Geneva, Switzerland-Center of"OUR STORY"

Material for a Confirmation Class


Introductory Thoughts
  • How is it that we have come to know about God? (Romans 1)
  • Where is God and His kingdom?
  • How do we come to know God personally? (John 14)
  • How does God know us?
  • Why is the Bible so important to us?
  • What are the different parts of the Bible?
  • Why does the Bible start off with the story contrasting God’s good creation—and Adam and Eve’s early fall into sin?
  • In what way did Adam and Eve fail to meet God’s test?
  • Why is God’s redemption of all mankind central to the rest of the story?
  • Which of God’s people does He love? (John 3:16)
  • Why has He chosen only some to be “His People”? (Deuteronomy 7)
  • How does someone become one of the “chosen”? (Romans 8 and 9)
  • How do people know that they are among God’s chosen?
1.  Genesis:  The Patriarchs
  • What kind of covenant did God make with Abraham? (Genesis 15)
  • Why was Abraham considered the “father of faith”? (Romans 4:13-25)
  • How does God test Abraham's faith? (Genesis 22:1-18)
  • Why was Jacob (or “Israel”) considered such a schemer?
  • Was it his schemes or was it Divine mercy that finally delivered Jacob?
  • How did God prove to be the author of Joseph’s dreams?
2.  Exodus:  Moses and the Hebrews
  • Why did Moses fail to be a Hebrew leader as a young man?
  • Why was Moses called as an old man to deliver the Hebrews from slavery?
  • What was the covenant God made with the Hebrews in the wilderness?
  • Why did that first generation fail to enter the Promised Land?
  • What later happened to Moses?
3.  Judges and Kings
  • What problems faced the people of Israel as they finally entered the Promised Land?
  • What were the instructions of the Lord God (Yahweh) to the Israelites as they began the takeover of the Promised Land?
  • The battles of Jericho and Ai:  why did they have such different outcomes?
  • Why do you think God was so "tough"?
  • What was the job of the judges? (Judges 2:11-19 )
  • Samuel:  Judge or Prophet? (1st Samuel 7:3-14 )
  • Saul--the first King (1st Samuel 8:1-9 and 1st Samuel 12:13-25)
  • David is annointed King (1st Samuel 16:1-13)
  • David begins to distinguish himself
  • David's time of testing
  • David comes to the throne
  • Why do you think David had to wait so long and go through so much turmoil  in order to be Israel's king?
4.  The Kings and Prophets of Israel and Judah
  • King David and the Prophet Nathan (2nd Samuel 7:1-29)
  • David, Bathsheba and Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-2)
  • Solomon:  Wise or confused?
  • The Kingdom divided into two new Kingdoms:  Israel and Judah
  • The northern Kingdom of Israel defeated and the people carried off into captivity--never to be heard of again
  • Judah:  The remnant of Israel
  • The Prophets as the most powerful of the Spiritual guides of Israel during the rule of the kings of Israel and Judah
  • The Early Prophets:  still a bit like the Judges or Samuel (1st Kings 18:1-46)
  • The Later Prophets:  more focused on declaring God's truth to a deaf people (Isaiah 40: 1-11 and 27-31).
  • John the Baptist in Jesus' time:  The last of the prophets--in the tradition of Elijah? (John 1:14-34)
5.  The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ:  I
  • Why are the stories of Jesus' birth so important to us?
  • Why are the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus so closely connected? (John 1:14-34)
  • Why was Jesus led by the Holy Spirit out into the wilderness to be tested? (Matthew 4:1-11)
  • What was the central theme of all his teaching? (Mark 1:14-15)
  • Why did Jesus often refer to himself as the “Son of Man”? (Mark 2:23-2)
  • Why was the coming of Jesus a fulfillment of all previous covenants?
  • Why did Jesus come “as one of us” rather than as a powerful ruler?
  • How was Jesus himself tested in the wilderness just after his baptism?
  • What was the central theme of all his teaching?
  • Why did Jesus often refer to himself as the “Son of Man”?
