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What We Believe

As members of the Church of Ireland we claim no unique faith of our own, but merely that held by the undivided Church. In many areas we allow a latitude of belief within a common framework. Here is a short summary, in catechism form, of what we hold in common.

I. THE CALL OF GOD: THE CHRISTIAN ANSWER

1 What is your Christian name?

My Christian name is …………………

2 Who gave you this name?

My parents and godparents gave me this name at my Baptism.

3 What did God do for you in your Baptism?

In my Baptism God called me to himself, and I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.

4 What did your godparents promise for you at your Baptism?

At my Baptism my godparents made three promises to God for me: first, that I would renounce the devil and fight against evil; secondly, that l would hold fast the Christian Faith and put my whole trust in Christ as Lord and Saviour; thirdly, that I would obediently keep God’s holy will and commandments and serve him faithfully all the days of my life.

5 Are you bound to do as they promised?

Yes, certainly, and by God’s help I will.

II. CHRISTIAN BELIEF

6 Where do you find a summary of this Christian Faith which you are bound to believe and hold fast?

I find a summary of the Christian Faith in the Apostles’ Creed and in the Nicene Creed.

7 Repeat the Apostles’ Creed.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
       creator of heaven and earth:
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
       He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
              and born of the Virgin Mary.
       He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
              was crucified, died and was buried.
       He descended to the dead.
       On the third day he rose again.
       He ascended into heaven,
              and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
       He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
       the hoIy catholic Church,
       the communion of saints,
       the forgiveness of sins,
       the resurrection of the body,
       and the life everlasting. Amen.

8 What do you learn from the Creeds?

From the Creeds l learn to believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who is the creator and ruler of the universe, and has made all things for his glory.

9 What does the Church teach about God the Father?

The Church teaches that God the Father made me and all mankind, and that in his love he sent his Son to reconcile the world to himself.

10 What does the Church teach about God the Son?

The Church teaches that, for our salvation, God the Son became man and died for our sins; that he was raised victorious over death and was exalted to the throne of God as our advocate and intercessor; and that he will come as our judge and saviour.

11 What does the Church teach about God the Holy Spirit?

The Church teaches that God the Holy Spirit inspires all that is good in mankind; that he came in his fulness at Pentecost to be the giver of life in the Church, and that he enables me to grow in likeness to Jesus Christ.
    Thus I learn to believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and this Holy Trinity l praise and magnify, saying:
    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

III. THE CHURCH AND MINISTRY

12 What is the Church?

The Church is the family of God and the Body of Christ through which he continues his reconciling work among men. Its members on earth enter it by baptism and are one company with those who worship God in heaven.

13 How is the Church described in the Creeds?

The Church is described as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

14 What do you mean by these words?

By these words I mean that:
    the Church is One because, in spite of its divisions, it is one family under one Father, whose purpose is to unite all men in Jesus Christ our Lord;
    the Church is Holy because it is set apart by God for himself, through the Holy Spirit;
    the Church is Catholic because it is universal, for all nations and for all time, holding the Christian Faith in its fulness;
    the Church is Apostolic because it is sent to preach the Gospel to the whole world, and receives its divine authority and teaching from Christ through his Apostles.

15 What is your work as a lay member of the Church of God?

To take my part in its worship, labours and councils, according to the grace that God has given me, and to pray, work and give for the spread of his kingdom.

16 What orders of ministers are there in the Church?

There are these orders of ministers in the Church:
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.

17 What is the work of a Bishop?

The work of a Bishop is to be a chief shepherd and a ruler in the Church; to guard the Faith; to ordain and confirrn; and to be the chief minister of the Word and Sacraments in his diocese.

18 What is the work of a Priest?

The work of a Priest is to preach the word of God, to teach, and to baptize; to celebrate the Holy Communion; to pronounce absolution and blessing in God’s name; and to care for the people entrusted by the Bishop to his charge.

19 What is the work of a Deacon?

The work of a Deacon is to help the Priest both in the conduct of worship and in the care of souls.

20 What is the Church of Ireland?

The Church of Ireland is catholic and reformed and derives from the ancient Church of this land. It proclaims and holds fast the doctrine and ministry of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

21 What is the Anglican Communion?

The Anglican Communion is a family of Churches within the universal Church of Christ in full communion with one another, maintaining apostolic doctrine and order, and accepting the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the Lambeth Conference of bishops, and as first among equals.

