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January 26, 2013

BASIC THEOLOGICAL GLOSSARY


 edited by



Dennis J. Fischer





PROLOGUE:  False religious teachers delight in using common theological words and phrases to somehow compensate for their lack of credibility (i.e., adoption, faith, grace, assurance, justification, election, propitiation, regeneration, sanctification, glorification, Trinity, etc.), but these Bible-based terms usually have an entirely different meaning to a cult member.This can both confuse and mislead many honest people in their quest for biblical truth. Former cult members have the challenging task of unlearning old definitions, overcoming subtle in-house language manipulations, debunking exciting and scary conspiracy theories, deciphering memorized extra-scriptural quotations from passages found in the Bible, and learning new definitions within the pale of biblical Christianity.  The learning/unlearning phase may require several years to implement successfully.  In fact, it usually takes about three years to successfully emerge from the strict regimen of a religious cult--including Seventh-day Adventism (my personal background).

Since the more extreme and/or subtle religious cults affect virtually every facet of one's life by majoring in minors (i.e., in areas of daily attire, restricted grooming/cosmetics, dietary regulations, sexuality, social life, in-house vocabulary, recreation and sports, jewelry, entertainment, monetary, psychological, and spiritual abuse, political agendas, restrictive reading and listening habits, disowning family members, disparaging former members, medical and prophetic hoaxes, forbidden kitchen duties during certain hours each week, intense admiration of hierarchical figures (past and present), infallible interpretation of Scripture through the medium of dreams and visions, claiming to be an exclusive franchise of heaven, embarrassing yet secretly-held beliefs no longer published nor publicly proclaimed,  ad nauseum), it is only by the miraculous intervention of our sovereign God that any cult member ever escapes into the liberating freedom, peace, rest, strength, and unspeakable joy found in Jesus Christ. To God alone belongs all the honor, glory, and praise!

Consequently, as a useful countermeasure to heretical assaults upon biblical truth, this Basic Theological Glossary is intended to enrich and simplify in-depth, personal Bible study and to thereby inherently expose false teachings at the same time. Indeed, those who are intent upon accurate answers will no longer remain in a toxic-faith system. The Bible is God's voice speaking to us.  His Word is fully trustworthy (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Moreover, the Bible is a special library consisting of 66 inspired books that collectively have 31,173 verses in 1,189 chapters. The meticulous process of adding more theological terms and their Bible-based definitions is still an ongoing project for your research convenience and spiritual enrichment. 

The key words, phrases, and definitions herein are intended to accurately identify and expose false gospels whose proponents masquerade in our communities as an authentic part of Christendom.  Religious cults, whether large or small, are busily engaged in re-writing their history in order to appear more acceptable and mainstream to the general public.  Indeed, they work tirelessly to be moving targets. Legalism is a religion of mere human achievement that thrives upon endlessly climbing the ladder toward perfectionism. Any religious organization that swallows up a person's individuality as well as their lives can destroy the gifts of the various members and produce robot-like xerox copies of each other. Since there is no intent  to hastily complete this extensive project, I cordially invite you to stop by often to see the steady progress toward its completion.



Adoption:  Adoption is an act of God whereby He makes us members of His wonderful family. Family members are thereby already "seated in heavenly places" (Eph. 2:6).  Our awesome, sovereign God considers His elect as duly adopted children and not as transient foster children.

Amillennialism: The view that there will be no literal thousand-year bodily reign of Christ on earth prior to the final judgment and the eternal state; on this view, scriptural references to the millennium in Revelation 20 actually describe the present church age. For a detailed study on this topic, simply click here to read Dr. Ken Matto's Bible-based exposition entitled "The 1000 Year Reign of Christ: Is it Literal or Figurative?"  (Excerpts from Dr. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1235)

Amyraldism: (also known as Amyraldianism, moderate Calvinism, and four-point Calvinism)  Named after its formulator, Moses Amyraut (1596-1664), this view primarily shows up in some evangelical groups like Dispensationalists, Anglicans in England and Australia, non-denominational, and independent Bible churches today. 

However, Five-Point Calvinism remains prevalent in more conservative groups like the Reformed, Presbyterian, and Reformed Baptist churches. Amyraldism rejects one of the Five-Points of Calvinism; specifically, limited or particular atonement. However, the Five-Points of Calvinism (the doctrines of grace) are like beautiful threads woven together to make a soteriological masterpiece.

Not surprisingly, in the case of Seventh-day Adventism, they unashamedly reject all the doctrines of grace without a single exception. We should not arbitrarily pick our favorite parts from these five key teachings like selecting apples from a cart. After all, the doctrines of grace together point to one central truth: salvation is all of grace because it is all of God; and because it is all of God, it is all for His glory.

Angelology:  The study of angels.

Antinomianism:  Antinomianism, which means being "anti-law," is a name of several views that have denied that God's ethical or moral laws (God's righteous standards) in Scripture should control the Christian life. There are at least six antinomian views floating around today as follows: 

(1) Dualistic antinomianism appears in Gnostic heresies that sees salvation for the soul only, and bodily behavior is irrelevant both to God's interest and to the soul's health, so one can behave riotously and it will not matter. 

(2) Spirit-centered antinomianism puts such trust in the Holy Spirit's inward prompting as to deny any need to be taught by the law how to live. Freedom from the law as a way of salvation is assumed to bring with it freedom from the law as a guide to conduct.

(3) Christ-centered antinomianism argues that God sees no sin in believers, because they are in Christ, who kept the law for them, and therefore what they actually do makes no difference, provided that they keep believing.

(4) Dispensational antinomianism holds that keeping the moral law is at no stage necessary for Christians, since we live under a dispensation of grace, not of law. 

(5) Dialectical antinomianism, as in Barth and Brunner, denies that biblical law is God's direct command and affirms that the Bible's imperative statements trigger the Word of the Spirit, which when it comes may or may not correspond exactly to what is written. The inadequacy of the neo-orthodox view of biblical authority, which explains the inspiration of Scripture in terms of the Bible's instrumentality as a channel for God's present-day utterances to his people, is evident here. 

(6) Situationist antinomianism says that a motive and intention of love is all that God now requires of Christians, and the commands of the Decalogue and other ethical parts of Scripture, for all that they are ascribed to God directly, are mere rules of thumb for loving, rules that love may at any time disregard.

