Sociology of Religion

Topics: Religion, Islam, Christianity Pages: 8 (2758 words) Published: January 30, 2013
The variety and number of religious organizations and beliefs around the world is so large that sociologists have a difficult time arriving at a single definition of religion. In Western societies, people usually identify religion with Christianity: the belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who promises salvation through faith and life after death. Yet religion as a global phenomenon presents a much more complex picture, because most of the world's religions lack the core concepts of Christianity. what religion is not:

-First, religion is not necessarily monotheistic, which is the belief in monotheism, or a single deity. Instead, many religions embrace polytheism, or the belief in multiple deities. Still other religions, such as Confucianism, recognize no gods at all. -Religion is not necessarily a body of moral rules and demands concerning the behavior of believers. The notion that deities somehow keep track of how believers behave is foreign to many religions. -Religion is not necessarily a belief in the supernatural, heaven, hell, or even life after death. Confucianism, again as an example, emphasizes acceptance of the natural harmony of the world, not finding truths that lie beyond it. -Finally, religion is not necessarily an explanation of the origins of creation. The Christian story of Adam and Eve explains the origins of humanity. Many religions, but not all, have similar myths of origin. Having examined what religion is not, sociologists consider what characteristics do constitute religion. Sociologists generally define religion as a codified set of moral beliefs concerning sacred things and rules governing the behavior of believers who form a spiritual community. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, totemism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and anemism Judaism

Judaism dates from about 1200 B.C. The first Hebrews were nomads who settled in the land of Canaan near Egypt. Unlike their polytheistic neighbors, the Jewish patriarchs (“leaders”) and prophets (“inspired” teachers) committed themselves to one almighty God. They stressed utter obedience to Yahweh in the form of a strict moral code, or law. Jews call their holy text the Tenakh, which Christians call the “Old Testament.” Within the Tenakh lie the five books of the Torah, which begins with the creation of the world by God's word. The Torah primarily tells the story of the early Hebrews and Yawheh's communications to Moses, which established laws on worship and daily life. The Torah plays a central role in Jewish worship. During services in the synagogue, the rabbi removes the Torah (rolled into a scroll) from the ark (a cupboard). The rabbi then carries the scroll, capped with a silver crown, in procession to a lectern, opens it, and reads from it to the congregation. Christianity

Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the “Messiah” (meaning “Christ” and “Annointed One”) who saves the world. This global religion first emerged as a sect of Judaism, and in the beginning embraced many Judaic views and practices. Within decades of Jesus' death, Christians began distinguishing themselves from their Jewish neighbors. The Bible's (the 66 books of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures) “New Testament” (new covenant) is a collection of 26 books and letters interpreting portions of the Tenakh from a Christian point of view. The New Testament also presents a range of unique teachings, such as the writings of St. Paul, which early Christians sent to newly established churches. The authors of the Gospels, or presentations of Jesus' life and teachings, probably wrote them decades later, though contemporary Biblical scholarship on this topic remains inconclusive. Christianity represents the largest of the world's religions and is also more evenly spread around the globe than any other religion. Christianity claims more than a billion adherents, though Christians belong to many different denominations (groups with a particular theology and form...
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