Bible Study Glossary

I've always been curious about theology and religions. I was raised in a christian home, and have studied related terminology in church and Sunday school. Aside from a personal interest, I think the structure of this terminology might make an interesting test of a javascript hangman game engine from a long ago programming project. Please report any issues here. Enjoy!

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adiaphora
Literally, "matters of indifference." Beliefs or practices which the sixteenth-century Reformers regarded as being tolerable, in that they were neither explicitly rejected nor stipulated by Scripture. For example, what ministers wore at church services was often regarded as a "matter of indifference." The concept is of importance in that it allowed the sixteenth-century reformers to adopt a pragmatic approach to many beliefs and practices, thus avoiding unnecessary confrontation.
Alexandrian school
A patristic school of thought, especially associated with the city of Alexandria in Egypt, noted for its Christology (which placed emphasis upon the divinity of Christ) and its method of biblical interpretation (which employed allegorical methods of exegesis). A rival approach in both areas was associated with Antioch.
Anabaptism
A term derived from the Greek word for "re-baptizer," and used to refer to the radical wing of the sixteenth-century Reformation, based on thinkers such as Menno Simons or Balthasar Hubmaier.
analogy of being
The theory, especially associated with Thomas Aquinas, that there exists a correspondence or analogy between the created order and God, as a result of the divine creatorship. The idea gives theoretical justification to the practice of drawing conclusions concerning God from the known objects and relationships of the natural order.
analogia entis
The analogy of being.
analogy of faith
The theory, especially associated with Karl Barth, which holds that any correspondence between the created order and God is only established on the basis of the self-revelation of God. See pp. 135-6.
analogia fidei
The analogy of faith.
Anglicanism
A branch of theology especially associated with the churches historically derived from the Church of England. In the past, characteristic emphases have included the recognition of the relation between liturgy and theology, and an emphasis upon the importance of the doctrine of the incarnation.
anthropomorphism
The tendency to ascribe human features (such as hands or arms) or other human characteristics to God.
Antiochene school
A patristic school of thought, especially associated with the city of Antioch in modern-day Turkey, noted for its Christology (which placed emphasis upon the humanity of Christ) and its method of biblical interpretation (which employed literal methods of exegesis). A rival approach in both areas was associated with Alexandria.
anti-Pelagian writings
The writings of Augustine relating to the Pelagian controversy, in which he defended his views on grace and justification.
apophatic
A term used to refer to a particular style of theology, which stressed that God cannot be known in terms of human categories. Apophatic (which derives from the Greek apophasis, "negation" or "denial") approaches to theology are especially associated with the monastic tradition of the Eastern Orthodox church.
apostolic era
The period of the Christian church, regarded as definitive by many, bounded by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (c.AD 35) and the death of the last Apostle (c.AD 90?). The ideas and practices of this period were widely regarded as normative, at least in some sense or to some degree, in many church circles.
appropriation
A term relating to the doctrine of the Trinity, which affirms that while all three persons of the Trinity are active in all the outward actions of the Trinity, it is appropriate to think of each of those actions as being the particular work of one of the persons. Thus it is appropriate to think of creation as the work of the Father, or redemption as the work of the Son, despite the fact that all three persons are present and active in both these works.
Arianism
A major early Christological heresy, which treated Jesus Christ as the supreme of God's creatures, and denied his divine status. The Arian controversy was of major importance in the development of Christology during the fourth century.
atonement
A term originally coined by William Tyndale to translate the Latin term reconciliatio, which has since come to have the developed meaning of "the work of Christ" or "the benefits of Christ gained for believers by his death and resurrection."
Augustinianism
A term used in two major senses. First, it refers to the views of Augustine of Hippo concerning the doctrine of salvation, in which the need for divine grace is stressed. In this sense, the term is the antithesis of Pelagianism. Second, it is used to refer to the body of opinion within the Augustinian order during the Middle Ages, irrespective of whether these views derive from Augustine or not.
Barthian
An adjective used to describe the theological outlook of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968), noted chiefly for its emphasis upon the priority of revelation and its focus upon Jesus Christ. The terms "neo-orthodoxy" and "dialectical theology" are also used in this connection.
Black theology
A movement in North American theology which became especially significant in the late 1960s, which emphasized the importance and distinctiveness of the religious experience of black people.
Calvinism
An ambiguous term, used with two quite distinct meanings. First, it refers to the religious ideas of religious bodies (such as the Reformed church) and individuals (such as Theodore Beza) who were profoundly influenced by John Calvin, or by documents written by him. Second, it refers to the religious ideas of John Calvin himself. Although the first sense is by far the more common, there is a growing recognition that the term is misleading.
