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AS and A Level: Christianity
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Due to this reason, it is not possible for God to cause miracles that violate the laws of nature. Since Christian tradition depicts God acting in the world directly, it is suggested that Wiles views do not reflect the nature of God. In his book ?God?s Actions in the World,? he provides three arguments supporting his view. He claims that if miracles are violations of the laws of nature they have to occur infrequently to avoid the concept of laws of nature becoming meaningless, the pattern of the occurrence of miracles appears strange and the large number of evil events that are not prevented by God raises questions about God?s omnipotence and goodness.
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A key mystic is Thomas Merton. In examining his contribution to religious experience, a good place to start is considering his writings. Merton?s writings are key to understanding his contribution of mysticism. He was an incredibly prolific author, he wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race. His three most famous publications are The Seven Storey Mountain, The Ascent to Truth and Contemplative Prayer.
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A key introvertive mystic is Teresa of Avila. In examining her contribution to religious experience, a good place to start is considering her background. Teresa?s background may be key to understanding her enigmatic personality and experiences. She was a woman from a wealthy background and had a turbulent start in life. When she was seven her mother died, and when she was fourteen she ran away to seek martyrdom. She had an alleged love affair with her cousin that tarnished her reputation and effectively made her unmarriable.
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Aquinas distinguishes 3 types of miracle, all of which have God as the cause. Firstly, there is that which nature can never do, such as the sun and moon staying still. Then there is that which nature can do, but not in that sequence or connection, such as a man blind from birth seeing. Parthenogenesis, for example, is the development of an ovum without any genetic contribution from a male. This has lead Sam Berry, professor of Genetics, University College, London to say that he has no difficulty with the Virgin Birth. Finally, there is that which is usually done by nature, but not in this case, such as an instant healing of someone who otherwise may heal slowly.
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With reference to relevant examples, explain what Christians understand by the principle of the Sacredness of Human Life.
Only man was made in God?s image, God?s likeness (Genesis 1:26). The Bible talks of God knowing an individual from conception (Jeremiah 1:5). David said he was ?sinful from the time my mother conceived me?. So David was in need of a Saviour from the very point of his conception. Job speaks of God moulding him like clay and forming his skin, flesh and bones. In Psalm 139, the Psalmist praises God whom he says ?created my inmost being ? [and] knit me together in my mother?s womb?.
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Even if the culture changes the basic ethical principles behind the sermon do not change. It is a moral code that focusses as much on inward moral disposition as it does our external actions: Jenkins wrote, ?inner attention and attitude is crucial.? Even if a typically good action is performed with sinful thought then it becomes immoral. The most important thing to realise about the Sermon on the Mount is that it is impossible for anyone to keep it completely, as it demands perfection. Although they will never be free from sin in this life, Christians use the sermon in order to try and become more like Jesus, who was perfect.
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Explore the view that Christians should be faithful to the moral teaching of Jesus rather than Paul. Justify your answer.
In this way Jesus gives more depth to his moral teaching than Paul does. Paul himself acknowledges that on certain issues he has no word of the Lord, but only gives his opinion: ?To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)?? We can leave open the possibility that on other issues also he had no word of the Lord. Scholars are divided on just how many of the writings attributed to Paul are truly part of the Biblical canon. Even Luther wanted to leave out some of the books that make up the modern Protestant Bible, namely Hebrews.
- Word count: 638
Christianity demands very high ethical and moral standards from its followers. Explain this statement in relation to Pauls ethical teaching.
Paul?s ethics are based on the teachings of Jesus but he develops further the principle that Christians are representatives of Jesus. Christians must ?be imitators of God? and of Jesus Christ. They should also imitate the faith and example of the great founders of Judaism, along with the example of Paul himself: ?Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ?. For this reason Paul requires that the Church ?live in harmony with one another? since disunity and discard brings dishonour to Jesus himself it sets an unworthy example.
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This miracle has been historically verified by contemporary middle-Eastern historians Thallus and Africanus. Miracles such as this can be used to convert people to God and give them a sense that he cares for them, thus providing hope. Theologians such as Dr Michael Brown assert that miracles are proof of God?s continued presence in this world through the Holy Spirit, and if we pray earnestly we may be able to experience a miracle. Jesus himself said, ?ask and it shall be given unto you.? Finally, miracles point to an eternal hope beyond this world.
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Comment on the claim that belief in hell is a necessary part of Christian teaching. Justify your answer.
If a believer takes the Bible literally then they will believe in a literal and eternal hell. Additionally, many historic creeds affirm the existence of hell, such as the Westminster Confession of Faith: ?And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness.? Furthermore, Hell is necessary because it emphasises that God is just. If there were no hell, why would Jesus have had to die?
