Dictionary Of Theological Terms
WORDS HAVE MEANINGSI realize that Christianity in general and theology in particular has many technical terms which may seem like absolute Greek to anyone else listening in. Evangelical phrases can be both useful and harmful, especially when spoken to a non-Christian who either gets a fuller understanding about Christianity or as is usually the case, are left totally lost wondering ‘what on earth that crazy guy mean by…’ What I have tried to do is to create a dictionary of the technical theological terms that I have used and will continue to use on this site. It is a continual work in progress and if you have any requests for any particular word to be defined, please email me at email@example.com
Believer’s Baptism: See Credobaptism
Calvinism: A form of soteriology that emphasizes God’s sovereignty over all things including man, his free will and his ultimate destiny. Typically associated with the reformer John Calvin, its primary tenants were set out by the synod of Dort (1618-1619) and are usually summarized by the acronym T U L I P. Its opposite is called Arminianism.
Credobaptism: From the Latin word Credo – a creed, this refers to the act of baptizing only this who have professed faith (their creed) in Jesus Christ. Aka believers’s baptism or incorrectly, adult baptism.
Doctrine: Dictionary.com defines doctrine in this way: ‘a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.’ This seems to be an excellent definition. However to adapt it to Christianity, I would say that. Doctrine is a set of teachings taken from the bible that orders our understanding.
Exegesis: The processes of going through the bible (or a book of the bible) verse by verse, interpreting each one according its grammatical historical context
Ex Nihilo: A Latin phrase that means “out of nothing” Usually used in the context of God’s creative ability, as He is the only being capable of creating something out of absolutely nothing
Font: The place in a church where a person is baptized. This could be as small as a bowl or as large as a small pool
Heresy: A doctrine that, if believed, puts you outside of orthodoxy and thus not a Christian. We would call people who believe such doctrine heretics. Most Heretics claim to be Christian but because of the false teaching are in fact not. It is important to note that not all false teachings are heresy but all heresy is false teaching. Discerning between the two is necessary. For a working definition of heresy I use the following: A false doctrine that if believed, will lead that person to hell.
Hermeneutics: The art and science of interpreting scripture
Infant Baptism: See paedobaptism.
Orthodox: There are two meanings to this word, first Orthodox refers to a denomination within the Christian Church. They split from Roman Catholic Church in 1054, predating the Protestant Reformation but several hundred years. I will deal with their distinctives at another time. The second meaning is the one which I will use throughout this blog. Orthodox means ‘Right Doctrine’ The following is taken from Wikipedia. ‘The term “Orthodox” translates from the Greek to mean “correctly believing” or “correctly glorifying” (from the adjective orthos = correct, right and the verb dokein = seem (to be the case)’ In other words, if I say that you are Orthodox, that means you believe the right correct essential doctrines.Orthodoxy refers to the realm of orthodox. For example, if you believe a certain doctrine you are within orthodoxy (you are orthodox), if not, then you are outside orthodoxy (not orthodox).
Orthodoxy: Right or straight thought and theology
Orthopraxis: Right or straight action and application
Paedobaptism: Also spelled padobaptism, it comes from the Latin word Paedo, meaning child. This refers to the act of baptizing babies and infants. This is done before profession of faith is possible. Aka Infant Baptism
Repentance: The act of turning from sin to God
Scripture: The bible
Systematic Theology: Takes all the theological doctrines and puts them in a neat and proper order. This is to allow anyone to be able to give a good account of Christianity. Think of it like this. Life is a desk and theology is everything on it. Without Systematic Theology everything is in a big pile, but with Systematic theology, everything is neat and in order such that if you need something, it is easily to hand. Systematic Theology also refers to a branch of theology taught by theological schools and seminaries.
Theology: broken up into the two Greek words from which it comes we have theos which means ‘God’ and logos which means word or study. Thus theology is the study of God. This means who He is, what He has done, what does He expect from us and a whole host of other questions. In the case of Christianity, where the bible which informs us as to what we believe about God, I would flesh out the definition to: The study of the doctrines of God. For the moment this will definition will be my working definition.