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Christianity - Their God
How well do you know the Christian God?

Christianity - Their God

This GCSE RE Christianity quiz takes a look at the Christian God. 'Who, or what, is God?' The concept of God is at once so huge and wonderful, yet surprisingly hard to 'pin down' within our limited human understanding, since we (as beings) are finite: there are limits to the scope of our life, in terms of our dates of birth and death and the reach of our senses, whereas God can have no 'edges' in space or time beyond which He does not pervade.

Any God worthy of worship must presumably be demonstrably powerful and probably benevolent ~ a permanently angry and vengeful god, in whose eyes we could do no right, would be a frustrating and futile focus for our affections. Yet He (or indeed She) would also need to embody some form of justice and fairness, in order to command our respect.

The Christian God, as revealed and understood in the Trinity, reconciles justice and mercy in a very particular, astonishing way and which is accessible to all people, whatever their gender, ethnicity, upbringing or other circumstances. Christians believe He became incarnate (made flesh) in human form ~ at Christmas ~ to experience the worst that earthly life can throw at anyone (e.g. being virtually 'born a refugee'; and, later, betrayed by a chosen friend, and a grim death sentence on a trumped-up charge, after a trial that ought never to have taken place) … and yet to break and reverse even the power of death. A God with power over all that, through the Resurrection victory at Easter, is surely a God worth reckoning with, and who can be known two thousand years later in the person of His Holy Spirit.

This quiz will do its best to help you gain a grip on who and what Christians understand God to be, both in their common and different traditions.

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1.
One initial problem is that for creatures such as us humans, it is hard to grasp the concept of a God without limits. Sometimes this can be addressed by comparing Him with other more familiar things in your life, such as the table at which you may be sitting as you do this quiz.

Which would you regard as the WEAKEST amid the following arguments?
The table you may be sitting at has finite edges ~ don't try bumping into them! ~ whereas nothing can be beyond the reach of God
Once upon a time the table, as such, never existed (if it's made of wood, once upon a time the tree it was made from had yet to germinate) ~ but God has always been in existence, and always will be
One day the table will cease to exist (maybe in your lifetime; maybe not) ~ but God will still be there
Your table may support you and your activities and, at any moment, contain crucial information about you ~ rather like God
You could always walk away from (or indeed lose, destroy or sell) your table ~ but God, so Christians (and others) believe, is always there! Christians put their faith in Him as being eternal, omnipresent (always everywhere) and omniscient (all-knowing) ... how could any God worth His salt be any less?
2.
Another key belief is about God as the Holy Trinity: three distinct 'persons', yet comprising one God. Which of those listed below is NOT one of these Persons?
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Bible
God the creating and loving Father
Jesus Christ, 'His only Son'
For Christians, the Scriptures (though directly inspired by God) are not in themselves a part of the Godhead ( ... while in Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib has a very special status alongside the deities).
3.
Which of the following did the missionary St Patrick use to explain the doctrine of the Trinity ('one God in three Persons') to the Irish?
Water ~ which remains chemically the same, whether in solid form as ice, liquid as water, or vapourised as steam
The three stumps which together comprise a cricket wicket
The shamrock plant
One same individual who can simultaneously be a father, a farmer and a son (and potentially, other roles besides, such as an amateur musician)
He might perhaps have tried answer 4, but the first two were probably rather after his time. They had not invented cricket, nor discovered the formula for water, 1,500-odd years ago! A more local visual aid became his emblem, whose botanical Latin name clearly references the 'trefoil' ('three-leaves').
4.
The means by which God the Father chose to reveal Himself to the world give us various clues as to His nature. In which of the classical 'elements' did He very first make Himself known in Creation, according to the mystic account at the beginning of Genesis (in the front of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures)?
Earth
Air
Water
Fire / light
His first action was to say 'Let there be light'. There are many later stories in which He manifests His presence by means of lights or flames: see our following question.
5.
Which of the following appears to be mistaken, or otherwise unreasonable, in identifying or interpreting such a 'theophany' (disclosure of God)?
To Moses at the Burning Bush, which was alight yet did not burn up, as a symbol of God's companionship and power
To Abraham after the Flood, in the form of a rainbow as His 'covenant' that He would never again bring disaster upon the whole earth
To Saul near the gates of Damascus: as a blinding, revealing light which shocked him into turning his priorities around and spreading Jesus' message ~ instead of persecuting His followers
The 'Star of Bethlehem' as a heavenly sign of the unusual birth of Jesus, to which important people (the 'Three Wise Men') were bidden on a long journey to offer their respects
It was Noah, rather than Abraham, who had survived the Flood. Apart from that 'deliberate mistake', the symbolism holds; we now know that there needs to be a balanced presence of both rain and sunlight to achieve this 'sign', but Noah would not have appreciated the finer optics of this phenomenon!
6.
The following, listed here in alphabetical order, are key elements in God's plan for salvation through the Incarnation*. Which of them should come FIRST if they were in their correct chronological sequence?

