Christianity has only 2.3% of India’s population as its followers, but is still its third largest religion, after Hinduism and Islam. This religion is believed to have been introduced into India by Thomas, one of Jesus’ 12 original apostles, who visited Kerala in 52 BCE (Before our Common Era). For this reason, the Saint Thomas Christians still use an Aramaic dialect, called Syriac, in their worship.
When Thomas came to India, his first converts were the Jewish proselytes of the Cochin Jews, who had inhabited the area for some 500 years. Because Thomas had also been a Jew, he understood the beliefs and spoke Aramaic, making it far easier for him to identify with these ones. The early Christian practices had some elements of the Jewish customs. Thomas died as a martyr in Chennai.Christianity continued to be observed and promoted throughout the centuries, but it was only when the European settlers arrived between the 1300’s and 1500’s that Christianity was enforced to such a large degree. The French, Dutch.
In addition, most of the common Protestant denominations are also represented in India. These include Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Anglican.
Although they share a common source of information (the Bible), Christian churches have interpreted its message and incorporated non-Christian customs and traditions into their beliefs (e.g. the use of the cross and the celebration of Christmas on 25 December). This means that not all churches teach the same thing, despite defining themselves as Christian. Broadly speaking, the following teachings characterise Christianity:
1. There is one Almighty God, who created all things.
2. Some churches promote the teaching of the Trinity, which asserts that God; His son, Jesus and His active force, the Holy Spirit, are all one. Other churches teach that this contradicts with the notion of God not being able to die, while it was necessary for Jesus to die as a ransom sacrifice.
3. God is everywhere.
4. God displays four main qualities – love, justice, wisdom and power.
5. God, Jesus, the Devil and the angels are spiritual beings.
6. God is the sovereign, the only rightful ruler of the world.
7. God is infinite and eternal, having had no creator. This also conflicts with the trinity teaching as the Bible clearly states that Jesus was created.
8. Jesus became a man on Earth, born to a human virgin through a miraculous conception.
9. Jesus died for mankind’s sin as he was the only other perfect man (apart from Adam), a propitiatory balance which was required to buy back the gift that Adam lost through disobedience (eternal life).
10. All human beings are sinful.
11. Sin separates us from God.
12. The Bible is from God, who inspired men to convey His thoughts in writing.
13. The Bible is for establishing God’s laws, principles and requirements for mankind.
14. Although the Bible mentions eternal life on a Paradise Earth, most Christian churches teach that the reward for being faithful is a heavenly life, while punishment involves burning in a fiery torment, called Hell, forever.
15. Satan the Devil will eventually be destroyed.
16. God will create a new heaven and a new Earth in which righteousness is to dwell. This is in line with the scriptures that mention eternal life on Earth.