Comparison and Contrast of Images: Christianity and Redemption (Photo Essay Book 14)

JESUS CHRIST AND THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
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God loves, and his love may certainly be called eros , yet it is also totally agape. The Prophets, particularly Hosea and Ezekiel, described God's passion for his people using boldly erotic images. God's relationship with Israel is described using the metaphors of betrothal and marriage; idolatry is thus adultery and prostitution. Here we find a specific reference—as we have seen—to the fertility cults and their abuse of eros , but also a description of the relationship of fidelity between Israel and her God.

The history of the love-relationship between God and Israel consists, at the deepest level, in the fact that he gives her the Torah , thereby opening Israel's eyes to man's true nature and showing her the path leading to true humanism. And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you We have seen that God's eros for man is also totally agape. This is not only because it is bestowed in a completely gratuitous manner, without any previous merit, but also because it is love which forgives.

Hosea above all shows us that this agape dimension of God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity. How can I hand you over, O Israel! My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender. God's passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.

Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love. The philosophical dimension to be noted in this biblical vision, and its importance from the standpoint of the history of religions, lies in the fact that on the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos , primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love.

Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape. We can thus see how the reception of the Song of Songs in the canon of sacred Scripture was soon explained by the idea that these love songs ultimately describe God's relation to man and man's relation to God. Thus the Song of Songs became, both in Christian and Jewish literature, a source of mystical knowledge and experience, an expression of the essence of biblical faith: that man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial aspiration.

But this union is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless ocean of the Divine; it is a unity which creates love, a unity in which both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully one. The first novelty of biblical faith consists, as we have seen, in its image of God. The second, essentially connected to this, is found in the image of man. The biblical account of creation speaks of the solitude of Adam, the first man, and God's decision to give him a helper. Of all other creatures, not one is capable of being the helper that man needs, even though he has assigned a name to all the wild beasts and birds and thus made them fully a part of his life.

So God forms woman from the rib of man. Here one might detect hints of ideas that are also found, for example, in the myth mentioned by Plato, according to which man was originally spherical, because he was complete in himself and self-sufficient. But as a punishment for pride, he was split in two by Zeus, so that now he longs for his other half, striving with all his being to possess it and thus regain his integrity. Two aspects of this are important. The second aspect is equally important. From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose.

Corresponding to the image of a monotheistic God is monogamous marriage. Marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. God's way of loving becomes the measure of human love. This close connection between eros and marriage in the Bible has practically no equivalent in extra-biblical literature. Though up to now we have been speaking mainly of the Old Testament, nevertheless the profound compenetration of the two Testaments as the one Scripture of the Christian faith has already become evident.

The real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts—an unprecedented realism. In the Old Testament, the novelty of the Bible did not consist merely in abstract notions but in God's unpredictable and in some sense unprecedented activity. When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity.

His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form. By contemplating the pierced side of Christ cf. It is there that this truth can be contemplated. It is from there that our definition of love must begin. In this contemplation the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move.

Jesus gave this act of oblation an enduring presence through his institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He anticipated his death and resurrection by giving his disciples, in the bread and wine, his very self, his body and blood as the new manna cf. The ancient world had dimly perceived that man's real food—what truly nourishes him as man—is ultimately the Logos , eternal wisdom: this same Logos now truly becomes food for us—as love.

The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation. More than just statically receiving the incarnate Logos , we enter into the very dynamic of his self-giving. The imagery of marriage between God and Israel is now realized in a way previously inconceivable: it had meant standing in God's presence, but now it becomes union with God through sharing in Jesus' self-gift, sharing in his body and blood.

Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. Love of God and love of neighbour are now truly united: God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us.

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Total depravity : [] Humanity possesses "free will", [] but it is in bondage to sin, [] until it is "transformed". Do we differ from others who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? There are a few hints of anti-Roman sentiment in Jesus' ministry. The rich man cf. Given the challenges we face in our society — fatherless homes, child and spouse abuse, divorce, poverty, spreading crime and delinquency — it seems so foolish for men and women who believe in God, whose hearts and lives have been surrendered to that God, to allow doctrinal differences to prevent them from working together. Grand Rapids: Baker.

Only by keeping in mind this Christological and sacramental basis can we correctly understand Jesus' teaching on love. The transition which he makes from the Law and the Prophets to the twofold commandment of love of God and of neighbour, and his grounding the whole life of faith on this central precept, is not simply a matter of morality—something that could exist apart from and alongside faith in Christ and its sacramental re-actualization.

