1902 Encyclopedia > Christianity > Christianity - Introduction. The Two Factors in Christianity.

(Part 1)

Christianity - Introduction.

Christianity is derived from the adjective Christian, which is formed from the name Christos [Gk.], the Anointed, and means the religion introduced by Jesus Christ and communicated by Him to His circle of followers.

The Two Factors in Christianity

The Christian religion is the result of two factors, neither of which can be omitted if a true description is to be given. On the one hand there is the objective element, which consists ill the manifestation and revelation of God to His people for the purpose of salvation; and on the other side there is the subjective element, which consists in the appropriation of this manifestation and what it implies by man through faith. Both elements enter into and form the constituent elements of a new life, which all Christians share in 'common, and which is the essence of Christianity. This common life of Jesus and His people has many ways· by which it can make itself seen and known. Christians have from the beginning exercised no small influence upon the ordinary political and moral life of the world. They have been able to effect changes in generally received moral ideas and maxims. They have altered the course and character of legislation. They have introduced new opinions and beliefs. They have formed fellowships for worship, built places of meeting, held councils and assemblies, and in many ways given evidence of their presence and power in the world. But it must always be remembered that Christianity is neither the church simply, nor theology, nor Christian ethics. It is more than all these put together. The common life of Jesus and His people, which is the core of Christianity, manifests itself in an outward visible organization for the purpose of worship, which is commonly called the church (see CHURCH). But this worship is not Christianity; still less are the various institutions and ceremonies according to which worship is carried on.

Christianity cannot help powerfully affecting the whole of the intellectual side of man's life. The spiritual events on which it rests must have their rationale, and the spiritual forces which course through it must have their rule, and man must more or less comprehend them, and assimilate them. The Christian cannot help having a very different idea of God from that held by Aristotle or Plato. The Christian regards sin as something which affects the whole human race, while the pagan believes it to be the mistake or misfortune of individuals. Christianity cannot help remoulding the beliefs and opinions of mankind, but, theology and Christianity are two very different things.

The Christian is moved by moral impulses and guided by moral principles which are peculiar to himself. He cannot look on marriage, for example, from either the purely ' economic or the purely sensuous point of view. He cannot help reorganizing the scheme of virtues, and giving to the principle of love a pre-eminence which it has not in pagan I ethics. Christianity cannot help putting a new face on morality, but Christian ethics and Christianity are still not one and the same thing.

Christianity includes all these and much more besides. It is nothing less than the whole round of human life in all its various departments in so far as it is related to and illumined and domil1ated by the divine love revealed in Jesus Christ. It is the presence of Jesus among His people and all that is implied in such a presence.

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Christianity - Table of Contents

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