be wrong to identify Christianity with ecclesiastical power structures
and bureaucratic institutions. Christians are those who throughout
their personal lives and everyone has his or her own life
to live are guided by Jesus Christ.
think of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who was
shot at the altar during a service; of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the
Protestant theologian and resistance fighter; of Martin Luther
King, the American civil rights activist; or of Jerzy Popieluszko,
the Polish priest. Common to them all is that:
were committed Christians.
stood up for their fellow men and women in a non-violent way.
they were all eliminated with brute force.
also makes them like the one who was the model in their lives,
suffering and struggles: Jesus of Nazareth.
us right to the heart of things. What is the real essence of Christianity?
The essence of Christianity is not, as some people think, some
great theory, a world-view, or even an ecclesiastical system.
It is quite simply Jesus Christ, his life and his teachings.
no organisation, no institution, no church can honestly call itself
Christian if it does not truly refer to him in word
left: Russian monk, Moscow; Peter and Paul, Rome; Hagia Sophia,
is named after Jesus Christ, a Jewish itinerant preacher, who
lived in Palestine in the early part of the first century. During
his brief public activity perhaps only a few months, at
most three years Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of
God with its promises and standards.
a group of disciples around him, came into conflict with the religious
and political establishment, and was crucified around the age
believed and still believe that God raised him from the dead to
eternal life and exalted him to be the Christ (Gods anointed),
the son of God.
did not write down any sayings. His teachings and his life are
handed down in the four Gospels (of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John),
which form, with twenty-three other writings, the New Testament.
around two billion Christians world-wide: Roman Catholic, Orthodox,
Protestant, Anglican and others.
left: The shanty-town of La Chacra, San Salvador; St. Partick's
Cathedral, New York; Martin Luther.