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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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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