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TheologyTerms rpritts

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List of theological terms

ABROGATE –– to abolish or nullify a law by authoritative action

ABSOLUTE –– unconditioned by qualifications or limitations

AD HOC –– only for the particular case at hand, not systematically taking into account other relevant issues or wider application

A FORTIORI –– drawing an inference with even greater force or conviction than in a lesser case

ALTRUISM –– the ethical view that one ought to act out of regard for the interests of others

AMILLENNIALISM –– the eschatological view that on earth before the return of Christ there will be no age of military rule by Christ (contrary to premillennialism) nor an age of great blessing and success for the gospel (contrary to postmillennialism); at Christ's return the general resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous will take place, followed immediately by the final judgment

ANTINOMIANISM –– a view which is in some fashion against the law

APOLTICAL –– without interest in or consequences for civil government

ASCETICISM –– the ethical view that holiness or purity is achieved by mandatory abstinence from bodily comforts and material pleasures (e.g., food, alcohol, sleep, sex, money)

AUTONOMY –– the state of being a "law unto oneself," independent of outside authority

AXIOMATIC –– characterized as a primary conviction from which all other conclusions are drawn or proven

CEREMONIAL LAW –– those Old Covenant commandments which regulated rituals and symbolic actions pertaining to the redemption of God's people and their separation from the unbelieving world, rather than prescriptions about matters which were intrinsically moral

CONSEQUENTIAL PERSPECTIVE –– a distinctive approach to ethics which emphasizes and makes decisions in terms of the consequences, goals, or situational factors of one's conduct

CONTINUITY –– the relation between two things of essential identity similarity, coherence or harmony; the lack of change from one principle or regime to another

COVENANT –– a mutually binding compact between God and His people, sovereignly transacted by the Lord, wherein a promise is made by God which calls for trust on the part of His people and entails obligations of submission which are sanctioned by blessings and curses

COVENANT THEOLOGY –– the position that all of the post-fall covenants made by God are essentially one, centering on God's gracious promise in Jesus Christ, with each successive covenant expanding on previous ones, rather than disgarding them or running parallel to the others; the covenants prior to Christ were marked by anticipation and administered by foreshadows, while the fulfillment or substance was found in Christ's person and redemptive work, establishing the New Covenant today

CULTIC –– (as used here) pertaining to special religious ritual

CULTURAL MANDATE –– God's authoritative order for man to replenish and subdue the earth, developing and governing the created order under God's dominion, and thus working to make every area of life serve the glory of God

DISCONTINUITY –– the relation between two things of difference, dissimilarity, incoherence or disharmony; the change from one principle or regime to another

DISPENSATION –– a distinct administration of God's covenantal relation with man or the age characterized by such

EGOISM –– the ethical view that one ought to act out of regard for his own benefit or welfare

EGOTISM –– the sinful, personal trait of behaving as though one's own interests were of supreme or sole importance

ESCHATOLOGY –– the doctrine of the "last things" pertaining to the individual (death, afterlife) or to redemption (the coming, course, and consummation of Christ's kingdom, the millennium) or to the world (Christ's return, the resurrection, final judgment, the eternal state)

EVANGELICAL MANDATE –– God's authoritative order for His people to preach the gospel to lost sinners, seek their conversion, bring them into the sacramental fellowship of the church, nurture them in the Christian life, and thus make the nations to be disciples of Christ; the "Great Commission"

EXEGETICAL –– pertaining to the detailed analysis and linguistic meaning of specific texts of Scripture

EX POST FACTO –– applied "after the fact," .thereby disregarding the previous circumstances, status, or legal character of an event

GENERAL EQUITY –– (expression used by Reformed or Puritan theologians to denote:) the underlying substance, principle, or point of a law-over against the specific case or cultural setting mentioned by it

GENERAL REVELATION –– God's revelation of His person, glory, and attributes to all men in all ages through nature, conscience, and history, so that they are without excuse for not worshipping Him correctly and leading righteous lives; unlike special revelation, it is not verbal in character or redemptive in content

