THEOLOGY

  • Created by: amyylanc
  • Created on: 29-05-19 13:16

CHRISTIAN MORAL PRINCIPLES

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THE BIBLE AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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APPROACHES TO THE BIBLE

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THE BIBLE AS THE DIRECT WORD OF GOD

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ISSUES WITH TAKING THE BIBLE AS THE DIRECT WORD

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THE BIBLE AS THE INTERPRETED WORD OF GOD

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ISSUES WITH TAKING THE BIBLE AS THE INTERPRETED WO

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THE CHURCH AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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THE CHURCH AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH FOR ANGLICANS

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH FOR ANGLICANS

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH FOR CATHOLICS

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH FOR CATHOLICS

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH FOR CATHOLICS

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ISSUES WITH THE CHURCH AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDAN

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ISSUES WITH THE CHURCH AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDAN

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REASON AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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REASON AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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REASON AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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AGAPE LOVE AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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AGAPE LOVE AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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AGAPE LOVE AS A SOURCE OF MORAL GUIDANCE

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CHRISTIAN MORAL ACTION

- Christian moral principles can conflict with the actions and values of certain people at the time, leading Christians into conflicts with the authorities

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian whose Christian faith saw him become involved with the Resistance movement in Germany against the Nazis

- he developed a theology of discipleship and suffering in the name of living a Christian life, which has since been hugely influential

- he wrote texts such as 'The Cost of Discipleship' and 'Letters and Papers from Prison'

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THE GERMAN CHURCH DURING HITLER'S CONTROL

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THE GERMAN CHURCH DURING HITLER'S CONTROL

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BONHOEFFER'S CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP

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BONHOEFFER'S CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP

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CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

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CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

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BONHOEFFER'S ACTS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

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BONHOEFFER'S ACTS OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

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THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH TO BONHOEFFER

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THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH TO BONHOEFFER

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THE CONFESSING CHURCH

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THE CONFESSING CHURCH

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THE CONFESSING CHURCH

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THE CONFESSING CHURCH

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CHEAP GRACE

Bonhoeffer claimed that 'cheap grace' was the 'deadly enemy of the Church'

- this term described the habit among Christians of accepting the freely available gifts of God, but not bothering to do anything uncomfortable or make any sacrifices in their 'Christian' lives

- he thought that, as Jesus had died for peoples' sins, they were therefore able to enjoy the benefits of an eternal afterlife in Heaven, simply by identifying as Christian and not actually repenting for their wrong actions 

- this acceptance of cheap grace made the Church secular, and willing to be influenced by the beliefs and values of the modern world around it

- Bonhoeffer wrote that this created a world in which Christians were just 'millions of spiritual corpses' and that cheap grace was to blame as it had 'turned back upon us like a boomerang'

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COSTLY GRACE

- 'costly grace' was a central part of Christian life for Bonhoeffer, as he believed that the grace of God was something worth sacrificing everything for

- true grace is costly as it calls Christians to follow Jesus in all aspects of their lives, by making changes and perhaps undesireable decisions

- he claimed that Christians must reflect on God's own sacrifice of his only son to save people from sin, and that therefore people should respond and repay this compassionate act by being prepared to sacrifice everything to God and follow a life of absolute obedience

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SACRIFICE, SUFFERING AND THE CROSS

- for Bonhoeffer, the call to Christian discipleship is closely related to Jesus' plight

- anyone who follows Jesus must pick up the cross and follow Jesus' path of rejection, suffering and death

- discipleship and costly grace involve self-denial and resilience

- therefore, being Christian isn't just an aspect of normal life, but involves a life of suffering for Christ

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SOLIDARITY

- existing for others (solidarity) was a central part of Bonhoeffer's theology, and he thought it to be closely linked to the concept of discipleship

- he was offered the chance to stay in London and learn from Gandhi about the principles of pacifism, but instead opted to run the Finkenwalde seminary in Germany

- he could have also escaped to safety in the USA and teach theology in New York, yet decided to stay only three weeks before returning to Germany in order to share in the suffering of the German people

- he argued that the purpose of Christian life isn't to be 'religious', but to form a relationship with God through living selflessly, as this allows the Christian to participate in the being of Jesus

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SOLIDARITY

- for Bonhoeffer, solidarity led him into the Resistance movement against the Nazis

