As mentioned in Part I, Christianity is the world’s largest religion. It has the greatest number of followers with approximately two billion around the world and forty million in the UK alone, with many different types of Christianity being practised. It is a belief system that over the years has had immense cultural and political consequence across nations, with major divisions occurring between Western Christianity – itself divided into Roman Catholicism and Protestantism – and Orthodox Christianity, and from the 16th and 17th centuries onwards it was a religion that developed missionary movements which established its beliefs throughout the world.
Central to Christian beliefs and practices is the Bible, split into the New Testament that details the life of Jesus and the Early Church and the Old Testament which is identical to the scriptures that Jesus would have referred to as a practising Jew. Other important texts are the Creeds: the Apostles ’ Creed and the Nicene Creed which are both summaries of the beliefs formulated in the early years of Christianity.
In 1054, a formal division opened up between Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, caused by Christianity spreading throughout the world, with different groups disagreeing over different aspects, thereby causing the Church to begin to split into various branches but prior to this, as mentioned in Part I, it was the Pagan beliefs that were the first direct conflict with Christian values.
Just as in the famous poem “Beowulf” where the two sets of beliefs are accommodated, with Paganism promoting the earthly good and Christianity asserting heavenly salvation, Denny Bradbury also combines the pagan values of bravery and loyalty through her pagan hero Borvo in her soon to be released second novel of the same name. She combines the healing powers of the young boy with the Christian values of forgiveness and peace and a spiritual life through her portrayal of King Alfred, fighting to introduce Christianity to an England being invaded by the marauding Pagan Danes, illustrating how the pagan belief system and Christian traditions are alike in some respects.
Like the book “The Mists of Avalon” released in 1983, in which the chief character is a Pagan Priestess whose half brother is King Alfred, Denny Bradbury also has a main protagonist from a Pagan background finding his way at a time when patriarchal Christianity is taking hold.
Nowadays, Christianity is responsible for the way our society is organised and for the way thousands of people currently live. Its influence can be found in laws, economics, politics, art, music, literature, and architecture, to name just a few and it is a religion split into Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, The Free Churches and Pentecostal, with its impact is felt across all manner of fundamental areas of life such as Human Rights, Marriage and Family, the Governing of countries, and the emergence of scientific laws .
As King Alfred himself showed through his dedication to bringing the written word to his subjects, regardless of class, great emphasis is placed on education through the beliefs of Christianity.
Historian J.M.Roberts, from the book “What’s So Great About Christianity?” by Dinesh D’Souza writes: “We could none of us today be what we are if a handful of Jews nearly two thousand years ago had not believed that they had known a great teacher, seen him crucified, dead and buried and then rise again”.
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