Faith, worship and ethos are interwoven as a single reality which takes shape in our encounter with God's agape. Here the usual contraposition between worship and ethics simply falls apart. A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented. This principle is the starting-point for understanding the great parables of Jesus.

The rich man cf. Lk begs from his place of torment that his brothers be informed about what happens to those who simply ignore the poor man in need. Jesus takes up this cry for help as a warning to help us return to the right path. The parable of the Good Samaritan cf. Lk offers two particularly important clarifications.

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This limit is now abolished. Anyone who needs me, and whom I can help, is my neighbour. Despite being extended to all mankind, it is not reduced to a generic, abstract and undemanding expression of love, but calls for my own practical commitment here and now. The Church has the duty to interpret ever anew this relationship between near and far with regard to the actual daily life of her members. Lastly, we should especially mention the great parable of the Last Judgement cf.

Mt , in which love becomes the criterion for the definitive decision about a human life's worth or lack thereof. Jesus identifies himself with those in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. Love of God and love of neighbour have become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God. Having reflected on the nature of love and its meaning in biblical faith, we are left with two questions concerning our own attitude: can we love God without seeing him?

And can love be commanded? Against the double commandment of love these questions raise a double objection. No one has ever seen God, so how could we love him? Moreover, love cannot be commanded; it is ultimately a feeling that is either there or not, nor can it be produced by the will. But this text hardly excludes the love of God as something impossible. On the contrary, the whole context of the passage quoted from the First Letter of John shows that such love is explicitly demanded. The unbreakable bond between love of God and love of neighbour is emphasized. One is so closely connected to the other that to say that we love God becomes a lie if we are closed to our neighbour or hate him altogether.

Saint John's words should rather be interpreted to mean that love of neighbour is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbour also blinds us to God. True, no one has ever seen God as he is. And yet God is not totally invisible to us; he does not remain completely inaccessible. God loved us first, says the Letter of John quoted above cf. God has made himself visible: in Jesus we are able to see the Father cf.

Indeed, God is visible in a number of ways. In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church along its path. Nor has the Lord been absent from subsequent Church history: he encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect his presence, in his word, in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist.

In the Church's Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives. He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. In the gradual unfolding of this encounter, it is clearly revealed that love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvellous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love.

Earlier we spoke of the process of purification and maturation by which eros comes fully into its own, becomes love in the full meaning of the word. It is characteristic of mature love that it calls into play all man's potentialities; it engages the whole man, so to speak. Contact with the visible manifestations of God's love can awaken within us a feeling of joy born of the experience of being loved. But this encounter also engages our will and our intellect. Idem velle atque idem nolle [9] —to want the same thing, and to reject the same thing—was recognized by antiquity as the authentic content of love: the one becomes similar to the other, and this leads to a community of will and thought.

The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God's will increasingly coincide: God's will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself. Ps 73 [72] Love of neighbour is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know.

This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. Going beyond exterior appearances, I perceive in others an interior desire for a sign of love, of concern.

This I can offer them not only through the organizations intended for such purposes, accepting it perhaps as a political necessity. Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbour which the First Letter of John speaks of with such insistence. If I have no contact whatsoever with God in my life, then I cannot see in the other anything more than the other, and I am incapable of seeing in him the image of God.

Only my readiness to encounter my neighbour and to show him love makes me sensitive to God as well. Only if I serve my neighbour can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much he loves me. The saints—consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta—constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its real- ism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment. But both live from the love of God who has loved us first.

Love grows through love. Jn , Zech , recognizing the plan of the Father who, moved by love cf. Jn , sent his only-begotten Son into the world to redeem man. The Spirit, in fact, is that interior power which harmonizes their hearts with Christ's heart and moves them to love their brethren as Christ loved them, when he bent down to wash the feet of the disciples cf. Jn and above all when he gave his life for us cf. Jn , The Spirit is also the energy which transforms the heart of the ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son.

The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament, an undertaking that is often heroic in the way it is acted out in history; and it seeks to promote man in the various arenas of life and human activity. Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs. And this is the aspect, this service of charity , on which I want to focus in the second part of the Encyclical.

Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community. Acts As the Church grew, this radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved.

