Religion and human relationships Religion and medical ethics - views of Christians and Moslems.
Religion and human relationships
Religion and medical ethics
Religion, peace and justice
Religion and equality
Nature of God
Death and the Afterlife
Religion and Science
Good and Evil
Religion and human relationships (Christianity)
A family is:
- A husbands and wife with their children
- The group that someone grows up in.
- Basic social unit.
- Biologically related group.
- The group in which most humans spend a lot of time
- Base for care for its dependants.
There are two types of family – the nuclear family and the extended family. The nuclear family is the on most often shown in media today. This is where a husband and wife live alone with their children, without any close relatives living in their household. In the extended family, there are several generations of the family living together. This is not so prevalent in Britain but is still common in other countries and societies.
Every family is different but most do the same things. They provide certain economic rights and responsibilities; teaches us an acceptable way to behave, and the customs and traditions of our society; family also allows wealth and property to be passed on to a new generation.
Christianity believes that there is a need for mutual respect and tolerance in the family and that there are 3 main elements necessary and essential for bringing up a family: love, freedom and discipline.
Family is still the foundation of society. Families and their homes are still the platform for life, as we know it. Family defines individuals, who will in turn shape their world. However, I doubt that here, in Britain, family is as important as it used to be.
Christianity teaches that children should be brought up in a family unit with both parents, a father and a mother. It is one of the purposes of Christian marriage, to form a family to bring the children up in a loving Christian environment.
Various ceremonies outline the nature of Christian family life. Parents should:
- Provide their children with the necessities of life, a home of Christian faithfulness and love. (Ephesians 6 tells parents to treat their children in way that will not provoke them to anger).
- Teach their children to pray, morality and how to live a Christian life. (Discipline your son, and he will give you peace. Proverbs 29:17)
- Set a good Christian example and celebrate Christian festivals, take their children to Sunday School and encourage them to be confirmed/ baptised.
- Obey and respect their parents. (Honour your father and mother. Exodus 20:12; Listen to your father… do not despise your mother. Proverbs 23:22)
- Look after their parents when they are incapable of looking after themselves. (If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. I Timothy 5:8)
Family is important in Christianity as it is created by God as the only place in which children should be brought up. Without it – the most important part of society- society would collapse.
A Christian family is:
- Where children introduced to the faith
- Important for Christianity to grow
However, there are more important things than family. Roman Catholic priests, nuns and monks leave their families to serve God and can never marry, because of their belief that the Christian family and their work for God is far greater than a human and earthly family. Jesus did not marry and said ‘whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother’ (Mark 3:35). Also Jesus once left his parents to be in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2).
However, this does not mean Jesus was unconcerned for his mother. At his crucifixion, he asked John to look after Mary, John 19: 26-57.
With regards to family, the Catholic Catechism says ‘Family life is an initiation into life in society.’ However, the Methodist Church says that ‘the family is not an end in itself. While parents are to be honoured, they are not always to be obeyed,’ and, ‘Human fulfilment is possible without marriage’.
Describe Christian teachings on family life (8)
Christianity teaches that the family is created by God as the basic unit of society and as the only lace in which children should be brought up. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that family is ‘the natural society in which husband and wide are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life.’
In the family, children are introduced to the faith and learn the difference right and wrong. The Catechism teaches that the family ‘is the community in which from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God and make good use of freedom.’
The Bibles gives clear instruction to both parents and children on how they should behave. Parents should provide for their children and give them guidance.
The Old Testament tells fathers to ‘discipline your son, and he will give you peace’, but the New Testament also states ‘do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.’
In the book of Exodus, children are told to ‘honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.’ St Paul also says ‘Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.’
Christians believe that children are responsible for the welfare of their relatives. St Paul taught that anyone who does not provide for their relatives ‘has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’.
Jesus taught that the Christian family is greater than any human family. In Mark’s Gospel, he says ‘whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister and mother.’
Christians believe that through the sacrament of the Eucharist they become one family in Christ, ‘one in the sharing of his body and blood.’
The Methodist Church teaches that ‘family is not and end in itself’. Some Christians choose to stay single. This offers them opportunities to work in the service of God, e.g. as missionaries, priests and nuns.
The Church can help families by:
- Providing a sense of belonging
- Encouraging them in the faith
- Being a meeting place for interaction
- Being a community centre
- Charitable work (benefit schemes)
- Ministers and elders who can advice and counsel impartially
- Place of learning (of teachings)
Roles of men and women
Order of service
- Hymn to focus everyone’s mind on God
- Opening statement summarises what marriage is
- Declaration the witnesses and the couple are asked if there is any reason why the couple cannot get married.
- Promises or vows the couple make their promises to God and to one another in the presence of the witnesses
- Exchange of rings
- Proclamation the couple are now husband and wife
- Prayers for the couple and often a talk or sermon about marriage
- The registry is signed by the couple and witnesses to record that the marriage is legal
- Closing worship followed by photos and a reception or party
Divorce and marriage
The rate of divorce has increased as time goes on. Modern society increasingly accepts divorce.
The Old Testament writers believed that part of God’s purpose in creating people was marriage. It is not a human invention, an accident but part of the way the universe was planned. ‘For this reason does a man leave his father and his mother and is united with his wife, and they become one’, Genesis 2:24. Marriage is a fundamental part of being human and of God’s purpose for mankind. The verse also suggests that married love should be creative and life giving. Becoming one flesh refers to sexual union.
Marriage is seen as something holy, protected in the Old Testament laws. Adultery is condemned in the 10 Commandments. ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’, Exodus 20:14. The punishment for adultery was death (Leviticus 20:10). Even the great heroes of Israel were expected to obey God’s laws. However, even though the sacredness of marriage is much explored, a man could divorce his wife, (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
Although the Old Testament law allowed divorce, Jesus did not (Mark 10: 2-12). However, he offered forgiveness for those whose marriage had failed, for example, the woman who was accused of adultery John 8:3-11.
St. Paul says that ‘husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies, and, the wife must respect her husband.’ (Ephesians 5:28-33). Paul says that the love and unity between a Christian man and wife is symbolic of the love between Christ and the church, of the love that exists between Christ and every Christian.
Marriage is an important institution for Christians. Most of them get married in a church, by a legally authorised minister. Usually they undergo some form of preparation, where the minister will emphasise that marriage is a serious step while counselling them on what is ahead.
Most Christians agree that sex should be restricted to marriage; one does not have to marry. It is an individual decision by each person to decide what he or she feels God wants him or her to do with his or her life. Marriage is intended as a lifelong union, and if they feel God wants them to share their life with someone, they should marry.
Sacraments are outward showings of inward grace. The Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and the Anglican churches believe that marriage is a sacrament; the marriage ceremony gives the couple the grace of God to help their marriage work. Other churches feel that the grace comes from the prayers. Pope John Paul II said marriage is ‘an unbreakable alliance of mutual self-giving’, ‘a total union of love’.
In most churches it is necessary that both the bride and groom be Christians, sometimes both must belong to the same church for a full wedding ceremony.
There are 5 implications for the biblical definition of marriage of marriage in Genesis 2:24.
- Heterosexual: ‘ a man and his wife’
- Publicly acknowledged: ‘leaving parents meant to be a public occasion’
- Consummated in sexual union: ‘one flesh’
- Life long: ‘let no one separate’.
The Anglican Church believes that marriage is a loving, sexual, social, biological and economic relationship.
The purpose of marriage
Marriage is a gift from God so that a man and woman can share love and companionship; enjoy sexual intercourse, so that children can be brought into the world, so that these children can be brought up in a Christian family. It is a way for a couple to show their love for each other and to gain God’s grace to help them.
A Methodist viewpoint is that ‘Christian marriage has a twofold purpose – fellowship and parenthood. Permanence in the union is an essential condition.’ Marriage is about sharing your life completely, deepening your love for the person and having children and caring for them in the way God wants. These beliefs are highlighted with questions the priest asks the bride and groom in a Catholic wedding.
The marriage vows
I (name) take thee (name) to be my lawful wedded wife/husband
To have and to hold,
From this day forward
For better, for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
To love and to cherish
Until death do us part
When a couple give one another their wedding rings, it symbolises two things. Firstly, the promises they have just given each other and secondly, the belief that marriage cannot be ended. What God has joined together let no man put asunder. Mark 10:9.
A Catholic wedding ceremony
- Catholic weddings often take place during a special mass called Nuptial Mass.
- This is a popular choice.
- Parts of the wedding service are interwoven with usual order of the Mass
- The questions for the bride and groom, the vows and the exchange of rings all happen after the homily, where he will have explained the meaning of Christian marriage.
- The couple’s love as they give themselves to one another in marriage s a powerful symbol of the love of Christ who gives himself to Christians in the Eucharist.
An Eastern Christian wedding
- The service begins at the door of the church with the wedding vows and the exchange of rings.
- The couple processes to a table at the centre of the church.
- The whole congregation listen to the readings
- The couple hold lighted candles as a symbol of Christ’s presence
- Crowns are put on the head of the bride and groom, symbolising that they are to make their family an image of the Kingdom of God.
- The wedding at Cana story is read.
- A cup of wine is given to the couple as a sign of their new unity.
- A priest joins their hands and leads them around the centre table. The circle they make is a symbol of the eternal nature of the sacrament.
- The mystery and sanctity of marriage and sanctity of marriage to such an extent that the priest is held to marry the couple.
Christian marriage in practise
- The couple might set aside to pray together to pray.
- They will try and make sure they follow the teachings of the Bible.
- They may join organisations within the Church.
Adultery is a serious sin because it breaks the commandments and goes against Jesus’ teaching, as well as breaking the vows made to one another at their wedding. It involves deception and the breaking of trust, as well as threatens honesty and a stable relationship, which is necessary for the security of the children. Adultery cannot be a sign of the sacrament.
Most Protestant and Orthodox churches allow divorce and remarriage, on the premise that Jesus allowed divorce in Matthew 19:9. Since Christianity is about forgiveness of sins if people repent, they should be allowed another chance. If these people want to remarry, often the church will want them to have special preparation. For those who have taken their vows before God as Christians, there is no divorce. Baptist church.
The Roman Catholic Church does not allow divorce. The only way out of marriage is by death, since marriage is a sacrament, it cannot be dissolved.
However, they do allow annulments as annulments, which are different from divorce say that the marriage never existed in the eyes of God, and therefore was not a proper marriage. Annulments can be granted if one of the parents was not baptised at the time of marriage; or was forced into the marriage; or did not intend to keep their marriage vows; or if one of the partners was mentally unstable at the time of marriage.
The Church of England disapproves of divorce but recognises it can be the lesser of two evils, for example, it is better to leave an abusive relationship, even if that results in divorce. This means that it is up to the priest to decide whether to allow a divorcee to remarry or not. The founding principle of the church’s view is forgiveness- and recognising that people make mistakes.
The Eastern Orthodox Church believes that the church has the authority to end marriages, and the church can therefore grant divorces. There have been divorce services. Remarriage is allowed in church. However, you cannot keep on getting divorced; a third marriage is rarely allowed.
Christianity and contraception
A contraceptive us something which allows sex to take place but prevents conception from occurring. The contraception can be a physical barrier such as a condom; a drug such as the pill or morning after pill; or an operation such as a vasectomy. The use of condoms in the West has meant that population growth has slowed, but in less developed counties, the population is still rising significantly. This is leading to great pressure on food and health supplies as well as education. As a result of this, many governments are encouraging their population to use contraceptives with massive family planning programmes. In addition to this, the rise of AIDS infection has led to worldwide campaign for safe sex, which involves the use of condoms in preventing infection. So, contraception is now being encouraged everywhere.
