Lecture One Christianity as a Religion

Scope: Among world religions, Christianity is at once the best and least known. Christianity's political and cultural importance in the shaping of Western civilization and in the colonizing of non-Western parts of the world is obvious. Its institutional arrangements, theological disputes, and moral teachings are familiar. Less clear is the reason that the Christian religion—despised by so many and declared dead so many times—continues to thrive, drawing adherents from every nation. The study of Christianity precisely as a religion offers some clues, especially when the study focuses on the period of Christianity's beginnings, before it had acquired any of the cultural, political, and institutional traits that can camouflage its character as a religious movement.

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