Religious Tradition Depth Study – Christianity Essay
Religious Tradition Depth Study – Christianity
Significant People and Ideas
1. The contribution to Christianity of ONE significant person OR school of thought, other than Jesus, drawn from: Martin Luther
Explain the contribution to the development and expression of Christianity of ONE significant person OR school of thought, other than Jesus, drawn from: Martin Luther
Faith alone, grace alone and scripture alone
He was born in 1483 in Germany, a German monk, priest and University Professor in Theology. Led way for the reformation in 1517 by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. Luther’s Theses’ challenged church corruption particularly the doctrine of indulgences as well as the practices relating to the authority of the Pope. The invention of the printing press allowed people to read his Theses’ on a wide spread basis. His contribution to Christianity led to the development of his own denomination within Christianity: the formation of the Lutheran church in 1530. After posting his 95 Theses, the pope ordered Luther the bull of Excommunication in 1520. However, he gained support from many Germans. His posting of the Disputation questioned the authority of the Church and Pope through academic discussion of the legitimacy of indulgences – was damned as a heretic. He made the Ten commandments, the Apostles Creed, the Lords Prayer, baptism and the Last Supper all easy to understand through his writing of the Large Catechism in 1529. It has earned a reputation as a model of clear religious teaching, as did his translation of the Bible to make it accessible to everyday Germans.
His motives have shaped the history of Christianity, changed the expression of Christianity. Without the clarification from him and reforming of basic principles, corruption would still riddle Christianity. The reformation changed Christianity by causing questioning, reflection and renewal which resulted in a more vibrant and personal faith for Christians. It is his writings that show his contribution in a simplified manner.
2. The effect of that person OR school of thought on Christianity
Analyse the impact of this person OR school of thought on Christianity
The most obvious and major effect of Luther’s efforts to reform the Church was the split or Reformation which occurred in Western Christianity dividing it into Catholics and Protestants and resulting in centuries of religious intolerance, often accompanied by wars, violence and bloodshed. Division did not only occur between Protestants and Catholics but, as other Protestant sects developed, dissension and disunity occurred amongst them also.
Luther spoke up when he saw a wrong being in the Church. He didn’t set out to challenge the Christian belief system, but he was concerned that people were being cheated by greed, getting the wrong idea about God’s grace. He caused questioning, reflection and renewal which resulted in a more vibrant and personal faith for Christians It was his speaking out that influenced the Council of Trent in 1545 to reform the ways of the Church. His thought that salvation may only be achieved through faith alone has remained an important factor to the Christian faith today. Faith alone can also take way in charitable works, almsgiving, and obeying the gospel teachings. He believed the Church was not needed for salvation, he questioned its relevance in the process of salvation – the only thing that was needed for life as a Christian. He believed the church was irrelevant as it placed a distance between itself and the people, there was minimal contact to the worshippers, the congregation could not relate to the teachings of the Church.
He believed in the fundamental teachings of Christ which is that salvation is an act of grace by God, and only acceptance and faith was needed. Not only did Luther believe, but he supported his belief with action. He accepted the grace of God not just as a process, but as all that a Christian needed. It was not something that could be bought or sold by the Church. He exhibited bravery and courage in disagreeing with the Papal authorities. He used his gifts to further his beliefs. He presented his beliefs through words and hymns and in his sermons and actions. He was active in thought as an evangelist for this faith. Luther’s impact on Christianity is well known. Protestantism is also well-known with its beginnings in the Reformation and owes its birth to Martin Luther. Lutheranism got its foundations from Luther’s “Babylonian Captivity” rendering all the sacraments but baptism and eucharist, irrelevant.
Luther’s impact changed the way Christianity was divided. Instead of just the Western and Eastern Churches, he formed Protestantism, which split the Western Church. His writing let his church allow the marriage of clergy, singing of the congregation and the democratic nature of the Church.
