Glossary of Terms ‘A-B’

Written By Thomas Perez. December 14, 2010 at 6:12PM. Copyright 2010.

A priori
Knowledge, judgments, and principles which are true without verification or testing. It is universally true.

Absolution
In Catholicism, the act of releasing someone from their sin by God, through the means of a priest.

Adiaphora
Teachings and practices that are neither commanded nor forbidden in scripture. An example might be whether or not to use a sound-board in a church, to meet in a tent or a building, to have two or more services or simply one on the day of worship.

Adoptionism
Adoptionism is an error concerning Christ that first appeared in the second century. Those who held it denied the preexistence of Christ and, therefore, His deity. Adoptionists taught that Jesus was tested by God and after passing this test and upon His baptism, He was granted supernatural powers by God and adopted as the Son. As a reward for His great accomplishments and perfect character Jesus was raised from the dead and adopted into the Godhead.

Advent
From the Latin, “coming.” The coming of or the arrival of something very important as in the advent of Christ’s return. Advent is also an Christian time of preparation preceding Christmas.

Agnosticism
The belief that it is not possible to know if there is or is not a God. (Compare Atheism, Deism, and Theism.)

Albigenses
A heresy during the middle ages that developed in the town Albi in Southern France. This error taught that there were two gods: the good god of light usually referred to as Jesus in the New Testament and the god of darkness and evil usually associated with Satan and the “God of the Old Testament.” Anything material was considered evil including the body which was created by Satan. The soul, created by the good god, was imprisoned in the evil flesh and salvation was possible only through holy living and doing good works.

Alexandrian School
A patristic school of thought, especially associated with the city of Alexandria in Egypt, noted for its Christology (which placed emphasis upon the divinity of Christ) and its method of biblical interpretation (which employed allegorical methods of exegesis). A rival approach in both areas was associated with Antioch.

Amyraldism (Latin)
A particular view in relation to the logical order of God’s decrees regarding salvation. It has to do with the order of the decrees and not their timing because God made his choice before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4. The Amyraldism order is as follows:
1. Create.
2. Permit the fall of man.
3. Provide salvation for all men.
4. Elect some men, reject or pass over the rest.
5. Call the elect to salvation.

Amillennialism
The teaching that there is no literal 1000 year reign of Christ as referenced in Revelation 20. It sees the 1000 year period spoken of in Revelation 20 as figurative. Instead, it teaches that we are in the millennium now, and that at the return of Christ (1 Thess. 4:16 – 5:2) there will be the final judgment and the heavens and the earth will then be destroyed and remade (2 Pet. 3:10). The Amillennial view is as old as the Premillennialview. (Also compare to Postmillennialism).

Anabaptists
Any of a group of sects of the early Reformation period of the 16th century that believed in rebaptism of people as adults. Infant baptism was not recognized as valid and the Catholic Mass was rejected. Anabaptist means “one who baptizes again.” They believed in non-violence and opposed state run churches.

Analogy of Being (analogia entis)
The theory, especially associated with Thomas Aquinas, that there exists a correspondence or analogy between the created order and God, as a result of the divine creatorship. The idea gives theoretical justification to the practice of drawing conclusions concerning God from the known objects and relationships of the natural order.

Angel
Angel means messenger. Angels are created (Psalm 148:2,5; Col. 1:16), non-human, spirit beings (Heb. 1:14). They are immortal (Luke 20:36), innumerable (Heb. 12:22), invisible (Num. 22:22-31), sexless (Matt. 22:30), and do the will of God (Psalm 103:20). These angels have a ministry to believers. They guide (Gen. 24:7, 40), protect (Psalm 34:7), and comfort (Acts 27:2, 24). There are good angels (Gen. 28:12; Psalm 91:11) and bad angels (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). The only angels mentioned by name are Gabriel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21 ), Michael (Dan. 10:13,21; 112:1), and Satan (Luke 10:18). Michael is always mentioned in the context of battle (Dan. 10:13) and Gabriel as a messenger (Luke 1:26). Of course, Satan, is the one who opposes God. In some schools of thought, angels were originally created for the purpose of serving and carrying out the will of God. The fallen angels rebelled and became evil angels. According to this thought, Satan; who once was Lucifer, is such an angel (Isaiah 14:12-16; Ezekiel 28:12-15). Others claim that Satan was created for the purpose of glorifying God by potraying the opposite of all that is good, the evil, so that we may understand and have a standard to compare the good against.

Animism
The belief that everything in the universe contains a living soul.  The belief that every object is indwelt by a spirit.

Annihilationism
The teaching that when a person dies, he is annihilated, most often this doctrine is applied to the wicked, thereby negating eternal hell fire. This is contradicted by the Bible in Matt. 25:46 which says “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Also, degrees of punishment will be given on the day of judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). If all, or only the wicked are annihilated, then degrees of punishment would be pointless.

