The Christian religion has its origins in Israel. Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity and Christians believe that he is the Son of God. Jesus was born into a Jewish family in about 6 BCE. Little is known of his early life. At about the age of 30 he became a travelling Jewish teacher. He spent approximately the next three years wandering throughout Palestine. Before Jesus began his teaching, Christians believe he was baptised in the River Jordan by a powerful preacher called John. Going into the water was a symbol of a new start. The Jews were waiting for a king to set up God's kingdom on earth. Christians believe John recognised that Jesus was the Messiah the Jews were waiting for.
Jesus travelled with twelve disciples, or followers, and other people who were keen to hear what he said. He taught that God was like a father - loving and kind to all people. Jesus was not popular with everyone and his enemies managed to have him arrested, tried and executed by the Romans. Jesus' followers believe that he rose from the dead and they were inspired to carry on his teaching. The numbers quickly grew and his followers became known as Christians. The teachings of Jesus were written down and they can be found in the Gospels and other books of the New Testament.
By the end of the fourth century CE Christianity had spread to many countries around the Mediterranean. By the end of the sixth century it has reached Britain. Today about a third of the world's population claim to be Christian.
From early times groups of Christians have
met together and worshipped in many different ways. The Church now has
many different groups or denominations. In the late twentieth century Christianity
is growing rapidly in Africa and Latin America. This means that as the
Christian religion enters a new century the majority of its followers are
black and the most widely spoken language in Spanish.
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