RE GCSE Full Christianity

  • Created by: bawdenj
  • Created on: 10-12-18 15:13

The Nature of God

·       Christianity is founded on the belief that 2000 years ago Jesus died and rose from the dead.

·       The religion grew as Jesus’ followers spread the teachings. In the 4th century, it became the official religion of the Roman Empire when the Emperor Constantine became Christian.

·       Since then Christian followers (collectively known as the Church) have split into different groups. They all have the same core beliefs and are all Christian but have different ways of doing things.

·       These groups are called denominations e.g. Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. 

·       Christianity is a monotheistic religion meaning that they believe in one God all denominations have this in common. 

·       Christians refer to God as Father but do not think of him as male. Christians do not believe that God has a physical body and therefore has no restrictions on what he can do.

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God as Omnipotent, loving and just ( 1 )

·       Christians believe that God has many different qualities. They believe God is perfect and that these qualities are proof of God’s perfection.

·       Some of God’s qualities are not possible for humans to achieve but others are, and provide examples that Christians should aspire to.

Omnipotent

·       In order to be the perfect ‘Supreme Being’, it is important that God is omnipotent. This means all powerful with unlimited authority – there is nothing God cannot do or achieve.

·       Most traditional images show God’s omnipotence in terms of physical power and strength, it also consists of power and authority to do good. This is how Christians often interpret omnipotence. God’s omnipotence is benevolent.

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God as Omnipotent, loving and just ( 2 )

  •  Benevolent - The idea that God is loving is very important for Christians. They believe that because God loves humans, God wants what is best for them. They believe that God created humans because he is all loving and desired to bestow his love upon creatures. This encourages Christians to love each other in their daily lives by treating everybody with care and respect.
  • Christians believe that God’s greatest act of love was sending God’s son, Jesus, to earth. - “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
  •   JustWith unlimited power and authority, together with total love, God is believed to be the perfect giver of justice. This not only included deciding on right and wrong but also being the perfect judge of human character.
  • As the ultimate source of justice, God will never support injustice, ill-treatment, prejudice or oppression. Therefore Christians should do all they can to prevent these wrongs wherever they encounter them.
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The Oneness of God and the Trinity

  • ·       Christians believe in one God. However, God is understood as three different “persons”, all of which are God.
  • ·       There is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.
  • ·       Together, these three persons make up the concept of God. However, all of these persons individually are also God.

God the Father – Christians believe this is the first person of the Trinity.  The Father is considered to be the creator of the earth and all life.  He is believed to be all powerful (omnipotent), all loving (omnibenevolent) and all knowing (omniscient).

God the Son – The second person of the Trinity the Son became incarnate (in flesh) on earth and history through Jesus.  Christians believe that Jesus was fully human and fully God whilst he was on earth.

God the Holy Spirit – Christians believe that after Jesus left earth that God sent the Holy Spirit to guide mankind.  The Holy Spirit is believed to be the unseen power of God at work in the world in the past, present and future.

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Christian beliefs about Creation

  • ·       Christians believe that God created the earth and all living things on the earth.
  • ·       One story about the creation of the world is found in the first book of Genesis in Chapter 1. Many Christians believe that although it may not be scientifically accurate, this account contains religious truth, explaining that the process of creation was God’s choice and that God designed and caused it to happen.  - “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3
  • ·       No one knows exactly when the story Genesis 1 was first written but experts believe it to be around 500BC. Around 600 years later, in the New Testament of the Bible, John opened his gospel with the following passage: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  John 1:1-3
  • ·       Experts have discussed this extract for many years, and specially the identity of the Word. Most are now agreed that ‘the Word’ refers to God the Son. This shows that not only was the Holy Spirit involved in the Creation, but that the Son was as well.
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The Incarnation and Jesus, the Son of God ( 1 )

·       We don’t know whether people who lived at the time of Jesus, even many of those who followed him and believed that he was teaching the truth, knew anything about the circumstances of his birth.

·       He is often referred to as Jesus of Nazareth but there is little mention of Bethlehem, where he was born, apart from in stories of his birth.  For Christians, the belief that Jesus was God in human form is more important than he details of his birth.

·       The gospels of Matthew and Luke explain quite clearly that Mary did not conceive Jesus sexually. In both cases the angel explains that the conception was no ordinary conception and that the child would be no ordinary child.

·       Mark and John did not include any information about the birth of Jesus. Maybe they did not think the story important, but they are both clear that Jesus is the Son of God.  - “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”

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The Incarnation and Jesus, the Son of God ( 2 )

  • ·       Although many people question the virgin conception because it is not a natural thing to happen and is unlikely to have happened since, for Christians it is very important. It gives evidence for the belief, shared by all Christians, that Jesus is incarnate – made flesh in human form, full God yet fully human and thus God the Son as part of the Trinity.
  • ·       Instead of telling the story of Jesus’ conception and birth in his gospel, John is more interested in the meaning of it: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
  • ·       This gives clear support to Christian belief that Jesus was God incarnate, in the flesh as a man.  The belief that God is incarnate makes it easier for Christians to explain and accept as truth some of his actions whilst on earth, including miracles and his resurrection.
  • ·       When Jesus was baptised, a voice from Heaven said ‘You are my Son’ (Mark 1:11). On one occasion, the disciple Peter referred to Jesus as the Christ. During this conversation at Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27-30) Jesus immediately warned the disciples that they should not use this term for him, possibly because his opponents would have arrested him for blasphemy.
  • ·       According to one of the gospel accounts, Jesus later accepted its use for himself at his trial when he was asked a direct question: “Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus.”
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The Crucifixion

·       Crucifixion was the form of execution favoured by the Romans this was a public execution.  Even though Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God it does not mean that he was spared the pain crucifixion.  Jesus forgave the guards putting him to death because they did not realise what they were doing.  Jesus made the following statement on the cross “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last”.  One of the Roman guards who witnessed the crucifixion said this “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

·       The impact of the crucifixion for Christians today large, it gives them confidence because of Jesus sacrifice that sin will no longer destroy their lives because God will forgive those ask for it.  They believe suffering is a part of life just as it was for Jesus and that God understands what the sufferer is going through.