HERMENEUTIC –– a method of interpreting Scripture or the principles for doing so

INDUCTIVE –– characterized by studying particular cases (factors, evidences) one by one in order to arrive at a generalization

JUDAIZERS –– a Jewish heretical party in the early church which held that, in addition to faith in Christ, one must conform to Jewish customs (e.g., the ceremonial law of circumcision, the Old Covenant festivals) in order, through such self-effort and law-works, to be justified and sanctified

JUDICIAL LAW –– (tradition theological expression for:) those commandments in the Mosaic law which deliver judgments on cases pertaining to socio-political relations, policy, or rule (e.g., Exodus 21-22)

JUSTIFICATION –– God's gracious act of forgiving sinners and treating them as if they had never sinned, based on the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and appropriated by living faith

LEGALISM –– the view that one is saved by the merit of his own efforts to performs works of the law

LEGAL POSITIVISM –– the imperative theory of law which claims that all laws are merely commands of a human sovereign, so that there is no conceptual or necessary connection between law and justice; in this case those within a legal system are unconditionally obligated to obey its laws, however immoral they may be

MOTIVATIONAL PERSPECTIVE –– a distinctive approach to ethics which emphasizes and makes decisions in terms of personal motivation and character traits

NORMATIVE PERSPECTIVE –– a distinctive approach to ethics which emphasizes and makes decisions in terms of duty, rules, or moral standards

OBJECTIVE –– the quality of having a public nature, independent of our thoughts or feelings

PEDAGOGIC –– pertaining to teaching, instruction, or education

PENAL SANCTION –– a coercive, civil punishment which honors and enforces a law by being imposed on those who violate it

PENOLOGY –– the study or theory of punishment, especially the punishment of criminals by the state

PHARISEES –– a separatist and self-righteous sect in Judaism which prided itself in strict adherence to the Mosaic law, but which attended only to external and trifling details and actually nullified the law by adding to it human traditions

PLURALISM –– the view that civil policy should balance the rights of various social spheres (e.g., family, school, church, business) and protect the rights of all conflicting viewpoints within the society, thereby not being based upon or favoring any one distinctive religion, philosophy, party, or sphere of life

POSTMILLENNIALISM –– the eschatological view that Christ will return "after the millennium"; Christ has established His Messianic kingdom on earth, it is growing in numbers, area, and influence by means of the preaching of the gospel and Christian nurture, and it will have visible, worldwide, and blessed success before Christ returns at the general resurrection for final judgment

PREMILLENNIALISM –– the eschatological view that Christ will return "before the millennium" in order to resurrect the saints (the "first resurrection"), establish a military rule from Jerusalem over the rebellious nations (the battle of Armageddon), and usher in a thousand year period of material peace and prosperity; at the end of this period the nations (still in natural bodies) will rebel and make war against Christ and the resurrected saints (the battle of Gog and Magog), who will be saved by fire from heaven, followed by the second resurrection––now of unbelievers––and the final judgment

PRIMA FACIA –– on first appearance

PRO-NOMIAN –– characterized by favoring, supporting, or defending the law

PURITY PRINCIPLES –– those truths taught or symbolized by ceremonial laws of outward cleanliness, such as the pollution of sin and its repugnance to a holy God, so that only one untainted by defilement may approach Him (e.g., laws dealing with purification for priests, issues of blood, disfigurement, leprosy)

REDEMPTIVE HISTORY –– the special, unified course of historical events by which God prepared, accomplished, and applies redemption for His people and thereby advances His saving kingdom

REDEMPTIVE LAW –– ceremonial laws which taught or symbolized the way of atonement or God's saving presence among His people (e.g., laws dealing with sacrifice, the priesthood, the temple)

REFORMED –– (as used in theology:) characterized by agreement with or adherence to the doctrine, worship, ethic or polity of the Protestant Reformation, more particularly the Swiss or Calvinist branch there-of (in distinction from Lutheranism, Anabaptism)

