Christianity endured its first major schism in 1054, separating the religion into east and west factions, but major core elements are retained in all the various branches. Practices such as the belief of one God and His son, use of the Bible as a holy book and organized worship are just a few examples of things that all Christian religions have in common.
All Christians, no matter their denomination, believe in one God. They place God as the utmost figure of their religions, stating that He created the entire universe, seen and unseen, and continues to maintain the world in His image. His ultimate authority over all matters means that Christians sometimes call him "Our Father" or "The Father" as well as God.
Christians believe that God had a son, Jesus Christ, and that he was born of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of sin. They believe that he was sent to earth to walk among humans as one of their own, to perform miracles and to die on the cross for everybody's salvation. Christians also believe that Jesus rose into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the father.
Scriptural interpretation varies across denominations, but all Christians use the Bible as their holy text. At its simplest, the Bible is divided into the Old Testament and New Testament. Its collections of books and letters advise all Christians on how to live their lives according to God's will and grace.
Creeds and Prayers
The selection of creeds and prayers used by any Christian changes from one denomination to another, but they all have the same purposes. One is to profess faith to Christianity, such as through recitation of the Nicene Creed, and another is to pray to a heavenly figure on matters like guidance, forgiveness and strength. One prayer that is commonly found in Christianity is the Lord's Prayer.
In the King James version of the Bible, Romans 5:12 states that sin was introduced into the world when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Christians may disagree about the the extent to which original sin has been propagated and the mark that it leaves on the soul, but they all agree that that was the first sin committed.
All Christians gather to share their faith with other adherents of the same religion. How and when this happens differs, but coming together is a key tenet of Christianity. Some attend congregations and some stay at home, but each Christian believes that concentrated time spent in communion with God is important.
Despite the differences in belief about what salvation entails and how it is achieved, all Christian religions state that only God and Jesus can deliver it to humans. When Christians have sinned, they pray to God and Jesus to absolve them of their sins and give them salvation.
Heaven and Hell
The manifestations of what constitutes heaven and hell vary across Christian religions, but all worshippers believe that a heaven exists where God and Jesus reside, and that hell is where people go who have not been given salvation. How a person ends up in either is different, but all Christians believe that they will end up in one or the other after they die on earth.
Baptism and Communion
Christian religions have different views regarding the age and process required for receiving the sacraments of baptism and communion, but they are present in all sects. Baptism is the sacrament that Christians use to represent committing to a religion and Eucharist is the sacrament they use to consume the body and blood of Christ whether they do so actually or metaphorically.
How Christians view Mary, and the importance upon her which they place, changes from one religion to another, but they all believe that she was a virgin who gave birth to Jesus Christ. Because of the different views about her place in heaven, there is no one prayer that is used by all religions, although all religions acknowledge her.
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images