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Christian Thought Vocab 1
Terms in this set (54)
Items of belief not essential to *salvation. In Lutheran thought the adiaphora were defined as practices of the church that were neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture. In contemporary terms, adiaphora are those things not clearly addressed by Scripture that Christians may freely practice or believe with a clear conscience before God and that do not affect salvation.
The theory that asserts that God adopted Jesus of Nazareth as his Son. In other words, Jesus was born human but became God's Son at a particular point in his life. This theory fails to reflect scriptural texts that point to Jesus' eternal relationship with the Father (e.g., Jn 17:5).
Literally, "no knowledge" and taken from two Greek terms, a (no) and gnosis (knowledge). In a more formal sense agnosticism refers to a system of belief in which personal opinion about religious statements (e.g., "God exists") is suspended because it is assumed that they can be neither proven nor disproven or because such statements are seen as irrelevant. See also atheism
analogy of being
The argument that there is sufficient similarity between God and creation so that observation of the universe will yield a limited understanding of God's nature. The analogy of being is usually said to extend more to humans than to the universe itself, in that humans are created in the image of God (see imago Dei). Contemporary theologians have debated the extent to which sinful humans can perceive creation as pointing to God. Some theologians (e.g., Karl *Barth) reject completely the use of the analogy of being as a valid theological principle
analogy of faith
A principle of interpretation that suggests that clearer passages of Scripture should be used to interpret more obscure or difficult passages. For *Augustine the analogy of faith requires that Scripture never be interpreted in such a way that it violates the church's summary of Christian faith (i.e., the Apostles' Creed). For Luther, Christ is the analogy of faith, so that Scripture needs always to be interpreted as testifying to Christ. For Calvin the analogy of faith assumes that because the Spirit oversaw its writing, Scripture and the Spirit together interpret other parts of Scripture
any kind of theology that positive description of God is impossible. All human language can do is assert what God is not. God known through spiritual experience, not rational expression. Eastern Orthodox.
An early heretical teaching about the identity of Jesus Christ. Arianism was founded primarily on the teachings of Arius. Because God is one, Jesus could not have been God. Jesus was the highest created being of God. Condemned at the First Ecumenical Council (Nicea) A.D. 325.
A term derived from Latin "from oneself." Aseity as a divine attribute refers to God's self-existance. God is not dependent on anything to exist, exists eternally without external or prior cause.
The standard or the rule. Associated with the collection of books that the church has recognized as the written Word of God and that functions as the rule or standard of faith and practice in the church. Although the various Christian tradtions are not in full agreement as to which books should comprise the collection of Scripture, all agree that the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are canonical.
A group of theologians writing between the Council of Nicea and the Council of Constantiople. Responded to the Arian heresy and formulated the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. Group included Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nanzianzus. They stated that God is "three persons in one essence."
The Greek word translated in English as "Christ" is the equivalent of the Hebrew term Messiah and means "anointed one." The theological study devoted to answering two main questions: Who is Jesus (identity)? and What is the nature and significance of what Jesus accomplished in the incarnation (question of work)?
Derived from the Latin credo ("I believe"), a creed is a summary of Christian faith and belief. The purpose of the earliest creeds was to present a short summary of Christian doctrine, which baptismal candidates affirmed at their baptism. Tools for instruction for new converts, combating heresy, and for use in corporate worship. Three of the most famous creeds established in the first five centuries of church history are the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.
"the hidden God," paradox of a hidden God revealing himself.
"the revealed God," the paradox of a hidden God revealing himself. For Luther the unknowable God is revealed in Christ; yet in the cross of Christ, God's true glory is hidden to human wisdom.
In Protestant circles, dogma is the same as doctrine, theological teaching. In Eastern Orthodox traditions, dogmas are the officially accepted teaching of the church, and not the teachings of individual theologians. Dogmatics is the churchly task of summarizing and systematizing the teaching of Scripture and tradition into a coherent whole according to the theological categories.
Refers to the manifestations of the three persons of the Trinity in relationship to the world, particularly in regard to the outworking of God's plan (economy) of salvation. Thus the economic Trinity refers to how God as a tripersonal being relates to the world, which in turn provides the Biblical context for understanding how the persons of the Trinity relate to each other (immanent Trinity). Is there a difference between "God in relationship to the world" (economic trinity) and "God in internal eternal relationship" (immanent Trinity)?
Philosophical inquiry into the nature, sources, limits and methods of gaining knowledge. In Western philosophy, epistemology has generally followed two main alternatives: rationalism (knowledge is gained through the mind's use of reason and logic) and empiricism (knowledge is gained through the gathering of information through the use of the inner and external senses).
In semantics the term is used to identify words that have more than one possible meaning. This is in contrast to univocal words, which have only one possible meaning. In theology a term is said to be equivocal if it means something quite different when used of God than when referring to humans or something else in creation.
