Introductory warning: these are rough and ready definitions designed to help readers of this blog; a glossary like this is not designed to be quoted, cited, or referenced in papers and books. So, please do not quote this anywhere else.
Apophatic: a way of speaking about God by using negations: infinite, incomprehensible, unfathomable… These terms reflect an understanding of God as so vast as to be incapable of being captured in words, and an admission that the human mind can never fully comprehend what it is trying to say about God.
Compatibilism: God’s sovereign control and human will/agency are compatible, even if not completely understandable. See synergism.
Complementarian: one who believes that God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary with respect to their gender and role. Thus, Complementarians emphasize a principle of male headship/leadership in the home and in the church. See also “egalitarian.” (HT: Denny Burk)
Critical realism: a theory of how we come to know the truth; it believes there is a real object out there (not just in our heads); and that we can approach knowledge of that object through critical interaction of our minds and that object. Truth can be known, but we should exercise humility and a proper confidence about our claims.
Cub fan: rare breed of the eternal optimist, always grumbling but happy about it, and incapable of rooting his or her team into the World Series. Frequently seen at Wrigley Field, a quaint joint not far from Lake Michigan.
Docetic: an early Christian heresy that said Jesus only “seemed” (Greek, dokeo) to be human but was really God. Christian theology has always taught the absolutely necessity of Jesus’ full incarnation as the God-man.
Ecclesiology, ecclesial: derived from the Greek word for “church” (ekklesia). Ecclesiology refers to one’s theory of the Church, and ecclesial is an adjective meaning “churchy.”
Egalitarian: one who believes that men and women are made by God to be “equals.” Husbands and wives relate to one another in love, and are less defined by a static role. Sometimes this view is called “complementarian without hierarchy.”
Eikon: a word I use for “image of God.” It comes from my book, Embracing Grace. The Greek word for “image” is Eikon. The Eikon can be seen in “substantialist” terms: who we are — rational, spiritual, have a soul, self-conscious, etc.. Or in “functionalist” terms: how we relate, what we do (we “eikon” or reflect God’s glory).
Emerging/emergent: a recent development in the Christian church, across the globe, concerned with a variety of issues and practices. In my paper, I see four strands contributing to the emerging “conversation” or “movement”: it is postmodern to one degree or another, concerned with praxis (such as worship style, missional orientation, justice, community fellowship), responding to evangelicalism as a kind of postevangelicalism, and committed to political action. One of its distinctives, in general, is commitment to local, small, community-shaped groups — small churches, house churches, simple churches, and even “churches without worship services.” Frequently reacting to megachurches and seeker churches. It is having an international impact; in various locations it has different emphases. Emergent is an official organization in the USA and UK; it is directed by Tony Jones. A good example of an emerging-type church is Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis. A distinctive, centrist voice is found in Andrew Jones (Tall Skinny Kiwi).
Emerging churches: Emerging Churches are missional communities emerging in postmodern culture and consisting of followers of Jesus seeking to be faithful to the orthodox Christian faith in their place and time
Eschatology: the study of “last things” (eschaton); inaugurated eschatology means that the last times have already begun in Jesus Christ.
Hermeneutics: the science and art of reading, especially applied to the science and art of reading and interpreting the Bible. One’s “hermeneutic” refers to an individual’s overall approach to the Bible — as in covenant approaches, dispensational approaches, postmodern approaches, liberation approaches, and feminist approaches. (There are plenty more.)
HT: Hat tip; my thanks to.
Imago Dei: Latin for “image of God”; see Eikon.
Missional: a term favored by emerging Christians for the mission of the Church. It begins with the Mission of God (often called missio Dei) in this world; it is holistic — including both evangelism and social action; it does not divide evangelism from social action. It’s central concern is to incarnate the gospel in a community; it is concerned with reaching out (“How can we help?”) along with attracting folks “to church.” Missional can be used to define a local church while a missionary is one who sent by a local church to another country (to become missional there).
Monergism: God is sovereignly in control of all that happens and determines all that happens.
New Perspective (on Paul): a development, since the late 70s, of how to understand Paul’s theology in its Jewish context. In particular, Judaism is not understood as a works-based or merit-seeking religion. Therefore, Paul’s criticism of the Judaizers was not primarily about their attempt to achieve merit before God through works of the Law. Instead, his problem with them was that they demanded that Gentile converts become observant of the Law. The implications for understanding classical Reformed emphases vary, but for some the New Perspective threatens the Reformed faith.
Ontology: the study of being or nature. Thus, the ontology of Jesus has to do with his “nature” or his inner essence. (Adjective is “ontic.”)
Perichoresis: derived from what is taught in John 10:38 (“I and the Father are one”) and developed by the early fathers, this term refers to the mutual interpenetration and indwelling of the three persons (Father, Son, Spirit) of the Trinity. This perichoresis defines who God is — the One who is indwelling, the One who is community.
Postmodern: it’s foolish even to try, but I will. First, it refers to an era: the postmodern era is after the modern era (modernity is roughly Enlightenment, science, rationalism, and the theory of progress in the world). Second, it refers to a philosophy with various levels of commitment and emphasis. Thus, it can refer to the “linguistic turn”: that truth is dependent on the language we use to describe truth; therefore, the language is never the complete grasp of the truth.l It has a “hermeneutical turn”: everything we see and make sense of is “interpretation,” and our interpretations are never certain. And there is a “paradigm turn”: that is, we realize that the primary grids we use to interpret reality (science, for instance) involve prior commitment to them in order for them to work. If you don’t believe in science, the scientific explanation doesn’t work. Postmodernity then teaches that you and I, to one degree or another, are trapped in the human condition of language, interpretation, and prior commitments. This means we can never attain perfect objectivity. Some see postmodernity as a blessing for the Christian faith because it unmasks the reality of prior commitments; other worry that it erodes confidence in the truth of the gospel or the Bible.
Praxis: a word used for the “practice” and behavior of the Christian and the Church; often connected to “orthopraxis” (right behavior) as the implication of “orthodoxy” (right thinking).
Preterist/preterism: a theory of interpreting the prophetic passages in the Bible as all having to do with 70 AD. Preterist comes from “preterit” (meaning past tense). Thus, all prophetic passages — excepting for many the Second Coming — are already fulfilled.
Soteriology: the study of “salvation” in the Bible; derived from the Greek term soteria.
Synergism: God’s sovereignty includes the capacity of humans to choose contrary to God’s will. Often called “libertarian free will.” To be “free” means a person could choose to do contrary to what that person chose to do.
HT: Kris and Cheryl