Martin Luther was born in 1483 in Wittenberg in Germany and he was a German monk, priest and University Professor in Theology. Martin Luther was a significant person who made a large contribution to Christianity. Martin Luther led the Reformation in 1517 by nailing his 95 Theses (his attitudes or objections against the church) to the door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther’s theses’ challenged church corruption particularly the doctrine of indulgences as well as the practices relating to the authority of the Pope. The invention of the printing press allowed people to read his Theses’ – thus his writings spread quickly around Saxony. His contribution to Christianity led to the development of his own denomination within Christianity – the formation of the Lutheran church in 1530.
Martin Luther was a renowned and well-known person in Christianity for his contribution to Christianity – nailing his 95 Theses onto the door of a Cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. He led the Reformation in 1517 and influenced other reformers of the time. Martin Luther was a person who was not afraid to speak out against the church; he was not afraid to challenge the authority of the church or the Pope. After his nailing of his 95 Theses and burning the Papal bill, the Pope excommunicated (expelled) him from the church. Martin Luther gained support from many Germans, mainly the German Princes and the wealthy middle class. Martin Luther created a massive impact on the development of Christianity as his objections and contributions to Christianity led to the reformation on 1517 and also led to the formation of the Lutheran Church which was established in 1530.
Today, there are many Lutheran followers worldwide due to the impact of his development of Christianity. In Australia, the majority of Lutheran adherents live in South Australia where the German population of Australia live. The Lutheran church is part of the Protestant denomination in Christianity. Therefore through Martin Luther’s contributions to the development of Christianity, he has clearly had a large impact as there are now around 300 million Protestant adherents worldwide who can thank their main founder Martin Luther for the creation and spread of Protestant Churches worldwide.
Martin Luther is one of the most famous/important figures in the history of Christianity and has had more books written about him than any other Christian except for Jesus. Martin Luther was one of the catalysts and instigators of the Reformation in Christianity. “The Reformation changed Christianity by causing questioning, reflection and renewal which resulted in a more vibrant and personal faith for Protestants and Catholics alike”. Whatever Luther learned he preaches and whatever he preached he printed – thus he published many books on his beliefs and teachings. He also translated the Latin Bible into German so that more Christians could read and interpret the Bible. Therefore through his contributions, he has had a profound impact upon Christianity. Luther founded the Lutheran branch of Protestantism and established the Lutheran church of Germany in 1530. He also limited the 7 sacraments to 2 – Baptism and the Eucharist. Luther also produced the 4 pillars of the Reformation in the Church – Christ alone, Faith alone, Bible alone and Grace alone. 11 years after his death, Charles V allowed the German Princes to choose whether their states should be Catholic or Lutheran.
3. ONE of the following areas of ethical teaching in Christianity:
Describe and explain Christian ethical teachings on environmental ethics
Christian biblical tradition provides significant guidance in the field of environmental ethics however, until recent times there has been little done by the Christian Churches in the field of environmental ethics as it has not been a prominent concern for Christians overall. In recent times, there have been many significant statements and other initiatives developed by Church leaders both within Australia and internationally, however, there is still an absence of widespread engagement at the grass roots levels of Church communities. While most Christian communities tacitly recognise the importance of environmental ethics, it is yet to become a major focus of day to day life for most Christians and their local Church communities.
Mainstream Christian thinking has, only in recent times, embraced environmental ethics as a prominent issue acknowledging the relationship between humankind and the environment because both are created by God. Both humanity and nature reflect the glory of God and convey the image of God. They also recognize that God commanded human beings to live in fruitful relationship with the earth and that humankind has a requirement of stewardship of the earth e.g. Genesis 2:15 states, “Then God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till and keep it.” In retrospect, Christians look at the theological work/insights of historical figures/prophetic voices such as Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals and the environment), Hildegard of Bingen (German abbess, naturalist, philosopher and more) and Pierre Teillhard de Chardin (philosopher, Jesuit priest and paleontologist).
In poorer parts of the world, there is considerable engagement of Christian communities on environmental issues. This is because for Christians in these parts of the world environmental degradation is an issue which is affecting them in a very serious and tangible way through a lack of clean drinking water, rising sea levels, damage to crops etc. People in richer countries are largely insulated against these challenges, although it is clear that this insulation is a temporary thing and that within decades more affluent countries will be faced with similar environmental disasters.
