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From the prompting of several different types of people visiting this webpage, it would serve to provide a short (and attempted-to-be-alphabetical) glossary for those who come across words which normally relate somewhat to Bible commentaries or other theological discussions. Please enjoy, and leave any comments on the post when/if you find a word particularly difficult to understand.
Ultimately, this list is not exhaustive, so please either leave comments or search the meaning of the words in the dictionary (www.dictionary.com) or Wikipedia for very brief overviews.
A further suggestion is if you refer to this GLOSSARY page, please open it in a different tab or window so you can read my entry comfortably if you come across a word you are not familiar with and cross-reference to this page easily. After all, theology is for everyone, not (as the cliche goes) for the academically or intellectually gifted.
***Another tip is if you can’t find the word, chances are either I thought it is an English word (used outside of the ‘accepted’ theological context) you can search up in the dictionary, or you can press Ctrl + F and find the word on this page.
Anthropological – pertaining to man. Anthropological theology means that we do theology starting from the focus of man and observing man’s progress, rather than focus on Christ.
Apostolic (post-Apostolic; pre-Apostolic) – pertaining to the Apostles in Jesus’ day (post-Apostolic = after the time of the Apostles’ death; pre-Apostolic = before the time of the Apostles)
Alpha – the Greek letter for “beginning”
Adamic (exile) – time period of Adam and his exile relates to him being banished from Eden
Anthropomorphic – made to resemble a human form (e.g. God being made in the human interpretation)
Angel – literally means “the sent one” from the heavens above
Arianism – the belief that Christ was not God but created like man
Arminianism – the belief in the doctrine of “free will” as opposed to reliance on the Spirit of God for salvation.
Babylonian Captivity – the time when Israel was the captive of Babylon (e.g. book of Daniel)
Calvinism – a belief that resembles Calvin’s teachings (but not completely), such as his stance on election/predestination/reprobation which has been blown way out of proportion, in comparison to Calvin himself who taught little on these three specific topics. Very popular association to Calvinism is the T.U.L.I.P abbreviation, the 5 points which are Total Depravity; Unconditional election; Limited Atonement; Irresistible grace; and Perseverance of the saints. Some people call themselves 4-point Calvinists, meaning they do not agree with all 5 points in the TULIP theology.
Chiasm – a poetic pattern in the Hebrew translation of the Old Testament Scripture which does not provide such a pattern or nuance in the English.
Church father – one of the few who existed during the post-Apostolic period and wrote works which helped shape early Jewish-Gentile Christianity (as opposed to Israelite Christianity in the Old Testament). Such include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, etc…
Conscious Faith (Position) – the particular group of people who believe that the OT saints did not only know of Christ through the shadow provided in the law, but actually knew and had faith in Christ clearly (rather than the shadows themselves).
Covenant (of works/grace) – Covenants are what God promises to us (and NOT fulfilled by what we do in return. A covenant is not a contract, but it is a one-way promise and establishment). Hence, the covenant of works = God telling the people to work for their salvation; whereas, the covenant of grace is a covenant that gifts us with salvation without any effort on our part. Covenant theology tends to focus on God’s covenant of salvation, his covenant of grace which some believe to have started with Abraham, but I believe to have started with Adam and will continue to endure until Christ returns to receive us into new creation. This tends to be in direct contrast to Dispensationalism, as Covenant theology enforces the continuity of the gospel of grace from OT to NT.
Cherubim – angels (plural)
Christology – Christ being the focus of everything (whether Christophany or prophecy)
Christophany – Appearances of Christ in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord
Choice – Different from “free will” – choice is something we do with the aid and inspiration of the Spirit.
Credo-baptism – Believer’s Baptism
Darwinian – Pertaining to Darwin’s “Origin of Species”
Davidic (Period) – Pertaining to the period of David’s reign
Dichotomy – the comparison/split between two points.
Deism – God exists, but leaves the world to rot and continue on its own accord while God does nothing from the ‘side-lines’ as it were
Dispensationalism – put simply, a theological belief that God worked in certain ‘methods’ which he dispensed with when he found a better method to replace it (e.g. New Covenant replacing the Old). Therefore, the OT and the NT lacks the continuity, as the NT effectively replaces the OT. Tends to be in direct contrast with Covenant theology.
