New Testing Phase

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Terms and Phrases: The Meaning of Words


I realise that Christianity in general and theology in particular has many technical terms which may seem like absolute Greek to anyone else listening in. Evangelical phrases can be both useful and harmful, especially when spoken to a non-Christian who either gets a fuller understanding about Christianity or as is usually the case, are left totally lost wondering ‘what on earth that crazy guy mean by…’ Evangelical lingo is for another day and another post, what concerns me here is the theological technical terms that I have used and will continue to use on this blog. I plan to update this post as time goes on and if you’re ever still not sure, ask in the ‘comment’ section.

Theology: broken up into the two Greek words from which it comes we have theos which means ‘God’ and logos which means word or study. Thus theology is the study of God. This means who He is, what He has done, what does He expect from us and a whole host of other questions. In the case of Christianity, where the bible which informs us as to what we believe about God, I would flesh out the definition to: The study of the doctrines of God. For the moment this will definition will be my working definition.

Doctrine: defines doctrine in this way: ‘a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.’ This seems to be an excellent definition. However to adapt it to Christianity, I would say that. Doctrine is a set of teachings taken from the bible that orders our understanding.

Scripture: The bible

Systematic Theology: Takes all the theological doctrines and puts them in a neat and proper order. This is to allow anyone to be able to give a good account of Christianity. Think of it like this. Life is a desk and theology is everything on it. Without Systematic Theology everything is in a big pile, but with Systematic theology, everything is neat and in order such that if you need something, it is easily to hand. Systematic Theology also refers to a branch of theology taught by theological schools and seminaries.

Orthodox: There are two meanings to this word, first Orthodox refers to a denomination within the Christian Church. They split from Roman Catholic Church in 1054, predating the Protestant Reformation but several hundred years. I will deal with their distinctives at another time. The second meaning is the one which I will use throughout this blog. Orthodox means ‘Right Doctrine’ The following is taken from Wikipedia. ‘The term “Orthodox” translates from the Greek to mean “correctly believing” or "correctly glorifying" (from the adjective orthos = correct, right and the verb dokein = seem (to be the case)’ In other words, if I say that you are Orthodox, that means you believe the right correct essential doctrines. Orthodoxy refers to the realm of orthodox. For example, if you believe a certain doctrine you are within orthodoxy (you are orthodox), if not, then you are outside orthodoxy (not orthodox).

Orthopraxis: This is means ‘right action’ or ‘right response’. The idea is that orthopraxis flows out of orthodoxy.

Heresy: A doctrine that, if believed, puts you outside of orthodoxy and thus not a Christian. We would call people who believe such doctrine heretics. Most Heretics claim to be Christian but because of the false teaching are in fact not. It is important to note that not all false teachings are heresy but all heresy is false teaching. Discerning between the two will be subject for later posts. For a working definition of heresy I use the following: A false doctrine that if believed, will lead that person to hell.

That’s all for now, many many more to follow

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