Random Theology Terms Part 1

The following is a partial list of terms that I needed to know for a theology test.  Some of the terms are defined from tertiary sources found online, some from notes I took in class, and others from a peer in the class with me.  Enjoy reading through this random list. 

Accidents and Substance according to Aristotle

Substances are the ultimate things in the universe – typically these are nouns – people and things.  Accidents are the features of the substances.

Altered Augsburg Confession

The Altered Augsburg Confession (Lat. Confessio Augustana Variata) is a later version of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession that includes substantial differences with regard to holy communion and the presence of Christ in bread and wine.

Authority (primary authority, secondary authority, tertiary authority)

A Primary Source offers first-hand evidence on the subject you’re investigating. Written or created by an eyewitness or participant, it presents an insider’s perspective. For example:

  • Diaries, autobiographies, memoirs, speeches
  • Journal articles reporting original/new research or findings

A Secondary Source is NOT the original source. Written or created after the subject you’re investigating, it offers interpretations, analyses, or criticisms of primary sources. For example:

  • Journal articles that review an existing body of scientific literature, rather than describe new research
  • Biographies
  • Historical studies
  • Reviews (e.g. movie, music, play, art, etc.)

Tertiary Source synthesizes information from other sources–primary and secondary–and presents it with relevant context. For example:

  • Reference materials (e.g. encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, etc.)
  • Textbooks

Calling or Vocation

One’s God given roles through which God works to care for and provide for his creation.

Catechism

A catechism is the summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.

Catechism’s components

Luther’s Small Catechism

Section 1- 10 Commandments, Creeds, Lord’s Prayer, Sacrament of Baptism, Confession, Sacrament of the Altar

Section 2 – Daily Prayers

Section 3 – Table of Duties

Section 4 – Christian Questions with their Answers

Commands of God or Virtues of Christian life

God’s will for his creation.

Confession (as understood by Lutherans)

Two Terms/ideas

  • Confession: to say again.  A statement of belief which summarizes the whole teaching of Holy Scripture in addition to serving as a hermeneutical guide for understanding Scripture, the World, and the Christian’s place in that world.
  • Also means to speak/admit one’s sins in order to receive absolution.

 Confessional subscription

To subscribe to a confession or confessional statement means to attach oneself to that confession and make it one’s own.  The LC-MS requires its pastors to subscribe to the Confession of the Book of Concord stating they believe it is a proper understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures.  The two main types of subscription are quia and quatenus subscription (SEE BELOW).

Contradict – They Can’t All Be True

A book written by Andy Wrasman, published by WestBow Press in 2014.

 Corpus doctrinae

This term, meaning “body of doctrine,” is used for a collection of writings that was meant to summarize authentic apostolic teaching and doctrine.

Creatio ex nihilo

God created all things out of nothing by his spoken word.

Ecumenical creeds

Ecumenical creeds is an umbrella term used in the Western Church to refer to the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed and, less commonly, the Athanasian Creed. The ecumenical creeds are also known as the universal creeds.

The Apostle’s: Foundation of the Christian faith.  Believed to be an early baptismal creed.  Clearly articulates the identity and roles of the three persons of the trinity.

Nicene: Creed created in response to Arianism and later refined to combat Pneumatomachians.  Affirms the divinity of Son and Spirit.  Further expounds details of Apostle’s Creed

Athanasian creeds: Expounds comments on particular theological issues.

Epistemology of faith (or epistemology of Saint Paul, 1 Corinthians 1)

Epistemology is the study of knowledge.

Paul outlines four areas of knowledge:

  1. Empirical (Experimental) knowledge
  2. Logical (Reason) knowledge
  3. Aesthetic (Having to do with beauty) knowledge
  4. Authoritative knowledge (Knowledge above) – above all other knowledge.  This is God’s knowledge which must be trusted and taken without question.

Fear of God

Luther explains the fear of God using this analogy of his son: “little Hans knows I love him, but he also knows I’m much bigger and stronger than him and can whop him clear across the room if I so choose”

 Gnosticism

Greek religious movement that emphasized secret knowledge for its initiates.  Gnosticism had and has many variants.  Gnostics commonly emphasized a radical distinction between the material world (which was evil) and the spiritual dimensions (which were good).

Furthermore, this belief had an influence the early Christian Church.

God as defined in Luther’s Large Catechism, Creed, first article

Anything you fear, love, and trust above all else.

Law

The will of God for his creation.  Often times this is defined as God’s commands and demands.

Thomas Aquinas’ four types of law:

  1. Eternal Law – Exists in the mind of God.
  2. Divine Law – The part of eternal law that has been revealed (Namely the Ten Commandments).
  3. Natural Law – The law of the universe that is discernable by human reason (Paul reverences this in Romans- Law written on their hears).
  4. Human Law – Application to natural law in a specific context/situation/culture.  Ex. We have Laws in the USA.

Natural law

Will of God for creation which is best summarized in the Decalog (Ten Commandments).