- he was accused of being wound up in a conspiracy plot to assasinate Hitler, and was, as a result was sent to Flossenburg concentration camp where he awaited execution

- on the 9th of April 1945, he was hanged without a trial, just two weeks before American troops liberated the camp

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THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST

- the question of who Jesus really was is central to Christian theology

- there is a plethera of evidence that a man named Jesus did live at the time stated in the Bible

- such a man is mentioned not only by those keen to spread the message of Christianity, but also by Roman historians (eg. Tacticus) and Jewish historians (eg. Josephus)

- theologians continue to debate the nature of Jesus, including the issues of the implications of calling him the Son of God, whether or not he was a teacher of wisdom in the traditions of Judaism, and whether he was a revolutionary of the time

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JESUS AS THE SON OF GOD

- Jesus is often referred to as Son of God in Christian teaching, placing himself as the Son in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity

- accepting Jesus as the Son of God is fundamental to Jesus' authority

- Jesus did not refer to himself as the Son of God, but there are Biblical instances of such a reference by others, and the idea of him as the 'Messiah' (Christ in Hebrew) means 'anointed one', essentially meaning that he is chosen

- Biblical references to Jesus as the Son of God include:

  • in St Paul's letter to the Romans he highlighted the fundamental belief of Christianity that Jesus was 'established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead' 
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JESUS' KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND HIMSELF

- the concept of Jesus as Son of God is closely linked to discussions over the extent of Jesus' knowledge

- the fact that Jesus seems to have had a unique understanding of God suggests that he could be the Son of God

- contributors to the Bible refer to Jesus as 'the word' of God, which naturally suggests that the words spoken by Jesus were the very words of God, which would give Jesus' teachings divine authority and justify so many people accepting and following them

- the idea of Jesus as God's word also gives him an innate necessity, as, when God said 'let there be...' during the creation story of Genesis 1, the fact that Jesus is thought of as God's word and God was speaking at the time of creation suggests that he was present during creation

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JESUS' KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND HIMSELF

- however, the idea that Jesus had a uniquely full knowledge of God creates issues, as it implies that Jesus and God are separate beings which know one another, whereas according to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, they are both elements of the same, almighty God

- the early Church developed the doctrine of the 'hypostatic union' between Jesus and God, whereby the two natures of divine and human are united in the person of Jesus, which partly explains the phenomenon, but leaves aspects of the issue unanswered

- Catholic theologian Karl Rahner proposed that Jesus had multiple layers of consciousness, with human self-consciousness that lay nearer the surface, and a God-consciousness deeper within his person

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JESUS AS GOD ON EARTH

- Christians believe that God's omnipotence gives him the power to save humanity frm sin, and as Jesus is widely regarded as saving us from sin through his crucifixion and resurrection, then he must be, in some sense, linked to God

- Christians also hold the belief that Jesus had to be human in order to exist on earth as we do, suffer real pain for the sake of a greater good, and eventually submit to a human death

- the idea that Jesus was both wholly human  and divine creates issues, as God and humanity are completely independent and very different so it's difficult to see how anybody could be both simultaneously, and Christians had already rejected similar ideas such as that of the demi-gods of Greek and Roman mythology

- the early Church used the doctrine of the 'hypostatic union' between Jesus and God, through which both divine and human features and were united in the person of Jesus, to justify the belief that he is both divine and human

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JESUS AS GOD ON EARTH

- according to Christian thought, Jesus didn't share the sinful nature that other human beings have, as, although he was capable of being tempted by evil, he was able to reject such temptation (unlike the human Adam and Eve), and therefore could bring humanity to reconciliation with God by providing an example for others

- medieval Christian theologians believed that there were three ways in which Jesus may have knowledge of God:

  • scientia visionis (face-to-face knowledge of God and all things)
  • scientia infusa (an infused knowledge of God, which isn't learned but given by God)
  • scientia experientiae (knowledge of life gained through experience)
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JESUS AS GOD ON EARTH

- most modern Christians accept the the agreed upon teaching of Jesus' divine nature as confirmed in 325AD at the First Council of Nicea, wherein it was established that Jesus was 'of the same substance' as God, a doctrine known as homoousios, that rejects the proposal that Jesus was some kind of mix of two natures

