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What is Christianity?

So, what exactly is Christianity?

We offer that Christianity is actually not a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s actually a living, renewing, loving, satisfying relationship with that same person! Christianity is as much a fellowship as it is a faith. It includes tenets and ethics, but at its core it is a transformative connection.

It’s a superb question, though, since practically everyone claims Jesus, especially in the South. No doubt, it is Christians through the centuries who have contributed most to the confusion. Some people imagine that Christianity is a religion of conservative, white, holier-than-thou people, who hold archaic views of sexuality and marriage, and can’t let themselves have any fun. The caricature has been earned by more than a few!

Christianity is never less than Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ is Christianity’s founder. Jesus—not a church or a preacher—is the final authority for what Christianity is. And the reliable record of Jesus is the Christian Bible, particularly the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

And at the heart of Christ’s significance is not simply his good deeds or his socially enriching teachings—like love your neighbors and even your enemies. The significance of Christ is his death and resurrection. “Christian” is a word that non-Christians coined for those who so trusted in Jesus and identified with him, that this person has come to deny his or her very self and has taken up the cross and follows Jesus. We like to say that a Christian is a person who strives to follow the biblical Jesus absolutely.