The challenge of this chapter for students is twofold: to understand both the unity and diversity among people who call themselves Christians; and to understand the unique relation that exists between the history of Christianity, now the world?s largest religion, and the emergence of modernity.
Christians believe that there is one God who rules over history and is the maker of all things. The highest goal of life is to act in harmony with the will of God. While Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all believe in one God, a unique belief of Christians is that the one God is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Distinguishing itself from Judaism and Islam again is the belief that God revealed himself uniquely and fully only in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Life’s problem is “sin,” or the failure to live in harmony with the will of God. Christianity defines sin and how to overcome it a little differently than Judaism and Islam. For Christians, the good will of all humans is corrupted by Adam and Eve’s original sin of disobeying the will of God. The only way to overcome sin and death and reestablish harmony with the will of God is through spiritually dying and rising with Jesus Christ, whom God sent into the world for this very purpose.