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Another group, known as the Ebionites , taught that Jesus was not God, but the human Moshiach messiah, anointed prophet promised in the Hebrew Bible. Some of these views could be described as Unitarianism although that is a modern term in their insistence on the oneness of God. These views, which directly affected how one understood the Godhead, were declared heresies by the Council of Nicaea. Throughout much of the rest of the ancient history of Christianity, Christologies that denied Christ's divinity ceased to have a major impact on the life of the church.
Arianism affirmed that Jesus was divine, but taught that he was nevertheless a created being there was [a time] when he was not [in existence] , and was therefore less divine than God the Father. The matter boiled down to one iota; Arianism taught Homo i ousia —the belief that Jesus's divinity is similar to that of God the Father—as opposed to Homoousia —the belief that Jesus's divinity is the same as that of God the Father. Arius ' opponents additionally included in the term Arianism the belief that Jesus' divinity is different from that of God the Father Heteroousia.
Arianism was condemned by the Council of Nicea, but remained popular in the northern and western provinces of the empire, and continued to be the majority view of western Europe well into the 6th century. Indeed, even the Christian legend of Constantine's death-bed baptism involves a bishop who, in recorded history, was an Arian. In the modern era, a number of denominations have rejected the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity, including the Christadelphians and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The Christological debates following the Council of Nicaea sought to make sense of the interplay of the human and divine in the person of Christ while upholding the doctrine of the Trinity. Apollinaris of Laodicea — taught that in Jesus, the divine component took the place of the human nous thinking — not to be confused with thelis , meaning intent. This however was seen as a denial of Jesus' true humanity, and the view was condemned at the First Council of Constantinople.
Subsequently, Nestorius of Constantinople — initiated a view that effectively separated Jesus into two persons—one divine and one human; the mechanism of this combination is known as hypostas e s , and contrasts with hypostas i s —the view that there is no separation. Nestorius' theology was deemed heretical at the First Council of Ephesus Though, as seen by the writings of Babai the Great , the Christology of the Church of the East is highly similar to that of Chalcedon, many orthodox Christians particularly in the West consider this group to be the perpetuation of Nestorianism ; the modern Assyrian Church of the East has at times shunned this term, as it implies acceptance of the entire theology of Nestorius.
Various forms of Monophysitism taught that Christ only had one nature: that the divine had either dissolved Eutychianism , or that the divine joined with the human as one nature in the person of Christ Miaphysitism. A notable monophysite theologian was Eutyches c. Monophysitism was rejected as heresy at the Council of Chalcedon in , which affirmed that Jesus Christ had two natures divine and human joined in one person, in hypostatic union see Chalcedonian creed.
While Eutychianism was suppressed into oblivion by the Chalcedonians and Miaphysites, the Miaphysite groups who dissented from the Chalcedonian formula have persisted as the Oriental Orthodox Church. As theologians continued to search for a compromise between the Chalcedonian definition and the Monophysites , other Christologies developed that partially rejected the full humanity of Christ.
Monothelitism taught that in the one person of Jesus there were two natures, but only a divine will. Closely related to this is Monoenergism , which held to the same doctrine as the Monothelites, but with different terminology. The Incarnation is the belief in Christianity that the second person in the Christian Godhead , also known as God the Son or the Logos Word , "became flesh" when he was miraculously conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
The incarnation is a fundamental theological teaching of orthodox Nicene Christianity , based on its understanding of the New Testament.
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The incarnation represents the belief that Jesus, who is the non-created second hypostasis of the triune God , took on a human body and nature and became both man and God. In the Bible its clearest teaching is in John : "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. In the Incarnation, as traditionally defined, the divine nature of the Son was joined but not mixed with human nature  in one divine Person, Jesus Christ, who was both "truly God and truly man".
The Incarnation is commemorated and celebrated each year at Christmas , and also reference can be made to the Feast of the Annunciation ; "different aspects of the mystery of the Incarnation" are celebrated at Christmas and the Annunciation. This is central to the traditional faith held by most Christians. Alternative views on the subject See Ebionites and the Gospel according to the Hebrews have been proposed throughout the centuries see below , but all were rejected by mainstream Christian bodies.
In recent decades, an alternative doctrine known as " Oneness " has been espoused among various Pentecostal groups see below , but has been rejected by the remainder of Christendom. In the early Christian era , there was considerable disagreement amongst Christians regarding the nature of Christ's Incarnation. While all Christians believed that Jesus was indeed the Son of God , the exact nature of his Sonship was contested, together with the precise relationship of the " Father ," "Son" and " Holy Ghost " referred to in the New Testament.
Though Jesus was clearly the "Son," what exactly did this mean? Debate on this subject raged most especially during the first four centuries of Christianity, involving Jewish Christians , Gnostics , followers of the Presbyter Arius of Alexandra, and adherents of St. Athanasius the Great , among others. Eventually, the Christian Church accepted the teaching of St. Athanasius and his allies, that Christ was the incarnation of the eternal second person of the Trinity , who was fully God and fully a man simultaneously. All divergent beliefs were defined as heresies. This included Docetism , which said that Jesus was a divine being that took on human appearance but not flesh; Arianism , which held that Christ was a created being; and Nestorianism , which maintained that the Son of God and the man, Jesus, shared the same body but retained two separate natures.
