Parable

Dictionary.com

noun
1. a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
2. a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.


Etymonline.com

mid-13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., “saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else,” from Old French parable “parable, parabolic style in writing” (13c.), from Latin parabola “comparison,” from Greek parabole “a comparison, parable,” literally “a throwing beside,” hence “a juxtaposition,” from para “alongside” (see para- (1)) + bole “a throwing, casting, beam, ray,” related to ballein “to throw” (from PIE root *gwele- “to throw, reach”).

Replaced Old English bispell. In Vulgar Latin, parabola took on the meaning “word,” hence Italian parlare, French parler “to speak” (see parley (n.)).


Discussion/Explanation

Parables are told in various area of the Bible. Among the most famous are those told by Jesus Christ.

Examples of these particular stories would be:

Parable of the Sower – Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:2-20, and Luke 8:4-15

Weeds Among the Wheat – Matthew 13:24-30

Growing Seed – Mark 4:26-29

You’ll notice Christ’s parables are found among the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). An example of a parable elsewhere in the Bible includes:

Eagles and the Vine – Ezekiel 17:1-24

Each story or parable tells a story that is meant to teach (much as you saw in the definition from dictionary.com).

An interesting point about Christ’s parables is that he also did it without always explaining the story and this was on purpose. His parables all involve spiritual matters and they were meant to instruct those who would listen and want to understand. The stories weren’t simply for anyone who wanted to hear a story. Each had a point and a purpose.


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Messiah

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people.
  2. Jesus Christ, regarded by Christians as fulfilling this promise and expectation. John 4:25, 26.
  3. (usually lowercase) any expected deliverer.
  4. (usually lowercase) zealous leader of some cause or project.
  5. (italics) an oratorio (1742) by George Frideric Handel.

Etymonline.com

c. 1300, Messias, from Late Latin Messias, from Greek Messias, from Aramaic (Semitic) meshiha and Hebrew mashiah “the anointed” (of the Lord), from mashah “anoint.”

This is the word rendered in Septuagint as Greek Khristos (see Christ). In Old Testament prophetic writing, it was used of an expected deliverer of the Jewish nation. The modern English form represents an attempt to make the word look more Hebrew, and dates from the Geneva Bible (1560). Transferred sense of “an expected liberator or savior of a captive people” is attested from 1660s.


Discussion/Explanation

Messiah has counterparts, as can be seen above, in Late, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. It is in the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament (OT) – that we see the related term from which we get Christ.

Regardless of which translation used, it remains a term that marks the deliverer, the anointed one foretold to come and save His people. As Christians, we know the Messiah to be Jesus. We call Jesus the Christ or Jesus Christ as this designates the same thing, the same truth about Jesus. The works of the New Testament (NT) were written in Greek which is why we see the term “Christ” so often whereas the OT commonly used “Messiah” as it was written in Hebrew.


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God is Never a Copilot

People will sometimes say, “God is my copilot.”

On the surface and in a western culture this may sound fine at first hearing but it is not biblical.

There are numerous examples in Scripture that point to a complete and utter submission to God as his follower. This puts God in the pilot’s seat and you back with the rest of the passengers of followers. You are either on the plane and therefore with Him or you are not on the plane and therefore outside God.

We are called to imitated Christ.

Eph. 5:1-2
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

As children follow after their parents, we are to do the same with Christ. This clearly puts Him before us. He is the one who has set and will set the direction of our lives as followers.

Philippians 1:21
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

In life, we are to live not simply like Christ but here we see “is” which can be also translated as “equals” (=). That’s how far we are supposed to go in our following after Him – to the very point that people look at us and inevitably see Christ. We should be invoking a double-take out of those who meet us.

If we die, we get to be with Him (the gain part) – by no means should this be taken as a call to suicidal behavior. This reflects that for the true Christian, death is not the end but the beginning of being in God’s presence!

Our savior, Jesus Christ, lives to God – our greatest example.

Romans 6:10-12
“The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

We are to be dead to the sin so common in this world and through Christ we are empowered to turn from this sin. This is not our power but it is from Him. What other thing is it we think we need to pilot ourselves toward besides His perfect example?

Exodus 20:3
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

John 14:6-7a
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.””

Christ is very clear that there is no other way but through Him.

What is it we think we need to be a copilot for? The term “copilot” in this context reeks of pluralistic tendency and suggests that somehow God is just an add-on in life. After all, copilots are not an absolute necessity to flight (though they come highly recommended).

Faith in Christ, however, is a necessity. Not an add-on and not a legit option among many.

With all this in mind, the line should read: “God is my pilot.”

Incarnation

Dictionary.com

noun
1. an incarnate being or form.
2. a living being embodying a deity or spirit.
3. assumption of human form or nature
4. the Incarnation, (sometimes lowercase) Theology. the doctrine that the second person of the Trinity assumed human form in the person of Jesus Christ and is completely both God and man.
5. a person or thing regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like: The leading dancer is the incarnation of grace.
6. the act of incarnating.
7. state of being incarnated.


