Glossary of Christian Theology 201-Glossary Terms
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- a story to teach a lesson
- Analogia Entis
- A doctrine found in medieval and scholastic theology and defended vigorously by Thomas Aquinas. According to this doctrine, from the being of the universe we may reason back analogically and proportionately to God.
The doctrine of the analogy of being was strongly attacked by Karl Barth in Church Dogmatics, where he insisted that God cannot be know from the creation, but only in the revelation in Jesus Christ.
While Barth’s position serves as a corrective to an autonomous natural theology, it doe not appear to do justice to the degree of moral accountability presupposed on the basis of general revelation in such texts as Romans 1:18- 23.
- The part of the theological system devoted to the *study of* the origins, nature, and destiny of *man*.
"Man will believe in God because it it in his nature to believe in Him."
- The assigning of human characteristics to God
(ie. Would a God who made ears not be able to hear, etc. Assigning God attributes of humans, even though He isn't human but God).
- Two things in the Bible that appear contradictory but aren't.
"In theology, one of a pair of apparently conflicting statements, each of which possesses claims to validity. Notable examples of biblical antinomies include the divine and human natures in the one person of Jesus Christ, and the concurrence of divine sovereignty and human responsibility in the process of salvation. Biblical antinomies arise when the divine reality intersects with the human, and point to the inability of human reason to exhaustively comprehend the nature and action of God."
- The intellectual defense of the Christian faith.
Topics traditionally dealt with in apologetics include the relationship of faith and reasons; proof for the existence of God; creation and evolution; the problem of evil; miracles and natural law; evidence for the resurrection of Christ; the inspiration of Scripture. In contemporary evangelical circles, discussions of methodology in apologetics usually involve the differences between the schools commonly known as *evidentialism and *presuppositionalism."
- ...the people who follow Arminius (created a movement in reaction--against--Calvinism)
"A theological movement initiated by Jacobus Arminius (1560- 1609) of the Netherlands in reaction to the Calvinistic understanding of predestination , divine grace, and salvation. The followers of Arminius, called Arminians or Remonstrants, further developed the views of Arminius. The tenets of later Arminianism emphasize, but are not limited to, the following five doctrines: man’s depravity resulting from the fall is not total; God’s election is not unconditional but is based on foreseen faith: Christ died for the sins of all, not just the sins of the elect; the grace of God in the gospel calling to conversion can be resisted; a truly regenerate person may fall from grace and lose his salvation altogether. The Calvinistic party in the Netherlands rejected those propositions at the Synod of Dort (1618- 1619)."
- Attributes of God
- emphasizing the absolute distinction between the Creator and the creature
The perfection of the divine Being. The incommunicable attributes, emphasizing the absolute distinction between the Creator and the creature, include deity or self-existence, immutability, eternity, omnipresence, and simplicity. The communicable attributes, reflected in a limited degree in the creature, include omniscience, wisdom, goodness, love, mercy, patience, holiness, righteousness, truth, and omnipotence. The divine attributes mutually quality one another, and may be said to be identical with the divine nature or essence.
- study of Bible doctrine
"The part of the theological system devoted to the doctrine of Scripture. Important concepts usually treated include authority, revelation, inspiration, illumination, and inerrancy."
- followers of what Calvin said concerning God (and the famous T.U.L.I.P.).
The theological tradition associated with John Calvin (1509 - 1564) and his later followers. The Synod of Dort (1618 - 1619) affirmed “Five Points” which are commonly held to be key tenets of classical Calvinism: total depravity or the total inability of man to contribute to his own salvation; unconditional election, that is election apart from any foreseen faith; limit or define atonement; irresistible or effectual grace; perseverance of the saints.
- The study of Christ as God
The part of the theological system dealing with the person and work of Christ. Ecclesiastical reflection on the person of Christ achieved classical expression on the Creed of Chalcedon (451). Reflection on the nature of the work of Christ (atonement) has exhibited greater variation across the centuries. Evangelicals stress the priestly and substitutionary dimensions of the biblical understanding of the work of Christ.
In any theological system Christology will play a central role, inasmuch as the understanding of the person and work of Christ is determinative for the understanding of salvation and the Christian Life.