In the present climate of increased environmental awareness there remains a wide range of perspectives among the Churches. Liberal members of the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches are generally very aware of teaching on environmental ethics and are often active in response to the issues raised. Conservative members of these same denominations are less likely to be engaged in environmental issues in a significant way. Some of the fundamentalist and evangelical Churches have been reluctant to place significant emphasis on environmental concerns as any form of transformative social action is seen as a low priority in comparison to evangelisation in the light of the anticipated return of Jesus and the end of the world.
Mainstream Christian thinking acknowledges that there is a special relationship between humankind and the environment because both humankind and rest of the created world are created by God. They acknowledge that both reflect the glory of God and convey the image of God. They also recognise that God commanded human beings to live in fruitful relationship with the earth and that humankind has a requirement of stewardship of the earth.
Thus, it is evident that there is richness in the tradition of Christian teaching on environmental ethics and a clear rhetoric calling for action in recent times. However, there remains a considerable challenge in education and action to engage significant numbers of local Christian communities in major environmental actions. This challenge is particularly evident in Western industrialised countries where Christian communities enjoy high standards of living which depend on significant and often negligent use of the world’s resources.
There are many important theologians and activists who are working in the field of environmental ethics calling on the Churches to act urgently and more decisively in the field of ecology. They are critical of the Churches for their tardiness in taking serious steps in responding to environmental issues and strongly challenged the Christian tradition as a whole. Examples of these are:
Sallie McFague from the liberal protestant tradition
McFague is a feminist theologian that sets out to construct a new theology of nature and of God She connects God with the human process rather than distances God from creation which emphasized the need to develop a new metaphor for God which recognises that the world is the physical expression of God not a separate “product” of God She states, in her novel Life Abundant, that: “The glory of God is every creature fully alive and, therefore, we live to give God glory by loving the world and everything in it.”
Thomas Berry, Catholic theologian born in 1914 was a member of the Passionist Order of Priests Berry espoused a mystical approach to ecology. He has argued that God made the world and therefore God is profoundly related to it and if we lose our sense of the splendor of the natural world then we also lose our sense of the divine Berry suggested that human beings must see themselves in perspective i.e. only existing for about 60,000 years in a cosmos as much as 15,000,000,000 years old the cosmos is to be seen as an ongoing energy event rather than a sudden creation at a specific point in time. He stresses that human beings as creatures are not separate from the rest of creation who can be valued over and against the rest of creation. He says that we need to develop a new creation story (myth) which takes into account our now more developed sense of awareness of the human impact on the environment and the growing sense of profound unity with the environment
Matthew Fox was a Catholic theologian (now an Episcopalian) born 1940 He was a member of the Dominican Order of Priests before ultimately being expelled by his order after long running disputes with Rome has now been accepted into the Episcopalian church Fox proposes a mystical approach to the environment known now as Creation Spirituality. He proposes the idea of original blessing i.e. an ancient notion that the cosmos has been continually blessing (bringing life to) human beings since their evolution. This idea stands in contrast to the idea of original sin which Fox identifies as a very recent idea
Sean McDonagh is a Catholic missionary Priest member of the Columban order of Priests worked extensively in the Philippines McDonagh focuses on the relationship between justice and ecology approach is called eco-justice
McDonagh identifies the type of greed and exploitation which is at the heart of injustice to be the same factors which are at the heart of environmental degradation. He identifies that significant amounts of environmental degradation take place through the exploitative action of the rich and the practices which are forced upon the poor, particularly in the need to meet debt repayments McDonagh has been a strong critic of the lack of involvement of the Church in environmental issues
Identify modern Christian theology in environmental ethics
There are a number of emerging Christian theologies about the environment. The theologies are attempts to understand the place of God in a modern society that utilises scientific reasoning to explain creation. The theologians attempt to overcome the distance between human beings and the rest of creation and to include all of a creation in an interconnected and interdependent dynamic. The theologies are a response to the increasing environmental problems and ecological imbalance that exists. The theologies include mystical approaches, eco-feminist theology, creation spirituality and eco-justice perspectives. The individual theologians who are living in the contemporary world are often critical of the Christian Church and its slowness in being proactive about the environmental crisis and for not exercising strong, decisive leadership in environmental ethics. Describe modern Christian theologians’ responses to environmental concerns. A number of Christian theologians have responded to environmental concerns amongst them; Thomas Berry and Sallie McFague.
