Creationism

Dictionary.com

noun
1. the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) the doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, especially in the first chapter of Genesis.
3. the doctrine that God immediately creates out of nothing a new human soul for each individual born.


Etymonline.com

“1847, originally a Christian theological position that God immediately created a soul for each person born; from creation + -ism. As a name for the religious reaction to Darwin, opposed to evolution, it is attested from 1880.

James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College in Dublin was highly regarded in his day as a churchman and as a scholar. Of his many works, his treatise on chronology has proved the most durable. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and Holy writ, it was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible printed in 1701, and thus came to be regarded with almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Having established the first day of creation as Sunday 23 October 4004 B.C. … Ussher calculated the dates of other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC, and that the ark touched down on Mt Ararat on 5 May 1491 BC “on a Wednesday”. [Craig, G.Y., and E.J. Jones, “A Geological Miscellany,” Princeton University Press, 1982.]”


Just by the above definitions and history alone, you can tell the term has a range of contexts but all, nevertheless, are focused on creation.

It is not my intent to address every item related to the term but I do want to address creationism in regards to the creation week seen in Genesis 1.

The creation week makes very clear that the Bible is communicating that God created all of existence. Of all creation, man was and is God’s top created being. Creationism does not allow for mankind to have arisen from cosmic chance. The entire human race was specifically and intentionally created as the image-bearers of the very being that created them, the everlasting Creator (God).

Biblical creationism is not theistic evolution nor is it truly compatible with the view – a view that attempts to hold to God’s involvement in creation’s making while trying to harmonize with the common naturalism (an inherently atheistic philosophy) found in evolutionary science today. I will admit that not everyone who calls themselves a “theistic evolutionist” is consistent with others who use the term – so their is some murkiness here (ex. I’ve seen some Old-Earth creationists refer to their position as theistic evolution) . 

There are, however, two overall camps or positions held today in Christian creationist circles. These are what are commonly called Young-Earth Creationists and Old-Earth Creationists. Both camps hold in common what has been defined so far but, as their names would imply, they do diverge when going beyond these points.

 

Because I want to give both camps adequate definition, I will stop the post here for today and continue in a part 2 that will begin to compare/contrast Young-Earth and Old-Earth Creationists more specifically. If there was anything in this post you’d like to read/know more about, please comment and let me know and I’ll add it to my future post plans.


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Epistles

Dictionary.com

noun
1. a letter, especially a formal or didactic one; written communication.
2. (usually initial capital letterone of the apostolic letters in the New Testament.
3. (often initial capital letteran extract, usually from one of the Epistles of the New
Testament, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.

Etymonline.com

partly from Old English epistol and in part directly from Old French epistleepistre (Modern French épitre), from Latin epistola “a letter,” from Greek epistole “message, letter, command, commission,” whether verbal or in writing, from epistellein “send to, send as a message or letter,” from epi “to” (see epi-) + stellein in its secondary sense of “to dispatch, send” from PIE *stel-yo-, suffixed form of root *stel- “to put, stand,” with derivatives referring to a standing object or place (see stall (n.1)). Also acquired in Old English directly from Latin as pistol. Specific sense of “letter from an apostle forming part of canonical scripture” is c. 1200.


In short, an epistle is a letter. Many of the New Testament (NT) books were originally sent as letters to provide instruction to a particular group of believers in the times after Christ. We have those letters (most, not all) collected into the NT portion of the Bible.

Books of the Bible that are also called “the Epistles” include:

Romans

1 & 2 Corinthians

Galatians

Ephesians

Philippians

Colossians

1 & 2 Thessalonians

1 & 2 Timothy

Titus

Philemon

Hebrews

James

1 & 2 Peter

1, 2, & 3 John

Jude

That leaves out the Gospels (Mark through John), Acts (which is effectively Luke 2), and Revelation (which is a prophetic work). In other words, almost all of the NT is made of epistles.

Most of these letters were written by Paul. Romans through Philemon are all clearly written by Paul – thereby called the “Pauline Epistles”. Hebrews through Jude are called the “General Epistles” as they are written by others, bearing the author’s name – with the exception of Hebrews.

Hebrews, to this day, is still debated as to who wrote it. There is sufficient evidence to believe that it was written by Paul but the text lacks the evidence to “hit the nail on the head” in regards to nailing down authorship definitively. Some of Paul’s contemporaries are argued for by some scholars and still others just leave the authorship as “unknown”. Regardless, it remains as one of the epistles that makes up the NT.

When next you read any of the Epistles, pay particular attention to the very beginning and end of that letter. You will find a wealth of information in these areas of the text as to who it was originally written for as well as surrounding contextual information.