All exhortations in Scripture are a form of law. Moreover, those who have been spiritually-abused by legalism are often foremost to reach out to one or more of these views as an overreaction to their negative experiences. Still others, those who were exposed to extreme legalism and/or even zealously practiced it for many years, find themselves so broken, deceived, and even embarrassed that they feel compelled to forsake all Christian dogma. Understandably, they don't want to get burned ever again.  Sadly, however, their respect and trust for any part of the Christian faith has been seriously impaired and/or greatly diminished, and far too often even permanently dismissed from being relevant in their lives. Indeed, getting the Gospel right should be our top priority. (Excerpts from J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, pp. 178-179)

Apologetics:  A field of Christian theology which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It provides a defense of the truthfulness of the Christian faith for the purpose of convincing unbelievers.

Atonement:  Atonement is the work Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation. Jesus Christ bore the wrath that we deserve due to our original sin condition. Importantly, Christ's substitutionary atonement was "once for all" (Heb. 10:10) fully completed upon the cross. Praise God, there is no so-called "great controversy" nor any cosmic struggle between Christ and Satan. Satan became a defeated foe at Calvary. Our sovereign God never goes on a rescue mission that fails. Jesus' last words on the cross were "it is finished" (John 19:30). The awesome truth about the finished atonement of Christ is non-negotiable in biblical Christianity.

Attributes of God: The attributes of God include His being immortal, invisible, eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, most blessed, sovereign, most glorious, victorious, almighty, etc.  Knowing some of God's attributes leads to glorifying and praising Him.

Believer's Baptism: (immersion)  Believer's baptism is a command by Jesus Himself.  Baptism in the New Testament is a sign of being born again, being cleansed from sin, and beginning the Christian life. While it is important to recognize that Jesus commanded baptism (Matt. 28:19), as did the apostles (Acts 2:38), we should not say that baptism is necessary for salvation.  To say that baptism or any other action is necessary for salvation is to say that we are not justified by faith alone, but by faith plus a  certain "work," the work of baptism. Another reason why baptism is not necessary for salvation is that our justification from sins takes place at the point of saving faith, not at the point of water baptism, which usually occurs later.

New Testament passages about "household baptisms" do not contain any information about whether there were infants in the household.  It is ambiguous and certainly not weighty evidence for infant baptism. On the other hand,  Mark tells us that when Jesus had been baptized "he came up out of the water" (Mark 1:10). The Koine Greek word "baptizo" means "to plunge, dip, immerse" something in water.  John's gospel tells us, further, that John the Baptist "was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there" (John 3:23).

Biblical Inerrancy:  It is plainly apparent that there are some minute variations between the manuscript copies that we possess and that the translating process will inject additional variants for those who read the Scripture in another language than Hebrew or Greek. Since we do not have the original manuscripts, some have urged that an appeal to the lost originals renders the whole case for the inspiration of the Scripture irrelevant.  To reason in this manner is to overlook the very serious work that has been done in the field of textual criticism. Textual criticism is the science which seeks to reconstruct an original text by a careful analysis and evaluation of the manuscripts we presently possess.  

The Old and New Testament Scriptures are probably the texts which have reached us with the most extensive and reliable attestation.  For more than ninety-nine percent of the cases, the original text can be reconstructed to a practical certainty. Even the few cases where perplexity remains, this does not impinge on the meaning of Scripture to the point of clouding a tenet of faith or a mandate of life.  Thus, in the Bible as we have it (and as it is conveyed to us through faithful translations), we do have for practical purposes the very word of God, inasmuch as the manuscripts do convey to us the complete vital truth of the originals.  The human writers were not machines and ought not be conceived of as being without personality.  What is overcome or overridden by inspiration is not human personality, style, or literary structure, but human tendencies to distortion, falsehood, and error

The  words infallible and inerrant have often been used interchangeably and virtually synonymous in our language, nevertheless there remains a historic, technical distinction between the two words. Infallibility has to do with the question of ability or potential. That which is infallible is said to be unable to make mistakes or to err. The distinction here between that definition of infallible and the definition of inerrant is the distinction between the potential and the actual, the hypothetical and the real.  That which is inerrant is that which, in fact, does not err.  Again, theoretically, something may be fallible and  at the same time inerrant.  That is, it would be possible for someone to err who in fact does not err.  However, the reverse is not true. If someone is infallible, that means he cannot err; and if he cannot err, then he does not err. To assert that something is infallible yet at the same time errant is either to distort the meaning of infallible and/or errant, or else to be in a state of confusion. 

Thus, infallibility and inerrancy in this sense cannot be separated though they may indeed be distinguished in terms of meaning.  But anything that is infallible, that is, incapable of erring, cannot at the same time err. For if it errs, it proves that it is capable of erring and therefore is not infallible. When we speak of inerrancy, then, we are speaking of the fact that the Bible does not violate its own principles of truth.  This does not mean that the Bible is free from grammatical irregularities or the like, but that it does not contain assertions which are in conflict with objective reality.  Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching.  Ultimately, God is the author of the Bible.

In situations, like with Seventh-day Adventists, where infallibility has been substituted for inerrancy, it has usually been designed to articulate a lower view of Scripture than that indicated by the word inerrant. In fact, however, the term infallibility in its original and technical meaning is a higher term than the term inerrant.  Again, it is important to see that something which is fallible could theoretically be inerrant. But that which is infallible could not theoretically be at the same time errant. It gets confusing when SDA apologists use the wrong word to explain their current view of biblical inspiration. Sadly, they have deleted the words "all-sufficient" and "unerring" in their current view of Scripture that they correctly stated in Questions on Doctrine (page 11) to appease and deceive an inquiring cult watcher, Walter Martin, in 1957. (Excerpts from R. C. Sproul, Explaining Inerrancy; Ligonier Ministries, 1996)

Bibliology:  The study of the Word of God.

Big Bang Theory:  Big bang cosmology is a widely accepted theory regarding the origin of the universe, according to which the material universe or cosmos exploded violently into existence some 15 billion years ago. However, it is as believable as maintaining that a gigantic explosion in a junkyard would somehow result into incredible order and intricate perfection. Big bang proponents note that there is no hard evidence to support their view.

Logically and mathematically, the evidence for the "big bang" suggests that originally there was no space, no time, and no matter. Therefore, even if the universe were somehow going through expansion and contraction from this point on, at the beginning it came into existence from nothing ("ex nihilo"). This would still call for an initial Creator. Scientists have no theory to show how a universe without boundaries could exist. Moreover, the notion that nothing can cause something is logically incoherent, since "nothing" has no power to do anything--it does not even exist. As the Latin axiom put it: Ex nihilo nihil fit: From nothing, nothing comes. (Excerpts from Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pp. 102-106)

Christian Anthropology:  The study of the nature of man.