The view that matters of religious and theological truth must be accepted by faith apart from the exercise of reason. In its extreme, fideism suggests that the use of reason is misleading. Less extreme fideists suggest that reason is not so much misleading as it is simply unable to lead to truths about the nature of God and salvation.
fides quarens intellectum
"Faith seeking understanding." The phrase originated with Anselm and was used to show the relationship of religious faith to human reason. For Anselm, matters of religion and theology are understood only by first believuing them and then proceeding to gain an intellectual understanding of the things already believed. In other words, faith is both logically and chronologically prior to reason.
A Latin term literally meaning "and the Son," filioque became significant because of its addition to the description of the Holy Spirit in the Niceno-Constantiopolitan Creed by the Western churches in the sixth century. Originally the Creed stated that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, but the addition of filioque suggested that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father "and the Son." The addition of the filioque clause without the consensus of the Eastern churches ignited a great controversy and became a major factor in the subsequent slpit between the Eastern and Western churches in A.D. 1054.
A term used to declare that God reveals something about the divine nature through the created order. This self-revealing of God through creation is called general because it only gives "general" or "indirect" information about God, including the fact of God's existence and that God is powerful. This is in contrast to special revelation, which is more "specific" and "direct" and includes the appearance of the living Word (Jesus) and the written Word of God (Scripture), revealing a holy, loving and just God who graciously provides forgiveness of sin. General revelation is likewise "general" in that it is available to all humankind, in contrast to the divine self-disclosure that God revealed to certain persons.
Any teaching rejected by the Christian community as contrary to the Scripture and hence to orthodox doctrine. Most of the teachins that have been declared heretical have to do with either the nature of God or the person of Jesus Christ. Ther term heresy is not generally used to characterize non-Christian belief. That is to say, systems of belief such as atheism or agnosticism, or non-Christian religions such as Buddhism or Islam are not technically heresy. The term heresy is generally reserved for any belief that claims to be Christian and scriptural but has been rejected by the church as sub-Christian or antiscriptural.
The discipline that studies the principles and theories of how texts ought to be interpreted, particularly sacred texts such as the Scriptures. Hermeneutics also concerns itself with understanding the unique roles and relationships between the author, the text and the original or subsequent readers.
"of similar substance." Used in the debate surrounding the relationship of Jesus the Son to God the Father. Semi-Arians used to argue that the Son is of similar but not identical substance as God.
"of the same substance." Used in the debate surrounding the relationship of Jesus the Son to God the Father. Athanasius argued that the Son derives his substance from the Father. Accepted as orthodox.
a Greek noun first used by Eastern theologians in the early centuries of church history to refer to the three persons of the Trinity. The Cappadocian fathers, Basil in particular, argued that God is three hypostaseis in one ousia (substance). Although helpful, the term also led to confusion. Western theologians described God as one substantia in three personae, with confusion arising because substantia was the Latin equivalent of hypostasis. Technically, hypostasis refers to each of the three concrete and distinct trinitarian persons who share a single divine nature or essence.
The idea that God is present in, close to, and involved with creation. Unlike pantheism, which teaches that God and the world are one or that God is the soul of the world, Christian theology teaches that God is constantly involved with creation without actually becoming exhausted by creation or ceasing to be divine in any way.
The term used to explore and, to an inadequate degree, explain the internal workings and relationships among the three persons of the Trinity. Statements about the immanent Trinity seek to give language to the inexpressible mystery of what God is like apart from reference to God's dealings with creation. Thus the immanent Trinity is God-as-God-is throughout eternity. The Scriptures suggest that Jesus and the Father are one and that the Holy Spirit is ther Spirit of God and of Christ. The Scriptures also suggest taht love is the essence of the immanent Trinity.
The characteristic of not experiencing change or development. Certain understnadings of God posit the divine reality as incapable of experiencing change in any way. Some theologians, however, assert that this contept owes more to Greek philosophical influence than to explicit biblical teaching. many contemporary theologians distinguish between God's eternally unchanging, faithful character and God's ability to respond in different ways to changing human beings in their temporal, earthly situation.
The charactersitic, usually associated with God, of being unaffected by earthly, temporal circumstances, particularly the experience of suffering and its effects. Many contemporary theologians reject the idea of divine impassibility, suggesting that it reflects Greek philosophical, rather than biblical, concerns. However, the Bible clearly teaches that God cannot be swayed in any way to be unfaithful to what God has promised. Still, it is seemingly impossible to associate pure impassibility with God in light of the fact that Jesus Christ, as the fullest manifestation of God, experienced suffering on the cross.
The idea that Scripture is completely free from error. It is generally agreed by all theologians who use the term that inerrancy at least refers to the trustworthy and authoritative nature of Scripture as God's Word, which informs humankind of the need for and the way to salvation. Some theologians, however, affirm that the Bible is also completely accurate in whatever it teaches about other subjects, such as science and history.
