A primer on Christian thought, the Bible, doctrine, and Christian history
Christianity 101 began Wednesday with a class that focused on the essential nature and mission of the church. Class members examined several biblical texts, including the call of Abram, Isaiah's vision in the temple, the calling of the first disciples, and the prophet, Samuel's first encounter with God.
Class members spent time remembering their own entry into the church and discussing moments when the church and their faith were critical in their lives.
"We could talk about Christianity in terms of doctrines or rules or theological understandings," Rev. Keeler said, "but the essential nature and purpose of our faith is to help us, through the human interactions in church, to hear God calling to us, to help each other enter into a meaningful relationship with God. We don't ever want to lose sight of that. It's the reason the Bible contains so many descriptions of God communicating with ordinary people."
In coming weeks, this class will examine several major topics, including:
* The Bible Who wrote it? Who chose which books are included in it? How old is it? Why were some books left out and others included? What types of literature comprise the Bible?
* Christian history How did a single Christian church evolve into hundreds of sects and denominations? Who are key figures in Christian history, and why are they important? How do various denominations and traditions differ in their understanding of the gospel? Specific historical information about United Methodism.
* Christian doctrine What is the Holy Trinity? How have various theologians attempted to understand and describe the person and work of Jesus Christ? A basic doctrine of the church. What are basic Christian understandings of human beings?
* Sacraments What sacraments are recognized by Christians? What is Holy Communion? Baptism? Why do Roman Catholics practice 7 sacraments while Protestants recognize only 2?
* Worship and Mission What is worship? Why do we do it? Why are various symbols omnipresent in Christian worship? What do those symbols represent? What is the mission of the church? How do we carry out that mission?
In addition to examining these and other areas, Rev. Keeler will answer questions posed by members of the class. We began the process of listing those questions Wednesday with two:
-- What is a gospel and how many of them are there?
-- What is the difference between a disciple and a prophet?
Christianity 101 meets at 6:15 p.m. each Wednesday in the lounge. Class members are invited to come at 5:30 to join in the regular Wednesday evening dinner served to all who participate in our Wednesday WOW program. Rev. Keeler will join class participants at dinner to encourage casual discussion about topics engaged in class.