Church as Means to Faith
- Meaning - It is through the Church that people come to believe in Christianity so it is the means to faith.
- The Apostles were taught by Jesus and this teaching has been passed on to the Church through the Apostolic Succession meaning that people can learn the true faith from the Church
- Catholics learn more about their faith through the readings and homily in Mass.
- Catholics learn more about, and are strengthened in, their faith through the Church's celebration of the sacraments.
- Catholics believe that only the Pope and the bishops can teach the true faith through the Magisterium of the Church. So it is only through the Church that the true faith can be found.
- Importance - If the Church is the means to faith, then it teaches the 'one true faith', handed down from the Apostles.
- The faith of the Church brings salvation and eternal life in heaven.
- Local parish churches provide a place where people can learn about the Catholic faith and become believers.
- People need something to help them believe and become members of the Church.
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Church as Means to Salvation
- Meaning - The sacrament of baptism which washes away original sin and makes a person a member of the Church.
- The sacrament of reconciliation where, if a person truly repents of their sins and determines to live a new life, their sins can be forgiven.
- The penitential rite of the Mass which gives people a chance to confess their sins and receive absolution, which forgives their sins.
- The sacrament of confirmation which makes a person a full member of the Church and gives the gifts of the Holy Spirit to help them on their way to salvation.
- Importance - Without salvation, a person's sins stop them from having close contact with God and send them to hell or purgatory after death.
- It is the only way that people can have eternal life with God.
- It gives Catholics a clear route to salvation. If they take part in sacraments and follow the teachings of the Church, they will be saved.
- It shows that salvation is a continual process, rather than happening just once at baptism.
- Reasons against - Salvation can be gained through reading and believing the Bible.
- Some Protestants believe salvation comes through a personal relationship with Jesus.
- If the Church is the only means to salvation, then only Christians go to heaven, going against God's omnibenevolence.
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Church as the Body of Christ
- Meaning - All Christians carry on Christ's work on Earth.
- The work of Christ on Earth did not finish with the Ascension; Jesus lives on through the Church, which is his body on Earth.
- Through baptism, Christians become part of the Church, and so part of the Body of Christ, which means they are united with each other and Christ.
- All Catholics receive the Body of Christ during Mass, which joins them with all the other Christians around the world receiving the sacrament.
- Importance - This is how the Church is described in the New Testament and the Catechism.
- It explains the importance of the Mass. By sharing the consecrated host at communion, Catholics share in the Body of Christ.
- It shows how Christians can continue the helping and teaching work of Jesus today because they are the Body of Christ on Earth.
- It shows how Christians can perform different tasks and yet be a unity. There can be different talents and tasks (like the body has different limbs and organs) and yet the Church remains a unity because all are working together as the Body of Christ.
- Against - Christian Church is divided whereas a body is united. Most Church members do not behave like Christ, which they should if they were carrying on his work. The Church is rich but Christ was poor, Church has power and political influence but Christ does not.
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Church as the Communion of Saints
- Meaning - Death does not separate Christians. All members of the Church are joined together: those on Earth, those in purgatory and those in heaven.
- Christians on Earth can offer prayers through the official saints, as they are in heaven rather than in purgatory.
- Catholics can pray for the dead as they are still part of the communion of saints. This means that Christians on Earth can pray for their dead relatives and friends in purgatory.
- Christians on Earth can have comfort and support from the prayers of dead Christians.
- Importance - It is the teaching of the Creeds and the Catechism that are the basis of Christian faith and in which all Catholics should believe.
- It gives Catholics direct contact with the official saints allowing Catholics to have help, comfort and support from great Christians of the past.
- It allows prayers to be offered for the dead so that those in purgatory can ascend to heaven and those in heaven can pray for those on Earth.
- It means that all Christians are equally important; all are joined and can pray for one another. No one Christian is more important than another.
