Christianity began life as a Jewish sect. Far from attempting to find a new religion, the first Christians viewed themselves as Jews following the teachings of the Jewish Messiah . It was only later, after many non-Jews converted, that Christianity became a religion distinct from Judaism2
Although Christianity shares much with Judaism, these two faiths differ significantly with respect to such fundamental issues as God’s relationship with humanity. The central motif through which this relationship has been understood in both traditions is that of a covenant or contract. In Hebrew scriptures ( the old Testament3) , God offers a special relationship with his chosen people — the Jews through a contract that specifies the terms of this relationship . The details of this arrangement have been modified and expanded from time to time, in a series of covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses4. The most well known of these contracts is God’s agreement with Moses on Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments5.
In the Christian understanding of covenant theology, God offers humanity a new contract — the New Testament6— as revealed in the person and teaching of Jesus. Unlike previous covenants, the new covenant refers to the eternal fate of individuals rather than to the worldly fate of the nation of Israel. Also, rather than being offered only to Jews, the new contract is offered to humanity as a whole . Individual salvation7 and the question of how that salvation can be achieved is a dominant theme of traditional Christianity.
Salvation, according to this tradition, is necessary because otherwise the individual is condemned to spend eternity in hell8 , a place of eternal punishment. Born into sin, the sentence of eternal damnation is the fate of every person unless she or he is saved from this fate by being“ born again ”through faith in Jesus Christ. All other doctrines are built around a warning of condemnation and a redeeming message of redemption. As the core doctrine, it would be natural that arguments over soteriology ( one’s theory of redemption) would lead to religions schisms. Disagreement over competing notions of salvation led to the split between Catholicism and Protestantism.
Given the stark contrast between heaven and hell as eternal abodes of the soul, serious thinkers have had to grapple with the question —What happens to people who, while not saints, nevertheless are generally good people who have never committed any major sins in their lives? Reflection on this problem led to the development of purgatory9, an intermediate realm between heaven and hell. In purgatory, souls are tortured for their sins, but are eventually released and allowed to enter heaven.
Tra nslate Chinese in to English, to lea rn more a bout th e or igina l sin: God created the heavens, earth and all kinds of animals, including two men —Adam and Eve. They could eat from any tree, except one, in the Garden of Eden. _____________( 在上帝创造的所有动物之中, 毒蛇是最狡诈的。)“Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”The serpent asked Eve .“We may eat the fruit of any tree _____________( 除伊甸园中间那棵树上的果实之外) . God had even said,‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, otherwise you die. ’”But the serpent told Eve ,“Of course you will not die! God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and _____________( 你们就会像上帝一样区分出善恶) . ”Eve saw the tree was good for good, pleasing to the eyes and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. Then she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it, too. Then, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked._____________( 于是他们就把树叶缝在一起, 制成衣服。) When God came, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden.“Where are you?”the God asked.“ I heard you in the garden; but I am afraid. _____________( 因为我没有穿衣 服, 所以我躲了起来。) ”answered Adam. It was just then God learnt that they had eaten the fruit of the tree in the middle . God was very angry and banished them from the Garden of Eden.