Anthropic Principle
The idea that the universe exhibits elements of design specifically for the purpose of containing intelligent beings; namely, humans.  Much debate surrounds this issue.  Is the universe necessarily arranged by God so as to make life possible or is it simply that the universe is godless and that life came into existence due to the chance state that we now find it in?

Anthropomorphic
Manifesting in human form.  It is from the Greek “anthropos” meaning “man” and “morphe” meaning “form.”  In biblical theology, God is described in anthropomorphic terms; that is, in human terms with human attributes.  For example, God has hands and feet in Exodus 24:9-11 and is loving (1 John 4:8).

Antichrist
A figure who opposes God. The word is used to describe a spirit of rebellion against God,“…the spirit of the Antichrist…” (1 John 4:3). According to Futurists – a specific future person identified as the man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3). He actively opposes Christ (2 Thess. 2:4) and when he arrives, he will be able to perform miracles (2 Thess. 2:9). Some believe he will be an incarnation of Satan and as such will be able to deceive many. His number is 666 (Rev. 13:18). A further possible description of him might be found in Zech. 11:15-17).According to Historicists – Antichrist is identified with the Papacy in Rome (the Pope). According to Full Preterists – Antichrist has come and gone during the reign of Nero. Partial Preterists see Antichrist as one who has come and gone – its spirit continues to this day, opposing God and His saints.

Antinomianism
The word comes from the Greek anti, against, and nomos, law. It is the unbiblical practice of living without regard to the righteousness of God, using God’s grace as a license to sin, and trusting grace to cleanse of sin. In other words, since grace is infinite and we are saved by grace, then we can sin all we want and still be saved. It is wrong because even though as Christians we are not under the Law (Rom. 6:14), we still fulfill the Law in the Law of love (Rom. 13:8,10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2). We are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27) and, thereby, avoid the offense of sin which cost God His only begotten Son. Paul speaks against the concept of antinomianism in Rom. 6:1-2: “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”. We are not to use the grace of God as a means of sin. Instead, we are to be controlled by the love of God and in that way bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25).

The word apocrypha means hidden. It is used in a general sense to describe a list of books written by Jews between 300 and 100 B.C. More specifically, it is used of the seven additional books accepted by the Catholic church as being inspired.

The entire list of books of the apocrypha are:
1 Esdras,
2 Esdras,
Tobit,
Judith,
the Rest of Esther,
the Wisdom of Solomon,
Sirach, (also titled Ecclesiasticus),
Baruch,
The Letter of Jeremiah,
Song of the Three Young Men,
Susanna,
Bel and the Dragon,
The Additions to Daniel,
The Prayer of Manasseh,
and 1 and 2 Maccabees.

The books accepted as inspired and included in the Catholic Bible are:

Tobit,
Judith,
1 and 2 Maccabees
Wisdom of Solomon Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus),
and Baruch

The Jews never recognized these books as being canonical (inspired). There is no record that Jesus or the apostles ever quoted from the apocryphal books. The Septuagint (LXX) includes the books, not as scripture, but as part of the translation of the Hebrew manuscripts as a whole.

Apollinarianism
Apollinarianism was the heresy taught by Apollinaris the Younger, bishop of Laodicea in Syria about 361.  He taught that the Logos of God, which became the divine nature of Christ, took the place of the rational human soul of Jesus and that the body of Christ was a glorified form of human nature.  In other words, though Jesus was a man, He did not have a human mind but that the mind of Christ was solely divine.

Apologetics
The word “apologetics” is derived from the Greek word “apologia,” which means to make a defense. It has come to mean defense of the faith. Apologetics covers many areas: who Jesus is, the reliability of the Bible, refuting cults, biblical evidences in the history and archeology, answering objections, etc. In short, it deals with giving reasons for Christianity being the true religion. We are called by God to give an apologia, a defense: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Apostasy
The falling away from the faith. It is a revolt against the truth of God’s word by a believer. It can also describe a group or church organization that has “fallen away” from the truths of Christianity as revealed in the Bible.

Apostle
Someone sent with a special message or commission. Jesus is called the apostle and high Priest of our confession in Hebrews 3:1.

The twelve apostles of Jesus were Simon Peter, Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. Paul became an apostle after Jesus’ resurrection (2 Cor. 1:1), along with Barnabas (Acts 14:14), and others.

Apostles established churches (Rom. 15:17-20), exposed error (Gal. 1:6-9), and defended the truth of the gospel (Phil. 1:7,17). Some were empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform Miracles (Matt. 10:1,8) and they were to preach the gospel (Matt. 28:19,20).

Argumentum ad hominem
An irrelevant attack upon a person to deflect the argument from the facts and reasons.

Argumentum ad judicium
An argument where appeal is made to common sense and the judgment of people as validating a point.