Ninian Smart’s seven component parts of all religions

Ritual: Forms and orders of ceremonies (private and/or public) (often regarded as revealed)

Narrative and Mythic: stories (often regarded as revealed) that work on several levels. Sometimes narratives fit together into a fairly complete and systematic interpretation of the universe and human’s place in it.

Experiential and emotional: dread, guilt, awe, mystery, devotion, liberation, ecstasy, inner peace, bliss (private)

Social and Institutional: belief system is shared and attitudes practiced by a group. Often rules for identifying community membership and participation (public)

Ethical and legal: Rules about human behavior (often regarded as revealed from supernatural realm)

Doctrinal and philosophical: systematic formulation of religious teachings in an intellectually coherent form

Material: ordinary objects or places that symbolize or manifest the sacred or supernatural

Original sin

AKA – Inherited Sin.  From Adam’s fall, the sinful nature was beget to all humans, so that we are by nature sinners.

Quatenus

Definitions:

  1. how far/long?, to what point
  2. since
  3. to what extent
  4. where
  5. while, so far as

I subscribe to the Book of Concord quatenus (so far as) it is a faithful exposition of the teachings of the Bible.

Quia

Definitions:

  1. because

I subscribe to the Book of Concord quia (because) it is a faithful exposition of the teaching of the Bible.  

Relationship of the first commandment to the other commandments in Luther’s Small Catechism

All the commandments are essentially a breaking of the first commandment.  When a person lies, cheats, steals, kills, covets, or commits adultery, he is ultimately putting his fear, love, and trust in something or someone else over the fear, love, and trust that is rightly due to God alone.  Essentially – idolatry is the root problem of all sin.

Relationship of Scripture and the Book of Concord

Scripture is the Word of God.  The Book of Concord is a faithful exposition of the teachings found in the Book of Concord.

The Bible norms the confessions.  The confessions norm our teachings and practices.

Relationship of the spiritual and material realms of creation

The Spiritual and material realms are God’s way of working in the world. Lutherans are often accused of dualism here, but that is a blatant misunderstanding of Luther since these realms intersect in the life of the Christian and the life of the church.

  • The Spiritual realm involves things pertaining to God such as confession and absolution, the sacraments, the word of God, and Christian individuals who are called to a higher virtue of loving their neighbor.
  • The Temporal or Material realm includes government, commerce, and the laws of the world which are used primarily to curb evil rather than to point an individual to God.

Regula fidei

Rule of faith.

Subjective – everyone has a rule of faith that they run with

  • But this rule of faith must be in submission to Scripture
  • As to confessions the rule of faith has a flexible guide
    • This flexible guide shifts to the needs of the people
      • Confessions don’t always address the concerns of the day
      • Is it Left Behind? Is it speaking in tongues and spiritual gifts?  Is it transgender issues?  It depends.

Operative rule of faith

  • A rule that one would write for his current situation to operate by

Righteousness, human

Being in a right relationship with one’s neighbors and within one’s society.  A person can be righteous in the human sense, but not in the divine.  To be in a right relationship with God, a person must have faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

Spirit of Augsburg

  1. Evangelical – tells the Good News of Jesus Christ
  2. Eschatological – sees itself as part of Christian witness in these end times (the Antichrist is present in the office of the Papacy)
  3. Ecumenical – yes, even though the LCMS thinks this is sometimes a dirty word
  4. Edicatory – imparts knowledge intended to be used for helping others grow
  5. Evangelistic – desires to share the Word of God with others

Symbol (as document)

From the second century on Christians have expressed the biblical faith in summaries that served to identify the church’s public message.  The Greek word symbol – a technical word for creed – identified the function of such summaries of church’s teachings as its identifying statement of belief, purpose, and mission.

Tables of the law

The “First Table of the Law,” then, describes our fear, love, and trust of God, our exclusive worship God, our prayers, and our hearing the Lord’s Word.

The “Second Table of the Law,” beginning with the commandment “Honor your father and your mother” gives shape to our love for our neighbors.

Unaltered Augsburg Confession

The original text of the Augsburg confession written by P. Melanchthon for the Diet of Augsburg on June 25th, 1530 A.D.  Also called the Confessio Augustana Invariata: the original text of the 1531 edito princeps.

Later editions “watered down” chief principles of this confession which permitted a “spiritualized” view of the Lord’s Supper.

Valentianism

The gnostic heresy of Valentianism was a dualistic sect. Founded by an ex-Catholic Bishop by the name of Valentius, he taught that there were three kinds of people, the spiritual, the psychical, and the material. This meant that only those of a spiritual nature (his followers) received the gnosis (knowledge) that allowed them to return to the divine Pleroma (totality of Divine Power). Those of a psychic nature (the ordinary Christians) would attain a lesser form of salvation, and that those of a material nature (the pagans and the Jews) were doomed to perish.

