Apostasy

What is apostasy?

Dictionary.com

  • a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.

Etymonline.com

  • late 14c., “renunciation, abandonment or neglect of established religion,” from Late Latin apostasia, from later Greek apostasia for earlier apostasis “revolt, defection,” literally “a standing off,” from apostanai “to stand away” (see apostate (n.)). General (non-religious) sense “abandonment of what one has professed” is attested from 1570s.

Discussion/Explanation

This word brings up others like heresy which is considered by some to be synonymous. It is incorrect to do so.

I would disagree with dictionary.com’s use of the word “total” as apostates (those in apostasy) often reject only portions of the faith though there are those who step away entirely. However, heresy is often included as they will turn around and add or alter things that were previously not there. It is possible to be just apostate as it is possible to be just a heretic (though often heretics are also apostate).

To be clear, terms like apostasy and heresy are used towards those who previously espoused the faith. These are not terms applied to those who never were part of the faith. Also, just because someone can be described as being in apostasy, it doesn’t mean they’ll always be so. There are various early church figures that others have described as apostate based upon a certain period in that individual’s life but in later life could easily be described as orthodox.

It is natural to be bitter towards those who have misrepresented the faith, but we must be willing to genuinely accept them as fellow believers when it is clear they have turned from their wrong.

For further reading on this term & its relation to others:

Systematic Theology

Dictionary.com

Systematic

adjective
  1. having, showing, or involving a system, method, or plan: a systematic course of reading; systematic efforts.
  2. given to or using a system or method; methodical: a systematic person.
  3. arranged in or comprising an ordered system: systematic theology.
  4. concerned with classification: systematic botany.
  5. pertaining to, based on, or in accordance with a system of classification: the systematic names of plants.

Theology

See the following: Theology Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


Etymonline.com

1670s, “pertaining to a system,” from French systématique or directly from Late Latin systematicus, from Greek systematikos “combined in a whole,” from systema (genitive systematos); see system. From 1789 as “methodical,” often in a bad sense, “ruthlessly methodical.” Related: Systematical (1660s); systematically.


Discussion/Explanation

From Google’s dictionary:

“noun: systematic theology – a form of theology in which the aim is to arrange religious truths in a self-consistent whole.”

This fairly well gets at the gist of this area of study. The point is not to represent the theology of the Bible as a redemptive whole (which is more the realm of Biblical Theology) but to connect things together from the various books of the Bible.

This area of study is much more preoccupied with organizing the information of the Bible into various categories. It is through such efforts that you get subareas like angelology, demonology, pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit), eschatology (study of the end times, and so on. It addresses individual topics one by one.

It is considered systematic in that it links the various pieces of information found throughout the Scriptures on the particular topic together.

Systematic theology is also one of the main four branches of theology which include exegetical theology, practical theology, and historical theology.


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Practical Theology

Dictionary.com

Practical

adjective

  1. of or relating to practice or action:
    practical mathematics.
  2. consisting of, involving, or resulting from practice or action:
    a practical application of a rule.
  3. of, relating to, or concerned with ordinary activities, business, or work:
    a habitual dreamer, who can’t be bothered with practical affairs.
  4. adapted or designed for actual use; useful:
    practical instructions.
  5. engaged or experienced in actual practice or work:
    a practical politician credited with much legislation.
  6. inclined toward or fitted for actual work or useful activities:
    looking for a practical person to fill this position.
  7. mindful of the results, usefulness, advantages or disadvantages, etc., of action or procedure.
  8. matter-of-fact; prosaic.
  9. being such in practice or effect; virtual:
    Her promotion to manager is a practical certainty.
  10. Theater. practicable(def 3).

Theology


Etymonline.org

Practical

early 15c., practicale “of or pertaining to matters of practice; applied,” with -al (1) + earlier practic(adj.) “dealing with practical matters, applied, not merely theoretical” (early 15c.), or practic (n.) “method, practice, use” (late 14c.). In some cases directly from Old French practique (adj.) “fit for action,” earlier pratique (13c.) and Medieval Latin practicalis, from Late Latin practicus “practical, active,” from Greek praktikos “fit for action, fit for business; business-like, practical; active, effective, vigorous,” from praktos “done; to be done,” verbal adjective of prassein, prattein “to do, act, effect, accomplish.”