RELATIVISM, CULTURAL –– the view that what is morally right or wrong is not absolute, but internally adapted to a specific culture, being determined by that particular society's attitudes, folkways or tribal values; thus "justice," for instance, actually changes from culture to culture (not simply beliefs about justice) and cannot be defined transculturally

RESTORATIVE LAW –– those Old Covenant commandments which regulated rituals and symbolic actions pertaining to the restoration of sinners to God's favor and their separation as God's redeemed people from those still under His wrath (see "ceremonial law")

RETRIBUTIVE –– pertaining to recompense to a guilty party according to what the offense deserves

SACRIFICIAL PRINCIPLES –– regulations on sacrifices, offerings, and priests or the underlying general truths taught or symbolized by them (e.g., there is no atonement for sin without shed blood)

SANCTIFICATION –– God's gracious and powerful work of making sinners holy in heart and conduct through the internal ministry of the Holy Spirit, applying the death and resurrection of Christ to them, so that they increasingly die to sin and live unto righteousness in the whole man

SEPARATION PRINCIPLES –– those truths about the separation of God's people from sin and the unbelieving world which were symbolized or taught by certain ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant (e.g., the distinction between clean and unclean meats, the prohibition of mixing seeds or types of cloth)

SITUATIONISM –– the ethical view that right and wrong cannot be defined in advance for general types of circumstances and actions, so that moral decisions should not be based upon laws; the "loving" . thing to do must be determined by the situation itself, using a utilitarian approach (seeking the greatest pleasure or happiness for the greatest number of people)

SOJOURNERS –– those who are alien to the people of a land but reside with them

SOLA SCRIPTURA –– (Latin expression meaning:) Scripture alone

SPECIAL REVELATION –– God's verbal and (usual) redemptive revelation of Himself to specific people at specific times; special revelation is communicated to us today through its inscripturation in the Bible

STANDING LAW –– policy directives applicable over time to classes of individuals (e.g., do not kill; children, obey your parents; merchants, have equal measures; magistrates, execute rapists), in contrast to particular directions for an individual (e.g., the order for Samuel to anoint David at a particular time and place) or positive commands for distinct incidents (e.g., God's order for Israel to exterminate certain Canaanite tribes at a certain point in history)

SUBJECTIVISM –– the view that truth or morality is a matter of the individual's personal feelings or attitudes and do not have an objective nature

SYMBOLIC LAW –– pedagogic laws which communicated certain truths by symbolic means, rather than (or not primarily) in explicit fashion (e.g., sacrificial laws, purity laws, separation laws)

TELEOLOGICAL –– pertaining to a goal, aim, or purpose; teleological ethics emphasizes and makes decisions in terms of the proper goal of man or the kingdom of God as man's highest good, etc. (cf. "consequential perspective")

THEOCRACY –– literally "the rule of God," however this is thought to be expressed (e.g., by His revealed principles, by His chosen leaders, by Himself in the person of the Son, etc.); the word is variously used by writers for different intended conceptions, some using it as a code word for uniqueness of Old Testament Israel, others using it for any social system where the church rules the state (or is not separated from it), and still others for a civil government which strives to submit to the socio-political standing laws revealed by God (in Old or New Testaments)

THEONOMY –– literally "God's law," but recently applied to a particular view of its normativity for today

TRANSCENDENT –– pertaining to what "goes beyond" man, the creation, or ordinary experience (thus used in theology to stress the mysterious, sovereign, or unique character of God)

TYPOLOGICAL –– pertaining to a "type," something intended to foreshadow a later historical reality

UNREGENERATE –– not born again or spiritually renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit; pertaining to the "natural man" who is lost in sin, unable to do God's will or to understand the things of the Spirit

WESTMINSTER STANDARDS –– the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (Longer and Shorter) which were composed 1643-1647 at the request of the English Parliament and which, since that time, have served as subordinate doctrinal standards in Presbyterian churches; deemed a model of "Reformed" doctrine


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