Religions of the World - Questions, Challenges, and New Directions - Leslie Dorrough Smith
Leslie Dorrough Smith [+]
Steven W Ramey [+]
University of Alabama
This chapter explores and then interrogates four popular perspectives on Christianity. The first understands Christianity as the teachings of Jesus, which includes a wide range of interpretations of these teachings as well as the significance of Jesus as a figure. The second views Christianity as the Christian theological tradition, describing the main institutional forms and their development, as well as the multitude of groups that do not fit neatly within those forms. The third considers Christianity to be an individual relationship with God that people express in a variety of different personal experiences. This representation also considers how groups decide which religious experiences are considered legitimate (and which are not). Finally, the fourth perspective describes Christianity as a means of cultural/political influence.