The Oneness belief held by certain modern Pentecostal churches is also seen as heretical by most mainstream Christian bodies. The most widely accepted the early Christian Church made definitions of the Incarnation and the nature of Jesus at the First Council of Nicaea in , the Council of Ephesus in , and the Council of Chalcedon in These councils declared that Jesus was both fully God: begotten from, but not created by the Father; and fully man: taking his flesh and human nature from the Virgin Mary.
These two natures, human and divine, were hypostatically united into the one personhood of Jesus Christ. The link between the Incarnation and the Atonement within systematic theological thought is complex. Within traditional models of the Atonement, such as Substitution , Satisfaction or Christus Victor , Christ must be Divine in order for the Sacrifice of the Cross to be efficacious, for human sins to be "removed" or "conquered". In his work The Trinity and the Kingdom of God , Jurgen Moltmann differentiated between what he called a "fortuitous" and a "necessary" Incarnation.
The latter gives a soteriological emphasis to the Incarnation: the Son of God became a man so that he could save us from our sins. The former, on the other hand, speaks of the Incarnation as a fulfilment of the Love of God , of his desire to be present and living amidst humanity, to "walk in the garden" with us. Moltmann favours "fortuitous" incarnation primarily because he feels that to speak of an incarnation of "necessity" is to do an injustice to the life of Christ. Moltmann's work, alongside other systematic theologians, opens up avenues of liberation Christology.
In short, this doctrine states that two natures, one human and one divine, are united in the one person of Christ. The Council further taught that each of these natures, the human and the divine, was distinct and complete. This view is sometimes called Dyophysite meaning two natures by those who rejected it. Hypostatic union from the Greek for substance is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of two natures, humanity and divinity, in Jesus Christ.
A brief definition of the doctrine of two natures can be given as: "Jesus Christ, who is identical with the Son, is one person and one hypostasis in two natures: a human and a divine. The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the humanity and divinity of Christ are made one according to nature and hypostasis in the Logos. The First Council of Nicaea declared that the Father and the Son are of the same substance and are co-eternal. This belief was expressed in the Nicene Creed.
Apollinaris of Laodicea was the first to use the term hypostasis in trying to understand the Incarnation. The Nestorian Theodore of Mopsuestia went in the other direction, arguing that in Christ there were two natures dyophysite human and divine and two hypostases in the sense of "essence" or "person" that co-existed. The Chalcedonian Creed agreed with Theodore that there were two natures in the Incarnation. However, the Council of Chalcedon also insisted that hypostasis be used as it was in the Trinitarian definition: to indicate the person and not the nature as with Apollinarius.
Thus, the Council declared that in Christ there are two natures; each retaining its own properties, and together united in one subsistence and in one single person. As the precise nature of this union is held to defy finite human comprehension, the hypostatic union is also referred to by the alternative term "mystical union. The Oriental Orthodox Churches , having rejected the Chalcedonian Creed, were known as Monophysites because they would only accept a definition that characterized the incarnate Son as having one nature.
The Chalcedonian "in two natures" formula was seen as derived from and akin to a Nestorian Christology. However, the Oriental Orthodox have in modern ecumenical dialogue specified that they have never believed in the doctrines of Eutyches, that they have always affirmed that Christ's humanity is consubstantial with our own, and they thus prefer the term "Miaphysite" to refer to themselves a reference to Cyrillian Christology, which used the phrase "mia physis tou theou logou sesarkomene".
In recent times, leaders from the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches have signed joint statements in an attempt to work towards reunification. Although Christian orthodoxy holds that Jesus was fully human, the Epistle to the Hebrews , for example, states that Christ was 'holy and without evil' The question concerning the sinlessness of Jesus Christ focuses on this seeming paradox.
Does being fully human require that one participate in the "fall" of Adam , or could Jesus exist in an "unfallen" status as Adam and Eve did before the "fall," according to Genesis 2—3? Evangelical writer Donald Macleod suggests that the sinless nature of Jesus Christ involves two elements. The assertion is that Jesus did not commit sin, nor could he be proven guilty of sin; he had no vices.
In fact, he is quoted as asking, "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? The temptation of Christ shown in the gospels affirms that he was tempted. Indeed, the temptations were genuine and of a greater intensity than normally experienced by human beings. Jesus was tempted through hunger and thirst, pain and the love of his friends. Thus, the human weaknesses could engender temptation.
The temptations Christ faced focused upon his person and identity as the incarnate Son of God. MacLeod writes, "Christ could be tempted through his sonship. I must forget all else and all others and all further service until that is clear. The communion of attributes Communicatio idiomatum of Christ's divine and human natures is understood according to Chalcedonian theology to mean that they exist together with neither overriding the other.
That is, both are preserved and coexist in one person. Christ had all the properties of God and humanity. God did not stop being God and become man. Christ was not half-God and half-human. The two natures did not mix into a new third kind of nature. Although independent, they acted in complete accord; when one nature acted, so did the other. The natures did not commingle, merge, infuse each other, or replace each other. One was not converted into the other.
