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Glossary of Theological Terms


A  B  C D E  F G  H I J  K  L M  N  O P  Q  R  S T U  V W  X  Y  Z

ACTIVE OBEDIENCE - Christ voluntarily enters into the covenant of
redemption. His supreme desire is to be in harmony with the Father.

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.

AD HOMINEM ABUSIVE - An informal fallacy where the opponent attacks
the man rather than the argument.

AD BACULUM - An informal fallacy in logical argumentation that is no more
than an argument by intimidation. The strength of the argument is on the basis
of "might makes right."

AD MISERICORDIAM - An informal fallacy where the opponent appeals to pity.

AD VERECUNUDIAM - An informal fallacy where the opponent appeals to the

ADOPTIONISM * - A heretical doctrine that states that Jesus was an ordinary man
of extraordinary virtue who was "adopted" by God the Father into divine Sonship at
his baptism.

AGENTS OF REVELATION - God uses humans as agents of revelation. Prophets
in the Old Testament and Apostles in the New Testament.

AGNOSTICISM - The belief that there is insufficient evidence either for or against
the existence of God, therefore the only sound decision is not to decide.

ALBIGENSES * - (Also called Cathars, or Cathari) A medieval cult centered in Albi in
southern France which held to dualistic and gnostic beliefs in a god of light (associated
with the spiritual) and a god of darkness (associated with the material). This ascetic sect
was wiped out by a civil war in the 13th century.

AMILLENNIALISM - Adherents follow the Augustinian interpretation that the
millennial reign of Christ is the age of the church, from the resurrection to His second
coming. This was the dominant view of orthodox Christianity from the time of Origen
through much of the Middle Ages.

AMYRALDISM - Named after it's foremost proponent, French Reformed theologian
Moise Amyraut (1596-1664), Amyraldism is basically a Calvinistic theology that denies
limited or definite atonement (the "L" in the Tulip acrostic) replacing it with a Universal
atonement of limited application.

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 FAITH - This is the foundation for biblical interpretation
according to the Reformers. It states that difficult passages of Scripture
must be interpreted in light of other clear passages. "Scripture interprets Scripture."

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.

ANIMISM * - The belief that an individual spirit resides in anything, either
animate or inanimate. The historical critical school believed everything
moved from the simple to the complex.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM - The tendency to ascribe human features (such as
hands or arms) or other human characteristics to God.

ANTINOMIANISM * - (from Latin anti + Greek nomos "law") The belief that under
the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith
alone is necessary to salvation

ANTINOMY - The mutual contradiction of two principles resting on premises
of equal validity. This is against the law of non-contradiction.

APOLOGETICS - That branch of Christian theology which has as its aim the
reasoned advocacy of the Christian faith.  It includes both positive
arguments for the truth of Christianity and rebuttals of criticisms leveled at it.

A POSTERIORI - (from the latter) a term applied to those proofs of the
existence of God that begin with the finite order and ascend toward the
first cause.

APOSTLE'S CREED - An ancient statement of belief in the early Church
summarizing the teachings of the scriptures and the twelve apostles.

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.

A PRIORI KNOWLEDGE - This is innate knowledge. It is built in before
sense experience.

ARIANISM * - A major early Christological heresy, which treated Jesus Christ
as the supreme of God's creatures, and is thus appropriately referred to as
god, but not the God, and denied his divine status. The Arian controversy
was of major importance in the development of Christology during the fourth

ARMINIANISM - Named after Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609). Arminians
remonstrated against (denied) the main points of Calvinist soteriology, leading them to set
forth 5 points or articles: 1. Conditional Election, 2. Universal Atonement, 3. An inherent ability
to respond to grace 4. The resistability of grace 5. The ability of the saints to fail to perservere.
These articles were condemned at the Synod of Dordt. The answers the Synod gave were
to become the basis for the so-called "5 points of Calvinism" (TULIP). Arminianism is often
associated with Semi-Pelagianism because of the similarities between the two systems.

ARTICULUS STANTIS ET CADENTIS ECLESIAE - (the article by which the church
stands or falls) The article is justification by faith alone.

ASCETICISM - The practice of self discipline, especially the renunciation of
certain bodily pleasures. Asceticism usually involves an unscriptural
elevation of the spiritual over the physical.

ASEITY - Refers to God's self existence. God has the power of being. He is
not dependent, contingent, or derived.

ASSENSUS - This is the second part of the reformers concept of faith.
A simple assent to a truth by the intellect or intellectual assent to data.

ATOMISTIC EXEGESIS - This refers to the mistreatment of Scripture where
one is concerned with each particular word without considering the relationship
to the whole of Scripture.

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."

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD - Refers to the character of God or quality of God which
constitutes who he is. They are inseparable from his being.

AUGUSTINIANISM - The theology of Augustine of Hippo (354-430) teaches
that man is morally unable to embrace the gospel because of the Fall and that
the Fall is absolute and total. The Holy Spirit monergistically changes the
heart of fallen man and enables man to understand and believe the gospel.
According to Augustinianism regeneration precedes faith in the ordo salutis
(order of salvation) and actually produces faith.

AUTONOMY - Freedom and independent of all external constraint. The quest
for autonomy is the initial sin of the human race.

BAPTISM - A sacrament of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Church. It
represents cleansing from sin,  and our entrance into the visible church. A
symbol of death and resurrection of Christ, regeneration, and faith.

BEZA, THEODORE (1519-1605) - Calvin's Succesor as the leader of the Reformed
community at Geneva and one of the leading theologians of the Reformation.