Christian Demonology:  The study of demons.

Christian Theology:  The study of the one and only true God.

Christology:  The study of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Covenant Theology:  This theological system is expressed in three basic covenants as follows:

(1)  Covenant of grace is a legal agreement between God and man, established by God after the fall of Adam and Eve, whereby human beings could be saved. Although the specific provisions of this covenant varied at different times during  redemptive history, the essential condition of requiring faith in Christ the redeemer remained the same.

(2)  Covenant of redemption is the agreement between the members of the Trinity in which each agreed to fulfill his respective role to accomplish the salvation of human beings.

(3)  Covenant of works is the legal agreement between God and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden whereby participation in the blessings of the covenant depended on the obedience, or "works," of Adam and Eve.

Covenantal or federal theology saw the covenant as a compact or agreement, which God established as a reflection of the relationship existing between the three persons of the Holy Trinity. From Switzerland covenant theology passed over into Germany, and from there into the Netherlands and the British Isles. Among its early and most influential advocates were, besides Zwingle and Bullinger, Olevianus, Cocceius, and Witsius.

Although God's covenant with his people is central to the biblical revelation and is mentioned in patristic and late medieval writings, it was not developed as a doctrine until the Reformation of the sixteenth century. (Excerpts from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second  Edition, pp. 301-303; Dr. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1239)

Creationism:  Both the opening verse of the Bible and the opening sentence of the Apostle's Creed confess God as Creator. In Scripture, the theme of God as Creator is prominent in both the Old and New Testaments. Creation is the work of the triune God and is an article of faith, as Hebrews 11:3 clearly shows. Since God as Creator is the explanation for the existence of the world and for human existence (here applies the often-used Latin phrase "creatio ex nihilo" meaning creation out of nothing), it is the activity of creation that establishes our deepest and most essential relation to God: as Creator and thus Lord.  

The doctrine of God as Creator/Designer, then, is perhaps the most basic conception of God that we know. Creationism is the view that God creates a new soul for each person and sends it to that person's body sometime between conception and birth.  Without a firm belief in having an invisible human spirit or soul, a person cannot adequately appreciate nor understand regeneration or the new birth experience (being born again). 

Importantly, both our physical and spiritual births are done for us.  The miraculous spiritual birth (also known as conversion or regeneration) is not merely a mental assent to a list of beliefs, but rather it is the indwelling Spirit actively residing in the human spirit. It's all about Him! Human beings have both a material and an immaterial entity.  Indeed, we are wonderfully made in God's divine, spirit image. Since everything that God does is for His glory, to Him alone belongs all the honor, glory, and praise. (Excerpts from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition; edited by Walter A. Elwell, pp. 304-306)

Death:  The termination of material (physical) life brought about by the entrance of sin into the world. For the Christian, death brings us into the presence of God because of Christ's payment of the penalty for our sins. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Ps. 116:15 ESV). For believers death means being "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor.5:8). This is why our Lord said at his death, "Father, into your hands I commit by spirit" (Lk. 23:46). That is why He promised the penitent dying thief, "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk. 23:43). That is why the Apostle Paul described departing the body to be with Christ as "better by far" than remaining in the body (Phil.1:23). And that is why Scripture speaks of deceased human beings as souls "under the altar" (Rev.6:9) and as "the spirits of righteous men made perfect" (Heb.12:23). 

For unbelievers, however, death means being away from the body and absent from the Lord, experiencing conscious suffering. Human beings do not cease to exist when they die. Rather, death marks the unnatural separation of the material and immaterial parts. The body decays in the grave, while the immaterial entity continues to exist. The New Testament affirms that at death the soul (human spirit) goes immediately to heaven or hell awaiting the resurrection and Last Judgment. Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy [best translated as "ruin" due to Jesus using two different Koine Greek words to differentiate "kill" from "destroy"] both soul and body in hell" (Matt.10:28 NASB; cf. Luke 12:4-5). Click here for additional information. (Excerpts from Robert A. Peterson, Two Views of Hell, p. 171)

Deism:  Deism is the belief in a God who made the world but who never interrupts its operations with supernatural events.  It is the theory that God designed the world to run independent of Himself by immutable natural laws. Sadly, this philosophy teaches that God is merely concerned with the ongoing happenings of the world but not with the moral actions of human beings.  Man can act rightly or wrongly, righteously or wickedly, morally or immorally. It is no concern to God.

Deity of Christ:  The belief that Jesus was and is God (non-negotiable in biblical Christianity).

Dichotomy:  Dichotomists believe in the dualistic nature of man (body and soul/spirit). The terms "soul" and "spirit" are interchangeable and often synonymous due to being the same entity throughout Scripture. The phrase "your spirit and soul and body" is by itself inconclusive in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul is simply piling up synonyms for emphasis, as is done by Jesus in Mark 12:30 by using four synonyms in one statement.

Dispensationalism: A complex theological system that largely began in the nineteenth century with the writings of J. N. Darby after being allegedly confirmed through the trance-like visions of Margaret MacDonald in 1830 in Port Glasgow, Scotland.  Among the general doctrines of this system are the distinction between Israel and the Church as two groups in God's overall plan, the pretribulational rapture of the Church, a future literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel, the future restoration of the rituals and shadows of the Levitical system (including a rebuilt Jewish temple), and the dividing of biblical history into seven periods or "dispensations," of God's ways in relating to His people.

Doctrine:  A doctrine is what the Bible teaches us today on a particular topic.

Ecclesiology:  The study of the nature and mission of the church.

Election:  Election is an act of God before creation in which He chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of His sovereign, good pleasure.  God's act of election was neither impersonal nor mechanistic, but was permeated with personal love for those whom He chose.  Moreover, the personal care of God for His creatures, even those who rebel against Him, is seen clearly in God's plea through Ezekial, "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live, turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezek. 33:11). Election encourages our love for God. If we have a part in salvation, however small, then our love for God is diminished by just that amount.

Our sovereign God chose us simply because He decided to bestow His love upon us. It was not because of any foreseen faith or foreseen virtue in us. Election has traditionally been called "unconditional election."   It is "unconditional" because it is not conditioned upon anything that God sees in us that makes worthy His choosing us. It would be perfectly fair for God not to save anyone, just like He dealt with the rebellious angels. But if He does save people at all, then this is a demonstration of grace that goes far beyond the requirements of fairness and justice. As fallen human beings,  we have been unusually blessed with having both common and saving grace in our midst. Truly, fallen human beings find themselves in a far better situation than that of the fallen angels. His awesome, sovereign grace should still amaze and overwhelm us.