They remained distinct yet acted with one accord. Some now disregard or even argue against this "doctrine" to which most denominations of Christianity ascribe. This section looks at the Christological issues surrounding belief or disbelief in the virgin birth. A non-virgin birth would seem to require some form of adoptionism. This is because a human conception and birth would seem to yield a fully human Jesus, with some other mechanism required to make Jesus divine as well.
A non-virgin birth would seem to support the full humanity of Jesus. William Barclay: states, "The supreme problem of the virgin birth is that it does quite undeniably differentiate Jesus from all men; it does leave us with an incomplete incarnation. Barth speaks of the virgin birth as the divine sign "which accompanies and indicates the mystery of the incarnation of the Son. Donald MacLeod  gives several Christological implications of a virgin birth:. The discussion of whether the three distinct persons in the Godhead of the Trinity were of greater, equal, or lesser by comparison was also, like many other areas of early Christology, a subject of debate.
In Athenagoras of Athens c. On the other end of the spectrum were tritheism as well as some radically subordinationist views, the latter of which emphasized the primacy of the Father of Creation to the deity of Christ and Jesus's authority over the Holy Spirit. During the Council of Nicea, the modalist bishops of Rome and Alexandria aligned politically with Athanasius; whereas the bishops of Constantinople Nicomedia , Antioch, and Jerusalem sided with the subordinationists as middle ground between Arius and Athanasius.
Theologians like Jurgen Moltmann and Walter Kasper have characterized Christologies as anthropological or cosmological. These are also termed 'Christology from below' and 'Christology from above' respectively. An anthropological Christology starts with the human person of Jesus and works from his life and ministry toward what it means for him to be divine; whereas, a cosmological Christology works in the opposite direction.
Starting from the eternal Logos, a cosmological Christology works toward his humanity. Theologians typically begin on one side or the other and their choice inevitably colors their resultant Christology. As a starting point these options represent "diverse yet complementary" approaches; each poses its own difficulties. Both Christologies 'from above' and 'from below' must come to terms with the two natures of Christ: human and divine.
Just as light can be perceived as a wave or as a particle, so Jesus must be thought in terms of both his divinity and humanity. You cannot talk about "either or" but must talk about "both and". Christologies from above start with the Logos, the second Person of the Trinity, establish his eternality, his agency in creation, and his economic Sonship.
Jesus' unity with God is established by the Incarnation as the divine Logos assumes a human nature. This approach was common in the early church—e. Paul and St. John in the Gospels. The attribution of full humanity to Jesus is resolved by stating that the two natures mutually share their properties a concept termed communicatio idiomatum. Christologies from below start with the human being Jesus as the representative of the new humanity, not with the pre-existent Logos.
Jesus lives an exemplary life, one to which we aspire in religious experience. This form of Christology lends itself to mysticism, and some of its roots go back to emergence of Christ mysticism in the 6th century East, but in the West it flourished between the 11th and 14th centuries. A recent theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg contends that the resurrected Jesus is the "eschatological fulfillment of human destiny to live in nearness to God. The Christian faith is inherently political because allegiance to Jesus as risen Lord relativises all earthly rule and authority.
Jesus is called "Lord" over times in Paul's epistles alone, and is thus the principal confession of faith in the Pauline epistles. Further, N. Wright argues that this Pauline confession is the core of the gospel of salvation. The Achilles' heel of this approach is the loss of eschatological tension between this present age and the future divine rule that is yet to come. This can happen when the state co-opts Christ's authority as was often the case in imperial Christology. Modern political Christologies seek to overcome imperialist ideologies. The resurrection is perhaps the most controversial aspect of the life of Jesus Christ.
Christianity hinges on this point of Christology, both as a response to a particular history and as a confessional response. After Jesus had died, and was buried, the New Testament states that he appeared to others in bodily form. Some skeptics say his appearances were only perceived by his followers in mind or spirit. After seeing Jesus they boldly proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ despite tremendous risk. Eusebius of the early church worked out this threefold classification, which during the Reformation played a substantial role in scholastic Lutheran Christology and in John Calvin 's  and John Wesley 's Christology.
Pneumatology is the study of the Holy Spirit. In Christian theology pneumatology refers to the study of the Holy Spirit. Within mainstream Trinitarian Christian beliefs he is the third person of the Trinity. The Christian theology of the Holy Spirit was the last piece of Trinitarian theology to be fully developed. Within mainstream Trinitarian Christianity the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity who make up the single substance of God.
Pneumatology would normally include study of the person of the Holy Spirit, and the works of the Holy Spirit. This latter category would normally include Christian teachings on new birth , spiritual gifts charismata , Spirit-baptism , sanctification , the inspiration of prophets , and the indwelling of the Holy Trinity which in itself covers many different aspects. Different Christian denominations have different theological approaches. Christians believe that the Holy Spirit leads people to faith in Jesus and gives them the ability to live a Christian lifestyle.
