Important Ideas in Christianity

A belief in a being more powerful than humans (God) who is transcendent (above creation)

Humans have become separated from God and need special help (grace) to reconnect

God had a son, Jesus, who suffered and died so that human sins could be forgiven

Jesus gave followers teachings and guidelines that most Christians attempt to follow (even if they disagree on what they are)

Jesus' death was not the end of his existence: followers believe he rose from the dead

Specific rituals: Communion (Last Supper) and Baptism (some traditions have 7 sacraments)

The founder of Christianity, Jesus, was more than just an ordinary human being

Because Jesus and his followers were Jews, Christianity incorporates some aspects of Judaism

A sacred text, the Bible, composed of: Old Testament (Jewish scriptures) and New Testament (mainly the gospels and writings of Paul)

A Working Timeline

6 BCE (or thereabouts): Jesus born in Palestine, then a part of the Roman Empire

30 CE: Jesus executed by the Romans

30-50: small groups of followers spread the message that Jesus rose from the dead, prominent among them, Paul

70-100: Gospels take shape to tell the story of Jesus' life, teachings, and death

100-300: Christianity separates from Judaism, is persecuted by the Romans

320s: Constantine, the Roman Emperor, converts to Christianity and favors its adherents

395: Christianity becomes the sole legal religion of the Roman Empire

400-1500: Christianity becomes dominant tradition in Europe. Ideal of one Christian world. Crusades, Inquisition, tools to enforce this ideal.

1500s: Protestant Reformation (England, Henry VIII; Germany, Martin Luther). Christianity fragments into many different types, but each government favors one

1500-1700: European colonialism and imperialism spreads Christianity to the New World

1700s: American colonies and revolution. America founded by religious zealots and deists on principles of separation of church and state