In particular, the Roman Catholics believe that artificial contraception (methods such as the pill and condoms) is wrong. By ‘artificial’ they mean and kind of birth control that relies on more than just the woman’s natural menstrual cycles. So choosing to have intercourse only at the least fertile times of the month is seen as ‘natural’. This is observing the Natural Law: allowing nature to take its course.
They believe artificial contraception is wrong because:
- Sex was designed by God for a purpose. It was intended to express love between a man and his wife, but also for reproduction. Love becomes creative in sexual intercourse, like the life forming love of God. ‘Be fruitful and multiply’. Genesis 1:28. The two functions of sex are naturally expressed in one action – making love- which is the sign of the Sacrament of Marriage.
- Contraceptives separate the creative function from the expression of love in an unnatural way.
- The use of contraceptives is contrary to Natural Law, thus a sin Sex is spoil is it not an expression of love or if there is no chance of children being conceived. If God created something for a reason, people should use it for the right purpose. Natural methods of contraception are not very reliable, so there is always a chance that if God plans, a child may be conceived.
- Contraception is dangerous to society, if its use is accepted, sexual immorality increases, and women are increasingly seen as sexual playthings.
Roman Catholics also feel strongly about methods of contraception which allow the egg to be fertilised but prevent its growth and development as this, in their view is destroying human life and thus is abortion, which in turn is abortion.
‘To render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil.’ Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism also says that although it is part of being a responsible of being a responsible parent to limit the amount of children you have, this does not justify ‘recourse to morally unacceptable means’.
Even though Protestants once thought contraception was sinful, most have changed their minds because of:
- The increase in the world’s population (contraception is way to control it)
- The growing appreciation of the importance of sex as a means of sharing love and not just the way children are created.
- The development of new contraceptive techniques, which do not actually interfere with the act of making love, such as sterilisation.
Their members, and Methodists, Baptists and the United Reformed Church believe that is the responsibility of adults to decide when to have children, if at all, how many to have and the age gaps between them. For them, contraception is sensible and should be encouraged as children are more likely to be loved if their parents wanted them and can afford to bring them up well. Contraception can help in ‘healing and development of a marriage’, says the Methodist Church.
Describe Christian beliefs about divorce :
Description should include views from both the Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. Candidates could show that divorce is never encouraged, but is accepted by some Christians as inevitable in some cases. Issues relating to the remarriage of divorced people could be explored.
Explain how a Christian marriage service might guide a couple in their married life 
Candidates might demonstrate understanding of the main elements of a Christian marriage service, and show how the beliefs expressed might support a Christian couple. They could include the emphasis on marriage for life, on faithfulness, and on marriage as sanctified by God; there might also be a discussion of the expectation that a married couple will want to have children. The ways in which Christians might use these beliefs for guidance could be considered.
‘Divorce is never the best way to solve problems with a marriage.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. 
Discussion could include an exploration of circumstances under which divorce might seem to be the right solution, for example in cases of desertion or ‘irretrievable breakdown’. Christian principles of compassion might be expressed, or Roman
Catholic views about the permanence of the marriage sacrament.
Religion and Equality
Islam teaches that Allah created everyone equal. The Koran says that ‘all men and women are created from a single soul, Surah 4:1’. We are all equal because we are all created from a single soul. It also tells you that different variations are all signs of Allah’s plan.
Before Islam, Arab men and women were not equal, as it was common for Arabs to kill their daughters; women did not have the right to own property, and were dependent upon their fathers or their husbands for all their basic human needs. Widows and women who had been deserted could be left destitute. The revelations Muhammad received in Mecca challenged many of these practises. Allah had said that women were to have rights to property and that the female infanticide should stop. He helped to improve women’s status and conditions. Although the rights of women are different to those of men, they do have the basic and fundamental rights to marry, divorce, to study, conduct business and take part in politics as well as to own property. I command you to be good to women, Hadith. Also in the Hadith, we find that whoever has a daughter and treats her well, God will enter him into paradise. The Koran states that men and women were created by Allah and He puts equal religious duties on men and women, Surah 33.
In society, although men and women may be equal, they have different roles in life and in the family. Each has their own rights and duties set out by Allah in the Koran and expanded upon by Mohammad. Ending the difference between their roles is unthinkable to Muslims, having observed how the West has tried or do away with traditional roles lead to catastrophic consequences including family breakdown, stress and sexual immorality.
The Koran teaches that men and women were created to marry and provide mutual support, emotional and spiritual well-being. Women cannot be forced to marry anyone without their consent, according to Islamic Law. Both partners have equal rights and claims on one another, except the responsibility of leadership, which belongs to the man. ‘And they (women) have similar rights to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Surah 2:228. Men are in charge of women… so good women are the obedient. Surah 4:34.
Women can keep their dowry, and the husband has to be kind and considerate towards his wife, even if his wife falls out of favour with him. His character will be reflected in his treatment of women. ‘The most perfect believers are best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives, Hadith.’ ‘It is the generous who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them, Hadith.’
In the family
‘Paradise lies at the feet of your mother, Hadith’. The traditional role of women in Islam is to have children and to create a halal home, bringing up their children to be good Muslims. The father’s role is to protect the home, thus making the women’s role possible. The man should provide by working to bring money in. Men should insure that their children are brought up as Muslims, and take their sons to the mosque to worship Allah. Women can perform their religious duties in the home. The father has to be strong and honourable; he is to be a responsible and dutiful leader, involved in the world of economics and commerce. If the man does not fulfil his role, divorce is straightforward, and the woman may look for a better husband.
‘The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim, male or female. Hadith.’
Justice is genderless; both genders are entitled to equality before the law.
Responsibility in Society
Within the Ummah, a Muslim woman is expected to take responsibility for things such as food for the hungry; refuge for the weary; hospitality for the guest; encouragement for the weak and peace for the troubled. The man is expected to provide the means to make this all possible.
Women should only inherit half of what men do as they are not financially responsible for the female relatives- wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters- like men are. However, they retain their share of financial security, without legal obligation to spend any part of it. A woman may have a career if she can do so without neglecting their family.
Women may attend the mosque, but in order to preserve their dignity when prostrating before Allah, and also to avoid distracting the men, they perform salah behind the men, in a separate area. They are expected to take part in Friday communal prayers, but usually do this at home, as their role is to put the family first.
Women have the right to vote, to be elected as well as nominated to political offices. They can participate in public affairs. We can find examples of women who took part in serious discussions and arguments with Muhammad himself.
Nevertheless, Muhammad did not accept that a woman could be Head of State. ‘A people will not prosper if they let a women be their leader’, Hadith. It is because the job is not thought compatible with the physiological and psychological make-up of women in general. The decisions made require a maximum or rationality and minimum of emotionality. There are natural and indisputable differences between men and women, which do not imply supremacy of one over the other. The difference means that they can complement each other, instead.
Women in Saudi Arabia
- Controversy over getting girls to go to school
- 5% of workforce is female – least in the world.
- Strict segregation
- Houses are shuttered to shield women
- Women must wear modest dress, and there is a regulation dress code.
- Women aren’t allowed to vote.
- Women must receive permission to leave the house
Women in the UAE
- Prominent in society, there is a large women’s federation
- Women are active in business and management
- Women can wear what they want, often wear western fashions.
- Shakira was performed there.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Muslims believe that Christians and Jews will be found in Paradise, as they essentially believe in the same God.
Explain how Muslims may respond to respond to racial discrimination.
Some Muslims, being guided by their religion, may take action by confronting the problem. They may approach the cause of the trouble and try and to teach them more about their ways.
However, they may also withdraw and isolate themselves, in an effort to prevent further confrontation. As they draw back they segregate the community, finding refuge in the presence of their kind.
Some Muslims may join with other cultures, religious and racial groups to from an anti- racist group or committee as did Moqsood Ahmed. These groups aim to educate and inform the public, making their areas and communities to racist organisations.
Other Muslims may try and fit in, adapt themselves, their names and their lifestyles to appear more like ‘the West’ or to be more ‘socially acceptable’. Some Muslims may see this as a compromise or ‘watering down’ of their beliefs and instead remain unchanged, continuing to continue with their lives (working with their Muslim name).
A few Muslims may open up their mosques and homes, inviting other people in to experience their way of life. Others respond by imitating the oppression they feel, some areas have Muslim gangs to safeguard themselves from non-Muslim gangs.
Many Muslims may take action through local authorities and schools.
Believing women… should not display their beauty except to their husbands. Surah 24:31
If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Surah 42:40
Describe Muslim beliefs about forgiveness. 
Candidates might discuss the forgiveness from Allah of human sin, at the Last Judgement, and also the nature of Allah as compassionate and merciful. They might discuss the principle of forgiveness in Muslim morality; the law of the Qur’an must be upheld, but Muslims should not bear grudges or treat one another in a resentful manner.
Explain how a Muslim might respond to someone who has racist opinions. 
Discussion might include reference to the Muslim belief that everyone is of equal worth as creations of Allah, and the Muslim concept of Ummah embraces Muslims of all different nationalities. Muslim law insists on equal rights for all; therefore a Muslim would condemn racism and try to protect those who are its victims. Example of race cohesion: Hajj.
‘We know from looking around us that people are not equal.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Islam in your answer. 
Candidates might be able to give examples of inequality, such as in terms of wealth, talents or attractiveness, and show that equality for Muslim is seen as equality of value to Allah rather than equality in any other way. Discussion might include the need to work towards equality where it is possible to achieve it.
Religion, Peace and Justice
Islam is often seen as war-like religion. The view is fed by the Western media who often misunderstand Islam, and also by supposedly Islamic regimes that wage war and kill others justified with religious claims. Often the wars do not meet the very strict rules proposed by the Koran for a just war.
This is the word used to describe the personal struggle of each Muslim to follow the teachings of Allah and to resist evil. Literally, it means striving. It is the conscious decision to do Allah’s will and avoiding haram temptation in daily life.
Sometimes the struggle can be the Muslim in a physical battle against the enemies of Islam. It may also involve he willingness to accept martyrdom as the ultimate submission to Allah. But, fighting is not the main meaning of Jihad. Most of all, jihad is a lifestyle following the example if Muhammad in good conduct and the struggle against evil. The aim of jihad is to establish the Islamic system of life in order to fulfil the will of Allah and gain his favour.
The word Islam is related to the word for peace; Islam is a peace-loving religion. Muslims though, are not pacifists. They believe that all ways of solving situations and disputes should be tried before resorting to physical violence. Muhammad taught that Muslims must defend Islam and led his followers into battle. The Koran provides rules for living, which should minimise conflict, but on the other hand it provides rules for war. Allah teaches that Muslims should only fight in order to defend Islam; they should never attack other people or try to convert them to Islam.
Greater Jihad is the struggle of every Muslim to do the will of Allah, e.g. not want to get up for 1st prayer but doing so anyway.
Lesser Jihad is when this struggle leads to warfare.
The conditions for Lesser Jihad:
- All the other ways of trying to settle a dispute have failed
- Every effort has been made to protect innocent civilian life, as well as plans and animals.
- A religious leader, whose authority is accepted by the ummah, has declared it.
- All able-bodied men must fight.
- They are not being allowed to practise their religion freely.
- The community is suffering under a tyrant; it is under attack and needs to be restored to freedom.
The Battle of Badr: The First Jihad of the Prophet Muhammad
The Meccans had virtually forced the Muslims out of Mecca. Once the Muslims had left, they seized the Muslim property that was left behind and continued to attack any relative left in Mecca. The Quraysh regarded the Muslims as disloyal because they had made an alliance with two other Arab tribes in Medina. The Muslims though that loyalty to Islam was more important than tribe loyalty.
Two years after Muhammad had gone to live in Medina, the Quraysh leader was returning from Syria with a large caravan (which included stolen goods from the Muslims). Muhammad led force a 300 from Medina to attack the caravan.