- Coherence Theory of Truth
- The theory which holds that truth consists in coherence with other statements known to be true. The coherence theory has been held by rationalist metaphysicians such as Gottfried Leibniz, Benedict Spinoza, George Hegel, and F.H. Bradley, and more recently, by the logical positions Otto Neurath and Carl Hempel. While the coherence theory is quite appropriate is a priori disciplines such as mathematics and logic, it is less so in empirical disciplines such as history and natural sciences.
- Common Grace
- The general benevolence of God toward a creature, benevolence which restrains the destructive consequence of sin, and enables the unregenerate to act in external conformity to the moral law and to exhibit creativity in works of culture (cf. Gen. 1:28; Matt. 5:45; Rom. 2:14). The concept of common grace helps the Christian to better appreciate the positive contributions and partial insights of non- Christians peoples.
- the way we turn an argument into something we can readily understand (ie. we put it into a context WE can understand)
A theological term prominent in recent discussions in missiology and liberation theology. Contextualization refers to the process through which the substance of biblical revelation is interpreted and applied in terms of categories and thought forms of those who are receiving the message. Systematic theology, like counseling and homiletics, seeks to be context-specific in its application of biblical truth.
- Correlation, Method of
- A method of structuring the theological system articulated by Paul Tillich in the first volume of his Systematic Theology. Existential “questions” from the human situation are correlated with “answers” drawn from divine revelation. The method in itself is a sound one, as long as divine revelation, rather than the human situation, controls the nature of the theological agenda.
- Correspondence Theory of Truth
- The theory holds that truth consists in some form of correspondence between belief and that actual state of affairs in the world. During the twentieth century, due to the influence of the modern scientific outlook, it has often been held that this correspondence must in all cases be capable of empirical verification. While Christian faith is deeply rooted in history and in the structures of the spatiotemporal world, the correspondence of the Christian position as a whole to ultimate reality will only be verified eschatologically, that is, by the return of Christ at the end of history.
- Cosmological Argument
- "Because there is a universe, something had to have created that universe."
An argument of God’s existence proceeding from the existence of the world to God as the world’s sufficient cause. Its defenders have included Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, René Descartes, Gottfried, John Locke, Charles Hodge, Norman Geisler, and most Roman Catholic theologians; among its critics have been David Hume, Immanuel Kant, J.S. Mill, Bertrand Russell, and Gordon Clark. While philosophers are divided on the question of whether the argument makes belief in God’s existence logically inescapable, Romans 1: 18-21 indicates that, given God’s general revelation in nature, disbelief in God is morally inexcusable.
- Covenant Theology
- A stream in the Reformed theological tradition emphasizing covenants in relation to God’s dealing with humanity and the unity of the Old and New Testaments. Covenant theology was developed by the Continental Reformed theologians Olevianus (1536 - 1587) and Ursinus (1534 – 1583) and by William Ames (1576 – 1633), an English Puritan, and given a central place in the work of the nineteenth-century Princeton theologians Charles and A. A. Hodge.
- Critical Philosophy
- KANT-you can only judge what you see, taste, touch and feel...things we can critically examine.
A term most often associated with the philosophy if Immanuel Kant, especially with regard to the epistemological doctrines presented in The Critique of Pure Reason (1781). Kant argued that we cannot know reality as it is itself, but only as it appears to us, mediated through the categories of the human mind. Kant also denied the validity of the traditional proofs for the existence of God, holding that the concept of God must be understood as a postulate of moral experience.
- Critical Conditioning
- all they believe is what their senses tell them (B.F. Skinner?)
A term used to designate the influence of the cultural context on the outward form of biblical revelation. The study of hermeneutics addresses the task distinguishing the normative content of biblical revelation and its cultural form. See also *historicism.
- Biblical? taking out all supernatural elements of the Bible so it will make "sense" to modern scientific man.
stating the Bible is a book of myth
"A method of interpreting the New Testament (German: Entymothologisierung) proposed by the German theologian and biblical scholar Rudolf Bultmann (1884 – 1976). The “mythological” cosmology and categories of the New Testament are to be translated into the categories of existentialism philosophy, especially as developed by the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889- 1976), in order to make the Christian message more understandable to modern men steeped in the world view of the natural sciences. Bultmann’s attempt to communicate the Christian message effectively in the modern age is severely defective in that it virtually eliminates the supernatural element in historic biblical Christianity, thus fundamentally altering the nature of the message itself."
