A basic overview of our church’s foundations.
To define it simply, Christianity is one of the world’s major monotheistic religions. Christians believe in Jesus Christ and follow his teachings. We believe Jesus is God’s own son, sent by God to become human. As the son of God, Jesus is divine, but he was also a human being who lived among us on earth, over 2,000 years ago. Followers of Jesus are part of God’s people, whose heritage includes the Jewish people and the Christian Church throughout the world today.
Who was Jesus?
As a person, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew who lived and died in biblical Israel under Roman rule in a province the Romans called Palestine. He spent his adult life in ministry with his disciples, traveling around the region, teaching about God and spreading a message of God’s love, peace, hope and forgiveness. He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He gathered many followers who were passionate about his teachings. As his following grew, some of the religious leaders became more and more distrustful and angry with him, until he was eventually turned over to the Roman government by Judas, one of his own disciples. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate then sentenced him to execution. He died by being nailed to a cross in the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem.
But death did not contain him. On the third day after his crucifixion, the day Christians call Easter, Jesus appeared among his followers as the risen, living Lord. He continued to teach, spreading the Good News, sharing the story of his life and resurrection to people here on earth for forty days before returning to heaven. His story and teachings are depicted in the New Testament of the Bible.
As Christians, we believe that Christ lives among us today by the power of God’s Spirit, present when the Good News is preached and the sacraments are administered.
Living a Christian life
Because of Jesus Christ, we believe that Christians are called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to live our lives in service to the world. Through acts of love and justice, worship and witness, we share God’s boundless love with the world.
As members of the ELCA, we share with all Christians a worldwide community of faith. Through Christ, we are united with other Christians and we recognize a wide fellowship of churches. We work alongside them in ecumenical ministry and service, both in the United States and across the globe.
Adapted from “What Is Christianity?” at http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/The-Basics/What-is-Christianity.aspx