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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheisticreligion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. Christianity is the world's largest religion, with over 2.4 billion adherents, known as Christians. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of humanity whose coming as Christ or the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Christian theology is expressed in ecumenical creeds. These professions of faith state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead, in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father, and that he will return to judge the living and dead and grant eternal life to his followers. His ministry, crucifixion and resurrection are often referred to as "the gospel", meaning "good news". The term gospel also refers to written accounts of Jesus's life and teaching, four of which—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are considered canonical and included in Christian Bibles.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the mid-1st century. Originating in Judea, it quickly spread to Europe, Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to the Americas, Australasia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world through missionary work and colonization. Christianity has played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization.
Worldwide, the three largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the various denominations of Protestantism. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox patriarchates split from one another in the schism of the 11th century; Protestantism came into existence in the Reformation of the 16th century, splitting from the Roman Catholic Church.
There are many important differences of interpretation and opinion of the Bible on which Christianity is based. Because of these irreconcilable differences in theology and a lack of consensus on the core tenets of what defines Christianity, Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox church members and theologians often deny that members of other branches are Christians.