As the new semester cruises on I found myself needing a "global course" as they call it here at the U. As I browsed through the catalog I stumbled on something of interest. The history of Christianity. So I signed up for the class. A few important notes:
1. This isn't a theology class, it is a history class the purpose of which is to look at how Christianity has shaped world history.
2. The course is designed for all students, Christian or not.
So I decided to take this course. I have no complaints I simply wanted to share what I learned in my opening module, the basics of Christianity. The section was about how Christianity formed. It also attacked the key beliefs of Catholics and Protestants. This is an online course, so how it works is you read the readings and watch the video lectures and then respond to discussion prompts and take quizzes. I wanted to share my answers to the discussion question this week which was, for students who felt comfortable, talking about your experience with Christianity and what its main beliefs were. So, here it is, the Sports Writers' Guide to what it means to be Christian/ Lutheran.
As a Lutheran, my experience with Christianity's main beliefs come down to this:
1. There is a God. He is with all people in everything they do. He is always watching, he is all knowing and he can determine the outcome of things on earth. The reading on Catholicism talks about this as well in the belief that God is ever present with humans.
2. Jesus was God's son and he died to forgive humanity of its sins. Jesus was a real person that existed, but Christians believe him to be a direct descendent from God, and Protestants believe he died to relieve humanity of its sins. In that way Protestant beliefs are different than Catholic beliefs. Catholics according to the reading and lectures believe that humans must partake in sacrament to be forgiven from their sin, whereas Protestants believe part of being one of God's children is that no matter what you are forgiven for your sins because of Jesus.
And that brings me to the final belief I have experienced with Christianity:
3. Jesus loves everyone. For Lutherans at least this is a key belief. The belief that no matter what mistakes you make, no matter who you are, Jesus and God love all humans. That is the reason we believe Jesus was sent to us, as a sign of God's love. Jesus accepts everybody even if you don't believe in God, even if you hate the idea of religion, that's ok because those who practice Lutheranism at least believe God loves everyone equally. Unlike in Catholicism you don't have to work for God's love, anyone can take and administer communion, anyone can be baptized and you don't really have to change your beliefs according to the Church. To me, that is a big difference between Protestant religion and Catholicism from the lectures (bonus point)
So how did I do? I think pretty well. What I neglected to mention was Faith. Faith, according to the lectures in the class (and I agree) is what sets Protestants apart. We believe that God’s grace is freely given to us. We have faith in that. That is what sets us apart from the Catholic persuasion. I will look forward to learning academically about the good and probably the harm Christianity has caused throughout history (the Crusades, yikes).
I just wanted to share with you all a bit of what I am working through this semester. It is tough to be a college student right now. Taking online classes is less than an ideal way to learn. I am adapting though, and getting through, I appreciate your support for me through all this. A general thank you to the reader and the congregation for listening to what I have to say. I miss the way things were these days. I miss church and hugs from Robin Eskridge and Linda Brown, I miss communion, I miss sharing the Peace. I am sure we all do. Oh and I miss treats. Only God knows how much I miss treats.
Here is to hoping we see each other again soon. Until then, enjoy the column.