BELIEFS AND SACRED WRITINGS/AREA OF CONCENTRATION…
      The trinity: father, son and Holy Spirit, the Apostles’ Creed.
      Jesus of Nazareth: beliefs about Jesus of Nazareth as reflected in topic 3
      Salvation and resurrection
      The ten commandments
      The bible: its place in worship; the basis of its authority; old and new testament; types of literature it contains.

      THE TRINITY
      OBJECTIVES: by the end of the lesson, students should be able to
      What is the trinity?
      The view of none Christians
      The view of Christian scholars in the past example Tertullian, Saint Augustine.

      THE TRINITY
      The belief in the trinity is expressed in the apostle’s creed. It consist of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Non-Christians think they believe in three gods. However Christianity is a monotheistic religion – one God. It describes the three aspects of God they believe. One God in three person – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
      Tertullian a second century Christian writer describes it as the sending out rays of sunshine. St Patrick used the shamrock leaf to explain it – a leaf that has three parts – God is three parts in one being.

      THE CREED/BEHAVIOURAL OBJECTIVES
      By the end of the lesson, students should be able to
      State the meaning of the creed (mention its etymological source)
      Identify the two types of the creed.
      Reason for the formation of the apostle’s creed and Nicean creed
      Describe the concept of God the father, son and Holy Spirit.
      Explain the terms transcendence and immanence.
      List and explain God’s transcendental qualities.

      THE CREED
      We have the apostle creed and Nicene Creed. The creed is culled from a Latin word ‘credo’ meaning ‘I believe’. It was carefully structured to prevent the wrong ideas spread by heretics. Legend has it that each of the 12 apostles wrote a creed – a sentence of it. The apostle’s creed is accepted by most Christian churches. Another creed used by Christian churches today is the Nicene creed.
      It was created by Emperor Constantine when he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire. He met all the Christian leaders at Nicaea present day Turkey – 324 bc.
      The creed simply expands the basic beliefs in the Apostle’s creed. It was meant to address the heresy of Arius who taught that Jesus did not possess God’s nature but was only man.

      GOD THE FATHER
      The creed begins with ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth’. Some people are atheist – they don’t believe in God’s existence. But this is the cornerstone or starting point of most religious people – the place of a creator. People question how the world came to be, why we are here and what is the essence of life.
      Science provides some answers but the crucial questions demands religious response. The Apostle’s creed as well as the book of Genesis opines that heaven and earth were made by God. To Christians, God is the first cause and the reason behind our existence. He made and designed the universe. Both the Old and New Testament confirms it. God also sustains the universe and controls everything in it.
      He has some transcendental qualities like omnipotent – having power to do all things. He is omniscient knows all things. He is omnipresent meaning he is everywhere. People are curious. The want to know God’s nature and his character. What is God like? Is he far away, remote that we can never know? To Christians, God is identified as a father. Even Jesus taught his disciples to pray using the words ‘Our Father’. He notes that God cares about everything and us too.
      He is a loving father; kind and merciful, just and fair. Christians assume all these because he has revealed himself to us in different ways. Example through the world he created. Christians believe in His transcendence and immanence – existing in all parts of the universe. This is an indication that God cares for all part of His creation. God reveals himself through the scriptures. The OT and NT are filled with accounts of God interacting with mankind. Christians therefore regard the bible as God’s word and they study it for guidance in their day to day life.
      Most importantly, Christians believe that God revealed himself to us through his son.

