Theology and Practice
Chapter 5: Christianity: Development as an Option for the Poor
5. Christianity: development as an option for the poor OVERVIEW OF BELIEFS Introduction Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with over 2 billion adherents across the globe. There are three major Christian traditions: Catholicism (Roman), Protestantism (including Anglicans, Evangelicals and Independents) and, Orthodox (Eastern Rite). Approximately half of all Christians are Catholics, around 10 per cent belong to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and the remaining 40 per cent are denominations of Protestantism (Barrett et al. 2001; O’Brien and Palmer 2007). Christianity has its genesis in Judaism, with its most basic tenet of faith being that approximately 2,000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Jewish Messiah. Born in Palestine during the reign of Herod the Great, Jesus lived the majority of his life in the town of Nazareth. When he was around 30 years of age, he commenced a public ministry of healing and preaching in the region of Galilee that lasted approximately three years, at which time he was executed in the manner of a common criminal. Jesus was raised a Jew and, while he preached to Jews and Gentiles alike, it was his Judaism that provided the historical and spiritual context for his teaching, with him regularly referring or referencing in his teaching and activities the Jewish Scriptures. Christians believe that his very life, death and resurrection were the fulfilment of Judaic prophecy regarding the Messiah. Jesus was not just a rabbi who taught a small band of disciples, he was also a healer who gave...
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