Etymonline.com

c. 1300, “embodiment of God in the person of Christ,” from Old French incarnacion “the Incarnation” (12c.), from Late Latin incarnationem (nominative incarnatio), “act of being made flesh” (used by Church writers especially in reference to God in Christ; source also of Spanish encarnacion, Italian incarnazione), noun of action from past participle stem of Late Latin incarnari “be made flesh,” from in- “in” (from PIE root *en “in”) + caro (genitive carnis) “flesh” (originally “a piece of flesh,” from PIE root *sker- (1) “to cut”). Glossed in Old English as inflæscnesinlichomung. As “person or thing that is the embodiment” (of some quality, deity, etc.) from 1742.


Discussion/Explanation

There are many myths of various beings taking a human form in history. In the case of Christianity, Jesus Christ was God incarnate in flesh even to be the point of being born into the world as any other human being.

Even to this day, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ still possesses mystery but there are many things that we do know.

  1. God became incarnate as Son of God and Son of Man in Jesus Christ. He is God and man at the same time. This is important as it allows him to fulfill the role of being the last Adam and pay the price for sin brought into the world by the first Adam (the Adam of Genesis).
  2. Despite being incarnate, Jesus is still part of the triune nature of God. God is multi-dimensional and is not bound by the same constraints as you are I. He is one.
    1. God the Father has no physical form and neither does the Holy Spirit.
      1. You will often see dove imagery for the Holy Spirit despite the Scriptures never describing the Holy Spirit to be a dove but was compared to a dove in Luke 3:22.
  3. The Son did not give up His deity to become man though he does seem to restrain it.
  4. The terms we use: Father, Son, Holy Spirit are very mortal terms used to describe this triune nature that is inherently beyond our full understanding (at least not in this lifetime and probably not even in the next after the end of all things).

There is much to be studied and discussed on this topic. But, suffice to say that the word “incarnation” in Christianity is a term brought up in reference to Christ’s being God as human.

A great work to read because of its historical significance to the doctrinal understanding of the incarnation of Christ would be On the Incarnation by Athanasius. The following link takes you to a pdf file of the work. (it’s free)

http://www.onthewing.org/user/Athanasius%20-%20On%20the%20Incarnation.pdf


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Historical Theology

Etymonline.com

Historical

early 15c., “of or pertaining to history, conveying information from the past,” with -al (1) + Latin historicus “of history, historical,” from Greek historikos “historical; of or for inquiry,” from historia (see history). For sense differentiation, see historic. Meaning “narrated or mentioned in history” (as opposed to what is fiction or legend) is from 1843. Related: Historically.

Theology

mid-14c., “the science of religion, study of God and his relationship to humanity,” from Old French theologie “philosophical study of Christian doctrine; Scripture” (14c.), from Latin theologia, from Greek theologia “an account of the gods,” from theologos “one discoursing on the gods,” from theos “god” (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + -logos “treating of” (see -logy). Meaning “a particular system of theology” is from 1660s.


Discussion/Explanation

Historical theology is one of the 4 main branches of theology that is often closely tied with studies of church history. Why?

The answer to this question – because the focus of historical theology is to study the development of doctrine historically. Those that followed directly beyond the apostles largely spent their time reiterating what was already written by the apostles. Some of the biggest developments of this time were in the form (or liturgy) of early worship gatherings and an emphasis on the deity of Christ (even more so than what is described in the NT).

Much of historical theology focuses on such developments in their historical context. Our current understanding of God’s Word has come to us because of the many events that have occurred from then to now.  Chief among these events were challenges to the faith that often came in the form of heresies. Through such heresies, it became clearer the difference between the fact and fiction, the truth and falsehoods surrounding the faith.

Besides chronological developments and doctrines, we also see territorial developments and denominational developments as we study historical theology. This grants us understanding as to how such groups and divisions have come to be and inform us on how to view them today.


There was nothing to give from Dictionary.com this time around.


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Hermeneutics

Dictionary.com

noun (used with a singular verb)
  1. the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.
  2. the branch of theology that deals with the principles of Biblical exegesis.

Etymonline.com

“art of interpretation, the study of exegesis,” 1737, from hermeneutic; also see -ics.

“interpretive,” 1670s, from Latinized form of Greek hermeneutikos “of or for interpreting,” from hermeneutes “interpreter,” from hermeneuein “to interpret (foreign languages); interpret into words, give utterance to,” a word of unknown origin (formerly considered ultimately a derivative of Hermes, as the tutelary divinity of speech, writing, and eloquence).


Discussion/Explanation

From the above, we can see that hermeneutics is a key area of study within exegetical theology.

Differing hermeneutical approaches are clearly seen when dealing with topics such as the end times. One interpreter may take a more literal interpretation whereas another a more figurative approach.

Other key components of interpretation include interpreting texts in their historical setting, considering the grammar used, and in the surrounding context of the text.