Thomas Berry’s theology evolved from a mystical awareness of the cosmos as infinitely older than human beings who are relative newcomers in evolution. Whilst basing his beliefs about the evolution of the cosmos on modern scientific theory he encourages humanity to envision themselves as part of an ongoing creation event that the creator God is profoundly involved in. He encourages bringing current knowledge of the environmental impact of human beings into a new creation story to heal and restore the planet. Sallie McFague’s eco feminist theology looks at the ways in which patriarchy has dominated women, society and the earth itself and calls for a new more balanced understanding of creation. She evinces a theology of connectedness utilising the Gaia and Chaos theory as ideas that explain the interconnectedness of all creation. She uses metaphors of the earth as the body of God and seeks to overcome the body soul dichotomy caused by the patriarchal mindset of Church fathers.
Evaluate the contribution of emerging Christian theology to the environmental ethics. The contribution of emerging Christian theology to environmental ethics is difficult to measure as the Christian Church is diverse and different denominations have a variety of interpretations and understandings of revelation and scripture in relation to the environment. Just as in secular society there are individuals and groups that recognise the urgency of applying ethics to the environment so it is within Christianity. For Christians working in countries where the environment is in crisis and is linked directly to the cycle of poverty of the people the issue of environmental ethics is important. Sean McDonagh’s eco justice theology is one that confronts the materialism of developed countries and challenges Christians to become aware of the immediate and obvious link between exploitation of the environment and greed.
Significant practices in the life of adherents
4. ONE significant practice within Christianity drawn from:
Baptism > is a sacramental water rite which invites and person into the Christian church community. Literal > to wash away with water
Figurative > washing away of sin, purification, rebirth, new spiritual life, cleansing of soul
Describe ONE significant practice within Christianity drawn from: Baptism
Baptism used in most Christian denominations
Signifies initiation into the beliefs and practices of the Christian community Has significance as a statement of a person’s beliefs in the Christian tradition Necessary element for salvation Baptism allows Christians to share in the death and resurrection of Christ Cleanses people from their sins The Salvation Army and The Society of Friends (Quakers) are examples of Christian groups which do not practice baptism
For the majority of Christians today Baptism carried out when they were infants Common practice in the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox branches of Christianity Parents and God parents make commitments on behalf of the child Agree to nurture the child in the Christian faith
In other Christian groups such as the Baptist and Pentecostal Churches the baptism of infants is not accepted Members would be expected to choose to be baptised as adults having made their own decision to repent and be born again
Idea of baptism stems from the sense of being immersed in water Symbolises being surrounded by and imbued with the beliefs and practices of the Christian community Ritual is usually carried out in the Church
Often contained within or celebrated adjacent to the main form of Sunday worship Majority of baptisms celebrated in the Anglican and Catholic branches of Christianity involve the sprinkling or pouring of water on the head of the child In Orthodox Churches the child is immersed briefly in water on three occasions Adults who are baptised in Churches such as Baptist and Pentecostal Churches are often fully immersed in water
Variety of aspects included in baptism across different denominations
Core elements are the baptism with water and the profession of faith Anglican Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism in the Anglican Church may incorporate the rite of Confirmation and/or the rite of Holy Communion. Begins with a gathering hymn, psalm or anthem
Priest or Minister greets and welcomes the congregation
The Collect of the Day is prayed, followed by the lessons from the Scriptures A sermon is preached
The presentation and examination of the candidates takes place Baptismal Covenant is prayed and prayers are offered for the candidates Prayers of thanksgiving and blessing are then prayed over the water Prayers of consecration are prayed over the oils of Chrism
The Baptism takes place
The Lord’s prayer is prayed
A concluding prayer is prayed
Catholic Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism is often incorporated into the celebration of the Eucharist In particular the celebration of the Easter Vigil
