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Bible[Gr.,=the books], term used since the 4th cent.to denote the Christian Scriptures and later, by extension, those of various religious traditions.ecumenical movement, name given to the movement aimed at the unification of the Protestant churches of the world and ultimately of all Christians. have remained a major element in Christianity to the present day. Christianity rests on a belief in a personal God who is held to have created the universe and to be omnipotent, omniscient and just.During and after the Reformation Protestantism separated into numerous independent sects...... For the first three centuries of Christianity, history is dependent on apologetic and religious writings; there are no chronicles (see patristic literaturepatristic literature, Christian writings of the first few centuries. Humanity, by contrast, has fallen from grace; it has sinned and is worthy of divine punishment.

In Christianity, a sacrament is commonly defined as having been instituted by Jesus and consisting of a visible sign of invisible grace.

Jesusor Jesus Christ, 1st-century Jewish teacher and prophet in whom Christians have traditionally seen the Messiah [Heb.,=annointed one, whence Christ from the Greek] and whom they have characterized as Son of God and as Word or Wisdom of God incarnate...... One of the world's major religions, it predominates in Europe and the Americas, where it has been a powerful historical force and cultural influence, but it also claims adherents in virtually every country of the world.

The central teachings of traditional Christianity are that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity Trinity[Lat.,=threefoldness], fundamental doctrine in Christianity, by which God is considered as existing in three persons.

For 250 years it was a martyrs' church; the persecutions were fueled by the refusal of Christians to worship the state and the Roman emperor. Jerome had a special role in the church's work of determining and preserving the text of the Bible. monasticismmonasticism, form of religious life, usually conducted in a community under a common rule. Alienation from the West was exacerbated by the bitter struggle over iconoclasmiconoclasm[Gr.,=image breaking], opposition to the religious use of images. Others have reinforced this line of argument by suggesting that the antiauthoritarian tendencies of 17th-century Protestant sects did much to foster democratic values (see Walzer, 1966).

There were persecutions under Nero, Domitian, Trajan and the other Antonines, Maximin, Decius, Valerian, and Diocletian and Galerius; Decius ordered the first official persecution in 250. Monastic life is bound by ascetical practices expressed typically in the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience, called the evangelical counsels...... Veneration of pictures and statues symbolizing sacred figures, Christian doctrine, and biblical events was an early feature of Christian worship (see iconography; catacombs)...... credo=I believe], summary of basic doctrines of faith. While Christianity has had an important impact on historical development (not least the tension between church and state which has been a feature of European compared with Asian societies), today it is widely held to have a declining influence in Western societies.

Protestantism,form of Christian faith and practice that originated with the principles of the Reformation. His father was a Roman citizen, probably of some means, and Paul was a tentmaker by trade. missions,term generally applied to organizations formed for the purpose of extending religious teaching, whether at home or abroad. As a result, contemporary Christianity is split into three broad tendencies: Accordingly, Christian organizational patterns are complex and differentiated between CHURCH, SECT and DENOMINATION (Troeltsch, 1912).

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