Valentinus (also spelled as Valentinius, c.100 – c.160) was the best known and most successful early Christian gnostic theologian for some time.

Walks of life (estates)

Luther saw all of human life ordered across three spheres of structured relationships: the politia, the oeconomia, and the ecclesia. These indicate government and state, the household and economic human interactions, and the church. Each estate or sphere is ordered hierarchically (thus the alternative designation, “the three hierarchies”). In each estate there exists a set of hierarchically structured relationships that organize human life under God’s care. The top of each hierarchy stands God himself who endows those ruling and governing in the given hierarchy with their given authority. The basic premise of all hierarchies is that the authority that subsists in each is finally divine.

5 Biographical Summaries of Early Church Fathers

 


Polycarp of Smyrna

Polycarp lived through the second half of the first century AD and the first half of the second century.  From a statement he is recorded to have made at his martyrdom, it is assumed that Polycarp was baptized as a child and didn’t have a moment in his life where he did not know the Lord.   He had great influence in the early Christian Church, largely because he was a disciple of the Apostle John.  His apostolic connection helped land him the Bishop office of Smyrna, and it also placed him in a very important role of preserving the orthodox teachings of the Apostles, which he did with tenacity.  It is reported that he called Marcion out to his face in Rome, calling him “the first born of Satan.”  He also pulled believers away from Gnosticism.  His willingness to die as a 2nd generation Church Father was another way in which he carried on like the apostles (all except John that is).  Today his writings only have survived through a letter he wrote to the Philippians, which is an important text for the modern church since it is one of the earliest writings we have from Christendom outside of the Biblical texts.

Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus was born in Smyrna in the first half of the second century AD and he lived to see the close of that century.  Having been a student of Polycarp in his youth, becoming the Bishop of Lyons late in his life, he carried on a chain of successive leadership tracing back to the apostles.  In fact, Irenaeus prescribed such connection to apostolic succession for all bishops, stressing that they all taught what the apostles had received from Christ and passed on to followers such as his teacher, Polycarp.  It is on this authority that he spoke against the Gnostics who claimed to have a knowledge from outside of direct revelation from Jesus.  His refutation of the Gnostics, in particular the flavor of Gnosticism that derived from the followers of Valentinus, has been preserved in his work Against Heresies.  It is from this work that the modern Church had the most information about Gnosticism before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  His writings also prove helpful to demonstrate the early formation of the New Testament Canon, since Irenaeus’s writings provide the first record of acknowledging a four-fold Gospel in Church writing and he references every text of the New Testament, except 3 John, in Against Heresies.  He may, or may not have died as a martyr.

Jerome

Jerome, AKA Eusebius Hieronymus, was born in Stridon just prior to the middle of the fourth century AD, dying around 420 AD.  In is lifetime he practiced monasticism as a desert hermit, was ordained a priest, served as a secretary to Pope Damascus, and helped found a monastery in Bethlehem.  Jerome was a prolific translator, translating numerous sermons and commentaries of Church Father Origen, for instance.  His greatest and most long-lasting impact on the Church was his translation of the Vulgate (Latin) Bible.  His translation work, in particular on revisions of the Septuagint (Greek version of the New Testament) led him to the understanding that the only inspired text of the Bible is that of the original text.  In addition to his translations, he added much to the Church’s collection of exegetical commentaries as well as throwing his hat into to the arguments of doctrinal discussion in his day concerning the value of virginity compared to marriage, the ever-virgin state of Mary, the value of asceticism, defending the use of the work of Origen, and writing against Pelagianism (though Jerome was likely a synergist himself).

The Cappadocian Fathers

Arius was an early fourth century priest who taught that Jesus was not eternal.  He taught that Jesus was a created being.  To formulate a catholic response to the teachings of Arius was the main reason Emperor Constantine I called the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.  This council rejected Arius’ teachings (Arianism) and formulated the Nicene Creed as a proper Trinitarian statement, which adopted the term “of one substance” to refer to describe the oneness in divinity that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all shared.  After the council, not every church bishop kept to Nicene Creed and fell back to Arianism.  Soon after the Nicene Creed, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, and Basil’s brother, Gregory of Nyssa, were born.  All three were from Cappadocia and they were friends and worked together to advance and cement the formed language of the Trinity that God exists as three persons in one essence.  Their preaching and writing was significant in putting an end to Arianism in the fourth century and was crucial in the Council of Constantinople in 381 that re-affirmed the Nicene Creed.  Together these three men are known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (347–407 AD) was born John in Syrian Antioch.  He was appointed as the Bishop of Constantinople in 398. Chrysostomos means “golden-mouth” and is added to his given name as a result of his powerful sermons.  His homilies focused on living the crucified life and railed against the excesses and sinful indulgences of his day that were woefully present in the upper-echelon of the secular world and even the Church. Many loved his proclamations, but those on high did not appreciate his pointed applications at them, so he was deposed from this position and then sent into exile where he died.  Around 600 of his homilies survive today.