Eucharist:  The term "Eucharist" is synonymous with Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar, and the Blessed Sacrament.  Typically, in Protestant churches, the wine/grape juice and bread/wafer symbolically represent the shed blood of Jesus and the pierced body of Jesus in our behalf.  Due to medical reasons, some churches give participants additional options such as gluten-free bread instead of traditional wheat-based products and a choice of fermented wine or pure grape juice. The Bible does not indicate how frequently this solemn service should be observed, but as often as it is done, Jesus said:  "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19 ESV).  Christian churches usually provide the communion service weekly or monthly. 

Eschatology:  The study of the end-times or the last days.

Federal Theology:  The culpability of humanity on account of Adam's transgression cannot be understood apart from federalism.  The argument is developed in Romans 5:15-21 in regard to the federal headship of the first Adam and Jesus Christ as the second Adam. Humanity in general and individuals in particular are held accountable for and are guilty of sin in that they participated in Adam, their federal head, who acted for them.  

Man's loss of original righteousness is the consequence of Adam's first sin as the covenant head of the race.  Augustine rightly declared: "Nothing remains but to conclude that in the first man all are understood to have sinned, whereby  sin is brought in with birth and not removed save by the new birth."  For additional information on this salvific topic, simply click here. (Excerpts from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second  Edition, edited by Walter A. Elwell, p. 444)

Glorification:  Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption.  It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like His own.

Grace:  Grace is basically defined as unmerited and undeserved favor in two distinct ways:  (1) Common grace refers to the grace that God commonly bestows upon the entire human family (i.e., sunshine, rain, food, shelter, Gospel proclamation, etc.). (2) Saving grace (also known as "special grace" and "sovereign grace") refers to God's specific calling of His elect.  Saving grace is a special inward or internal calling (i.e., when God opened the heart of Lydia, etc.) in contrast to the general outward or external calling (i.e., the Gospel presentation to all people, etc.).  Importantly, we can only appreciate God's grace to the extent that we understand the depth of His divine wrath.

Although the theories of salvation as taught by prominent teachers of Semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism have been duly condemned by church councils as heretical, it is not an efficacious (saving) grace. It is a grace that makes salvation possible, but not a grace that makes salvation certain. Moreover, grace is not like a box of candy that you can send back if you don't want it. Grace is divine favor, an attitude of God's own heart. We cannot stop Him from loving us, if He chooses to do so. Nor can we stop Him from giving us blessings inherent in the gift of salvation: regeneration, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, and ultimately glorification.  The divine purpose for His people will certainly be fulfilled as promised in Philippians 1:6 and Ephesians 1:11.

Great Schism: (1054 AD)  The medieval division of Christianity into the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church respectively. The primary causes of the Schism were disputes over the Pope's claims to authority or supremacy over the whole church.  The Latin term filioque (meaning "and from the Son") refers to a clause inserted into the Nicene Creed to indicate that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Father only but also from the Son.  The controversy that arose over this doctrinal point contributed to the split between the Eastern and Western churches.

The Old Rome and the New Rome (Constantinople) were supposedly to be self-governed by two leaders, not just one.  Lesser issues were over liturgical practices (e.g., the use of unleavened bread in the West). Interestingly, the current Roman Catholic pontiff, Pope Francis I, also claims leadership authority and supremacy over all Christians worldwide (including Protestants as merely "separated brethern" from the mother church).

Hamartiology:  The study of the nature and effects of sin.

Historical Theology:  A historical study of how Christians in different periods have understood various theological topics.

Incarnation: (the Word made flesh)  The embodiment of God the Son in human flesh as Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary or "Theotokos" meaning God-bearer. Thus, Jesus was fully God and fully man--united but not mixed. In a "hypostatic union," our sovereign God mysteriously united "one person" as the God-man. Unlike fallen man, Jesus was born spiritually alive. Thus, He had no need to be born again or regenerated.  He had the pre-Fall nature of Adam.  He had no propensity toward sin like fallen humanity has.  Jesus was not a sinner in any manner, but rather, praise God, He came to "save His people from their sins" (Matt.1:21 NASB) .

Impute:  The theological terms "impute" and "imputation" mean to think of as belonging to somebody, and therefore to cause it to belong to that person.  God thinks of Adam's sin as belonging to us, and it therefore belongs to us, and in justification He thinks of Christ's righteousness as belonging to us and so relates to us on this basis. (Excerpts from Wayne Grudem; Systematic Theology, p. 1244)

Justification:  Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) views our sins as forgiven and Christ's righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in His sight.

Missiology:  A term generally referring to the formal academic study of all aspects of the missionary enterprise.  Inherent in the discipline is the study of the nature of God, the created world, and the church, as well as interaction among these three.  To study that interaction, it is necessary to combine insights from the disciplines of biblical studies, theology, and social sciences. Heresiologists (defenders of Christianity against heresy) are needed more today than at any other time in Christian history.  This is why the writers of the New Testament devoted so much time, space, and effort to debunk various heresies that assault the Christian faith.

Being identified with the missionary task, however, missiology must go beyond each of these disciplines to engage not only in understanding but in effecting change as part of the missionary endeavor. Missiology is a critical discipline for all Christians in all cultures at all times because all believers are missionaries (ambassadors for Christ) in the truest sense.  The church is essentially a missionary enterprise of God, and every member of the church is to be engaged in that enterprise.

Monergism:  A compound Greek word meaning "to work alone."  This theological term denotes that our awesome, sovereign God is in complete control of our eternal destiny. Indeed, "salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT).  It's all about Him! Fallen humanity, having no righteousness of his or her own, does not seek God and does no good without even one exception (see Romans 3:11-12). Monergism stands directly opposed to synergism, a popular view that salvation involves some form of cooperation between God and man (thereby enthroning fallen man as the ultimate captain and final arbiter of his eternal destiny). In other words, synergists make God's sovereign gift of salvation fully dependent upon the mercy of fallen man (instead of the other way around).

Monergism holds that the spiritually dead do not give birth to themselves.  The late Martyn Lloyd-Jones aptly added, "We are not born because we believe.  We believe because we are reborn." Indeed, both our physical and spiritual births are done for us without our consent. Salvation is a gift to be received, not a goal to be achieved. We are totally at the mercy of God for our salvation.  Moreover, we are not in a position to contribute anything to our salvation.  We do not possess even the tiniest "island of righteousness."  Calvinists believe that if man does anything good, then God gets all the credit, honor, and glory. Indeed, fallen humanity is in desperate need of a Savior and Substitute.