CALVIN (JOHN) - The theologian of the 16th century Reformation who wrote
the first systematic theology from a Reformed perspective. He understood
and articulated the majesty and sovereignty of God better than any other
theologian during his time.

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.

CALVIN'S DEFINITION OF FREE WILL - He believed man has the ability to
choose that which he wants.

CANON - The Greek word means "rule". It is a term used to describe the
books of Scripture. A collection of individual inspired books contained in
the Bible.

CATECHISM - A popular manual of Christian doctrine, usually in the form of
question and answer, intended for religious instruction.

CATHOLIC - Literally means "universal."  Refers to the whole Christian
church- the universal, orthodox, institutional body of believers. Now
generally refers to the Roman Catholic church.

CAUSALITY - The relationship between cause and its effect. It is a
practical application of the law of non-contradiction.

CHALCEDON - A council held in 451 to define orthodox Christology more
than any other. Described Christ as truly man and truly God without confusion,
mixture, or separation. (See Chalcedonian Formulation)

CHALCEDONIAN FORMULATION - The Chalcedonian Formulation
affirmed the unity of the two natures of Christ- vere home, truly man and
vere deus, truly God. The unity of the two natures of Christ was defined as-

    Without mixture - directed at the Monophysite heresy
    Without confusion - directed at the Monophysite heresy
    Without division - directed at the Nestorian heresy
    Without separation - directed at the Nestorian heresy

The Chalcedonian Formulation states that each nature, the human and divine,
retains its own attributes.

CHARISMA, CHARISMATIC - A set of terms especially associated with the gifts
of the Holy Spirit. In medieval theology, the term "charisma" is used to
designate a spiritual gift, conferred upon individuals by the grace of God.
Since the early twentieth century, the term "charismatic" has come to refer
to styles of theology and worship which place particular emphasis upon the
immediate presence and experience of the Holy Spirit.

CHILIASM - A belief that Christ's return will begin a thousand year reign
on earth.

CHRISTIAN - A follower of Jesus Christ.  The name first given to  the
disciples of Jesus in the city of Antioch (Acts 11-26).

CHRISTOS (LATIN, CHRISTUS) - Literally refers to the anointed one or the
Messiah, who is anointed to the office of Mediator. Specifically a title.

CHRISTOLOGY - The section of Christian theology dealing with the identity
of Jesus Christ, his person, particularly the question of the relation of
his human and divine natures, and his work.

CHURCH - All believers who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
and who are united in one body with Christ as the head are called the
church of Christ.  The word also refers to the local congregation of believers,
or a denomination.

CLASSICAL APOLOGETICS - A view that a knowledge of God and His divine
attributes can be known from creation by using the classical arguments used
throughout church history.

COMMUNICABLE ATTRIBUTE - Attributes of God for which corresponding
characteristics can be found in human nature. (i.e. God loves and man loves)

CONCURRENCE - It literally means to run together with. Used in connection
with the doctrine of God's providence, it is used when describing the
primary and secondary causes and that they operate concurrently. God's
purpose is brought to pass by his sovereignty even though he uses human
means (i.e. The brothers of Joseph (Gen. 37-50) did evil, but God meant it
for good).

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 "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 Christ's
body and blood are present "with, in and under" the bread and wine, instead of
replacing them as in the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

CONTRA NATURAM - (works against the laws of nature) - A term used to show
that miracles attest the authority of Scripture.

CONTRA PECCATUM  (AGAINST SIN) - The argument that only God can act against
sin. Describes the limitation on Satan.

CONTRADICTION - The belief that two ideas at the same time in the same
relationship cannot be both be true. Something cannot be A and  not A at
the same time and in the same relationship.

CONSUBSTANTIAL - Same in substance

COOPERARE AND ASSENTIRE - Latin words meaning "cooperate and assent."
Semi-peligians use these terms to explain that man must cooperate with and
assent to prevenient grace to bring about regeneration. This view teaches
that faith precedes regeneration.

COSMOLOGY - A study of the order and harmony of the world. God is ordering
the principles of the universe.

COUNCIL OF TRENT - a Roman Catholic council of the counter reformation in
1550. They repudiated justification by faith and accepted the two source
theory of revelation.

COVENANT OF WORKS - This was the first covenant God initiated for man to
keep. This covenant involved God's promised blessing and rules for man to
obey to secure God's promised blessing.

without the use of previously existing materials, but it comes from God.
God has the power of being and thus the power to create.

CREED - From the Latin word credo meaning "I believe," 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."


1) Written or endorsed by an Apostle
2) Accepted by the church
3) judging conformity of the unquestionable against the questionable

CREDULITY (EASY BELIEVISM) -  In theology this refers to accepting
information without much examination.

DECRETIVE WILL OF GOD - Francis Turretin defines the decretive will of God
as that "which God wills to do or permit himself." It refers to the eternal
decrees of God.

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.

DENOMINATION - An organization within the Body of Christ of uniform belief
and practice. (A group of Christians who all believe the same way, such as
Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc.)

DETERMINISM * - Human choices are determined by outside forces or causes
which are blind impersonal forces. We have no choice. This was John L.
Girardeau's false charge against Jonathan Edwards and his work on the
Freedom of the Will.

DIALECTIC - This comes from the word dialogue which means back and forth.
Hegel developed Dialedctical Idealism and the dialectic is a tension,
struggle, and conflict.

