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GCSE RE Quiz

Christianity - The Church

This GCSE RE quiz takes on 'The Church' ~ which, in its huge variety, is one of the most widespread institutions on the face of the earth. It effectively began on the first Whit Sunday (‘Pentecost’, as the Jews present then knew it) and was enthusiastically grown and spread around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, not least by the tireless missionary and correspondent St Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus).

Its creeds and scriptures were mostly debated and codified by believers over the following few centuries, and the catholic church was governed by a succession of popes in a tradition that reached back to Jesus’ commission to the disciple Peter (‘Peter’ itself being a nickname: he was originally called Simon, but Jesus referred to him as ‘the rock upon which I shall build my church’, even after Peter had shown himself to be an impulsive and fallible follower).

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Almost exactly 500 years ago as this is written (in the 'mid-20-teens'), the Reformation led to a split within the church, since the Protestants identified several traditions for which they could find no justification in Scripture, and which they therefore rejected in favour of a leaner, cleaner and more personal brand of faith. Many other new subdivisions and sects have since been set up, so that nowadays there are probably church communities to suit every sincere style of personality.

Amidst all this rich and fascinating history, it bears remembering that the original concept of 'ekklesia' denoted a community of like-minded souls, rather than the seemingly traditional physical premises in which they would gather (i.e. ‘church buildings’ as we know and perhaps cherish them).

Let's do our best to familiarise you with some key elements of 2,000-odd years of church history in just 10 questions!

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  1. Your 'starter': which of these is NOT an actual, or major, arm of the Christian Church?
    There is certainly such a thing as 'liberation theology' (the principle of faith confronting deprivation, such as poverty in Latin America), and a webtrawl will reveal such entities as 'liberation' / 'liberal' / 'liberated' churches ... but worthy though these may be, it does not seem appropriate to rank them with the three more established previous answers.
  2. If, a few years back, you ever prepared for '11+-style' Verbal Reasoning tests, you may have come across a type of question that says (for instance):

    'A library always has (windows, lamps, books, silence, tables).'

    The appropriate answer would have been 'books', since without these, it would hardly be worthy of the name; each of the other items is important, but less essentially characteristic.

    Now, bearing in mind how widely churches and their customs and traditions vary, which of the following would you have picked as the strongest distinctive common feature ~ if you had been set a similar question along the lines of 'A church has ...'?
    The worship itself may take many forms, but plenty of actual churches manage without the other suggestions on whatever basis. Not all churches follow the 'suburban Anglican' traditions which you may have assumed (by default) to apply to all.
  3. Let's have another go at the same essential question from a slightly different angle:
    'A church will always have (pick only ONE) ... '
    Not all churches have priests (let alone bishops), though usually there will be someone qualified (or perhaps at least 'anointed') in overall charge of planning and delivering the spiritual and pastoral programme.

    Answer 2: Not all churches struggle to raise funds to maintain and enhance their premises, and/or to support good works of charity etc. ... but far more of them do, than not.

    Answer 3: Sadly, small churches sometimes see the numbers in their faith-community dwindle to a point where continuing is no longer viable. In such a case their building may lie empty or be deconsecrated and used for other purposes, else even demolished. But it is possible for 'a church' (in the sense, probably, of distinctive purpose-built premises) to exist without anyone attending it.

    Answer 4: In the days of the 'underground churches' (meeting secretly under persecution by Communist authorities, for instance) there might not have been an actual complete copy of the Scriptures available. But in any other circumstances, what would be the value of a church without at least one Bible for public reading and encouragement?
  4. To the nearest reasonable margin, how long has it been since the Protestant Church devolved from Roman Catholicism in the Reformation?
    This quiz has been drafted just prior to Easter 2016, so we would hope that 'doers' of it in the later 20-teens might be keeping an active eye open for quincentennial events relating to the anniversary!
  5. What is the formal name for the movement which encourages unity and empathy between various branches of the Church, concentrating on what they celebrate in common, and urging tolerance of one another's more detailed differences?
    There is a delicate balance to be struck between sharing common spiritual ground (not least, Communion in its various guises) and respecting deeply-cherished individual traditions. Several British, and other, towns and communities have established 'Church[es] in X' organisations for mutual benefit, organising such schemes as street pastors, food banks, festivals, Passion Plays etc.; at international level, people of good faith are concerned to have warm and constructive dialogue with others between branches of the Christian Church and more widely (e.g. with Jews, Muslims and followers of other, non-monotheistic faiths).
  6. As Jesus Himself once famously assured His believers, 'Where two or three are gathered in my name, ... (?) ...
    On this occasion He was pointing out that even a small, temporary 'nucleus of faith' (as we might call it) does not require a large or elaborate building, nor complex rituals to match. Keen Christians would probably use this to define the essence of 'what a faith-community is'.
  7. Some people (not without reason) initially picture a church ~ any church, in general principle ~ as a calm, ordered place of sanctuary, where a troubled soul can draw apart from life's perplexities and seek fellowship and solace.

    Most parts of The Church (in its more general sense) meanwhile continue to grapple with major lifestyle and demographic concerns, seeking to discern how God is calling them to respond. Which of the following have been principal challenges as we move through the '20-teens'?
    The church has never existed in a moral vacuum (see various doctrinal issues raised &/or answered in Paul's letters, in the New Testament) ~ how could it, since its role is to care and to lead by wholesome example? We wonder whether some of the matters suggested in our list will be settled (ecumenically or otherwise) within your lifetime. Many would take as a principled starting-point the claim that 'God's laws are eternal', but how are we to articulate them in a well-post-Biblical world with the Internet, cars (and ambulances) which are also fossil-fuel-powered, and so much else?
  8. Who was once famously described by Jesus as 'the rock upon which I shall build my church'?
    As mentioned in our introduction, Peter was the quick-tempered fisher-disciple who usually meant well but sometimes let Jesus down (as on the occasion where he was the only one to run after Jesus when He had been arrested; yet when challenged three times while waiting overnight for an outcome, he pretended never to have met Him). 'Peter' was itself a nickname given to Simon: perhaps he was a somewhat hulking figure ('Rocky'!) in real life; the word 'Petros' comes across in such other words as 'petrified' ([as though] turned to stone) and 'petrol' ('rock-oil'). At any rate, faults and all, he became Jesus' choice; it was he who spoke up on the morning of Pentecost and was 'given the keys of the kingdom' ... hence the key-shaped 'square' in front of St Peter's church in the Vatican, the world headquarters of the Roman Catholic church.
  9. ONE of the following significant branches of the Church has been brought forward in the list below, from the point at which it split from its parent church (obviously it can't therefore be answer 4). Which one is too early in the sequence?
    Ecclesiology is an intricate matter, but you may well have spotted that the 'C of E' could hardly have produced anything more specific before there was Protestantism at all. By way of a reasonably clear and accessible starter, see Denominations
  10. Most branches of the Church ~ while perhaps differing over criteria and examples ~ would probably be proud to align themselves, in terms of the Creed indeed, alongside the tradition of the saints: men and women honoured for their unusually holy lives (and, in many cases, deaths). The story goes of a young child ~ probably a little too young for much detailed theology ~ who, when asked what a saint was, replied: 'A saint is someone the light shines through'. Even here there's a lovely parable ... which of the following would NOT be a suitable interpretation?
    Answer 3 seems abrasively cynical compared with these other interpretations!

Author: Ian Miles

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