Christianity is one of the most popular religions in the world. Generally, Christians believe in the existence of one Supreme Being (God), who is the creator of the universe. In addition, Christians also believe in heaven and hell; the righteous will go to heaven after the end of life while the sinners will go to hell. Moreover, teachings of Christianity uphold that only God can redeem human beings from sins, especially when they repent and receive salvation by believing and proclaiming Jesus is Lord. Christians’ practice involves congregating in churches, chapels, and meeting halls to worship, learn the teachings of Christian life, and engage in social support. Moreover, Christians’ major form of meditation is prayer, which is normally done with the guidance of religious leaders such as priests, pastors, bishops, and deacons (Miller and Miller, 2005).
Christians use the Bible as their sacred book, which contains various teachings of spirituality that govern followers of the religion in their life and relationship with their God. This sacred text contains commandments that Christians should observe as written by Moses, the prophet, and later by Jesus Christ. It is divided into two sections, that is, the Old and the New Testaments. In addition, it contains prophecies and talks about forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ as the mediator between believers and God. According to the Bible, Christians were created holy and in the image of God, but they sinned and God gave them a curse. Therefore, according to the Bible, all human beings are born as sinners, their purpose of life being to know, love and serve God. The Bible also talks about life after death and assures the righteous of eternal life in heaven while the wicked are assured of fire in hell (Fisher, 2014).
Christianity is believed to have originated from Judaism following the emergence of the New Testament that concentrated on teachings about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Primarily, it was mainly practiced in the Middle East and Western world, but over the years, it has spread to other parts of the world (Gottlieb, 2006). There are three major classifications of Christianity including Catholicism, orthodoxy, and Protestantism; however, all have the same beliefs but they differ in their mode of worship and conduct of service (Fisher, 2014).
Rites of Passage
Beliefs in Christianity are mainly demonstrated in the form of festivals, rites of passage, and meditation. In this paper, the discussion will concentrate on rites of passage, which include marriage, baptism, and funerals among others (Ott and Netland, 2006). Normally, rites of pasaage involve events that accompany a person’s important stages in life.
Marriage has a significant influence in Christianity practices, as it symbolizes the union of Jesus Christ with the church; that is the reason why Christian marriage is supported by the proclamation that no one should separate those joined in marriage the Christian way. This ceremony takes place in front of witnesses and there must be free will and consent from both partners that they are ready and willing to get married forever.
The religious leaders are always in charge of conducting the whole process of marriage. Vows are taken where the couple swears to live together until death separate them; this is in accordance with the bible. The couple then exchanges rings, which will be a sign of their being together as one. In some denominations, a Eucharist mass is celebrated. Most brides wear white gowns as a sign of purity; vows are based on the quotes from the bible, for example, the book of Mark states that God supports the marriage ceremony and has authorized it (Volf and Bass, 2001). Below are some images of a wedding ceremony.
Another important aspect of marriage in Christianity is procreation, as the bible states clearly that it is against the command of God to bear children outside marriage. Indeed, the seventh commandment given to Moses gives the couple the right to be faithful to one another and never commit adultery.
Christian marriages are practiced in all countries where Christianity is present. In the Church of England, various people are involved in marriage process from planning to the actual event. Prior to marriage ceremony, the priest conducts meetings with the couple to offer instructions and counseling, while announcements are made in the church several times calling for any anyone with contrary opinion to come up and show course why the two should not be married. In most Christian churches, the marriage ceremony is never complete before the couple cuts a cake and shares it with witnesses and the congregation.
This mostly involves beliefs in an afterlife (Volf and Bass, 2001), as evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible. Most Christians believe that it is important to anoint the sick, as it symbolizes forgiveness, healing and strengthening of the spirit when a person dies. Moreover, some people find it worthy to confess their sins before religious leaders and get salvation, as it strengthens their relationship with God; they believe that such actions will take them to heaven.
In most cases, there is always a period of mourning before the actual burial. The funeral service usually takes place in a church and the process is simple and brief, involving prayer, hymns, and a few speeches to give condolences to the family of the deceased. There is also a presentation to pay tribute to the life of the deceased, before the body of the deceased is placed into a coffin and then buried into the ground.
In most cases, flowers may be placed to symbolize that the dead person is entering a new life, while candles may be lit to symbolize salvation.
In some cases, believers cremate the bodies. This form of funeral service takes place in all Christian denominations all over the world. The Bible is used as the reference book of blessing and asking God for forgiveness on behalf of the dead. The main participants in the funeral service are the religious leaders such as priests and bishops who read the scriptures and offer spiritual sermons before and during burial. In addition, family members and friends take the responsibility of organizing the burial, which may involve liaising with authorities to acquire burial permit, as well as providing logistics for smooth conduct of the ceremony. Church members also participate in the funeral and burial ceremony through spiritual, moral, and financial support.
According to Christian beliefs, baptism started with a prophet in the Bible referred to as John the Baptist who prophesied about the coming of Jesus (Miller and Miller, 2005). Normally christians baptize both infants and adults as a sign of acceptance in the Christians church. Generally, all Christian churches use water to conduct baptism ceremonies, as water is normally associated with purity and cleansing. Different denominations have different practice of carrying out the ceremony; for example, in Orthodoxy, the baby is immersed in water, while in Catholic, water is poured on the baby’s forehead.
The main reason why Christians baptize their followers is that, it acts as dedication of someone to the church. In most cases, babies that are baptized are always offered new names from the bible, which are usually associated with the saints. The ceremony is presided over by religious leaders in all denominations. For children, the baptism ceremony is normally preceded by dedication, where children are brought to the priest or bishop and dedicated to the church and to God for protection.
About the Author
The author is a student of theology in the university. In general, the reason as to why I chose Christianity to explain the religious beliefs and practices is that, it is interesting to analyze and discuss the beliefs and practices involved in this religion. What interests me most are the activities involved in Christianity practices such as the rites of passage. I have witnessed almost all the rites of passage and anyone would be amused at how orderly they are done, although I believe in all religions there is order. Their way of doing things is unique, the believers are so enthusiastic and passionate about what they are involved in, and anyone witnessing their activities would definitely be carried away by the moment.
Fisher, M. P. (2014). Living Religions. Upper saddle Rriver, England: pearson. Web.
Gottlieb, R. (2006). The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology. Oxford, England: Oxford Handbooks Online. Web.
Miller, V. J., & Miller, V. D. (2005). Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practices in a Consumer Culture. London, England: Bloomsberry academic. Web.
Ott, C., & Netland, H. (2006). Globalizing Theology:Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity. MI, USA: Baker Academic Press. Web.
Volf, M., & Bass, D. C. (2001). Practising Theology:Beliefs and Practices in Christian life. Cambridge, England: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing. Web.