Failing to consider such things has lead various people over the years into all sorts of conflicting beliefs and even heresy. This is not to say there cannot be legitimate conflicting views on how to interpret a particular text (as seen above) but such differences still end up having more in common because of applying an overall consistent hermeneutic. Those who fall into heresy tend to insist on their own view rather than what makes sense &/or flat out ignore other areas of Scripture that they should have considered before standing on their chosen view.


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Exegetical Theology

Dictionary.com & Etymonline.com

— see Exegesis —     also    — see Theology


Discussion/Explanation

It is all that explains and interprets the Holy Scriptures in the study of theology.

This area of study involves the study of ancient languages like Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in order to study the Scriptures from primary sources – the original/early manuscripts of the Bible.

This also includes archeology and study of the canon of Scripture. Archeology in the study of ancient cultures and people surround the original writings. Canon in the study of the process involved in bringing the various books of the Bible together into the Bible as we know it today which was also against a historical background.

Exegetical theology therefore also includes criticism of the Scriptures and, by relation, the interpretation. This probably becomes obvious to you as you stop to think about what would be logically involved in the above-mentioned elements.

In the end, this is a very important branch of theology as it directly connects to historical theology in its studies and therefore directly impacts practical theology. Biblical theology becomes closely tied with the work carried out in exegesis such that it isn’t uncommon for people to argue biblical theology to be little more than part of exegetical theology (more on this later).


Source/Link for Additional Reading:

http://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/E/exegetical-theology.html


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Dogmatics

Dictionary.com

noun (used with a singular verb)
  1. the study of the arrangement and statement of religious doctrines, especially of the doctrines received in and taught by the Christian church.

Etymonline.com

1670s, from Late Latin dogmaticus, from Greek dogmatikos “pertaining to doctrines,” from dogma (genitive dogmatos) “opinion, tenet,” literally “that which one thinks is true,” from dokein “to seem good, think” (from PIE root *dek- “to take, accept”). Related: Dogmatical (c. 1600).


Discussion/Explanation

These are the official doctrines of the church.

The study of dogmatics involves these recognized doctrines and is sometimes mixed up with systematic theology. This fact is in large part because people have a tendency to use dogmatics and systematic theology interchangeably – though they are not the exact same. A key difference is whether or not there is official sanction by the church of the doctrine.


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Confessions

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. acknowledgment; avowal; admission: a confession of incompetence.
  2. acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, especially to a priest to obtain absolution.
  3. something that is confessed.
  4. a formal, usually written, acknowledgment of guilt by a person accused of a crime.
  5. Also called confession of faith. a formal profession of belief and acceptance of doctrines, as before being admitted to church membership.
  6. the tomb of a martyr or confessor or the altar or shrine connected with it.

Etymonline.com

late 14c., confessioun, “action of confessing, acknowledgment of a fault or wrong,” originally in religion, “the disclosing of sins or faults to a priest as one of the four parts of the sacrament of penance,” from Old French confession (10c.), from Latin confessionem (nominative confessio) “confession, acknowledgement,” noun of action from past-participle stem of confiteri “to acknowledge” (see confess).

An Old English word for it was andettung, also scriftspræc. Meaning “that which is confessed” is mid-15c.  Meaning “a formula of the articles of a religious faith, a creed to be assented to” is from late 14c. In the common law, “admission or acknowledgment of guilt made in court or before a magistrate,” 1570s.


Discussion/Explanation

The descriptions above do a great job of describing this term. I do want to highlight a few points.

The term reads “confessions” rather than “confession” as this post is truly aimed at what is also called “confessions of faith”. Creeds are related to this term.

The second part of the etymonline description speaks on this point. I want to add that each confession that arose was primarily in response to opposing beliefs at the time of writing. Typically, these opposing beliefs were heresies and the confession arose as a written document of faith that clearly defined what the faith was in contrast. The Nicene Creed and Apostles Creed are examples that arose during such times.

These creeds served as summations as well as building blocks to more comprehensive writings more commonly called a “confession of faith”. As such, creeds have gone hand-in-hand with confessions though you won’t hear a church recite an entire confession as they are often book-length whereas a creed is much shorter (a summation as said earlier).

Some common confessions would include:

  • The Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith

These confessions were never meant to replace the Scriptures and often quote them and give references to specific passages. They serve as teaching tools and clarifying tools as they often pull together the greater context of the counsel of God found in His word (the Bible).


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Christology

Dictionary.com

noun, plural Chris·tol·o·gies.
  1. the branch of theology dealing with the nature, person, and deeds of Jesus Christ.
  2. an interpretation of the nature, person, and deeds of Christ.

Etymonline.com

“branch of theology which studies the person and character of Jesus,” 1670s, from Christ + connective -o- + -logy.


Discussion/Explanation

A very straight-forward term to define and describe such that the above leaves little to add.

Key questions addressed in this area of study include:

  1. Who is Jesus Christ?
  2. Is Jesus God? What did he say about himself in relation to this question?
  3. How can Jesus be both God and man at the same time?

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