A 1000 strong was sent up from Mecca to defend it. They intended to teach the Muslims a lesson, and make Muhammad appear to be weak, unable to protect his people.
Muhammad gathered together as am man able-bodied men and boys as he could and moved quickly south to face the Meccan threat.
After their long march, the Meccan soldiers were in need of water to refresh them and to prepare them for battle. But Muhammad had cut off their path to the well at Badr. This left them exhausted and the Muslims believed that Allah was on their side. They prayed to Allah for help. The Koran says that Allah answered their prayers by sending 1000 angels to fight with them. The Muslims were victorious and many of the Meccan leaders were killed or captured.
As a result of their defeat, the Meccans had to recognise that Muhammad was a powerful leader. For the Muslims, their victory at Badr confirmed their belief that Allah was on their side, and they had an extraordinary leader.
Muslims would say that this battle was a jihad because it was declared by a religious leader, all other ways of trying to solve the problem had failed and all those who were able joined in. They were defending against Meccan violence and their intention was attack was the caravan, not to start a war.
Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful to you, Surah 2:216. Allah knows best.
Begin not hostilities, Surah 2:190. You can fight, but only in self-defence.
And fight them until persecution is no more, Surah 2:192. When war is over, stop fighting. When they’ve given up- don’t treat them badly.
Sanction is given to those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed able to give them victory, Surah 22:39-40. Allah helps you when you fighting for your faith.
And if two parties of believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them, Surah 49:9. Be peacemakers- but it you can’t join the side that is in the right.
If they incline to peace, incline you also to it, Surah 8:61. If peace is offered, accept it.
Think not of those, who are slain in the way of Allah, as dead. Nay they are living, Surah 3:169. Those who die for their religion got to heaven.
Repel the evil deed with on which is better, Surah 41:34. Be the better person.
The best Jihad is to speak the truth before a tyrant ruler. Hadith. The best thing you can do is to speak out when you see unfairness.
To be a true Muslim, you cannot remain friends with evildoers. Prevent people from doing bad things.
Kill not the emaciated old, nor the young child, nor the women. Hadith. Do not kill the innocents.
Every man has a duty to fight when jihad is declared.
Hate your enemy mildly; he may become your friend one day. Hadith. Enemies and oppressors must be fought without hatred and vengeance.
Muslims are openly critical of any struggle or fighting between Muslim countries, as this goes against the whole concept of jihad.
Jihad against Zionism
Many people think all Muslims hate all Jews, but this is not the case. Zionists are Jews or their supporters who have campaigned to be given a homeland of their own in which they can live in peace.
The history of the Zionist campaign is very complicated. But in 1948, the British granted the Jews the right to live in Palestine, and the resulting upheaval created today’s Palestine problem. The state of Israel was recognised by the United Nations, and those areas not in Israel became of the state of Jordan. Many inhabitants became refugees and fled to Jordan; their properties were seized, taken over or bulldozed. Fedayeen swore to die rather than to allow Jewish immigrants take their land. Many groups were formed, and together they are known as the PLO. Under leaders such as Yasser Arafat have campaigned for restoration of their own state.
Islamic Principles for Punishment
- Deterrence- to deter means to prevent. Punishment should deter other offenders.
- Justice- means fairness. Punishments should be fair.
- Retribution- those who have done wrong should be paid back in some way.
- Protection- punishments should preserve the safety of the community.
- Involvement of the victim- the wronged person has a say in the punishment.
- Mercy- there should be an opportunity for the wronged person to exercise mercy. If they choose to be merciful, this will be credited to them as good deed.
- Equality- the rule of equality is ‘one life for a life’ and no more.
Islam and justice
Muslims believe that societies have made many attempts to establish justice without their laws depending on God’s will, and without his help and none of these attempts have worked. They believe that Allah is a just God who will reward the good and punish the just on the Last Day. They believe that it is part of their role as vice-gerent of God’s creation to behave justly other people and to ensure that the world is governed in affair way, true justice can never come about until the whole society follows the will of God.
Believers should live within a community and try to make it a better place. They must follow the Shari’ah, which is a code of behaviour for Muslim. It determines the halal and the haram of every action. In Islam, the law of the land should be the law of the land, so Islam always has always had a system justice based on courts with strict rules about how everyone should be treated fairly by courts.
The principles behind Shari’ah are God does exist, and so life after death and there will come a time of judgement as God is aware of everything you do and think. The world is full of hardships and evils that should be put right, and not just ignored. All humans belong to God’s family, and are equal. Their worth comes from the quality of their lives.
To follow Shari’ah means living a morally responsible life.
Muslims believe in justice because the Koran describes Allah as just and says that Allah wants people to treat others fairly and to establish justice. The Shari’ah is based on justice for all; everyone is equal before Islamic law. The pillar of zakah is based on the concept of justice.
Islam teaches that criminals should be punished and the Koran sets down specific punishments for certain crimes. Muslims should not commit crimes because any crime is a sin against God, and all sins will be punished on the Last Day.
Harsh punishments are generally for serious offences and may be carried out in stricter countries. The Koran says that thieves should have their hands amputated. The threat of this is believed to deter people from stealing and the punishment will reform the criminal, as they will always carry a reminder of the punishment and will not risk re-offending. The deterrent seems to work.
Muslims have these views on punishment because the Koran sets down lashes or amputation for certain crimes and since it is the word of God it must be obeyed. Whipping and amputation allow the offender to remain in society- where they are again, less likely to re-offend. The idea of deterrence requires a very sever punishment to deter the criminals. Strict punishments are only a last resort, and only after thorough investigations have taken place.
Shari’ah is the basis for judgement and the treatment of criminals. It means the ‘way to water’ or the source of life. Living according to Shari’ah is the way in which Muslims can reach Allah.
Islam recognises three types of sin: the first is shirk, associating someone or something with God; the second- zalim- consists of crimes such as murder, theft, suicide and illegal sexual relations; the third covers lying, cursing and envy.
Punishment is seen as a means of protecting and strengthening society. It has nothing to do with the removal of sins, as only Allah can forgive, and this is only happens when someone repents and asks for forgiveness/ Only Allah can know all the circumstances surrounding a person and their actions. Penalties are known as – ‘boundaries’ rather than punishments as they enforce boundaries between what is right and wrongs that have been crossed.
Punishment should be the same for everyone. (If Fatima committed theft, I would have cut off her hand). Once a person has been punished, repented and asked for Allah’s forgiveness, they must be treated normally, and there is not further guilt and no further punishments or repercussions.
Individual courts and countries may interpret Hadu in different ways, as punishments laid down in Shari’ah; it depends on the country where the crimes are committed. But one should always remember that Allah is seen as merciful and forgiving and people should follow his example.
Islam allows capital punishment for 3 offences: murder, adultery and apostasy. Such crimes must be clearly proven. Muslims agree with capital punishment because it is a punishment set down by God in the Koran. Muhammad made several statements agree with its use for those three crimes. He also sentenced people to death while he was rule. That is what Shari’ah says. They would also use the non-religious arguments in favour of capital punishment.
Tale not life-which God has made sacred- except for just cause. Surah 17:33
How should Muslims use their money?
Muslims are expected to be generous, kind and compassionate. It is their duty to care for others. The l=Koran teaches that al humans are special creations. Muslims carry out Allah’s work on Earth to provide for all people. All wealth belongs to Allah. He commands them to give generously.
Sadaqah is any good deed that is done for the sake of Allah, rather than selfish reason. T can be practised anytime, anywhere. Sadaqah can be given to non-Muslims as well as Muslims. It may be giving time, money, prayers or talents. It may also be given after death, through wills.
Zakah is the third pillar of Islam. All Muslims who have a certain level of wealth give a percentage of their savings to the poor and needy. It may be called a tax, but it is actually an act of worship. Zakah is 2.5% of your savings each year; it cannot be spent on mosques. It is collected only on savings- the wealthier you are, the more you give. Zakah is there to reduce inequality, to help the poor, not to take away money. A Muslim needs to look after his own. It encourages Muslims to use heir wealth, rather than accumulate wealth. It is both parties who benefit from Zakah. Zakah means ‘growth’ or ‘purification’, as it purges the giver of greed and selfishness. It is a form of worship, but also a test. To spend Zakah on yourself would be ‘stealing’, it must be given each year, whatever your feelings.
Zakat-ul-Fitr is an additional payment at the end of Ramadan, the time when they (Muslims) learn to identify with the poor. The month-long fast ends with the Il-y-Fitr Festival. Muslims are expected to generally given to those in need. Their gifts are gifts are called Zakat-ul-Fitr. The rate is suggested by the mosque- you pay the equivalent of one meal for everyone in your household.
Muslim Aid is an international relief and development agency. Set up in 1985, Muslim Aid works to alleviate suffering amongst the poorest and neediest communities in the world. It receives voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses and organisations in the form of zakah, Sadaqah, legacies and other charitable giving.
Muslim Aid helps by sending relief supplies, quickly to victims of natural disasters and war. It’s most important work is to tackle the root cause of poverty by funding long-tem development projects- such as safe clean water, healthcare, education, welfare and training for the vulnerable. They want people to be able to help themselves. Although the beneficiaries are mostly Muslims, Muslim Aid helps poor and needy regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or religion.
When people become conscious of the existence of God it alters their entire attitude to life. The person becomes aware that the universe has a meaning, and that; they like all other individual play an important role in it.
Muslims think that to believe in God and then to behave badly is nonsense. How can one deliberately act in a dishonourable manner? One cannot claim to love God and then lie, cheat or hate. Real awareness of God brings with it submission to Him all of your deeds and thoughts.
Humans are entrusted by Allah to take care of the planet. Nothing is considered worthless. A Muslim has the following responsibilities:
- The hungry must be fed
- The naked must be clothed
- The disease must be treated
- Whether friend or for, the wounded must be helped.
- Women’s honour and chastity must be respected and protected.
- No Muslim may oppress the weak.
- Tyranny and evil must be challenged and defeated if possible.
Islam sees 3 groups of people as being in need and requiring special attention and care: orphans, the needy and travellers. Orphans can be brought up by relatives or family and are entitled to know their family history and background as well as receive inheritance from their parents. The needy are the poor, disadvantaged or handicapped. The elderly are seen as the wealth of Islam because of al the work they have done in their lives and Muslims must show great respect to them.
Describe what Muslims mean by ‘jihad’. 
Knowledge could be demonstrated of the meaning of jihad for Muslims, encompassing not only going to war but also striving in the way of Allah in all different aspects of life, in times of peace as well as times of war. Examples might be given of jihad in everyday life. The application of jihad to the situation of war will probably also be considered (Battle of Badr), and the circumstances under which a Muslim would believe it to be right to use violence.
Explain how Muslims might respond if they see other people being treated very badly by a government. 
Candidates might demonstrate understanding by showing awareness of Muslim commitment to social justice, for example the belief that everyone accused of crime has a right to a fair trial, that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and so on. This might be put into practice by Muslims standing up for the weak or oppressed through violent or non-violent protest etc., with the use of force if necessary to protect the will of Allah. Also use of examples such as Muslim Aid to demonstrate their response.
‘Sometimes using violence is the only way to solve a problem.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer, and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Islam in your answer. 
Discussion could include a consideration of different forms of non-violent protests and their effectiveness, perhaps with examples. The ethics of war could be considered, using Muslim points of view as well as other opinions. Candidates might consider whether there are any circumstances under which violence is justified or appropriate.
Religion and Medical Ethics
Christians believe that life is a gift from God and is therefore sacred. Regarding life as sacred means it is to be treated as holy and therefore it should be valued and preserved.
You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13.
Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8
Do you now know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. I Corinthians 6:19.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you? I Corinthians 3:16-17
No one can under any circumstances claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being. Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Christians believe that God sanctified human life by becoming human, and the way Jesus suffered without attempting to cut his suffering short shows that life is not to be ended except when God decides.
Abortion is when a foetus leaves the mother’s uterus and dies before it is ready to be born. When his occurs naturally it is called a ‘miscarriage’. Someone talking about procured abortion is referring to an abortion, which ends a pregnancy, which would have otherwise ended with a birth of a child.
Some people would says that in Britain, there is effectively ‘abortion on demand’ and is sometimes seen as a form of contraception. The crucial discussion point about abortion is ‘When does life begin?’
Some take the view is that life begins at conception, life begins as soon as the male sperm and female ovum combine. Others believe that life begins at some other definite point during pregnancy. They feel that life does not begin until the baby starts to move in the womb. People of many religions believe there is a point in pregnancy where God implants the soul so that the foetus becomes a sacred life. Others believe that life only starts when a capable of living outside the womb. It cannot be considered as a separate life until it is capable of living apart from its mother. Until then, it’s part of the mother.
Roman Catholic and most Evangelical Protestants think that all forms of abortion are sinful and should not be allowed. They base their beliefs on certain Christian teachings such as the ‘sanctity of life’ and the belief that ‘all life is holy and belongs to God’, so only God has the right to end the pregnancy, as this would be the same as murder since life begins at conception. The unborn child is created in the image of God and Jesus died for them, and every human being has the right to life are two other teachings.
Other Protestants agree that abortion is evil but feel that sometimes it is the lesser of tow evils. They feel Christians should always do the most loving thing in the circumstances. They would allow abortion if the pregnancy was a result of rape, because I is necessary for the victim to be allowed to recover. It would also be allowed if the life of the mother was threatened or if the embryo was handicapped so that they would only have a life of great suffering or an early death.
Some would even allow abortion for social-economic reason such as poverty or the effects on the rest of the family, because Jesus told them to love their neighbour as themselves and this they feel is the most loving course.
God is love. John 4:8
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5
Reasons for abortion
- Women have the right to decide what happens to their own bodies and this includes the foetus. This can be true up to the point when the baby can exist outside its mother’s womb. During this time abortion must be performed.
- Every baby has the right to be born into a family that will be able to provide the basic necessities of life- food, clothing, and food. If this cannot be offered, then an abortion is justified.
- There are already too many unwanted babies in the world.
- Other members of the family have their own rights.
- A woman must be allowed to decide if she can look after a severally handicapped child. If the child has a disability, it may not have a good quality of life.
- A woman who becomes pregnant after being raped should not be compelled to have the baby. Abortion is not always the easy option. Often it requires a sensible and mature decision. Almost certainly, there will be an emotional cost to be paid. She must be able to reclaim her life.
- Legal abortions prevent back street abortions which are life threatening and dangerous.
- The child might risk the mother’s life.
Reasons against Abortion
- Every child is a precious and unique from God. We have no right to destroy that gift under any circumstances. This even includes rape victims.
- A defenceless baby needs special protection, as it cannot stand up for itself and its rights. The rights of the unborn child are equal to those of the mother. Some would argue that they are greater. There are also the rights of the father to consider.
- An embryo is a human being from the moment of conception. Left alone, it will develop into a person.
- A baby who is physically or mentally handicapped can still go on to lead a full and rewarding life.
- Abortion places an overwhelming burden on doctors and nurses who are committed to saving life, not destroying it.
- Abortion can make you infertile and may be dangerous and cannot be undone.
- Adoption is a better alternative, as the adopting family will also benefit.
- Abortion promotes underage and unprotected sex as well as the risk that it is perceived as an easy way out, a contraceptive means.
- It is against Natural Law.
The doctrine of double effect
This is when a person takes an action to achieve on effect knowing that it will produce another. In these cases they cannot be blamed for the second effect occurring. For example, when a doctor removes a cancerous tumour from the womb of a pregnant woman, they know this will kill the foetus, but this is not an abortion because their intention is simply to remove the cancer.
This is a form of medical treatment that allows someone to become fertile. It is clearly an issue for religion as many opponents of fertility treatment have accused doctors of playing God. However, for the parents involved, it is regarded as a miracle.
Does everyone have the right to have a child?
No. It’s a gift and a privilege to have children. It certainly isn’t right for everyone to have children. It is like saying everyone has the right to sight. Child abusers shouldn’t have children. If you are in a homosexual relationship, the child would have an unbalanced life. If someone wants children but can’t have them, they should consider adoption. The interests of the child should come first. If the couple are elderly, they shouldn’t use expensive fertility treatment on the NHS, this is unfair on others.
AIH. Those apposed to any form of artificial insemination will argue that this is unnatural and against the will of God. Other will see AIH, as science giving a helping hand to a couple that cannot conceive naturally.
AID. This raises more controversial questions in most people’s minds. Are the husband and wife the real parents of the child if the man was not involved in its conception? How do you define parents? Some Christians believe that AID is really a sophisticated form of adultery.
IVF. Questions asked with IVF often are based around ‘as long as the wife’s egg and the husband’s sperm are used, does it matter if conception takes place outside the woman’s body?’ Does it matter if an egg is fertilised by a donor’s sperm?
Some Christians believe that infertility is a decision made by God. When we look in I Samuel 1:16, it says ‘the Lord had closed her womb’ and in the story of Abraham, ‘God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again, for the Lord had closed up every womb’ Genesis 20:17-18.
The Roman Catholic view is that life is given by God and that no one has a right to children. Although they sympathises with the childless, they will only allow with methods that do not threaten the sanctity of life, and which sex acts are natural. This means that all embryo technology is banned for Catholics as IVF involves fertilising several eggs, some of which are then discarded or experimented on, and this is murder, which is forbidden by the 6th Commandment. Masturbation is a sin for Catholics. Catholics also believe that children have the right to know their parents and this is prevented by AID or surrogacy. God intended procreation to be part of sex, and since all forms of embryo technology involve fertilisation apart from the sex act, it is wrong.
‘Techniques that involve an intrusion of a person other than the couple… are gravely immoral’- Catechism.
Human beings are not to be treated as a means to an end. The demands of science do not take precedence over individual human person, especially when they are defenceless. Catholic Truth Society.
AI violates the dignity of the person and the sanctity of marriage. It is therefore contrary to the Natural and Divine Law. Modern Catholic Dictionary
The Catholic Church teaches that new life should only be created by natural means within the bounds of the marriage union.
The Catholic Church will now accept artificial insemination and IVF for married couples, provided ‘spare’ embryos are not created and provided donors are not used.
The Church of England believes that it is natural for couples to want to produce and raise children. In the Bible, in the Old Testament, there are several examples of a third party becoming involved. Intercourse and procreation are often separate, so AIH is acceptable. AID is therefore is regarded as acceptable as long as the donor does not sell their sperm, and does not have more than 10 children and at 18 the child can access information about them. IVF is acceptable only in cases of infertility and inheritable disorders. However, the feel that surrogacy should b made illegal as ‘it violates the dignity of motherhood that a woman should be paid for bearing a child’. Research on the embryo can be permitted under certain, strict circumstances. Human beings are made in the image of God. This bestows on them a unique status in creation.
Other Christian Churches allow IVF and AIH because it is good to use technology to provide couples with joy of children. The egg and sperm are both from the couple and the discarded embryos are not foetuses and the destruction can be justified using the doctrine of double effect.
The Churches have major concerns about embryo technology though none has actually been banned by the Churches. They feel that all the other methods involve questions about parenthood and identity. There are also legal issues. All Christians would encourage childless couples to adopt.
All Christians believe that euthanasia as such is wrong. As God gives life, only God can take life- anything else is murder. It is the duty of Christians to preserve life and improve life. The Church teaches clearly that those whose lives are weakened in any way should be treated in a special care. The sick and handicapped and the elderly should be helped to live their life as normal. Euthanasia means a premature end to someone’s life. It is morally unacceptable to even contemplate the possibility.
It is unacceptable as it is murder; it is contrary to the dignity of human beings. And it destroys the respect that is due to God- who is the Beginning and End of all life.
There is a clear difference between discontinuing treatment and actively killing someone. There are certain situations in which one simply cannot prevent the eventuality of death. The decision to end treatment should be taken in consultation with the patient if at all possible.
It is the teaching of all the church that euthanasia in the form of the deliberate killing of a person in a grave sin. However, disagreements arise as to what to do with patients who are incurably ill and only being kept alive by intrusive treatment and those who in a persistent vegetative state.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christians should never hasten death. Anything done to use death as a relief from suffering is wrong, as is omission of treatment in order to cause death is wrong. This does not mean that doctors should use extraordinary treatment to keep people alive. The Roman Catholic do believe in the doctrine of double effect, so if a patient is prescribed large does of painkillers, that will, over tie, kill the, it is permitted.
The Church of England has a similar view. The deliberate taking of human life is forbidden, but there are very strong arguments that people should not be kept alive at all costs when they are suffering intolerable pain.
All Christian Churches encourage the support of hospices, which provide care for those who are terminally ill. Many of them are staffed by Roman Catholics. Hospice treatment is based on a belief that pain can always be controlled, even in the advanced stages of disease. Once it is controlled, people can face death with true dignity. This is the answer for those coming to an end of their human life.
People take suicide for many different reasons. These include:
- Mental illness where the sufferer cannot see any hope for the future.
- Social problems and serious difficulties in coping in life, for example drink, drug or money problems. Suicide may see suicide as the only solution.
- Bereavement when a person feels they cannot carry on life without a loved one.
- Being a victim of bulling, they may feel insecure and frightened.
- Serious or terminal illness where they feel they would like to die with dignity.
- Feeling under pressure, or of being a burden, or not living up to expectations
- As a cry for help.
Today people know a lot about depression, stress and grief and a lot more understanding about circumstances. Instead of condemning the victim, more effort is made to support the victim and to understand.
Most Christians believe that to make the choice to commit suicide is wrong, although at the same time they try and recognise that they have gone past the stage of sensible decisions. Christians might argue against suicide by saying:
- God chooses when we are born and we die.
- If we suffer pain, loneliness or depression, there is a reason. Many Christians believe that they become closer to God through suffering, and in the way they suffering of Christ. God allows suffering so that they can learn; suicide is a refusal to learn.
- Suicide is selfish, because of the pain it gives to those left behind.
- The 6th Commandments says ‘Do not murder’- this includes yourself.
Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. Suicide is seriously contrary to justice, hope and charity. It is forbidden by the sixth commandment. Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Samaritans is an organisation which was started by a Christian, but that is open to everyone. The aim of the Samaritans is to provide confidential help to anyone that needs it, in the hope of preventing suicide. It also tries to increase awareness of suicide and depression.
- Saves lives and is useful for research and adds to understanding. It can prevent illness.
- They don’t abuse the animals
- More trustworthy than computers, and if we didn’t use animals we would have to volunteer ourselves.
- You have to be a vegetarian to have a real argument
- Provides jobs
- Animal rights campaigners should focus their attention on more endangered animals.
- Better to have a life being tested on than no life at all.
- Animals have no soul and are a lower species and are not as intelligent as humans.
- No of animals used is justified by the number of lives saves.
- You wouldn’t be able to use many medications provided through animal research.
- It is cruel to exploit animals when they do not have any say
- It does not always work and can be unreliable
- We are supposed to be stewards of the animals, taking care of them.
- It is selfish.
- Animals can be treated badly and they can become handicapped
- Illness is the will of God
- Eventually, the animal is killed.
According to the RDS the Rs are the guiding principles in animal research today. Reduce the number of animals to a minimum. Refine the way experiments are carried out, to make sure animals suffer as little as possible. Replace animal experiments with non-animal techniques whenever possible.