DIALECTICAL IDEALISM - Hegel's philosophy in a three stage operation.
1) Thesis; 2) Antithesis; 3) Synthesis. This a process to understand how
history moved and progressed.

DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM - Marx's philosophy which stated that the conflict
in history is not over ideas but over material goods.

DISPENSATION - This refers to the ordering of God's economy. It is the
sequence of events in the history of redemption.

DISPENSATIONALISM - A Protestant movement which began in the 19th century,
especially associated with North America, placing emphasis upon the various
divine "dispensations" with humanity, and stressing the importance of

DOCETISM *- An early Christological heresy, which treated Jesus Christ as a
purely divine being who only had the "appearance" of being human.

theory that a dynamic revelation is applied to Scripture. This essentially
denies plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. Dynamic revelation was
popularized by the neo-orthodox scholars who taught that the Bible becomes
the Word of God through some kind of encounter with Scripture.

DONATISM - A movement, centering upon Roman North Africa in the fourth
century, which developed a rigorist view of the church and sacraments.
Donatists objected to the reinstatement of Christians who had surrendered
the Scriptures by "traditio" (traitors) under persecution.  In opposition
to the Donatists, Augustine developed the concept of the invisible church.
They were named after Donatus, their bishop in Carthage from 313 to 355.

DOUBLE PREDESTINATION -  Arminians, anti-Calvinists, and hypo-Calvinists
misconstrue this term as teaching that God actively chooses some to be
saved and actively chooses some to be lost and consequently works faith in
those who will be saved and unbelief in those who will be lost. The
Biblical doctrine of Double-Predestination actually teaches that all men
would be lost unless God chose to save some, thus He mercifully saves some
and passes over others who receive perfect justice.

DOUBLE TRANSFER - Sin is transferred to Jesus on the Cross and merit of
Christ's righteousness is transferred to us.

DUALISM * - Two substances or powers, neither of which is reducible to the

DYNAMIC EQUIVALENCY - Bible translation which conveys thought for thought
instead of word for word. The New International Version (NIV) uses this
translation concept.

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.

ECCLESI- (Latin ecclesia, from Greek ekklEsia)- assembly of citizens,
church, from ekkalein to call forth, summon, from ex- + kalein to call

ECCLESIOLOGY- The section of Christian theology dealing with the theory of
the church.

EFFICACY - That it actually works.

EKKLESIA - a Greek term referring to the "called assembly." Orthodox
Christianity uses it to describe the church.

EFFECTUAL CALLING - A term used to describe that part of the ordo salutis
(order of salvation) in which the people of God are graciously summoned into
the fellowship of Christ and united to Him by faith. In effectual calling God calls
them whom he has predestinated to eternal life by his Word and Spirit, out of
their state of sin and death. They are regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit
and their wills are renewed and made willing and able to answer the call to come
to Christ, which they will most certainly do. The basis of effectual calling is God's
grace and not any perceived quality in the individual called.

EMPIRICISM - A philosophical view that teaches the source of all knowledge
is sense experience. It is based on the common perception that our senses
provide us with knowledge. Experience therefore is the sole source of
knowledge. A reaction to Rationalism.

ENLIGHTENMENT - The philosophy of European rationalists during the 18th
century. It rejected supernatural revelation and man's sinfulness. Reason
was its god.

EPISTEMOLOGY - The science of knowledge. It answers the question- How do we
know what we know?

EQUAL ULTIMACY * - A view of God's decrees where God is creating good, but
is also actively creating evil.

ESCHATOLOGY - The section of Christian theology dealing with the "last
things," especially the doctrines of resurrection, the second coming, hell, and eternal life.

ESSE - (the act of existing, essence) This means something is essential to
the faith. (ie. justification by faith.)

ESSENCE - The being or power of a thing which comes from the Greek word
ousia (being). In the ancient world essence was pure being. God is
therefore pure being.

EUCHARIST -  A term used to refer to the sacrament variously known as "the Lord's
supper," and "holy communion." From the Greek Eucharizesthai "to show thanks."

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

EVIDENTIALIST - one who attempts to present valid evidence that man is morally
obligated to God. Also called a probalist.

EVIL - The negation of good. It is wicked, real, and experienced, and that
which is morally bad or harmful.

EX NIHILO - (out of nothing) - The divine creation of the world out of

sacraments are administered, they are effective to act positively upon
the believer or unbeliever. The Roman Catholic position on the

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.

EXISTENCE - This comes from a Latin term meaning to stand out of.
The ancient Greeks would say this is becoming. It refers to the realm
of creaturely being, not in the realm of isness.

EXISTENTIALISM * - The source of knowledge are sensations as they
"exist" in our consciousness. It denies the metaphysical.

EXISTERE - (to stand out of) Could be referred to as a state of becoming.
The realm of creaturely being, but also is used to refer to the being of God.

EXOUSIA - Greek word meaning authority or right. It comes from the Greek
preposition ex which means out of and ousia which means being or essence.

EXPIATION - This a work of Christ directed to man for removal of guilt.
Christ removes the penalty of sin from us.

that "everyone of us is, even from his mother's womb, expert in inventing
idols" (Calvin's Commentary on the Book of Acts, Vol. 19, page 413).

FIDEISM - This means to believe something by faith without any rational
evidence. The ultimate ground for accepting the claims of the Bible is the
testimony of the Holy Spirit received by faith.

FIDES VIVA - (a living faith) This is associated with the Reformers view of
justification by faith alone.

FIDUCIA - This means trust. It fits in the reformers view of faith to
include notitia (knowledge)and assensus (to affirm or to agree).