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The Trinity

Dictionary.com

nounplural Trinities for 2, 4.
1. Also called Blessed Trinity, Holy Trinitythe union of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) in one Godhead, or the
three-fold personality of the one Divine Being.
2. a representation of this in art.
4. (lowercasea group of three; triad.
5. (lowercasethe state of being threefold or triple.

Etymonline.com

early 13c., “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” constituting one God in prevailing Christian doctrine, from Old French trinite “Holy Trinity” (11c.), from Late Latin trinitatem (nominative trinitas) “Trinity, triad” (Tertullian), from Latin trinus “threefold, triple,” from plural of trini “three at a time, threefold,” related to tres (neuter tria) “three” (see three).

The Latin word was widely borrowed in European languages with the spread of Christianity (Irish trionnoid, Welsh trindod, German trinität). Old English used þrines as a loan-translation of Latin trinitas. Related: Trinitarian.


The Trinity – an extra-biblical term (from outside the Bible) to describe truth involving God that we see in the Scriptures (the Bible).

The Trinity, though, is more than just a term; it is a doctrine involving the nature of God. It is considered a key element in assessing the beliefs of any group that would call themselves Christian.

Why is the Trinity so important? As you could probably guess from the above definitions, it has everything to do with who is God. God is one, not three. Any who would proclaim a “trinity” of gods would not be holding to the same as the one god we commonly call God in Christianity. Changing the nature of God, in any way, thereby makes the “new” natured “God” different from the original; therefore, it is a different god from the God of Christianity.

This is another topic in which many books exist that discuss the topic alone. There are also many online materials as well. I recommend using the included links to read further.

Even so, I don’t want to stop there as I want to direct youg attention to why this term is used. The definitions above show one of the reasons – it fits what is described in Scripture. More reasons are tied up into the “persons” of the Holy Trinity.

  1. God the Father – the governing “head” that has no physical form.
  2. God the Son – Son of God and Son of Man, the God-Man. He is God in human flesh – God in human form. Fully God and fully man.
    1. Present from the beginning (even before born into flesh) – (John 1:1-18)
      1. With the Father before creation
      2. The one through which all creation came into being
    2. One with God
      1. Every “I am” reference in the Scriptures refers to this. (Ex. 3:14; Lev. 18:2 – 19:37; Matthew 27:43; Mark 14:61-63; John 8:12, 23, 58, 10:38,… for starters)
    3. Sinless – a trait held in common with the other two persons.
    4. Conqueror of death
      1. Not even death could bind the Son of God as is evident in His resurrection.
      2. Was seen physically before His ascension to Heaven and continues in that physical form to this day. He will also return physically.
  3. God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) – the spirit of God in the created world and in God’s followers. Often depicted as light or “like a dove” but has no true physical form.
    1. Only the Holy Spirit indwells believers. The Holy Spirit is distinct from the believer and a person of God.

What’s more, there is perfect unity between each of the persons of God. There is no disagreement, no disunity, no division – and yet it is clearly revealed that God makes Himself known to us through these three persons.

I spent more time on the Son of God, who we know as Jesus Christ, as He is the person people try to argue/debate the most about. The list is not a comprehensive list but should give you a great start as to the Trinity and what is involved.


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Sacraments

Sacraments are a plural item in Christianity as it is a term for multiple activities. Let’s look first at some simple definitions to get started…


Dictionary.com

 1.  Ecclesiastical. a visible sign of an inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace: the sacraments of the Protestant churches are baptism and the Lord’s Supper; the sacraments of the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches are baptism,confirmation, the Eucharist, matrimony, penance, holy orders, and extreme unction.

2. (often initial capital letter). Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper.

Also called Holy Sacrament. the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper
3. the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, especially the bread.
4. something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance.
5. a sign, token, or symbol. a sign, token, or symbol.
6. an oath; solemn pledge. an oath; solemn pledge.

Etymonline.com

“outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace,” also “the eucharist,” c. 1200, from Old French sacrament “consecration; mystery” (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum “a consecrating” (also source of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare “to consecrate” (see sacred); a Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery).

Meaning “a holy mystery” in English is from late 14c. The seven sacraments are baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction).


Obviously, there’s a broader context here besides just “certain activities”.

Historically, there have been seven sacraments as mentioned from both dictionary.com and etymonline.com. I think the dictionary.com definition #1 does a particularly nice job in this case as it not only shows what are the sacraments but also points out an important distinction between Protestants and the Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox churches.

In Protestantism there is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper goes by other names too – namely communion or the Eucharist. If you are not familiar with the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, it’s practice is tied to Matthew 26:26-29 (as well as parallels in the other gospels). From this has come many practices observed but the common elements are the “bread and wine” – representing the body and the blood of Christ respectively.