The Holy Spirit dwells inside every Christian, each one's body being his temple. The word is variously translated as Comforter, Counselor, Teacher, Advocate,  guiding people in the way of the truth. The Holy Spirit's action in one's life is believed to produce positive results, known as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables Christians, who still experience the effects of sin, to do things they never could do on their own. These spiritual gifts are not innate abilities "unlocked" by the Holy Spirit, but entirely new abilities, such as the ability to cast out demons or simply bold speech.
Through the influence of the Holy Spirit a person sees more clearly the world around him or her and can use his or her mind and body in ways that exceed his or her previous capacity. A list of gifts that may be bestowed include the charismatic gifts of prophecy , tongues , healing, and knowledge. Christians holding a view known as cessationism believe these gifts were given only in New Testament times. Christians almost universally agree that certain " spiritual gifts " are still in effect today, including the gifts of ministry, teaching, giving, leadership, and mercy.
After his resurrection , Christ told his disciples that they would be " baptized with the Holy Spirit" and would receive power from this event, [Ac —8] a promise that was fulfilled in the events recounted in the second chapter of Acts. On the first Pentecost , Jesus' disciples were gathered in Jerusalem when a mighty wind was heard and tongues of fire appeared over their heads. A multilingual crowd heard the disciples speaking, and each of them heard them speaking in his or her native language. The Holy Spirit is believed to perform specific divine functions in the life of the Christian or the church.
These include:. The Holy Spirit is also believed to be active especially in the life of Jesus Christ , enabling him to fulfil his work on earth. Particular actions of the Holy Spirit include:. Christians believe the " Fruit of the Spirit " consists of virtuous characteristics engendered in the Christian by the action of the Holy Spirit. They are those listed in Galatians —23 : "But the fruit of the Spirit is love , joy , peace , patience , kindness , goodness , faithfulness , gentleness , and self-control.
Christians believe that the Holy Spirit gives 'gifts' to Christians. These gifts consist of specific abilities granted to the individual Christian. The New Testament provides three different lists of such gifts which range from the supernatural healing, prophecy, tongues through those associated with specific callings teaching to those expected of all Christians in some degree faith.
Most consider these lists not to be exhaustive, and other have compiled their own lists. Spirit of Wisdom; 2. Spirit of Understanding; 3. Spirit of Counsel; 4. Spirit of Strength; 5. Spirit of Knowledge; 6. Spirit of Godliness; 7. Spirit of Holy Fear. It is over the nature and occurrence of these gifts, particularly the supernatural gifts sometimes called charismatic gifts , that the greatest disagreement between Christians with regard to the Holy Spirit exists. One view is that the supernatural gifts were a special dispensation for the apostolic ages, bestowed because of the unique conditions of the church at that time, and are extremely rarely bestowed in the present time.
The alternate view, espoused mainly by Pentecostal denominations and the charismatic movement, is that the absence of the supernatural gifts was due to the neglect of the Holy Spirit and his work by the church. Although some small groups, such as the Montanists , practiced the supernatural gifts they were rare until the growth of the Pentecostal movement in the late 19th century. Believers in the relevance of the supernatural gifts sometimes speak of a Baptism of the Holy Spirit or Filling of the Holy Spirit which the Christian needs to experience in order to receive those gifts.
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Many churches hold that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is identical with conversion, and that all Christians are by definition baptized in the Holy Spirit. The various authors of the Old and New Testament provide glimpses of their insight regarding cosmology. The cosmos was created by God by divine command, in the best-known and most complete account in the Bible, that of Genesis 1. Within this broad understanding, however, there are a number of views regarding exactly how this doctrine ought to be interpreted.
It is a tenet of Christian faith Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant that God is the creator of all things from nothing , and has made human beings in the Image of God , who by direct inference is also the source of the human soul.
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In Chalcedonian Christology , Jesus is the Word of God , which was in the beginning and, thus, is uncreated, and hence is God , and consequently identical with the Creator of the world ex nihilo. Roman Catholicism uses the phrase special creation to refer to the doctrine of immediate or special creation of each human soul.
In , the International Theological Commission, then under the presidency of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger , published a paper in which it accepts the current scientific accounts of the history of the universe commencing in the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago and of the evolution of all life on earth including humans from the micro organisms commencing about 4 billion years ago. In him. Christian anthropology is the study of humanity , especially as it relates to the divine. This theological anthropology refers to the study of the human "anthropology" as it relates to God.
It differs from the social science of anthropology , which primarily deals with the comparative study of the physical and social characteristics of humanity across times and places. One aspect studies the innate nature or constitution of the human, known as the nature of mankind. It is concerned with the relationship between notions such as body , soul and spirit which together form a person, based on their descriptions in the Bible.
There are three traditional views of the human constitution— trichotomism , dichotomism and monism in the sense of anthropology. The semantic domain of Biblical soul is based on the Hebrew word nepes , which presumably means "breath" or "breathing being". The New Testament follows the terminology of the Septuagint , and thus uses the word psyche with the Hebrew semantic domain and not the Greek,  that is an invisible power or ever more, for Platonists , immortal and immaterial that gives life and motion to the body and is responsible for its attributes.
