Catholic Christianity - Beliefs and teachings

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  • Created on: 03-04-18 19:14

The Trinity

What is it?

The Trinity is the formation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into a single unit. It is a holy mystery central to the Christian faith.

It teaches that Christians only believe in one God (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) - As stated by the Nicene Creed.


The Trinity gives Catholics a sense that God is active and present in the world as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity teaches Catholics that they must work together to bring God's love into the world, just as the persons of the Holy Trinity work together to bring God's love into the world.

SOWA - "I believe in one God, the Father of Almighty, creator of heaven and earth,"- Nicene Creed.

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The Trinity (2)

How is it reflected in worship and belief

Before any Catholic mass, we make the sign of the cross which symbolises that we are praying to the Father, through the Son and in the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity is the main belief of the Nicene Creed 

How the belief in the Trinity is reflected in the life of a catholic today

  • Teaches Catholics that they must work together to bring God's love into the world, just as the persons of the Holy Trinity work together to bring God's love into the world
  • Gives Catholics the sense that God is active and present in the world as the Father,Son and Holy Spirit.

SOWA - The Catechism says that belief in only one God is the basis of Christianity. The Cathechism also says that the Trinity is a holy mystery central to the Christian faith. 

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Biblical understandings of God as Trinity

What is it?

  • The threefold nature of God is hinted at in the Old Testament - God speaks the Word to create and the Spirit hovers over creation
  • God as the Trinity is clearly referred to in the New Testament - Jesus' final words in Matthew are to make disciples baptising them in the name of the Father, The son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The Gospel accounts of the baptism of Jesus clearly show that God is the Trinity - Holy Spirit descends like a dove during baptism.


  • God Father helps Catholics understand God's omnipotence and omnibenevolence
  • God Son helps Catholics understand God's omnibenevolence (Sacrificed only Son)
  • God Holy Spirit helps Catholics understand presence of God in world and strength it brings

SOWA - Genesis 1 - God speaks the Word to create and the Spirit hovers over creation

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What is it?

Catholics believe that 'to create' something is to give existence to something that doesn't exist. To make something is to give a new form to something that already exists. To Catholics, only God creates whilst humans make.


  • God as a creator - 'Let there be light, and there was light.' (Genesis 1:3)
  • God as benevolent - 'God saw the light was good' (Genesis 1:4)
  • God as omnipotent - 'Let the waters uner the heavens be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear.' (Genesis 1:9)

SOWA - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." - John 1:2

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Creation (2)

Divergent understandings of the Creation account in Genesis

  • Creationists believe that the creation story is an exact retelling of what actually happened
  • Some Christians intepret them as myths or sacred stories which are symbolic/metaphorical told to help humans understand that God brought all living things into existence
  • The Catholic church would say science explains how the universe and humans came into being whereas religion explains why they came into being (because God desired that the universe should exist)
  • The Catholic church also believes that the creation account's truth in Genesis is contained within the chapter as a whole not in a step by step literal way (block logic rather than step logic).

There are two creation accounts, one in Genesis and one in John.

SOWA - John describes how the son, the word within the trinity became the incarnate as man, 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.' (John 1:14)

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Creation and the nature of humanity

What is it?

Humanity means 'the human race'. Genesis 1: 26-31 describes humans and the power and responsibility God gives them. The Creation accounts are significant in understanding the nature of humanity as they set out God's intention for the human race.


  • Humans are created in Imago Dei (the image of God). This is important for catholics as that they believe that although human beings are not divine, they possess a relationship with God, their creator which is different from other creatures. Catholics believe that being created in God's image gives them dignity and worthiness.
  • Humans can give and recieve love
  • Human beimngs have free conscience and will
  • Human beings can relate to God

SOWA - 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness and let them have dominion...' Genesis 1:26-27

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The Incarnation

What is it?

  • The incarnation refers to God becoming a human in Jesus.
  • Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human at the same time.
  • Jesus is the second person in the trinity (the son, who has always existed)


  • Catholics believe that God became human in Jesus so that human beings might become divine by sharing in Jesus' life through the church
  • The incarnation shows God's benevolence - he sent his only son so that he could become closer with us and have a relationship with us. He also sent him to forgive our sins by paying the biggest price for us on the cross
  • It also demonstrates God as a law giver as he prophecies the Word and it becomes flesh as he said it would

SOWA - 'Jesus said to them, "truly, truly I say to you before Abraham was, I am".' - John 8:5

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The Paschal Mystery

What is it?

  • The Paschal Mystery is essentially Jesus' death, ressurection and ascension into Heaven.The Catholic church teaches that human beings are saved from sin by the work of Jesus Christ on Earth, especially by the Paschal Mystery.
  • Redemption explains how the paschal mystery 'effected' the salvation of humanity.
  • Justification also explains how the Paschal mystery effected salvation. It explains how humans are joined again in a relationship with God.


  • Catholics believe the paschal mystery brought about salvation for all however the concept of free will means God can only offer salvation and it is up to the individual to accept that offer.
  • The Eucharist is the most important expression of the paschal mystery in the church today.
  • The apostles recieve their evangelising mission to proclaim and live out the Gospel. The Holy spirit enters the apostles and this is seen as the start of the Christian church.

SOWA - For God sent the son into the world, not to condemn them but that the world might be saved through him.' - John 3:17

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What is it?

Eschatology is the study of Christian teaching about the last things for a human life and soul: death, judgement, heaven, hell and purgatory.

"I am the ressurection and the life. He who believes in me, though he shall die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." John 11:25-26. The Catholic church teaches that life after death is not only caused by Jesus but is found in Jesus.


  • Death, judgement and resurrection are constant reminders for catholics that they should live consciously as catholics today.
  • The catholic church teaches that humans will not appreciate life in this world until they realise that it is a fragile gift
  • Demonstrates that God alone is eternal

SOWA - "The cheif punishment of hell is eternal separation from God" - CCC 1035

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