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Resurrection

·       The resurrection refers to Jesus coming back to life after his crucifixion. 

·       According to the Bible Jesus was placed in a tomb on Friday and then when some women came to prepare his body it was not there. 

·       The key belief of Christianity is that Jesus rose from the dead and this is proof of his divine nature.  After his resurrection Jesus appeared to several people before ascending into heaven. 

·       The significance of the resurrection and ascension is that it shows the power Jesus had over death, gives evidence of an afterlife, the ascension shows that Jesus is with God and that without the resurrection there would be no Christianity.

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Afterlife and Judgement

·       The belief in resurrection complements the belief that there is another life when one ends.

·       For Christians, there are different ‘options’ which are seen as rewards and punishments. As these options last for eternity, the decision making process has to be operated perfectly.

·       Christians are comforted that the process in under God’s control. 

·       Christians believe the story of the sheep and the goats demonstrates how people will be judged.  Those who have been good the sheep (e.g. helped the hungry, thirsty, cold, homeless) will be judged and go to heaven and those who have been bad the goats (e.g. not helped anyone) will be judged and go to hell.

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Afterlife and Judgement

·       The belief in resurrection complements the belief that there is another life when one ends.

·       For Christians, there are different ‘options’ which are seen as rewards and punishments. As these options last for eternity, the decision making process has to be operated perfectly.

·       Christians are comforted that the process in under God’s control. 

·       Christians believe the story of the sheep and the goats demonstrates how people will be judged.  Those who have been good the sheep (e.g. helped the hungry, thirsty, cold, homeless) will be judged and go to heaven and those who have been bad the goats (e.g. not helped anyone) will be judged and go to hell.

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Heaven and Hell

  • Traditional paintings of heaven show it is beyond the clouds and where God sits on a huge throne, surveying the earth with angels flying around. It is seen as a place of peace, joy and freedom from pain, and a chance to be with friends and family who are already in heaven. 
  • Some believe that only those who believe in Jesus will be with God in heaven.  Others believe it is for all those who call themselves Christians regardless of how they live their life, and that simply the act of being baptised into the faith is almost a guarantee into heaven.  Others think that heaven is reserved for Christians and perhaps followers of other faiths who have lived good, principled lives and pleased God in doing so. 
  • ·All Christians believe that God will forgive sins and this will enable people to approach God’s presence. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats does seem to indicate that it is a reward for both faith and actions 
  • Hell is often seen as the opposite of heaven. Christians understand it to be a state of existence without God. It is often shown in paintings to be a place of eternal suffering, terror, fire and torture ruled by the Devil (Satan). It is pictured as a fiery pit somewhere beneath the earth. 
  • So do all non-Christians go to hell?  This would appear to be very unfair and, as Christians believe God is incapable of being unfair, may believe that all those who believe in God and try to follow him will be accepted by God and be welcomed eternally into his presence.  There is great debate about whether a loving God would condemn people to eternal torment and pain. If this is not the case, perhaps a more modern interpretation is that hell is an eternal state of mind of being cut off from the possibility of God. This would be what awaits a person who throughout their life did not acknowledge God or follow his teachings.
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Sin and Salvation

  •  Original sin is the belief that humans are born with an in-built tendency to do wrong.  This idea is introduced in the Adam and Eve story where they break God’s rules by eating from the tree of knowledge and are thrown out of the Garden of Eden.
  • Christians believe that Adam and Eve (or at least the first early humans if not a literal interpretation) messed everything up. The relationship with God was broken and humans became mortal. So what now?
  • Christians believe humans need saving – saving from moving further from God and saved from death.
  • Salvation – saving the soul, deliverance from sin and admission to heaven brought about by Jesus
  • 2 options –
  • 1. Salvation by works people earn their right to be with God by living the life that he wants. This can be described as living God’s laws; following how God wants people to live. With salvation by works, it is actions which allows people to be saved.
  • 2. Salvation by grace it is Jesus who allows people to be saved. He was punished for others’ sins so that others did not have to be punished and could instead be with God.
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The Role of Christ in Salvation

·       God is a just judge and should therefore punish sin. God must punish wrongdoing in his universe because he can never overlook sin – as sin is a rejection of God and his rule. 

·       A just and holy God should be angry at sin and the problems it has caused since the fall and should demand justice.  Christians believe that on the cross Jesus offered himself to satisfy God’s demand for sin to be punished and justice done. Jesus died to save people from God’s righteous anger against sin and wickedness. 

·       The punishment for the disobedience in Eden was death. By dying on the cross Jesus took this punishment. By resurrecting he showed that the debt was paid and death overcome. 

·       Grace is getting what you do not deserve and haven’t earned. Christians believe that when a person accepts what Jesus has done for them they live in that grace because their punishment has been dealt with.

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