My God... look at all the topics covered in this. Don't panic
though, most of it's pretty obvious anyway... Just concentrate
on the stuff you're not too sure on. And smile.
The Bible is the Christian
scriptures. Some people believe that is literally God's words. This
means they believe everything in it, right from Genesis. They are known
as 'Creationists' or 'Fundamentalists' and refuse to accept what science
tells us about the world.
Other people don't think all
of it's literally true, but it is the ideas behind everything that
The Bible is the world's best
seller every year. Still, when they hand them out to reluctant
school kids each year it's not surprising...
It contains a total of 66
different 'books' written by many different people and it is split
into two sections: the New Testament and the Old Testament. The Old
Testament contains 39 books, and the first five are identical to the
Jewish Torah. It was originally written in Hebrew. The New Testament
tells of Jesus, has 27 books, and was originally written in Greek.
Sacraments are crucial points
of a Christian's life. They are recognised in the Roman Catholic and
Orthodox churches, but most other denominations practice them too.
They are outward signs of inward spiritual grace.
The seven sacraments are:
- Eucharist/Mass/Holy Communion
- Penance (Confession)
- Orders (Becoming a Priest,
Monk or Nun)
- Anointing the sick with
Common features of all these
- Bible reading(s)
- Mass (if the Church is
What is said and done
at a Infant Baptism?
Baptism is one of the seven
sacraments, but it's pretty important in most denominations. The Bible
instructs us to baptise in Matthew 28, for example:
"Go then and make disciples
of all nations, baptising them".
I'm going to describe an Anglican
Baptism, so remember to mention that in the exam.
Baptism usually takes place
during Eucharist. The words spoken in an Anglican baptism come from
the Anglican Alternative Service book.
The ceremony begins with the
priest introducing it. He will give an opening speech, which talks
about the oaths the parents take on behalf of the child - a large stress
being placed on how important it is for the parents to bring up the
child in the Christian way.
Later, the priest will ask
the parents a series of questions:
- Do you reject the devil
and all rebellion against God?
- Do you renounce the deceit
and corruption of evil?
- Do you repent of the sins
that separate us from God and neighbor?
To these the parents must
answer, "I repent them".
Next are asked the questions:
- Do you turn to Christ as
- Do you submit to Christ
- Do you come to Christ,
the way, the truth and the life?
The parents answer, "I
The child is then baptised
in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Holy water
is poured over the child's head three times, corresponding to each
part of the Trinity.
A candle is handed to the
parents or god parents. The priest tells them to receive the light
to show that the child has now passed from dark to light. The priest
welcomes the child into the family of God, and the whole congregation
join the welcoming in unison.
- In the Orthodox church
they completely submerge the child.
- The Baptist church won't
- Quakers and Salvation Army
- Water and oil - symbols
of the Holy Spirit.
- Candle - Jesus the light
of the world is now shining on the child.
- White - Purity.
- Cross on head - remembrance
of Jesus' sacrifice.
| Children are supposed
to have 'Original Sin' (inherited sin) that needs washing away.
|| Parents shouldn't
pressurise their children into what they should belive - but they've
promised to bring the child up as a Christian.
| In the New Testament,
children were baptised as well as adults.
|| Everyone should
have a choice - a baby is too young to make the decision.
| Baptism is often
compared to the Jewish circumcised, and that is done at 8 days
|| They might not
believe in Christianity when they're older and it might be like
a barrier in future.
| It's a welcome
for the child into the Church.
|| Some families only
baptise as tradition, or to have a big party.
| The child can confirm
their faith later in Confirmation.
|| Nothing in the
Bible commands child baptism.
| In Roman Catholic
belief, if a child dies before baptism, they cannot go to heaven.
|| If someone believes,
it doesn't matter how old they are when they're baptised.
| The Bible never
says not to baptise children.
|| Baptism washes
away sin - but a child has hardly any!
| When you get older,
it allows you to be married in a church.
|| Jesus was baptised
as an adult.
| It's easier to
get into a Church of England school.
|| Children won't
remember the ceremony, but it's supposed to be special.
another sacrament, Confirmation is very important for Roman Catholics.
The Orthodox Church doesn't confirm though. As part of baptism, it
has something called 'chrismation' which replaces confirmation.
Before the confirmation, there
are usually many weeks of preparation and Bible study classes. The
person being confirmed will usually have a sponsor, who supports them
through the preparation and the ceremony itself.
Unlike a baptism, the Bishop
takes the confirmation. He asks the person the same questions that
were asked at baptism, reaffirming their belief.
Next, he lays his hands on
the person's head as a sign of the Holy Spirit entering the person.
The candidate is blessed and now a full member of the church.
Holy Communion follows the
service - the confirmed's very first. From there on, they can have
In the Anglican church, children
are usually baptised around 14. In the Roman Catholic, they are even
younger, around 8. In the Quakers, for example, there is no confirmation,
as they believe they already have the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation, a child can take Holy Communion. Another name for this
is Eucharist (from the Greek meaning 'thanksgiving'), Lord's Supper
Depending on which church
denomination you are from, things are slightly different.
||Every Sunday, but
can be everyday.
||Every Sunday, but can
||Can be every week, but
usually every 4 weeks.
||Every Sunday, but
can be everyday.
||One chalice. Alcoholic.
||One chalice. Alcoholic.
||Individual glasses. Non-alcoholic.
||Bread soaked in alcoholic
As usual, churches
like the Quakers don't take Holy Communion.
A good Bible quote for Eucharist
is Mark 14: "This is my body" "This is my blood".
Some Christians believe that
when blessed, the bread and wine literally become Jesus' body and blood.
