The "Why Believe?" Website

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This Web page has been created for two types of people: Christians who are struggling with their faith, and honest inquirers of any persuasion who are seeking spiritual truth. The general reference articles below on the Christian faith were selected for their outstanding quality. I have found them helpful in resolving difficulties for my own Christian belief. I hope you find them as useful as I did. Here are some other Christian Web sites that I would strongly recommend:

0. General Reference Articles on Christianity

Life of Jesus

The Life of Christ.
Explores the life, history and teachings of Christ online. There are excellent history links for those who wish to learn more about the world Jesus lived in.

From Jesus to Christ: the First Christians.
The four-hour FRONTLINE TV series which tells the epic story of Jesus' life and the rise of Christianity. Based on interviews with twelve scholars - New Testament theologians, archaeologists, and historians. The picture of Jesus presented here is NOT an orthodox Christian account. Nevertheless, the TV series is an excellent portrayal of the life of Jesus for people who are not Christians, but who are curious about the Christian faith.

The Historical Christ - A Response to "From Jesus to Christ" by Rick Wade.
An Evangelical Christian response to the FRONTLINE TV series "From Jesus to Christ", which questions the historicity of the Gospels on some points. Rick Wade assesses the evidence and concludes that "the Gospel writers could have written historical truth because they wrote soon enough after the events to insure against legend; that they intended to report what really happened; and that the differences between the Gospels do not make for a valid case against their historical truthfulness."
[Rick Wade graduated cum laude in 1990 from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with an M.A. in Christian Thought (theology/philosophy of religion) where his studies culminated in a thesis on the apologetics of Carl F. H. Henry.]

Jesus Central. A place for people of all backgrounds to learn about Jesus.

The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim.
This thoroughly researched biography of Jesus makes for fascinating reading. Alfred Edersheim (1825-89) was a Vienna-born Jewish convert to Christianity and a biblical scholar. His two-volume masterpiece, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883), is his best-known work.

The Life of Christ by Frederic Farrar.
Frederic William Farrar (1831 - 1903), often known as Dean Farrar, was a theological writer, who became Canon of Westminster and later Rector of St. Margaret's, Archdeacon of Westminster and Dean of Canterbury. He was an eloquent preacher and a voluminous author. His Life of Christ was his most popular work.

Judaism At The Time of Jesus Christ

The Works of Philo of Alexandria translated from the Greek by Charles Duke Yonge.
Philo of Alexandria (20 BC - 50 AD) was a Hellenized Jewish philosopher and a contemporary of Jesus. Philo included in his philosophy both Greek philosophy and Judaism, which he sought to fuse and harmonise by means of the art of allegory. He was heavily influenced by Plato and also by the Stoics. Philo's works were enthusiastically received by the early Christians.

The Works of Josephus.
Josephus (37 AD - c. 100 AD) was a Jewish historian who took part in the unsuccessful Jewish war of independence against Rome, which was finally crushed in 73 AD. The early Christians were zealous readers of Josephus's "History of the Jews".

The Babylonian Talmud translated by Michael L. Rodkinson.
"The Talmud is a vast collection of Jewish laws and traditions. Despite the dry subject matter the Talmud makes interesting reading because it is infused with vigorous intellectual debate, humor and deep wisdom. As the saying goes, 'You don't have to be Jewish' to appreciate this text. If you put in the hard work required to read the Talmud, your mind will get a world-class workout. The process of studying the Talmud has been compared with the practice of Zen Buddhist Koan meditation, and for good reason." (From the online foreword to Rodkinson's translation of the Babylonian Talmud.)

What Christians Actually Believe

A. Christian Creeds and Declarations of Faith

Biblical "creeds" or short declarations of faith

Creeds in the Bible.
The scripture passages listed here are considered by many to be creeds or declarations of faith.

The Apostles' Creed

Exposition of the Apostles' Creed by Rev. James Dodds, D.D.
Dr. Dodds' Exposition of the Apostles' Creed (written in 1896) will supply a real need. It contains a careful, well-informed, and well-balanced statement of the doctrines of the Church which are expressed or indicated in the Creed, and it will be helpful to many as arranging the passages of Scripture on which these doctrines rest.

The Apostles' Creed: The Oldest Creed by Dr. James Orr.
A defence of the Apostles' Creed as the oldest Christian creed and as an authentic expression of Christian teaching.

The "Rule of Faith" as recorded by Irenaeus, about 180 A.D.

The Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (ca. A.D. 215).
This creed was used to interrogate people wishing to be baptised in the early third century.

The Apostles' Creed.
Based on an old Roman profession of faith called the Interrogatory Creed of Hippolytus (ca. A.D. 215). In its present form, the Apostles' Creed dates back to 542 A.D.

A Declaration of Faith by St. Gregory Thaumaturgos (260 AD).

The Nicene Creed

The Creed of the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.)

The Creed of the Council of Constantinpole (381 A.D.)
This is the creed which many Christians recite in church. It is commonly known as the Nicene Creed, although it is in fact an expanded version of the Creed of Nicea (see above).

The Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed. Not actually composed by St. Athanasius, but it contains a clear statement of orthodox Christian beliefs regarding the Trinity and Incarnation. This creed was approved by the Christian Church but is very rarely used.

The Creeds of Christendom

The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. I, The History of Creeds by Philip Schaff.

The Creeds of Christendom, Vol. II, The Greek and Latin Creeds by Philip Schaff.

B. Short Summaries of Christian Faith (for Newcomers to Christianity)

Orthodox Catechism by the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

The Baltimore Catechism. A Catholic Catechism for children.

The Penny Catechism. An outline of the Catholic Faith.

Martin Luther's Small Catechism. Written for Lutheran parents.

Westminster Shorter Catechism. A Presbyterian Catechism (1647).

C. More Comprehensive Statements of Christian Faith

Orthodox Catechisms

Orthodox Catechism. Basic Teachings of the Orthodox Faith, by Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios.

I Believe...: A Short Exposition of Orthodox Doctrine by the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John Damascene (749 A.D.)

Catholic Catechisms

Catechism of the Catholic Church.
A comprehensive treatment of the Catholic Faith.

Nazareth Master Catechism.
The whole kit and caboodle of Catechisms produced by the Catholic Church in its long history: the Catechetical Instructions of Aquinas, the Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Baltimore Catechism, the Catechism of Pope Pius X, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Faith: The Teachings of the Catholic Church.
Eternal Word Television Network presents the teachings of the Catholic Church in an easy-to-use format.

The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adam, S.J.
A classic.

Protestant Catechisms

The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563. A Protestant classic.

Martin Luther's Large Catechism.

Westminster Larger Catechism. A Presbyterian catechism. Includes Scriptural proof-texts.

The Bible and Bible Commentaries

The Holy Bible: New International Version.
This translation has become the most popular modern English translation of the Bible, having sold more than 215 million copies worldwide. It is considered by many Christians a good, modern supplement to more historic bible translations like the King James Version, or even as more accurate (since it draws from a wider range of source texts including the Dead Sea Scrolls). It is also highly readable.

The New American Bible (NAB).
A popular version with Catholics. Includes podcast.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.
The English Standard Version is a new, essentially literal translation that combines word-for-word precision and accuracy with literary excellence, prose and readability. However, some readers may find the English a little stilted.

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version.
Still popular in some quarters.

The World English Bible (WEB).
Unlike most versions, this one uses the Byzantine Majority text as the basis of its translation of the New Testament. In this respect, it is similar to the King James Version (see below).

The Holy Bible: King James Version.
Whatever you think of the accuracy of this version (click here for an online discussion), the beauty of its prose is undeniable.

The Pod Bible: Contemporary English Version.
Hear the Bible read aloud in plain English on your iPod, at no cost.

Misunderstandings Explained: Injil - The Bible by Arabic Bible Outreach.
An excellent Arabic Christian Web site for Muslims who wish to learn about the Bible.

Comparing Bible Translations.
Some common-sense questions that you should ask yourself, to help you select the translation that best meets your needs.

Bible Keeper - Online Bible Resource
A free online database of Bibles in several languages, Bible study tools and more.

English Bible Versions.
Lots of links to various versions of the Bible, Bible study tools and more.

Assorted Bible Commentaries. Includes the Geneva Study Bible, Matthew Henry, John Wesley, Adam Clarke, C. I. Scofield and many others.
Unfortunately, there are no Catholic or Orthodox commentaries here - I haven't managed to locate any online.

Bible Maps

Maps of the Biblical World in the Time of Jesus.

Bible History

Bible History Online. A useful online resource, with interesting articles and links.

The Ecumenical Councils

The Seven Ecumenical Councils. A summary of the key issues they addressed.

Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

Decrees of all Church Councils whose authority is recognised by the Catholic Church.

Christian Writings

Early Christian Writings - New Testament, Apocrypha, Gnostics, Church Fathers.

