Christianity dates back to the first century and is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christianity has three main branches of belief and practice: Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Christians worship one God as the Holy Trinity, consister of the Father (creator of the universe), Jesus Christ (the savior of the world) and the Holy Spirit (which has worked to sanctify and transform lives throughout history and continues to do so today). 

The Protestant church formed in the 16th century, separating from the Roman Catholic Church over disputes about faith and justification. The Protestant church is further divided into denominations, including (but not limited to) Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist and Wesleyan. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon Church, is another branch of Christianity that was founded in the United States in 1829 by Joseph Smith. 

Important Terms

  • God: "God" refers to a single, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal deity, God is triune, meaning that God is One in Three Persons, without division or distinction.  God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This belief is not meant to be grasped in a mathematical way, but contemplated through a lifetime. Like Jews and Muslims, Christians are of the Abrahamic tradition and worship the God who made a covenant with the ancient Hebrew people. 
  • Christ: From the Greek Christos and Hebrew Messiah, which means, "anointed one." A messiah is sent by God to bring the salvation of the people, and Christians consider Jesus of Nazareth to be the ultimate messiah. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, He made Heaven availalbe and attainable for the faithful, brining ultimate salvation in eternal life with God. 
  • Communion: A regular sharing in the elements of bread and wine, which for Protestants signify the body and blood of Jesus as he shared it the night before his death. Communion is the central act of Christian worship. 
  • Sacraments: Visible signs of God's grace in the world. Protestants recognize two sacraments-baptism and communion. Besides the official two, any experience or item that makes God's grace visible can be considered sacramental. 
  • The Creeds: The Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed are ancient church documents that affirm that basic tenants of the Christian faith are held as definitive for all Christian communities. 

Important Religious Texts

The Old Testament or Hebrew Bible contains the Torah (the first five books, also called the Law, include Genesis, Exodux, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), as well as histories, psalms adn proverbs, poetry and prophets. 

The New Testament contains the Gospels, (the story of Jesus' life, includes Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) the Acts of the Apostles, and the episles of disciples.

Customs

There is great variety of traditions and customs within the Protestant Church, and Protestants celebrate majory holidarys including Christmas and Easter. Protestant churches on the whole value democratic order within the church, and more function independently of one another. Protestant denomincations grow and change rapdily, and it is estimated that there are currently around 40,000 denominations worldwide. 

Worship, Prayer, and Practice

Protestant Christians gather for traditional worship services on Sunday. There is a great variety in worship expression within the Protestant church, but central to most services is the proclamation of the Bible, a sermon, hymn singing, prayer, and regular communion. 

Service to others is an essential teaching of Christianity, and all Christians are called to serve each other and the less fortunate. Many Christians volunteer on a regular basis with an organization or do different projects with their faith groups, advocating for justice and peace in our world. 

Ways to be Involved at BenU 

Here are a few classes offered at BenU about this faith tradition. Please visit the Course Catalog for more information and click here to learn more about the Interfaith Studies Emphasis. 

  • IDS/HNRS 201  History of Christian-Muslim Relations 
  • IDS 303  Interfaith/Culture Dialogue
  • RELS 130  Abrahamic Traditions 
  • RELS 285 Religion in America 
  • THEO 212  Land, Justice and Peace 

Faith Communities

Carrie Roberts
Director of Campus Ministry
(630) 829-6028
croberts@ben.edu

Kathryn Heidelberger
Campus Minister, Coordinator of Ecumenical and Interfaith Engagement
(630) 829-6336
kheidelberger@ben.edu