- A system of biblical interpretation associated with J.N. Darby (1800 – 1882) and his followers and popularized through the notes of the Scofield Reference Bible. Dispensationalists distinguish seven periods in biblical history: Innocence (before the fall); Conscience (from the fall to Noah); Human Government (from Noah to Abraham); Promise (from Abraham to Moses); Law (from Moses to Christ); Grace (the Church age); the kingdom (the millennium). Dispensationalists draw sharp distinctions between God’s purposes for Israel and for the church and emphasize literal fulfillments of the Old Testament prophecies.
- Dort, Synod of
- church got together and tried to "rule" on the Arminian theology
"An assembly of the Dutch Reformed Church convened in Dort (Dordrecht) in response to the Arminian controversy. The Synod, meeting from November 1618 to May 1619, affirmed the authority of the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the “Five Points of Calvinism."
- the doctrine of how the Church developed
The part of the theological system dealing with the doctrine of the church. Topics usually treaded include the nature of the church; attributes of the church; forms of government and ministry; sacraments; and the mission of the church.
Although in the past evangelicals have sometimes tended to ignore ecclesiology, in the latter part of the twentieth century questions concerning the nature of the church and its ministry and mission have been moving to the forefront of contemporary theological reflection.
- unlike predestination, God chooses SOME people for certain things (like salvation)
The divine action whereby certain persons are chosen by God for special privilege and blessing; preeminently, God’s choice of some for eternal salvation. According to the Arminian tradition, God’s election is conditioned upon foresee faith; according to the Reformed tradition, God’s election is unconditional-faith being the consequence rather than the condition of divine election.
- The branch of philosophy concerned with the possibility of nature, and conditions of human knowledge. Modern philosophy has been dominated by epistemological concerns, reflecting the impact of the work of René Descartes (1596- 1650) and Immanuel Kant (1724- 1804). Empirical epistemologies take the data of the senses to be the primary means of acquiring knowledge. Rationalistic epistemologies stress the perception of clear and distinct ideas by the human mind, after taking mathematics and logic as the paradigms. In Christian theology, fideistic epistemologies hold that valid knowledge of God is acquired when the believer by faith appropriated the witness of the Holy Spirit to divine revelation. As in soteriology, so in epistemology: knowledge of God becomes a possibility for man only at God’s initiative, by grace through faith.
- The doctrine of the “last things”: the intermediate sate; the return of Christ; the general resurrection; the last judgment; and the eternal state.
It is now increasingly recognized that eschatology is not merely the last in a series of theological loci, but is a very real sense, the horizon of all New Testament theology. In the New Testament Christian existence is lived within the tension of the “already” – “not yet” structure of the kingdom of God, which is both a present reality and a future hope.
- The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and criteria of beauty. A number of issues dealt with in esthetics, for example, the nature of metaphor and symbol and their relation to human cognitive and affective states, are particularly relevant to the concerns of theology and hermeneutics.
American evangelicals in this century have not, for the most part, shown great interest in esthetic questions. Theologically, this may be reflective of an inadequate grasp of the biblical doctrine of creation, and an almost exclusive concentration on the cognitive rather than the affective dimensions of divine revelation.
- The study of the principles of right conduct. Ethical system can be broadly classified as either deontological or teleological. In deontological systems the basic ethical motif is obedience to laws or norms, understood either as law of reason (Immanuel Kant) or as laws of divine revelation ( Judaism: Islam; conservative Protestantism). In teleological systems, the basic ethical motif is the pursuit of some human good; for example, happiness (Aristotle); pleasure (Epicurus); the vision of God (Aquinas); the greatest good of the greatest number ( J.S. Mill, Jeremy).
- A term designating a theory of apologetics which holds that the truth claims of Christianity must be verified by the appealing to historical evidences available to believer and unbeliever alike, rather than by appeal to revelational starting points. Proponents of an evidential apologetic today include John Warwick Montgomery, Clark Pinnock, and Josh McDowell.