One can love animals; one should not direct to them due only to persons, Catechism
Human beings both have an affinity with and obligation to animals, Church of England.
‘Let them rule …over all creatures’ Genesis 1:26
Describe Christian attitudes towards abortion. 
Description could include both Protestant and Roman Catholic views, showing a spectrum of opinion from those who believe that abortion is never permissible to those who believe that it can sometimes be the kindest and most compassionate solution to a problem. Biblical references might be used in support of different views.
Explain how a Christian might respond to someone who was thinking about committing suicide. 
Answers might include the recognition that people who are thinking about suicide tend to be desperate rather than immoral, and may need help and support rather than blame. Reference might be made to compassion; also arguments about the sanctity of life; also possibly the work of organisations such as the Samaritans.
‘Only God has the right to take away life.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. 
Discussion could include beliefs in the sanctity of life, as given by God, and the concept that each individual has a purpose. Different circumstances under which taking life might be acceptable could be included, alongside contrasting points of views.
Nature of God
Characteristics of God
Some people see God as transcendent. They find it difficult to describe God as He is outside time and space. Others believe that he is immanent- He is with us all the time. People try and mould God into a human form- anthropomorphising.
Eternal - lasting for all time without beginning or end
Infinite - without any finite or measurable limits
Invisible- not able to be seen
Mystery- an unknown, secret, or hidden person or thing, beyond human understanding
Benevolent-showing kindness or goodwill
Omnipresent - continuously and simultaneously present throughout the whole of creation
Sustains- to make something continue to exist
Creator – maker and originator
Father, Son & Holy Spirit – the Trinity
Incarnate - having a bodily form, especially a human form
Redeemer- saviour of humanity through his death on the Cross, saviour, liberator
Son of God
Omnipotent- possessing complete, unlimited, or universal power and authority
Omniscient – all knowing.
Why do Christians believe in God?
Some Christians might not be able to explain why believe in God. They will reply it is a matter of faith. Others have been brought up to believe in God. Others may have had some experiences of God- He may have spoken to them. Some believers may have read or seen something which started their belief in God.
Some children will be brought up with a belief in God, Their parents will lead by example and most people around them will believe in God. It will appear normal to them that God must be real. They may be confirmed, baptised go to Sunday School and celebrate Christian festivals.
Some people have tried to prove that God exists. They have tried to set out a logical argument which shows beyond doubt that God exists. However, some people believe it is wrong to try and prove God exists. They say people should just accept his existence through faith.
There are some common arguments supposedly proving that God exists. The 1st of theses is the ontological argument. God is described as ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’. This means that whatever we think of, God is always the greatest thought. Since it is better to actually exist in reality than just in the mind, this means that God exists in reality. This argue is a purely logical argument and can be denied only by the arguer contradicting himself. The argument is based on the premise that God does exist, and that since even the suggestion there is no God, requires the concept of God, therefore God must exist.
The cosmological argument is derived from the idea that you can’t get something form nothing. But since you can’t go back and back looking at what caused this and what caused that, you have to stop somewhere. You stop at the 1st Cause. The 1st Cause is uncaused by anything- this must be God.
The teleological (design) argument is based on Paley’s idea- if you were walking down a street and you kicked your foot on a watch, you would pick it up and looking at it you would realise it had been designed for a purpose. It has been designed to tell the time. Therefore it must have a designer. Therefore Paley said, if you made an analogy between a watch and the world, you would reach the same conclusion. The world looks like it has been designed for a purpose- a place for humans to live. So the world must have a designer. This designer is God.
The way DNA is so carefully structured, the way the universe was created, the different laws of nature; all seem to imply a designer.
Sir Isaac Newton, said ‘In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.’
A lot of people may look at the world say it has not been designed. They may point out that there is so much evil and disharmony in the world that there cannot be a God, or if there is- He must be evil. Other people may argue that the world happened by chance. Others say there may be more than one designer, e.g. more than one architect may design buildings. Nietzsche argued ‘God is dead’ and refused to see order in the world because of faults in its design, such as the way the earth’s crust is made up of plates that do not fit together perfectly. He believed that there was no God, there were no natural laws and there was no order. He held the view of ‘nihilism’.
Epicurus argued that If God cannot stop evil in the world, and then God is no all-powerful. If God can stop evil, but chooses not to, then God is not good. If God can stop evil and choose to do so, why is there still evil? Because God doesn’t exist.
Christian will say that they have direct experience of God. He has answered their prayers or He has performed a miracle. He has sent them a sign. God speaking directly to people is known as ‘revelation’. God reveals himself and makes his wishes know to a particular person. In the Bible, Saul, who persecuted early Christians, had a direct revelation from God and changed to a devoted Christian; also changing his name to Paul (St. Paul).
Some people argue against this. They will claim that the person is ‘mad’ if they believe they have been speaking to God. For instance, David Icke who used to be a professional footballer for Coventry City but he had to give up because arthritis. He appeared on television claiming that he was the second Son of God. Peter Sutcliffe dubbed as ‘the Yorkshire Ripper’ stalked and killed prostitutes. He claimed at his trial that God had spoken to him to go out and kill them. His first victim was just an ordinary girl on her way home after a party.
Even if it is not a specific experience, the whole experience of life makes them believe that life has a purpose. The way we need to be loved, and need to love can’t be a mistake. There must be a reason; life must have a purpose. In looking for that purpose, many may turn to religion and are led to God.
Another argument put forward is the morality argument. Christians say that because we have a conscience, we know the difference between right and wrong and God must have given us our consciences.
There are also many people who have lived an incredibly loving life, sacrificing themselves in way that is derived from the faith that they hold. Martin Luther and Mother Teresa are good examples of how one’s belief can affect the world in a positive way.
But on the other hand, many people who do not have religious belief have lead outstanding lives. Religion does not have a monopoly on morality. The existence of a conscience alone does not prove the existence of God. Many would say that in fact, religion has caused more violence, bloodshed and suffering than anything else ever has.
Some people argue that without a God, then life itself is meaningless and futile. Humanists, though, contradict this argument, saying that life doesn’t find its meaning in God, and that in fact humans have for too long blamed their problems on God rather than being responsible for them themselves.
The other main reasons why people do not believe in God, because they feel a person’s belief in God is irrational and makes no sense. If there is a God, why then, is there so much suffering in the world? They argue, there is no proof of a God, why should I believe in something I cannot see? Others argue that people have invented God to give them some security and comfort in this evil world. They often wonder, if there is a God, why doesn’t he help us, or answer my prayers? Atheists believe that science has proved the Bible wrong about many things. The role of god has been reduced stage by stage with advances in science and technology.
Religious experience and miracles
Religious experience can be defined in many ways: but the most common are:
- Numinous- the feeling of awe and wonder, a feeling of the presence of a mysterious power, something greater which you can only call God.
- Conversion- the feeling that there is something inside you wanting to change your life and be more committed to your religion. An example of a conversion is Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
- A belief that a miracle has occurred, and its only explanation is that God caused it.
- A belief that your prayers have been answers
- An experience where you feel you have been in contact with God in a special way.
God is revealed to ordinary Christians through various religious experiences.
- Conversion. This means becoming a follower of God. The Bible has many examples of conversion, especially in the New Testament after Jesus’ ascension as the apostolic church was being established. Conversion is seen as the entry point to faith, as it is when a person confesses and repents of their sins, and accepts Jesus into their hearts. Evangelicals say that the person is now ‘born again’ or ‘saved’. Many people find that conversion changes their lives forever and is often the most important religious experience of their lives.
- Charismatic worship. Often Christians after conversion have a later experience of the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’. They feel God’s Spirirt touching them and changing them, as they are more aware of God’s presence. Some believe a sign of this is ‘speaking in tongues’. They feel free to worship God in an uninhibited way, and worshippers may sing, pray and dance together. The 1st Christians experienced the 1st baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). Charismatic worship is a feature of many denominations now, although controversy has surrounded the practise.
- Eucharist. This is also known as Communion as is when Christians remember the death of Jesus by taking bread and wine. It is a sacramental ritual and feeds the Christian faith. It celebrates the presence of Christ in the world and is has the special distinction in being an experience that is shared with millions of other Christians worldwide. Prayers are said and songs sung as the appointed minister shares the bread and wine, as instructed by Jesus in Luke 22, at the Last Supper.
- Prayer and mediation. Meditation means focusing on God and prayer is talking with God. Christians need to do this to maintain a close and personal relationship with God. Both can take place anywhere and can involve reading the Bible or fasting. Christians are following Jesus’ example of having a close relationship with the Father as he often went and prayed.
Most religious people believe in miracles. This means they believe that there are events which break a natural law, and that often seem impossible occur. They believe the only explanation for them is God. Others believe that a miracle is ‘a natural event which must have been caused by God because of the exact timing and the religious connection it has’.
We read of many accounts of Jesus performing miracles in the gospels, many Christians believe that miracles still happen today. Often at healing crusades, sufferers of incurable diseases are healed. They and those who prayed for believe that the healing is from God and is a miracle. If miracles occur, that must mean that God exist, they are an obvious reason for believing in God.
There are also many accounts of miracles in the Old Testament, for example, Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua and the battle of Jericho and the 10 plagues. Many Christians believe that since God is unchanging; he is still able to perform miracles in the lives of people today.
Some people find it hard to believe in miracles because they require you to believe in eyewitness evidence and people are often mistaken and even responsible people lie for their own benefit. Also science can now explain many miracles, and it seems more sensible to look for a natural explanation, than to look to God. Maybe miracles are just tricks, as many illusionists do impressive tricks with seemingly no explanations. Another argument about miracles that if God does perform miracles, He must be evil, as He hasn’t used a miracle to feed all the starving, why hasn’t He saved lives with His miraculous powers.
Maybe the existence of religion itself is evidence for God’s existence. People have always had religious beliefs. There are many similarities in religion. The idea that God is a Creator, that we can be able to get in touch with him, the moral codes and prayer are all important themes. Maybe God is there waiting to be discovered by religion.
The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is a doctrine of the church, and does not mean that Christians worship 3 different gods, but God is 3 in 1, Triune.
God the Father highlights the loving, caring side of God as well as the judge and creator of the universe. This does not mean God is male, as he is a spirit, and so often God can be referred to as a Mother-like God, El Shaddai.
God the Son is Jesus who was born into this world and who lived as a man among the Jews, teaching them the truth and who then died for the sins of humanity. He is the Saviour or Redeemer of mankind.
The Holy Spirit first came to the earth at Pentecost, after Jesus rose again and ascended to heaven. God sent him to encourage and comfort Christians and to ‘guide them to all truth’. He lives inside Christians who receive him and is a symbol of peace and hope. He is often represented as dove or flames of fire.
The 3 parts of the Trinity can be seen together at Jesus’ baptism, in Matthew 3:14.
The Bible is Christians’ holy book. It is comprised of 66 books, it is a library. It is made up of the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books).
The Old Testament is the same as the Jewish scriptures, and shows the relationship between God and his people before Christ. It can be divided into four groups. The books of law are the first 5 books. They contain the most important elements of the Jewish faith and contain many accounts of the Jewish people and its past. Next, come the history books, detailing the various kings, rulers and judges of God’s nation. Next comes the poetry books, philosophical and musically writings often filled with wise sayings. After this comes the major, and then the minor prophets who declared the word and message of God to the people. Their lives and the messages are recorded in the last books of the Old Testament.
First in the New Testament, come the 4 gospels, which tell the story of Jesus- his birth, teachings, life, death and resurrection. After Acts, next come the letters of Paul and various other apostles to the new Christian churches around world. The book of Revelation finishes off the Bible, detailing John’s vision of heaven and eternity.