Monism: Outside the realm of biblical orthodoxy, we find the view that man cannot exist at all apart from a physical body, and therefore there can be no separate existence for any "soul" after the body dies (although this view can allow for the resurrection of the whole person at some future time). The view that man is only one element, and that his body is the person, is called monism.  According to monism, the scriptural terms soul and spirit are just other expressions for the "person" himself, or for the person's life.  This view is not generally accepted in biblical Christianity because so many scriptural texts clearly affirm that our souls or spirits live on after our bodies die. This idea was first articulated by Arnobius of Sicca, a "Christian" apologist,  in the fourth century.

For believers death means being "away from the body at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). That is why our Lord said at His death, "Father, into your hands I commit by spirit" (Lk. 23:46). That is why He promised the penitent dying thief, "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk.23:43). That is why Paul described departing the body to be with Christ as "better by far" than remaining in the body (Phil. 1:23). And that is why Scripture speaks of deceased human beings as souls "under the altar" (Rev. 6:9) and as "the spirits of righteous men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23).

For unbelievers, however, death means being away from the body and absent from the Lord, experiencing conscious suffering.  The clearest biblical passage on  this subject is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Here Jesus depicts the reversal of fortunes in the next world of a godly poor man named Lazarus and an ungodly rich man.  In the present world the rich man "was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day" (v.19).  By contrast the poor man lay at the rich man's gate "covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table" (vv.20-21).

At death, however, their lots were reversed.  The godly poor man found repose at "Abraham's side," a Jewish way of referring to heaven (v. 22). But the ungodly man found himself "in hell, where he was in torment" (v. 23). Plainly, Jesus uses the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as a vehicle to teach that death involves separation of soul (or spirit) from the body, with the righteous and wicked immediately experiencing bliss or pain, respectively. Moreover, Jesus would never use a parable or illustration to teach an untruth. The truthfulness of traditionalism is confirmed by the fact that it coheres well with other biblical teachings.

Moral Influence Theory:  This theory, taught by some  Seventh-day Adventist apologists and others, tries to debunk the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It teaches that Christ's death was not a payment for sins, but simply a demonstration of how much God loved human beings by identifying with their sufferings, even to the point of death. This becomes, then, an example designed to draw from us a grateful response as to a loyal friend. However, we need more than an exemplar or friend, we desperately need a Savior and Substitute. (Excerpts from Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1248)

Mortalism:  This philosophic doctrine, directly related to conditionalism, claims that the human soul or spirit is subject to death. This view is held primarily by Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, splinter groups of the former Worldwide Church of God (Armstrongism), and at least three Anglican theologians. It is most difficult to even begin to appreciate and understand the divine act of regeneration or being born again without believing in the dualistic nature of man; specifically, body(material) and soul (immaterial) entities. Consequently, adherents to this philosophy consider man's spiritual new birth to be merely their mental or intellectual assent to a specific belief system. Sadly, this unbiblical teaching enthrones fallen man as the captain of his eternal destiny (a man-centered soteriology). In other words, they insist that God helps sinners to save themselves.  

Although not found anywhere in the Bible nor in early Anabaptist materials, the phrase "soul sleep" became popular with John  Calvin's first literary work entitled "Psychopannychia" in the sixteenth century. This tract was a powerful refutation of soul sleep.  A few years later, Martin Luther temporarily toyed with the idea of soul sleep in his endeavor to further refute the Catholic doctrines of purgatory and prayer to and for the dead.  Luther's later writings, however,  reveal his firm adherence to the biblical view of death and the nature of man.  The Seventh-day Adventist view of death is not actually soul sleep because they don't believe in a separate soul (spirit) entity in man.  The SDA view is more accurately aligned with the extinction/re-creation theory. Truly, not even God can resurrect someone who no longer actually exists in any form and who is thereby totally incapable of awaiting anything, much less to await the resurrection with a call from the Lifegiver. 

Obelisk:  Although not technically a theological term, an "obelisk" is a four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top (i.e., the Washington Monument in the United States, the 300-ton obelisk located in the center of St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Masonic obelisks and/or pyramids erected in memory of four nineteenth-century cult founders include Joseph Smith, James and Ellen White, and Charles Taze Russell). Originally, Jehovah's Witnesses were known as Russellites and taught a form of pyramidology for many years. Also, the Masonic "all-seeing eye" symbol atop a pyramid is printed on the back side of one dollar bills in the United States. Interestingly, Ellen White repeatedly used the Masonic phrase of the "all-seeing eye" in her largely plagiarized writings.

The Vatican obelisk, topped with a bronze cross supposedly containing a fragment of the true cross, was blessed and consecrated on September 26, 1586.  Later moved a short distance at great expense by papal decree, it has engraved formulas on the east and west sides for exorcism. These obelisks (described in Jeremiah 43:13 & Leviticus 26:1) had their beginning as phallic monuments to the sun god Ra in Egypt. God clearly considered these pagan structures as being detestable in His sight.  They were usually placed near the entrance to pagan temples, and they claimed that their god existed within the structure (akin to Pantheism).  

Oblation:  A solemn, religious offering or presentation to God.

Ontology:  An "ontology" is an explicit specification of a conceptualization. For example, borrowed from general philosophy, this term or reasoning asks questions about the existence or nonexistence of our Triune God and has other applications outside the realm of theological thought. An ontological argument begins with the idea of God, who is defined as a being "greater than which nothing can be imagined."  It then argues that the characteristic of existence must belong to such a being, since it is greater to exist than not to exist. In regard to the three persons of the Trinity, it further reasons that it is the innate subordination in role and not only the eternal equality and oneness in substance that best expresses the relationship in the Godhead. 

Admittedly, our conceptualization of God in three persons is vastly inadequate and insufficient because it involves the mystery of God. We believe in Him because of our faith in the inerrancy and supremacy of God's Word. If God could be easily and fully explained by fallen humankind, then God would not be worthy of our adoration, praise, and worship. Indeed, we serve an awesome, holy, and sovereign God. "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1 ESV).

Original sin:  Original sin does not refer specifically to the sin of Adam and Eve.  Original sin refers to the result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Original sin is the punishment God gives for the first sin. It goes something like this: Adam and Eve sinned. That is the first sin. As a result of their sin humanity was plunged into moral ruin. Human nature underwent a moral fall. Things changed for us after the first sin was committed. The human race became corrupt. This subsequent corruption is what the church calls original sin.

