Religious Studies | Introduction to Christianity
R180 | 13780 | Furey, C.


In the United States, Christianity is both pervasive and difficult
to analyze. It influences politics, education, and culture, and it
seems simple enough to describe: Christianity is the religion of
people who believe that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. But
the basic claim about Christ’s salvific power has always raised
questions: Who is Jesus Christ? What is a savior? What is meant
by “believe in”? How should Christians worship God? How should
Christians act in the world? And a quick look at the list of
churches in any phone book or at the different positions espoused by
Christians in hotly contested social issues reveals plainly that
there are many different kinds of Christianities. This course seeks
to gain a historical perspective on these issues, and then, with
that in place, to do a comparative analysis of some contemporary
issues. The historical survey will dwell on certain key
developments: the origins of the religion developed by followers of
Jesus Christ; the split between the Western and Eastern Orthodox
Christian Churches; the establishment of Protestant branches of
Christianity in the West; the spread of Christianity by missionaries
and colonizers; and the rise of new Christian movements. In the
final section of the course we will look at contemporary political
and social issues that Christians argue about today.