6.  The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ:  II
  • Why did Jesus refer to his miracles as signs? (all of John, chapter 2)
  • What was the relationship of the disciples to Jesus? (John 6:53-71)
  • What were his expectations of them? (John 13:34-35 and John 14:12-17)
  • Why did Jesus refer to himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life”—the only way to the heavenly Father? (John 14:6-11)
7.  Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
  • Why did people want to put Jesus to death?
  • What/when was Jesus’ own understanding of his coming death?
  • What was the reaction of the disciples to this news--and Jesus' reaction to their reaction?
  • How was Jesus again tempted as death approached?
  • Why was Jesus’ forgiveness the power that broke Satan?
  • Why is Jesus’ crucifixion considered the essential ingredient for God's new covenant with us?
  • Why was Jesus raised from the dead on the 3rd day?
  • Why is Jesus’ resurrection considered God’s sign of a new covenant with us?
8.  The Holy Spirit
  • How was the end of Jesus' ministry connected to the coming of the Holy Spirit? (John 14:15-17, 25-26 and 16:4-1)
  • When and how did the disciples receive the Holy Spirit? (John 20:19-2, Luke 24:49-53, Acts 1:1-5 and Acts 2)
  • How is the Church the most important work of the Holy Spirit?
  • How are the people's spiritual gifts vital to the unity of the Church? (1st Corinthians 12, 13 and 14)
  • What, to Paul, are indeed the real signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in someone? (Galatians 5:13-26)
9.  The Apostle Paul
  • What kind of person was Paul (Saul) as a young man?
  • What happened to change him?
  • How did that affect his understanding of the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ?
  • How did he come to serve the early church?
  • Why are his letters to the early churches so important to us today?
10.  The Early Church (First 300 years)
  • Where did the early Christian congregations first meet?
  • How was the early church organized?
  • What was the relationship of the early church with the society around it?
  • What kept the early church together as a single faith?
11.  The Emergence of the Catholic (“Universal”) Church
  • What terrible situation was facing Christianity as it entered the 4th Century (300AD)?
  • What did Roman Emperor Constantine do in 312 AD that changed Christian history?
  • How did his conversion to Christianity change the position of Christianity within the Roman world?
  • How did Unitarianism challenge the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity?
  • What was wrong with Arias' Unitarianism?
  • How did the church move from persecuted to persecutor?
  • In what ways did this reshape Christianity's basic character?
  • What did Augustine teach us about the faith--that helped keep the faith alive during very trying times that were arising quickly?
12.  The Medieval Church
  • What happened to the church when German tribes collapsed Rome in the West (400s / 500s)?
  • Why was Celtic Christianity so important to the Christian West?
  • Why did the Muslim Arabs complete the destruction job in the East (600s / 700s)?
  • Why did the Crusades (1100s / 1200s) begin to reverse the picture?
  • How did a renewal of wealth and power in the West challenge the moral purity of the church (1300s / 1400s)?
13.  A Late Medieval Christian Spiritual Awakening
  • Who were the Cathars or Albigensians?
  • Why were Peter Waldo and the Waldensians persecuted by the church?
  • How did St. Francis avoid the same fate?
  • What was Christian "mysticism"?
  • What was Christian scholasticism?
  • Why were John Wycliff and John Huss persecuted?
  • Who was Savonarola?
  • What was the mood like in the Church as the 1500s loomed into view?
14.  The Protestant Reformation (early - mid 1500s)
  • Why did Martin Luther post his 95 theses on the Wittenberg chapel door?
  • What efforts were made to silence him?  How did Luther respond?
  • How did Ulrich Zwingli start the reformation in Switzerland?
  • How did the reform movement begin to spread in and from Switzerland?
  • How did Luther's movement and the Swiss reform movement get along?
  • Who were the radical reformers, or Anabaptists?
15.  John Calvin and the Reformed Tradition:  I
  • Who was John Calvin?
  • How was it that Calvin came to making Geneva, Switzerland, the center of the Reformed Movement?
  • How was Calvin's Reformed Movement closely related to the mindset of the newly emerging European "middle class" of townsmen?
  • How did this cause a new "democratic" spirit to grow up as part of Calvin's Reformed Movement?
16.  John Calvin and the Reformed Tradition:  II
  • How did Calvin's ideas on the Protestant Reformation compare with Luther's and Zwingli's?