Practical joke “trick played on someone for the sake of a laugh at his expense” is from 1771 (earlier handicraft joke, 1741).

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

Here we have a two-word term once more which requires looking at each word individually. We have looked at the term theology before such that the focus now will be on what practical means in this context.

In practical theology, we see much of the use we see in the first several definitions given from Dictionary.com. To be more specific, practical theology involves the study of the application of theological insights. It involves what we’ve learned from God’s Word, the Scriptures, lived out and practiced in our daily lives.

This area of study includes several sub-areas of study just as the other main branches of theology do. These include pastoral studies, homiletics, Christian education, ethics, church duties, and more.


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Clergy

Dictionary.com

noun, plural cler·gies.
  1. the group or body of ordained persons in a religion, as distinguished from the laity.

Etymonline.com

c. 1200, clergie “office or dignity of a clergyman,” from two Old French words: 1. clergié“clerics, learned men,” from Medieval Latin clericatus, from Late Latin clericus (see clerk(n.)); 2. clergie “learning, knowledge, erudition,” from clerc, also from Late Latin clericus.

Meaning “persons ordained for religious work, persons consecrated to the duties of public ministration in the Christian church” is from c. 1300. Benefit of clergy (1510s) is the exemption of ecclesiastics from certain criminal processes before secular judges; in England it was first recognized 1274, modified over time, and abolished in 1827.


Discussion/Explanation

I always find it interesting how one word can eventually become multiple in time. The term “clergy” is no different. As can be seen above, we get today’s term from sources that also brought us the word “clerk” which, while similar, has a different context of use.

The definition and history of clergy do a good job of describing what the term means. It is a broad term used to refer to all those in the religious work. Whether they be priests, friars, bishops, pastors, elders, etc., they are part of the ministry and therefore called clergy.

Dictionary.com puts the term in contrast to “laity”. The laity are the worshippers. It includes all those who participate in the services but are not ordained as ministerial servant leaders.


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Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology is a discipline of exegetical theology, one of the 4 that are part of what is called the “Encyclopedia of Theology” – Exegetical, Historical, Systematic, and Practical Theologies (Hagenbach).


Etymonline.com

biblical

1734, “pertaining to the Bible,” from Bible + -ical. Related: Biblically. Earlier adjective was Biblic (1680s). Related: Biblicality.


Discussion/Explanation

Biblical theology is considered by some to be the capstone of exegetical theology. However, it is not exegetical theology itself.

The reason for calling it the capstone is because it presupposes everything else within exegetical theology. To be clear, this means it is keeping in mind the Hebrew and Greek behind our modern translation, historical context, textual criticism, translation approach, the history and canonicity of the Bible, and hermeneutics. Everything done within exegetical theology is taken into account when engaging in biblical theology studies.

Biblical theology is, therefore, the area of theology of the entire Bible. It looks at the Bible as a whole and does not subdivide based upon Old Testament and New Testament. As a result, it naturally traces the entire story of the Scriptures in which you can see God’s progressive revelation.

Now, I do want to point out that biblical theology is not practiced in every corner of Christianity today. There are many who would do everything else found within the exegetical branch and then ignore the capstone and/or use the term biblical theology in an entirely different way – usually to state whether or not a particular theology or theological approach is biblical. With this in mind, the use of the term “biblical theology” can often seem unclear.


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Protestantism

In Christendom today, there are often considered to be three primary branches – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism (debating aside whether or not this is an accurate representation of current-day Christianity). Let’s first get started with the usual…


Dictionary.com

Protestantism

noun
  1. the religion of Protestants.
  2. the Protestant churches collectively.
  3. adherence to Protestant principles.

