Christian apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that defends Christianity against objections. Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle in the early church and Patristic writers such as Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Justin Martyr and Tertullian continuing with writers such as Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham and Anselm of Canterbury during Scholasticism. Blaise Pascal was an active Christian apologist before the Age of Enlightenment. In the modern period Christianity was defended through the efforts of many authors such as G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, as well as G. E. M. Anscombe. In contemporary times Christianity is defended through the work of figures such as Robert Barron, Richard Swinburne, J. P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, Rabi Maharaj, Robert Hutchinson, John Lennox, Doug Wilson, Lee Strobel, Francis Collins, Henry M. Morris, Hugh W. Nibley, Alister McGrath, Alvin Plantinga, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, James White, David Wood, Dinesh D’Souza, David Bentley Hart, Nabeel Qureshi, William Lane Craig and Roger Scruton.
One of the first comprehensive attacks on Christianity came from the Greek philosopher Celsus, who wrote The True Word, a polemic criticizing Christians as being unprofitable members of society. In response, the church father Origen published his apologetic treatise Contra Celsum, or Against Celsus, which systematically addressed Celsus's criticisms and helped bring Christianity a level of academic respectability. In the treatise, Origen writes from the perspective of a Platonic philosopher, drawing extensively on the teachings of Plato. Contra Celsum is regarded by modern scholars as one of the most important works of early Christian apologetics. Thomas Aquinas presented five ways, or arguments for God's existence, in the Summa Theologica, while his Summa contra Gentiles was a major apologetic work. Blaise Pascal outlined an approach to apologetics in his Pensées: "Men despise religion. To remedy this, we must begin by showing; the Roman Catholics: Bishop Robert Barron, G. K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Karl Keating, Michael Voris, Peter Kreeft, Frank Sheed, Dr. Scott Hahn.
Others include Douglas Groothuis, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias, Hugh Ross, Lee Strobel, Hugo Anthony Meynell, Timothy J. Keller, R. C. Sproul, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Francis Collins, Vishal Mangalwadi, Richard Bauckham, Craig Evans, Darrell Bock, Gary Habermas, James White, John Lennox; the original Greek apologia was a formal verbal defense, either in response to accusation or prosecution in a court of law. The defense of Socrates as presented by Plato and Xenophon was an apologia against charges of "corrupting the young, … not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel". In use'apologia' sometimes took a literary form in early Christian discourse as an example of the integration of educated Christians into the cultural life of the Roman Empire during the "little peace" of the 3rd century, of their participation in the Greek intellectual movement broadly known as the Second Sophistic; the Christian apologists of the early Church did not reject Greek philosophy, but attempted to show the positive value of Christianity in dynamic relation to the Greek rationalist tradition.
In the 2nd century, apologetics was a defense or explanation of Christianity, addressed to those standing in opposition and those yet to form an opinion, such as emperors and other authority figures, or potential converts. The earliest martyr narrative has the spokesman for the persecuted present a defense in the apologetic mode: Christianity was a rational religion that worshiped only God, although Christians were law-abiding citizens willing to honor the emperor, their belief in a single divinity prevented them from taking the loyalty oaths that acknowledged the emperor's divinity; the apologetic historiography in the Acts of the Apostles presented Christianity as a religious movement at home within the Roman Empire and no threat to it and was a model for the first major historian of the Church, Eusebius. Apologetics might be directed to Christians within the community explain their beliefs and justify positions. Origen's apologetic Contra Celsum, for instance, provided a defense against the arguments of a critic dead for decades to provide answers to doubting Christians lacking immediate answers to the questions raised.
Apologetic literature was an important medium for the formation of early Christian identity. In addition to Origen and Tertullian, early Christian apologists include Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, the author of the Epistle to Diognetus. Augustine of Hippo was a significant apologist of the Patristic era; some scholars regard apologetics as a distinct literary genre exhibiting commonalities of style and form and strategies of argumentation. Others viewed it as a form of discourse characterized by its purpose. R. C. Sproul, quoting the First E
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