Introduction


Key Persons and Events

Christianity as we know it today was essentially founded by two key events that happened to two key persons:

  1. the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or more correctly, the belief in that resurrection by many of his followers, and
  2. the conversion experience of Saul (now St. Paul) on the road to Damascus.  St. Paul has to be included as the second founder of today’s Christianity, as he led the extension of Christianity to the gentiles and developed some of the most important theological thinking in his letters – despite the fact that they were never intended as components of a systematic theology.  Paul was the most successful of the early apostles, proclaiming the gospel of the risen Christ throughout the Mediterranean world.


Our Approach

Our approach to Christianity is scholarly and historical; based on an inquisitive and thoughtful skepticism.  Thus, we present articles of interest to liberal Christians and kindly skeptics.  We choose to only deal with a small number of selected topics in Christianity, but to treat them in more depth.  For example, our Comprehensive Timeline of Jewish, Christian and Roman Events from 333 BCE to 431 CE  is much more complete than any other similar timeline found online.

We believe that the liberal protestant scholars and academics are closer to the truth than more conservative or evangelical scholars.  These liberal scholars are found in some of the Protestant denominations, such as Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist, and in the more liberal seminaries at Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the Union Theological Seminary of New York.

We seek to use the best of modern scholarship to elucidate the facts and complexities of Christianity.  As Anglican Bishop John Spong said, “Seek the truth come whence it may, cost what it will.”  [JS2, xix].

There are many decent, kind, intelligent and knowledgeable people who believe in Christianity. The same is true for Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other major religions.  And there are also many decent, kind, intelligent and knowledgeable people who don’t believe in Christianity or any traditional religion – we are the humanists, skeptics, agnostics and atheists.  It goes without saying that not every Christian or Atheist is both intelligent and knowledgeable.

Information Sources

The creator of this web site is D. A. Hill, a retired scientist living in the Toronto area, with a Ph.D. in Physics.  Although this is an academic background, it is not a qualification for the study of Christianity.  For that reason, the information contained in all of these articles comes from one or more books or articles written by qualified academics: professors of theology, religion or history at western universities.   A second source is the many lecture courses produced by The Teaching Company and available at www.thegreatcourses.com .  Each course is taught by a qualified University professor and comes with a paper or pdf summary of the lectures.  A third source is the many Wikipedia pages, found online at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page .  We often refer to Wikipedia articles because they are readily available online, and seem to us to be generally very reliable – although not all scholars would agree.

For all the topics presented on the web site, the source references are embedded in the text with the complete citation in the References section at the end of the article.  For example, [Bible] refers to the HarperCollins Study Bible.  A complete list of all the references for the entire web site, including Wikipedia pages, is found in the Master Reference List Tab.  So far we have read all of the New Testament (NT), selected parts and passages of the Old Testament (OT), and twenty of the books listed in the Master Reference List.  We have also read parts of another twenty books in the master list.

We also recommend that every student of Christianity acquire and use a study Bible, that is, a Bible with background introductory articles, articles introducing each book of the Bible, and lots of footnotes giving detailed explanations of many passages.  We take all our bible quotations and many scholarly comments and footnotes from The HarperCollins Study Bible, which is based on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, published in association with the Society of Biblical Literature (see [Bible] in the References list).  There are also ‘study’ or ‘annotated’ editions of many versions of the Bible, including the Revised Standard Version (RSV),  the New International Version (NIV), and the New King James Version (NKJV).  See the Best Bible Translations Tab for more details and recommendations.


My Own Religious Home

I belong to a Unitarian Congregation in the Toronto area.  We Unitarians do not have an agreed creed (list of beliefs about Jesus, God, etc.) but we do have an agreed list of seven principles.  Two of our principles are our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.  The sources of our faith include the Judeo-Christian tradition, humanism, science and contemporary thought.

For more information, visit www.cuc.ca in Canada, or www.uua.org in the United States.


Website

The website name, https://www.topicsinchristianity.com/  ends in .com, not because we are in any way commercial, but because this ending should be easier for North American internet users to find. This website may be viewed equally well on a computer screen or a smart phone. For some pages, the smart phone will need to be rotated to the landscape orientation.


References

  • Bible          Harper Collins Study Bible.  NY, NY: HarperOne an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.  Based on the New Revised Standard Version Bible, © 1989 .  2204 pages. This Bible has 66 (lxvi) introductory pages; a two-page introduction to each book; 18 colour maps;  many black and white maps; and many footnotes on each page, giving explanations and cross references.  All our Bible quotations are from this version.  This bible was sponsored by  the Society of Biblical Literature.  Most of the contributors seem to be Protestants.

  • JS2      Spong, John Shelby.  Why Christianity Must Change or Die.  HarperCollins, 1998. John Spong is an Anglican Bishop.