FINITUM NON CAPAX INFINITUM - (the finite is incapable of the infinite).
Man (finite) cannot totally comprehend God who is infinite.

FUNDAMENTALISM - A form of American Protestant Christianity which lays
especial emphasis upon the final authority of an inerrant Bible.

GENERAL REVELATION - God's Revelation of Himself and His divine
attributes in His creation. This knowledge is sufficient for it's purpose
(i.e. to convict man of the certainty of God's existence) but is not sufficient
to save, nor is it intended to be salvific.

GNOSTICISM *-  A movement placing especial emphasis upon a contrast
between the material and spiritual realms, which became of major importance
during the second century. Its most characteristic doctrines include redemption
apart from the material world, a dualist worldview which held that different gods
were responsible for creation and redemption, and an emphasis upon the
importance of "knowledge" (gnosis) in salvation.

GOSPEL - Literally, "Good News".  The message of Jesus, his coming, his
Kingdom, and salvation through his sacrifice on the cross for us.

GRACE - Blessings, favor, and life sustaining providence that God gives
freely, as an undeserved gift, for us.  Salvation is by grace.

GRAMMATICO-HISTORICAL EXEGESIS - The hermeneutical (method of
interpretation) method used to determine the intended meaning of words in
Scripture. The question must be asked- what did the writer intend to say?
Words in Scripture are to taken literally unless they are obviously figurative.
The history (context) of Scripture must be considered in biblical interpretation.
The goal is an objective understanding of the Word of God.

HERESY - False teaching.

HERMENEUTICS - The science of interpretation. It deals with rules of
exegesis, particularly of Scripture, and its purpose is to understand the
intended meaning of a communication.

HOLY - Pure, undefiled, separated, set apart from what is common, as God
himself is.  People are made holy by faith in Jesus Christ.

HOLY COMMUNION - Another name for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

HOMO MENSURA - A term coined by the Greek Philosopher Protagoras which
means man is the measure of all things. It is the battle cry of the humanist.

HOMOOUSION - A Greek term, literally meaning "of the same substance,"
which came to be used extensively during the fourth century to designate the
mainstream Christological belief that Jesus Christ was "of the same
substance as God." The term was polemical, being directed against the Arian
view that Christ was "of similar substance" (homoiousion) to God.

HUMANISM - A complex movement, linked with the European Renaissance.
At the heart of the movement lay not (as the modern sense of the word might
suggest) a set of secular or secularizing ideas but a new interest in the
cultural achievements of antiquity. These were seen as a major resource for
the renewal of European culture and Christianity during the period of the

HYMN - A song used in worship.

HYPOSTASES - This is the Greek word for subsistence. Hypostatic union
means the substantial union. There are three persons but only one essence.

HYPOSTATIC UNION - The doctrine of the union of divine and human natures
in Jesus Christ, without confusion of their respective substances.

ICONOCLASM - Literally, "image breaking," the practice of destroying
images in an effort to eradicate idolatry.  In 754 the Council of Constantinople
gave legal sanction to iconoclasm.  The Reformation practiced a more
positive form of iconoclasm by emphasizing the Scriptures and the
priesthood of believers.  The term is also used figuratively of opposition
to commonly held views.

ILLUMINATION - The process by which God's Holy Spirit enables us to
understand His word and apply it to our lives.

IMAGO DEI (IMAGE OF GOD) - The uniqueness of human beings as
created by God, not physically like God, but having personalities able
to respond to God and to his love.  God's image in human beings is
marred by sin.

IMMEDIATE GENERAL REVELATION - Revelation comes directly from
God to us. Everybody has a sense of the divine. Certain knowledge of God
which man can know by innate sense which puts in man. God's self disclosure
without any medium. Found in Romans 2-15ff. This knowledge is never
sufficient to save.

INCARNATION - A term used to refer to the assumption of a human
nature by God, in the person of Jesus Christ.

INCOMMUNICABLE ATTRIBUTE - Something God has that He does not give to His
creatures. There is no corresponding characteristic found in human nature,
such as immutability, omniscience, or omnipotence.

INCOMPREHENSIBILITY OF GOD - The first doctrine of Reformed Theology. We
cannot understand God totally, because we are finite and He is infinite. We
are not only limited, but God has limited his Special Revelation.

INDULGENCES * - In Roman Catholicism, remission of the temporal (especially
purgatorial) consequences of previously forgiven sins.

INFRALAPSARIANISM - Comes from doctrine of predestination. God
created Adam righteous, but he had the ability to sin. The infralapsarian
believes that God's decree of election came logically after the decree of
the fall. Thus God considered men as a "perishing mass" when he
mercifully elected some to salvation.

INSPIRATION - God in His full power used men and their full power for the
writing of Scripture and so superintended the work by His power and protection
that the final results in the original manuscripts are without any error.

INTERNAL TESTIMONY OF HOLY SPIRIT - Calvin used this term to describe the
testimony of God's Spirit through His Word which convicts the world of sin,
righteousness, and judgments.

INERRANT - A term meaning "without error." Usually used to indicate that
the Bible was without error in the original manuscripts.

INFALLIBILITY - A term meaning "incapable of error." Usually used to
indicate that the Scriptures cannot err.

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH, DOCTRINE OF - The section of Christian theology
dealing with how the individual sinner is able to enter into fellowship
with God. The doctrine was to prove to be of major significance at the time
of the Reformation.