-the question of Jesus' knowledge of his own nature is complicated to answer

- in his text 'Interpreting Jesus', Gerald O'Collins writes that we can never draw conclusive answers about the inner life and thoughts of anyone, as knowledge and the way in which it is gained is hugely complex and ambigous sometimes

- he does however, argue that we can conclude that Jesus knew he had a unique relationship with God, and was put on earth for a specific purpose

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JESUS' MIRACLES

- in the New Testament, there are various examples of Jesus being a miracle worker, such as when Jesus changed water into wine (John 2:1-11)

- 18th century philosopher David Hume argued that we should always treat 'miracle' accounts with scepticism, and be open to believing more likely explanations of the event (eg. witnesses were mistaken in what they saw)

- other writers, such as Edward Schillebeeckx, argue that miracles should be interpreted in a spiritual, metaphorical way, instead of literally

- NT Wright proposes that miracle stories should be considered in terms of the intentions of the writers in showing that Jesus had the power to unite people and restore communities, and that Biblical miracles illustrate aspects of Jesus' self (eg. his ability to forgive sins) and not just literal accounts of his actions

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THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS

- the Resurrection of Jesus is a fundamental part of the Christian message 

- St Paul, in his letters, writes that there could be no Christian faith without the Resurrection, as if Jesus hadn't risen from the dead he would have died for nothing and the sins of humanity wouldn't have been forgiven, which would make preaching the gospel useless, as people would have no chance of entering Heaven

- theologians including NT Wright and EP Sanders propose that it's the belief in the Resurrection of Christ that has maintained the strength of Christianity and ensured it's widespread following for thousands of years

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THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS

- Jesus' resurrection has various implications for Christians:

  • it shows Jesus' miraculous and almighty power
  • it shows that God can be revealed through those who are weak and suffering aswell as in the strong
  • it reveals how humanity should have been, free of sin, before the Fall
  • it is seen as the ultimate and total revelation of Jesus
  • it gives Christians a reason to be hopeful about the future Kingdom of God in the afterlife
  • it reveals God's forgiving nature, but also his emphasis on suffering and sacrifice to overcome sin
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JESUS AS THE TEACHER OF WISDOM

- within Judaism, the term 'rabbi' is used for a teacher and leader who learned the scriptures and can now teach others about them

- some of Jesus' followers used the term 'rabbi' to address him, making it clear that Jesus could read and was knowledgeable about the Jewish scriptures

- he taught in synagogues and the open, and scriptures show that people who heard him were surprised by his level of education

- Scribes and Pharisees often asked him questions out of interest and also to test him perhaps

- Jesus spoke of the interpretation of scripture, moral issues (especially with the poor and oppressed), and the importance of love

- his moral teaching included the forgiveness of sins, love of enemies, love for God, and love for one's neighbour

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JESUS AS THE TEACHER OF WISDOM

- in 1952, Lewis argued that it makes no sense to accept Jesus' teachings without accepting that he was the son of God, due to the things which he said about himself (eg. 'I am the bread of life'), as if they are true, he is truly the Son of God, and if they're not, he is decietful and shouldn't be followed

- Bonhoeffer linked the idea of the incarnation to the idea that we meet God in other human beings, so the incarnation of Christ allows us to encounter God in a human life, and Jesus' teachings allow us to hear God's word in a practical way

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CRITICISMS OF JESUS AS THE TEACHER OF WISDOM

- Hick and some others contributed to a text called 'The Myth of God Incarnate', in which they argued that the idea of Jesus as God incarnate is best understood mythologically

- Hick proposed that the kind of moral example and teaching given by Jesus could also be found in other leading figures of most of the other world religions, such as Moses, Guru Nanak and Muhammad

- he linked ideas of religious pluralism and inclusivism, along with ideas about religious language to argue that the idea of a transformation from self-centeredness to empathetic love was one found in many world religions, which shows that there are various paths to salvation

 

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CRITICISMS OF JESUS AS THE TEACHER OF WISDOM

- the idea of God coming to earth as a human should be understood as a metaphor rather than the literal truth, as Jesus may have been inspired by God and given special insights, but perhaps wasn't literally God in human form

- Jesus remains an exemplar of a wise and holy man who gave fundamental moral teaching and served as an excellent role model

- some Christian's reject Hick's point of view, by saying that Jesus' moral nature cannot be separated from his divinity, as his sacrifice saved the world from sin, and was much more important therefore, than any personal decision to be less selfish