The characteristic of being incapable of failing to accomplish a predetermined purpose. In Protestant theology infallibility is usually associated with Scripture. The Bible will not fail in its ultimate purpose of revealing God and the way of salvation to humans. In Roman Catholic theology infallibility is also extrended to the teachings of the church under the authority of the pope as the chief theacher and earthly head of the body of Christ.
The philosophical exploration into the ultimate nature of reality lying beyond the merely physical. Metaphysics deals with ontological concerns, that is, with questions about what constitutes something as "real" or having "being."
The trinitarian heresy that does not view Father, Son, and Spirit as three particular "persons in relation," but merely as three modes or manifestations of the one divine person of God. Thus God comes in salvation history as Father to create and give the law, as Son to redeem and as Spirit to impart grace.
Greek for "economy" or "administration." In theology the term refers to salvation history or to God's providential plan and care of creation. More specifically, it has become synonymous with the main events in God's plan of slavation, particularly Christ's incarnation and the sending of the Spirit.
The branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature of being. To speak of something as ontological is to refer to its essential nature, as opposed to its epistemological aspects. Ontology, therefore, focuses on being and essence, incontrast to epistemology which speaks about how humans come to know something.
"right prase" or "right belief." Being orthodox implies being characterized by consistency in belief and worship with the Christian faith as witnessed to in Scripture, the early Christian writers and the official teachings, creeds and liturgy of the church. Orthodox is sometimes used in a narrower sense to refer to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
Greek for "substance" or "being." Trinitarian thought suggests that the SOn derives his ousia from the Father, and yet what the Son is so the Father is exactly. In their formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, the Cappadocian fathers declared that God was one ousia but three hypostaseis.
An apparent contradiction. A paradox may come in the form of a seemingly self-contradictory statement, in multiple statements that are mutually contradictory or by way of a statement that stands in contradiction to common sense or to a commonly held position. The Christian faith affirms several paradoxes--independent truths that seem irreconcilable to others and yet are held together by faith. One often-cited example is the belief that Jesus is fully divine yet fully human. Theologians often seek to pierce into these seemingly paradoxical aspects of the faith.
Derived from the Greek words pater (father) and pascho (to suffer), the term refers to an early type of modalism that suggested that the one God became incarnate in the form of the Son was born of a virgin and suffered and died on the cross. This belief was declared heretical by the early church.
The theological concept affirming that the divine essence is shared by each of the three persons of the Trinity in a manner that avoids blurring the distinctions among them. By extension, this idea suggests that any essential characteristic that belongs to one of the three is shared by the others. Also affirms that the action of one of the persons of the Trinity is also fully the action of the other two persons.
A late Reformation view of biblical inspiration that holds that God is the ultimate author of the Bible in its entirety. That is, God's superintending work in inspiration extends to the whole Bible and to each part of the Bible. Plenary inspiration guarantees that all that the church has come to affirm as Scripture is both authoritative and helpful for Christian belief and practice.
Latin for "Scripture only," the Lutheran, Reformation principle that Scripture--not Scripture plus church tradition--is the source of God's word in the church, unencumbered by papal and ecclesiastical magisterium and unrivaled by the supposed additional revelation that comes through church tradition.
God's divine self-revelation evidenced specifically in salvation history and culminating in the incarnation as understood through Scripture. Although the Bible seemingly affirms both general and special revelation, only special revelation can disclose completely our sinful predicament, as well as God's promise of salvation and its fulfillment in Christ.
Literally, "breathing," the term used to describe the way the Spirity proceeds from the Father (and the Son).
A second- and third- century heresy that held that because the Son and the Spirit proceed from the Father, they are not equal to the Father and are thus not fully divine.
Greek for "God-breathed," or "God-inspired." Generally this word is used to describe the divine dimension of Scripture either as divinely inspired documents or as the product of divinely inspired authors.
The attribute of God that refers to being wholly and distinctly separate from creation (although always actively involved in and with it as well). The declaration that God is transcendent means that God is "above" the world and comes to creation from "beyond." During the medieval era God's transcendence was especially emphasized, as is evident in the architecture of the great gothic cathedrals.
A distorted belief in three different Gods--Father, Son, and Spirit--rather than one God who is unified and yet diversely three persons.
The idea that a word carries the same meaning when applied to God that it has when predicated of something in creation. Thus human fatherhood and divine Fatherhood are identical ideas. The univocal use of language ignores God's distinctiveness and uniqueness from creation.
Literally, an enclave within the city of Rome, the Vatican forms the residence of the pope. Figuratively, a reference to the pope or the papal, mageisterial authority. Its present common usage also refers to the Second Vatican Council, which sought to bring all aspects of Roman Catholic faith and life into harmony with contemporary concerns or the modern age.
Latin for "vestiges of God," the view that there are vestiges, or evidences, of the one God in the created order and that God has revealed the divine being analogously in creation.
Latin for "vestiges of Trinity," the drawing of analogies to the Trinity from the threefold related structure of certain created things. For example, Augustine saw a vestige of the Trinity in the human person, one's self-knowledge and self-love.
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