Leader Resource 2: Christianity Background
(Label a sheet of newsprint "Christian Beliefs.")
Ask participants what Christians believe. List their responses on newsprint. Remind participants if necessary that we are not critiquing the beliefs. Make sure the following are included:
- One God — the God of Abraham
- Trinity -- does not appear in the Bible; introduced by the church in the third century CE. One God in three parts: Father, Son, Holy Spirit/Ghost. Jesus was considered both wholly God and wholly man. The Trinity has been central to Catholicism and mainstream Protestant denominations since it was formalized.
- Sin — transgression of divine law for which people must be forgiven or punished
- Satan — the Devil is very real, a powerful, active being who tries to tempt and trick humans into sin.
- Heaven and Hell — doctrine holds that the good will go to heaven, the evil to everlasting hell. Some teach that all non-Christians will go to hell, some that baptism assures someone a place in heaven.
- Purgatory — (Catholic only) a post-death destination for those who have sinned but can be redeemed. In purgatory, souls suffer for a period of time to do penance for their sins, but then are forgiven and allowed into heaven
- Conversion — because traditional Christians are certain nonbelievers will suffer in everlasting hell, they feel it is urgent to convert people to Christianity. They believe they are offering eternal peace and happiness, and are saving people from a terrible fate.
- If youth name some beliefs that are Catholic, but not shared by all Christians, list them, but note the difference.
In this workshop, we will focus on Jesus: his life and some of the stories and words attributed to him. We will hear a little about the early Church. The second workshop on Christianity deals more closely with the establishment of the church, include the birth of Protestantism.