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Roy Saich writes:
It is claimed that there are over 1 billion people in the world today who are Christians. With such a large number it is not surprising that different people mean different things by the term Christian, but if the term is to have meaning for non-Christians it must represent some core beliefs.
Christianity is based on the four gospels said to be by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament of the Bible. This therefore is the place to start to discover the core beliefs. Christians add to these gospels the other books included in the New Testament, and some Christians add other gospels, like that of Thomas, not included in the Bible, and / or later revelations also not included in the New Testament like Joseph Smith's 'Book of Mormon'.
Christians claim that the person of Jesus Christ is the focus of their beliefs. They claim that he was the Messiah promised, according to Judaists, to the Jewish people by the God Jehovah and described in what in the Bible is called the Old Testament. The gospels therefore contain some of the core beliefs of both Christians and Judaists.
Muslims also claim these two traditions as part of their own, so, when we sort Christianity from our own Humanist tradition, we at the same time sort both Judaism and Islam. The three religions are referred to together as the religions of the books.
Humanists need to look no further than the four core gospels because their authors take for granted a world view which conflicts with the assumption of Humanists that the entire universe consists of fundamental particles which make up atoms. This excludes the possibility of the existence of supernatural beings made of some other substance. There is no evidence that any substance not made of atoms exists. The religions of the books do not specify what God is made of, apart from the notion that God is pure spirit. This pure spirit is made apparently of the same substance as that of other supernatural beings: ghosts, angels, demons and the like. What this substance consists of, if it does not consist of atoms, is not specified. Some Christians talk about Christianity as being the message that "love is stronger than hate" or that "nobody is beyond the redeeming power of God". In other words they make it up as they go along. They may think that their definitions are attractive or that they sound good, but the definitions are contrary to, or inconsistent with, the information there is in the gospels, which set out primarily to answer the question, "How can people obtain salvation from Hell and get to Heaven?". The question itself presupposes the existence of Hell and Heaven, of which there is no evidence.
Love and hate are incidental questions and the gospels deny that "nobody is beyond the redeeming power of God" because in Mark's gospel Jesus says, "Unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them" (Mark 4 verses 11 and 12). Without the forgiveness of their sins people cannot avoid Hell.