Elect – Calvinists describe this as those who were chosen to be Christians prior to the creation of the world, which I disagree. The Elect, as Karl Barth the great 20th C theologian put it, is Christ himself to whom we are given the choice to be part of and have faith in.
Eisegesis (eisegetical) – bad biblical skill of interpretation where the reader reads meaning INTO the Scripture
Exegesis (adj. exegetical; n. exegetes – people who do exegesis) – good biblical skill of interpretation where the reader reads meaning OUT of the Scripture (as it stands)
Ex Christos – out of Christ
Ex Nihilo – out of nothingness – often used in the context of God making things ‘ex-nihilo’, which is not true.
Extra-biblical – pertaining to things outside of the Bible (not recorded in Holy Scriptures)
Extra-Trinitarian – pertaining to things outside of the Trinity. This is Don Carson’s method of defining the differences between the Trinity relating amongst himself while interacting with the world, which is what normally occurs in an ‘extra-Trinitarian’ context, or also known as the ‘economic Trinity’ in some circles. A good example of extra-Trinitarian relationship is “Marriage” or “Family”, which portrays the Trinity, technically speaking, OUTSIDE of the Trinity; whilst the direct relationship amongst the Father, Son and Spirit are intra-Trinitarian.
ESV (English Standard Version) – a translation philosophy of near-literalism.
Essence (ousia) – popular systematic theological term to describe the similar ‘essence’ of the Three Persons of the Trinity. Not the best terminology to use, given that the Persons are as much tangible as spiritual, whereas ‘essence’ suggests they are completely ethereal.
Extra nos – a term commonly referring to righteousness in God’s eyes achieved outside of us (hence “extra” meaning ‘outside’; and “nos” meaning ‘us’) in Christ alone.
Fall – referring to Genesis 3.
Feminist (theology) – Feminism influencing Scripture, revoking the doctrine of male headship over female submission, often using language gender to justify their own theological interpretations.
First Council of Nicaea – the first time the doctrine of “Holy Trinity” was cemented into extra-biblical church history.
Greek Scriptures – often referring to New Testament, but can also refer to the LXX (Septuagint) greek translation of the Old Testament.
Hebraic Scriptures – The Old Testament Scriptures were, in default, Hebrew.
Headship – When the male leads the wife as Jesus leads the church – that is true biblical headship.
Incarnation – Normally referring to Christ becoming man on earth.
Intra-biblical – inside the Bible.
Intra-Trinitarian – within the Trinity (compare with “Extra-Trinitarian” on this page).
Imago-Dei – the image of God (in Latin)
Indwelling – normally related to the Holy Spirit indwelling in us as a mark of our eternal salvation. This is different from ‘filling’ which seems to be temporary and we can be filled more and more; but indwelling seems to occur only once.
Justification – normally related to the legal proclamation that God has atoned for the justified person’s sins through pouring his wrath on the Mediator Jesus Christ. Thus, no matter what we do, we are legally justified as sinless, hence the legal terminology of ‘justification’.
Jurisprudence – the topic of legal ethics
JW (Jehovah’s Witness) – a “Christian” cult which denies the Trinity and denies Jesus’ equality to the Father.
KJV (King James’ Version) – a reliable (and near literal) translation which has been used for some many years despite its old English.
LXX (Septuagint) – the Greek translation of the Hebrew (Old Testament) Scriptures…
Liberal (theology) – Theology where self, rather than Christ, is focused; theology mixed with secular culture/philosophy/points of views, rather than having the Bible as the highest (if not the only) authority.
Mosaic law – the Law/Commandments given on Mt. Sinai during Moses’ time
New Earth – this is related to the next two: New Earth/Heaven/Jerusalem are new places which we will inherit after Jesus’ Second Coming.
New Jerusalem – the physical city which we will live in after Jesus’ Second Coming.
NASB (New American Standard Bible) – a literal yet difficult to read translation.
NIV (New International Version) – A popular translation, but not very helpful in doing word studies or understanding nuances when preaching or teaching on a particular topic.
Old Earth Creationism – Christians/intelligent design scientists who believe that the Earth is old (e.g. more than the usual Christian timeline of Adam, which is ~4000 BC) – but still created by the hand of God.
