Religious Studies and Theology Critical Writing

Meaning of Catholicism
Christianity as a religion is represented through various beliefs within the communities, one being Catholicism. This means that people believe in the universality of the Christian faith and this incorporates all churches including Protestants, Orthodox, and Anglicans. Catholicism is a term used to describe all Christians who believe in the existence of triune God and professes faith in the same God. As described by the author to be a catholic, therefore, is to be a kind of religious person, and a kind of Christian belonging to a within the worldwide, or ecumenical, the body of Christ (Renewing the Sacred Hope 74). This shows the commonality of the Christian faith within Catholicism.

According to Aquinas, Catholicism focuses on reality rather than fantasy, the understanding of God, is of prime importance to the Christian faith. Christianity is all along shaped through the radical belief in Jesus Christ as the resurrected son of God. They understand God as the one who identifies with his people in all circumstances to the extent of sending his begotten son Jesus, for the sake of their redemption. According to Catholicism accessing God can only be done through the church. Currently, many churches exist within the world but the belief in all Christians is that all comprise one Body of Christ (Renewing the Sacred Hope 75).

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Roman Catholics believe in the supremacy of the pope, a belief that is sharply criticized by other wings of Christianity arguing that God is the only Supreme Being recognized within the Christian faith. They are also characterized by practices such as sacramental vision and mediation, which they believe carry the divine presence of God. Catholicism believes so much in the symbolic presentation of God which raises lots of questions.

This is because the use of symbols can easily be idolized by believers hence taking the place of God in their lives (Renewing the Sacred Hope 81). Despite all these controversies, Catholicism presents believers with the reality that one Supreme is a Being who should be worshiped, and revered by all, God Almighty. The only way to communicate with this God is through prayer.

Prayer as a means to obtaining Justice
Prayer is considered vital activity within communities; it involves paying tribute to some supreme being. One of the results produced through prayer is Justice, which is the process through which a sense of consideration and goodness is instilled within people. The faith of the poor and those suffering within the society is what sustains and helps them survive their difficult moments. The depth of faith that the oppressed in the society have is incomparable to the faith that is well reasoned produced through study in class. The poor and the oppressed have their ways of expressing their understanding of religious practices focused on the Supreme Being as one above all. Various attributes are associated with God one of which includes holiness.

There are various ways in which people understand and describe the meaning of being holy. Within convents, holiness is described based on the level of sacrifice someone can give and the amount of time taken in prayer. This kind of holiness is a result of human instructions and imposed authority which leads to hypocrisy. Convents use words to manipulate peoples spirituality; they use the word to set priests and nuns above the rest. It leads to imposed or false kind of spirituality since the actions are not born out of the conviction of the heart, they form part of human activities where the allegiance is pledged to man instead of God. There is no sense of obedience to God involved rather it is full of routine activities (Isasi-Diaz 31).

Struggling for the justice of the oppressed brings the image of God in us working for the good of others; it fulfills the gospel message of justice and peace for all. Spending our lives in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed, serving the underprivileged within the society brings out the clear and pure conviction on our identity in Christ.

There is another aspect of justice referred to as Solidarity; this should be defined from the gospel perspective which commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I believe salvation depends on the love of neighbor, and because they love of neighbor today should be expressed through solidarity, solidarity can and should be considered the sine qua non of salvation( Isasi-Diaz 88). Solidarity revolves around sharing of interests and responsibilities which ultimately unfolds the reality of Gods kingdom.

The basic foundation of solidarity is comprised of words spoken by the oppressed and the mutual relationship which exists amongst them and their friends. This makes them strive not only for alleviation but liberation from oppressed kind of life. Justice has to prevail in every circumstance for a healthy culture to be realized within the society. However, one of the enemies to leaving in a free society is sin, either individual or corporate (Isasi-Diaz).

Sin and its remedy
Sin is viewed as the root cause of our problems within society; it can either be individual or corporate sin. Both the sense and the language of sin tend not to convey a powerful message to many. People understand the concept better from the descriptive language used to describe situations that imprison people. Salvation on the other hand is the only available remedy to sinful life; it is associated with liberty from oppressive circumstances. Salvation presents liberation from the current worldly situation as well as the transformation of ones self and conforming to the image of Christ. The kind of salvation which emphasizes going to heaven, or rather, life after death usually shifts the attention and makes people not focus and base their lives so much on transformation within this world.

The author in the book the Heart of Christianity argues that heaven as life after death has not been centrally discussed in the Bible compared to salvation. The ancient Israelites never regarded salvation as means to heaven. It was believed to be a way of transformation and experiencing the kingdom of God on earth (Borg 173). The new life in salvation has got its benefits which include perpetual peace, love, and joy. To know God in the present is to experience the life of the age to come (Borg 175). This means that eternity does not begin after death, but it is started in the now life.

The life of exile and wilderness produced as a result of sin bears no bed of roses; it is characterized by insecurity, discouragement, loneliness a place of separation from ones true roots and hence is life with no meaning. The only possible solution out of such bondage is adopting the ways of God, reconnecting our lives with the heavenly father who guarantees total liberty to spirit, soul, and body. As the author asserts the story of salvation is a story of reconnection with the one in whom we live and move and have our being, the one who has always been here even though we have been estranged (Borg 176). This means that those who have been redeemed from sinful life ultimately forms a community of transformed who believe in God as the central authority over their lives.