In Patristic thought, towards the end of the 2nd century psyche was understood in more a Greek than a Hebrew way, and it was contrasted with the body. In the 3rd century, with the influence of Origen , there was the establishing of the doctrine of the inherent immortality of the soul and its divine nature. Inherent immortality of the soul was accepted among western and eastern theologians throughout the middle ages , and after the Reformation, as evidenced by the Westminster Confession.
It is often used interchangeably with "soul", psyche , although trichotomists believe that the spirit is distinct from the soul. Christians have traditionally believed that the body will be resurrected at the end of the age. The apostle Paul contrasts flesh and spirit in Romans 7—8. The Bible teaches in the book of Genesis the humans were created by God. Some Christians believe that this must have involved a miraculous creative act, while others are comfortable with the idea that God worked through the evolutionary process.
The book of Genesis also teaches that human beings, male and female, were created in the image of God. The exact meaning of this has been debated throughout church history. Christian anthropology has implications for beliefs about death and the afterlife. The Christian church has traditionally taught that the soul of each individual separates from the body at death, to be reunited at the resurrection.
This is closely related to the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The question then arises: where exactly does the disembodied soul "go" at death? Theologians refer to this subject as the intermediate state. The Old Testament speaks of a place called sheol where the spirits of the dead reside.
In the New Testament , hades , the classical Greek realm of the dead, takes the place of sheol. In particular, Jesus teaches in Luke —31 Lazarus and Dives that hades consists of two separate "sections", one for the righteous and one for the unrighteous. His teaching is consistent with intertestamental Jewish thought on the subject. Fully developed Christian theology goes a step further; on the basis of such texts as Luke and Philippians , it has traditionally been taught that the souls of the dead are received immediately either into heaven or hell, where they will experience a foretaste of their eternal destiny prior to the resurrection.
Roman Catholicism teaches a third possible location, Purgatory , though this is denied by Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. Some Christian groups which stress a monistic anthropology deny that the soul can exist consciously apart from the body. For example, the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that the intermediate state is an unconscious sleep; this teaching is informally known as " soul sleep ".
In Christian belief, both the righteous and the unrighteous will be resurrected at the last judgment. The righteous will receive incorruptible, immortal bodies 1 Corinthians 15 , while the unrighteous will be sent to hell. Traditionally, Christians have believed that hell will be a place of eternal physical and psychological punishment.
In the last two centuries, annihilationism has become popular. The study of the Blessed Virgin Mary , doctrines about her, and how she relates to the Church, Christ, and the individual Christian is called Mariology. Catholic Mariology is the Marian study specifically in the context of the Catholic Church.
Most descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms. For example, in terms such as encampment Gen. Its specific hierarchy differs slightly from the Hierarchy of Angels as it surrounds more military services, whereas the Hierarchy of angels is a division of angels into non-military services to God.
Cherubim are depicted as accompanying God's chariot-throne Ps. Exodus —22 refers to two Cherub statues placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant, the two cherubim are usually interpreted as guarding the throne of God. Other guard-like duties include being posted in locations such as the gates of Eden Gen. Cherubim were mythological winged bulls or other beasts that were part of ancient Near Eastern traditions. This angelic designation might be given to angels of various ranks. An example would be Raphael who is ranked variously as a Seraph, Cherub, and Archangel.
It is not known how many angels there are but one figure given in Revelation for the number of "many angels in a circle around the throne, as well as the living creatures and the elders" was "ten thousand times ten thousand", which would be million. In most of Christianity , a fallen angel is an angel who has been exiled or banished from Heaven. Often such banishment is a punishment for disobeying or rebelling against God see War in Heaven.
The best-known fallen angel is Lucifer. Lucifer is a name frequently given to Satan in Christian belief. This usage stems from a particular interpretation, as a reference to a fallen angel, of a passage in the Bible Isaiah —20 that speaks of someone who is given the name of "Day Star" or "Morning Star" in Latin , Lucifer as fallen from heaven. Allegedly, fallen angels are those which have committed one of the seven deadly sins.
Therefore, are banished from heaven and suffer in hell for all eternity. Demons from hell would punish the fallen angel by ripping out their wings as a sign of insignificance and low rank. Christianity has taught Heaven as a place of eternal life , in that it is a shared plane to be attained by all the elect rather than an abstract experience related to individual concepts of the ideal.
The Christian Church has been divided over how people gain this eternal life. From the 16th to the late 19th century, Christendom was divided between the Roman Catholic view, the Orthodox view, the Coptic view, the Jacobite view, the Abyssinian view and Protestant views. See also Christian denominations. Heaven is the English name for a transcendental realm wherein human beings who have transcended human living live in an afterlife. Christianity maintains that entry into Heaven awaits such time as, "When the form of this world has passed away.
I Thess — Two related and often confused concepts of heaven in Christianity are better described as the "resurrection of the body" , which is exclusively of biblical origin, as contrasted with the " immortality of the soul ", which is also evident in the Greek tradition.
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In the first concept, the soul does not enter heaven until the last judgement or the "end of time" when it along with the body is resurrected and judged. In the second concept, the soul goes to a heaven on another plane such as the intermediate state immediately after death. These two concepts are generally combined in the doctrine of the double judgement where the soul is judged once at death and goes to a temporary heaven, while awaiting a second and final physical judgement at the end of the world.