22 What other Christians are their besides those in the Anglican Communion?

All those who have been baptized into the Name of Christ are Christians.

23 What should be your attitude to other Christians?

I should recognise them as my brothers and sisters in Christ and show courtesy and understanding towards them.

IV CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE

24 The third promise made at your Baptism binds you to keep God’s commandments all the days of your life. Where has God made these commandments known?

God has made his commandments known in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, especially in the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

25 Repeat the ten commandments found in the law of Moses.
  1. I am the Lord your God: you shall have no other gods but me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself any idol.
  3. You shall not dishonour the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Lord's day and keep it holy.
  5. Honour your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not commit murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness.
  10. You shall not covet anything which belongs to your neighbour.

26 Repeat the words of our Lord Jesus Christ about God’s commandments.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.
    Again: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you."

27 What then is your duty towards God?

My duty towards God is:
  • to worship him as the only true God, to love, trust, and obey him, and by witness of my words and deeds to bring others to serve him;
  • to allow no created thing to take his place, but to use my time, my gifts, and my possessions as one who must give an account to him;
  • to reverence him in thought, word, and deed;
  • to keep the Lord’s day for worship, prayer, and rest from work.

28 What is your duty towards your neighbour?

My duty towards my neighbour is:
  • to love, respect, and help my parents; to honour the Head of State; to obey those in authority over me in all things lawful and good; and to fulfil my duties as a citizen;
  • to hurt nobody by word or deed; to bear no grudge or hatred in my heart; to promote peace among men; to be courteous to all; and to be kind to all God’s creatures;
  • to be clean in thought, word, and deed, controlling my bodily desires through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within me; and if called to the state of marriage to live faithfully in it;
  • to be honest and fair in all I do; not to steal or cheat; to seek justice, freedom, and plenty for all men;
  • to keep my tongue from lying, slandering, and harmful gossip, and never by my silence to let others be wrongly condemned;
  • to be thankful and generous; to do my duty cheerfully, and not to be greedy or envious.

Thus I acknowledge God’s reign among men and try to live as a citizen of his kingdom, fighting against evil wherever I find it, in myself, or in the world around me.

V THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE CHURCH

Grace

29 How can you carry out these duties and overcome temptation and sin?

I can do these things only by the help of God and through his grace.

30 What do you mean by God’s grace?

By God’s grace I mean that God himself acts in Jesus Christ to forgive, inspire, and strengthen me by his Holy Spirit.

31 In what ways do you receive these gifts of God’s grace?

I receive these gifts of God’s grace within the fellowship of the Church, when I worship and pray, when I read the Bible, when I receive the Sacraments, and as I live my daily life to his glory.

Worship and Prayer

32 What do you mean by the worship of God?

To worship God is to respond to his love, first by joining in the Church’s offering of praise, thanksgiving, and prayer, and by hearing his holy word; secondly by acknowledging him as the Lord of my life, and by doing my work for his honour and glory.

33 Why do we keep Sunday as the chief day of public worship?

We keep Sunday as the chief day of public worship because it was on the first day of the week that our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

34 What is prayer?

Prayer is the lifting up of heart and mind to God. We adore him, we confess our sins and ask to be forgiven, we thank him, we pray for others and for ourselves, we listen to him and seek to know his will.

35 Repeat the Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
       on earth as in heaven.
    Give us today our daily bread.
    Forgive us our sins
       as we forgive those who sin against us.
    Lead us not into temptation
       but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
       now and for ever.  Amen.

The Bible

36 What is the Bible?

The Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, is the record of God’s revelation of himself to mankind through his people Israel, and above all in his Son, Jesus Christ.

37 How was the Bible given to us?

The Bible was given to us by the Holy Spirit who first inspired and guided the writers, and then led the Church to accept their writings as Holy Scripture.

38 How should we read the Bible?

We should read the Bible with the desire and prayer that through it God will speak to us by his Holy Spirit, and enable us to know him and do his will.

The Gospel Sacraments and other Ministries of Grace

39 What do you mean by a sacrament?

By a sacrament I mean the use of material things as signs and pledges of God’s grace, and as a means by which we receive his gifts.

40 What are the two parts of a sacrament?

The two parts of a sacrament are the outward and visible sign, and the inward and spiritual grace.

41 How many sacraments has Christ, in the Gospel, appointed for his Church?

Christ in the Gospel has appointed two sacraments for his Church, as needed by all for fullness of life, Baptism, and Holy Communion.