Argumentum ad populum
An argument where appeal is made to emotions:  loyalties, patriotism, prejudices, etc.

Argumentum ad verecundiam
An argument using respect for great men, customs, institutions, and authority in an attempt to strengthen one’s argument and provide an illusion of proof.

Arianism
An ancient theological error that appeared around the year 320. It taught that God could not appear on the earth, that Jesus was not eternal and could not be God. Additionally, it taught that there was only one person in the Godhead: the Father. Jesus, then, was a creation. It was condemned by the Council of Nicea in 325. The Jehovah’s Witnesscult is an equivalent, though not exactly, of this ancient error.

Arminianism
There are five main tenets of Arminianism: 1) God elects or reproves on the basis of foreseen faith or unbelief, 2) Christ died for all men and for every man, although only believers are saved, 3) Man is so depraved that divine grace is necessary unto faith or any good deed, 4) This grace may be resisted, 5) Whether all who are truly regenerate will certainly persevere in the faith is a point which needs further investigation.1(Compare with Calvinism)

Assumption
In Catholicism, the taking of the body and soul of Mary, by God, into glory.  Catholic doctrine, apparently, does not state whether or not Mary died, but tradition holds that she died and was immediately afterward assumed into heaven both body and soul.

Assurance
Theologically, assurance is the state of being confident in a condition or outcome. Usually it is applied to one’s assurance of salvation. Texts often used to support assurance of salvation are John 10:28 “and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,” and 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”  This assurance is given by the Holy Spirit.

Atheism
This word comes from two Greek words, a the negator, and theos, God. Atheism teaches that there is no God of any kind, anywhere, anytime.  Some atheists claim to “Excercise no belief in a god” the same way they would exercise no belief in pink unicorns.  Logically, an atheist would be an evolutionist. The Bible teaches that all men know there is a God (Rom. 2:14-15). Therefore, they will be without excuse (Rom. 1:20 ) on the day of judgment. Instead, atheists willingly suppress the knowledge of God by their unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-19). Search Bible Verse

Atonement
To atone means to make amends, to repair a wrong done. Biblically, it means to remove sin. The Old Testament atonements offered by the high priest were temporary and a foreshadow of the real and final atonement made by Jesus. Jesus atoned for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).  This atonement is received by faith (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9). Man is a sinner (Rom. 5:8) and cannot atone for himself. Therefore, it was the love of the Father that sent Jesus (1 John 4:10) to die in our place (1 Pet. 3:18) for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24). Because of the atonement, our fellowship with God is restored (Rom. 5:10). (See Reconciliation.)

Autograph
An original writing of a biblical document. The original manuscript written. The autographs would be the actual, original written document from which copies are made.

Autonomy
Freedom from all external constraints.  Independence consisting of self-determination.

Babel, Tower of
The tower built the builders at Babel constructed which became a symbol of their defiance against God (Gen. 11:1-6).  It was probably modeled after a ziggurat which is a mound of sun-dried bricks and was probably constructed before 4,000 BC.

Baptism
An immersion or sprinkling of water that signifies one’s identification with a belief or cause. In Christianity it is the believer’s identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:4-54). It is done in the name and authority (Acts 4:7) of Christ with the baptismal formula of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). It does not save us (1 Pet. 3:21). However, it is our obligation, as believers, to receive it.
Some maintain that baptism is necessary for salvation

Baptismal Regeneration
The belief that baptism is essential to salvation, that it is the means where forgiveness of sins is made real to the believer. This is incorrect. Paul said that he came to preach the gospel, not to baptize (1 Cor. 1:14-17). If baptism were essential to salvation, then Paul would have included it in his standard practice and preaching of the salvation message of Jesus, but he did not. (See also Col. 2:10-11.)

Black Theology
A movement in North American theology which became especially significant in the late 1960s, which emphasized the importance and distinctiveness of the religious experience of black people.

Barthian
An adjective used to describe the theological outlook of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968), noted chiefly for its emphasis upon the priority of revelation and its focus upon Jesus Christ. The terms “neo-orthodoxy” and “dialectical theology” are also used in this connection.

Blasphemy
Speaking evil of God or denying Him some good which we should attribute to Him. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is stating that Jesus did his miracles by the power of the devil (Matt. 12:22-32) and is an unforgivable sin (Mark 3:28-30). Blasphemy arises out of pride (Psalm 73:9,11), hatred (Psalm 74:18), injustice (Isaiah 52:5), etc. Christ was mistakenly accused of blasphemy (John 10:30-33).

Born Again
The new birth enjoyed by a Christian upon his conversion and regeneration. It is a work of the Holy Spirit within a believer.  It is related to faith in Christ and Him crucified (John 3:3-5).  It means that the person is no longer dead in sins (Eph. 2:1), no longer spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), and is now a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).

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