Module 1: Does God Exist?
1/0 - Introduction
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.Getting Started
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Welcome to 'Modulo' - designed to help us to get to know about God and Christianity, which many people find gives meaning to life. The Modules are designed to help us decide if God exists, what he's like, how we can get to know him for ourselves and what others have already discovered. Each Module is divided into several parts, the first part (numbered /0) gives an introduction whilst the rest of the parts (numbered /1 - /6) explore the topic in detail with questions to help us relate it to our own life today.

Module 1 has two alternatives; the 'Full Module 1' in six parts is designed for people with little or no knowledge of Christianity so want more help, whilst the 'Module 1 Summary' provides a revision in just one part if you already have some experience.

All the Modules give Bible references - you may like to look up some of them to give authority to the material presented.(Return to top)

    'Full Module 1'

    1/0   This Summary
    1/1   Is It Rational To Believe?
    1/2   What's God like?
    1/3   Building a relationship
    1/4   Getting to know God

    1/5   Introducing the Old Testament (OT)
    1/6   Introducing the New Testament (NT)
    (Click to select)

            Module 1 Summary

    (You only need the Full Module or the Summary.
    You don't need both).
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Full Module 1/1- Is It Rational To Believe? (Click to select)
Is there a living God? No-one can prove God exists, but equally no-one can prove he doesn't either. There's several ways this question can be approached, but one of the most common, and probably the easiest to understand, is to look at creation all about us, and that's the approach we use. (Return to top)
  • It's good to put God first, so we first address the question 'Who is God?' before asking 'Who am I?' and 'How can I be happy?'
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Full Module 1/2 - What’s God Like? (Click to select)
If we can accept that God does (or might) exist, the next obvious question is 'What's he like?' For Christians, the answer is 'A Holy Trinity', but that can be a difficult idea to grasp. This part attempts to explain it.

It's an important question as it's fundamental to the answer of why God created the universe, why he acts as he does and why we're here. Understanding this helps give our life meaning. (Return to top)
  • Once we know what God is like we can ask 'What is the spiritual world?', 'Why is there suffering?' and 'What happens when I die?'
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Full Module 1/3 - Building a Relationship (Click to select)
There are several ways of getting to know God. This part introduces the idea of prayer. It suggests that we relate to others by communicating with them, so to have a relationship with God we need to communicate with him too, and prayer is one of the important ways we do that.

We address the questions 'What is prayer?' 'How can I make time to pray in a busy life?' and 'What shall I say?' (Return to top)
  • Answers are given to the commonly asked questions: 'Is it more than talking to yourself?' and 'Does God answer?

  • This Module includes a common 'Prayer Sheet and a 'Simple Guide to Prayer'.
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Full Module 1/4 - Getting To Know him (Click to select)
Another important way of getting to know God is by finding out what others have experienced before us, and the Christian holy book 'The Bible' is a good source for that. We look first at differences between the way people wrote in Bible times and the way we write today, which helps us to understand the Bible better, then at the account of creation in the Bible and our early ancestors' attempts to understanding the world around them. (Return to top)
  • The Bible's first book reveals 'beginnings', the beginning of creation and the beginning of history.

  • Module 2 will go on to explore how humanity grew to know God and his rules for living.
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Full Module 1/5 - Exploring The OT (Click to select)
'The Bible' is the Christian Holy Book, written by humans so limited by our language and knowledge, but thought to be inspired by God, so it's often called 'The Holy Bible'. The title 'Bible' is a Greek word that just means 'Books'. It's divided into two sections, the Old and New Testaments.

Parts 1/5 and 1/6 of this Module introduce the two sections of the Bible. If you're already familiar with them, you may prefer to skip parts 1/5 and 1/6 and move on to look at Module 2/1, but you might also like to hand them out for reference. The decision is yours.

The Old Testament (OT) covers the centuries from the creation of the universe to just before the coming of Jesus as a human and is written in many different styles including: Story (both factual and symbolic); Law; Wisdom; Proverbs (tips for living well), and Prophecy.

