Christianity is a religion that teaches that reconciliation to God comes through His son, Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only son of God and was made man in order to live, suffer, die, and be resurrected to pay the penalty for our sins. (Frankiel in Earhart 492) By paying this penalty, Christ is said to offer salvation, that is, an eternal reward after death.
Christianity is a diverse religion, but most adherents have certain rituals, practices, beliefs, and doctrinal systems that they hold in common. For instance, many Christian denominations have hierarchies of clergy: bishops or church elders, formally-trained priests or ministers who conduct church services, and lay-ministers.
Sandra Frankiel calls Christianity "deceptively simple." (493) because of the myriad differences in the ways people express their love for Jesus and commemorate His life and suffering. "Jesus Christ" or "Jesus the Christ" refers to God's anointed one — the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for. Jesus is called the "savior" because Christians believe His life and death on a Roman crucifix constitute a payment or "guilt offering" for the sins of mankind, and thus, everlasting life in heaven. To "believe in" Jesus is much more than just acknowledging that He existed — Christians who believe in Jesus (that is, to "accept what the church taught about Him as true and to act accordingly" (492)) will be saved from punishment after death. A typical Christian will belong to a church, be baptized, participate in church services, and "be an imitator of God" — while striving to lead a moral life.
Christianity is a stringent religion, that is, is focuses on "right belief" and adherence to doctrine more than it does "right practice". A Christian is not defined as much by what he does to practice his religion as much as he is defined by his beliefs. The various Creeds capture the beliefs of a Christian in a nutshell. Christians believe in the Bible, and believe that it is the inspired, unerring word of God.
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Frankiel, Sandra Sizer. "Christianity: A Way of Salvation" Religious Traditions of the World: A Journey Through Africa, Mesoamerica, North America, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, China, and Japan. Ed. H. Byron Earhart. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.