- A philosophical orientation characteristic if such modern thinkers as Sören Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, Jean- Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Karl Jaspers, and Gabriel MARCEL. Existentialists hold that neither traditional metaphysics nor the natural sciences ate adequate for understanding the deepest issues of human life. In the twentieth century theologians such as Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rudolf Bulmann, and Paul Tillich have been influenced in various degrees by the existentialist tradition.
- A term designating a theory of apologetics and biblical authority which holds that the ultimate ground for accepting the claims of Scripture is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the Word of God, received by faith in the believer’s experience. While not minimizing the role of reason and historical evidences, fideists hold that these elements, apart from the Spirit’s witness, can produce only probable judgments, and not the certainty of faith. Advocates of this position include Calvin and the Westminster divines, and today, J.I. Packer and Donald Bloesch.
- Form Criticism
- An approach in biblical studies pioneered by Hermann Gunkel in relation to the Old Testament narratives of Genesis, and by Martin Dibelius and Rudolf Bultmann in relation to the Gospels. Form critics to understand the literary subunits of the text in terms of the process of their oral transmission and usage is the life of the community. Some presuppositions of the more radical form- critics in tension with an evangelical view of the authority of Scripture, especially where the creative contributions of the community are so emphasized as to endanger the essential continuity between history and theology in the biblical text.
- In theology, the study of the principles and presuppositions of biblical exegesis. In the narrower sense of biblical hermeneutics, the primary concern is to recover the meaning which the text had for its original recipients. In the broader sense of theological hermeneutics, the concern is to bridge the chronological and cultural distance between the text and contemporary context by relating the text to the thought forms and categories of the modern world. In the latter sense, systematic theology functions as a “hermeneutical bridge” between the Bible and the contemporary world. See also *New Hermeneutic.
- A philosophical outlook which became prominent during the nineteenth century, reflecting the influence of Hegelianism, the historical study of the Bible, and the Theory of evolution. As defined by Ernest Troeltsch (d. 1923), historicism is the tendency to view all forms of knowledge and experience in the context of historical change.
For the evangelical, the relativistic implications of historicism are mitigated by the constancies of human nature and by the core of divine revelation which is normative in all ages.
- The witness of the Holy Spirit to the Word of God which enables the believer to understand its saving content (cf. Ps. 1197, 73: Matt. 16:17; Acts 1614; I Cor. 2:12-13).
- A consequence of divine inspiration, preserving the writer of Scripture from all error in their teaching. There are several views held by evangelicals concerning the scope of inerrancy. One view holds that inerrancy also extends to matters of scientific and historical detail. Both views are agreed that sound biblical interpretation takes into account such factors as authorial intent, literary genre, colloquial expressions, approximations, and the like. Synonym: infallibility.
- In relation to the doctrine of election, the view which holds that election follows the fall in the logical order of the divine decrees. According to infralapsarians, the logical order of the divine decrees is (1) the decree do create: (2) the decree to permit the fall; (3) the decree to elect some to be saved. This view appears to be in accord with the biblical correlation of divine salvation and human sin, and with the divine attributes of justice, holiness, and wisdom. Antonym: *supralapsarian.
- A term referring to the divine origin of the Scriptures, through the Holy Spirit’s influence upon the human authors. The doctrine of inspiration presupposes God’s providential supervision over the entire process of formation of the canon, so that the original revelation was recorded and transmitted in ways consistent with the divine intention. Evangelicals hold that inspiration is plenary, extending to all parts of the canonical books, and verbal, extending to the very words of the text, and in merely the ideas contained therein. The terms confluent and organic are to denote view of inspiration which recognizes the instrumentality of human writer’s personality, as opposed to “mechanical” or “dictational” views.
- Liberation Theology
- A contemporary theological movement which interprets salvation and the mission of the church primarily as the changing of oppressive socioeconomic and political structures, rather than as redemption from individual guilt and sin. Heavily indebted to the social analysis of Karl Marx, liberation theology parallels many of the features of the social gospel in America earlier in this century. Contemporary advocates of liberation theology include James Cone, Frederick Herzog, Letty Russell, Rosemary Ruether, Gustavo Gutiérrez, José Miguez Bonino, Rubem Alves, and Hugo Assmann.