But its essential core remained: within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life. A decisive step in the difficult search for ways of putting this fundamental ecclesial principle into practice is illustrated in the choice of the seven, which marked the origin of the diaconal office cf. In the early Church, in fact, with regard to the daily distribution to widows, a disparity had arisen between Hebrew speakers and Greek speakers.

In other words, the social service which they were meant to provide was absolutely concrete, yet at the same time it was also a spiritual service; theirs was a truly spiritual office which carried out an essential responsibility of the Church, namely a well-ordered love of neighbour. As the years went by and the Church spread further afield, the exercise of charity became established as one of her essential activities, along with the administration of the sacraments and the proclamation of the word: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to her as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching of the Gospel.

The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word. A few references will suffice to demonstrate this. Those who are able make offerings in accordance with their means, each as he or she wishes; the Bishop in turn makes use of these to support orphans, widows, the sick and those who for other reasons find themselves in need, such as prisoners and foreigners. Here it might be helpful to allude to the earliest legal structures associated with the service of charity in the Church.

By the sixth century this institution had evolved into a corporation with full juridical standing, which the civil authorities themselves entrusted with part of the grain for public distribution. In Egypt not only each monastery, but each individual Diocese eventually had its own diaconia ; this institution then developed in both East and West. But charitable activity on behalf of the poor and suffering was naturally an essential part of the Church of Rome from the very beginning, based on the principles of Christian life given in the Acts of the Apostles.

As the one responsible for the care of the poor in Rome, Lawrence had been given a period of time, after the capture of the Pope and of Lawrence's fellow deacons, to collect the treasures of the Church and hand them over to the civil authorities. He distributed to the poor whatever funds were available and then presented to the authorities the poor themselves as the real treasure of the Church.

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As a child of six years, Julian witnessed the assassination of his father, brother and other family members by the guards of the imperial palace; rightly or wrongly, he blamed this brutal act on the Emperor Constantius, who passed himself off as an outstanding Christian. The Christian faith was thus definitively discredited in his eyes.

Upon becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman religion, while reforming it in the hope of making it the driving force behind the empire. In this project he was amply inspired by Christianity. He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests who were to foster love of God and neighbour.

In one of his letters, [16] he wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity which had impressed him was the Church's charitable activity. He thus considered it essential for his new pagan religion that, alongside the system of the Church's charity, an equivalent activity of its own be established. They needed now to be imitated and outdone. In this way, then, the Emperor confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian community, the Church. These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable.

For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas- agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. Lk , whoever they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of universal love, the Church also has a specific responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need.

Since the nineteenth century, an objection has been raised to the Church's charitable activity, subsequently developed with particular insistence by Marxism: the poor, it is claimed, do not need charity but justice.

Works of charity—almsgiving—are in effect a way for the rich to shirk their obligation to work for justice and a means of soothing their consciences, while preserving their own status and robbing the poor of their rights. Instead of contributing through individual works of charity to maintaining the status quo , we need to build a just social order in which all receive their share of the world's goods and no longer have to depend on charity.

There is admittedly some truth to this argument, but also much that is mistaken. It is true that the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of the State and that the aim of a just social order is to guarantee to each person, according to the principle of subsidiarity, his share of the community's goods. This has always been emphasized by Christian teaching on the State and by the Church's social doctrine. Historically, the issue of the just ordering of the collectivity had taken a new dimension with the industrialization of society in the nineteenth century.

The rise of modern industry caused the old social structures to collapse, while the growth of a class of salaried workers provoked radical changes in the fabric of society. The relationship between capital and labour now became the decisive issue—an issue which in that form was previously unknown. Capital and the means of production were now the new source of power which, concentrated in the hands of a few, led to the suppression of the rights of the working classes, against which they had to rebel.

It must be admitted that the Church's leadership was slow to realize that the issue of the just structuring of society needed to be approached in a new way. Faced with new situations and issues, Catholic social teaching thus gradually developed, and has now found a comprehensive presentation in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church published in by the Pontifical Council Iustitia et Pax. Marxism had seen world revolution and its preliminaries as the panacea for the social problem: revolution and the subsequent collectivization of the means of production, so it was claimed, would immediately change things for the better.

This illusion has vanished. In today's complex situation, not least because of the growth of a globalized economy, the Church's social doctrine has become a set of fundamental guidelines offering approaches that are valid even beyond the confines of the Church: in the face of ongoing development these guidelines need to be addressed in the context of dialogue with all those seriously concerned for humanity and for the world in which we live.

