.
The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox churches, taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, unchangeably, inseparably": one divine and one human, that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are also united into one person. The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity. Many evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. Most Baptists do not use creeds "in that they have not sought to establish binding