Catholic Christianity SOWA

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  • Created on: 27-04-18 16:01

The Bible

Old Testament

  • Law - Commands from God. 613 laws in the old testament. Christians& Jews believe 'the law' was revealed to Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus Numbers & Deuteronomy)
  • History - Document the history of Jewish people from the time of Judges to the Persian Empire. Books include Joshua, Kings and Chronicles.
  • Prophets - Messages from God, often about the future. Include warnings and call for repentance. Books include all those from Isiah to Malachi.
  • Writings - Poetic and Wisdon writings which told stories in order to educate readers about nature of God. Books include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon

New Testament

  • Gospel (Good News) - reflects priorities of author but most of the key events of Jesus' life are described in these four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • Letters - To an individual or group. Include Books from Romans to Jude
  • Book of Revelation - Seen as apocalyptic (describes the end of the world)

SOWA - 'Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.' - CCC 133

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Interpretation of the Bible

Inspired word of God

  • Written down by human writers but there is truth in the Bible
  • The Bible is God's message in human words and as such is influenced by human writers personal beliefs and interests
  • The Bible is not a science or history book and therefore believing in scientifical theories is not wrong

Literal word of God

  • The Bible is inerrant. Everything is true and there are no mistakes
  • If the Bible seems to contradict itself then there must be a reason
  • If the Bible contradicts scientists then they are wrong
  • All moral guidance in the Bible is useful and applicable to today


  • Some parts of Bible are outdated and irrelevant to modern life
  • Much symbolism and poetry in the Bible meaning it contains spiritual truths not literal truths
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The Magesterium

What is it?

  • The word 'magesterium' signifies the authority to teach.
  • The authority rests with the Pope and his bishops and comes from the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to guide the church at Pentecost. (The teaching form the Pope is called pontifical and can be ordinary or extraordinary)
  • Jesus first gave the authority to teach the truth of salvation to his apostles

Importances of types of magesterium

  • Ordinary magesterium means the everyday teaching of the church which is to be found in sayings and writings of the bishop and Popes e.g. letters, homilies or exhortations. It is infalible and has complete authority for catholics.
  • The extraordinary magesterium is infalible teaching of the church on a special matter which comes about through an ecumencial council (Conciliar) or through the Pope (Pontifical).
  • When the extraordinary magesterium define a doctrine as infalible then it is called a dogma.

SOWA - 'The task of interpreting the word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the magesterium of the church.' - CCC 100

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The Second Vatican Council

What is it?

  • The Vatican II council is the 21st ecumencal council of the Ctaholic Church.
  • It focused on the relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world.
  • Opened by Pope John XXIII (11th Oct 1962) & closed under Pope Paul VI (8th Dec 1965).

Sancrosanctum Concilium - Permission given for Mass to be celebrated in the local language  alongside Latin & congregation were taught words of prayers & responses.Congregation permitted to recieve Eucharist in both forms for first time

Lumen Gentium - Possibility of salvation for non-christians/athiests was suggested (before it was stated that only Christians are saved) 

Dei Verbem - Made clear that both Bible & tradition are equally important, Catholic church doesnt rely on Bible alone and that the Bible is the word of God, written by man, inspired by Holy Spirit.

Gaudium et Spes - Highlighted significant impact of modern science and technology but explained the danger of losing the dignity of man in the modern world.

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The Church as the Body of Christ

What is it?

  • Catholics - 'People of God' means because they have come to Jesus in faith & through baptism, they are part of a 'chosen people...a holy nation' (1 Peter 2:9) belonging to God.
  • Church is described as Body of Christ in the New Testament and in the Catechism. The Church is strong as many individuals unite together in a community.
  • Jesus has natural authority and leadership so he is the head of the body, we are his body.


  • Laity - May live out vocation to evangelise & follow Christ in ways by their choice of career, marriage & family life.
  • Clergy - Lay down their lives in service of others in church & world. Hope to bring God's love into world. Also try to build the word of God by evangalising and running parish communities.
  • The religious - Monks & nuns seek solitude to free themselves from distraction allowing total surrender to God.

SOWA - 'Propose to follow Christ more nearly [and pursue] the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom.' CCC 916

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The Four Marks of the Church

What is it?

  • The Church is described as being one, holy, catholic and apostolic. These are the four marks of the church
  • They are found in the Nicene Creed which was confirmed at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 CE.

The 4 Marks 

  • One - The Church is one according to the Cathecism in these ways - in its source (the unity of the trinity), the reconcilliation of humaity made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus, in its 'soul' which unites all the faithful (CCC 813)
  • Holy - Jesus Is the source of all holiness. 'The one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in His body which is the church.' (Dogmatic Constitution of Church No.14). Church is visible sign of holiness through its teaching, prayer and worship.
  • Catholic - Jesus is universally present and has commissioned the church to evangelise the world
  • Apostolic - Jesus founded the church and gave authority to his apostles. Authority has been handed down through the Sacrament of holy orders called Apostolic Succession
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Mary as the Model of the Church

What is it?

  • Mary is a model of the church because her life reflects the values, teachings and beliefs of the Catholic faith.
  • Mary is called the mother of the church as she is Christ's mother and Christ's body is the church
  • Immaculate conception - Catholic belief that Mary was born without sin


  • Discipleship - Mary is sometimes called the first disciple because of her belief in Jesus from the moment of conception. Her sacrifice and role started before the birth of Jesus.
  • Faith and Charity - She demonstrated her faith in God as she accepted her vocation to bear Jesus and obeyed the command in Joseph's dream to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod.

SOWA - 'Mary's role in the church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.' - CCC 964

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Personal and Ethical decision-making

What is it?

  • Christians who consider themselves as morally 'good' are those who try to model themselves on God's ways.
  • The Gospel gives clear examples of what Jesus taught and how he acted in certain situations which can inspire Christians today.

Reference to Gospel

  • Love of others - He showed his love for others by blessing and serving the poor, the sick and the distressed. He also showed 'tough love' and challenged people's behaviour e.g. in the story of the rich man. 'Do onto others as you would want them to do onto you.'
  • Forgiveness - Key theme in Gospels. He forgave those who crucified him (Luke 23:33-35)
  • Servanthood - He managed to lay aside his royal power to serve others e.g. his crucifiction

When making their personal and ethical decisions, catholics refer to their conscience, scripture/tradition and magisterium.

SOWA - His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary

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The Four Marks of The Church (2)

Importance of the four marks

  • One - Many differences within Christianity with over 30,000 denominations. Ecumenism was an important part of the Vatican II as it places a duty on Catholics to work towards unity including praying for and talking to non catholics.
  • Holy - Church provides powerful way for Catholics to be holy through prayer and the sacraments. Through these, the church teaches catholics to know, love and serve God and to become more like him.
  • Catholic - History of catholic church gives evidence of its strength today. The Church and Catholics suffered from persecution and various attacks but remains universal. Catholics can take personal strength from the strength of the Church.
  • Apostolic - Magesterium has to guide catholics today on issues such as nuclear war and in vitro fertilisation. They do this in light of the Bible and Apostolic Tradition.

SOWA - For in one spirit we are all baptised into one body.' - 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

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