Baptism has its variances as well but it still involves belief and water in each instance – whether the water be a sprinkling on the individual or by submersion & whether it’s the belief of the individual vs. the belief of the parents.

Penance, confirmation, holy orders, anointing of the sick (extreme unction) – I don’t intend to treat these here, perhaps in the future, but they are commonly practiced today in the Catholic church as well as others.

Matrimony or marriage is the one I personally find most interesting here. Why? Well, its because of how the Catholic church sees it as a sacrament but Protestantism overall does not. This will be the topic of a future post.

I will end it here. It should be clear what a sacrament is from these definitions as well as what practices are commonly considered sacraments in historic Christendom. As always, you’re welcome back next week where I move onto the next term in the list!

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Regeneration

Here is a great example of a term in which its accurate meaning becomes a little different from the common use. Let’s begin with the usual…

Dictionary.com

noun
1. act of regenerating; state of being regenerated.
2. Electronics. a feedback process in which energy from the output of an amplifier is fed back to the grid circuit to reinforce the input.
3. Biology. the restoration or new growth by an organism of organs, tissues, etc., that have been lost, removed, or injured.

Etymonline.com

mid-14c., from Late Latin regenerationem (nominative regeneratio) “a being born again,” noun of action from past participle stem of Latin regenerare “make over, generate again,” from re- “again” (see re-) + generare “to produce” (see generation). Originally spiritual; of animal tissue, early 15c.; of forests, 1888.


Overall, there is a sense of “being made new” in this word. As suggested in the above etymonline.com entry, you could also use regeneration as a synonym for rebirth.

For those who are followers of “The Way” (aka original title for those later known as Christians), regeneration goes further.

It is a radical change.

You see, human beings have been corrupted by the curse of sin. This is why everything in us is tainted – even when we try to do good.

God is so holy (set apart) that we cannot even stand in His presence as we are. This is where regeneration comes in.

Regeneration is one of the elements that accompanies a person’s salvation. By God’s grace, He regenerates us from our cursed state (gives us rebirth) such that we are thereby enabled to follow Him. Without God’s regeneration, we would continue to be lost in our corruption, left as rebels against Him.

It includes making us spiritually alive rather than being left in our dead state.

Regeneration is the beginning of preparation for each believer to one day be able to stand in God’s presence. …and it is all made possible through Christ!

 


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Liturgy

What is liturgy?

 

Dictionary.com

noun, plural liturgies.
1. a form of public worship; ritual.
2. a collection of formularies for public worship.
3. a particular arrangement of services.
4. a particular form or type of the Eucharistic service.
5. the service of the Eucharist, especially this service (Divine Liturgy) in the Eastern Church.

Etymonline.com

1550s, Liturgy, “the service of the Holy Eucharist,” from Middle French liturgie (16c.) or directly from Late Latin/Medieval Latin liturgia “public service, public worship,” from Greek leitourgia “a liturgy; public duty, ministration, ministry,” from leitourgos “one who performs a public ceremony or service, public servant,” from leito- “public” (from laos “people;” compare leiton “public hall,” leite “priestess;” see lay (adj.)) + -ergos “that works,” from ergon “work” (from PIE root *werg- “to do”). Meaning “collective formulas for the conduct of divine service in Christian churches” is from 1590s. Related: Liturgist; liturgics.


Liturgy is a fairly straight-forward term – as you can see. Granted, it is used to specifically refer to the practices around the Eurcharist (or communion) in some circles, but it is more broadly used to describe the practices & formula of a worship service.

The term is not exclusive to Christianity as other belief systems will also observe various practice forms.

We see the expression of liturgy most clearly in the order of service. All churches follow some form of liturgy and there are various reasons for why one church will worship in one manner versus another. Tradition is a common element here but not the only. Various theological distinctions also contribute.

Examples of elements of liturgy are the songs sung (style, amount, when they’re sung, etc), whether or not there’s responsive readings, the language or Bible versions spoken from, order of events in the worship, handling of sacraments, and so on…

If your still curious about liturgy, try looking up the liturgy of various known denominations, like Presbyterian, and see what they do. Until next time!

 


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Justification

Stepping away from the “study of” terms we’ve had up to now, we get to the next term in the series – justification.

Dictionary.com
noun

1. a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends:
His insulting you was ample justification for you to leave the party.

2. an act of justifying : The painter’s justification of his failure to finish on time didn’t impress me.

3. the state of being justified.
4. Also called justification by faith. Theology. the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin.

5. Printing. the spacing of words and letters within a line of type so that all full lines in a column have even margins both on the left and on the right.


Etymonline.com

late 14c., “administration of justice,” from Late Latin iustificationem (nominative iustificatio), noun of action from past participle stem of iustificare “act justly toward; make just” (see justify). Meaning “action of justifying, showing something to be just or right” is from late 15c. Theological sense “act by which the soul is reconciled to God” is from 1520s. Meaning “act of adjusting or making exact” in typography is from 1670s.


