Christianity - Key Teachings

This GCSE RE Christianity quiz takes a look at key teachings. Any faith worthy of that title will have various ‘codes’ of conduct, founded on the example/s &/or writings of earlier believers: some faiths have parallel traditions of scriptural and priestly teaching (such as the rabbinical sayings and precepts of Judaism). It would perhaps be surprising if, when meeting together for worship and spiritual succour, groups of believers did not evolve and cherish standard prayers and sayings to express the focus of their faith, reasonably concisely listing the essential stories and doctrines. These are usually known as Creeds (from the long-used Latin first word 'credo' = ‘I believe’; as distinct from anything that’s in-credible).

Across the panoply of Christianity, perhaps unsurprisingly there have been variants on the basic Creed, but we shall work our way through one of the standard respected versions and explore the nuts-and-bolts of Christian belief.

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Rather as with the Ten Commandments (a broadly equivalent hallowed text for both Jews and Christians), there are two phases: the Commandments deal first with our duty to love and honour God, and then with our dealings with our fellow people; the Creeds also start out from what we believe about God (in His three Persons, and how these interconnect), and later come a number of other key doctrines which, though clearly important, are not all quite so primarily or directly about God Himself.

Not every Church nor congregation will recite such a creed word-for-word on every occasion, but towards the beginning or centre of an act of corporate worship (e.g. a communion service) it is a splendidly suitable way of uniting and focusing a group of believers around the deep values they share.

So: what are these key, distinctive beliefs of Christianity? Here is your chance to work through the main points of the Creed and check you have a grasp of the essentials.

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  1. There are (perhaps unsurprisingly) some variations on the Christian Creed ~ principally the Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed ~ but they each start with an affirmation that 'I / we believe in God the Father Almighty ...
    ... and then what?
    God is acknowledged first and foremost as Creator. The differing versions offer more or less detail on the scope of this.
  2. The Creeds then turn to the other Persons of the Trinity, consisting of:
    Answers 2 & 3 only contain one other 'Person' (i.e. Jesus); the Church is mentioned in the Nicene Creed, but is not a part of the Trinity as such. The Trinity consists of God the Father/Creator; Jesus (His Son); and the Holy Spirit ~ 'three in one, and one in three' as a great hymn for Trinity Sunday puts it.
  3. As mentioned in chronological order in each of the Creeds, one of the following is out of its proper sequence: which one?
    The Ascension took place AFTER the Resurrection. If you gave Answer 4 as misplaced, fair enough; but No.3 would have been the first you came to that was out of order.
  4. The Nicene Creed enlarges much more on the nature of the Holy Spirit than does the Apostolic Creed. Which of the following is NOT claimed about the Holy Spirit in the Nicene Creed?
    Unsurprisingly perhaps, this clearly Apostolic aspect of the Spirit is not catalogued as such within the 'other' version of the Creed ~ but the Apostolic version itself finds no need to refer back to it either!
  5. After the recital of the key doctrines about the Trinity, each of the Creeds lists a short but important number of other key Christian tenets. ONE of the following is NOT mentioned in BOTH of the creeds: which item?
    Though the Nicene Creed is used by the Catholic Church (which itself has plenty of saints, and continues to formally declare new ones), it does not mention the saints ~ as the Apostolic Creed positively does.
  6. The Nicene Creed makes at least one more specific and explicit link between Persons of the Trinity, which the Apostolic version tends to take for granted rather than confirming in detail. Again, which of these does NOT feature in BOTH Creeds?
    The Apostolic Creed does not 'go this far', and there have indeed been major doctrinal disputes down the centuries on this point.
  7. Christians, like their founder Jesus who lived His earthly life as a Jew (i.e. as one of God's chosen people ~ in what Christians themselves would call Old-Testament terms), abide by the Ten Commandments. How closely can you pin-down the Ten Commandments?
    Except in the case of some of the Prophets, nobody in the Old Testament had much of an idea about Jesus as such (though Jews longed, and modern Jews still do, for a promised Messiah) ... so mention of the Trinity in answer 4 was clearly wrong (quite apart from putting ourselves before God, which itself runs contrary to the word and structure of the actual Commandments)! Under the correct reference from answer 1 you could fruitfully explore this for yourself.
  8. Most forms of Christian baptism include a form of words whereby the candidate (or their sponsors, if the candidate is too young to take this on in their own right) swear to avoid the 'works of the Devil' (or some such similar phrase). The problems of evil and temptation are clearly all around us in the world, but are these explicitly mentioned in the Creeds as such?
    'Sin' and 'hell' appear within the Creeds, but neither 'evil' nor 'temptation' is mentioned explicitly (as per the question) in either case.
    Maybe you were, yourself, momentarily beguiled by the perhaps-familiar text of the Lord's Prayer?
  9. Which of these is the LEAST accurate about, or within, the range of Christian views on matters concerning death and killing?
    This was the Old Testament view and practice, which Jesus came to condemn and supersede: its brutal tit-for-tat 'logic' has nothing in common with a Gospel of forgiveness and atonement. The allusion in answer 2 is to the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  10. Back in the Creeds: how many 'miscellaneous doctrinal beliefs' are common to the concluding sections of BOTH principal versions, after-&-beyond the somewhat more 'biographical' paragraphs about the roles and deeds of the Father and Son?
    We would probably get into trouble for calling them 'fingers' let alone 'pillars' of the Faith, but in concise form they are:
    Spirit; Church (apostolic/catholic [worldwide] / whatever); forgiveness of sins; resurrection; eternal life.
    The Apostolic Creed mentions saints while the Nicene mentions baptism; neither of these is cross-referenced explicitly in the other, which leaves us with the 5 core common concepts. Research and remember these, and you will be well on your way to appreciating the main buttresses of Christian belief.

Author: Ian Miles

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