2 The Historical JesusChristianity is the most widespread religion and has the largest number of followers.There are three major divisions in Christianity:Roman CatholicismEastern OrthodoxyProtestantismChristianity centers on the life of Jesus of Nazareth
3 “The spirit of the Lord is upon me.” JesusCharismatic wonder-workerMediated between the everyday world and the Spirit worldDrew upon the Spirit world to alleviate suffering and seek a new social order“The spirit of the Lord is upon me.”The spiritual order dominated the biblical tradition in which Jesus stoodIt included angels and other invisible beings, but it centered in YahwehThe two were no spatially separateYahweh spoke through prophetsFasting and solitude were important in communications
4 “By the Spirit of God I cast out demons” The most important fact for the understanding of Jesus’ historical career is that he stood squarely in the tradition of these Spirit-filled mediators.John the Baptist baptized Jesus, causing the heavens to open and the Spirit of the Lord to descend and declare the Lord’s pleasure with JesusJesus then went into the wilderness for 40 daysWhen he returned from the wilderness, he was empowered“By the Spirit of God I cast out demons”Jesus accepted without question the supremacy of Spirit over natureHealed diseasesCast out demonsQuelled stormsParted watersBrought the dead back to life
5 “Thy kingdom come, on earth” Jesus used this spiritual power to heal humanity, beginning with the Jews“Thy kingdom come, on earth”The Jews were in desperate situations. Four sects of Jews developed from this desperation:Sadducees – made the best of a bad situation. Accommodated themselves to Hellenistic culture and Roman rule.The other three hoped for changeEssenes believed the world was too corrupt to allow for faith’s reflowering, so they withdrew into property-sharing communes and devoted themselves to pietyPharisees remained within society and sought to revitalize Judaism through adhering strictly to the Mosaic law, especially its holiness codeThe fourth group were rebels who sought change through armed rebellion It was their revolt in 70 ce that brought the second destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
6 Jesus introduced a fifth option for the Jews He wanted changed where the Sadducees did notHe stayed in the world while the Essenes left itHe promoted peace where the rebels wanted warHe taught Yahweh’s compassion where the Pharisees taught his holinessThe Pharisees thought since Yahweh was holy, He wanted the world to be holy too. He chose the Jews to make the world holy.Jesus disagreed with the Pharisees because of the social lines/classes that were created by it.Pharisaic belief createdThe clean and uncleanThe pure and the defiledThe sacred and the profaneJew and GentileReligious and SinnerJesus saw the social barriers as an affront to the compassion of Yahweh.
7 The Christ of Faith “He went about doing good” He performed miracles but did not emphasize themHe performed them quietly, apart from the crowdHe used them as demonstrations of faith, not powerJesus was comfortable amongOrdinary peopleSocial misfitsJesusHealed themCounseled themJesus’ disciples and followers thought that if divine goodness were to manifest itself in human form, this is how it would behave
8 “Never spoke man thus” It was what Jesus said All of his teachings have counterparts in the Old Testament or TalmudAll together, they are vivid, urgent, and appear newReally, Jesus didn’t say much, but it was HOW he said it…Love your neighbor as yourselfWhat you would like people to do to you, do to themCome unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you restYou shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free
9 Jesus told stories too that amazed those who listened… Stories ofBuried treasureSowersPerl merchantsA good SamaritanHe advised people the opposite of what human nature tended to leanDon’t fight, turn the other cheekLove your enemies and bless those who curse youThe sun rises on the just and the unjustOutcasts and harlots will enter the kingdom of God before the fake righteousThe way to salvation is narrowHappy people are meek, they cry and are merciful and pure in heart
10 The only way to make sense of what Jesus said is to realize He saw God as one who loves human beings absolutelyHe saw God as one who doesn’t look at what someone was worthThink about this…Why should we give someone our cloak and our coat?Because God has ministered far more to our needsWhy should we go that extra mile for others?Because we know God has stayed with us for a lot longerWhy should love our friends AND our enemies?Because God’s sun shines on both
11 “We have seen his glory” Jesus didn’t just teach these things, he LIVED themHis entire life was one ofHumilitySelf-givingLove that was unselfishHe didn’t care what people thought of him, he cared about what people thought of GodHe loved people and they love himLoved childrenJesus didn’t like anything that stood in the way or mislead people about God’s compassion and love for people. Jesus hatedInjusticeHypocrisyHis disciples and the people said, “We have seen his glory, full of grace and truth