Why would such a legal sounding term be involved with Christianity and the Bible?

To answer this we need look no further than the books of Genesis and Romans. In Genesis, we have the record of the fall of man where the first humans committed the first sin against God. This cursed mankind with the corruption of sin which impacts us to this day. We stood condemned (in a legal sense) before a just God.

Justification is an important element. God is so holy that our good actions, thoughts, etc. are mere rags by comparison. God is so holy (set-apart) that many early followers feared they would die when in just a fraction of His presence. Our sinfulness has made us imperfect, corrupted beings and it is only through His light and truth that we know to be otherwise.

Christ’s work on the cross brought us salvation from our sin. Any who truly believe in Him can be saved from their sin and no longer face condemnation, thereby becoming justified before God – accounted just. This status is brought to us by Christ alone.

Two chapters come to mind from Romans that specifically talk about justification. These are Romans 4 and 5. Three particular verses would be Romans 4:25 ; 5:16 & 18. These would be a good place to start for further reading and study.

 


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Homiletics

What is homiletics?


From dictionary.com we get:

noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1. the art of preaching; the branch of practical theology that treats of homilies or sermons.

From etymonline we get:

“the art of preaching,” 1805, from homiletic; also see -ics.  (noun)

homiletic (adj.)

1640s, “of or having to do with sermons,” from Late Latin homileticus, from Greek homiletikos “of conversation, affable,” from homilia “conversation, discourse,” in New Testament, “sermon” (see homily). Related: Homiletical.

So, we have an area of study, that doesn’t use the ending -o-logy, focused on the art of sermons or preaching.

So, what does that all mean?

Homiletics is concerned with how to preach or even why to preach a certain way. As you can guess, philosophy easily comes into this – and so can other areas of theology.

Take a look at the following statement I came across during research:

“…I’m not preoccupied with technique and methodology. I don’t have a formulaic approach to preaching; I have a theological approach to preaching.” – Dr. Merida

I think this comment taken from an article that you can view here encapsulates what I’m trying to get at in my description of homiletics. Dr. Merida goes on to explain what was meant by this, but I want to point out the acknowledgement here that there are differing angles in homiletics as to the approach in preaching. It is obvious in this comment that his approach puts the study of God at the center. We also see that there are those who make a point of technique, methods, and/or formula when preaching or constructing a message.

Are such considerations necessary? Are they helpful? Why chose one approach, or multiple, over others?

I suggest reading the above article I quoted from as a great place to start.

 

 


Be back next week as I intend to target Justification next.

Also, there are new drop-down menus added to the site to make it easier to find older posts from previous series and more. More will be added to these as I am able.

God bless!

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Missiology

Missiology is a sort of forced word for the study of missions. The word started to come into use between 1920 and 1925. Combine its “forced” quality and the fairly recent appearance and you get a reason why I couldn’t find it on etymonline for this post. Nevertheless, here’s the dictionary.com entry:

noun, Christianity.
1. the theological study of the mission of the church, especially the character and purpose of missionary work.

It is the result of forcing the word “mission” to be married to o-logy for “study of”.

The mission of the church is to go out and spread the news of Christ and His truth. Don’t believe me? Read Matthew 28:16-20. Actually, I’ll just put the entire text below. Your welcome!

Matthew 28:16-20 – The Great Commission

“16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The very first to be charged with what we call missions today were those we call the Apostles. They were told to go out and make more people like them, disciples of Christ. This is were missions is most clearly given to believers to carry out (though there be other verses).

Today, in many Christian universities and seminaries you can study missiology. A common element to this area of study is in how we consider the target peoples’ culture in our approach to reaching them. History has shown us missionaries with a variety of approaches, each with varying success/failure. A common element in many of the failures is in failing to recognize and consider the culture of the people trying to be reached as it can have powerful impacts on the receiving of God’s truth. Sadly, history has also shown individuals who went with entirely wrong purposes as well.

Nevertheless, culture is not a magic bullet by any means as history also shows us missionaries who acted quite respectfully toward the people they sought (even by that peoples’ standards) but found themselves chased out or even killed. Even in these incidents we can look back and often see God’s guiding hand as such early events proved to set the stage for later attempts to succeed. It was not uncommon in the past or even recently for the death of a Christian to prick the consciences of the people they were trying to reach, making them more receptive when more Christians appeared with the gospel message.

 

 

I will leave this post here. My mind wants to go on dozens of rabbit-tracks with this topic which isn’t any good for a simple defining/introduction article. If you find yourself interested in this topic, I do recommend you research it further as there is much to get into. People even get PhD’s in this are of study so have at it!