One popular medieval view of Heaven was that it existed as a physical place above the clouds and that God and the Angels were physically above, watching over man. Heaven as a physical place survived in the concept that it was located far out into space, and that the stars were "lights shining through from heaven".
Many of today's biblical scholars, such as N. Wright , in tracing the concept of Heaven back to its Jewish roots, see Earth and Heaven as overlapping or interlocking. Heaven is known as God's space, his dimension, and is not a place that can be reached by human technology. This belief states that Heaven is where God lives and reigns whilst being active and working alongside people on Earth. Religions that teach about heaven differ on how and if one gets into it, typically in the afterlife.
In most, entrance to Heaven is conditional on having lived a "good life" within the terms of the spiritual system. A notable exception to this is the ' sola fide ' belief of many mainstream Protestants, which teaches that one does not have to live a perfectly "good life," but that one must accept Jesus Christ as one's saviour, and then Jesus Christ will assume the guilt of one's sins ; believers are believed to be forgiven regardless of any good or bad "works" one has participated in.
Many religions state that those who do not go to heaven will go to a place "without the presence of God", Hell , which is eternal see annihilationism. Some religions believe that other afterlives exist in addition to Heaven and Hell, such as Purgatory. One belief, universalism , believes that everyone will go to Heaven eventually, no matter what they have done or believed on earth. Some forms of Christianity believe Hell to be the termination of the soul.
Various saints have had visions of heaven 2 Corinthians —4. The Orthodox concept of life in heaven is described in one of the prayers for the dead : " The Church bases its belief in Heaven on some main biblical passages in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures Old and New Testaments and collected church wisdom. Heaven is the Realm of the Blessed Trinity , the angels  and the saints. The essential joy of heaven is called the beatific vision , which is derived from the vision of God's essence.
The soul rests perfectly in God, and does not, or cannot desire anything else than God. After the Last Judgment , when the soul is reunited with its body, the body participates in the happiness of the soul. It becomes incorruptible, glorious and perfect. Any physical defects the body may have laboured under are erased. Heaven is also known as paradise in some cases. The Great Gulf separates heaven from hell. Upon dying, each soul goes to what is called "the particular judgement " where its own afterlife is decided i. Heaven after Purgatory, straight to Heaven, or Hell.
This is different from "the general judgement" also known as "the Last judgement " which will occur when Christ returns to judge all the living and the dead. The term Heaven which differs from "The Kingdom of Heaven " see note below is applied by the biblical authors to the realm in which God currently resides. Eternal life, by contrast, occurs in a renewed, unspoilt and perfect creation, which can be termed Heaven since God will choose to dwell there permanently with his people, as seen in Revelation There will no longer be any separation between God and man.
The believers themselves will exist in incorruptible, resurrected and new bodies; there will be no sickness, no death and no tears. Some teach that death itself is not a natural part of life, but was allowed to happen after Adam and Eve disobeyed God see original sin so that mankind would not live forever in a state of sin and thus a state of separation from God. Many evangelicals understand this future life to be divided into two distinct periods: first, the Millennial Reign of Christ the one thousand years on this earth, referred to in Revelation —10 ; secondly, the New Heavens and New Earth , referred to in Revelation 21 and This millennialism or chiliasm is a revival of a strong tradition in the Early Church that was dismissed by Augustine of Hippo and the Roman Catholic Church after him.
Not only will the believers spend eternity with God, they will also spend it with each other.
John's vision recorded in Revelation describes a New Jerusalem which comes from Heaven to the New Earth, which is seen to be a symbolic reference to the people of God living in community with one another. See also World to Come. Purgatory is the condition or temporary punishment  in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven. This is a theological idea that has ancient roots and is well-attested in early Christian literature, while the poetic conception of purgatory as a geographically situated place is largely the creation of medieval Christian piety and imagination.
The notion of purgatory is associated particularly with the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in the Eastern sui juris churches or rites it is a doctrine, though often without using the name "Purgatory" ; Anglicans of the Anglo-Catholic tradition generally also hold to the belief. John Wesley , the founder of Methodism , believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment and in the possibility of "continuing to grow in holiness there.
Hell in Christian beliefs, is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved will suffer the consequences of sin. The Christian doctrine of Hell derives from the teaching of the New Testament , where Hell is typically described using the Greek words Gehenna or Tartarus. Unlike Hades , Sheol , or Purgatory it is eternal, and those damned to Hell are without hope. In the New Testament , it is described as the place or state of punishment after death or last judgment for those who have rejected Jesus.
Hell is generally defined as the eternal fate of unrepentant sinners after this life. Only in the King James Version of the bible is the word "Hell" used to translate certain words, such as sheol Hebrew and both hades and Gehenna Greek. All other translations reserve Hell only for use when Gehenna is mentioned. It is generally agreed that both sheol and hades do not typically refer to the place of eternal punishment, but to the underworld or temporary abode of the dead.
