Different sects disagree over the details but here are some of the main concepts.
Thanks to Adam and Eve we all have Original Sin. Jesus came along to change all that by taking our sins on his shoulders. Some fundamentalists take it further by saying ‘If you accept him you are saved if not you’re damned to hell.’ So bad luck to Plato, the Buddha and anyone else who died before Jesus came or didn’t get to hear the message.
The main thing about Christianity is not the Crucifixion but the Resurrection. You wouldn’t know that for all the macabre crosses you see around the place but it’s the rising from the dead part that counts. It’s a symbol of the eternal life that Christians get.
Hell has gone out of fashion in recent years and most Christians now think that everyone will be saved to some extent. They plan to put the Muslims in a distant suburb of Heaven though.
For the fundamentalists though everything is as it was before science came along. The world is 12000 years old (count the ages of everyone in the Bible), the Devil causes all the bad things in the world and if you don’t believe them you go to hell forever and ever.
Jesus is seen to be both the Son of God and also God-incarnate. Like every other avatar, he’s seen to be fully God and also fully man.
According to the Gospels Jesus preached the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. He emphasized qualities like meekness, peace-making and basically waiting for your reward in the next life. A good way of keeping the masses happy with their lot.
Some choose to see the Gospels as a message of love. They follow the virtues of patience, forgiveness and compassion.
Going by the portraits another belief would seem to be that Jesus was a long-haired pale-skinned chap who would burn after half an hour in the Middle Eastern sun. The Portuguese Jesus is especially sweet.
No one is very interested in where Jesus went between the ages of 12 and 33, a period the gospels neglect to mention. No Christian believes the amusing theory that he went to India and learnt tricks like walking on water and rising from the dead from yogis there.
Christianity and Paganism is the best guide to the origins of Christianity you’ll find anywhere. Here you’ll learn about all the pagan roots of Christianity and the corrupt birth of the religion.
Mystic Christian Poetry – Life and works of the excellent John Donne.