Protestant

noun

1. any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church.
2. an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them.
3. (originally) any of the German princes who protested against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which had denounced the Reformation.


Etymonline.com

1640s, from French protestantisme or else formed from Protestant + -ism.


Discussion/Explanation

Protestantism and Protestant are terms inherently embroiled with everything involving the Reformation or Protestant Reformation. To see more on this particular and important historical time, see the page on the Protestant Reformation.

I would be a Protestant as I continue in the tradition and theology of Protestants everywhere who separate themselves from Catholicism (in particular). Protestants do not talk about the Eastern Orthodox much as it was from the western, the Roman Catholic, church that the Protestants separated from historically.

Protestantism today is spread throughout the globe. The United States of America was largely founded by those seeking a place to call their own (many of whom Protestants) who came here to escape various hardships as well as religious persecutions from where they came.

I would highly recommend checking out the link above to find out more as you will come to see much of what has made Protestantism different from the “Christianity” that came before.


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Polemics

Dictionary.com

noun (used with a singular verb)
1. the art or practice of disputation or controversy:
a master of polemics.
2. the branch of theology dealing with the history or conduct of ecclesiastical disputation and controversy.


Etymonline.com

1630s, “controversial argument or discussion,” from French polémique (16c./17c.), noun use of adjective meaning “disputatious, controversial” (see polemic (adj.)).


Discussion/Explanation

From the definition, you may start getting the idea that polemics is akin to apologetics. While they are related in the defense that they give, there is a significant difference.

Apologetics is focused outward whereas polemics is focused inward.

“In polemics, unlike apologetics, we are making an inward defense of our faith, rooting out false teachings and false teachers within the body of the church. A polemicist duty is to point out false teaching and teachers while warning others in the body of Christ about said teaching or teacher.”   — Richard Haas

Polemics is effectively an internal or within the church defense. It is the act of engaging and dealing with those who would rise up from within to lead others astray. Call such people the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing” as the target of the polemicist. This is yet another hat particularly emphasized for leaders of the church but one that should be exercised by believers in general.


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Poimenics

Dictionary.com

  1. pastoral theology – the branch of theology dealing with the responsibilities of members of the clergy to the people under their care.

Etymonline.com

– – this term isn’t in their database – –

pastoral:

“of or pertaining to shepherds,” early 15c., from Old French pastoral (13c.), from Latin pastoralis “of herdsmen, of shepherds,” from pastor (see pastor (n.)). The noun sense of “poem dealing with country life generally,” usually dealing with it in an idealized form and emphasizing the purity and happiness of it, is from 1580s.


Discussion/Explanation

As you can see, this one is quite straight-forward in meaning. Poimenics and pastoral theology are both used interchangeably though I’d say I see the second more often these days.

As the definition states, this is an area of study that studies the Bible’s instructions for clergy in how they serve the body, the people of the church under their care.


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Philology

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. the study of literary texts and of written records, the establishment of their authenti-city and their original form, and the determination of their meaning.
  2. (especially in older use) linguistics, especially historical and comparative linguistics.
  3. Obsolete. the love of learning and literature.

Etymonline.com

late 14c., “love of learning,” from Latin philologia “love of learning, love of letters, love of study, literary culture,” from Greek philologia “love of discussion, learning, and literature; studiousness,” from philo “loving” (see philo-) + logos “word, speech” (see Logos).

Meaning “science of language” is first attested 1716 (philologue “linguist” is from 1590s; philologer “linguistic scholar” is from 1650s); this confusing secondary sense has not been popular in the U.S., where linguistics is preferred. Related: Philological.


Discussion/Explanation

I kinda would like to resurrect the original meaning of the term that has now become obsolete as is so clearly noted under the Dictionary.com entry. Even so…

The first definition under the Dictionary.com is what best fits for our purposes here. It is the area of study that is actively involved in authenticating ancient documents and this includes manuscripts of the Bible and particular books of the Bible. It is an area of study actively involved in all sorts of ancient/old documents, not just the Christian Bible.


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