In order to define more accurately the relationship between the necessary commitment to justice and the ministry of charity, two fundamental situations need to be considered:. Mt , in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or, as the Second Vatican Council puts it, the autonomy of the temporal sphere.

For her part, the Church, as the social expression of Christian faith, has a proper independence and is structured on the basis of her faith as a community which the State must recognize. The two spheres are distinct, yet always interrelated. Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics.

The State must inevitably face the question of how justice can be achieved here and now. But this presupposes an even more radical question: what is justice? The problem is one of practical reason; but if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by the dazzling effect of power and special interests. Here politics and faith meet. Faith by its specific nature is an encounter with the living God—an encounter opening up new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason.

But it is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to be ever more fully itself. Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. This is where Catholic social doctrine has its place: it has no intention of giving the Church power over the State.

Even less is it an attempt to impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to faith. Its aim is simply to help purify reason and to contribute, here and now, to the acknowledgment and attainment of what is just. The Church's social teaching argues on the basis of reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being.

It recognizes that it is not the Church's responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew.

As a political task, this cannot be the Church's immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.

The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper.

A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such.

There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ.

This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. Dt —a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human. We can now determine more precisely, in the life of the Church, the relationship between commitment to the just ordering of the State and society on the one hand, and organized charitable activity on the other. We have seen that the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason.

The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run. The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. The Church's charitable organizations, on the other hand, constitute an opus proprium , a task agreeable to her, in which she does not cooperate collaterally, but acts as a subject with direct responsibility, doing what corresponds to her nature.

The Church can never be exempted from practising charity as an organized activity of believers, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love. The multiple structures of charitable service in the social context of the present day. Before attempting to define the specific profile of the Church's activities in the service of man, I now wish to consider the overall situation of the struggle for justice and love in the world of today.

Despite the great advances made in science and technology, each day we see how much suffering there is in the world on account of different kinds of poverty, both material and spiritual. Our times call for a new readiness to assist our neighbours in need. On the other hand—and here we see one of the challenging yet also positive sides of the process of globalization—we now have at our disposal numerous means for offering humanitarian assistance to our brothers and sisters in need, not least modern systems of distributing food and clothing, and of providing housing and care.

Concern for our neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world. The solidarity shown by civil society thus significantly surpasses that shown by individuals. Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian quality to the civil agencies too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness of charitable service.

Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of different kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a variety of services. For young people, this widespread involvement constitutes a school of life which offers them a formation in solidarity and in readiness to offer others not simply material aid but their very selves. Lk et passim for others. In the Catholic Church, and also in the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, new forms of charitable activity have arisen, while other, older ones have taken on new life and energy.

In these new forms, it is often possible to establish a fruitful link between evangelization and works of charity. Here I would clearly reaffirm what my great predecessor John Paul II wrote in his Encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis [28] when he asserted the readiness of the Catholic Church to cooperate with the charitable agencies of these Churches and Communities, since we all have the same fundamental motivation and look towards the same goal: a true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity.

The increase in diversified organizations engaged in meeting various human needs is ultimately due to the fact that the command of love of neighbour is inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature. It is also a result of the presence of Christianity in the world, since Christianity constantly revives and acts out this imperative, so often profoundly obscured in the course of time.

The reform of paganism attempted by the emperor Julian the Apostate is only an initial example of this effect; here we see how the power of Christianity spread well beyond the frontiers of the Christian faith. For this reason, it is very important that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance.

Christians believe that Jesus was both human and divine—the Son of God. While there has been theological debate over the nature of Jesus, Trinitarian Christians believe that Jesus is the Logos , God incarnate , God the Son , and " true God and true man "—both fully divine and fully human. Jesus, having become fully human in all respects, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, yet he did not sin. According to the Bible , God raised him from the dead. Although Christian views of Jesus vary, it is possible to summarize key elements of the shared beliefs among major denominations based on their catechetical or confessional texts.

Christians predominantly hold that these works are historically true. Those groups or denominations committed to what are considered biblically orthodox Christianity nearly all agree that Jesus: [14]. Some groups which are considered to be Christian hold beliefs which are considered to be heterodox. For example, believers in monophysitism reject the idea that Christ has two natures, one human and one divine.

The five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus are his baptism , transfiguration , crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Christians not only attach theological significance to the works of Jesus, but also to his name. Devotions to the name of Jesus go back to the earliest days of Christianity. Christians predominantly profess that through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, he restored humanity's communion with God with the blood of the New Covenant.