There were two important events which have affected the history of the Bible. These are the invention of printing in around 1450 and also the beginning of the Protestant Reformation from 1517 onwards.
The translation and printing of the New Testament in English was begun by William Tyndale. In 1539, the Great Bible was placed by royal decree in every parish church in England. In 1611 all existing translations were superseded by the Authorised Version. There have been many different translations in the 20th century. The Jerusalem Bible appeared in 1966 and Catholics have used it ever since. Parts of the Bible can now be read in over 500 languages, and work is still ongoing by the Bible Society and the Wycliffe Bible Translators.
The Bible is the Word of God for all Christians. They sense the voice of God when they read it, but there have different ways of understanding its text. Some believe that the Bible is the direct Word of God, word for word. They are called fundamentalists. They feel that it is free form error; where the Bible seems to contradict science, science must be at fault. Others feel that the Bible is the Word of God interpreted. They are conservatives. The Bible is a book about faith and knowledge of God, not a scientific textbook, and there may be scientific explanations for some passages in the Bible. Others think that there are flaws in the Bible- that it is the Word of God but some of it has been interpreted wrongly. These liberals feel that many of the Bible passages are simply symbolic and therefore should not be taken literally. They try to find a kernel of truth in Bible stories.
The Bible is use in many different ways in Christian life and worship, it is not just read out of interest, as a work of old literature but as though to learn more about their faith, to find out more about what they believe in, and ideals for living. The voice of God may even be heard in them. Lesson from the Bible will be read, the sermon will be based on the Bible in church service and although at times, much of it Is lost, often and to many a verse will speak to a person and guide them. The Bible is also studied and the truths found applied to everyday problems. Also the Bible will be used for personal study or meditation. The Bible is also used in courts of law, when people promise to tell the truth and use the Bible to show that they really mean it.
Describe the reasons Christians might give in support of their belief in God. 
Candidates could include personal religious experience; basic versions of the cosmological or teleological arguments (such as that we would not be here if there were no God); reasons based on the Bible; reasons based on social factors, such as believing because of being brought up in a Christian family or in a Christian country.
Explain how believing that the Bible is the word of God might affect the lives of
Answers might include the suggestion that Christians would read the Bible on a regular basis; that the Bible would be used for reference in times of difficulty; that the Bible would be a source of encouragement and hope; the Bible would provide Christians with ethical guidance; the Bible would be treated with respect and as a higher source of authority than other books. Candidates might also consider the effects of believing the
Bible literally and difficulties this might cause.
‘There is no way of knowing what God might be like.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. 
Candidates might write about the difficulties of knowing God who is ultimately beyond human understanding; the problems of ‘knowing’ a being who cannot be directly experienced through the senses. They might also argue that for Christians some knowledge of what God is like can be gained through the Bible and through the person of Christ, as well as through the individual experience of the believer.
Good and Evil
The existence of evil, suffering and pain has always presented great problems for Christianity. If God is all-loving, all-powerful, why is there so much wrong in the world, Can he do nothing to prevent cruelty, famine or cancer? Or did He make evil? Is God to be blamed?
Human and animals not only die but the sometimes suffer the most terrible pain. A tragic example of this is the Nazi Holocaust, where Jews and others died in mental, physical, emotional and spiritual agony. The human potential for creating hell on earth reached a horrifying high. Today, though, many are still suffering. Often this suffering is caused unnecessarily by other humans. It may not be purely physical but also psychological ways. Suffering seems part of our existence. Does God show any obvious concern?
Suffering comes, Christians believe, from moral and natural evil. Moral evil is what comes out of human wickedness- being deliberately cruel or uncaring. Obvious examples are war, rape and murder. Natural evil are problems of no human fault- events such as floods, disease and earthquakes. But sometimes the two evils may overlap.
For many people the existence of suffering is their biggest reason for not believing God. It is the decisive issue. If God exists, He must be absolutely good, and He is able to do anything, He is omnipotent; if He knows everything-He is omniscient. But since suffering exists and God (if He exists) does nothing; He must either know about the suffering and is able to help but doesn’t- making Him evil, not good, or, he knows what is going on, wants to help but can’t- so He is not omnipotent and therefore of little use. Finally, God could and would help if He knew, but He doesn’t so again He is of little use.
Christians teach that there is one God who is benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient. But for many they find it difficult to believe that God can be all free at once. Since no other God is worth having, they conclude that God does not exist.
Some Christians believe that evil exists in this world because of the devil. He is known as the enemy of God, who rules over hell and tries to turn humanity away from God and goodness. He was created good, but became proud and jealous and so was cast out of heaven after fighting against God. Some believe that when people choose to do wrong it is because of the power of Satan.
Satan is believed to be a fallen angel who was cast out of heaven because of his pride. ‘I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven.’ (Luke 10:18). The devil is also known as Lucifer; at the beginning of time, there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against Lucifer and his followers (who are known now as demons), and since Lucifer lost, he was cast into hell, until the end of time, where he will be destroyed. Satan now is determined to get as many people to join him in his demise and so entices people to sin.
Some believe that Satan is an actual figure, red with horns and a tail who tortures people whilst ruling hell but others feel that the devil is more a force or a spirit of evil who can enter you. Satan is said to be an inner weakness or a psychological force.
In the Bible it says ‘resist the devil and he will flee from you’. Also it warns you to ‘fear the full armour of God so that you can stand against the wiles of the devil for our battle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and princes, rulers in dark places and spirits of wickedness in high places’, Ephesians 6:11,12.
Jesus resisted the devil when he was tempted 3 times by the devil whilst he was in the desert for fasting for 40 days. Satan asked Jesus to turn stones into bread to eat, throw himself off a cliff so that the angels could catch him and bow down and worship the devil. Jesus each time refused, quoting Scripture.
Others still, feel that the devil was ‘invented’ in the Medieval times as a way of frightening people to do what the church wanted.
But not all Christians believe that the devil is a real person. The devil doesn’t provide a fool-proof answer to evil. If God is all-powerful, why does he allow the devil to do anything at all, in the first place?
Suffering is a result of evil, both natural and moral evil lead to suffering. There are many different types of suffering, physical, emotional- for example when you suffer a terrible injustice. There is also religious suffering, when people think God has abandoned them, as many did in Auschwitz.
Christians believe that they should try and avoid evil and do good, as part of their response to God – they should try to become as like Him as possible. There are several ways in which Christians can try and discover right from wrong.
Many believe that they know instinctively when something is right or wrong, because their conscience tells them- they feel guilt and shame when they do wrong, even if they know that no one will ever know. Sometimes, when they want to do something, their conscience prevents them, and they don’t do it as they know that they won’t be happy if they go against their conscience. Many Christians believe that consciences are the way God speaks to them. Others do not agree, but say our conscience is formed in our upbringing.
The Bible is often used as a source of moral guidance. It is studied and applied to many Christians’ lives and various situations. Some Bible teachings such as the 10 Commandments are considered by almost everybody to contain essential truths about right and wrong. When Christians have difficult decisions to make, they often turn to the Bible, and seek truth and messages which they try and put into practice. This is not always straightforward as some teachings do not relate easily and closely to the modern world.
The Example of Christ is often used, as Christian try and would out what Jesus would do- ‘What Would Jesus Do? WWJD?’- in their situation and in the same circumstances. Because Jesus is the Son of God, Christians believe that He was always perfect, so they try and copy him and follow His example. They will look at Jesus’ attitudes to different issues and try and adopt the same viewpoint.
The Sermon on the Mount is often a source of guidance for Christians. It is found in Matthew 5. It often forms the basis of why Christians follow a moral code. Here are some points and linked examples:
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Christians should show mercy and will benefit experience mercy themselves.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. For Christians who do good by being peacemakers, they will be God’s children.
Blessed are you when people insult, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. Even when you are mocked and teased, when the Christian life is hard, Christians should remember that there is a reward for them in heaven.
Let your light shine before men. Do good works and allow it to be a testimony of your faith.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Love even the unlovable, your enemies and go that extra mile for others.
When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. You will be blessed more when you do good humbly. Do not have a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude.
Christians also may follow a moral code because they want to imitate God, who is all good. Also since Jesus is the Son of God, he is to be obeyed and so Christians follow his teachings and take his example. Some Christians believe that what you do on earth will affect where they will be after they want to do good to (for) others in order to go to heaven.
Christian responses to the problem of evil
Many Christians believe that evil and suffering came to the world because of sin. Sin is anything that is against the will of God. It is part of human nature and affects everyone. God originally created the world as good, we read many times in Genesis 1. But after the fall of Adam and Eve, sin entered into the world as part of the consequences of rebellion of God. With sin came, sickness, evil and suffering. As we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, we are all born with the nature of sin in us.
The fall of man came after the serpent tempted Eve in Genesis 3. The result of Eve’s and Adam’s disobedience is that they were banished forever from the Garden of Eden.
Christians believe that suffering has a purpose, even that some suffering has a practical and important positive value. When someone is in pain, they are clearly aware something is wrong. Christians have developed this idea and so see pain as type of defence mechanism. Pain can motivate us to change things and make us to do something to remedy or cure the pain.
Christians sometimes argue that suffering teaches us important lessons and that it strengthens us, making us better, braver and more generous. Suffering is part of life. In a world without suffering there would be nothing to strive for. So, suffering provides for us an inner challenge.
There can be a spiritual value to suffering. After all, Jesus Christ himself, suffered a tremendous amount of pain and agony on the cross. But through this suffering, through having all the sin of man upon him, Jesus was about to reconcile humanity to God.
When Christians suffer, they are encouraged to think of their sufferings as sharing the suffering of Christ, so they can turn to God. The suffering will also help to teach them to feel love for others who suffer.
Suffering is also a result of free will. Not only the free will of the first humans, but also the free of us. When God created us, he gave us free will, so that we could choose to love him, choosing right from wrong. Human suffering is therefore a result of humans choosing evil or good. If people became more aware of the world and people around them, then the amount of suffering such as poverty, hunger, violence and pollution could be reduced. But because ‘all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), there is suffering in the world. There are many passages in the Bible that acknowledge that humans often want to do good, but give into temptation. These include: ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Matthew 26:41) and ‘when I want to do good, evil is right there with me’ (Romans 7:21).
After death, the suffering of this world will be forgotten, as this world was created as a stepping stone to the eternal habitation of God. Heaven awaits for us here on earth. In this next world, Christians are reminded, there is no suffering or evil. In Revelation 21, it says ‘there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’.
Some Christians do not see any point in worrying about the problem of suffering in the first place, as we cannot comprehend the reasoning of God anyway; God must have a reason, but it is for not for us to know as humans. Even God’s own son had to suffer, they argue, it is simply our job to relieve others of their suffering.
The main response of Christians to evil is a practical one, though. This is done through prayer and service. Both asking God for help those who are suffering and through actively caring and helping those who suffer. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, we se that those who were charitable and feed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited the sick, often without knowing it, were actually serving Christ himself. They were taken away to eternal life. In James 2:16, we see that ‘faith without works is dead’.
There are many ways in which a Christian can demonstrate their faith, either they can devote their lives to helping the disadvantaged in poor counties; or they may choose to volunteer for a short time in a voluntary organisation, either in their homeland or aboard. Many Christians give of their time to charitable causes, through fundraising and door-to-door collections as well as working in charity shops. Often Christians try and live a simple lifestyle and to be generous with what they have. They, like others, will try and avoid waste, reusing and recycling instead of discarding unwanted goods. Churches often have collections for charities and many Christians tithe, giving a fraction (10%) of their income to the poor and the church. Most importantly for Christians, they can support others through prayer and fellowship.
There are Christian charities, which are very active in trying to do good and relieve evil in this world. An example of one such charity is Christian Aid which is the official aid agency for over 40 different church denominations. It tries to take a long term approach to poverty and injustice, and works to make change that will improve people’s lives in a lasting way.
