Unction

Dictionary.com

noun
1. an act of anointing, especially as a medical treatment or religious rite.
2. an unguent or ointment; salve.
3. something soothing or comforting.
4. an excessive, affected, sometimes cloying earnestness or fervor in manner, especially in speaking.
5. Religion.
the oil used in religious rites, as in anointing the sick or dying.
the shedding of a divine or spiritual influence upon a person.
the influence shed.
extreme unction.
6. the manifestation of spiritual or religious inspiration.


Etymonline.com

“act of anointing as a religious rite,” late 14c., from Latin unctionem (nominative unctio) “anointing,” from unctus, past participle of ungere “to anoint” (see unguent).


Discussion/Explanation

This term may not appear as much as some but it can easily sound foreign to even a Christian if they haven’t stopped to consider its meaning and context.

To follow are some words from the message spoken at my own church this morning on this very term:

Unction is the “manifestation of spiritual influence and inspiration; it is the special filling or coming of the Holy Spirit, which makes the Word of God run from the mouth of the preacher to the hearts of the hearers!” An unknown Scottish preacher defined unction this way: “It is a sweet violence that pierceth into the heart and affections and comes immediately from the Lord. We call it unction.”


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Theology – part 3

Theology can be said to have 4 broad categories or areas of focus within it. These would include:

  1. Exegetical Theology
  2. Historical Theology
  3. Systematic Theology
  4. Practical Theology

Exegetical Theology. It is looking at the Bible as such; it “…includes all that belongs to the explanation and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures (1).” This is the area of theology focused on things such as Greek text, Hebrew text, textual criticism, hermeneutics, exegesis, biblical theology, and more. This area always begins with looking at the text of Scripture itself and the interpretation of its content.

Historical Theology. This traces the history of Church doctrines and their development. This area of theology naturally traces doctrinal differences, the Church’s understanding of the Scriptures, and the Church’s response to heresy. As this area closely follows the Church through history, you also see the rise & fall of territorial and denominational differences.

Systematic Theology. This theology can be described as the “child” of the previous two. From dictionary.com, it is “…a form of theology in which the aim is to arrange religious truths in a self-consistent whole (2).” It includes apologetics, dogmatics, ethics, and polemics. This is where various studies of the faith come together into a greater, cohesive framework. Dispensationalism and Covenantalism are theologies of the systematic sort as they seek to tie various scriptures together, albeit, with different approaches (giving implications of differences in other areas of theology as well).

Practical Theology. If systematic theology is the “child”, practical theology is the “grandchild” of the first two areas. As the name implies, you get to see Scripture lived out. This includes areas of study within homiletics, liturgy, poimenics, catechetics, church order, and missions. All of these involve the methodologies employed as the gospel is shared in preaching, worship, outreach, and more.

With each of these broad areas, there are sub-areas as you have now seen. Some of these have already been addressed in previous posts as part of this series, and I have therefore linked them for your convenience. Expect to see some of these other terms in future posts for your reading convenience.


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Sources:

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

Homiletics

What is homiletics?


Dictionary.com

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

Etymonline.com

“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.

Discussion/Explanation

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 acknowledgment here that there are different 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 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 where 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!

 

 

Apologetics

At the root of the term “apologetics” is “apology”. NO, we are not talking about saying “I’m sorry” here. Let’s take a closer look as to its actual meaning & origin.

Dictionary.com

noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1. the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.

Etymonline.com

apologetics

“branch of theology which defends Christian belief,” 1733, from apologetic (which is attested from early 15c. as a noun meaning “formal defense”); also see -ics.

apology

“early 15c., “defense, justification,” from Late Latin apologia, from Greek apologia “a speech in defense,” from apologeisthai “to speak in one’s defense,” from apologos “an account, story,” from apo “away from, off” (see apo-) + logos “speech” (see Logos).

In classical Greek, “a well-reasoned reply; a ‘thought-out response’ to the accusations made,” as that of Socrates. The original English sense of “self-justification” yielded a meaning “frank expression of regret for wrong done,” first recorded 1590s, but this was not the main sense until 18c. Johnson’s dictionary defines it as “Defence; excuse,” and adds, “Apology generally signifies rather excuse than vindication, and tends rather to extenuate the fault, than prove innocence,” which might indicate the path of the sense shift. The old sense has tended to shift to the Latin form apologia (1784), known from early Christian writings in defense of the faith.”


Discussion/Explanation

In Christianity we mean “apology” in the older sense of the word as is seen above from etymonline. As such, it is entirely focused on giving not only an accurate representation of the Christian faith, as seen in the Scriptures, but also communicating that message to those in and out of the faith. It can be easy to think that giving a defense is only against those easily seen as outside the faith, but it just as much includes defending against those who claim the faith (but are actually in heresy) or are simply in error and still in the faith (thereby simply receiving correction).