Cappadocian fathers
A term used to refer collectively to three major Greek-speaking writers of the patristic period: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzen, and Gregory of Nyssa, all of whom date from the late fourth century. "Cappadocia" designates an area in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), in which these writers were based.
catechism
A popular manual of Christian doctrine, usually in the form of question and answer, intended for religious instruction.
Chalcedonian definition
The formal declaration at the Council of Chalcedon that Jesus Christ was to be regarded as both human and divine.
charisma
A term especially associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In medieval theology, the term is used to designate a spiritual gift, conferred upon individuals by the grace of God.
charismatic
A term especially associated with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Since the early twentieth century, the term has come to refer to styles of theology and worship which place particular emphasis upon the immediate presence and experience of the Holy Spirit.
Christology
The section of Christian theology dealing with the identity of Jesus Christ, particularly the question of the relation of his human and divine natures.
circumincession
A term relating to the doctrine of the Trinity, often also referred to by the term perichoresis. The basic notion is that all three persons of the Trinity mutually share in the life of the others, so that none is isolated or detached from the actions of the others.
confession
Although the term refers primarily to the admission of sin, it acquired a rather different technical sense in the sixteenth century - that of a document which embodies the principles of faith of a Protestant church. Thus the Augsburg Confession (1530) embodies the ideas of early Lutheranism, and the First Helvetic Confession (1536) those of the early Reformed church. The term "Confessionalism" is often used to refer to the hardening of religious attitudes in the later sixteenth century, as the Lutheran and Reformed churches became involved in a struggle for power, especially in Germany. The term "Confessional" is often used to refer to a church which defines itself with reference to such a document. Confessions (which define denominations) should be distinguished from creeds (which transcend denominational boundaries).
consubstantiation
A term used to refer to the theory of the real presence, especially associated with Martin Luther, which holds that the substance of the eucharistic bread and wine are given together with the substance of the body and blood of Christ.
creed
A formal definition or summary of the Christian faith, held in common by all Christians. The most important are those generally known as the "Apostles' creed" and the "Nicene creed."
Deism
A term used to refer to the views of a group of English writers, especially during the seventeenth century, the rationalism of which anticipated many of the ideas of the Enlightenment. The term is often used to refer to a view of God which recognizes the divine creatorship, yet which rejects the notion of a continuing divine involvement with the world.
demythologization
An approach to theology especially associated with the German theologian Ruldolf Bultmann (1884-1976) and his followers, which rests upon the belief that the New Testament worldview is "mythological." In order for it to be understood within, or applied to, the modern situation, it is necessary that the mythological elements should be eliminated.
dialectical theology
A term used to refer to the early views of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968), which emphasized the "dialectic" between God and humanity. See pp. 98-100.
dispensationalism
A Protestant movement, especially associated with North America, placing emphasis upon the various divine "dispensations" with humanity, and stressing the importance of eschatology.
Docetism
An early Christological heresy, which treated Jesus Christ as a purely divine being who only had the "appearance" of being human.
Donatism
A movement, centering upon Roman North Africa in the fourth century, which developed a rigorist view of the church and sacraments.
Ebionitism
An early Christological heresy, which treated Jesus Christ as a purely human figure, although recognizing that he was endowed with particular charismatic gifts which distinguished him from other humans.
ecclesiology
The section of Christian theology dealing with the theory of the church.
The Enlightenment
A term used since the nineteenth century to refer to the emphasis upon human reason and autonomy characteristic of much of western European and North American thought during the eighteenth century.
eschatology
The section of Christian theology dealing with the "last things," especially the ideas of resurrection, hell, and eternal life.
eucharist
The term used in the present volume to refer to the sacrament variously known as "the mass," "the Lord's supper," and "holy communion."
evangelical
A term initially used to refer to the nascent reforming movements, especially in Germany and Switzerland, in the 1510s and 1520s. The term was later replaced by "Protestant" in the aftermath of the Diet of Speyer. In modern times, the term has come to be used of a major movement, especially in English-language theology, which places especial emphasis upon the supreme authority of Scripture and the atoning death of Christ.
exegesis
The science of textual interpretation, usually referring specifically to the Bible. The term "biblical exegesis" basically means "the process of interpreting the Bible." The specific techniques employed in the exegesis of Scripture are usually referred to as "hermeneutics."
exemplarism
A particular approach to the atonement, which stresses the moral or religious example set to believers by Jesus Christ.

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