The Beginning of Christianity

The Beginning of Christianity

The Beginning of Christianity

The Beginning of Christianity

Excerpt

Christianity is a historical religion. That is true in a sense which cannot be said of any of the other great faiths of mankind except Judaism. Of course every known religion has appeared in history, and has passed through a process of historical change and development. This is true of Christianity, for it has not remained unaltered throughout the nineteen centuries of its existence. But in no other religion does a series of historical events occupy so prominent a place. The phrase in the Apostles' Creed, "suffered under Pontius Pilate," symbolizes how definitely Christianity is rooted and grounded in history.

We may clarify this point through a brief comparison with Buddhism. A particular historical moment was important in the discovery of the central idea of Buddhism. As Gautama was meditating under the Bo tree, he came to realize that only through rejection of all desire can man find release from the wheel of existence. But the idea was quite independent of the circumstances under which it came to the founder of this religious movement. In Buddhism it is not the historical event but the idea which is central. In contrast, Christianity can never be reduced to one abstract idea or series of ideas. It holds to the belief that there has been a series of revealing acts of God in history. While these acts reveal the eternal nature of God, the religion cannot be reduced to any group of speculative ideas. Christianity cannot be divorced from the historical milieu in which it appeared, for it gives central significance to a belief about those events in history.

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