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JESUS AS A LIBERATOR

- there is certain Biblical and historical evidence of Jesus being somewhat of a liberator, both socially and politically, and even in a religious sense to some degree

- such a presentation has been fundamental to the movement of liberation theology, which was begun in 1971 by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, who wrote one of the movement's defining books, 'A Theology of Liberation'

- supposed evidence of Jesus' work as a political revolutionary was used by liberation theologians in Latin America as a guide and support in their plight to address many of the socio-political issues faced

- Camilo Torres Restrepo, another liberation theologian, said that 'if Jesus were alive today, he would be a guerrillero'

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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO SOCIAL INJUSTICE

- Christians often present Jesus as a liberator who challenged social conventions literally, aswell as in a sense of spiritual liberation, by freeing people of their sins and allowing them to live Christian lives with the possibility of an eternal afterlife in Heaven

- Jesus openly condemned the situation of the domination of the rich over the poor

- he was known to challenge convention and associate with those who were traditionally shunned by society, such as tax collectors and Samaritans

- Jesus' willingness to challenge the status quo at the time, especially under such a strong rule as the Romans, has inspired Christian groups to also become involved in social change, such as the Salvation Army and Liberation Theologians

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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO SOCIAL INJUSTICE

- Luke's Gospel is an example of Jesus' social work being especially revolutionary, as here, he is seen to include women in his mission, at a time when women were undeniably unequal to men

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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO POLITICAL AUTHORITY

- during Jesus' lifetime, Palestine was under the control of the Romans, however the Jews were allowed to continue in their traditions, given that they didn't caus any trouble

- the situation was certainly tense, which can be seen by the eventual burning down of the Temple in Jerusalem in 73AD

- at the time of Jesus, many Jews hoped for a Messiah who would come and lead them to victory over oppressive Roman rule, similar to King David's work in the Old Testament

- at this time, there was a group of militant Jews known as the Zealots, who called for a violent revolution, and some Biblical scholars, such as Reza Aslan, argue that Jesus may have been more closely involved in such groups than is originally presented in the gospels

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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO POLITICAL AUTHORITY

- reasons why Jesus may have been more politically involved than the gospels may suggest include:

  • Jesus said 'I did not come to bring peace, but a sword' (Matthew 10:34), suggesting a willingness to use violence to promote his cause, and at the Garden of Gethsemane, his followers drew weapons, showing that they were known to carry daggers with them
  • Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to crowds awaiting his arrival, suggesting this was a pre-organised event to present Jesus as the new leader and King of the Jews, and that perhaps Jesus wanted such a politically-loaded title for himself
  • according to John's Gospel, the Romans put 'King of the Jews' on Jesus' crucifixion cross, possibly because he was seen as the leader of a Jewish political revolutionary group, and this was a contributor to his execution
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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO POLITICAL AUTHORITY

- however, there are reasons as to why certain scholars dispute the argument that Jesus was a political revolutionary, such as:

  • he prevented his disciples from using violence to protest his arrest
  • he didn't accept the use of political titles for himself
  • he emphasised peace
  • it could be said that Judas betrayed Jesus as he wasn't being militant enough against the Jewish Zealots
  • Jesus emphasised the importance of a spiritual Kingdom of God rather over a worldly one, and was therefore probably less interested in the politics of the world around him
  • he was cautious when answering questions about Roman rule, and didn't suggest explicitly defying them
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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY

- although Jesus is percieved to have generally been on good terms with people in religious authority, he was seen to challenge certain religious traditions, such as by ignoring the Sabbath rule of rest when he decided to continue healing 

- Jesus speaks in a way that suggests he has a certain God-given authority to be able to say when a rule should be strictly obeyed and when they can be broken in order to serve a greater good

- Jesus suggested that the Jewish Temple will be replaced by something better, without the practices that he criticised, such as money-changing in an attempt to make profit

- such criticisms led Jesus into conflicts with religious leaders, and saw him eventually called to answer questions in the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court)

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JESUS' CHALLENGES TO RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY

- some Biblical scholars, namely Sanders, argue that the gospel writers may have exaggerated Jesus' tensions with Jewish leaders in order to fit their own Christian agenda, and that Jesus had a more Jewish outlook than the stories of the New Testament suggest