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His death on a cross is understood as a redemptive sacrifice: the source of humanity's salvation and the atonement for sin [23] which had entered human history through the sin of Adam. But who do you say that I am? Jesus is mediator, but…the title means more that someone between God and man. He is not just a third party between God and humanity…. As true God he brings God to mankind. As true man he brings mankind to God. Most Christians generally consider Jesus to be the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah , as well as the one and only Son of God. His divinity is again re-affirmed in Mark In the Pauline epistles, the word "Christ" is so closely associated with Jesus that apparently for the early Christians there was no need to claim that Jesus was Christ, for that was considered widely accepted among them.

Hence Paul could use the term Christos with no confusion about who it referred to, and as in 1 Corinthians and Romans he could use expressions such as "in Christ" to refer to the followers of Jesus. In Christology , the concept that the Christ is the Logos i. This derives from the opening of the Gospel of John , commonly translated into English as: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The pre-existence of Christ refers to the doctrine of the personal existence of Christ before his conception. One of the relevant Bible passages is John where, in the Trinitarian view, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word. This doctrine is reiterated in John when Jesus refers to the glory which he had with the Father "before the world was" during the Farewell discourse. Following the Apostolic Age , from the 2nd century forward, several controversies developed about how the human and divine are related within the person of Jesus.

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He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. The above verse from Colossians regards the birth of Jesus as the model for all creation. Just as the Johannine view of Jesus as the incarnate Logos proclaims the universal relevance of his birth, the Pauline perspective emphasizes the birth of a new man and a new world in the birth of Jesus.

Unlike Adam, the new man born in Jesus obeys God and ushers in a world of morality and salvation. In the Pauline view, Adam is positioned as the first man and Jesus as the second: Adam, having corrupted himself by his disobedience, also infected humanity and left it with a curse as its inheritance.

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The birth of Jesus counterbalanced the fall of Adam, bringing forth redemption and repairing the damage done by Adam. In patristic theology, Paul's contrasting of Jesus as the new man versus Adam provided a framework for discussing the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus and the ensuing events of his life. The nativity of Jesus thus began to serve as the starting point for "cosmic Christology" in which the birth, life and resurrection of Jesus have universal implications.

The nativity and resurrection of Jesus thus created the author and exemplar of a new humanity. As the biological son of David , Jesus would be of the Jewish race, ethnicity, nation, and culture. John of Damascus taught that there is no contradiction, for Nathan wed Solomon's wife after Solomon died in accordance with scripture, namely, yibbum the mitzvah that a man must marry his brother's childless widow. Jesus grew up in Galilee and much of his ministry took place there. The New Testament describes Jesus wearing tzitzit - the tassels on a tallit - in Matthew [60] and Luke The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows. Jesus seemed to have two basic concerns with reference to people and the material: 1 that they be freed from the tyranny of things and 2 that they be actively concerned for the needs of others. In the canonical gospels, the Ministry of Jesus begins with his baptism in the countryside of Judea , near the River Jordan and ends in Jerusalem , following the Last Supper.

Jesus' early Galilean ministry begins when after his baptism, he goes back to Galilee from his time in the Judean desert. In the later Judean ministry Jesus starts his final journey to Jerusalem through Judea. The final ministry in Jerusalem is sometimes called the Passion Week and begins with the Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

In the New Testament the teachings of Jesus are presented in terms of his "words and works". The works include the miracles and other acts performed during his ministry. Although the Canonical Gospels are the major source of the teachings of Jesus, the Pauline epistles, which were likely written decades before the gospels, provide some of the earliest written accounts of the teachings of Jesus. The New Testament does not present the teachings of Jesus as merely his own teachings, but equates the words of Jesus with divine revelation, with John the Baptist stating in John : "For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.

It comes from the one who sent me". The gospels include several discourses by Jesus on specific occasions, such as the Farewell discourse delivered after the Last Supper , the night before his crucifixion. The Gospel of Matthew has a structured set of sermons, often grouped as the Five Discourses of Matthew which present many of the key teachings of Jesus. The parables of Jesus represent a major component of his teachings in the gospels, the approximately thirty parables forming about one third of his recorded teachings. In the 19th century, Lisco and Fairbairn stated that in the parables of Jesus, "the image borrowed from the visible world is accompanied by a truth from the invisible spiritual world" and that the parables of Jesus are not "mere similitudes which serve the purpose of illustration, but are internal analogies where nature becomes a witness for the spiritual world".