This belief is called transubstantiation. Other
Christians, though, believe the bread and wine are still just symbols.
This is called consubstantiation.
ceremony as usual begins with a welcoming introduction by the priest.
It also consists of a
Bible reading, 1 Corinthians 13 all about love being ideal, and has
The man and woman will make
a number of vows:
To have & to hold
From this day forward
For better or worse
For richer or poorer
In sickness & Health
To love & to cherish
Till death us do part
This shows what Christians
think of marriage - it should be special, and last through any trials,
only being split by death (in heaven there is no marriage). It is seen
as a union with God too.
The couple's hands are usually
bonded, symbolising the new link between them, and the rings they exchange
are a symbol of their love being never ending. Gold is a symbol of
purity, as it the white dress the woman wears. Christians often believe
Chastity before marriage (abstaining from sex).
19, Jesus said: "Whosoever shall put away his wife,
except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth
adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." In
other words, if you remarry you are in effect committing adultery.
The Bible is
very clear on the matter of not committing adultery -- Exodus
20: "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
Marriage is a
lawful contract in the eyes of God, in which Christians should keep
until "death do us part".
isn't a sacrament, but a funeral fits with the previous three because
it's a rite of passage. This is a major event in a
person's life. This is the fourth of the rites of passage.
Christians believe in life
after death, which can be seen from the Apostles Creed,
they believe in "the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting". When
Jesus came back to life, he defeated death, giving Christians something
to strive for. In John 3, Jesus said, "he
who believed in me will not die".
Because of this, a funeral
isn't always a terrible time. Some Christians believe it should be
a celebration of the person's life, and after all, they have something
better awaiting them. Hymns will be sung, and the vicar will
give a sermon, focusing on the resurrection. Family members will often
also give speeches about the deceased.
The service in the church
is either followed by a cremation or a burial. Because Christians don't
believe in the physical resurrection of the body, they don't have a
problem with cremation. There will be a short service at the committal
in which the coffin is sprinkled with holy water as a sign of cleansing
- The Roman Catholic Church
believe in purgatory. This is a place between heaven and hell, where
the soul waits until sins on earth a redeemed. If there was no baptism,
RCs believe the soul cannot leave purgatory.
- Roman Catholics also have
a special mass called requiem mass.
- The Orthodox Church has
an open coffin throughout the service, positioned at the front
of the church.
The Apostles Creed is a statement
of belief. It out lines all Christianity, making it very important.
And here it is...
I believe in God
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
'God' shows there's only one.
'Father' makes him seem loving, caring and respectable. 'Almighty'
shows God is all powerful and 'heaven and earth' means he made everything.
And in Jesus Christ
his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
This talks about Jesus, the
second part of the Trinity. He was part human 'born of the Virgin Mary'
but also holy 'conceived by the Holy Spirit'. Pontius Pilate was a
historical figure, attempting to prove Jesus' existance. The resurrection
of Jesus is a key part of Christian belief. It also says the Day of
Judgement will come.
I believe in the
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
The third part of the Trinity
- the Holy Spirit. 'Catholic'
means world wide. 'Saints' tells us that all good people will have
life after death, whether alive or dead. 'communion' means the coming
together. The prayer ends with 'Amen' which means 'so be it'.
Is the Apostles Creed
| It's a statement
of belief, containing all the central Christian beliefs.
|| It's old fashioned,
with archaic language. "sitteth" for example instead on "sit".
| It protects against
|| Contained old fashioned
ideas, such as the world being flat and "ascending" to
| It safeguards Christianity,
as all these new religious cults are emerging.
|| Meaning is difficult
to understand, leading to misinterpretation.
| It's useful to
have something historical that challenges modern views of society.
|| It's original purpose
is lot as there are few "conversions" nowadays.
| Churches without
the Apostles Creed may have to make up something complecated to
|| Christianity is
about a relationship with God, not the ability to recite a load
of out of date words...
on the Mount
As well as the Apostles Creed,
the Sermon on the Mount is also very good for understanding Christian
beliefs. Like the title says, it is a sermon delivered by Jesus on
a mount, near the sea of Gallilee.
The sermon's found in Matthew
5-7. The most famous section of this sermon, though, were teachings
known as the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven.
There are 8 in total, and they
teach Christians how to be 'blessed' or happy. For example, 'those
that mourn' are in reality happy, if they allow God to fill in the
gap. It might
be tricky to remember them all, so pick your three
and make sure you can remember
what they mean!
The Beatitudes turn common conceptions
of life on their head. They say that the true happy are not those that:
- long for money, but those
who are "spiritually poor".
- aim to be popular, but those
who are "persecuted" for justice.
- fight, but those aim to make
others find peace, i.e "peacemakers".
- seek dependence from oneself,
but in "thirsting for righteousness" from God.
A great example for a number
of these Beatitudes is Luke 18, the Parable of the Taxcollector
and the Pharesee. While these two men went to the Temple to pray, the
Pharasee did so in the centre, in a loud voice, declaring to God how
perfect he was. The Taxcollector, though, prayed quietly in a corner
- knowing he was a sinner.
In God's eye, the Taxcollector
was the better man, because he needed God. He was "spiritually poor"
and "meek" and "pure in heart".
Other important teachings at
the Sermon on the Mount are:
- The Lord's Prayer
- The Golden Rule: "Do unto
others as you would have done unto you". (Matthew 7).
- Turn the other cheek (Matthew
- You can't serve both God and
- Matthew 7: "Why do you see
the speck that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam
that is in your own eye?" Don't be a hypocrite - only when you are
perfect can you judge others.
is helping the poor. "Liberating" is freeing something".
This is the belief that as
all Churches in Christianity follow the same belief, they should try
to co-operate more.