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Christianity the most widely distributed of the world religions having substantial representation in all the populated continents of the globe Its total membership may exceed 17 billion people The central element of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ Although Christians do not all agree on a definition of what makes Christ distinctive or unique they agree that his life and example should be followed and that his teachings about love and fellowship should be the basis of human relations In Christian teaching Jesus is the supreme preacher and exemplar of the moral life but for most Christians that by itself does not do full justice to the significance of his life and work What is known of Jesus historically is told in the Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible Other portions of the New Testament summarize the beliefs of the early Christian church Christians teach that God is almighty in dominion over all that is in heaven and on earth righteous in judgment over good and evil beyond time and space and change but above all they teach that God is love Early Christianity found in the words of Jesus evidence both of the special standing men and women have as children of such a heavenly Father and of the even more special position occupied by Christ Baptism has been from the beginning the means of initiation into Christianity The other universally accepted ritual among Christians is the Eucharist or Lords Supper in which Christians share in bread and wine and through them express and acknowledge the reality of the presence of Christ in communion with one another Another fundamental component of Christian faith and practice is the Christian community itselfthe church The community of faith in the church is the primary setting for Christian worship although Christians of all traditions have placed a strong emphasis on private devotion and individual prayer Almost all the information about Jesus himself and about
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