- Against - It is hard to believe in heaven when science seems to show there is nowhere for heaven to exist, that all the millions of people who have lived are in one place spending eternity praying and that what happens to people after death can be changed by alive peopl
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Bible's Authority&Importance for Catholics
- Authority - It is inspired by the Holy Spirit and so is holy and gives the truth which Catholics should accept and follow.
- It reveals God; they believe that God speaks through both the Old and New Testaments.
- It contains God's laws on how to behave, such as the Ten Commandments: these rules help people live as God wants them to live.
- It contains the teachings of Jesus on how to live the Christian life.
- Importance - The Bible records the teachings of Jesus which shows Christians what to believe, how to live and how to make decisions.
- The Bible records the life, death and resurrection of Jesus which is the basis of Christian faith.
- The Bible contains the Ten Commandments which are God's basic guidelines on how to live.
- The Bible reveals what God is like and what he does for Christians.
- Against - The Bible was written thousands of years ago and so has no relevance to modern life.
- The Bible is a Christian book; you cannot expect Muslims, Hindus and atheists to follow it.
- The Bible's teachings on things like equal rights for women and homosexuals are no longer acceptable.
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- Meaning - The Gospel message of Jesus was handed on in the spoken message of the Apostles as well as in the writings of the New Testament.
- The Apostles were the first preachers of Jesus' message and set up the first Churches.
- The Apostles were given their teachings by Jesus, so the Apostolic Tradition has the true guidance for Christian living.
- The Apostolic Tradition handed down by the Apostles to the Church today comes directly from Jesus.
- Importance - It gives the Church the authority of Jesus.
- It means that the teaching of the Church is the teaching that was given to the Apostles by Jesus.
- It guarantees that the teaching Catholics follow is the correct, true faith.
- It passes on what Jesus did and said that is not recorded in the Gospels.
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- Meaning - The tradition from the Apostles has been handed down in the Church through the Pope and the bishops.
- Catholics believe that Jesus gave St Peter the authority to lead the Church and this has been passed to all Popes since then through Apostolic Succession.
- Apostolic Succession continues by the sacrament of holy orders; when a bishop is ordained the grace of God is given to him to continue Apostolic Succession.
- The same teeaching that the Apostles gave their congregations is given to congregations today, so the teaching of the Church is unchanged since the Apostles.
- Importance - It means that the Pope today has the same authority that Christ gave to St Peter.
- It proves that when the Pope and the College of Bishops give the teaching of the Church in the Magisterium, they speak as the successors of the Apostles chosen by Jesus.
- It makes sure that the faith of the Church today is the same faith as that of the Apostles.
- It is one way by which Jesus keeps his promise to stay with his Church.
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- Role - To interpret the Bible and the Apostolic Tradition for the life of Christian people in the twenty-first century.
- To tell Catholics how they should respond to medical developments such as genetic engineering.
- To define the beliefs of the Catholic Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- To pass its teachings to all the bishops who pass them on to all the parish priests so that all Catholics are fully informed about the beliefs and teachings of the Church.
- Importance - If the Magisterium states something to be true then it is true. There is no higher authority for Catholics than the Magisterium.
- It gives Catholics answers to issues that did not exist in the time of the apostles, for example same-sex partnerships.
- If Catholics follow the teachings of the Magisterium they will gain eternal life in heaven.
- It provides clear guidelines for Catholics on what to believe and how to behave as Catholics in today's world.
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Protestant Beliefs of Church's Authority
- Protestant Beliefs - The Bible can be understood by anyone if they have faith and is the only authority so the Church does not have the authority to interpret the Bible for Christians.
- Everyone is of equal value, therefore only decisions agreed to by all the members of the Church can have authority. For this reason Protestant Churches are ruled democratically and vote on issues.
- Any Church guidance is not a command and so can be interpreted by members using their understanding of the Bible.
- The Church has the authority to decide on Church organisation, but salvation comes through the Bible alone.
- Importance of Beliefs-They explain why there's many different Protestant Churches.Salvation depends on what people think the Bible means, those who disagree set up new Churches.
- They show why the Protestant Churches cannot accept the authority of the Pope.