Begins with a welcome and greeting from the Priest or Deacon Questioning of the parents and God parents to confirm their wish for Baptism Priest or Deacon and the parents and God parents trace the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead The liturgy of the word follows
Includes readings from the bible and a homily from the Priest or Deacon Homily is followed by the rite of exorcism and the anointing with oil Waters of the baptismal font are then blessed
Those present make a profession of faith, including a renunciation of sin on behlaf The Baptism follows, usually involving a pouring of water on the baby’s head The child is then clothed in a white baptismal garment
Parents and God parents receive a baptismal candle
Priest or Deacon prays the prayer of Ephphatha asking that the child’s ears will be open to receive the word of God and that their mouth will be open to proclaim the Gospel The Our Father is then prayed followed by a final blessing
Orthodox Churches celebrate the sacrament of Baptism within a wider rite of initiation Also includes Chrismation (anointing) and Eucharist
Baptism involves the full immersion of the child three times in the baptismal font The triple immersion parallels the belief in the Trinity
Prayers coinciding with the immersion invoke the Father, Son and Spirit Baptism is followed immediately by the anointing of the body with oils and the proclamation of the seal of the Holy Spirit This is known as Chrismation
Child receives Eucharist immediately after
All Christian denominations which practice baptism incorporate a rite for the baptism of adults Among the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Churches the majority of people are baptised as children Among some Protestant Churches infant baptism is not practiced at all These Churches believe that baptism should be conferred only after a person has made a conscious decision to believe in Jesus Christ Churches such as the Baptist Church and most Pentecostal Churches such as Assemblies of God practice adult baptism Also known as believer baptism
Baptism in the sprit
Churches which exclusively practice adult or believer baptism generally do not accept the validity of an infant baptism in another Christian denomination Require a second baptism or a confirmation of baptism sometimes referred to as baptism in the Spirit. Baptism is regarded as an ordinance in Baptist Churches
It is some that has been ordered or required of them by Jesus as indicated in the bible Baptist tradition
In the Baptist tradition, believer baptism would normally be held as part of the Sunday worship service Most Baptist Churches are designed with a baptismal area to allow for the full immersion of believers Usually at the front of the Church and adjacent to enclosed areas to allow those being prepare by dressing in a baptismal garment and also to change from the wet garment after the baptism The Baptist service often includes a testimony by the person being baptised who publicly declares their faith in Jesus. Pentecostal churches
In Pentecostal Churches there are few set patterns or rites Baptism is usually done through full immersion
Many Pentecostal groups will carry out baptisms in public places such as beaches, rivers and lakes where full immersion can be practiced May also decide to use a swimming pool for the rite
Sample Response (‘Describe’ – 3 Marks):
Baptism is a significant practice followed by most Christian denominations. It is used as a rite of initiation for people wishing to join the Christian community. The core elements of the rite of baptism are the immersion in water or the sprinkling or pouring of water and the profession of faith by, or on behalf of, the person being baptised.
While there is considerable variety in the forms of baptism used by various Christian denominations, the core elements of baptism of water and a profession of faith are evident across the spectrum of Christianity.
Other elements that are frequently included are readings from the bible, a sermon or homily from the presiding minister, the tracing of the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person being baptised, anointing with oil, prayers for the candidate, clothing in a white garment and presentation of a lighted baptismal candle.
The most common form of baptism involves the baptism of infants, however, some Christian denominations do not accept this practice and will only baptise adults who have made a conscious decision to follow the Christian faith. (184)
Demonstrate how the chosen practice expresses the beliefs of Christianity
Origins of the practice of baptism are ancient
Pre-date Christianity itself
Some Jewish groups were practising baptism prior to the ministry of Jesus. John the Baptist had baptism as the hallmark of his ministry (Mark 1:4). Jesus’ baptism
Jesus accepted the baptism of John (Mark 1:9)
Gave instructions to his followers to baptise people in his name (Matthew 28:19) Baptism has great significance in the Christian tradition Expresses a number of important beliefs.