JUSTITIA ALIENUM - (an alien righteousness) The Father declares one
righteous on account of the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.

KATAKEIN - A Greek meaning to hold down or suppress. It describes man's
suppression of the knowledge of God in Romans 1. Truth is being suppressed
in a way that takes an effort to accomplish.

KAIROTIC MOMENTS - This refers to a specific event in time which has great
significance for the rest of time. (i.e. the incarnation of Christ)

KRISIS - The Greek word for judgment. This ultimately refers to the last
judgment, the day of the Lord.

KURIOS/KURION - Lord of lords. This N. T. term indicates that Jesus Christ
is in a class by himself. He is not merely a king of human lords. (Jesus O
Kurios - This was the confession used by the early church. This concept of
Savior/Lord is to be divided.)

KUYPER, ABRAHAM - Kuyper (1837-1920) was a Dutch Reformed theologian,
Prime Minister (1900-1905), and founder of the Free University and the independent
Reformed Church. Kuyper's theology was influential in the development of both
the modern concept of the Reformed worldview and Presuppositional Apologetics.

LAW OF NON-CONTRADICTION - A law of logic that states that contrary
properties cannot belong to the same thing, at the same time, and in the
same sense.

LAWS OF IMMEDIATE INFERENCE - Describe the relationship between
words like all, each, every, etc.

LIBERAL PROTESTANTISM * -  A movement, especially associated with
nineteenth-century Germany, which stressed the continuity between religion and

LIMITED ATONEMENT -  An approach to the doctrine of the atonement,
especially associated with reformed writers, which holds that Christ's
death is only effective for those who have been elected to salvation. Also
called Definite Atonement, the doctrine stresses that Christ died to definitely
save the elect rather than creating a "possibility of salvation" for all men without
actually saving anyone.

LITURGY - The written text of public services, especially of the eucharist.

LOGICAL PRIORITY - Regeneration must come before faith even when at the
same time. A necessary condition.

LOGOS - Greek term indicating discourse or reason. It is used to describe
Jesus as the second person of the Trinity as the revealer and revelation of
the Father.

LORD'S SUPPER - One of two sacraments in the Protestant branches of
Christianity (Baptism being the other).  The Lord's Supper (also known as
the Eucharist, or Holy Communion) uses bread and wine as commanded
by Jesus to remember Jesus' sacrifice and suffering in taking the punishment
for our sin.  In participating in the Lord's Supper we not only have communion
with Jesus, but with each other as well.

LUTHERANISM - The religious ideas associated with Martin Luther,
particularly as expressed in the Lesser Catechism (1529) and the
Augsburg Confession (1530). A series of internal disagreements within
Lutheranism after Luther's death (1546) between hardliners (the so-called
"Gnesio-Lutherans" or "Flacianists") and moderates ("Philippists"), led to
their resolution by the Formula of Concord (1577), which is usually
regarded as the authoritative statement of Lutheran theology.

LXX - The Standard abbreviation for the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.

MAGISTERIAL REFORMATION - A term used to refer to the Lutheran
and Reformed wings of the Reformation, as opposed to the radical wing (Anabaptism).

MANICHAEISM - A form of Gnosticism established by the Babylonian Heretic Mani (216-276)
which survived in various forms until the 16th century. Manichaeism posits a dualistic battle
between the powers of Light and Darkness, with a typical gnostic emphasis on the corruption
of that which is material and the goodness of the spiritual. Augustine was initially attracted to this
cult before his conversion to Christianity.

MILLENARIANSISM - See millennialism.

MILLENNIALISM - Belief in a millennium (a thousand-year  period of Gods
blessing).  The belief comes from Rev. 20-4-6 and interpretations differ as
to how and when a millennium will take place.  See also Amillennialism,
Postmillennialism, and Premillennialism.

MEDIATE GENERAL REVELATION - The revelation of God which comes
through some medium, such as the created order.

MODALISM * - A heretical doctrine of the Trinity. The three parts of the
trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) are modes of God's activity rather than
three distinct persons. A typical modalist approach is to regard God as
active as Father in creation, as Son in redemption, and as Spirit in

MODALISTIC MONARCHIANISM * - Stresses the unity of God. Christ was the
manifestation of God in he Old Testament and the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.

MODERNITY - A world and life view that links the character and system of
the world to the forces of modernization that produce it.

MONOPHYSITISM * - The doctrine that Jesus had only one nature rather than
two. It usually takes the form that the humanity of Jesus was absorbed or
fused into his deity forming one entity (physis).

MONOTHELITISM * - The doctrine that the human and divine wills in Christ
were fused into one will (thelesis)--a proposition obvious to Monophysites and
attractive to some Chalcedonians of the school of Leontius of Byzantium.

MUNUS TRIPLEX - A Christological term referring to the threefold work of
Christ as prophet, priest, and king. This concept was most clearly defined
by John Calvin.

MURATORIAN COUNCIL - A church council in 398 A.D. that determined what
books belonged in the canon.

MYSTERY - (Gk. musterion) That which God has chosen not to reveal. Luther
said it was God's inscrutable will.

MYSTICISM (OFTEN *) - A form of religious practice which seeks a direct
knowledge of God rather than a discursive or intellectual knowledge of him.
Mystics sought after an ecstatic experience or union with God which transcends
the usual understanding of the relationship between the believer and God.
Some mystics believe that this union is perpetual, others that it
is intermittent.

NATURAL THEOLOGY - The proposition that a knowledge of God can be
derived from the natural world. Natural theology is insufficient for salvation. The
knowledge of God and His divine attributes which can be known from creation.

