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Religious Belief

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Introduction

'Outline the main events of Acts underlining the universality of Christianity and show how these challenge Christians in the modern world to respond to racism and sectarianism.' The universal outreach of the Church is an important theme of the Acts of the Apostles. The early Christian Church is traced from its earliest roots in Jerusalem after Pentecost to the progress of the gospel to the "ends of the earth." Acts gradually unveils the new Christian faith as universal for both Jews and Gentiles and confirms that it is not simply a Jewish sect. Racism is a form of discrimination. It happens when a person or a group of people are treated badly simply because of their race or where they come from. Racism can occur at a personal, cultural, structural level. There are people from over 160 different nationalities living in Ireland today yet racism still occurs from day to day all over the country. Sectarianism can be defined as prejudice or discrimination based on religion or cultural association. The purpose of this assignment is to examine the growing problem in our society and to see how Acts challenges Christians to deal with these problems. Jesus' words before his ascension defined the universal nature of the mission, Jesus said "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). ...read more.

Middle

I found it impossible to believe we could joke about this whereas back in Northern Ireland and in Scotland people get murdered simply because of it. I learnt a lot from this experience and fully appreciate the importance of equality and acceptance of all people. The organisation Accord promotes good community relations between all members of the community. Through regular meetings, activities and outings people are encouraged to discard their prejudices just like Saul did in Acts and learn to communicate with people of different religions and religious backgrounds. Stephen was one of the seven deacons and a victim of sectarianism; he was stoned to death by the people who did not accept his religious views. When Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit he began working great wonders amongst the people but members of the Hellenist synagogue opposed his religious views. No-one could withstand his arguments and so the Jews resorted to force and Stephen was arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin. His career was to be short; but he was the first to see that Christianity was not just for the Jews but was God's offer to the entire world. Stephens's speech shows the universal nature of the gospel. This is a powerful example of how Christians today can live the word of God. ...read more.

Conclusion

The best example for Christians in Northern Ireland today is David Ervine, formerly of the UVF who spent 13 years in prison for his terrorist-related crimes but changed his ways and went on to head the Progressive Union Party making progressive links for peace in Northern Ireland and played a major role in the Good Friday Agreement. David Irvine similarly to Saul was sectarian but converted and changed his ways, both men setting an example for Christians. Christians today can learn from them to put aside their hatred with the help of the Holy Spirit, convert and repent to become better Christians and strive for a better world without Sectarianism or Racism. In conclusion, Acts shows us that Christianity has been set out for all, a universal and inclusive Church. Both sectarianism and racism were prevalent in the early days as it still is today. Yet the actions of the early Christians in particular Stephen and Paul challenge us Christians today to respond to racism and sectarianism. Paul who was both racist and sectarian was converted and he became responsible for the outreach of the Church, he realised the Church was for everyone and without him the Church may never have reached its worldwide status. Word Count: 1,720 ?? ?? ?? ?? Sean Murphy Centre No: 17650 1 Candidate No: 1179 ...read more.

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