Water as a central symbol
Water as the central symbol of baptism reflects the belief in God as creator and humankind’s dependence on God Calls to mind images of the waters of chaos from the Genesis accounts of creation (Genesis 1:2) The destructive power of the flood in the story of Noah (Genesis 7-8) The miraculous crossing of the Red Sea in the accounts of the Exodus (Exodus 14) Image of water also calls to mind the image of the womb and the discussion of rebirth in water and the Spirit in John’s Gospel (John 3) This imagery of this story closely parallels the Christian understanding of baptism as a rebirth from original sin into the life of the Spirit The holy trinity
Reconciles adherent with trinity > baptised in name of trinity “Make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Christian understanding of baptism contains a sense of the repentance highlighted in the ministry of John the Baptist The act of repentance proclaimed in John’s baptism expresses the idea of turning away from sin which is integral to the practice of baptism Christians believe that in baptism they are turning away from or renouncing sin and evil and turning in a positive way to live the life of the Spirit “Repent and be baptised every one of you” (Acts2:38)
“Rise and be baptised and wash away your sins” (Acts 2)
Spiritual purification which allows adherent to open self to God in good conscience (1Peter 3:21)
Body of Christ: salvation
Baptism also expresses the belief of Christians in the Church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Christians are baptised into the Church, which is the body of Christ As a consequence of becoming part of this body the believer is able to experience more fully the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus In a spiritual sense, the believer is able to participate through the body of Christ in the mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising “All were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death…therefore…just as Christ was raised from the dead and through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3-4)
Promise of eternal life > to “walk in the newness of life” (Romans) “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Holy Spirit” John 3:3-5 Early church
Early Church community as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles regarded baptism as a necessary element of salvation (Acts 2:38) Sign of their repentance, proclaimed their forgiveness from sin and allowed them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit The beliefs that baptism is integral to salvation, that it signifies repentance and forgiveness of sin and that it allows for the coming of the Spirit are important beliefs of the Christian faith that are expressed in the practice of baptism Symbols and rituals
Symbols used during the rite of baptism also express significant beliefs of the Christian tradition Sign of the cross is used in a number of places in the rite; this simple symbol and ritual action expresses the Christian belief in the triune God which is at the heart of the Christian faith Water
Water is another important symbol and links to many ideas in the Christian tradition Water reflects the belief in rebirth and in cleansing from sin which are at the heart of the Christian gospel Anointing
Oil is a traditional symbol for healing and strength
Also used in the sense of mandating or setting someone aside for a purpose
Seen in the anointing of a king such as the anointing of Saul (1 Samuel 10:1-3) Christians are anointed with oil as a sign of their mandate to share in the ministry of Jesus White garment
This symbolises the purity of the baptised person
Expresses the idea that in baptism the individual is cleansed from original sin Baptism is therefore a new beginning for Christians
It brings to mind notions of Jesus being the light of the world (John 8:12) The word of God being a guiding light for people to follow (Psalm 119:105) Symbolises the conflict between good and evil
Light dispelling the darkness in and through the ministry of Jesus (John 1:4-6) Expresses the idea of the gifts bestowed on the individual and their responsibility to use these gifts in service to others (Matthew 5:16) Sample response (‘Analyse’ – 6 Marks):
The practice of baptism is an important rite in most denominations of Christianity. It holds a central place as a rite of initiation and expresses many significant beliefs of the Christian tradition.
The use of water as the central symbol of baptism reflects the belief in God as creator and humankind’s dependence on God. It calls to mind images of the accounts of creation (Genesis 1:2), the flood (Genesis 7-8) and the Exodus. (Exodus 14).The image of water also calls to mind the image of the womb and the discussion of rebirth in water and the Spirit in John’s Gospel (John 3). This imagery of this story closely parallels the Christian understanding of baptism as a rebirth from original sin into the life of the Spirit.