Early Church Fathers.

The Fathers of the Church. Links to writings by early Christian theologians.

The Tertullian Project.
A collection of material ancient and modern about the ancient Christian Latin writer Tertullian and his writings.

The Writings of St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

The Gregory of Nyssa Home Page.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD).

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook by Paul Halsall, Fordham University.
A vast collection of Christian documents from 100 to 1600 AD.

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas Aquinas by G. K. Chesterton.
An excellent introduction to Aquinas' life and philosophy.

Martin Luther - Life and Writings.

John Calvin - Biography and Writings.

Writings of Hugo Grotius (1583-1645).

John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life. The writings of John Wesley (1703-1791).

The writings of Pope John Paul II (1920-2005).

Recommended reading: Christian classics.

History of Christianity

Church History by Eusebius (c. 325 A.D.).

History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff.

The Church In Crisis: A History of the General Councils: 325-1870 by Mgr. Philip Hughes.

Christian Philosophical Journals

Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers..
Faith and Philosophy is published quarterly by the Society of Christian Philosophers. The journal encourages discussions among philosophers representing a wide variety of theological perspectives and philosophical orientations that fall largely within the philosophy of religion. It seeks critical and reflective self-understanding of Christian faith carried out in dialogue with those who do not, as well as with those who do, share its Christian commitment. Faith and Philosophy seeks to serve the Christian community by articulating Christian faith in a way that will withstand rigorous examination and by exploring the implications of that faith for all aspects of human life. It also seeks to serve the intellectual community at large by providing clear and credible discussions of issues related to Christian faith. Faith and Philosophy is widely recognized as the leading journal in its field. It carries refereed scholarly articles which address philosophical issues from a Christian perspective, for discussions of philosophical issues which arise within the Christian faith, and for articles from any perspective which deal critically with the philosophical credentials of the Christian faith. Along with full-length articles, Faith and Philosophy features back-and-forth critical discussions, symposia, and reviews of books.

Other philosophical web sites recommended by the Society of Christian Philosophers.

The Virtual Library of Christian Philosophy. Published by Calvin College Philosophy Department.
Calvin's Philosophy Department houses one of the finest undergradute philosophy programs in the nation. Calvin's Philosophy Department was the undergraduate and/or teaching home of four American Philosophical Association Presidents—Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Frankena and O. K. Bouwsma. The Virtual Library of Christian Philosophy currently holds 173 articles.

Testimonies of Prominent Christians

Scientists of the Christian Faith: A Presentation of the Pioneers, Practitioners and Supporters of Modern Science. A compilation of about 1600 mini-biographies of scientists of the Christian faith - including scholars, mathematicians, and theologians who advanced the cause of science. These Christians pioneered disciplines ranging from oceanography to astronomy, geology to biology, rocket science to genetics. The mini-biographies are presented in alphabetical order. Links to online websites are provided for those wishing to research a particular scientist. Researchers are invited to order the biographies by clicking on the hypertext, as well as check out the biographies published by Gale.

Philosophers Who Believe. A collection of testimonies by eleven leading Christian philosophers.

Professors Who Believe. The testimonies of twenty-two Christian faculty members.

Skeptics for the Christian Faith! The testimonies of several sceptics who - in the course of their investigations - testified in favor of the Christian faith, despite their scepticism. This essay presents their testimony as those who "testify in spite of themselves."

Books About Christianity

Online books on Christianity.

Apologetic Writings Online

Apologetic classics online.
An exhaustive compilation of hundreds of online Christian apologetic writings, from the second century down to the present day.

Book Reviews

Bede's library.
This site has lots of reviews of books which touch on religious faith, and especially on Christianity. Some of these books are friendly to Christianity, while others are implacably hostile. The user of this site is free to choose between reviews that are written from a Christian perspective and reviews written from a secularist humanist viewpoint. By the way, "Bede" is the pseudonym of a British man, who, while working on a physics degree at Oxford, abandoned his atheism and converted to Catholicism. Bede's Library deals extensively with the relationship between theology, philosophy and science. His essays and reviews are flavoured by an understated British wit. One of his major themes is the way in which, historically speaking, Christianity encouraged the birth and growth of science.

Other useful sites

Useful Links for Archaeology and Biblical Studies, listed by Professor Craig Evans.

Good Sites

Catholic Links

A History of Western Philosophy by Ralph McInerny.
Covers the period from the pre-Socratics to William of Ockham.

Information about the number of adherents of the world's religions