NESTORIANISM * - Nestorius separated the divine and human natures
so that two persons existed in a dual personality. It was condemned at
Ephesus in 431 A. D.

NICEA - A church council in 325 A.D. which condemned Arianism and
formulated the doctrine of the Trinity.

NICENE CREED - The creed adopted at the Council of Constantinople in 381
A.D.  It was formed from earlier creeds including a statement created at the
first church council at Nicea in 325 A.D.  It is essentially the Apostles
Creed with a few more additions and clarifications to combat the heresy of
Arianism that taught that Jesus was a created being.

NOETIC EFFECT OF SIN - noetic means of or pertaining to the mind, so the
question must asked - to what extent did the fall of man affect the mind?

NOMINAL - existing or being something in name or form only

NOTITIA - (KNOWLEDGE) The Reformers used this word to explain sola fide
(faith alone). Faith must have content, therefore the mind must be involved. The
knowledge content of true faith need not be comprehensive, but it must be true.

NOUMENAL WORLD - Term coined by Immanuel Kant describing that which cannot
be apprehended through the senses. Kant puts God, self, and essences in the
noumenal world.

OMNIPOTENT - This comes from two Latin terms meaning all and potent thus
all powerful. This term describes that attribute of God who has sovereign
power and authority over all creation.

ONLY BEGOTTEN SON - Term referring to Jesus as God's Son, being in the
position of highest authority and equal with the Father.  "Only begotten"
does not mean that there was a time when the Son was born or created, but
that existed from eternity past as God's Son and was born into the world as
Jesus when he was "made flesh."

ONTOLOGY - That part of philosophy that deals with the nature of being as
being. It is a rational analysis on the necessary and universal aspects of

ORDO SALUTIS - (order of salvation) It refers to the causes and effect
which produce salvation. Election, regeneration, conversion (including
repentance and faith), justification, adoption, sanctification,

ORTHODOXY -  A term used in a number of senses, of which the following are
the most important- Orthodoxy in the sense of "right belief," as opposed to
heresy; orthodoxy in the sense of a movement within Protestantism,
especially in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, which
laid emphasis upon need for doctrinal definition.

PARADOX - (appears to be something else) This refers to something that
seems to be contradicting, but under close scrutiny is not so.

PAROUSIA -  A Greek term, which literally means "coming" or "arrival," used
to refer to the second coming of Christ. The notion of the parousia is an
important aspect of Christian understandings of the "last things."

PELAGIANISM * - Pelagius (383-410) argued that the fall of the human race was
nothing more than a historical event that affected Adam alone. Humans are
born free of sin and they are able to sin or not to sin.

PERCEPTIVE WILL OF GOD - To obey what God commands through His revealed will.

PERSPICUITY OF THE SCRIPTURES - (to see through or be transparent)
This refers to the clarity of Scripture. Does not mean that each part of
Scripture is equally clear, but the meaning is discernible.

PERSUASION - An experience that is distinct from proof. (i.e.- conversion
is subjective.)

PHENOMENAL WORLD - (appears to our sensation) Kant says we can't move
from the visible to the invisible. This is the world we live in and understand
from our senses. The other world, the noumenal world includes God, self,
and essences.

PIETISM - An approach to Christianity, especially associated with German
writers in the seventeenth century, which places an emphasis upon the
personal appropriation of faith, and the need for holiness in Christian
living. The movement is perhaps best known within the English-language
world in the form of Methodism.

PLURALISM * - Theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds
of ultimate reality. A dominant philosophy of the late 20th century.

POLYTHEISM * - Historical critical school believed everything moved from the
simple to the complex. This is the second stage where god has his or her
own area of influence or particular function. Also the belief in multiple deities.

POSTMILLENNIALISM - The belief that a 1000-year reign of Christ
will come after a gradual evangelization of the world and the total triumph
of the church and the Christian message after which the second advent of
Christ will occur.  This progressive outlook of the church was a persistent
view in 19th-century U.S. history.

POSTMODERNISM - A general cultural development, especially in North
America, which resulted from the general collapse in confidence of the
universal rational principles of the Enlightenment.

PREMILLENNIALISM - A chiliastic belief that Christ's second advent will
usher in a period of apocalyptic upheaval that will precede His thousand year
reign upon the earth.  This is the dominant belief of Protestant
Fundamentalism in the 20th-century U.S..

PRESUPPOSITIONAL APOLOGETICS - The basic idea is that biblical revelation
is the presupposition upon which any coherent system of truth must be built.

PRIMARY CAUSE - God is the cause of everything that occurs. God ordained
everything that comes to pass.

PRIVATIO ACTUOSA - The reformers concept of man acting out of his lack of
goodness. Sin is a real privation clearly stated in Westminster Confession.

PROCESS THEOLOGY * - God is the process of change. The central idea is that
reality is a process of becoming.

PROCRUSTEAN BED - An allusion to a character in Greek mythology
named Procrustes who was put in a bed that was too short for him. To
solve the problem, Procrestes' feet were cut off. The concept is to force
something to fit specific criteria when it really doesn't.

PROGRESSIVE REVELATION - Classical orthodox view on revelation
which is basically progress of redemption. The concept of soteriology in
progressively expanding through out God's covenant.

PROOF - It is a fact and distinct from persuasion. (i.e.- regeneration is

PROPITIATION - This is a satisfaction of divine justice. Jesus Christ
satisfied God's divine wrath against His elect.