The early Church community as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles regarded baptism as a necessary element of salvation (Acts 2:38).The act of repentance proclaimed in baptism expresses the idea of turning away from sin which is integral to the practice of baptism. Christians believe that in baptism they are turning away from or renouncing sin and evil and turning in a positive way to live the life of the Spirit.
The practice of baptism in the Christian tradition also expresses the belief of Christians in the Church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). In a spiritual sense, the believer is able to participate through the body of Christ in the mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising.
The symbols used during the rite of baptism also express significant beliefs of the Christian tradition. The most obvious of these is the sign of the cross which is used in a number of places in the rite. This simple symbol and ritual action expresses the Christian belief in the triune God which is at the heart of the Christian faith.
The anointing with the oil of Chrism is another important symbol. Oil is a traditional symbol for healing and strength. In baptism, Christians are anointed with oil as a sign of their mandate to share in the ministry of Jesus. The use of a white garment symbolises the purity of the baptised person and expresses the idea that in baptism the individual is cleansed from original sin. (374 words)
Analyse the significance of this practice for both the individual and the Christian community
Significance of baptism for Individual:
Different teachings but common importance
The individual is formally accepted into community > share in mission of Church, a rite of passage signifying maturity and conscious commitment to Christ (where adult baptism is concerned)
The individual is invited to share in the rich heritage of the sacrament: Parallels with great flood, exodus through the Red Sea > new life, regeneration, freedom from slavery (1 Corinthians 10) Jesus baptized: “then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan, to John, to be baptised by him” (Matthew 3)
The individual repents and is able to receive salvation:
Recognition of inherently sinful nature and need for forgiveness Repent > purifies individual as a symbolic act of internal change “This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body…but it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 3:21 Relationship with God > premise for eternal life >Romans talks of being baptised into eternal life so individuals can “walk in newness of life” “All were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death…therefore…just as Christ was raised from the dead and through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3-4)
Significance for Community:
Affirms the responsibility of the Christian community to support and encourage one another in spiritual development Reinforces importance of roles of parents, godparents/sponsors etc Expands the spiritual house of God >“But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12) > this encourages other Christians to continue spreading word Adherents become “living stones” to be built into the house of God (Deuteronomy 2:5)
Cohesion of witness > after Sunday worship so whole congregation can witness Some churches annually baptise whole congregations > renewal of baptismal promises and recital of Creed Sample response (‘Explain’ – 6 Marks):
Baptism is a significant practice followed by most Christian denominations. It is used as a rite of initiation for people wishing to join the Christian community. The rite of baptism is significant adherents of Christianity in a number of ways.
Firstly it can be regarded as significant because of its ties with the earliest Christian communities and indeed with Jesus’ life and ministry itself. Secondly, it can be regarded as significant for the theological reflection that if offers to both the individual and the community. Thirdly, it has enormous significance in the saving action of God and the formation of a Christian community. Finally, it has all the significance of an authentic rite of passage for both the individual and the community.
The fact that baptism is an ancient ritual is significant for the individual because they walk the same path and share the same rite that has been practiced among Christians since the earliest days of the Church. It is also important for the Christian community as a whole because in celebrating each rite of baptism they are perpetuating the ancient tradition and honouring the intention of Jesus and the early disciples.
The rite of baptism has great possibilities for theological reflection. The richness of this reflection is very significant for the individual. There are abundant opportunities for prayerful reflection and spiritual development in the rite of baptism. For the community, the theological richness provides a source of constant reflection and renewal.
Further significance of the practice of baptism can be seen in the theological dimension of its place in the economy of salvation. This is significant for the individual who, through their baptism, receives the assurance that they have received the forgiveness of the sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism they are now a member of the body of Christ. The rite of baptism is a profound marker in the life of the community. It marks both their growth through the new member of the community and also is witness to their mission to bring the gospel to others.
Baptism is also an authentic rite of passage, for the individual there is significance in the sense of belonging experienced, the sharing with a community of common mind and faith. The community is invigorated when it is engaged in the task of the gospel and enriched by the presence of a new member of the community. (401 words)
Sample response (Outline purpose and assess significance – 20 Marks)
Baptism is clearly a most significant practice for most Christian denominations. It has profound significance for the person who is baptised and is also important for the Christian community as a whole. The significance can be viewed from a number of different perspectives.
