Year 11 General Unit 2, Mod 2 - Beliefs and Teachings
Made in the image and likeness of God
Christianity is based upon a number of important religious beliefs. All of these beliefs point towards and speak about God and God’s activity in the world. An important religious belief is that all people are made in the image and likeness of God.To make sense of this religious belief some important questions need to be considered:
Creation is the greatest evidence of God’s love. The universe reveals God’s mastery —a mastery all people have been created to reflect.
Creation Story Teachings
The Creation Stories teach that within every human person lies the potential to reflect God:
- to love like God, who is love
- to forgive like God, who is forgiving
- to be understanding of others like God, who is understanding
- to be compassionate like God, who is compassionate
- to grow in knowledge like God, who knows all.
Story of the Fall
In the Story of the Fall, Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil to reject their relationship with God by eating the fruit of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’, [Genesis 3:5 and 2:17] something God had forbidden.
The State of Original Justice
In the Creation Stories, God reveals that people have been created with four harmonious relationships. Each brings its own responsibilities and rights which God wishes to be respected.
- Harmony with God.
- Harmony within themselves.
- Harmony with each other.
- Harmony with the rest of creation.
Though everyone has the potential to relate with creation, many fail to do so. As a result, today there is:
- land degradation
- industrial waste
- damaged environmental cycles
- human hunger and malnutrition
- extinction of species because of human activity
- destruction of the environment
- global warming.
God’s love for each human being is total, unconditional and all-forgiving.
The Fairness of Jesus
Was Jesus fair in the way he expected people to treat each other? Make no mistake. Jesus, who in human form completely represented God’s character, promoted a society –His kingdom –that would be wildly, rampantly, prodigiously unfair and unjust. You read that correctly. Unfair and unjust.
‘An eye for an eye,’ was seen as fair.
‘Tooth for tooth’ was considered just.
What Jesus desired for the world was so different from the fairness and justice practised by humanity that one sympathises with His family in Mark 3:21: ‘When (they) heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
’How was Jesus unfair? Well for one thing, he said, ‘The first will last and the last will be first.’ He also said, ‘Turn the other cheek.’ This wasn’t the justice that the world wanted. It still isn’t!
Adapted from Australian Catholics, Winter 2015
In the very beginning of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, the story of creation is told. In the telling of this story, who God is and the role of people in God’s plan for creation are taught. Central to these stories are lessons about key beliefs.
Some of these are:
- God is the creator of all
- All that God creates is good
- People are part of God’s creation
- All people are created in the image and likeness of God.
God is the creator of all
In the Book of Genesis God is revealed as the creator of all. God:
- initiates creation from nothing
- brings the universe into existence at a point in time, creating many natural forces (gravity, radiation, weather influences)
- continues to sustain the existence of the universe
- does not abandon creation –God not only gives being and existence, but upholds and sustains life until its final end.
The Two Creation Stories
The two creation stories [Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:42:25] are written to help people remember the lessons they were developed to teach. They were never intended to be understood as being literally true.
God created the human race
Both Creation Stories, using imagery and writing conventions of the time they were composed, reveal that the human race has been created by God.
God is the source of human identity
Both Creation Stories teach that people are fundamentally different from the rest of creation. They have been created in the image of God, the essence of their lives being the very breath of God.
God’s love for people
God’s love for people came to be understood only over time. Ultimately, it was Jesus who made this clear.
God's Love for People
The Creation Stories show God’s love for people in these basic ways:
- giving them the resources of the earth for their needs [Genesis 1:29]
- having concern for man’s loneliness [Genesis 2:18]
- showing trust by giving women and men roles that share in God’s work of preserving the earth [Genesis 1:26].
People relate with God by acknowledging the ways God loves them and by trying to love God in return.
God created humanity as the climax of creation
Humanity is the climax of God’s creation. God has revealed it in the Scriptures, where human beings are spoken of as ‘God’s work of art’ [Ephesians 2:10].
All people are called to respect each other
Recognising humanity as the climax of God’s creation means:
- treating others and ourselves with dignity
- respecting and protecting human life from its conception
- doing what we can to ensure that all have the resources they need for life
- doing what we can to ensure that future generations inherit a world that can continue to be a sign of God’s goodness and love.
Christians are called to lead others to become God’s fellow-workers
- God is the Master of creation
- people are called to reflect God’s mastery in their relationship with creation
- the human call to serve as God’s ‘fellow workers’
Mastery of creation
- try to ensure that everything God sees as ‘good’ is preserved and renewed for future generations
- acknowledge that the earth is not theirs to exploit
- try to ensure that all people have a fair share of the earth’s resources
- care for and nurture the life of creation and the environment.
To serve as God’s fellow-workers re-quires stewardship
To serve as God’s fellow-workers in God’s work of creation requires stewardship or proper management of the earth’s resources. God has created people stewards of creation.
God is present everywhere
Creation is a permanent sign of the presence of the Creator. It is like an all-surrounding advertisement created by God saying: Creation is a permanent reminder that God wants people to relate with the Creator who provides for them in love.
God is wise
People have discovered that the universe did not ‘just happen’. Its beginning, complexity and interrelationships; its powers and other features —all make any notion of a chance beginning from nothing unreasonable.
God’s love is revealed
God created humanity and the rest of creation to provide for humanity [Genesis 2:16]. God did so simply to express love, ‘all powerful love’.
The Bible reveals the nature of sin and suffering in the world. God’s state of original justice was destroyed by sin God created human beings to relate with their Creator. They were to love and be loved by God, and, in this, they were different from other creatures. The Book of Genesis portrays this relationship as close, trusting and informal.
The original relationship with God damaged
This damaged their relationship with God. This affected the way they functioned as human beings. As a result, the relationship with God, themselves, each other and the environment was changed.
The original relationship with the environment was damaged
The state of original justice created by God included the human responsibility to care for the environment in ways that reflected the mastery of God. The Fall changed this relationship. Now the man and the woman tried to exploit the fruit of the tree for selfish purposes [Genesis 3:5-6].
God the Father sent Jesus to restore goodness and justice through the Incarnation of Jesus.
Jesus and Justice
Jesus came to serve as a model and teacher for all humanity. God the Father sent him to restore the human capacity to reflect God.