      SON.
      The belief that Jesus is the messiah cuts across the New Testament. He is seen as the fulfillment of the laws and the prophets. The Apostle’s creed refers to him as God’s only son. In the Nicene creed they went further by saying that he was ‘eternally begotten of the father, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father’. Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God’s incarnate. God was in him in a unique way. He became flesh and blood – the doctrine of incarnation.
      This doctrine means that the theological immanence of God now has a new dimension. The word ‘Lord’ is the key word in the Christians creed. It has a relevance on the Christian lives as well. To Christians, he is lord because he is the perfect example to follow. The creed starts with his birth – conceived by the Holy Spirit not through sexual intercourse. Was born of a virgin named Mary.
      To some Christians, Mary is an important figure while some believe that Virgin’s birth is something that cannot be taken literally.
      The creed also focuses on the end of Jesus’ life. Judged by the Roman governor and ordered his crucifixion. His crucifixion, death and burial are important part of the creed.
      A heresy at that time noted since Jesus was divine, he could not die on the cross.
      Some suggested that Simon of Cyrene who assisted him was crucified in his place. But to Christians, his crucifixion is real. He died so that our sins maybe forgiven. The New Testament teaches that his death was part of God’s plan for reconciling the world to himself. So Jesus had to take the punishment for all mankind so that God and humanity could be one. This is referred to as the Atonement.
      The creed has it that he descended to the dead. This arose on account of the idea that the earth was flat, heaven above and the dead had a place below. This place was referred to as ‘Sheol’ by the Jews and ‘Hades’ by the Greeks. His resurrection is central to the Christian message. It is an evidence that he is the promised messiah and that there is life after death. Christians celebrate his resurrection at Easter. He is also celebrated every Sunday at the Eucharist.
      The third day was a Sunday and his followers began meeting each Sunday while attending the Jewish Sabbath (in the synagogue) on Saturday. This later became a way of identifying Christians. He resurrected not as a ghost but as a person. His apostles ate and drank with him. The New Testament bore enough witness to this. Forty days after, he ascended into heaven. The Acts of the Apostles described his ascension in details. It took place on the Mount of Olive. Christians visit this place which is outside Jerusalem.
      The Apostle’s creed believes that he is with God and is seated at his right hand.
      They believe that he will come again to judge the living and the dead – the eschatology (the study of the last things). The word apocalyptic meaning uncover, reveal implies when God will break into history and bring the world to an end. Christ’s returning is tagged the PAROUSIA – the appearing. This will bring judgment to all. There will be no room to choose to believe.

      HOLY SPIRIT
      According to the Acts, Jesus promised his apostles that they will receive power of the spirit. The word, power means ‘dunamis’. The promises came to pass in Acts chapter 2. The spirit descended on them on the Pentecost day. It had an incredible impact that transformed their lives. That day was regarded as the birth of the Christian church.
      They also believe that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the world. In John’s gospel, it was regarded as the paraclete a Greek word for comforter. As such it gives them faith, guidance, hope, understanding and spiritual strength to follow Jesus’ teaching. Christians believe that it has been at work in the world.
      The holy spirit is depicted as a dove – a symbol of peace. The Apostle’s creed refers to it as the same spirit which was hovering over the waters at the creation. It was also the same spirit which spoke the word of God through the prophets.
      The Nicene creed notes that it proceeds from the Father and the Son. Some Christians didn’t buy the idea that it came from the son because it made it less important than the first two persons of the trinity. This actually resulted in the split between Christians in the West and East (Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians). The next part of the creed points out to the working of the Holy Spirit through the church. This entails the entire Catholic Church. The word catholic comes from the Greek word ‘Katholikos’ meaning universal.

SALVATION AND RESURRECTION
      BEHAVIORAL OBJECTIVES: by the end of this lesson, students should be able to
      Identify the concept of salvation in the creed.
      Explain the concept of salvation.
      Pin point the origin of Christian concept of salvation
      Describe the resurrection of Jesus
      State two people he appeared to

      SALVATION AND RESURRECTION
      The Nicene creed has it thus… “Jesus Christ…who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven.” The healing of a broken relationship between people and God which restores new life and peace is regarded as salvation. It happens when we repent from our sins and follow Jesus. This means being saved.
      Christian believe that Jesus saved us from sin. It can be referred to as redemption. Sometimes, Jesus is referred to as the Redeemer. This ideas comes from the concept of paying price for a slave freedom. The idea is that Jesus paid for our sins with his blood – redeemed us. It can be likened to a court session where justice had to be done. Jesus accepted the penalty which was due for our punishment even though he was innocent. He exchanged his life for us – atoned for our wrong doing.
      His blood literally washed away our sin. This statement was held by Christians who try to describe his crucifixion as a sacrifice of life – blood, an offering made to appease God for the sins of the world. This idea makes God look harsh but Christians believe that he was providing a solution to the problem of sin simple because he loves us. Christian borrowed this idea of salvation and redemption from the Jewish culture. The concept of atonement was linked with the Jews day of Atonement – Yom Kippur. It comes up on the tenth day after the New Year. It is a day of fasting. On that day a scapegoat is driven into the wilderness symbolically carrying away the sins of all the people. On that day the people and God are united – they are reconciled to Him.
      To Christians, this idea points to the fact that Jesus’ death was an atonement for the sins of the world.