- They explain why there are different attitudes to the sacraments among Protestant Christians (most believe baptism and communion are the only sacraments, but Quakers and the Salvation Army have no sacraments).
- They explain why there are so many differences between Protestant Churches because there is no agreed Church authority.
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Pope & Bishops
- Role of Pope - To lead the worldwide Church, and make sure it is cared for.
- To organise the Magisterium and make sure it is kept up to date.
- To appoint and ordain new cardinals and bishops and make sure their teaching is correct.
- To give guidance to Catholics about current issues.
- Importance - He is responsible for the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church.
- He is the successor of St Peter who passes on the true teachings of Christ to Catholics.
- He is the Head of the Church who appoints and ordains cardinals and bishops.
- He gives guidance and inspiration to Catholics.
- Role of Bishops - To look after the needs of all the priests and laity in their diocese.
- To be responsible for all the priests in their diocese and make sure they are carrying out their roles properly.
- To be responsible for appointing, ordaining, isciplining the priests and deacons in diocese.
- To act as link between parish and Vatican, allowing the Pope be in contact with whole Church.
- Importance - Bishops are responsible, with Pope, for beliefs and teachings of the Church.
- The Cardinals, who elect the Pope, are chosen from bishops.
- Only bishops can ordain priests.
- Bishops make sure their diocese is following the faith of the Church and can correct priests.
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Priest in Local Parish
- Role - To lead daily Mass and special occasion liturgies.
- To teach the people of the parish about the faith.
- To administer the sacraments and ensure that people are prepared fully for the sacraments.
- To look after the people within the parish, providing advice and counselling.
- Importance - They fulfil the role of Jesus in the Mass and transubstantiate the bread and wine.
- They make sure the people are cared for and the church runs smoothly.
- They can give advice on matters of faith and personal problems in order to help people.
- They help people with the important stages of their life - baptism, confirmation, marriage, funerals.
- Against - Lay ministers can administer the bread and wine which could have been consecrated by one priest for many parishes.
- Lay people can baptise and conduct funerals, so a parish would only need a priest to visit occasionally for marriages, confirmations, etc.
- Lay people can make sure the people are cared for and that the church runs smoothly.
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Attitudes to Celibacy of Clergy
- Why Catholics believe priests must be celibate - It is tradition handed down from St Paul.
- Jesus was celibate and priests should follow his example.
- It allows priests to be completely devoted to God and have the time for their parishioners.
- Unmarried priests are free to deal with the needs of their parish, without being distracted by a family.
- Why other Christians allow priests to marry - St Peter was married (Jesus healed his mother-in-law).
- Married priests are better at recognising and dealing with married people's problems.
- Married priests were allowed in the early Church until celibacy became the norm.
- Non-Catholic Churches do not have a shortage of priests, but the Catholic Church in Europe does, perhaps because many men are put off joining the celibate priesthood.
- Married priests are more in touch with real life than celibate priests.
- If they have a family, married priests will have a better understanding of the needs of Catholic schools.
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- Role - For many Catholics, Mary's main role is to act as an intercessor. Prayers are said to Mary to ask for her prayers because of her special relationship with God.
- Mary is a role model who shows Christians how to live a good Christian life because she obeyed God's plan for her.
- Mary shows how to live a pure life. She was conceived without sin (Immaculate Conception) and remained a pure virgin throughout her life.
- Mary shows how to love Jesus. She loved her son and was with him right to the end, even sharing in his sufferings on the cross.
- Importance - She had an immaculate conception. This means that Jesus was totally sinless because his mother was born without original sin and his father was God.
- If Mary had not obeyed God, Jesus would not have been born and without his birth, there would be no Christianity and no salvation.
- The Virgin Birth means Mary gave birth to God and so she is 'the Mother of God'. As the Mother of God, Mary must be the most important human being ever to have lived.
- At the end of her life, she was taken up to heaven instead of dying, so she did not suffer death like everyone else.
- In heaven, she is able to pray for the souls of Christians on Earth.
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