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Introduction, Workshop 11: Christianity 1

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. — John 3:16 (KJV)

This workshop introduces Christianity, the largest religion in the world. A branch of the Abrahamic line, Christianity includes nearly a third of the people on the planet. Core teachings of love and faith, forgiveness and generosity, are profoundly affirming; however, the doctrines that have evolved over centuries, the efforts to convert people for their salvation, and the variations of behavior inherent in billions of human beings have created a very mixed historical record and contemporary practice. It can be difficult to, in biblical terms, separate the grain from the chaff. It is important to help Unitarian Universalist youth to a greater understanding of the complexities and challenges of Christianity.

Some of the challenges of this exploration include:

  • The tendency to lump all Christians together rather than make important distinctions among sects and practices and among individuals
  • The tendency, as with any religion, to think that if you know someone's religion, you know what they believe and what their social or political opinions are
  • The influence of negative attitudes on the part of some Unitarian Universalists who have had bad experiences with Christian religions
  • For some Unitarian Universalists, who are surrounded by evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, the feeling of being misunderstood, disrespected and even attacked. This can set up a defensive reaction in which participants' protective feelings for their own religion leave them less than open to Christianity
  • Finally, the challenge of all exploration of differences: the ability to bring an open mind and open heart to the journey.

NOTE: This workshop focuses on the life and teachings of Jesus. For how the early Christian Church evolved into the Catholic Church, see the text in Alternate Activity 3: From Minority to Majority, which describes the institutionalization of the Church in the Holy Roman Empire and explores the Crusades. Workshop 12 continues the Christian story with the Protestant Reformation.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

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