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KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S EXISTENCE

- in religion, there is a question of how human beings who live in a physical world bound by time can have any comprehension of an infinite God

- Christians have diverse views about whether knowledge of God can be reached through human reason and observation alone, or whether knowledge of God can only be attained when God chooses to reveal himself to us

- Christians believe that human beings have finite, sinful and imperfect minds, which cannot reach a true understanding of God

- other Christians believe that sense experience and reason aren't the only ways in which knowledge can be gained, and so we are capable of knowing God personally and forming a relationship with him

- a distinction is made by Christians between natural theology and revealed theology

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BONAVENTURE'S WAY OF SEEING

- Bonaventure was a Franciscan monk of the thirteenth century

- he thought that the mind has different ways of seeing, and used the analogy of three eyes that have different ways of seeing to explain this:

  • the eye of the flesh, which is an empirical way of seeing using the senses, to allow us to gain knowledge of the physical world
  • the eye of reason, which is a way of seeing using reason which allows to gain knowledge of mathematics and philosophy
  • the eye of contemplation, which is a way of seeing using faith which allows us to gain knowledge of God
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NATURAL THEOLOGY

- Natural theology is about gaining knowledge of God through observation and reason

- it contrasts with revealed theology, which is gained through religious experience and scripture

- many Christians think that God can be known both through natural and revealed theology, but some reject natural theology

- Paley's design argument relies on natural theology, as he thought that observing the natural world showed undeniable evidence of a loving God

- in the Bible, some writers claim that God can be known through experience of the natural world (eg. in Psalm 8 and Romans 1)

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NATURAL THEOLOGY

- Aquinas used natural theology to show that Christian belief is justified and doesn't contrast with logical philosophy or common sense

- Calvin proposed that we are all born with a sense of the divine so knowledge of God should be accessible for everyone, not just the educated or intelligent

- for him, the natural world was a 'mirror' of or 'theatre' for God, and so nobody could pretend to be unaware of the existence of God

- Calvin argued that any epistemic distance between humanity and God arises because of humanity's own fault when we abuse our free will

- Swinburne agreed with Paley that the world displays characteristics of order, design and purpose, and such observations can be used to conclude that God probably exists

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NATURAL THEOLOGY

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THE SENSE OF THE DIVINE

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THE SENSE OF THE DIVINE

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THE ORDER OF CREATION

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REVEALED THEOLOGY

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REVEALED THEOLOGY

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REVEALED THEOLOGY

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THE GRACE OF GOD

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THE BIBLE

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ACTS 17:16-34

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ACTS 17:16-34

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LIFE AFTER DEATH

- according to Christianity, people have souls that can survive the death of the physical body they're attached to

- there are diverse beliefs within Christianity about the nature of life after death, with different ideas being given to different ideas and teachings

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RESURRECTION

- Christians hold the view that after death, people will have another life in a new kind of existence

- they disagree with the idea that a human soul leaves one body and joins another in this same world, along with the Platonic view that the soul leaves the body and continues in a disembodied nature

- instead, they believe that the soul will be given to a new spiritual, glorified physical body where it can continue to live after death (resurrection)

- they believe that the person who lives on after death is still the same person, but is now incorruptible

- for them, resurrection is a miracle from God

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RESURRECTION

- before Jesus, the Pharisees believed in resurrection, and it can be seen in the Old Testament book of Daniel

- modern Christians base their belief in resurrection on Biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection

- according to the gospels, after Jesus was crucified, his body was placed in a tomb with a heavy stone covering the entrance, however, by the third day, the tomb was empty, and Jesus was then seen and heard by his followers as a man in a physical body

- Christians believe that the Resurrection of Jesus signifies that they too will be resurrected post-mortem

 

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RESURRECTION

- Paul writes about the topic of life after death in his letters to the Corinthians:

  • in Corinthians 1, he uses the metaphor of a seed transforming into a new plant to show how, in the afterlife, the human body will be transformed to fulfil its potential
  • in Corinthians 2, he uses the metaphor of a tent being replaced with a solid house to show how life on earth is temporary, but in the afterlife, we are provided with a permanent home for our soul
  • in Corinthians 2, he also uses the metaphor of being naked in this world but clothed in the next, to show that, in the afterlife, we will no longer be ashamed
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HEAVEN