12 The End & the Beginning What happened after the crucifixion? Jesus’ close associates reported that he appeared to them in a new wayCorporeality – eating, and Thomas’s touching the wound in his sideVisionary – seeing him pass through closed doorsJesus seems to have resumed his former body, but it was a resurrection, not a resuscitationChristology is a result of the faith in Jesus’ resurrection
13 ChristologyExtended the status of goodness in the universe because it was omnipotentResurrection reversed the cosmic position in which the cross has placed Jesus’ goodness.The love of Jesus was not fragile, it was victorious over everything – including death
14 The Good NewsChristians became one of the most dynamic groups in human historyThey exploded across the Greco-Roman worldPreaching the Gospel – translated Good NewsBegan in an upper room in JerusalemIn their own generation Christianity had taken root in every major city of their regionBecause of persecution Christian used the symbol of the fish to identify each other.When they drew it, it’s head pointed toward the place where they would secretly meetBecause the Greek letters for fish were also the first letters of the phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”
15 Those hearing the Good News were impressed by what they saw and what they heard They saw transformed livesThey saw people who had changed overnight by finding the secret of livingNew Christians seemed to have two qualities that impacted those around themMutual regard for others “see how these Christians love on anotherTotal absence of social distance they really did regard one another as equalsJoy – Christians possessed an inner peace that surfaced in happiness even though they were persecuted
16 What produced their joy and love? Three intolerable burdens had been lifted from the Christians shouldersFear – including fear of deathGuiltSelf-centerednessWhat freed them from these things?LoveHuman love comes from being bombarded by finite human loveEarly Christians had felt love in infinite proportions flowing from Jesus – God’s loveIf we felt ourselves loved vividly and personally by one who unites all power and perfection that would also reduce our fears, guilt and self-centeredness to zero.
17 A new love was born – Christian love New Christians had felt Jesus’ love and believed he was God incarnate so they had felt God’s love.A new love was born – Christian loveConventional love is evoked by lovable qualitiesChristian love embraced sinners, outcasts, Samaritans, and enemiesGood example is I Corinthians 13
18 The Mystical Body of Christ Christians never felt alone, they believed that Jesus was in their midst as a concrete, energizing power“I am the vine, you are the branches”The Holy Spirit was the life-blood flowing through the vineTalents of each Christian were different, but they all had the same life-giving substance – the Holy SpiritThe Church is the Mystical Body of ChristChrist dropped the human body and exchanged it for a new physical body – the churchChrist’s mission continued through the church
19 The development of the church literally incorporated people into Christ’s person – the church Christians varied then and still vary now in their connection with ChristHoly Spirit might be flowing fully through themThey may be a bit sluggishThey could be apostate – paralyzed in their connectionThe church and the Holy Spirit bound Christians together and put them in the closest conceivable relation to Christ himself.
20 Christians came to see the church as having a double aspect The Invisible Church – Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling in people and giving them grace and loveThe Visible Church – it fell short of perfection and needed to be criticized because it was full of fallible human beings.Christians differ on the possibilities of salvationLiberals think salvation is possible outside the Body of ChristFundamentalists think it is notA lot of Christians are in between.
21 The Mind of the ChurchThe reason the disciples were first drawn to Jesus was that they were living in the presence of someone in whom love, joy, and power intersected in a way they believed was divineWhat is theology?Religion always includes an ethicEthics springs from a vision of reality that sets it in motionThe vision is born of experienceReligious experience is invisible so it gives rise to symbols as the mind tries to think about the invisible realities
22 So…we can define theology as the systematization of thoughts about the symbols that religious experience gives rise toChristian Creeds are the bedrock of Christian theology for being the earliest attempts by Christians to understand systematically the events that had transformed their lives
23 Three doctrines that are the Christian Creeds Doctrine of the Incarnation claims something about both God and JesusJesus – by identifying Jesus with God, they said his life provides the perfect model for usMaking Jesus God and man wasn’t as foreign to the people in that day as it is today, Emperors often claimed to be divine.Jesus’ impact laid in the kind of God he disclosed – a God who was willing to assume the limitations of human lifeConcerned about humanityConcerned enough to suffer in its behalfThese two concerns caused red flags in the eyes of the Jews and the Romans. These worried them as did the Christians’ radically egalitarian social viewsChristians were persecuted, but developed many ways to avoid persecution if possible.