He suggests that Jesus did not form his parables merely as analogies but based on an "inward affinity between the natural and the spiritual order. Believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. In Christian teachings, the miracles of Jesus were as much a vehicle for his message as were his words. Many of the miracles emphasize the importance of faith, for instance in cleansing ten lepers , [Lk ] Jesus did not say: "My power has saved you" but says "Rise and go; your faith has saved you.

One characteristic shared among all miracles of Jesus in the Gospel accounts is that he delivered benefits freely and never requested or accepted any form of payment for his healing miracles, unlike some high priests of his time who charged those who were healed. Christians in general believe that Jesus' miracles were actual historical events and that his miraculous works were an important part of his life, attesting to his divinity and the Hypostatic union , i.

Christian authors also view the miracles of Jesus not merely as acts of power and omnipotence, but as works of love and mercy: they were performed to show compassion for sinful and suffering humanity. Since according to the Gospel of John [] it was impossible to narrate all the miracles performed by Jesus, the Catholic Encyclopedia states that the miracles presented in the Gospels were selected for a twofold reason: first for the manifestation of God's glory, and then for their evidential value.

Jesus referred to his "works" as evidences of his mission and his divinity, and in John he declared that his miracles have greater evidential value than the testimony of John the Baptist. Jesus identifies himself as a Jew to the Samaritan woman at the well, [] as evidenced by the plural we and the saying "salvation is from the Jews"—a saying that is in accordance with the Jewish concept of salvation , and is a possible reference to Isaiah In the Synoptics Jesus and his disciples do not wash their hands before eating a meal, contrary to handwashing in Judaism.

The accounts of the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus provide a rich background for Christological analysis, from the canonical gospels to the Pauline epistles.

THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE ROMANS

Johannine "agency christology" combines the concept that Jesus is the Son of his Father with the idea that he has come into the world as his Father's agent, commissioned and sent by the Father to represent the Father and to accomplish his Father's work. Implied in each Synoptic portrayal of Jesus is the doctrine that the salvation Jesus gives is inseparable from Jesus himself and his divine identity. Sonship and agency come together in the Synoptic gospels only in the Parable of the Vineyard Matthew ; Mark ; Luke A central element in the Christology presented in the Acts of the Apostles is the affirmation of the belief that the death of Jesus by crucifixion happened "with the foreknowledge of God, according to a definite plan".

Paul's Christology has a specific focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. For Paul, the crucifixion of Jesus is directly related to his resurrection and the term "the cross of Christ" used in Galatians may be viewed as his abbreviation of the message of the gospels. John Calvin supported the "agent of God" Christology and argued that in his trial in Pilate's Court Jesus could have successfully argued for his innocence, but instead submitted to crucifixion in obedience to the Father.

In the Eastern Church Sergei Bulgakov argued that the crucifixion of Jesus was " pre-eternally " determined by the Father before the creation of the world, to redeem humanity from the disgrace caused by the fall of Adam. Mormons believe that the crucifixion was the culmination of Christ's atonement, which began in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus is a foundation of the Christian faith. In the teachings of the apostolic Church , the resurrection was seen as heralding a new era. Forming a theology of the resurrection fell to Apostle Paul. It was not enough for Paul to simply repeat elementary teachings, but as Hebrews states, "go beyond the initial teachings about Christ and advance to maturity". Fundamental to Pauline theology is the connection between Christ's Resurrection and redemption.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. If the cross stands at the center of Paul's theology, so does the Resurrection: unless the one died the death of all , the all would have little to celebrate in the resurrection of the one.

Following the conversion of Constantine and the liberating Edict of Milan in , the ecumenical councils of the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries, that focused on Christology helped shape the Christian understanding of the redemptive nature of Resurrection, and influenced both the development of its iconography, and its use within Liturgy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Jesus in Christianity. Jesus in Islam. Jesus in history. Perspectives on Jesus. Jesus in culture. Life in art Depiction Jesuism. Main article: Ministry of Jesus.

See also: New Testament places associated with Jesus. Main articles: Parables of Jesus and Miracles of Jesus. See also: Lamb of God. Kyrios Logos Incarnation. The Christology of the New Testament. Westminster John Knox Press. Archived at the Wayback Machine ; c. Sproul, Knowing Scripture pp. What Do Christians Believe?

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