* 'Incarnation' = 'making flesh', i.e. God 'dwelling among humankind in the Person of Jesus'
(The '-carn-' stem of this word is linked with 'carnivore' and indeed 'carnival')
Crucifixion
Nativity
Passion
Resurrection
'Nativity' = 'birth'; then in due course came the Passion (Jesus' sufferings during what we now refer to as Holy Week, including His betrayal, arrest and illegal overnight trials), Crucifixion (when He was publicly tortured to death) and Resurrection (triumphant return from death on Easter morning).
7.
It may (perhaps rather selectively and simplistically) be argued that while the God of the Old Testament is generous, He also has what seems to be a vengeful streak ~ there are many stories of tribal and individual bloodshed. Of the equally simplistic options given below, which would probably be the best way to characterise God as encountered in the New Testament?
Just
Loving
Both of the above
Neither of the above
If God represents (among much else) the principle of perfect 'righteousness', He cannot ignore the mistakes that we humans make ~ since we are inevitably less perfect than He is. Thus we would be 'doomed to fail' by a supposedly loving Creator ... something doesn't quite seem right with that! But in the New Testament He sends His own Son among us to model what life can be and offer, right to the point of 'taking the sins of the world upon Himself', in order to re-clear the way for love and hope between ourselves and God. The penalty for our imperfections is borne by Jesus, so God is indeed 'just' yet also 'loving'. (See John 3:16)
8.
Jesus Himself inevitably spoke a lot about God and His kingdom, likening these (in parables) to various everyday objects and situations with which His listeners could readily identify. ONE of the following is NOT such a genuine Scriptural example: which one?
A 'pearl of great price' which someone could only buy by selling-up all his other possessions
A mustard seed which starts out tiny, yet grows to many times its original size
A fishing-net cast into the water, whose catch will be sorted later and the worthless fish rejected
A place definable only by the absence of humanly familiar negative things, such as conflict, grief and tears
Answer 4 is, rather, a slight paraphrase from the Revelation to St John the Divine, in which he is almost lost for words as he experiences 'the new heaven and earth'. Meanwhile Jesus Himself offers no fewer than 14 'takes' on the Kingdom of Heaven (see Kingdom of Heaven)
9.
Even people with only a very residual link to Christianity or the church, will probably be familiar with the words of the 23rd Psalm: 'The Lord is my shepherd, therefore I shall lack nothing', etc. Jesus Himself would have sung and meditated on this text on numerous occasions, and indeed quoted the immediately previous Psalm at various key points during His Passion. What, about these comforting words, came as the greatest surprise to people who first heard 'the Shepherd's Psalm'?
The image of the little fluffy sheep was comfortingly cute when life happened to become tough
It was nice to picture God as a protector with His big stick, rather than Him ordering (or even beating) people around with it
It was bold to the point of insolence, to claim that an individual believer could aspire to such a close or cosy relationship with the Creator
This would make a nice song to sing at poignant family occasions such as weddings and funerals
Yes: if you have a mind's-eye image of some (probably Victorian) milky watercolour of a suspiciously Northern-European looking Jesus ~ in a suspiciously clean white smock, smiling benignly over a flock of clean white fluffy sheep, under a sunny sky with occasional fluffy clouds to match ~ in some idyllically verdant and not very Holy Land-y landscape ... perhaps glimpsed on the wall of a church or Sunday-school ... then that's a very far cultural diagonal from what King David (psalmist and former shepherd-boy) would originally have had in his own mind ~ if, indeed, this or any other of the Psalms were in fact his work. Jesus' first visitors (at the original Christmas) were shepherds and He is sometimes referred to as the Good Shepherd; this is partly why bishops, in such churches as have them, traditionally carry a 'crook' as an emblem of their responsibility to direct and protect their flock. But the metaphor of a shepherd is definitely conceived as direct, bold and practical, rather than simply soppy!
10.
Another entirely reasonable way of discovering what Christians believe about their God is to consider the 4th-century Nicene Creed (with Constantinople revisions), which is formally and collectively recited in worship as a declaration of faith. The following are four key excerpts from that Creed; one of them has been brought forward from the usual order in which they occur (i.e. not answer 4). Which one is out of its proper position in the sequence?

'I/We believe in ...'
... the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible ...
... and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten ... before all worlds ... who for our sake ... came down from heaven and was incarnate ...
... and in the Holy Ghost [ = Spirit], the Lord, the giver of life ... who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets ...
... He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick [ = living] and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end
The material in Answer 3 should come last among these excerpts, because answer 4 refers to Jesus (and His Second Coming) rather than to the Spirit or the three Persons of God as a whole.
Author:  Ian Miles

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