Christianity

By tradition, Christianity is said to have arrived in India with Saint Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, who spent some years in South India and possibly died there. However, others believe that the first missionary to arrive in the country was Saint Bartholomew. Historically, Christian missionary activity started with the advent of Saint Francis Xavier in 1544. He was followed by Portuguese missionaries at first and eventually by missionaries from other countries like Denmark, Holland, Germany and Great Britain. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Catholic as well as Protestant missionaries preached Christian doctrines in India and also made important contributions to social improvement and education in India.

Much of the modern influences in the Indian society can be attributed to the role of Christianity in India. Christian missionaries helped in setting up schools and colleges all over India and also spread the message of faith and goodwill in the country. Christianity and its teachings influenced a number of intellectuals and thinkers in India, including Mahatma Gandhi.

Today, the Christians in India number about 30 million and consist of people from every denomination of Christianity

Christianity is at least three things:

  • A set of beliefs.
  • A way of life.
  • A community of people.

Christianity originally developed as a part of Judaism. Jesus was a Jew. He lived from about 3 BC to 30 AD. He lived and taught in Palestine, primarily (although not exclusively) among fellow Jews.

Christianity shares a number of beliefs and practices with other religions, particularly Judaism and Islam. With Judaism and Islam, Christians believe in one God, who created the universe and all that is in it. All believe that this God is active in history, guiding and teaching his people. All three religions, including Christianity, have been called "ethical monotheism". This term emphasizes the belief in one God, and the fact that following this God commits us to a number of specific ethical rules or principles.

The term "Church" is used by Christians in two different, but closely related, ways. It can refer to all of Jesus' followers, viewed as a community. It can also refer to specific institutions, either the local congregation or a national or international body. It can even be used to refer to the building in which they meet.

The Church is important, because God does not save people in isolation. An important part of what needs to be restored is our relationship with other people. That can only be done by the community as a whole.