What is Christianity – A Common Definition
What is Christianity? One dictionary defines Christianity as “a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior.” This is certainly a good definition, but we need to go further.
Even though Christianity relates to the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, the word Christian did not exist until after Christ’s time. Christians got their name based on being followers of Christ.
What is Christianity – Doctrinal vs. Denominational
One of the important distinctions is between the doctrinal religion of Christianity and the denominational religions of Christianity. Once the canon was complete and the scriptures identified, the definition of doctrinal Christianity was based upon the literal interpretation of Scripture. One problem in the early church was that Scripture could not be easily duplicated so Christians did not really have direct access to the Scriptures. This gave the denominational Catholic Church the job of interpreting the Scriptures for the common folk. Although today everyone has access to the Scriptures, the fact is that individual denominations still interpret the scriptures for their parishioners.
What is Christianity – Bible-Believing or Pick-and-Choosing?
During the very early apostolic period, the apostles had to continually clarify the Christian doctrine that seemed to get corrupted often. Today, even with our well-documented Scriptures that are accessible to all, the belief in true Christianity (the literal interpretation of the Bible) has been corrupted to an even greater extent. The current percent of Christians who believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture, and do not pick and choose Scriptures to their liking, is about nine percent (Barna).
Most of Christianity today has embraced many humanistic and anti-theistic beliefs. The Christian denominations have accepted many cultural ideas and blended them into their doctrine. Generally, many concepts of sin, judgment, and the wrath of God have been put aside in favor of a religion of love, unity, and tolerance. One example is the New Tolerance philosophy.
In many churches today, Christianity is a doctrinal buffet, including selections from both the biblical and secular menus.