Firstly it can be regarded as significant because of its ties with the earliest Christian communities and indeed with the life and ministry itself. Secondly it can be regarded as significant for the theological reflection that if offers to both the individual and the community. Thirdly it has enormous significance in the saving action of God and the formation of a Christian community. Finally it has all the significance of an authentic rite of passage for both the individual and the community.
Baptism is an ancient ritual. It has belonged in the life of the Christian community since its inception and indeed predates the Christian movement in the context of Judaism. It seems apparent that some Jewish groups were practising baptism prior to the ministry of Jesus. Indeed, John the Baptist, who is presented in the Gospels as a forerunner to the ministry of Jesus had baptism as the hallmark of his own ministry (Mark 1:4).
Jesus himself accepted the baptism of John (Mark 1:9) and gave instructions to his followers to baptise people in his name (Matthew 28:19). Obviously the practice of baptism has great significance in the Christian tradition and indeed it relates to and expresses a number of important beliefs.
For the earliest Christians baptism was a profoundly significant event and for Christians today, the possibility of sharing in an event of such ancient significance is rich and rewarding. It is significant for the individual because they walk the same path and share the same rite that has been practiced among Christians since the earliest days of the Church. It is also important for the Christian community as a whole because in celebrating each rite of baptism they are perpetuating the ancient tradition and honouring the intention of Jesus and the early disciples. The rite of baptism has great possibilities for theological reflection. There are images of death and new life which call to mind the death and resurrection of Jesus.
There are also Images of creation and renewal which convey an understanding about the great saving actions of the God of Israel. Further aspects of the rite of baptism allow reflection on the struggle between good and evil in the images of light and darkness. Other images call for reflection on the idea of repentance and forgiveness as well as cleansing and renewal. Indeed it is difficult to find significant aspects of Christian theology which are not captured in the tradition, the symbols and the ritual actions associated with the practice of baptism.
The richness of this reflection is very significant for the individual. Whether it be for the candidate preparing for their own baptism or a parent or God parent preparing for a child’s baptism, there are abundant opportunities for prayerful reflection and spiritual development in the rite of baptism. Many Churches invite candidates to prepare for baptism or to prepare for their role as parents or God parents through engaging in a preparation course which helps them make connections between theological themes and their own experience.
For the community, the theological richness provides a source of constant reflection and renewal. Many Christian communities invite congregations to renew their own baptismal promises on the occasion of baptisms in the local Church community. These occasions challenge the members of the community to constantly reflect on their vocation as Christians and the significance of their own baptism. The involvement of the community in assisting candidates prepare for their baptism and praying for those involved is yet another dimension of the significance for the community.
Further significance of the practice of baptism can be seen in the theological dimension of its place in the economy of salvation. The early Church community as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles regarded baptism as a necessary element of salvation (Acts 2:38). It was a sign of their repentance, proclaimed their forgiveness from sin and allowed them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The beliefs that baptism is integral to salvation, that it signifies repentance and forgiveness of sin and that it allows for the coming of the Spirit are important beliefs of the Christian faith that are expressed in the practice of baptism.
This is significant for the individual who through their baptism receives the assurance that they have received the forgiveness of the sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through baptism they are now a member of the body of Christ. The rite of baptism is a profound marker in the life of the community. It marks both their growth through the new member of the community and also is witness to their mission to bring the gospel to others.
Baptism is also an authentic rite of passage. It marks the transition of the individual from one stage or state in life onto the next. In terms of the Christian community it marks the transition of a person from being outside of this community to becoming a fully initiated.
Thus for the individual there is significance in the sense of belonging experienced, the sharing with a community of common mind and faith. For the community, the process of supporting a person through their preparation and welcoming them into the community through baptism is also highly significant. The community is invigorated when it is engaged in the task of the gospel and enriched by the presence of a new member of the community.