While encompassing different branches, denominations and sub-sets, Christianity is the largest religion in the world, with over 2.1 billion adherents.
Groups that identify themselves as Christian include African Independent Churches, Aglipayan Church, Amish, Anglicans, Armenian Apostolic, Assembly of God, Baptists, Calvary Chapel, Catholics, Christadelphians, Christian Science, Community of Christ, Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (“Mormons”), Coptic Christians, Eastern Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox, Evangelical, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jehovah’s Witness, the Local Church, Lutheran, Methodists, Monophysites, Nestorians, the New Apostolic Church, Pentecostals, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventists, Unity Church, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and others. These groups exhibit varying degrees of similarity, cooperation and association with each other, but all relate to the central position of Jesus Christ in their faith.
While Christian beliefs vary, there are core values and concepts that Christians share, no matter what their theological perspective. These revolve around the person of Jesus Christ as reported in the Christian scriptures (the “Gospels”) as an exemplar to humanity – as a way of being, acting and living in the world in tune with God’s and natural law. This way of living is reflected in Jesus’s own life as well as through his public talks, often in the form of allegories where the esoteric meaning or moral lesson was hidden for those with “eyes to see” or “ears to hear” (in other words, until the listener is spiritually ready), or as more direct exegesis and instruction, as in the Sermon on the Mount.
Another thing common to most Christians is the reference to the Christian Bible, which includes an earlier scripture for Christianity’s pre-cursor, Judaism, in the form of the “Old Testament”. Jesus was raised a Jew and most of his early followers were also Jews. It was only after his death that knowledge of Jesus’s teachings and life spread to non-Jewish communities.
Though not biblically-based, many Christians share the theological concept of the Trinity, the idea that Jesus is one of three persons in One – the Father (the source), the Son (the expression) and the Holy Spirit (the vehicle). While difficult for non-Christians to understand, the Trinity represents a kind of metaphysics where different manifestations of the “One”, God, exist in different forms. This raises the question of whether Jesus was God, or man, or both.