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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers.
Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the logos incarnated—who ministered, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible. Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around the Levant, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity slowly separated from Judaism. Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the "Great Church". The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology, while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Latin Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and papal primacy. Christianity played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly in Europe from late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.
The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (230 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (62 million/Orthodoxy combined at 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Despite a decline in adherence in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents. Christians remain persecuted in some regions the world, especially in the Middle-East, North Africa, East Asia, and South Asia.
was an attempt by five Evangelical Christian missionaries
from the United States
to make contact with the Huaorani
people of the rainforest
. The Huaorani, also known as the Aucas (the Quechua
word for "savage"), were an isolated tribe known for their violence, both against their own people and outsiders who entered their territory. With the intention of being the first Protestants
to evangelize the Huaorani, the missionaries began making regular flights over Huaorani settlements in September 1955, dropping gifts. After several months of exchanging gifts, on January 2, 1956, the missionaries established a camp at "Palm Beach", a sandbar
along the Curaray River
, a few miles from Huaorani settlements. Their efforts culminated on January 8, 1956, when all five—Jim Elliot
, Nate Saint
, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Roger Youderian
—were attacked and speared
by a group of Huaorani warriors. The news of their deaths was broadcast around the world, galvanising the missionary effort in the United States and sparking an outpouring of funding for evangelization efforts around the world. Their work is still frequently remembered in evangelical publications, and in 2006, was the subject of the film production End of the Spear
. Several years after the deaths of the men, the widow of Jim Elliot, Elisabeth
, and the sister of Nate Saint, Rachel
, returned to Ecuador as missionaries to live among the Huaorani, eventually leading to the conversion of many, including some of the killers of the men.
) (died on 10 November between 627 and 631) was the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury
. He was sent from Italy to England by Pope Gregory the Great
, on a mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons, probably arriving with the second group of missionaries despatched in 601. Justus became the first Bishop of Rochester
in 604, and attended a church council in Paris in 614. Following the death of King Æthelberht of Kent
in 616, Justus was forced to flee to Gaul
, but was reinstated in his diocese the following year. In 624 Justus became Archbishop of Canterbury, overseeing the despatch of missionaries to Northumbria
. After his death he was revered as a saint, and had a shrine in St Augustine's Abbey
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