It gives a description of the different sections of the Old Testament and an introduction to some of its principal accounts. (Return to top)
  • In many Bibles, the Old Testament contains 39 books from Genesis to Malachi. In some Bibles, especially those produced more recently, The Old Testament has an additional 15 books from Tobit to 2 Maccabees called 'The Apocrypha', which is the Greek word for 'hidden', because they were left out or hidden from earlier versions.
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Full Module 1/6 - Exploring The NT (Click to select)
The New Testament ('NT') covers the years of Jesus' birth, life and death as a human, and the events immediately afterwards, as his Apostles took-out his message to the surrounding world.

It contains several of the writing styles found in the Old Testament but covers the 'Gospel' about Jesus life and teaching; often using parables (ie: teaching by making a 'com-parable' between a new point that's difficult to understand and something we already know about); and it describes how Jesus made reconciliation between God and humanity for our sins through his action on the cross. It describes the 'Acts' of his followers immediately after his death and resurrection back to life again, followed by 'Letters' to the early church (or in Greek 'Epistles') to help them interpret Jesus' teaching, and a 'Revelation' of God's whole plan.

As with the Old Testament, this part gives a description of the different sections of the New Testament and an introduction to some of its principal accounts. (Return to top)
  • The word 'gospel' is Greek and just means good news, so the 'Gospel of Jesus Christ' just means the 'Good News of Jesus Christ'.

  • The Good News is that Jesus made reconciliation between God and humans to repair our separation from God caused by our disobedience of his rules - which we call 'sin'.

  • The last book 'Revelation' explores God's whole plan with hundreds of references back to passages in both the Old and New Testaments, but it was written in a confusing style that was popular at the time, which makes it hard for us to understand it today.
    (Return to Main Index)
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.Module 1 Summary (Click to select)
This Summary in one part is an alternative to the six parts of the Full Module described above – you only need the Full Module or the Summary, you don't need them both. The Summary revises the subjects covered in the Full Module, but omits parts 1/5 and 1/6 on the assumption that you already know about the Old and New Testaments. (Return to top)
  • The Summary is intended for people who already have some knowledge of Christianity and just want a short revision in a single part to remind them of the details.
    (Return to Main Index)
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The Bible - Why Different Versions?
Christians refer to the Bible a lot, so it's good to know something about it. Surely the Bible is the Bible? Well, yes and no! The Old Testament was mainly written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek, so for most of us it has to be translated. The problem is that it's often impossible to get exactly the same meaning in one language as in another, so the translators have to make the best interpretation they can.

It depends what you want from the translation. Do you want a version that's easy to read, or do you want a 'scholarly accurate' translation, even though that may be harder to understand?

Also, words change their meaning over time, eg: nice used to mean 'over fussy' but now means 'pleasant', so an older translation can get out of step with modern meaning and give us a false understanding, or even miss the point altogether.

Sections of the Bible were translated at different times but the first English translation of the whole New Testament (and parts of the Old Testament) was made by William Tyndale early in the 16th century.

King James I of England directed that a new translation be made by a group of eminent scholars, and in 1611 this became the 'Authorised' or King James Version (KJV), still in use today.

In 1970 a new translation into current English was made called the New English Bible (NEB). Other mainstream translations include: 1966 the Jerusalem Bible (JB) often used by Roman Catholics; 1966 the Good News Bible (GNB); 1978 the New International Version (NIV); 1989 The New Standard Revised Version (NRSV); and 1995 the Contemporary English Version (CEV) – several of these have been updated and re‑issued since. Specialist translations have also been made, eg: in 2004 a version that uses common slang (The Word on the Street), and even more recently a version in mobile-phone 'Text' shorthand. (Return to top)
  • The first complete translation was made by St Jerome in 405 AD. His translation into Latin was used by other translators and became the basis of the Bible in common usage for many centuries, so was known as the 'common version', or 'The Vulgate' from the Latin for 'common'.

  • Many Bibles have the word 'LORD' in capital letters. This signifies it's referring to God and not to an earthly lord.

  • Different translators don't agree on what everything means. Even in the King James Bible there's lots of words or phrases in italic print for no apparent reason – they're the view of the majority, but not all of the translators who worked on it.

  • Modern translators therefore prefer to go back to the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that are found from time to time, to avoid errors made in earlier translations.

  • It's a good idea to look at several versions and choose one that suits you best, or the one that's used by your church in its worship.(Return to Main Index)