Love as a spiritual concept is one of the major themes of Jesus’ teachings and the majority of other themes are connected to it. Jesus proclaims that God is Love which means that devotion to God is related to the state of all-embracing and unselfish love. Jesus teaches to love God and one’s neighbor as oneself, which also means having love for oneself as well since all people are parts of God. According to Paul’s scriptures, there is no doubt that “apart from love, all other gifts are devoid of purpose or value, no matter how spectacular they are” (Lopez, 2010, p. 143). Another related theme is of mercy and forgiveness which contradicts the old Hebrew principle of “an eye for an eye”. Instead of being revengeful, Jesus offers to love and forgive enemies because it is a significant step in a person’s spiritual development, while it is easy to treat one’s friends well. Finally, the theme of faith is also crucial as it reveals that everyone including Jesus is able to lose faith when facing troubles. However, this struggle helps feel invigorated and strengthens one’s faith as well.
What do you see as major reasons for the contemporary shifts in Christianity today? Discuss globalization, the papacy, liberation theology, Feminist theology, spirit-oriented movements.
As society evolves, Christianity tends to be flexible to meet the challenges and values of today’s world in order not to become outdated and old-fashioned. One of the influences is globalization which allowed to culturally exchange and to expand Christian faith to regions where other religions were traditionally practiced such as China or Africa. In this way, church has become transnational in many ways even though local divisions are present. The institution of papacy as a part of the Catholic Church is an instrument of influence on Christianity worldwide even though this influence is not exclusively progressive or conservative. On the one hand, it has become closer to people and accepted past mistakes, but on the other hand it is a realm of traditional values and canons in contrast to some Protestant churches. Thus, protestant churches have been influenced by the feminist movement much more, making it possible for women to take minister positions in many congregations. Moreover, the trend of allowing sexual minorities to become active participants in Protestant churches in Europe can be noticed.
What are the major contemporary conflicts in the Christian Church?
Owing to the fact that nowadays the values of liberty prevail over conservative tradition, some modern trends cause conflicts inside churches and between the church and community. One of the conflicts is related to the fact that believers are becoming more pragmatic and result-oriented rather than focused on spiritual values. The ideas of conformity and consumerism have touched the church since it has to fit to nowadays society instead of struggling for unchanged principles. Another conflict is the absence of unity within Christianity which caused its splitting into Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant branches. Finally, the spread of sects based on Christianity is another issue. The reason is that they often appear to be more proactive than official Church in gaining believers’ attention, and thus they can compromise Christianity’s reputation. As a consequence, it provokes discussions on whether the church has to become more contemporary in order to meet believers’ expectations and answer the major challenges of the epoch.
What is your understanding of synoptic gospels?
Traditionally, three synoptic Gospels are mentioned, namely the gospels of Mark, Luke and Mathew as they are almost identical in their content, in contrast to the Gospel of John. There is a theory of Q-source which stems from the speculation that three of them had one source from which the text was inherited. However, it is not the case with apocryphal gospels as well as the Gospel of John. There are several approaches to Q-source, focusing on various combinations and trying to understand which source (of the three or outside) was actually the primary one. Structurally, all three are similar and include the background information on Jesus’ life from baptism to resurrection. They also include the Sermon on the Mount which is one of the milestones of Christianity.
Briefly explain the Protestant Reformation and its development. Highlight the most important issues raised in this movement.
Protestant Reformation dates back to the sixteenth century when inconsistencies of the Roman Catholic Church became obvious and a reform was needed. Martin Luther was the one to start the movement, and he determined its core principles. The authority of the scriptures was announced to be higher than doctrines and canons of the church. Luther wrote in 1520, “the beginning of salvation is a faith which clings to the Word of promising God who, without any effort on people’s part, in free and unmerited mercy goes before them and offers a word of promise” (McGrath, 2006, p. 101). Secondly, faith was declared to be sufficient to get salvation from God, and, finally, the role of a priest was decreased as it was stated that a believer can establish a connection with God on their own. The reformative mood was not easily welcome and led to decades of feuds based on religious conflicts. In the end, the unity of the Church was broken and the influence of the Catholic Church was significantly limited. The reformation was complete only in the middle of the eighteenth century and is believed to account for economic success of certain nations as it rooted new values such as hard labor rather than constant prayer.
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