- The branch of philosophy concerned with the rules of valid inference and reasoning. Inductive reasoning proceeds from particular to general principles; deductive reasoning proceeds from general principles to particular conclusions.
The study of logic was first systematized and further developed by European and Arabian thinkers during the Middle Ages. Since the nineteenth century, philosophers have tended to focus their attention on highly abstract system of symbolic and mathematical logic.
In Christian theology, human logic, operating under the authority of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has the legitimate tasks of defending biblical truth from skeptical attacks, and showing the coherence of the various elements of the organism of Christian truth. While human logic can assist in preserving reveled mysteries such as the Trinity and the incarnation from heretical distortion, human logic in and of itself can never fully comprehend them. Human logic points to the mysteries, and guards them, but can claim to dully possess or control them.
- Logical Positivism
- A philosophical position advocated during the 1930s by A. J. Ayer and others which held that all meaningful statements must be capable of empirical verification. According to this view, religious and metaphysical statement are neither true nor false, but in the strict sense, meaningless. Critics of this view pointed out that the positivists’ criterion of empirical verifiability was not itself capable of empirical verification, but was based on an implicit judgment of the truth of metaphysical materialism.
- The ecclesiastical and theological tradition associated with the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1983 – 1546) and his followers. Two of the cardinal tenets of the Lutheran tradition are expressed in the phrases sola fide and sola scriptura – justification by faith alone, and scriptures alone, the supreme authority for faith and life. The church is understood not as a hierarchical structure, but as a spiritual community, a “priesthood of all believers.” The Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper, commonly known as consubstantiation, holds that the body and blood of Christ are present to believer “in with, and under” the elements of the bread and wine.
- "Religion is the opiate of the masses." The philosophy associated with the life and thought of Karl Marx (1818- 1883), also known as dialectical materialism. In Marxist thought the laws, values, customs, and beliefs of any society are a reflection of, and to a great extent determined by, the more basic socioeconomic realities of that society, especially the nature of the ownership of the means of production. Human thought is determined by the social structure, and not vice versa.
Marxism is important not only as a powerful competitor to Christianity, but also in terms of its influence in contemporary theology, especially among liberation theologians. In such theologies a Marxist analysis of society functions as a hermeneutical key for interpreting and applying the Christian message. See * liberation theology.
- The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and structures of being or ultimate reality. Traditionally, metaphysics has addressed such issues as the nature of existence, properties, and events; the relation between particular and universals, individuals and classes; the nature of change and causation; and the nature of mind, matter, space, and time.
Since the time of Kant (1724 – 1804), metaphysics as traditionally conceived has been in disfavor in Protestant theology. More recently, there has been a revival of interest in metaphysics among process theologians who have attempted to restate Christian faith in terms of the metaphysical version of Alfred North Whitehead.
Basic to a biblical outlook on metaphysics is the fundamental distinction between the Creator and the creation. The objectively existing and knowable structures of the created world reflect the creative power, wisdom, and will of the Triune God, as meditated through Jesus Christ the Logos, who is the mediator between the uncreated God and the created order.
- Natural Theology
- A term used to designate that which can be known of God apart from special revelation. Roman Catholicism, reflecting the position of Thomas Aquinas, holds that the existence of Hod can be proven by reason alone. Modern Protestant theology, reflecting Immanuel Kant’s, David Hume’s and Karl Barth’s philosophical criticisms of the traditional theistic proofs, has tended to deny the validity of natural theology. Recent process theologians such as John B. Cobb, Jr., Schubert Ogden, David Griffin have, however, argued for its validity. Evangelical Protestants are divide on the issue. See *evidentialism, *presuppositionalism, *fideism.
- A twentieth-century theological movement most prominent associated with the work of Karl Barth and Emil Brunner. Reacting to both nineteenth-century liberalism and seventeenth-century confessional orthodoxy stressed the transcendence of God, revelation as primary as a personal encounter with God rather that he communication of propositional information, the priority of divine grace and faith in the knowledge of God, and the reality of human sin. After assuming a dominant position between the Fist and Second World Wars, neoorthodoxy declined in influence during the late 1950s and 1960s.