Traditionally, the majority of Protestants have held that Hell will be a place of unending conscious torment, both physical and spiritual,  although some recent writers such as C. Lewis  and J. Moreland  have cast Hell in terms of "eternal separation" from God. Certain biblical texts have led some theologians to the conclusion that punishment in Hell, though eternal and irrevocable, will be proportional to the deeds of each soul e. Matthew , Luke — Another area of debate is the fate of the unevangelized i.
Some Protestants agree with Augustine that people in these categories will be damned to Hell for original sin , while others believe that God will make an exception in these cases. A "significant minority" believe in the doctrine of conditional immortality ,  which teaches that those sent to Hell will not experience eternal conscious punishment, but instead will be extinguished or annihilated after a period of "limited conscious punishment".
Some Protestants such as George MacDonald , Karl Randall , Keith DeRose and Thomas Talbott , also, however, in a minority, believe that after serving their sentence in Gehenna , all souls are reconciled to God and admitted to heaven, or ways are found at the time of death of drawing all souls to repentance so that no "hellish" suffering is experienced. This view is often called Christian universalism —its conservative branch is more specifically called 'Biblical or Trinitarian Universalism '—and is not to be confused with Unitarian Universalism. See universal reconciliation , apocatastasis and the problem of Hell.
Theodicy can be said to be defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil. Specifically, Theodicy is a specific branch of theology and philosophy which attempts to reconcile belief in God with the perceived existence of evil. Responses to the problem of evil have sometimes been classified as defenses or theodicies.
However, authors disagree on the exact definitions. A defense need not argue that this is a probable or plausible explanation, only that the defense is logically possible. A defense attempts to answer the logical problem of evil. A theodicy, on the other hand, is a more ambitious attempt to provide a plausible justification for the existence of evil. A theodicy attempts to answer the evidential problem of evil. As an example, some authors see arguments including demons or the fall of man as not logically impossible but not very plausible considering our knowledge about the world.
Thus they are seen as defenses but not good theodicies. Lewis writes in his book The Problem of Pain :. We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults.
But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them. Another possible answer is that the world is corrupted due to the sin of mankind.
Some answer that because of sin, the world has fallen from the grace of God, and is not perfect. Therefore, evils and imperfections persist because the world is fallen. Dembski argues that the effects of Adam's sin recorded in the Book of Genesis were 'back-dated' by God, and hence applied to the earlier history of the universe.
Evil is sometimes seen as a test or trial for humans. Irenaeus of Lyons and more recently John Hick have argued that evil and suffering are necessary for spiritual growth. This is often combined with the free will argument by arguing that such spiritual growth requires free will decisions. A problem with this is that many evils do not seem to cause any kind of spiritual growth, or even permit it, as when a child is abused from birth and becomes, seemingly inevitably, a brutal adult. The problem of evil is often phrased in the form: Why do bad things happen to good people?
Christianity teach that all people are inherently sinful due to the fall of man and original sin ; for example, Calvinist theology follows a doctrine called federal headship , which argues that the first man, Adam , was the legal representative of the entire human race. A counterargument to the basic version of this principle is that an omniscient God would have predicted this, when he created the world, and an omnipotent God could have prevented it.
The Book of Isaiah clearly claims that God is the source of at least some natural disasters, but Isaiah doesn't attempt to explain the motivation behind the creation of evil. In it, Satan challenges God regarding his servant Job, claiming that Job only serves God for the blessings and protection that he receives from him. God allows Satan to plague Job and his family in a number of ways, with the limitation that Satan may not take Job's life but his children are killed.
Job discusses this with three friends and questions God regarding his suffering which he finds to be unjust. God responds in a speech and then more than restores Job's prior health, wealth, and gives him new children. Bart D. Ehrman argues that different parts of the Bible give different answers. One example is evil as punishment for sin or as a consequence of sin.
Ehrman writes that this seems to be based on some notion of free will although this argument is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible. Another argument is that suffering ultimately achieves a greater good, possibly for persons other than the sufferer, that would not have been possible otherwise. The Book of Job offers two different answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it; another that God in his might chooses not to reveal his reasons.
Essential Theological Terms
Ecclesiastes sees suffering as beyond human abilities to comprehend. Apocalyptic parts, including the New Testament , see suffering as due to cosmic evil forces, that God for mysterious reasons has given power over the world, but which will soon be defeated and things will be set right. The Greek word in the New Testament that is translated in English as "sin" is hamartia , which literally means missing the target. Jesus clarified the law by defining its foundation: "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. Substantial branches of hamartiological understanding subscribe to the doctrine of original sin , which was taught by the Apostle Paul in Romans —19 and popularized by Saint Augustine. He taught that all the descendants of Adam and Eve are guilty of Adam's sin without their own personal choice . In contrast, Pelagius argued that humans enter life as essentially tabulae rasae. The fall that occurred when Adam and Eve disobeyed God was held by his group to have affected humankind only minimally.
But few theologians continue to hold this hamartiological viewpoint. A third branch of thinking takes an intermediate position, arguing that after the fall of Adam and Eve, humans are born impacted by sin such that they have very decided tendencies toward sinning which by personal choice all accountable humans but Jesus soon choose to indulge. The degree to which a Christian believes humanity is impacted by either a literal or metaphorical "fall" determines their understanding of related theological concepts like salvation , justification , and sanctification.