24 Christians didn’t emphasize Jesus’ divinity, their Creeds took it as their first task to insure his humanityThe first Creed that Christians used to prove Christ’s humanity was the Apostles CreedI believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and EarthI believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our LordWho was conceived by the Virgin MarySuffered under Pontius PilateWas crucified, dead and buriedThe third day he arose from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the deadI believe in the universal Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and live everlasting.Amen
25 The Church felt it needed to retain Christ’s humanity. After acknowledging God, the Creed moves immediately to its overriding concern: that part of the God-man splice was human in every respectThe Church felt it needed to retain Christ’s humanity.Christ was a bridge between God and humanity and the bridge must touch both sides
26 The Doctrine of the Atonement Root meaning is reconciliationThe recovery of wholeness or at-one-mentChristians believed that Christ’s life and death had effected an unparalleled rapprochement between God and humanity.Two metaphors have dominated the Church’s understanding of this realignmentThe legalistic one assumes that disobedience – depicted by the eating of forbidden fruit in Eden – estranged humanity from GodThe sin was of infinite proportion for having been directed against an infinite GodOnly an infinite initiative could heal the damage doneChrist accomplished this through his vicarious death on the cross
27 The deeper meaning of the word is singular Sin is disconnectedness, or estrangement from GodThe heart’s misplacementA misalignment of its affectionsSelf-love pulls against our love for othersThe bondage that imprisons us is self-loveThe higher power to overcome/bridge the gap between God and humanity came in the form of ChristJesus is credited for the restoration of the bridge between God and humanity – At-one-ment!
28 The Doctrine of the Trinity While god is fully one, God is also threeThis is where Jews and Muslims often believe that Christians are not monotheisticChristians are monotheistic – water, steam, and ice are all H2O just in different fashionsChristians, most of which were Jewish, affirmed the deity of Yahweh easily enough.They say Jesus as Yahweh’s extension in the worldThen came PentecostWhile the disciples were together suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent windThe wind filled the entire house where they were stayingDivided tongues of fire appeared among themA tongue rested on each of themAll of them were filled with the Holy SpiritChristians viewed this as the arrival of a third party to the divine assembly – thus, the Trinity!
29 The Three Great Branches of Christianity 313 ce – the Church becomes a legally recognized religion in Rome380 ce – it becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire1054 ce – the Church divides into the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church16th Century ce – Roman Catholicism is further divides into Protestantism with the Protestant ReformationThe Three Great Branches areRoman CatholicEastern OrthodoxyProtestanism
30 Roman CatholicismRoman Catholic Church is the Teaching Authority and the Sacramental AgentTeaching AuthorityBegins with the concept that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to teach people how to live in this world so as to inherit eternal lifeThe Gospels alone don’t do everything here because they contain ambiguitiesBible Study, individually pursued, doesn’t resolve these ambiguities because people come up with different interpretations
31 AmbiguitiesIs divorce permissible?Was Christ born of a virgin?Did his body ascend after death?Is the fourth Gospel authentic?The Church stands as the Supreme Court on these issues. This leads to the doctrine of papal infallibilityThe earthly head of the Church is the PopeThe Popes are the successors to St. PeterThe doctrine of papal infallibility asserts that when the Pope speaks officially on matters of faith and morals God protects him from errorThe Pope is NOT endowed with extraordinary intelligenceHe does NOT know the answer to every conceivable questionCatholics do NOT have to accept the Pope’s view on politics
32 The Church as the Sacramental Agent It’s one thing to know what to do, but another thing to be able to do it.The Sacraments help Catholics know how to be able to DO what needs to be done.Since the 12th Century the Roman Catholics have had seven Sacraments:BaptismConfirmationHoly MatrimonyHoly OrdersSacrament of the SickReconciliationMass
33 Reconciliation is confession Mass is the Holy Eucharist or Communion The Catholic Church teaches that when the eucharist elements are consecrated, they become Christ’s body and blood.The Eucharist conveys grace to Catholics like a boat conveys its passengersThe other six sacraments (except Baptism – which delivers the soul into the supernatural order) convey grace like a letter conveys meaning.