- New Hermeneutic
- A post-Bultmannian development in Protestant theology associated with the work of the Ernst Fuchs, Gerhard Ebeling, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Robert W. Funk, and James M. Robinson. By drawing on the later philosophical writings of Martin Heidegger, proponents of the New Hermeneutic are attempting to transcend the limitation of a purely historical-critical approach to exegesis and to develop a theory of interpretation which will translate the historical meaning into the contemporary situation. As presently formulated, the New Hermeneutic still bears the marks of its Bultmannian heritage, limiting that arena of the divine–human encounter to human inwardness, rather than allowing for the possibility of God’s real action in observable spatiotemporal history.
- Noetic Effects of Sin
- The darkening of the human mind by sin, so that a special influence of divine grace is needed for understanding and obeying biblical truth (cf. I Cor. 1:18; 2:12-14; II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 4:17- 18).
- Ontologial Argument
- An argument for the existence of God proposed by Anselm (1033 – 1109). Defining God as “that than which none greater can be conceived,” Anselm argued that such a definition logically implies God’s necessary existence. The argument was criticized by Aquinas and Immanuel Kant, and defended by René Descartes, Georg Hegel, and more recently by Charles Hartshorne. Evaluation of the validity of the argument turn on judgments concerning the possibility of establishing the relationship between the mind and external reality by the powers of reason alone. At the very least, the argument can be seen as an articulation of the nature of God as self-existent, infinite, and eternal, as presented of human experience in God’s own self-revelation.
- The belief that the substance of God and the substance of the world are in some sense identical. Such views have characterized much of the classical Hinduism, and, in the West, can be seen in the philosophical positions of Benedict and Spinoza and Georg Hegel.
This is to be distinguished from panentheism, the view which holds that the being of God includes the being of the universe, but at the same time transcends it. Panentheism is characteristic of contemporary process theology.
- In trinitarian usage, the term used to refer to the distinct yet interprenetrating centers of individuality in the divine life: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The terms persona (Lat.) and hypostasis (Gr.) refer to the eternal distinctions within the divine life; the terms substantia ( Lat.) and ousia (Gr.) to be eternal ground of unity.
- Point of Contact
- A term made famous by a debate between Emil Brunner and Karl Barth during the 1930s. Is there a point of contact for the gospel in the natural man? Brunner argued that the sense of guilt constitutes such a point of contact. Barth, on the contrary, argued that the only point of contact is the faith created by the preaching of the Word of God(Church Dogmatics, I / 1, p. 273.)
Reformed theologians have tended to seen existence of human of common grace (cf. Matt, 5:45; Acts 14:17) and the image of God such a point of contact or common ground for doing Christian apologetics.
- One of the most influential philosophers in America during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Most often associated with the work of Charles S. Pierce (1839 - 1952), William James (1842- 1910), and John Dewey (1839 – 1952), pragmatism stressed the practical consequences of an idea as a measure of its truth. William James could speak of truth as the “cash value” of an idea. While rightly stressing the relationship of truth to the practical concerns of life, pragmatism is inadequate in and of itself for choosing the ultimate goal or ends – as opposed to methods and means – of Human existence in time and eternity.
- "God picked us first" The eternal foreordination by God of all events, including the salvation or certain individuals( cf. Acts 3\2:23; 4:28; Rom. 8:29- 30; Eph. 1:5, 11). *Election can thus be understood as a subcategory of predestination. From Latin praedestinare, the Vulgate translation of Greed proorizo, “foreordain.”
- A term designating a theory of apologetics which holds that biblical revelation is the necessary presupposition of any coherent system of truth. According to Gordon Clark, all true statements are either explicitly stated in Scripture, or must follow from scriptural statements through sound logical inference. According to Cornelius Van Til, the existence of the Triune God and the infallible authority of Scripture are the necessary presuppositions for knowing the truth of any fact whatsoever.
