Beliefs & The Creeds
- Christians belive in one god - god as unity
- they believe that god is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere) & onmniscient (all-knowing), that god is divine, supreme, totally good, & totally perfect & that hes given us freewill
The christian idea of the trinity is best expressed in the nicene creed:
"we believe in one god, the father the almighty, maker of heaven and earth...we believe in one lord, jesus christ, the only son of god...of one being with the father...we believe in the holy spirit...the giver of life...who proceeds from the father and the son..."
The Apostles Creed summarises the basic christian teachings about jesus:
- jesus is the christ: 'christ' isnt a surname, means the same as 'Messiah'
- the incarnation: the act by which god became a human being
- the virgin birth: gospels say that jesus was born of a virgin - mary became pregnant through the influence of the holy spirit
- the crucifixion - it was jesus's death on the cross which won his people forgiveness of sin
- the resurrection- jesus rose from the dead on easter day
- the ascension: after the resurrection jesus 'ascended into heaven'
Chrisitians belive in the Father:
- for many christians, God the Father is the god of the old testament
- title 'father' is a mark of respect for god, used by jesus in the gospels
- in genesis 1, the bible descibes god as the creator of heaven & earth, who created the world in 6 days.
- to most christians, belief in god as the creator is important, as it means that the world itself must be good
- many christian traditions teach that god the father will be our judge after death.
Believe in the son:
- believe that jesus is god in human form, & god sending jesus down to us shows us how much he loves the world
- believe jesus is the christ or mesiah prophesised by isaish in the old testament
- believe that jesus provides a model for christain behaviour in obedience to god the father
- jesus sometimes described as the 'lamb of god', reference to lambs offered as sacrifices
Believe in the holy spirit:
- believe that the holy spirit is the presence of god in the world
- feel that the holy spirit guides them personally in being good chrisitans
- catholics believe that the holy spirit descended from god the father & god the son
- are all those christians who accept the authority of the Pope, they're largest christian group
- believe in the 7 sacraments as 'vehicles of god's grace'
- they respect the authority of the bible, church tradition & the magisterium
- base their beliefs & practices on the ideas of the reformation
- reformers stressed the importance of bible rather than church traditions or teachings of the pope
- members of protestant clergy usually referred to as ministers
- different groupings within protestanism: denominations.
- found mainly in eastern europe, russia & greece
- they believe that their clergy are in direct succession from the Apostles
- they also have 7 sacraments, & honour icons - pictures of saints
The Role of the Church
The church - more than a building
- mission of the church is to expand the community of christian believers & to help care for those already part of the coomunity
- teaches that jesus christ is our savious & we can be saved by becoming his disciples.
- many christians believe that being a member of the church is neccessary for salvation - that you cant win a place in heaven just by performing good deeds.
- the ceremony of baptism welcomes people into the church
the church has various functions in the community. Most communities in the UK have access to at least one church. the role & function of local church communities it to out the christian faith into action, can be done in following ways:
- by providing a regualr pattern of worship - most churches hold a sunday service every week
- by providing a 'rites of passage'
- by teaching christain beliefs as part of regular services, sunday schools or bible classes
- by ministering to the sick
- by supporting groups that campaign for justice & peace
The Seven Sacraments
- 1: baptism - marks a person's official entry into the church. symbolises the start of a new life & the washing away of sin
- 2: confirmation - in this ceremony a christian renews vows made on their behalf at baptism
- 3: reconciliation - involves confession of a sin
- 4:eucharist - in holy communion, the beliver recives christ into themself afresh
- 5:ordination - rite in which people are made deacons, priests, or bishops
- 6: marriage - when a couple are joined in holy matrimony they receive a special blessing
- 7: anointing the sick: may be for healing, or to prepare a dying person for the next life
Holy Communion remembers the last supper:
- at the last supper, jesus said that the bread & wine on the table represented his body & blood. the desciples were to eat & drink in rememebrance of him whenever they ate together
- most christians see it as largely commemorative - reminds worshippers of the last supper & jesus's sacrafice
- roman catholics believe that the bread & wine actually become the body & blood of jesus
key features of a catholic mass:
- penitential rite: joint confession of sin & a request for god's mercy & forgiveness in the form of a prayer said by the whole congregatiion
- liturgy of the word: consists of readings from scriptures, usually including a section from one of the gospels
- liturgy of the eucharist: most important part - is the point at which catholics believe that the bread & wine are transformed into the body & blood of christ.
- rite of communion - begins w everyone saying the lord's prayer, followed by the sign of peace. following, the congregation come forward to receive the bread & wine. concluding rite, series of prayers
Advent and Christmas
Takes place in December. advent marks the start of the christian year, & begins 4 sundays before christmas. its a period of preparation for christmas and for christ's second coming. advent candles are lit in homes and churches, and children may use advent calender to count off the days until christmas.
christmas celebrates the incarnation - when god's son came to earth as a human being. the exact date of the birth isn't knownn.
customs vary around the world, but often date from pre-christian times. in many roman catholic churches theres a 'midnight mass' to welcome christmans day, and a nativity scene.
some christians think that the giving of expensive presents takes aways the focus of what christmas is supposed to be about.
Celebrated in february/march
Lent commemorates the 40 days & nights of Jesus's fasting in the wilderness after his baptims. on the day before lent (shrove tuesday), roman catholics confess their sins and are absolved from sin. rich foods should be eaten up before the start of the fast and mardi gras carnivals may be held.
on ash wednesday (the first day of lent) ash is put on believers foreheads to show that they're sorry for their sins. lents ends on the day before easter.
for roman catholics, lent is traditionally a sombre time where the focus of worship on the suffering of jesus. catholics are obliged to abstain from meat on each friday of lent, and to fast for a minimum of two days - ash wednesday & good friday
Holy Week & Easter Sunday
Holy week is in march/april. Its the final week of lent, lastting from palm sunday (the sunday before easter) until the day before easter. it commemorates jesus's final week on earth.
maundy thursday recalls the last supper, and good friday jesus's crucifixiion. there are special services, especially on good friday between 12 and 3pm - the hours when jesus was dying on the cross
easter sunday commemorates jesus's resurrection. special services are held. easter is the most important festival of the year for most christians, since it celebrates the victory of jesus over death. it starts a 50 day period of focusing on the actions of the risen christ.
The Sermon on the Mount
The sermon on the mount is one of the most important summaries of jesus's moral teaching found in the gospels. it appears as a collection in matthew, but a lot of the same is used in luke. some say that the sermon on the mount preaches an ideal, which no one can live up to. others argue that christians can still aspire to this ideal, though no one can be totally perfect.
- in the sermon, jesus reinterprets the law of moses - rules given by god in the old testament
- jesus takes the laws & makes them more strict & more internal. jesus takes commandments about actions & makes them about intentions & emotions
- jesus speaks about anger, adultery, divorce, vows, revenge & love for our enemies
- jesus orders his followers to do their praying, giving to charity, & fasting quietly & without trying to impress other people
- jesus says that those who do good things in secret will be rewarded by god.
- jesus calls those who display religion hypocrites - modern christians take this to mean that, while prayers, charity & fassting dont need to be done in private, they should be done for god alone
- jesus orders followers not to seek material riches, or even material security, but spiritaul riches
- he tells his followers that its wrong to even worry about material things
- jesus warns his followers "do not judge, or you too will be judged."
- most christians take this to mean that they should strictly judge their own moral state before looking at other people's, and they must be charitable & forgiving of others