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The core concepts

The following core concepts are explored in the Understanding Christianity approach, as part of the ‘big story’ of salvation, as understood within Christianity.


Fundamental to Christian belief is the existence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit


Christians believe the universe and human life are God’s good creation. Humans are made in the image of God.


Humans have a tendency to go their own way rather than keep their place in relation to their creator.  This attitude is called sin, and Genesis 3 gives an account of this rebellion, popularly called ‘the Fall’. This describes a catastrophic separation between God and humans, between humans and each other, and between humans and the environment. This idea that humans are ‘fallen’ and in need of rescue (or salvation) sets out the root cause of many problems for humanity.

People of God

The Old Testament tells the story of God’s plan to reverse the impact of the Fall, to save humanity. It involves choosing a people who will model a restored relationship with God, who will attract all other people back to God. The Bible narrative includes the ups and downs of this plan, including the message of the prophets who tried to persuade people to stick with God. The plan appears to end in failure with the people of God exiled, and then returning, awaiting a ‘messiah’ – a rescuer.


The New Testament presents Jesus as the answer: the Messiah and Saviour, who will repair the effects of sin and the Fall and offer a way for humans to be at one with God again. Incarnation means that Jesus is God in the flesh, and that, in Jesus, God came to live amongt humans.


Christians believe Jesus’ incarnation is ‘good news’ for all people. (‘Gospel’ means ‘good news’.)  His life, teaching and ministry embody what it is like to be one of the People of God, what it means to live in relationship with God. Jesus’ example and teaching emphasise loving one’s neighbour – particularly the weak and vulnerable – as part of loving God.


Jesus’ death and resurrection effect the rescue or salvation of humans. He opens the way back to God. Christians believe that through Jesus, sin is dealt with, forgiveness offered, and the relationship between God and humans is restored.

Kingdom of God

This does not mean that no one sins any more!  The Bible talks in terms of God’s ‘Kingdom’ having begun in human hearts through Jesus. The idea of the ‘Kingdom of God’ reflects God’s ideal for human life in the world – a vision of life lived in the way God intended for human beings.  Christians look forward to a time when God’s rule is fulfilled at some future point, in a restored, transformed heaven and earth. Meanwhile, they seek to live this attractive life as in God’s Kingdom, following Jesus’ example, inspired and empowered by God’s Spirit.

These concepts represent one way to make sense of Christian belief and practice. The brief version above is necessarily simplified, and there are other ways of understanding Christian teaching. Many Christians might prefer not to relegate the position of Jesus to being a mere ‘solution’ to the problem of sin, and argue that Jesus’ incarnation represents the boundless love of the Creator seeking the best for human beings, regardless of the cost. The resources indicate some areas of disagreement and diversity.

Through these concepts, pupils encounter a range of biblical texts, placed within a wider theological context. They consider the nature of God and what it means for Christians to be in relationship with the Creator. They explore Christian understanding of the relationship between God and his people in the Old Testament, and make sense of messianic expectations and Christian belief in their fulfilment in Jesus.

Pupils explore the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, within this wider historical and theological context. They consider the present and future aspects of the Kingdom of God. Pupils examine the impact of these beliefs and their outworking in the lives of Christians, through (for example) celebrations, festivals, rituals, creative and spiritual expression, actions and activism, expressions of love and compassion, calls for justice and ethical responses.