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GCSE RE Quiz

Christianity - Christians in Society

This GCSE RE Christianity quiz tests you on Christians in society. Being a Christian is not just a matter of personal choice or conviction: God working in and through one's life should be visible to others, so that one becomes 'instrumental' in the working-out of His purposes for the world (so believers believe). Jesus Himself spoke on a number of occasions about believers being like ‘salt’ ~ bringing flavour to life around them ~ and like a shining light (that image again: here, most probably denoting energy, clarity, direction and companionship). A Christian without those quietly assured, leading qualities ~ in appropriate circumstances ~ would invite the disappointment of missed opportunities to have changed matters for the better.

There can be no simple universal rulebook for how all Christians should live-out their faith, since the circumstances, and their own talents and opportunities, are bound to be so varied.

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Of course there are general principles such as generosity, truthfulness and indeed prayerfulness; but as Paul writes, ‘Not all are called to be teachers or prophets … ‘; there are, for instance, vital roles in ‘backstage logistics’ as well as for powerful upfront speakers or missionaries.

God may have plans for an individual that the person themself cannot comprehend: there are plenty of examples of that in the Bible (Moses complaining that he was ‘slow of speech’ when commissioned to face-down Egypt’s Pharaoh; the windy Gideon when we first discover him; Jonah, who booked a voyage in the opposite direction when God wanted him to go to Nineveh).

There is meanwhile the tale ~ purportedly true ~ of a young brown-eyed British girl whose best childhood friends were blue-eyed blondes; she prayed she could somehow become like them to fit in better. By early adulthood she had trained as a nurse and was posted somewhere in the Third World, where worried local mothers and other ‘natives’ came preferentially to her with their problems, rather than speak with her colleagues; and one of them one day confided that their prime reason for doing this was that she saw their world through brown eyes like their own, and that this made all the difference.

Now to our quiz on Christians in Society!

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  1. While the reigning British Monarch is, by definition, also the Head of the Church of England (since the days of Henry VIII some 500 years ago), the interplay between public/political and religious life in this country is subtle and complex. Many MPs of any party may be doing that job ~ at least partly ~ on the basis of a deep Christian conviction towards public service and bettering the lives of others. But there are also a number of guaranteed seats in the House of Lords for Bishops in the Church of England: how many?
    Look up 'Lords Spiritual' for further information on this!
  2. Some Christians stand very firmly on their principles (e.g. Catholics against contraception and abortion; Jehovah's Witnesses against blood transfusions) while others adopt a broader, perhaps more sympathetic approach on such categorical issues of medical ethics and personal integrity. At time of writing (early 2016) a case is in the news again concerning a bakery in Ireland whose staff, on Christian principle, refused to do ... what?
    The bakery staff in question 'drew the line' at being asked to exercise their professional skills in honour of an event that they didn't accept or believe in. There has been at least one parallel case of a Registrar (official recorder of births, marriages and deaths) in the USA, who refused ~ on similar grounds of personal, faith-led conviction and conscience ~ to endorse a same-sex wedding rather than traditional heterosexual (man + woman) ones.
  3. An 'average new Christian' might be interested to discover in how many walks of life other people share their beliefs, such as the 'caring professions' (education, medicine, social work etc). Depending perhaps on the newcomer's own background, if they learnt of the existence of an Armed Forces Christian Union (Officers' Christian Fellowship in the US, based in the unlikely-sounding White Sulfur Springs), would you expect them primarily to be ... ?
    After the initial surprise at the notion of practising Christians in a field that prepares to deal in killing, they might be somewhat gladdened to know that some inherently peaceful people are there too. The armed forces are certainly not exclusively in the business of killing or even damage, though that can be a part of their duty in whatever is determined to be a sadly necessary cause. You may wish to explore this apparent 'spiritual minefield' from a safe distance, or maybe you happen to know someone in such a situation. Don't forget that units in the Crown Forces have their own chaplains ~ to help deal with the inevitable and extreme stresses, and personal separations, to which their personnel are liable.
  4. It is all very well Christians meeting in churches and housegroups, and doing their good deeds quietly; but there is a tradition of public open-air performances ~ often towards Easter, at the 'right time' of the liturgical year ~ in which the events of Holy Week are re-enacted, as a witness and reminder to other people who might never otherwise enter a church (except, perhaps, for occasional weddings &/or funerals).