Describe Christian beliefs about the Devil (Satan). 
Some answers may present a very traditional view of the devil with horns and a tail ruling over hell. It is also possible that candidates may comment from a more modern theological view of the devil as an evil power, perhaps within humans themselves. The concept of a battle between God and the Devil might be explored, or the role of the Devil in the creation stories.
Explain the ways in which a Christian might try to find out the right answer to a difficult moral problem. 
Answers could include reference to the Bible as a source of moral authority; seeking advice from members of the clergy or other Christians; prayer as a means of direct communication with God, asking for guidance; and the use of the conscience.
‘If people suffer, it is usually their own fault.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. 
Different views about the causes of suffering might be explored. It could be argued that some suffering is clearly our own fault, such as feeling ill after drinking too much, but that other suffering is difficult to explain in this way, and that Christians have provided some different possible explanations of the reasons for innocent suffering. It could be argued that, for a Christian, the reasons for the suffering are not as important as the belief that God remains in control.
Religion and Science
Christian beliefs about the origin of the world and humanity are based on the first two chapters in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 2 the order of creation related is different but there are no days given. It focuses on the creation of man.
In Genesis 1, God created the universe in the following way:
Day 1: Heaven and earth, light and darkness.
Day 2: The separation of the sea from the sky
Day 3: The dry land, plants and trees
Day 4: The sun, moon and stars
Day 5: Fish and birds
Day 6: Animals and humans
Each part of creation came about because of God’s words. He spoke, and it was created, and everything he created was good. (Genesis 1:31- God saw all that he had made ad saw that was good.) Humans were also made to have authority over the world. (Genesis 1:26 Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish….) God made men and women as a special creation and gave them the Garden of Eden in which to live.
Traditionally, it was believed that God created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing) but some Christians believe that God created order out of chaos. Each part of creation was a result of God speaking and what God created was good. When he was finished, it was perfect. Genesis 1:31
Christian views about people and animals
God made all the different varieties of plant, mammal and fish and presented to them to Adam so that he could choose names for them, this demonstrates the authority that people had over animals, even from the beginning. ‘Whatever the man called each living creature that was its name; Genesis 2:19’. People are different from the rest of the animal world, because they have souls, unlike animals. Humanity is made in the image of God. This could mean that Adam and Eve actually looked like God, but most Christians believe that it means that the humans shared something of the nature of God, as God, is says in Genesis 2:7, ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being’. This breath from God could be a sol, something which does not ever perish but lives on after death. Also, Adam was not able to find a suitable helpmeet among the animals, this shows that animals are subordinate to men. God even clothed Adam and Eve in ‘garments of skin’ after they had sinned. Their lives were sacred. Man’s dominion is also shown through the practise of animal sacrifice in the Old Testament.
Creationists believe that the Bible is 100% accurate, and wherever science and the Bible disagree, the Bible is correct. Therefore the creation stories in Genesis must be read as historical counts of the world’s creation0 God created everything in 6 days and rest on the seventh, although these ‘days’ could be longer than 24 hour periods.
Conservatives believe that both science and the Bible are correct as the main points of the Bible account fit in with science. Genesis1:3, ‘Let there be light’, they argue, is a direct reference to the Big Bang.
Liberals believe that Genesis is a myth, a story which contains truths that provide answers to important questions about life. In this case it is that God created the world, the world is good and he cares for what he has created. We are the highlight of his creation and have been given stewardship of the planet.
The Liberals claim this because the Big Bang had to be occur at exactly the right micro second, otherwise either it would have been too small for stars to form, or everything would have being moving too fast for stars to form anyway. The way the stars were formed by exploding supernovae, suggest a creator organising this and the way that life on earth could not have happened by chance. In conclusion, they believe that the Big Band and evolution could have only happened if God made them happen.
The Big Bang theory
Scientists believe that the universe is about 18 billion years old, although some people have suggested that the universe has always been existence and therefore has no ‘beginning’. But this view is widely disregarded as there is evidence to suggest that there is a point at which the universe ‘became’.
The Big Bang is the most widely accepted modern scientific theory on the origin of the universe. The theory states that a gigantic explosion caused the densely squashed matter of the universe to suddenly expand outwards. The stars are on of the clues that point to this theory, as they are grouped in galaxies and are moving outwards from each other.
Scientists are not certain of a definite date of origin; but they estimate that it is between 10 and 20 billion years ago. Before this, there was no time or space as their origins coincided with the Big Bang itself, so there is no such thing as before the Big Bang!
After the Big Bang, the universe would have been very hot, and consisted only of fundamental particles. But as soon as it appeared, it became to expand, becoming less dense and cooled.
Evidence supporting the Big Bang consists of the fact that the universe is expanding outwards, as this can be observed by looking at the galaxies around us. There is also a ‘microwave background’ which is radiation that comes from all directions in the sky (but not from other stars), the Big Bang theory explains this. Also the amount of hydrogen and helium observed inside the stars collates with predictions suggested by the theory.
The long term future of the universe depends on how much mass there is, there may be enough for the universe to eventually stop expanding and begin to contract because of the power of gravity, or there may be too little mass to slow down the expansion, as so the universe may go on expanding for all eternity.
Another theory that a few scientists believe in is called the Steady State Theory. This is the idea that the universe always existed and is always the same in all directions at all times, even though the universe is still expanding. However, very few cosmologists still believe this theory to be correct.
Conflict between Science and Biblical Cosmology: The Universe
But there are some areas of agreement; both the Big Bang and Genesis describe a creation out of nothing. If you do not take the Genesis account literally, a non-literal interpretation does not necessarily disagree. One could argue that God made the Bog Bang happened and the Big Bang gives you the details about how he did it. ‘Science asks how things happen, theology asks why.’
The origin of humanity
Some people believe in the theory of evolution which was proposed by Charles Darwin. His various studies led him to believe that humans had evolved from lower members of the animal kingdom, because of natural selection where those best suited to their environment survive and adapt, whereas the less fit die out. This is called the survival of the fittest. Evolution works by the natural selection of well-adapted individuals over a span of many generations.
When he first published his idea, many were shocked by them and refuse to accept that they shared ancestry with apes. But his theory is increasingly popular.
Conflict between Science and Biblical Cosmology: Humanity
Christian stewardship means that God created the world, and what he saw, he said it was good. We are to look after the world which is His, as He has entrusted it to us.
Christians believe that people were put on the earth as ‘stewards’ so they should recognise that the world belongs to God and they are looking after it for Him, it does not belong to them. Our role is one of care-taking. This is highlighted in Psalm 24:1, which states ‘the earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it’.
Although Christians believe that they have dominion over the earth, as it suggests in Genesis 1:26, they feel this means that they should take responsibility fro the earth and the other species in it; they should care for it, protect and preserve it for future generations.
Christianity teaches that people should not take and use more than is necessary. They should not be greed, and judge success by their wealth, but always remember to praise God who provide for them. In Luke 12:23, ‘life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.’ Also in the Bible, the Israelites were given many farming and land laws for the good of the land, an example of this is keeping fields fallow every 6 years, so that the poor may be fed and also the wild animals would be provided for. These ideas are found in Exodus and Deuteronomy. This idea of fallow fields is now being revived with the growing popularity of organic farming.
The Methodist church says that ‘men and women are to be stewards and creators, not exploiters of its [the universe’s] resources’. The Catholic such states that ‘man’s dominion… is not absolute’ and ‘it requires a religious respect for the integrity of nature’.
The earth is unique, if people destroy it, they will almost certainly destroy themselves in the process. Christians, like others, are involved in deciding which way humankind will go. Although the God appointed man to be his steward on earth, this has not prevented the human race from exploiting the earth. The Catholic Church, in particular, has done little to challenge the waste and over-consumption which are such strong features of our society. But there are Christian conservation charities, such as A Rocha.
A Rocha is an international conservation agency showing God’s love for all creation. It is motivated by Christian faith (which has special emphasis on God the Creator), and focuses on scientific studies of habitats and species, preserving natural landscapes by working with local communities and liaising with governments.
The charity has identified four important reasons why Christians should be involved in conservation.
- Love. God made the world and cares deeply about it. Christians can show their love for Him by caring for, studying and enjoying the world that God created.
- Obedience. All Christians should obey God in every part of their lives. So Christians must obey God’s command to rule over the fish, birds, animal and livestock in a way that reflects his image. They must be responsible stewards of the natural world.
- Justice. It is often the poor who suffer first when the environment is damaged.
- Hope. The Bible gives us hope for the future; people can and should do something for other in the future.
Christians who believe that they have a duty may write to their MPs or council about various issues. They may get others in their communities or church to write as well. They can also join various environmental groups which have the power to change things. They may give money, or fundraise by giving of their time, maybe by working in charities shops. Christians may recycle and reuse, and send some of their unwanted possessions to countries where they are wanted.
The church may rally the nation on issues they feel strongly about. This can persuade governments to act. Ministers can raise issues when they meet politicians in their own countries, or abroad. The Church can work with government to set pollution-reducing targets.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of
God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
(a) Describe Christian beliefs about the origins of the world. 
Candidates could describe the accounts of the origins of the world from Genesis, Job or Isaiah. They could also write about the ways in which Christians believe that the world is a creation ‘out of nothing’ by God, who continues to create it and sustain it.
They might write about different Christian views, including those who believe that the world was created exactly as described in Genesis and those who believe that scientific theories are more historically accurate but that the whole process was the result of the will of God.
Explain why Christians might feel that they have a duty to take care of the planet.
Discussion will probably include the concept of stewardship, the principle that humanity’s responsibility is to rule the earth in a responsible way. Examples might be given of environmental problems and the ways in which Christians could do something about them.
‘We were put in the world for a reason.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. 
Different views could include the Christian belief that people were made deliberately, as stewards of the earth, in order to have a relationship with God, and for individual reasons as part of God’s plan. Other views could include that we are here by chance, as the result of natural selection, and that there is no reason, and no-one that put us here.
Death and the afterlife
Body and soul
Christians believe that a person consists of more than their body and mind. They believe that each human, being made in the image of God, is made up of their body, mind and soul or for other Christians, heart, mind and soul. The soul that we have is immortal and invisible and is often referred to as the spirit, as it is our spiritual being, just as our body is our physical being and our mind is our emotional being.
Christians believe that we have a soul, because when God created the world, he set humans apart from animals, and created them in his own image. Genesis 1:27 ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them’. Whilst God created the animals ‘out of the ground’; Genesis 2:19, when He formed man, he breathed into him, the ‘breath of life’, Genesis 2:7. Christians believe that was God putting something of his divine and spiritual nature into mankind; this is what they called a soul.
Plato, the Greek philosopher taught that humans have a soul separate from the body, which is released and lives on after the death of the person. It is believed that these classical beliefs became entwined with Christian teachings in the early Christian Church and that this is where the Church doctrine first was properly formed.
Paul taught that the body and soul are often in conflict, as when the soul wants to do right and please God, our physical and sinful nature is often only interested in pleasure. Therefore the body is preventing the soul from reaching God.
Paul and Christians today believe that Jesus’ resurrection is proof that there is life after death, so this means that once our physical body dies and is no more, it must be our soul, our spiritual being that lives on and never dies. In I Corinthians 15, Paul writes ‘if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body’.
Although there have been many different theories about when people get their soul, most Christians accept the Roman Catholic view that God gives everyone their soul at conception.
Christian beliefs about heaven
The 1st heaven is physical heaven of the sky with its planets, stars and birds. This is the natural heaven. This is the heaven which was created in Genesis 1:1, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. This heaven is only temporary.