34 Eastern OrthodoxyThe Eastern Orthodox Church broke officially with the roman Church in 1054 ce.They honor the same SacramentsShare the same intent regarding the Teaching AuthorityTwo differences ariseThe first of these is numericalThe Eastern Church sees fewer issues on which unanimity is called forOnly ones mentioned in scripture can qualifyOnly 7 times – in the Seven Ecumenical Councils, all before 787 – has there been need to interpret what scripture says about themThe Roman Catholic Church looks positively on subsequent pronouncements seeing them as development of doctrineThe Eastern Church sees these as additions which Christians may, but need not, endorse
35 The two churches also differ on how these additions are arrived at The Roman Catholics have the PopeThe Eastern Church has no Pope, they believe God’s truth is disclosed through “the conscience of the Church” a phrase that refers to Christian consensusThis Eastern view is very corporateAll Christians consider themselves to be “members of one another”The Eastern Church has taken this more seriouslyEach Christian is working, not to save his or her individual soul, but to attain salvation with and through the rest of the Church.“One can be damned alone but saved only with others.” – From RussiaNot only is the destiny of the individual bound up with the entire Church, individuals are responsible for helping to sanctify the worlds of nature and historyThe welfare of everything in creation is affected to some degree by what each individual contributes to or detracts from it.
36 The practical side of this… The Church dogmas reflect the consciences of Christians generally is one of these, and the principle holds in practical matters as wellThe laity in each congregation elect their own clergyIt is believed that divine guidance is thought to suffuse the entire Church in these choicesThe clergy is really on separated by being able to administer the SacramentsThey can marryEven the “head” of the Church, the Patriarch of Constantinople, is no more than the “first among equals”The laity is known as the ‘royal priesthood’
37 Christianity believes that reality contains two realms The naturalThe supernaturalFollowing death, human life moves to the supernatural domainRoman Catholicism holds that the Trinity dwells in every Christian soul, but its presence is not normally feltThe Eastern Church actively encourages its members to take the initiative toward the mystical life.
38 ProtestantismThe causes that led to the 16th Century break with Roman CatholicismPolitical economyNationalismRenaissance individualismConcern over ecclesiastical abusesJustification by faithProtestant Principle
39 Justification by Faith The two main reasons for the break were Justification by faith and the Protestant PrincipleJustification by FaithProtestant faith is not just a matter of beliefIt is a response of the entire selfMovement of the mind (believing in certain things)Movement of the heart (loving and trusting those things)Movement of the will (doing things that are prompted by that loveCreeds have their place, but unless the doctrines one professes reach one’s heart and change the way life feels, they are mere mouthingsRituals – prayer, churchgoing, etc – unless they awaken the actual experience of God’s love they are no good eitherWhere faith is genuine, people want to help others
40 Protestant Principle warns against idolatry Protestant definition of idolatry is giving one’s life first and foremost to something in the finite worldIdols cannot deliver on unlimited investments in themIn Biblical times idolatry involved golden calves and graven imagesToday, idolatry may be sex, success, oneself, an ideology, an ethnic group, or even one’s nationalityThe chief Protestant idolatry has been bibliolatry – excessive adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible
41 Another instance of idolatry is the deification of private religious experience An example of this is when people think they are Christ or God or when they do unlawful things because they say God told them to do it.Holding the Bible in such high, infallible, esteem can also be a form of idolatryProtestants believe that the Bible is the most reliable way they can enter the divine life - by reading this record of God’s grace with total openness and divine intentThe dangers of misconstruing the Bible is the prospect that they will derive different truths from their encountersThe splintering of Protestantism into different denominations is proof of this hazardOverall, Protestants will take the risk of interpretation to keep the freedom of interpretation