Omega – the greek letter for “last”
Paedo-baptism – infant baptism
Pauline (epistles) – Epistles/letters written by Paul or in the theology of Paul
Pantheism – God is in everything (slightly Gnostic which is similar)
Panentheism – Everything is in God
Pharisaic – characteristics of a Pharisee
Popish (Catholic) – describing people who rely on the Pope of the Roman church
Pentateuch – The first five books of the OT (written by Moses)
Persian Zoroastrianism – a religion that worships the separation of light and dark, but fail to see what they really point to (e.g. Christ and Satan)
Pre-destination – Calvinists describe this as people who are ‘pre-destined’ to be saved or not be saved, which I heartily and respectfully disagree. We were all pre-destined to be in Christ, rather than pre-destined to death/salvation in and un-itself. (Ephesians 1)
Progressive Revelation – There are several nuances to this doctrine, but the “common” understanding is that it refers to the increase in understanding of God’s will for man over time, and predominantly expressed in Christ’s first coming. However, Paul Blackham among other theologians agree with PR, on the basis that all OT saints already had the truth of the gospel revealed to them, though Moses knew more typologically (because of the events of the Passover) than Adam who only witnessed the death of the animal to provide animal skin as a type of Christ’s righteous garment. Nonetheless, unlike common PR, this strand of PR understands both Adam and Moses to have conscious faith in the Mediator Christ, though Moses may have more knowledge or clarity of the Redeemer’s work.
Reformation – the period in which Luther and other theology cronies got together to protest against the corrupt Catholic church, which was led by Pope Leo X at the time, and continued for several generations before the Protestant faith was made even more concrete by theologians like John Calvin, etc.
Reprobate – a term used to describe those who have chosen not to believe in God
Sanctification – the work of the Spirit in enabling a Christian to become more holy and walk more in the life of the Spirit.
Selah – a Hebrew word used in the Psalms and elsewhere in the OT to describe a period in which the reader/listener should ponder on the Scripture just sung/written/read.
Seraphim – a type of angel
Sensus plenior – the notion that the OT writers wrote more than they understood. Crudely put, they were “possessed” by the Spirit and knew not the true meaning of what they wrote. Some think that the prophecies concerning Christ and statements about the Trinity in the OT are manifestations of sensus plenior, especially those who think the OT is impossible to understand without the “light” of the events of the NT shining back onto the OT. Comes hand in hand with certain types of progressive revelation.
Socinians – particular Christians who started rationalising faith after Luther/Calvin’s time, and subsequently got rid of the doctrine of the Trinity by their own standard of logic and unintentionally kick-started the Enlightenment period.
Sola – (Scriptura; Deo Gloria; Christo; Gratia; Fide) – the five ‘solas’ which defined the Reformation period. Sola Scriptura meant Scripture is of ultimate authority; Soli Deo Gloria = glory be only to God; Soli Christo – means Christ alone in his salvation; Soli Gratia means grace alone; Soli Fide – means through faith alone are we saved.
Super-erogation – a Catholic doctrine literally meaning “going beyond the call of duty”. In the Catholic context, this means that there is a possibility for Catholics to obey ‘beyond God’s commandments’, and as it were, earn ‘extra’ brownie-points.
Theistic evolution – A bit different from Old Earth creationists, but this is full-blown evolution from a Christian/religious perspective.
Theology – normally misconceived to be a topic for academics/intellectuals to study God, but not true. Theos (means God) and Logos (means truth/word). Thus, we are all theologians, for we all study the word/truth of God/our gods, whether you are atheist, agnostic, religious or truly saved, we are all truly theologians who weigh and judge the existence of whatever god is in their mind/heart/soul. An atheist’s ‘theology’ therefore is that “God does not exist” – thus, their ‘word/truth’ on the topic of ‘God’ is that ‘God does not exist’, which is a very valid theological statement.
Talmudic – pertaining to the Talmud, which is an early set of Jewish commentaries on the OT.
Tangential – going on a tangent/conjecture
Teleology – the study of the end of things (a little similar to eschatology)
Trinitarian – pertaining to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Young Earth Creationism – a belief of the literalism of Genesis 1-3, that the world began approximately ~4004 BC (Matthew Henry calculation). Currently my theological conviction/stance.