Original sin is not a specific act of sin. It is a condition of sin. Original sin refers to a sin nature out of which particular sinful acts flow. Again, we commit sins because it is our nature to sin.  It was not man's original nature to sin but, after the Fall, his moral nature changed. Now, because of original sin, we have a fallen and corrupt nature. Fallen man, as the Bible declares, is born in sin. He is "under" sin. By nature we are children of wrath.  We are not born in a state of innocence. (Excerpts from R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God, pp. 63-64)

Paterology:  (Theology Proper) A study of God the Father (i.e., dealing with issues like "Does God exist?" etc.).

Paedobaptism:  (Infant Baptism)  Infant baptism is typically administered to infants in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches.  This practice is commonly hinged upon the fact that male infants were circumcised on the eighth day under the Old Covenant as an outward sign of entrance into the  community of God's people. Paedobaptists arbitrarily link New Covenant baptism to Old Covenant infant circumcision.  However, their making infant baptism parallel to infant circumcision is unbiblical.  We should not be surprised that there was a change from the way the covenant community was entered in the Old Testament (physical birth) to the way the church is entered in the New Testament (spiritual birth). 

Baptism in the New Testament is a sign of being born again, being cleansed from sin, and beginning the Christian life.  Moreover, the New Testament never views baptism as something that symbolizes a probable future regeneration. In the case of Roman Catholicism, infant baptism is administered to babies to instantaneously regenerate them or to automatically confer grace upon them (ex opere operato) to save their souls.  This is commonly known as "baptismal regeneration."

Pelagianism:  Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall.  It denies the imputation of Adam's sin, total or radical depravity, and substitutionary atonement.  It teaches that man has the ability in and of himself (apart from divine aid) to obey God and earn eternal salvation.  Pelagius was a monk from Britain who later became well-known in Rome. Pelagius believed that the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve (the Fall) were restricted to themselves only, and thereby denied the belief that original sin was passed on (or transferred) to the children of Adam and thus to the entire human race. 

Adam's sin merely "set a bad example" for his progeny and Jesus "set a good example" for mankind (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). Pelagianism further teaches that human beings are born in a state of innocence with a nature that is as pure as that which Adam was given at his creation. Pelagianism was condemned by the Council of Carthage in 418 AD, and it was branded as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.

Pelagian teaching was replaced with Semi-Pelagianism which sought a middle ground (compromise) between Pelagianism and Augustinianism, but it too was condemned at the Second Synod of Orange in 529 AD. Elements of Semi-Pelagianism continued in the Western (Roman) church.  It emerged again after the Reformation in modified form in Arminianism which was rejected by the Reformed churches at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619.

Pneumatology:  The study of the person and work of the 
Holy Spirit.

Predestination:  Predestination is the term used to describe God's foreordination or foreordaining of all salvific events in human history (past, present, and future), and its usage is certainly appropriate and meaningful.  In Scripture and mainstream theology,  predestination means specifically God's decision, made in eternity before the world and its inhabitants existed, regarding the final destiny of individual sinners. Predestination is entirely a sovereign act that is God-centered and God-exalting. To God alone belongs all the honor, glory, and praise!

In both Old and New Testaments, God is described as having "mercy on whomever He wills, and he hardens whomever he wills" (Romans 9:18 ESV).  After all, "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable us and another for dishonorable use?" (Romans 9:21 ESV; cf.Exodus 33:19). All that God has to do to harden people's hearts is to remove the restraints.  He gives them a longer leash. Rather than restricting their human freedom, He increases it. "Salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT).  Truly, salvation is a rescue operation from start to finish. It's all about Him!

In fact, the New Testament uses the words predestination and election (the two are one) only of God's choice of particular sinners for salvation and eternal life. Many have pointed out, however, that Scripture also ascribes to God an advance decision about those who finally are not saved, and so it has become usual in Protestant theology to define God's predestination as including both His decision to save some from sin (election) and  His decision to condemn the rest for their sin (reprobation), side by side. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), the renowned prince of preachers, aptly declared: "The Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards."

It is important to understand that predestination is not the same as foreknowledge. Predestination denotes God actively working to make sure that His future plans become a reality. Therefore, God not only knows about future events in detail (foreknowledge), but He also makes certain that they occur exactly on schedule as planned (i.e., the birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Pentecost, etc.). God does not leave His redemptive acts and His governance of world affairs to mere happenstance, disorder, uncertainty, or untimely occurrences. Indeed, God's people greatly appreciate His dependable, orderly ways.

Preterism:  Full Preterism is a system of prophetic interpretation that understands virtually all of Bible prophecy to be already fulfilled (including the second coming of Christ and all attending events, the resurrection, etc.) are all understood as now past. Christ has come, the kingdom has come, and the resurrection has occurred, all in a spiritual way.  Full Preterism is often referred to as the "AD 70 Doctrine" that hinges primarily upon the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  Full Preterism is also spoken of as "hyper-Preterism" by its detractors.

On the other hand, Partial Preterism or moderate Preterism is a far more acceptable view that the Emperor Nero was the "beast power" due to having soldiers kill his own mother, having killed untold numbers of Christians during intense persecution,  and then committing suicide in AD 68 when facing the threat of imminent assassination. Nero, known as the "beast" by many Roman citizens, is often interpreted as the stamped image of the emperor or "beast" on every coin of the Roman Empire. The stamp on the hand or in the mind without which no one could buy or sell. 

Moreover, Partial Preterism holds that most eschatological prophecies, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the Day of the Lord were fulfilled either in AD 70 or during the horrible persecutions by the ruthless Roman emperors reigning in the first century. Not surprisingly, these emperors regarded early Christianity as a serious threat to the Imperial Cult (a form of State religion) that promoted emperor worship.

Partial Preterism further teaches that the Book of Revelation was largely written in code form due to severe persecution against Christians in the Roman Empire. Thus, Partial Preterists believe that the initial readers of the Book of Revelation clearly understood the detailed messages written in symbolic language by the Apostle John while he was exiled to the island of Patmos.  This exile occurred under the cruel persecutions of the Roman Emperor Domitian, in about AD 95, when the beloved Apostle John was an elderly man.

Propitiation (expiation):  Romans 3:25 tells us that God put forward Christ as a "propitiation" (NASB) a word that means "a sacrifice that bears God's wrath to the end and in so doing changes God's wrath toward us into favor."  There is an eternal, unchangeable requirement in the holiness and justice of God that sin be paid for.  Furthermore, before the atonement ever could have an effect on our subjective consciousness, it first had an effect on God and His relation to the sinners He planned to redeem.  Apart from this central truth, the death of Christ really cannot be adequately understood.