PROTESTANTISM - A term used in the aftermath of the Diet of Speyer (1529)
to designate those who "protested" against the practices and beliefs of the
Roman Catholic church. Prior to 1529, such individuals and groups had
referred to themselves as "evangelicals."

PROVIDENCE - (to provide) God has ordained events so that good will be
produced. May be applied to the collection of the canon.

PURE ACTUALITY - Refers to the inherent powers a thing possesses
by virtue of its being the kind of things it is. (i.e. God is pure actuality and has
no potentiality)

PURGATORY *- In Catholic eschatology, a place to which persons go
who have sinned, but who die in a state of grace. Through a process of
purging experiences, they will have the remaining "stains" of sin removed
until they are holy enough to enter heaven. Time in purgatory is normally
computed in terms of thousands of years, but may be reduced through
masses and prayers offered for the departed.

QUIETISM * - A theological emphasis often encapsulated by the phrase
"Let go and let God". Quietists teach that the believer must become
totally passive in order that God might raise his soul into union with Himself,
this usually also involves the rejection of the means of grace and
communal worship with other believers.

RADICAL REFORMATION - A term used with increasing frequency to
refer to the Anabaptist movement - in other words, the wing of the Reformation
which went far beyond what Lutheran and Calvinist reformers considered

RATIONALISM - A theory of philosophy in which the criterion of truth is not
sensory but intellectual and deductive. The opposite of empiricism.

RECIPEMUS - This was a key word used at the Muratorian council to explain
that the church received the books of Scripture. The church acknowledge its
subordination to the Bible and the Bible's authority.

REDUCTIONISM - A term used when one aspect of something is taken and
all of reality is reduced to that one aspect.

REFORMATION - The religious movement towards a recovery of
Biblical Christianity and away from the errors of the Roman Catholicism
that began in the 16th century. Two chief causes of the Reformation
1) Formal cause - Sola Scriptura - Luther asked by what authority he
would debate the issue of justification by faith. Only Scripture alone is
infallible and no authority can bind the conscience.
2) Material cause - Sola Fide - The argument of justification by faith with
no mixture of human effort to accomplish justification.

REFORMED -  A term used to refer to a tradition of theology which draws
inspiration from the writings of John Calvin (1510-64) and his successors.
The term is generally used in preference to "Calvinist."

REGENERATION - The creative act of God so that the elect are given new life
in Jesus Christ and enabled to understand the law and the gospel for the
saving of their soul.

REVELATION - refers to the disclosure or unveiling of something. There are
two ways God reveals Himself to us - General and Special Revelation.

SABELLIANISM * - Sabellius (3rd Century) taught a modal Trinity where
God is one being or person, but He takes the form of three different modes.
This makes the Trinity one unified essence.

SACERDOTALISM * - The real instrument of salvation is the church. The power
is vested to the church by Christ and the church gives authority to the
priests who administer the sacraments.

SACRAMENT - An outward action or sign commanded by Jesus to express an
inward grace.  Protestants generally believe that only Baptism and the Lord's
Supper are sacraments, while Roman Catholics believe there are seven. The
sacraments are a means of grace the Lord gives through signs and seals for
the covenant community. The impact of the sacraments affect how Christians
relate to God and to each other.

SANCTIFICATION - The ongoing spiritual process whereby the regenerate
believer is more and more conformed to the image of Christ by the work of the
Holy Spirit indewlling him. While all believers will steadily grow in holiness, only
after death will they be glorified and made perfect.

SCRIPTURE PRINCIPLE - The theory, especially associated with Reformed
theologians, that the practices and beliefs of the church should be grounded
in Scripture. Nothing that could not be demonstrated to be grounded in
Scripture could be regarded as binding upon the believer. The phrase sola
scriptura, "by Scripture alone," summarizes this principle.

SECONDARY CAUSES - God ordains and His will is brought to pass
through the actions of secondary causes which have real causal power
and are responsible for everything they do. i.e.- Acts 2-23

SELF AUTHENTICATING SCRIPTURE - Calvin says the Bible has within
itself overwhelming evidence of its nature, antiquity, and prophecy. The Word
of God would not make a false statement about itself.

SELF DETERMINATION - It says the choice is mine and therefore it has a
moral dimension. Since our choices are our own there is a determinate
factor which is within us.

SENSUS DIVINATATUS - (sense of the divine) A term used by Calvin to
explain that man is capable only of leaving himself without excuse in his
rejection of God's truth.

SEPTUAGINT -  The Greek translation of the Old Testament, dating from
the third century BC. The abbreviation LXX is generally used to refer to this

SIMUL JUSTUS ET PECCATOR - (at once righteous and a sinner) This
Reformation concept explains the relationship between regeneration,
justification, and sanctification and the human sinful condition. (i.e.
Prof. John Murray has said "sin remains, but sin does not reign.")

SIMPLE BEING - This means God is not a compound being or made up of
distinct parts. This refers to God's being, not His personhood.

SOCIAL GOSPEL, THE * - A Form of Theological Liberalism which replaces the
distinctives of the Historic Christian Faith with an emphasis on service and charity.
The Social Gospel emphasizes Jesus as an exemplar to be copied, rather than as
a Savior who atones for Sin..

SOLA FIDE - (by faith alone) The article of the Reformation by which the
gospel stands or falls. Salvation is by faith alone.

SOLA SCRIPTURA - (by Scripture alone) The Reformation cry that Scripture
alone is the authoritative Word of God.