42 What other sacramental ministries of grace are provided in the Church?

Other sacramental ministries of grace are confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, the ministry of absolution, and the ministry of healing.

43 What is Baptism?

Baptism is the sacrament in which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, we are 'christened’ or made Christ’s.

44 What is the outward and visible sign in Baptism?

The outward and visible sign in Baptism is water in which the person is baptized
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

44 What is the inward and spiritual gift in Baptism?

The inward and spiritual gift in Baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, and a new birth into God’s family, the Church.

46 What is required of persons to be baptized?

It is required that persons to be baptized should turn from sin, believe the Christian Faith, and give themselves to Christ to be his servants.

47 Why then are infants baptized?

Though infants are not yet old enough to make promises for themselves, yet they are baptized because others can make the promises for them and claim their adoption as children of God.

48 What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is the ministry by which, through prayer with the Iaying on of hands by the Bishop, the Holy Spirit is received to complete what he began in Baptism, and to give strength for the Christian life.

49 What is required of persons to be confirmed?

It is required that persons to be confirmed should have been baptized, be sufficiently instructed in the Christian Faith, be penitent for their sins, and be ready to confess Jesus Christ as Saviour and obey him as Lord.

50 What is Holy Communion?

Holy Communion is the Sacrament in which, according to Christ’s command, we make continual remembrance of him, his passion, death, and resurrection, until his coming again, and in which we thankfully receive the benefits of his sacrifice.
    It is, therefore, called the Eucharist, the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; and also the Lord’s Supper, the meal of fellowship which unites us to Christ and to the whole Church.

51 What is the outward and visible sign in Holy Communion?

The outward and visible sign in Holy Communion is bread and wine given and received as the Lord commanded.

52 What is the inward and spiritual gift in Holy Communion?

The inward and spiritual gift in Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ, truly and indeed given by him and received by the faithful.

53 What is meant by receiving the Body and Blood of Christ?

Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ means receiving the life of Christ himself, who was crucified and rose again, and is now alive for evermore.

54 What are the benefits we receive in Holy Communion?

The benefits we receive are the strengthening of our union with Christ and his Church, the forgiveness of our sins, and the nourishing of ourselves for eternal life.

55 What is required of those who come to Holy Communion?

It is required of those who come to HoIy Communion that they have a living faith in God’s mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of his death and resurrection; that they repent truly of their sins, intending to lead the new life; and be in charity with all people.

56 What is Ordination?

Ordination is the ministry in which, through prayer with the laying on of hands, our Lord Jesus Christ gives the grace of the Holy Spirit, and authority, to those who are being made bishops, priests, and deacons.

57 What is Holy Matrimony?

Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the man and the woman, entering into a life-long union, take their vows before God and seek his grace and blessing to fulfil them.

58 What is the ministry of Absolution?

The ministry of absolution is the ministry by which those who are truly sorry for their sins, and have made free confession of them to God in the presence of the minister, with intention to amend their lives, receive through him the forgiveness of God.

59 What is the sacramental ministry of Healing?

The sacramental ministry of healing is the ministry by which God’s grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body, in response to faith and prayer, by the laying on of hands, or by anointing with oil.

VI. THE CHRISTIAN HOPE

60 What is the hope in which a Christian lives?

A Christian lives in the certain hope of the advent of Christ, the last judgement, and resurrection to life everlasting.

61 What are we to understand by the advent of Christ?

By the advent of Christ we are to understand that God, who through Christ has created and redeemed all things, wiIl also through Christ at his coming again, make all things perfect and complete in his eternal kingdom.

62 What are we to understand by the last judgement?

By the last judgement we are to understand that all men will give account of their lives to God, who will condemn and destroy all that is evil, and bring his servants into the joy of their Lord.

63 What are we to understand by resurrection?

By resurrection we are to understand that God, who has overcome death by the resurrection of Christ, will raise from death in a body of glory all who are Christ’s, that they may live with him in the fellowship of the saints.

64 What, then, is our assurance as Christians?

Our assurance as Christians is that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Thus, daily increasing in God’s Holy Spirit, and following the example of our Saviour Christ, we shall at the last be made like unto him, for we shall see him as he is.

Therefore I pray:

May the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory in Christ, after we have suffered a little while, restore, establish,  and strengthen us.
    To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

The Revised Catechism copyright © 1971 Church of Ireland Board of Education