      RESURRECTION
      It was the event that defines Christian celebration and religious life. It took place on the day after the Sabbath. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome went to anoint Jesus’ body which was the normal Jewish custom.  The stone was rolled away and the body was nowhere to be found. A young man informed them there to go and tell Peter and the apostles that Jesus has gone to Galilee ahead of them. They ran from the tomb in distress. It was also noted that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, two disciples on their way to Emmaus and the eleven while they were eating.
      He reprimanded them for their faithlessness and fear. Ordered them to go and preach the gospel, casting out demons and performing miracles in his name. He was taken up to heaven.

THE TEN COMMANDMENT
      BEHAVIOURAL OBEJCTIVES: by the end of the lesson, students should be able to
      Write out the ten commandments
      Describe the ten commandment in details
      I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

THE TEN COMMANDMENT
      You shall not make yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
      You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
      Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
      Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
      You shall not murder.
      You shall not commit adultery.
      You shall not steal.
      You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
      You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

EXPLANATION
      The commandments are over 3000 old. In its original version, it was written on stone and was kept in the Ark of the Covenant which accompanied the Hebrew tribes all through their journey in the desert. The miraculously escaped from Egypt and when they got into the wilderness, they had a covenant with God which was done through their leader Moses on Mount Sinai.
      The first five books of their scripture contains the Torah – the law which was given to Moses and which they all promised to keep. It is also regarded as the Decalogue. Its first four rules underscores their relationship or behavior with God. The last six focuses on their relationship with their fellow men. The Jews abide by these laws.  Christians respect them as well but also subscribe to the commandments in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

THE BIBLE
BEHAVIOURAL OBJECTIVES: By the end of the lesson, students should be able to
      Identify the books of the old and new testaments and its divisions as well.

THE BIBLE
      All most all religions in the world have a book or several books they consider sacred. Their major tenets can be found in such a book. The Jews regard it as the Torah and the Tenakh.
      The Muslims, Qur’an
      The Christians, Bible
      The Jews have it that the first five books of their scriptures – the Torah were given to Moses by God. They are also revealed scriptures as well. They are written on special scrolls called Sefer Torah and accorded great respect when carried around the synagogue or read from.
      The Muslims believe that the Qur’an contains the teachings Prophet Muhammad received from angel Jubril. They believe that the Qur’an on earth is the replica of the one in Paradise with Allah. And He instructed Jubril to dictate it to Muhammad. As such, it was revealed to the prophet. It is therefore a revealed scripture – coming directly from Allah and contains his words.
      The Christians believe their bible is also a revealed scripture and its word, true. Bible is from a Greek word ‘Biblia’ meaning ‘books.’ It has 2 major sections. Testamentum is a Latin word meaning ‘covenant’. The Old Testament was not regarded as such till after the time of Jesus. It was believed that he made a new covenant replacing the old one made with the Jews.
      THE OLD TESTAMENT
      It has the same book as the Jewish Tenakh. The first five books which describes the Jew’s history and their relationship with God. It also contains the laws God wanted them to follow, the covenant and promises existing between both parties. Other books in the OT contains various literatures like the laws, prophecy, poetry, liturgy and history. The Psalm contains two forms of writing like the poetry and some form of worship. It contains some form of liturgy.
      Originally, these books were written in Hebrew except Ezra and Daniel which was in Aramaic. Jesus would have learnt Hebrew because it was used to read in the synagogue.
      Aramaic which was a bit similar to Hebrew came up during the time of Jesus and ended up replacing Hebrew Language.
      The OT was translated into Greek language and it was regarded as the Septuagint. It is culled from a Latin word septuaginta meaning 70. Legend has it that the high priest at that time chose 70 translators to make a Greek version of it. This version has extra 15 books which is not in the Hebrew canon.
      The word ‘canon’ is culled from the Greek word ‘Kanwn’ meaning a rule or measuring rod. Its use simply means that books of the canon are genuine. The 15 books are regarded as Apocrypha, culled from a Latin word meaning ‘hidden’.
      It is called so because people are yet to agree that they are part of the scriptures or not. Some Christians believe that these hidden books are God’s word like the other part of the bible while other don’t think so. Some of these books can be found in the Roman Catholic bible. Some of them can be found in the some protestant bibles too.
      These books were claimed to have been written about 200BCE to 100 CE. The order and arrangement of books in the OT was not finalized until the 16th century. We should bear in mind that Jesus was a Jew as well as his followers. So the OT is still a core part of the bible. The OT emphasized God’s relationship with his people. His prophets mentioned about the coming of the Messiah who will bring peace to earth like Prophet Isaiah. He noted further that the messiah will suffer for the people’s sins.
      Christians regard the messiah as Jesus.