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The whole point of the covenant is that in it the whole initiative is with God. The idea is that God out of sheer grace - not because the nation of Israel was specially great or specially good - simply because he wanted to do it -came to Israel and said that they would be his, people and he would be their God. But that very act of grace brings its obligation. It laid on Israel the obligation for ever to try to be worthy of this choice of God. Ancient Israel was a theocracy, ruled by God?s law - the Pentateuch was state law as well as religious.
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With reference to other aspects of human experience, explore the view that the teaching of the Decalogue is no longer relevant. Justify your answer.
This makes it irrelevant for other cultures. Morality is often relevant to culture. For example, in some countries such as Saudi Arabia stoning people may be seen as moral, yet most Western countries would disagree. You cannot expect one moral code to be relevant worldwide. In our modern age of pluralism and secularism, the commandments seem very negative, as they are predominated by prohibitions. As presented by Moses, however, and taken as a whole, they are primarily religious. Relevant to Judeo-Christian believers, not so much to others.
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In 393, Saint Augustine wrote his Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount. In this edifying treatise, he begins with the weighty proclamation that ?anyone who piously and earnestly ponders the Sermon on the Mount ? as we read in the Gospel according to Mathew ? I believe he will find therein? the perfect standard of the Christian Life.? The Beatitudes give an account of the perfect standard for a Christian disciple. The name is derived from the Latin `beatitudo' meaning 'blessedness.'
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Explore the view that the teaching of the Beatitudes has very obvious limitations. Justify your answer.
For Tolstoy, the Gospels were the heart of the Bible and the Sermon on the Mount was at the heart of the Gospels. One of his disciples late reflected that Tolstoy?s views ? which were supposed to build God?s kingdom on earth ?alienated him from many friends, brought discord into his family life, strained his relations with his wife, and left him spiritually alone.? Some Christians would argue that the Decalogue is the basis of ethics, not the Beatitudes. The Decalogue is the basis for pure Christian ethics and is maintained to this day.
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With reference to other aspects of human experience, explore the view that Biblical teaching has relevance for any age. Justify your answer.
Even if the Bible does not address a certain issue, there are still Biblical principles that apply. The Bible does not speak about abortion, but it does say, ?do not murder.? Even cybercrime such as piracy can be governed by Biblical principles: ?Do not steal.? Biblical morality centres on a love of God and our neighbours, which we should apply to any ethical dilemma. A notable holder of this view is Matthew Slick, who wrote, ?for the Christian the Bible is the supreme authority that judges what is moral.? He asserted that if we remove the Bible from moral decision making, then our morality becomes subjective.
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1.) Examine the evidence and reasons to support belief in God based on religious experience. (18) ii.) Discuss the view that the evidence and reasons are not conclusive to support this belief.
P2 God is the sort of being which is possible to experience. P3 People claim to have experienced God directly. Conclusion: God exists. The conclusion is reliable as an objective validity as it supports the heritage and ideals of God rather than just an idea of him. Additionally, P1 is a pragmatic principle representing anything that can be experienced. However if the existence of something is highly improbably, then one will be highly skeptical of reports to have seen them.
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One such example is ?Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth?. Jesus seems to be teaching his followers to be submissive which is not a belief as such but rather advice to the Jewish people to help them survive under oppressive roman rule. If Jesus was to have taught his people to speak up against authorised figures then many would have died doing so. This seems to be backed up by; ?Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled?. Seemingly in this quote, Jesus is teaching his followers to not worry take action on their oppressors, but instead keep faith in God to do so for them.
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This shows a more personal God who is taking great care in creating humans. This is showing how humans are special to God and the world exists for man. It contrasts with the transcendent and impersonal God of chapter 1. God is also portrayed as all loving, or omnibenevolent. He cares and loves for all his creation, this is why he makes it good.
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However, it could be argued that devoid of logical reasoning faith is reliant on a believer?s own strength to maintain it rather than reason would should hold true in spite of this. This would suggest that a faith based on reason would be less subject to factors such as emotions. That said, this idea would likely be challenged by Barth who argued that revelation alone should be the basis of a faith position echoing Kierkegaard?s sentiments with regard to the adverse effect of reason on faith.
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However, Hick likely would criticise Mackie?s arguments for not be adequate given the ambiguity of what the natural order and the laws that govern it are. Hick suggested that laws were generalisations that are formed after events have happened, suggesting that that the natural order couldn?t be intruded upon. Also it may be that what is perceived to be an intrusion by something outside of the natural order is actually just a lack of understanding of the natural order on our part.
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