- Process Theology
- A contemporary theological movement based on a view of reality in which process, change, and evolution are just as fundamental as substance, permanence, and stability. God, in a continuous and creative relationship of involvement with the world, is himself understood to be undergoing a process of self-development and growth. Basic to process theology is the metaphysical system of Alfred North Whitehead’s Process and Reality. Contemporary advocates of process theology include Charles Hartshorne, John B. Cobb, JR. Schubert Ogden, and David Griffin.
- Redaction Criticism
- A recent trend in New Testament scholarship in which the evangelists are seen not as mere compilers of the tradition, but as theologians who creatively shaped their material in the light of their understanding of Christ and the situations of the churches they were addressing. Redaction critics are concerned to recover the distinctive perspectives of the Gospel writers. Evangelicals can affirm this concern without endorsing the tendency of the more radical critics to separate theology from factual history in the Gospel accounts.
- The process by which God acts in history, makes himself personally present to his people, and communicates to them his saving will, purposes, and claims upon their lives. Revelation thus encompasses God’s deeds, God’s presence, and God’s word; it is both “personal” and “prepositional” in nature.
Revelation refers to the original deed, self-presentation, or communication of God; *inspiration to its divinely superintended recording in Scripture; *illumination to its application to the contemporary believer through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
- The branch of theology which deals with salvation or redemption. Traditionally, soteriology is divided into objective soteriology and subjective soteriology. Objective soteriology is concerned with the active obedience of Christ : Christ’s active obedience to the law of God as the second Adam; his satisfaction of divine justice through his substitutionary and atoning death on the cross. Subjective soteriology, or the application of the work of redemption by the Holy Spirit, deals with calling, regeneration, faith, repentance, conversion, justification, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification.
In recent theologies there have been noticeable tendencies to reinterpret salvation in anthropocentric and socioeconomic categories. See *liberation theology.
- In relation to the doctrine of election, the view which holds that election precedes the fall in the logical order of the divine decrees. According to supralapsarians, the logical order of the decrees is: (1) the decree to elect some foreseen as created but not yet fallen; (2) the decree to create; (3) the decree to permit the fall. Antonym: *infralapsarian.
- Teleological Argument
- The argument that the existence of order or design in the world implies the existence of an intelligent designer, that is, God. The argument has been defended by Aquinas and William Paley (1743 – 1805), criticized by Immanuel Kant and David Hume, and in this century defended in various forms by R.E.D. Clark and F.R. Tennant. Insofar as it presupposes the principle of causality, this argument can be understood as a special case of the *cosmological argument.
- In the broader sense, the subject matter of the theological system as a whole; in the narrower sense, the doctrine of God. Theology proper deals with the existence, knowability, attributes, and triune nature of God. In some traditions, the doctrines of the decrees and divine predestination are treated in connection with theology proper.
- A method of biblical interpretation in which the persons and events of the Old Testament are understood to foreshadow the deeper spiritual meanings of the New Testament revelation: for example, Jonah and the resurrection of Christ (Matt. 12:40); the crossing of the Red Sea and Christian baptism (I Cor. 10:1- 6). The possibility of valid typological meanings in the Old Testament cannot be excluded without invalidating the insights of the New Testament writers themselves. See * allegory.
- The ecclesiastical and theological tradition associated with John Wesley (1703- 1791) and his followers. As an expression of the Protestant Reformation, historic Wesleyanism holds to the supreme authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the universality of sin, and other classical Christian doctrines. Special emphases of the Wesleyan tradition include a stress on personal religious experience and the new birth; the conviction that Christ died for all, and not for the elect only; the doctrine of preliminary or prevenient grace which to some extent counteracts the effects of original sin; and the teaching of Christian perfections or entire sanctification, which holds that the believer can in this life experience God’s grace to such an extent that the heart is emptied of all sin and filled with a pure love for God and the neighbor.
- Will of God
- Theological discussion distinguish the decretive, preceptive, and permissive wills of God. The decretive will determines whatsoever comes to pass, and is normally known only after the fact. The preceptive will reveals God’s norms for moral conduct, and may be either obeyed or disobeyed by moral agents. The permissive will refers to those actions which, though not in accord with divine precepts, are permitted by God and ultimately are redirected to serve a redemptive purpose (Gen. 50:20).
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