SOTERIOLOGY - The section of Christian theology dealing with the doctrine of
salvation (Greek- soteria).

SOVEREIGNTY - It relates to God's authority and power.

SPECIAL REVELATION - God reveals Himself as defined in the Bible and
demonstrated through the person of Christ.

STOICISM * - A system of philosophy that teaches self salvation through
knowledge. A pantheistic doctrine. The Stoics believed in the subduing
of the passions (emotions) and submission to "fate."

SUBSISTENCE - Calvin used this term to say that something stands under
something else. He said there was an essential unity in the Godhead, but
only one divine Being.

SUMMUM BONUM - (the highest good) A concept of the teleological ethic as
people are confronted with goodness, wisdom, and power of God through his

SUPEREROGATION * - A term used in Romans Catholic doctrine to
explain that one may receive more merit than is needed to enter into heaven.
The extra merit goes into the "treasury of merit."

SUPRALAPSARIANISM - Comes from predestination. Supralapsarians
believe that God's decree to elect logically preceded the decree of the
fall. Thus in electing some to salvation God considered men as "creatable"
rather than fallen.

SYNCRETISM *- The combination of different forms of belief or practice;
particularly, the assimilating of the views of one religion into those of

SYNERGISM - The idea that man works together with God in certain aspects
of salvation, for example, faith or regeneration. Reformed theology holds that
salvation is wholly of God (monergistic) and not the result of a synergistic
cooperation between man and God.

SYNOPTIC GOSPELS - A term used to refer to the first three gospels
(Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The term (derived from the Greek word
synopsis, "summary") refers to the way in which the three gospels can be
seen as providing similar "summaries" of the life, death, and resurrection
of Jesus Christ.

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY - The science of systematizing Biblical truth.
Theology is spiritual, devotional, and existential.

TELEOLOGY - The science of purpose or ends. Relates to order and
apparent design of the universe. Design presupposes a designer with
intelligent purpose.

TELOS - A Greek word meaning end, goal, or purpose. Jesus uses this word
(verb form) in John 19-30- "it is finished" to indicate he accomplished his

TEMPORAL PRIORITY - Order of time in Ordo Salutis. It deals with the

THEODICY -  A term coined by Leibnitz to refer to a theoretical
justification of the goodness of God in the face of the presence of evil in
the world.

THOMISM - The system of thought inspired by Aquinas' synthesis of Christian
doctrine and the philosophy of Aristotle.  It includes an emphasis upon
rational evidences for the existence of God.

TRANSCENDENT - Means that God is higher than the created universe. He is
the only Being who is self existent. He is the only One with the power of
Being within Himself.

TRANSUBSTANTIATION - The Roman Catholic doctrine that the bread and the
wine in the mass actually change into the substance of Christ's body and
blood, while retaining their outward appearance.

TRINITARIANISM - The belief in the doctrine that God is one essence and yet
exists eternally in three persons.

TRINITY (HOLY TRINITY) - The expression used to designate the three
persons of God's one essence.  The doctrine of the Trinity clearly expresses
God's oneness (there is only one God), but emphasizes God's three persons -
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Spirit).  These three persons are
equal and eternal (existing without beginning or end).  These three distinct
persons make up the essence of the one and only God.

TRITHEISM *- Belief in three separate gods

TWO NATURES, DOCTRINE OF -  A term generally used to refer to the
doctrine of the two natures, human and divine, of Jesus Christ. Related terms
include "Chalcedonian definition" and "hypostatic union."

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION - This Calvinistic doctrine teaches that mans
election is not based on any condition such as forseen faith or having free will
to chose.

UNGODLINESS - used in connection with Romans 1 to describe the condition
of man. Man is very very bad and God is very very mad.

UNRIGHTEOUSNESS - a general statement about mans evil condition found
in Romans 1-18.

VERBUM DEI (THE WORD OF GOD) - Calvin referred to this as the
inspired word of Holy Scripture.

something by saying what it is not. A method of defining the divine attributes
by negating the attributes of the finite order. (i.e. - creatures are measurable,
God is immeasurable.)

VOX DEI  (THE VOICE OF GOD) - Calvin referred to this as the Word of God
but not inerrant or infallible. Calvin said, "among the many excellent
gifts with which God has adorned the human race, it is a singular privilege
that he deigns to consecrate to himself the mouths and tongues of men in
order that his voice may resound in them" (Inst. 4.1.5)

VULGATE -  The Latin translation of the Bible, largely deriving from Jerome,
upon which medieval theology was largely based. Strictly speaking,
"Vulgate" designates Jerome's translation of the Old Testament (except the
Psalms, which was taken from the Gallican Psalter); the apocryphal works
(except Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, I and II Maccabees, and Baruch, which were
taken from the Old Latin Version); and all the New Testament. The
recognition of its many inaccuracies was of fundamental importance to the

WARFIELD, B.B. - Warfield (1851-1921) was one of the last great reformed
theologians of the conservative Presbyterians at Princeton.

ZWINGLIANISM - The term is used generally to refer to the thought of Swiss
Reformer Huldrych Zwingli (1484 - 1531), but is often used to refer specifically to
his views on the sacraments, especially on the "real presence" (which for
Zwingli was more of a "real absence").

* Indicates a heresy or system of beliefs that is opposed to or incompatible with
orthodox Christianity

CREDITS: Material for this Glossary was culled from the definitions of  -
Tony Parker, Alistair McGrath, Webster's,  Martin Murphy, & Andrew Webb.


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