Christian views on sin are mostly understood as legal infraction or contract violation, and so salvation tends to be viewed in legal terms, similar to Jewish thinking. In religion , sin is the concept of acts that violate a moral rule. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation.
Commonly, the moral code of conduct is decreed by a divine entity, i. Divine law. Sin is often used to mean an action that is prohibited or considered wrong; in some religions notably some sects of Christianity , sin can refer not only to physical actions taken, but also to thoughts and internalized motivations and feelings.
Colloquially, any thought, word, or act considered immoral, shameful , harmful, or alienating might be termed "sinful". An elementary concept of "sin" regards such acts and elements of Earthly living that one cannot take with them into transcendental living. Food, for example is not of transcendental living and therefore its excessive savoring is considered a sin.
A more developed concept of "sin" deals with a distinction between sins of death mortal sin and the sins of human living venial sin. In that context, mortal sins are said to have the dire consequence of mortal penalty , while sins of living food , casual or informal sexuality , play , inebriation may be regarded as essential spice for transcendental living, even though these may be destructive in the context of human living obesity, infidelity.
In Western Christianity , "sin is lawlessness " 1 John and so salvation tends to be understood in legal terms, similar to Jewish law. Sin alienates the sinner from God. It has damaged, and completely severed, the relationship of humanity to God. That relationship can only be restored through acceptance of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross as a sacrifice for mankind's sin see Salvation and Substitutionary atonement.
In Eastern Christianity , sin is viewed in terms of its effects on relationships, both among people and between people and God. Sin is seen as the refusal to follow God's plan, and the desire to be like God and thus in direct opposition to him see the account of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. To sin is to want control of one's destiny in opposition to the will of God, to do some rigid beliefs. In Russian variant of Eastern Christianity , sin sometimes is regarded as any mistake made by people in their life. From this point of view every person is sinful because every person makes mistakes during his life.
When person accuses others in sins he always must remember that he is also sinner and so he must have mercy for others remembering that God is also merciful to him and to all humanity. The fall of man or simply the fall refers in Christian doctrine to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God , to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In the Book of Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise , but are then deceived or tempted by the serpent to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil , which had been forbidden to them by God.
After doing so they become ashamed of their nakedness, and God consequently expelled them from paradise. The fall is not mentioned by name in the Bible , but the story of disobedience and expulsion is recounted in both Testaments in different ways. The Fall can refer to the wider theological inferences for all humankind as a consequence of Eve and Adam's original sin. Examples include the teachings of Paul in Romans —19 and 1 Cor. Some Christian denominations believe the fall corrupted the entire natural world, including human nature, causing people to be born into original sin , a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the gracious intervention of God.
Protestants hold that Jesus ' death was a "ransom" by which humanity was offered freedom from the sin acquired at the fall. In other religions, such as Judaism , Islam , and Gnosticism , the term "the fall" is not recognized and varying interpretations of the Eden narrative are presented. Christianity interprets the fall in a number of ways. The doctrine of original sin , as articulated by Augustine of Hippo's interpretation of Paul of Tarsus , provides that the fall caused a fundamental change in human nature, so that all descendants of Adam are born in sin , and can only be redeemed by divine grace.
Sacrifice was the only means by which humanity could be redeemed after the fall. Jesus, who was without sin, died on the cross as the ultimate redemption for the sin of humankind. Thus, the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree—which God had commanded them not to do—sinful death was born; it was an act of disobedience, thinking they could become like gods, that was the sin.
Since Adam was the head of the human race, he is held responsible for the evil that took place, for which reason the fall of man is referred to as the " sin of Adam ". This sin caused Adam and his descendants to lose unrestricted access to God Himself. The years of life were limited. In Christian theology, the death of Jesus on the cross is the atonement to the sin of Adam. As a result of that act of Christ, all who put their trust in Christ alone now have unrestricted access to God through prayer and in presence.
Original sin, which Eastern Christians usually refer to as ancestral sin ,  is, according to a doctrine proposed in Christian theology, humanity's state of sin resulting from the fall of man. Those who uphold the doctrine look to the teaching of Paul the Apostle in Romans —21 and 1 Corinthians for its scriptural base,  and see it as perhaps implied in Old Testament passages such as Psalm and Psalm The Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists mostly dealt with topics other than original sin.
He thought it was a most subtle job to discern what came first: self-centeredness or failure in seeing truth. The consequences of the fall were transmitted to their descendants in the form of concupiscence , which is a metaphysical term, and not a psychological one. Thomas Aquinas explained Augustine's doctrine pointing out that the libido concupiscence , which makes the original sin pass from parents to children, is not a libido actualis , i. In Augustine's view termed "Realism" , all of humanity was really present in Adam when he sinned, and therefore all have sinned. Original sin, according to Augustine, consists of the guilt of Adam which all humans inherit.
As sinners, humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace. Grace is irresistible , results in conversion, and leads to perseverance.