    What is the usual title for such a performance?
    Most of these answers contain valid or relevant elements, but Passion Plays (as, in particular, at Oberammergau in Bavaria since 1634) are the usual generic title: not because all the performers are passionate about them ~ while many may be, often others find themselves drawn in on the project out of a technical, rather than a spiritual, interest ~ but because 'Passion' in its original sense means 'suffering', i.e. in this case the sufferings of Jesus. There is now an international organisation to spread expertise in the staging of Passion Plays, advising on technical issues from the health and safety aspects of major events in public spaces, to selection of script materials, the use of music and/or sound systems, where and how to source genuine specialist costumes and properties etc.
  5. Whatever your experience as a road user (pedestrian, cyclist, passenger, driver [?]), you may privately think of our public highways as being more an arena for selfish competition ('survival of the fastest'?) rather than Christian witness, either through driving behaviour or any other form of display. Yet the car ahead of you may be driven by a practising Christian, and you might be able to tell so ~ not from their considerate mode of driving, necessarily, but by the presence of a 'fish' symbol on the back of their vehicle: this denotes Christian links, to anyone else in the know.
    Which of the following is the LEAST convincing or relevant reason for the fish symbol?
    We doubt many Christian motorists would wish to take the wheel in the 'spirit of Jonah'! Answer 1 is the primary explanation; Answers 2 & 4 are probably only of marginal relevance in this context. The public highway is hardly a practical mission-field, although no doubt it witnesses its occasional share of selflessness and compassion (remember the parable of the Good Samaritan)!
  6. Since what year have Street Pastors been active in communities across the world?
    Les Isaac, whom your writer has been privileged to meet, began this movement in 2003 under the auspices of the Ascension Trust. You can readily learn more about them via Google.
  7. You may be aware of the (sometimes controversial) existence of Church Schools and Voluntary-Aided Schools, chiefly in the English primary sector, and how some non-'religious' families do all they can ~ such as moving house ~ in the hope of securing places in such schools for their children, because they recognise and hanker for that 'extra something' in the education there (even though they don't, themselves, commit to the underlying beliefs).

    What should probably be the single most important attitude of Christians within such schools, to this appproach?
    Honest Christian parents ~ however much they may feel tempted to play the bewildered 'victim of the system' ~ should be disciplining themselves to consider the longterm positives. As St Paul wrote in that oft-quoted passage to the early church at Corinth, 'now we see as though through a dim mirror' ... but in the fulness of time we may hope to see God's glorious purposes coming to fruition.
  8. While conventional 'church attendance' may be continually declining, church buildings (and halls) are often made available for events in support of charities which aren't, necessarily, themselves overtly Christian: the international humanitarian organisation Oxfam, for instance, was first founded at a meeting in an 'upper room' in the tower of Oxford's University Church shortly after the Second World War.

    The following organisations are also known, to your writer, to hold meetings on church premises ... with one fairly conspicuous exception: which ONE?
    There is no such organisation by this name; and if there were, some churches might well draw the line at hosting a wellbeing programme based on so remote a belief system from Christian teachings. There have been occasional cases of vicars banning such gatherings and then being criticised for being exclusive and uncharitable. Even vicars are human beings ... !
  9. Active Christians who pass retirement age might choose to put their time and energies into helping the interests of less fortunate people, perhaps as volunteers in various organisations. Three of the following are active examples currently known to your writer; which one seems UNLIKELY to fit the pattern?
    Of course, what's to blame in answer 3? (Apart from the chancing of money on almost-random outcomes, and the various temptations to overdrink, lose control and disgrace oneself.) On the other hand, there may well be those who believe their calling is to offer a Christian witness and perspective in such public arenas where people go to enjoy themselves within their 'culturally comfortable corner'.
  10. At time of writing, we are about to embark on Lent (the 'penitential' season of 40 days and nights running towards Holy Week and Easter; a time when many Christians traditionally 'deny themselves something' or 'give something up'). But you may be surprised that some of the best-established British chocolatier firms were founded by Quakers, who wanted to set up in industry, while making a product that wasn't sinful or indulgent or otherwise morally suspect ~ such as tobacco or alcohol would be. Chocolate, as put-aside now by some Christians for Lent, was perfectly acceptable to these founders. Which of these was NOT a practising Quaker that founded a chocolate company?
    The original Terry (in what used to be Terry's, as in Chocolate Oranges and various other products) wasn't Charles, nor was he a Quaker; but he did come to the trade by way of being an 'apothecary' (more or less the equivalent of a modern chemist), since chocolate was believed to have positive health benefits.

Author: Ian Miles

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