Kingdom of Justice
The essence of transformation within a Christian life in touches all sectors, political or social, and revolves around the kingdom of God. The Bible presents God as a just father contrary to what some people think, based on their life experiences. Gods justice has been misunderstood by many on several occasions; it does not promote individualism but freedom from oppression (Borg 128). The society in which we live is managed through different systems, these include; political, social, economic syst, ems, and conventional systems. These systems adopt some rules and regulations which always have either positive or negative impacts on Tono individuals within the society. The political passion presented through the Bible describes each systems Justice and injustice practices in an explicit way.

The deliverance that the children of Israel got from Egyptians bondage is a good example of liberation from the political and religious bondage. This encounter led to the rise of kingdoms within Israel, some which were wicked and some good. The monarchy type of leadership is what leads to the creation of unjust systems which ultimately impose suffering on citizens. God spoke through His prophets condemning such oppressions against humankind.

The New Testament which is characterized by the life of Jesus Christ, explains justice based on Gods Kingdom. The political kingdom referred to during the time of Jesus was not that which was under the rule of elite few, as one scholar John Dominic says, For Jesus, it is never kingdom without God, and it is never God without a kingdom (Borg 132). The Kingdom of God is ruled by justice contrary to the leadership within worldly kingdoms.

It is a kingdom of superabundance for all where the poor and the hungry are fed; people are forgiven for their wrongs. It presents a kingdom full of blessings and happiness (135). The issues within current political systems revolve around the struggle between the rich and the poor. Reality should dawn each one of us that the earth and its fullness belongs to God and not individuals, we only manage what is Gods (Borg 143).

Relationship between theology and Nature
There is some misunderstanding concerning the relationship between man and nature. According to Susan Griffin the author of the book Woman and Nature, humanity and nature are inseparable (Griffin). While on the other hand according to Kaufman, humanity is separate from nature (Kaufman). There are so many visual things that reinforce the fact that humankind has got an intimate relationship with nature, the disjunction of divinity, humanity, and nature is deeply embedded in the words GOD, humanity, and nature- articulating new conception are difficult (Christ 317). This means that defining the three separately is almost impossible.

Human beings are sustained through the web of life according to Kaufman, so many symbols are used to distinguish man from God and nature, God is understood as that ecological reality behind and in and working through all of life and history, and the service of God can consist thus only in universally oriented vision and work. This is a clear indication that God is a supreme being over man and nature, life lived in self-denial and reverence to Christ is one of the means through which human relationship with God can be defined. Christian imaginations of nature are further molded through the image of Christ.

Life is intrinsically sacred, meaning that within the web of life where we live, every creation has got its level of intrinsic beauty and value. This makes it important for us to respect the lives of every creature and deal with life in a way that is pleasing to the creator (Christ 321). God purposed that human beings should live at peace with their environment; it is, therefore, unethical to end an innocent life to satisfy self-worth.

The only deep love that God instilled in us can stop us from destroying life on earth (Christ 323). Susan Griffin asserts that sometimes I feel I hear the universe weeping or laughing, speaking to me. But I do not know. What I do know is that whether the universe has a center of consciousness or not, the sight of a field of flowers in the color purple or rainbow must be enough to stop us from destroying all that is and wants to be (Christ 324). This phrase explains the true connection within the web of life that deserves respect and value.

Church and Mosque as means to the restoration of ecology
The society we live in is characterized by the dominance of what is considered superior over inferior. The culture of dominance has brought about inequality, social, spiritual injustice, and poverty in every sector of governance. The idea of separation that has characterized the South African form of governance has led to various destructions including environmental damage. There is a rise in the level of crying poverty due to social inequality, according to the World Watch Institute report, The lesson of apartheids ecological toll is that inequitable social institutions are incompatible with environmental sustainability (Ackermann 123).

This means that it is a challenge to make environmental issues sound to every South African citizen. The relationship between humankind and the creation should be made clear through churches to individuals. The type of dominion that humans should have over other creations as described in the book of Genesis, should be applied based on spiritual integrity and wisdom. According to Cock, the church remains a central entity that can be used to ensure ecological reform since the majority of the population is church-related (Ackermann 124).

With the help of eco-feminist and other conservation movements, there is the possibility of restoring the ecosystem to its original meaning. This only requires a change in the mindset of the majority of Christians. They need to understand that the earth is Gods and all that is within it, this call for every human being to treat Gods creation with love and concern (Ackermann 126-127). The culture of dominance is also seen within the Muslim religion where males are seen as the only adequate symbol of spiritual authority. However, the mosques also provide good channels that could be used for the promotion of environmental conservation.

According to Davies, Quran Surah 33:72 demands full attention and understanding on the fact that humanity was meant to manage the richness within the creation diversity, not to destroy. The Quran further teaches on how the resources should be utilized, Eat and drink. But waste not by indulging in excesses; surely, Allah does not approve of the intemperate (Surah 7:31). This provides a common ground for both Christian and Muslims indulgence in the protection of nature and the love for all Gods creation. It all starts with the content of the heart.

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