Christianity was founded in Palestine by the followers of Jesus. One of the world's major belief systems, it predominates in Europe and the Americas, where it has been a powerful historical force and cultural influence, but it also claims adherents in virtually every country of the world.
The central teachings of traditional Christianity are that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; that his life on earth, his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven are proof of God's love for humanity and God's forgiveness of human sins; and that by faith alone in Jesus one may attain salvation and eternal life. This teaching is embodied in the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, but Christians accept also the Old Testament as sacred and authoritative Scripture.
Christian ethics derive to a large extent from the Jewish tradition as presented in the Old Testament, particularly the Ten Commandments, but with some difference of interpretation based on the practice and teachings of Jesus. Christianity may be further generally defined in terms of its practice of corporate worship and that these are usually conducted by trained clergy within organized churches. There are, however, many different forms of worship, many interpretations of the role of the organized clergy, and many variations in polity and church organization within Christianity.
For 250 years it was a martyrs' church; the persecutions were fueled by the refusal of Christians to worship the Roman State, the Roman Emperor, and the Catholic Cult's Pope. There were persecutions under Nero, Domitian, Trajan and the other Antonines, Maximin, Decius, Valerian, and Diocletian and Galerius; Decius ordered the first official persecution in 250. In 313, Constantine I and Licinius announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan when he realized that if you can't beat them, join with them. In the East the church passed from persecution directly to Roman Imperial control, inaugurated by Constantine, established later as the Roman Catholic Cult, and always a problem for the Orthodox churches. In the West the church remained independent because of the weakness of the emperor and the well-established authority of the apostles of Jesus Christ.
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