- traditionally, Christians describe the afterlife in terms of 'going to Heaven' 

- different symbols and analogies are used to describe the nature of Heaven, whilst still being vague enough to account for the fact that life after death remains a mystery yet to be revealed:

  • the idea of returning to a family home
  • the idea of a place where there will be no more suffering
  • the idea of plenty
  • the idea of being surrounded by angels
  • the idea of meeting God the Father who will be seated on a throne
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HEAVEN

- such descriptors of Heaven aren't to be taken literally, as most Christians don't envisage Heaven as a literal place, but instead as a spiritual state, in which a person recognises and accepts God's grace, and is forgiven and made whole

- some Christians interpret Heaven as an endless eternity in which to praise God, whilst others percieve it as timeless, similar to the ideas of Aquinas with the beatific vision

- Heaven is sometimes understood as the transformation and perfection of the whole of creation, when Jesus will come to earth again (the Parousia or Second Coming)

- the Bible gives some ideas about Heaven through the symbolic language used, along with parables such as the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31

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HEAVEN

- some people argue against the idea of Heaven after death, saying that it raises more questions that it answers

- one specific issue is the idea that people are resurrected as physical bodies, as this poses the question of where they would exist as they would take up space, as well as the fact that they would have to eat and whether or not they would age

- it's difficult to see how we could be the same person in Heaven if we have a different glorified body and are now eternal, and some argue that this makes the idea of resurrection nonsensical, whilst others say that we cannot expect to understand a concept such a Heaven in this life

 - Bernard Williams criticised Christian ideas about Heaven by saying that it would get boring after a while because after a life in eternity, people would run out of things to do, however others argue that being in the presence of God would never get boring

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THE BEATIFIC VISION

- Aquinas thought of the afterlife in terms of a beatific vision, in which people come face-to-face with God for all eternity

- he thought that the beatific vision was not in time, so he rejected the view that people would be in God's presence for endless days

- instead, he thought that it would be a timeless vision, where there would be no more time, and the past, present and future would all be brought together

- this view may therefore, deal with the issue of Heaven becoming boring or taking up room

- Catholic theologian Karl Rahner supported the view of a timeless afterlife, agreeing that the idea of endless days had too many problematic implications

- however, it raises philosophical issues of its own

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THE BEATIFIC VISION

- such issues include, how people might be resurrected into physical bodies for the beatific vision (as physical bodies exist in time), and how people could possibly be resurrected as the same person they were on earth (as many human characteristics are directly related to living within time)

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HELL

- traditional Christian teaching proposes that Hell is a place of eternal punishment and separation from God

- in the Bible, it's sometimes described in terms of fire and torture, darkness, or a rubbish dump, all of which are 'below' this world

- the concept of Hell raises difficult issues, such as whether Hell is compatible with the idea of an omnipotent, loving and merciful God

- David Hume raised the question of whether there was anything a human could possibly do that would justify eternal punishment

- however, some people argue that wronging God does justify eternal punishment as God is infinitely good

 

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HELL

- the concept of Hell also raises the issue of whether Hell would get boring after a while

- Hick argued that a loving God wouldn't allow his creatures to suffer for all eternity, and followed the universalist view that there would be eventual salvation for all people

- some people argue that there is no point in an eternal punishment, as it would serve very little purpose as those there have already comitted the sins that have led them there and cannot do anything to rectify this now, which has led to the argument that Hell was created as a form of social control

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PURGATORY

- Purgatory isn't explicitly mentioned in the Bible, but is a concept developed by early Christian thinkers such as Origen and Augustine

- in the sixth century, Pope Gregory further developed the idea of a place of state where souls could be cleansed after death in order to make them fit to enter Heaven

- he took a verse from Matthew's Gospel to show that there could be forgiveness post-mortem

- Purgatory is traditionally understood as a place of pain and cleansing, which is often symbolised by fire, and wherein the soul recognises its sin and is temporarily punished for it

- Catholic teaching includes the belief that the prayers of the living can help the souls of the dead to endure the painful experience

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PURGATORY

- Karl Rahner explored the doctrine of purgatory and argued that it shouldn't be understood as a place of pain completely, but as a metaphor for the soul's profound awareness of the consequences of sin

- Protestants generally dismiss the idea of purgatory, on the grounds that it isn't explicitly mentioned in the Bible, and in their view, the idea of purgatory suggests that Christ's death on the cross didn't bring about complete salvation