Regeneration: (being born again)  Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us.  Regeneration always precedes the gift of faith.  Both our physical and spiritual births are done for us.

Reprobation:  This doctrine is about the reprobate (a morally-unprincipled person or a depraved person destined to eternal damnation). The idea of reprobation naturally follows the biblical evidence for the doctrine of election.  The fact that what God does He does from eternity, and that only a portion of the human race is saved, is enough to complete the doctrines of election and reprobation. The Bible does not tell us the reason(s) why God does not save everyone for His glory. We are fully assured, however, that everything that God does has a reason and is for His glory--even sending the reprobate to hell (e.g., without a Judas there would have been no Cross, and without a Cross there would be no Savior). 

The elect receive mercy, and the non-elect receive justice. No one receives injustice at the hands of God.  All of God's decisions flow from His holy character. It is not surprising that the doctrine of reprobation is one upon which the Arminians and Semi-Pelagianists are very fond of dwelling. However, it is biblical and rational to conclude that both election and reprobation are true. The Potter or Creator has full authority to do with His lump of clay whatever He desires (supported by the Apostle Paul's excellent analogy found in Romans 9:21).

Sanctification:  Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives.  After regeneration, the process of sanctification is immediately initiated,  by the indwelling Spirit, as a verification that the believer's transformation was an authentic act of God. As can be expected, born-again believers have absolutely no desire to delay or to hide the fact of being a "new creation" in Christ.  Without any exceptions, all Christians  are missionaries--both for their own benefit and for the benefit of others.

Semi-Pelagianism:  Semi-Pelagianism is considered a compromise between the soteriologies of Augustine and Pelagius. This view teaches that man (unaided by God's saving grace) can make the first move toward God and then God will somehow acknowledge and/or reward that initial endeavor.  However, the adherents of this view believe that God's grace is not absolutely necessary to maintain any measure of faith. They supposedly have an innate moral ability to make the right choices that hopefully will someday result in eternal bliss (unlike most of their friends and neighbors).

In sharp contrast to this view, the Bible repeatedly declares that "no one seeks for God...no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:11-12; Ps. 14:1-3;53:1-3). The prophet Jonah proclaimed that "my salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT). Thus, fallen man is in desperate need of a Savior and Substitute. Jesus taught that man is powerless to come to Him without divine aid.

This cooperative or synergistic view of salvation, between God and man, teaches that fallen man is ultimately the captain of his eternal destiny due to making intelligent free-will choices. The serious problem with this concept is that fallen man has the natural ability to make choices but lacks the moral ability to make godly choices. It further denies God's sovereign intervention in the adoption and election of His redeemed people (members of God's wonderful family). As we would expect, this view strongly opposes God's sovereign predestination. Semi-Pelagianism subscribes to merely partial depravity instead of total or radical depravity (the equivalent of the unregenerate being merely sick instead of dead in trespasses and sins).

Truly, salvation is a rescue operation from start to finish. Furthermore, it is most encouraging to realize that God never goes on a rescue mission that fails. God is still in the salvation business, and He is definitely not in the gambling business. It's all about Him! In Semi-Pelagian thought, however, God supposedly helps sinners to save themselves.  It is a man-centered instead of a God-centered soteriology. It promotes the false notion that man has the ability to contribute to his own salvation through his fallen, corrupt will. 

Moreover, this unbiblical teaching insists upon a lingering, innate "island of righteousness" that remains unscathed in fallen man. After a century of dispute, Semi-Pelagianism was formally condemned as a heresy at the Second Synod of Orange in 529 AD. This aberrant soteriological view most accurately depicts the teaching of Seventh-day Adventism. 

Sola Fide: This Latin phrase was one of the battle cries of the Protestant Reformation, meaning that we are justified by faith alone without any human effort or merit involved (since fallen man does not possess even the tiniest "island of righteousness"). Additionally, the gift of faith is the fruit of regeneration by the indwelling Holy Spirit. His indwelling presence immediately begins the process of sanctification in our lives.

Soteriology:  The study of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Synergism:  This compound Greek word means "to work together." This theological term is the opposite of monergism. However, in the truest soteriological sense, there is no "partnership" or "cooperative" salvation.  God does not help us to save ourselves.  We are totally incapable of being the captains of our eternal destiny.  Our salvation is entirely monergistic (Jonah 2:9). It's all about Him!  Soli Deo Gloria!

Systematic Theology:  Deals with what the whole Bible teaches today about any topic.  It usefully summarizes biblical concepts.  Those who pridefully consider themselves as not adhering to any particular system of religious belief actually have their own system of belief (not excluding agnosticism, atheism, Darwinianism, and various personal formulations).

The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation: These Five Solas (Latin phrases) were the battle cries of the Protestant Reformation:

(1)  Sola Scriptura  ("Scripture Alone")
(2)  Solus Christus  ("Christ Alone")
(3)  Sola Gratia  ("Grace Alone")
(4)  Sola Fide  ("Faith Alone")
(5)  Soli Deo Gloria  ("The Glory of God Alone")

Theism: Theism is the worldview that an infinite, personal God created the universe and miraculously intervenes in it from time to time. God is both transcendent over the universe and immanent in it. The three great theistic religions are Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Most theists not only believe that miracles can happen, they believe some actually have happened.

Theistic Evolution:  Broadly speaking, theistic evolution is the belief that God used evolution as His means of producing the various forms of physical life on this planet, including human life. On the other hand, pantheistic evolution involves a belief in God as well.  Pantheism, unlike theism and deism, believes that God is all and all is God.  God is the universe or Nature. Pantheism is distinguished by its belief that God is the Vital Force within the universe and within the evolutionary force.  According to this position, evolution is a continuous process that moves forward, sometimes even "leaps" forward, by virtue of the immanent divine Force within the universe.

All forms of evolutionary theory are in direct opposition to the biblical teaching about the Fall of man. Evolution teaches that human life is progressively getting better, more advanced, more complete, more intelligent, and more complex with enough time.  On the other hand, Christianity teaches that, as a result of the Fall, the nature of man is increasingly intent upon evil and self-destruction. Thus, man is desperately in need of a Savior and Substitute. Moreover, unless God directly intervenes, a person is doomed to eternal damnation due to his original sin condition (read the biblical definition of man's "original sin" condition in this Glossary).