  • What about the hotly debated issue of Holy Communion / Lord's Supper?  To Calvin was Christ's presence in the bread and wine truly real or only symbolic?
  • John Calvin is always closely connected to the idea of predestination.  What is predestination?  Was this an idea that Calvin thought up?
  • Calvin is also closely connected to the idea of the Covenant.  Why?
  • How is this idea of Covenant closely related to Calvin's understanding of Baptism?
  • What was Calvin's impact on the Reformation?
17.  John Knox and Presbyterian Polity (mid 1500s)
  • How was it that Protestantism first came to Scotland?
  • How did Knox become such a supporter of Calvin's form of Protestantism?
  • How did Knox and the Scottish Noblemen finally bring Protestantism to Scotland?
  • How did Knox reshape the Scottish Church into a "Presbyterian" form?
18.  The Spread of Protestant Reform (1500s)
  • Why was the Protestant Reformation such a "political" event--and not just a matter of renewing and strengthening the people's personal faith in God?
  • Was the Protestant Reformation limited just to Germany, Switzerland and Scotland?
  • How did Protestantism come to England in the 1500s?
  • What was the Catholic church doing during this period to protect its position in Europe?
  • What happened to Protestantism (Lutheranism) in Germany in the 1500s?
  • What happened to Protestantism (Calvinist Huguenots) in France in the 1500s?
19.  The Wars of Religion (1600s)
  • Who were the English "Puritans"?
  • How does this relate to the English establishment of colonies in America (early 1600s)?
  • What was happening in the meantime on the European continent between the Catholics and Protestants (first half of the1600s)?
  • Why does the English civil war now take up at this point (1640)?
20.  Modern Secularism and the Church: I
  • Why by the 1600s was the idea of "Truth" undergoing a profound change in European culture?
  • Why by the end of the 1600s can we speak of a Newtonian (or "modern") world-view (or cosmology) that was beginning to replace the older Christian world-view?
  • Where did the Newtonian "revolution" leave us in our thinking about God?
  • Where did such "Deism" leave the church?
  • Why was the Great Awakening (1740s) so important to Christianity?
21. Modern Secularism and the Church: II
  • How was it that by the early 1800s the secular spirit was able to seriously challenge the Christian faith?
  • Why were some Western thinkers becoming even very disdaining or haughty in their attitude towards Christianity?
  • Why was the most serious challenge to Christianity posed by the English naturalist, Charles Darwin?
  • How did secularism continue to push Christianity off center stage--in order to take that position for itself?
  • What was happening to Christianity during the rise of secular science to dominance over Western culture?
22. Modern Secularism and the Church: III
  • Why have the writings of Darwin, Marx and Freud had such an impact on us?
  • How has material success in this world become the “modern” hope for life?
  • How has the church been put to the test by modern secular culture?

  • How well has the church stood its ground in witness to God in Jesus Christ?
23.  Rediscovering God in the Age of Science
  • As a recap--what were the steps up to the present situation in which religious Truth has been chased out of our modern culture as being just so much superstition?
  • How did relativity theory begun to “break the box” of scientific "realism"?
  • How did quantum theory further shake loose the hold of the empirical mindset on modern science?
  • How has the “big bang” theory reopened among scientists the debate on God?
  • How has “chaos theory” demonstrated Divine design in creation?
  • What other branches of science have been adding to this post-Newtonian revolution in modern science?
  • Overall, what are the "lessons" we can begin to draw from the "new" science or "post-modern" (or "post-Newtonian") science as it is being called?
24.  In Review
  • How is it that we have come to know about God?
  • Where is God and His kingdom?
  • How do we come to know God personally?
  • How does God know us?
  • Why is the Bible so important to us?
  • Why does the Bible start off with the story contrasting God’s good creation—and Adam and Eve’s early fall into sin?
  • Why is God’s redemption of all mankind central to the rest of the story?
  • Which of God’s people does He love?
  • Why has He chosen only some to be “His People”?
  • How does someone become one of the “chosen”?
  • How do people know that they are among God’s chosen?

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  Miles H. Hodges