Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Edwin C. Hostetter
Christianity, the religion based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, is the largest world religion with more than 1.7 billion adherents. In its modern form, Christianity is divided into three main branches—Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, with numerous divisions within each as well as other churches separate from these three branches. Thus, Christianity is not of a single voice in all matters of belief and practice and, as with other matters, there is variation as regards beliefs and practices about crime and punishment. Christians believe that God created the world in such a way that there are laws that govern humanity's place in it. Failure to observe these moral laws can lead to pain and punishment. Christianity absorbed into its own ethic basic Old Testament instruction, including reverence for life, chastity, truthfulness, and passionate implementation of justice in the social order. But for the church, Jesus is of supreme ...