- in the Middle Ages, the practice of charging people indulgences for a shortened time in Purgatory was heavily criticised by Protestants

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ELECTION

- election is also known as predestination

- it is the belief that God chooses the eternal destiny of each human soul, and therefore, knows before they are even born whether they will go to Heaven or not

- the idea is closely associated with sixteenth century theologian, John Calvin

- some Christians argue that, because God is omniscient, he must know what will happen to each person before they are born, and his omnipotence gives him the power to decide their fates

- Augustine taught a doctrine of 'limited election', meaning that God would save some people only

- he believed that, due to Original Sin, nobody deserved salvation, yet the fact that some people are saved shows God's unrivaled grace

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ELECTION

- Calvin taught that God chooses some people for eternal life in Heaven, and others for eternal punishment

- the idea of election is controversial for Christians

- Karl Barth taught the doctrine of unlimited election, in which Jesus would bring salvation for all people who accepted the Christian message

- Hick developed this even further to say that all people will eventually be saved, whether they're Christian or not, due to God's all-loving nature

- Hick's view has been criticised by Pope Benedict XVI, who claimed that, if everyone is saved regardless of their faith, then Christ's death seems futile

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JUDGEMENT

- Christians all share the view that after death there will be some kind of judgement from God

- there is a question of whether each person is judged at the time of death, or there is a Judgement Day for all, and certain Biblical accounts can be used to support a number of possibilities:

  • some peole, such as prophets and saints may go immediately to Heaven, whilst the rest of us wait until the time of God's choosing to judge us
  • everyone has to wait until the end of time for Judgement Day
  • each person goes to Heaven or Hell as soon as they die
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MATTHEW 25:31-46

- the parable of the sheep and the goats is told in Matthew's Gospel

- it describes what will happen when the 'Son of Man comes in his glory', which Christians interpret to be a direct reference to Jesus

- it depicts a judgement when people are separated in the same way that a shepard separates sheep from goats, meaning that some are sent to Heaven and the rest to Hell

- those who enter Heaven do so because of the way they have treated others when they are in need

- those who go to Hell do so because they have ignored those in need, which goes against Jesus' teachings

- the parable says that God has 'prepared' a place for those who go to Heaven

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AUGUSTINE'S TEACHING ON HUMAN NATURE

- St Augustine was a proponent of the idea that human nature had been fatally damaged through the Fall of Adam and Eve

- he taught that people are created by God, and although they are fallen in nature, they can be redeemed

- he claimed that the only hope of salvation was through the grace of God, which is available to those chosen by God, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross

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AUGUSTINE'S LIFE AND INFLUENCES

- Augustine taught at the time of the fourth century

- in his early life, he followed the thinking of the Manichees, who preached that the universe was in constant battle between forces of good and evil, with human appetites trapping the body in the world of darkness, or human reason leading to enlightenment

- he was also very influenced by Plato and Plotinus, who taught that human appetites were sinful, and that study could eventually lead people to the form of the Good

- eventually, Augustine came to reject Manichaeism because he came to believe that the grace of God brought about by the sacrifice of Jesus was fundamental to bringing people to wisdom and salvation, and human reason couldn't be relied on

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AUGUSTINE'S LIFE AND INFLUENCES

- therefore, Augustine developed the view that people cannot be saved solely through their own efforts

- Augustine began as a priest, and then became a bishop, however he often struggled with the demands of Christian life and wrote about such struggles

- his most famous texts are 'The City of God' and 'Confessions'

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HUMAN NATURE AS CREATED BY GOD

- for Augustine, the fact that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God means that they shared some of the characteristics of God, namely rationality, freedom, and a degree of morality

- Adam and Eve have a special place in the universe

- they were made from physical matter, like the rest of the natural world

- they were given the role of stewardship over the earth, told to be fruitful and reproduce, and not to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden

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THE FALL

- the Fall of Adam and Eve is depicted in the Bible in Genesis 2-3

- in this event, the serpent tempts Eve to eat the fruit and thereby disobey God, which Adam follows in doing

- this is called the Fall, as through their actions, they fell away from their perfect nature, due to their own free choice and disobedience

- to Augustine, the Fall was catastrophically significant for humanity, and had many unwanted consequences:

  • they are made to work for a living
  • Eve is given pain in childbirth
  • people no longer have the same access to God that they had pre-Fall

- the Fall is seen as the turning point of all creation for Augustine

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HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE THE FALL

- in Genesis, before the Fall, Adam and Eve are depicted as having a close relationship with God, in which they can see and interact with him

- Augustine believed that people lived in a state of loving friendship before the Fall, a state of comfortable, supportive friendship known as 'concordia'

- he thought that they must have lived in a state of perfection, wherein there was no sin and people acted in accordance with God's plans

- Augustine couldn't explain why Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, apart from the fact that they had free will and abused it to turn away from him

- prior to the Fall, people could comfortably live in a peaceful society without the need for repressive political authority

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HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS AFTER THE FALL

- the human will could be manipulated in different ways after the Fall, and the new flawed nature of humanity makes it inevitable that people will do wrong

- there are different types of love, which are confused by people since the Fall:

  • cupiditas, which is a superficial love of worldly things which comes from selfish concerns, and can, in the long-run, make people unhappy
  • caritas, which is a generous love of others displayed through the virtues of Natural Law (temperance, prudence, fortitude and justice), which inevitably gives people spiritual happiness

- after the Fall, Adam and Eve chose cupiditas, and their sin has corrupted following generations and given them the tendency to sin

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HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS AFTER THE FALL

- since the Fall, people have been unable to live morally pure lives, as Original Sin has corrupted their ability to freely opt to do good

- people are beyond the chance of salvation through their own efforts, and can now be saved only by the grace of God through Christ

- people are 'divided', meaning that they continue to be made in the image of God and can still reason, but their will is corrupted so they are always inclined towards selfish decisions, leading to internal conflicts

- Augustine could relate to the struggles of Paul, outlined in Romans 7, in which Paul describes a longing to be freed from sin but a feeling of being chained to it

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HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS AFTER THE FALL

- Augustine believed that sinful humanity was at the mercy of concupiscence, which encompasses sexual desire but also appetites for material things

- he debated ideas about the extent to which people should refrain from sexual activity and lead lives of material simplicity

- after the Fall, people now require forceful political authority, to control the sinful natures of society and force people to act in a way which isn't totally selfish

- Augustine compared earthly peace with heavenly peace and concluded that earthly peace was simply a compromise between sinful individuals

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AUGUSTINE'S TEACHING ON GRACE

- Augustine taught that the only way through which people can be restored from the effects of Original Sin is via the grace of God, and that without this, people are doomed to eternal punishment

- people will continue to sin even after they have been given God's grace, but even so, God will accept some of them into Heaven

- for Augustine, God's grace is important as it:

  • is love and mercy
  • transforms the will to want to please God
  • gives moral guidance
  • reaches the human heart and will
  • is demonstrated in the sacrifice of Christ and in the work of the Holy Spirit
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STRENGTHS OF AUGUSTINE'S TEACHING

- Augustine encourages humanity to take responsibility for its own actions and recognise its failures in an attempt to overcome them

- he empathises with, and attempts to account for human emotions, especially when they're in conflict

- he makes justified and valuable distinctions between love of material goods and a more important love of others

- he recognises his own weaknesses as a member of humanity

- he doesn't follow the fantasy that anything is possible for humanity if we try hard enough, and instead emphasises human dependence on the grace of God

- there are other proponents of his ideas that it is in our human nature to be ultimately selfish, such as Thomas Hobbes

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WEAKNESSES OF AUGUSTINE'S TEACHING

- the idea of Original Sin is unattractive at a time when we are used to thinking of ourselves as individuals, and not all part of the same homogenous group

- the idea of a loving God conflicts with one which punishes others for the sins of others

- some, such as Jean Jaques Rousseau argue that people are fundamentally good, and John Locke disputed original sin, claiming that we are born with a 'tabula rasa' (blank slate)

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WEAKNESSES OF AUGUSTINE'S TEACHING

- the theory of evolution makes it difficult to accept that humanity is so different in nature to that of other species, and calls into question the historical validity of the story of the Fall

- some argue that Augustine's fixation on sin and corruption has distorted the hopeful and positive Christian message of the goodness of God and the possibility of salvation

- it can also be said that Augustine's assumption of the existence of a 'human nature' is flawed as we all have our own independent natures, and cannot all be classified together due to our being human

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