The Creator/Designer is not required to seek the sinner's permission for doing with the sinner what He pleases (i.e., the Apostle Paul's apt analogy of the potter and his clay in Romans 9:21). The sinner did not ask to be born in the country of his birth, to his parents, or even to be born at all. All these things were determined by God's sovereign decision. It is important to recognize that both man's physical and spiritual births are done for him. It's all about Him! Soli Deo Gloria!

Jonah, the reluctant prophet, declared: "For my salvation comes from the Lord alone" (Jonah 2:9 NLT). We do not possess even the tiniest "island of righteousness" to aid or to cooperate in our salvation.  The Apostle Paul further writes: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:10-12 ESV). Obviously, this biblical teaching is in direct opposition to any type of evolutionary theory.

Theophany:  An "appearance of God" in which He takes on a visible form to show Himself to people (i.e., the burning bush experience of Moses, God giving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, God's Shekinah glory filling the Tabernacle of Moses and subsequently God spoke to Moses from that Tent of Meeting, and likewise the "Angel of the Lord" is an OT expression that in many contexts refers to  a theophany of the pre-incarnate Christ).

Tithe:  (meaning ten percent)  A common royal tax or tribute paid in the Ancient Near East that God later utilized to require the Hebrew people to pay a tithe on their animals and crops.  However, under the Mosaic or Old Covenant, a large segment of the Israelites did not pay any tithe at all (i.e., retailers, manufacturers, lumbermen, farm hands, handicraft workers, medical and military personnel, fishermen, miners, construction workers, etc.).  

There never was a monetary tithe under the Mosaic Covenant. Salaries were exempt from the tithing codes that frequently changed according to need and circumstance.  Thus, it is impossible to tithe without the Levitical system being fully in place (the same holds true in regard to observing the weekly, festal Sabbath with its sacrificing and show bread requirements). In spite of these tithing facts, history has repeatedly shown that any dissent on this topic can bring the "wrath of God" upon the uninformed by willing and able churchmen.

The early Christians trusted each other with their pooled resources. Materialism was not their bondage; Christ was their all-sufficient Savior. The Lord abundantly blessed their love for the Gospel.  The Gospel breeds generosity wherever it takes root.  With Spirit-led giving, the Christian no longer yearns for the laws of Moses to finance the Great Commission. 

Trichotomy:  Trichotomists believe that man is divided into three separate entities; namely, body, soul, and spirit. However, since the Bible commonly uses "soul" and "spirit" interchangeably and are in many cases synonymous, the traditional view is that man consists of body and soul/spirit (two parts).  The problem for trichotomists is even greater in Mark 12:30: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."  

Trichotomists are currently found primarily among Charismatic groups, Seventh-day Adventists, offshoots of the former Worldwide Church of God (Armstrongism), etc. Speaking in so-called "unknown tongues" is closely akin to Adventists embracing the strange reveries of Ellen White (i.e., falling under the kitchen table, channeling/visioning while on the floor, falsely claiming to have held a large family Bible with one outstretched arm for many minutes while in vision, etc.).

If we go on the principle that such lists of terms tell us about more parts to man, then if we also add spirit to this list (and perhaps body as well), we would have five or six parts to man.  But that is certainly a false conclusion.  It is far better to understand Jesus as simply piling up roughly synonymous terms for emphasis to demonstrate that we must love God with all of our being.  Likewise, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul is not saying that spirit, soul, and body are distinct entities, but simply that, whatever our immaterial part is called, he wants God to continue to sanctify us wholly to the day of Christ.

Trinity: (Triune God)  There is one God in three persons--God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The three different persons are one not only in purpose and in  agreement on what they think, but they are one in essence, one in their essential nature.  In other words, God is only one being.  There are not three gods as in Tritheism. There is only one God. Visit www.cultorchristian.com for accurate, detailed information on this topic in regard to the contradictory teachings within Seventh-day Adventism.  

Dr. Walter Elwell, an evangelical scholar, defines the Trinity as follows: "The term designating one God in three persons.  Although not itself a biblical term, the Trinity has been found a convenient designation for the one God self-revealed in Scripture as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It signifies that within the one essence of the Godhead we have to distinguish three 'persons' who are neither three gods on the one side, nor three parts or modes of God on the other, but coequally and coeternally God." (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, page 1112)

A helpful Trinity illustration, especially for inquiring young minds, is an apple pie cut into equal pieces (a yummy visual aid). Therefore, any piece you decide to take out of this apple pie really doesn't matter because each piece is equally and fully part of the same pie.  Jesus frequently used parables to teach biblical truths.  Parents and Sunday School teachers should do the same.

TULIP:  A beautiful acronym depicting the doctrines of grace; specifically, total (radical) depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement (particular redemption), irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints (eternal security). The grace that draws us to Christ and enables us to persevere to the very end is the work of God the Holy Spirit. We are all radically sinful, so much so that we cannot take even the smallest of steps toward God unless He first intervenes. The acrostic TULIP identifies the Five Points of Calvinism. Each of the Five Points of Calvinism promotes holy Christian living--a God-centered soteriology. Acronyms and acrostics are effective tools for memorization.

Unpardonable Sin:  The Bible repeatedly mentions that the "unpardonable sin" is a unique, grave sin (shameless treason and/or slander against God) committed against the Holy Spirit that cannot be forgiven in this life nor in the life to come (i.e., when some Pharisees maliciously declared that the miraculous healing ministry of Jesus was of the devil when they clearly knew better, those shamelessly supporting and teaching blatant heresy when clearly knowing better, etc.).  The fact that the unpardonable sin involves such extreme hardness of heart and lack of repentance indicates that those who fear they have committed it, yet still have sorrow for sin in their heart and desire to seek after God, certainly do not fall in the category of those who are guilty of it.

Interestingly, Jesus declared that those guilty of committing the unpardonable sin would not be forgiven "neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Matt. 12:32 KJV).  Notice the predictive, futuristic phrase "neither in the world to come" in regard to the ungodly who have committed the unpardonable sin.  The teaching of Jesus and the Bible is consistently clear in regard to "the age to come" (ESV) as being an eternal conscious state for the wicked (cf. Matt. 25:46). Indeed, biblical teaching leaves no room for the momentary, quick-fix of annihilation. Obviously, there would be no "age to come" for the ungodly if they had been already instantly obliterated. It is always refreshing to see how the Bible is consistent and cohesive in its teachings.




courtesy of

DENNIS FISCHER MINISTRIES
Worldwide Chaplaincy Services
E-mail:  dfministries@gmail.com
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