The orthodox* Christian worldview is based upon the belief that Jesus of Nazareth spoken of in the New Testament is both the one true God (who is Triune in nature) and the Messiah (or Christ) prophesied about in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Basic to all orthodox Christian belief is that there is one God, Yahweh, who exists as three persons (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit), all sharing the same nature. Jesus, who is God the Son, was born into human form to Mary through a miraculous means (the virgin birth), and is both God and man at the same time (hypostatic union). As God, Jesus became a man in order to take the just punishment of sin upon Himself by sacrificing Himself in the place of man. It was through this sacrificial death that God ultimately saves anyone who comes to Him through Jesus (Acts 2:21). God did this because He loves all of His creation and wants to have a relationship with them as was meant to be in His original design (John 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18).
The main essential beliefs of biblically-based Christianity are:
- There is one God existing in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)
- Jesus Christ is, has always been, and always will be God and the only Messiah
- Jesus is the only way to salvation and God
- Jesus was born, died, and raised to life again for salvation, forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation with God for all who accept Him as Lord and Savior
- All people, no matter their ethnicity, background, gender, age, geographical region, or cultural heritage can accept salvation and become Christians by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives
- Jesus will once again return to judge evil and sin and God will restore creation
- All believers will live eternally with God
While there are many other beliefs that are based on biblical teachings and principles that are also important for believers to affirm and adhere to, these are the main beliefs that are foundational to Christianity.
At the heart of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus, and without this event the Christian faith would not be in existence today. As the apostle Paul states, without the resurrection, Christian faith is “useless” and all believers are still “in [their] sins” (1 Corinthians 15:12–19), meaning that there is no hope of an afterlife in the presence of God if there is no resurrection. However, there exists incredibly substantial evidence that Jesus did in fact raise from the dead, and the resurrection serves as a foundational element of Christianity. Through the resurrection, Jesus proved that He is God, that He has power over life and death to provide salvation to all those who believe (Revelation 1:18; 2 Timothy 1:10), and that all believers will also continue to live eternally (both spiritually and physically) after their natural earthly death.
Similarities Between Christianity and Judaism
Christians and Jews share the same foundation for their faiths and agree on many theological elements. Like many (if not most) orthodox Jews, orthodox Christians affirm that the Hebrew Scriptures (the Law, Psalms, and Prophets) are the only true, divine revelation given by and about the one true God. Orthodox Christians and Jews also believe that no other gods exist and, therefore, both of these faiths are generally exclusive (rather than universal or pluralistic) in nature. Since Jesus is Jew in the line of King David by heritage and genealogy, Christianity also shares a history with Judaism. While Christianity is not a sect of Judaism, it does find its roots in the Jewish faith and grows out of this faith. In this way, Christians see Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the Jewish faith and prophecies given to the Jewish people (and ultimately all people) by God, which makes Christianity more of an extension of the Jewish faith that brings the beliefs of Judaism to completion rather than a version or a replacement of Judaism. Christian Jews are also sometimes called Messianic Jews (as opposed to Christian Gentiles/non-Jews who are generally just referred to as “Christians”), which means that they are Jews who believe that Jesus is God and Messiah.
The Major Difference Between Christianity and Judaism
The major distinction between orthodox Christians and non-messianic orthodox Jews is that the former believes that Jesus is God and the latter does not. Both faiths believe that there is only one God, but each faith understands the nature of God differently. Non-messianic orthodox Jews believe that Jesus is not God, and that believing He is equates to blasphemy and heresy. Orthodox Christians and Messianic Jews, on the other hand, affirm that God is one in nature, but unlike non-messianic Jews, they believe that God exists in three persons (the Trinity). One of these three persons is Jesus, who gave unequivocal proof that He is both the prophesied Messiah and God Himself according to orthodox Christian and Messianic Jewish beliefs.
*When used in this manner, the term orthodox means “traditional” and does not refer to specific denominations, such as the “Greek Orthodox Church”. It is used to denote the original, biblically-based beliefs of the first Christians (the apostles and disciples) and all following Christians that adhere to these traditional beliefs as opposed to any variants or sects that do not affirm these basic traditional and essential Christian beliefs.