The 2nd heaven is the spiritual atmosphere around us, which includes both good and evil and surrounds this earth. This heaven shall pass away at the end of time, as it says in Revelations 21:1.
The 3rd heaven is the place where God dwells and where ultimately Christians hope to spend eternity. This heaven is perfect and after Jesus has come to gather his bride, this is where all Christians shall dwell in harmony, as there is no evil or suffering here. This heaven is described in detail throughout Revelations.
When Christians talk about Heaven they are talking about the dwelling place of God, the eternal resting place of the blessed dead and where Christians at last will be made whole and experience true, pure happiness, spending their lives worshipping God.
Christians believe in Heaven as it is mentioned in the Bible and Jesus also spoke about it. In Matthew 5:16 it says ‘Let you light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’. Jesus said to the thief whilst he was on the cross ‘Today, you will be with me in paradise’ in Luke 23:43.
Many different Christians have different views and idea about what Heaven is like. This is because while there are detailed descriptions about Heaven will look like, not much detail is given on what people will do there. Isaiah prophesied, telling of harmony and peace, as even the animals will live without discord. In Revelations 21:4, it says ‘there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’.
Christian beliefs about Hell
The Bible teaches about Hell, as a place where there will be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’, the eternal place of torment for those how have rejected God during their time on earth. It is believed to be below the earth, as an infernus, and a place of punishment. In Matthew 13:42, it says, ‘they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.
Medieval Christians believe hell to be a place of everlasting torture for those who have committed and not repented of wicked deed, and turned their back on Christianity.
But nowadays, some Christians believe that the Biblical descriptions of hell are merely symbolic. The liberals feel that hell is not meant to taken literally, as hell is summed up an eternity without God. They feel that since Jesus brought a message of forgiveness, a loving God would not abandon any of his people. But other Christians believe that hell is a reality for those how have not repented of their sins, as God is also a just and righteous Judge. The Catholic Church ‘affirms the existence of hell and its eternity…the souls of those who die in a sate of moral sin descend into hell…the chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God’.
Christian beliefs about purgatory
It is only the Roman Catholic Church that believes in purgatory, it is ‘the final purification of the elect’ and is different from the ‘punishment of the damned’. The elect are those who have been chosen to go to heaven, eventually. They need purifying as they have sinned and they need to be completely pure before entering heaven.
Purgatory is a purifying process rather than a punishment, one can work to leave Purgatory, and then enter heaven. Purgatory is like a ‘purifying fire’ that refines people, so they can be made pure. One cannot go from Purgatory to hell and if you go to confession regularly try and avoid sinful behaviour and pray for forgiveness, your time in Purgatory will be shortened. Also prayers can be said once you are dead to decrease the time spent there.
Life after death
Christians have two basic concepts about life after death. They are ‘resurrection’ and ‘immortality of the soul’. In resurrection, at a certain point in the future, the dead will brought back to life, judged and given an immortal body. Immortality of the soul is the belief that humans have a body and soul, and their soul will survive the death of their body and go on to live a spiritual life. These two views influence Christian views about the nature of their life after death.
Evangelical Christians believe in the resurrection of the body, that when people die, that their soul waits until the time when the world will pass away. Then the dead will be raised and join the living and are judged. The judgement passed will be based on their Christian faith and behaviour, those who haven’t repented of their sins and those who have rejected the existence of God and refused to have faith will spend eternity in hell. These beliefs are based on Paul’s teachings, such as in his letter to the Thessalonians.
Many Protestants believe in the immortality of the soul, they believe that their souls go immediately to God to be judged and that good Christians will go to heaven. Some believe that bad Christians and non-believers will go to heaven but those who do not believe in hell disagree, instead believe that there will be a positive afterlife for all, just with varying degrees of happiness.
Roman Catholics believe in both ideas. They believe that at death the souls of those who have not sinned since their last confession will go straight to heaven, those who have sinned will go to Purgatory for the cleansing of their soul and those who have refused to believe in God or have committed mortal sins will go to hell.
Jesus will return to earth, for his Second Coming, and the dead will then be raised and their souls reunited with their bodies. God will then judge everyone, and will create a new heaven and new earth, those who were in heaven or Purgatory will return to heaven, while the damned will spend eternity in hell. These views are based on the resurrection of Jesus, the teachings of the New Testament and the teaching of the Church as stated in the Catechism.
Faith or good works
There are two different beliefs on how God will judge people at the Final Judgement, either on their faith or by their good works and Christian living. Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that you enter heaven only by the grace of God, and by your faith in Christ. This, they say, naturally means you will have done many good works, because true faith always brings about good works.
Protestants, however, believe that you can get to heaven on your faith alone. Martin Luther put it as ‘justification by faith alone’. This does not mean that they do not do works, but just not for the sake of entering heaven, but instead as worship to God.
The New Testament states that God offers salvation through faith in Christ. This means that you are now saved from sin, and form the bondage that man has under the devil. You are made a ‘child of God’, freely, as it is says in Ephesians 2:8, that, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works, so that no man can boast’. Faith is essential for salvation as it says many times in the Bible, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved’. Jesus also said himself, in John 14, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No mane comes unto the Father, but by me’.
But in the Bible it is also clear that faith on its own is good for nothing, as it says in James 2, ‘faith, without works, is dead’. He asked ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t do good works? I will show my faith by my good deeds’. He goes on to emphasise, that since even the demons have faith, faith is not enough.
The only measure of faith is love, as it says in I Corinthians 13, ‘If I have faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing’. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25), it is those who loved others, and cared for them, often unknowingly, who went to heaven, whilst those who did nothing, were cursed and sent to the eternal hellfire.
Christians believe that God wants everybody to be saved and to spend eternity with him. This salvation is offered by faith. Most Christians believe that those who did not ever heard of Jesus, or lived without any knowledge of the Christian faith, can still have the hope of salvation. But those who hear about Jesus and reject him will be condemned, it states many times in the New Testament. Atheists are without excuse, as in Romans 1: 20, Paul writes, ‘Since creation, God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen…, so that men are without excuse’. In Psalms 14:1, it is written, ‘the fool says in his heart, “There is no God”’.
But Christians remember that God will judge fairly, and will give to each person according to what he has done, ‘For God does not show favouritism’, Romans 2:11.
Christians, themselves, can go to hell!
There are a few Bible stories which speak of heaven and hell. One of them is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16). The story tells is that hell is a place of torture, as the rich man was in agony and he was there because of the injustices that he had towards Lazarus. The parable also reminds us that no one from hell can enter heaven and vice versa, also that we are to listen to the message of salvation whilst on earth as once you’ve died it is too late.
The Funeral Service
Since most Christians believe that ‘death is a comma, and not a full stop’, funerals are often thought of as special thanksgiving service, or as a way or remembering the life of the deceased, rather than a time of sadness.
The first thing that happens is that the coffin enters. Traditionally, the minister meets the coffin at the door or fate and leads the procession, reciting some words of reassurance from the Bible, such as, ‘He that believes in me, though they die, they will live, everyone who lives and believes in me will never die’. These are the words of Jesus and they remind those in the service that although this person has died, they are still are alive in God and one day they shall be reunited.
Sometimes, this procession does not occur, and instead the time is given over to quiet prayer and reflection.
Next is the welcome and introduction. This is when the minister welcomes those who are present, and may give a short background on the person’s life and remind the congregation why they are gathered. A prayer is said and often there maybe hymns and tributes. This may be done by the deceased’s family and friends, or by the minister. Occasionally, symbols of the person’s life and placed are on or near the coffin. The coffin may also be sprinkled with baptism water. This is then followed with a prayer of forgiveness, as often, people are weighed down with a sense of letting someone down.
After this, comes the readings and a short sermon. The readings may be a Psalm that the deceased loved, passages on the nature of life or personal poems which the family feel express their sentiments. Some families choose Psalm 23, as it speaks of God’s care for his people. The sermon will bring together great Christians beliefs about life after death and focus it into the context of this particular death, and will try to bring comfort and strength to the mourners.
Prayers are then said, giving thanks for the life of the decease and praying for strength and God’s presence for the mourners. The Lord’s Prayer may then follow.
Next, is the commendation and farewell, where the minister and if possible the congregation stand around the coffin. A session of silence will lead into the prayer of commendation, in which the person who has died is entrusted into the love and mercy of God.
The committal takes place in a graveyard, and the mourners will gather round the open grave into which the coffin is lowered. The congregation will hear the ministers say ‘we not commit [name’s] body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life’. They may also recite a passage from I Corinthians 15, which asks, ‘oh death, where is your victory, oh grave, where is your sting’. The mourners may then feel comforted as they know that the answer is that death and the grave have no lasting victory as they can be reunited.
The committal is very emotional, but those who are suffering with grief, can find that, even though they are sad, that the words of prayer can lift them towards the experience of Christian hope in the knowledge of life beyond death.
A Roman Catholic Funeral has 3 principle times of prayer for the family and the community: the Vigil, the Funeral Liturgy and the Rite of Committal.
The Vigil can be celebrated anytime in the week before the funeral. In general, the visitation time, before the vigil is the first chance for the wider community to come and offer condolences, lend support and reminisce with each other about the deceased life. This is an important stage of the grieving processes. Time is set aside during each visitation for prayer together, to support the bereaved and to pray for the deceased. The Bible is central to the Vigil as the format of the Vigil is usually structured around readings, intercessions, prayers and blessings.
The Funeral Mass is the central liturgical celebration for the person who died. The church community gathers with friends and family of the decease to give thanks and praise for Christ’s victory over the grave and death, to take heart from the Word and to receive mass. Those who participate are having a foretaste of the heavenly banquet that awaits them.
There are many symbols of the liturgy. They include the welcoming of the body into the church, as this reminds the people the welcome into the church which first occurred at baptism. Baptism is also symbolised by the sprinkling with holy water on the coffin. The Easter Candle is a sign of Jesus’ presence and his victory over death and sin. The funeral pall is a sign of Christian dignity and purity. The very presence of the Christian community symbolises the support and consolation they offer and the service is a foretaste of the eternal heavenly banquet where there will be no more sadness or goodbyes. The proclamation of God’s Word reveals God’s loving presence, as the Word gives strength and provides hope. The final commendation is a last act of farewell, and it acknowledges the reality of separation but affirms that we all share the same destiny. The blessings with increase symbolises respect and honour for the boy as well as the congregation’s prayers riding to God.
The Rite of committal is final act of the Church community in caring for the body of its deceased member. This rite may be celebrated at the grace. It is composed of Scripture, a prayer, intercessions and ends with more prayers. A sign of leave taking (often the sprinkling if holy water) concludes the rite. This time of final pray is important and gives people the chance to say a final goodbye to the bodily presence of their loved one.
Describe Christian beliefs about what happens to evil people after death. 
Candidates might describe different Christian views about life after death for evil people; they might include traditional views of hell as a place of suffering at the hands of the devil, or other views in which the good are united with God but the evil are left behind. Roman Catholic views about purgatory might be included. There could be a discussion of whether descriptions of hell as an eternal fire are symbolic or literal.
Explain how a Christian funeral service might comfort someone whose close friend has died. 
Understanding of the main elements of a Christian funeral service might be demonstrated, with the emphasis on the promise of resurrection and comforting images of the dead at rest and in the hands of God; death as something which takes a person forward into eternal life. This might be seen as comforting where death is not the end and the separation from loved ones is temporary.
‘It cannot be true that there is life after death, because there is no evidence for it.’
Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view. You must refer to Christianity in your answer. 
Answers might include the view that for Christians, there is evidence for life after death in the resurrection of Christ. Arguments might also include the idea that there are plenty of things which can be true in the absence of hard evidence; or that there is no evidence against life after death either. Contrasting views might agree with the statement and suggest that belief in life after death is wishful thinking.