THE NEW TESTAMENT
      BEHAVIOURAL OBJECTIVES: by the end of this lesson, students should be able to
      Describe or dissect the NT.
      List its books as well. 
      Describe the gospels – their differences and similarities.
NOTE
      This section of the bible contains the writings of the early Christians. A good number of the books here were written long after the event which they described took place. Till date, scholars still argue about their dates (when they were first written). For years, they were transmitted orally (the oral tradition).
      It was not until many years later that they were put together in a book form just as we have them today. The canon of the NT was finally agreed by the church as at 367CE. Many gospels and epistles were removed because its genuineness could not be ascertained. They are the NT’s Apocrypha.

      THE FOUR GOSPELS
      Gospel simply means good news. It is culled from an old English word ‘godspel’ and the Greek word ‘euanggelion.’
      The four gospels were written in Greek. However the sources used by the writers were Aramaic which contained most of Jesus’ sayings. They present to us 4 basic account of Jesus’ life and teaching. Matthew and Luke touched his biography a little. The rest started with a later part of his life. They gave us an account of Jesus after he was 30. Little or nothing is known before then.
      Gospel simply means good news. It is culled from an old English word ‘godspel’ and the Greek word ‘euanggelion’. The four gospels were written in Greek. However the sources used by the writers were Aramaic which contained most of Jesus’ sayings. They present to us 4 basic account of Jesus’ life and teaching. Matthew and Luke touched his biography a little. The rest started with a later part of his life. They gave us an account of Jesus after he was 30. Little or nothing is known before then.
      Matthew, Mark and Luke were regarded as the synoptic gospels because their account were similar to each other while that of John was a bit different. It had a theological perspective about Jesus’ life and ministry. It is said that the gospels were probably written within a hundred years of Jesus’ death. Before then, it was in oral form. This may be the reason why we have slight variations in narration from one gospel to another. Irrespective of these minor details, Jesus’ message as they wrote them are still the same.

      THE FOUR GOSPELS/THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEMS
      Previously, scholars had it that Matthew’s gospel was the first, Mark was a shorter form of Matthew’s while Luke’s came last relying on the first two for information. Presently after a much careful examination it is believed that Mark was the earliest and that Matthew and Luke had a reliable source called Q.
      Q is culled from a German word Quelle meaning ‘source’. Q was regarded as the collection of sayings attributed to Jesus written in Greek. However they are snippets of Jesus’ words in the bible which are still in Aramaic like when he raised the little girl from the dead saying, ‘Talitha koum’ meaning ‘little girl arise’.
      Another instance was on the cross when he said ‘Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?’ meaning ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

      ACTS OF THE APOSTLES TO REVELATION
      The Acts follows up from the gospels. It describes the later end of Jesus’ life as well growth of the early church. It is seen as a continuation of Luke’s gospel. It shows the problems encountered by the early church after Jesus’ ascension, the persecution and arguments that came up. The epistles or letters are the largest collections in the New Testament.
      They were written by members of the early church. They are firsthand information about the early Christian church. Tradition has it that 14 letters have been written by Paul. But scholars believe they are different authors to the epistles. 2 written by Peter, three by John. Some epistles mention to whom they were written while others state who wrote them example Letter of Saint James and John.
      Basically these writers the early church leaders. Their letters was addressed to the church communities to support and guide them as well. The epistle provided Christians with a way of life which was patterned after Jesus’ teaching. The Revelation is its last book written by John. It is till date one of the most difficult books in the bible to understand. The book was addressed to the ‘seven churches’ in Asian province. It is said that the author is different from the writer of John’s gospel as well as the Epistles of John. It basically contains a vision of an early Christian who gives an idea/impression of what the future Christian church will be.
      It also describes the Day of Judgment which will happen both on earth and in heaven. For centuries priests and biblical scholars have tried to understand the book as well as explain it. It shows the struggle between good and evil; the triumphing of evil temporarily and the eventual triumph of God’s followers. Its mystery has been the subject of artists, writers, movie makers as well.









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