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notre dame montreal

What is the Christian Faith?

1: Introduction

For many people religion can be confusing and often even Christian leaders and churches appear to disagree with each other, saying different things. Why are we surprised, people do disagree about everything from football to the economy and it is true also of how we speak about God. When we think about God we will do well to remember the words of a wise Christian who lived in the fourth century, Saint Augustine. He said some very profound things which we will look at in this course, but one of his best was this

‘If you can understand it, it is not God.’

What he meant was, that if we seriously want to fully understand everything about the God who made the universe, we will be disappointed. Such a God would be beyond our human comprehension, and so obviously we will have to learn to live without some of the answers. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the basics of Christian belief have not changed for two thousand years. It is this central core of belief which this course will look at. We will concentrate on what Christians agree to be important basic truths of what makes a person a Christian.

This booklet provides a short summary of an introductory course used in our church for those who are interested to know more about what Christianity is all about. It does not try to be a comprehensive guide, but it will describe clearly the basics of Christian belief. It is important to realise however that the Christian faith is not like passing a test, finding out the information and knowing the answers. Christians believe in a living God whom we love with our hearts as well as our minds. If when you have finished reading you would like to know more then please do not hesitate to speak with one of the ministers who will be pleased to help you.

A Pilgrimage

There are things which it is important to understand if you want to call yourself a 'Christian', but actually there are not many. The Christian Faith is often described as a pilgrimage. By using the word pilgrimage we recognise that the Christian is on a journey of discovery. Throughout our lives we should all be learning, growing and changing.

picture of a pilgrim

The Christian life is often described as a pilgrimage. A journey throughout our lives in which we discover more about God.

Most Christians who look back at their own understanding of God, recognise that their views have changed and grown. This is not a sad reflection, that we didn't get it right in the first place! If we have not moved and changed our ideas, then surely we have not grown or developed. Sadly there are some people who tell everybody else what they should believe about a whole range of issues from deep theological ideas to practical daily living. Many courses in Christian faith are complete manuals of theology and lifestyle which just happen to coincide with the personal position of the spiritual leader! Once we have understood that nobody has a monopoly on understanding, we can recognise that each one of us must have confidence to think, and discover the kind of person that God wants them to be, not be fitted into a religious mould.