Within apologetics includes two predominant schools of thought – presuppositionalism and classical apologetics – which define effectively two different approaches to apologetics. Of course, there are various other named areas of apologetics (like moral apologetics) but these can easily be connected to the two approaches or describe “giving a defense” that isn’t connected to Christianity exclusively.

Apologetics, as you may have guessed, gets into the realm of philosophy despite its heavy use of the Scriptures. As such, it could be argued that there are other positions besides the two mentioned – and that’s fine. I’m not here to debate. I would say though that presuppositional & classical are the two I see most in my circles and what I hear debated most (a.k.a. whether to use one over the other).

You may be saying, well that’s all well and good – what are those positions? How/Where do they stand?

A good question. I would direct you to the following site. Here you will see presuppositional, classical, and a couple others. If you are looking for further reading on this topic, start there.

Defining & Where to Next

This week I thought I’d take a short break from the series to give you a preview of what I’ve got planned coming up.

So far I’ve gone over Theology and then moved onto other “ologies” that are related to the study of God. Those have included Epistemology and Eschatology, each with their own posts after the first two weeks just being on Theology overall.

Going forward, there will be more “ologies” and the next one planned will be on Soteriology. But that’s not all. I will also be digging into key terms that people often have difficulty with or trip up on as they aren’t necessarily common terms in everyday English. Two examples will be Justification and then another post on Epistles. Those more versed in the faith will know what I’m talking about, otherwise (unless you work in law) you may not truly understand words like Justification. We’ll be getting to that.

Currently, I’m planning to end the series with posts on Biblical Theology, Systemic Theology, Covenant Theology, and Dispensational Theology. Each of these will receive at least one post each if not more.

If I count up my current topics left to hit, I have…1…2…3…………..  …16 more topics to hit. So, I have at least 16 more posts/weeks of material at the minimum. Now, some of these will likely be in 2 parts which could stretch this out but I may just post more than once in a week to keep from stretching things out too far. I currently have no plans to have a particular topic stretch more than one post; however, with the finale being in bigger areas like Covenantal & Dispensational Theology….yeah, those may take more.

So, at this time it is 16 more posts in the series after this post which means 16 more weeks or, just be all the more obvious, 4 months of posts. No need for us to rush. On that note, expect Soteriology next week!

Eschatology

The study of final things.

This area of study is more directly an area of study within theology unlike epistemology – which was more directly an area of study from philosophy.

It is concerned with studying and understanding what has been revealed about the end of times – the end of the world as we know it. This inherently involves what happens to us after we die as well as what happens after the world comes to its end.

Etymology (history of a word as found on etymonline):

“1834, from Latinized form of Greek eskhatos “last, furthest, uttermost, extreme, most remote” in time, space, degree (from PIE *eghs-ko-, suffixed form of *eghs “out;” see ex-) + -ology. In theology, the study of the four last things (death, judgment, heaven, hell). Related: Eschatological; eschatologically.”


Discussion/Explanation

This area of study involves a diversity of views and can also involve a diversity of responses – some aggressive and others not so much. The reason for such diversity in response often gets rooted in the individual’s associated angle of viewing theology (like in Covenantal Theology vs. Dispensational Theology). As you probably already know, people can get very passionate about their views. Nevertheless, such differences also make clear all the more that not everyone agrees on how the end times will play out – or have largely already played out if you’re a Preterist.

I do not intend to give an exhaustive introduction to all the different views; however, I do want to at least attempt to provide some clarity to some of the terms that get thrown around to define one’s position in this area of theology.

In this eschatology, there are what I would call four “general” overarching views within which more specifically named eschatological views can be found.

These include Historicist, Preterist, Futurist, and Spiritualist.

Historicist isn’t as common anymore but it still has its adherents. It largely ties various events in history to particular mentions in Scripture. In other words, it commonly looks to tie end times fulfillments to particular points in time and space. Preterist and Futurist have a tendency to do the same but much less. How? Well, the Preterist will read the end times fulfillment as being largely completed in the times shortly after Christ’s death leaving the rest to be fulfilled into the present time. Futurist, if you couldn’t guess by the name, places much of the end times fulfillment into the future. Those with a more Spiritual (or Spiritualist) view take many of the fulfillments less literally and lean toward a metaphorical interpretation that can be applied to all of the time since Christ to the present – what some have termed the “Present-age” view.

If that description seems muddy…..well that’s because there’s variance within each. The short of it is that Historicist isn’t that common anymore and often gets ignored. Preterist has adherents (like R.C. Sproul) who view much of fulfillment as already passed. Futurist sees things as in the future, and Spiritual don’t tie themselves to a specific time frame except that the end times refer to the time frame from Christ to now.

These four overarching angles do not get as much time spoken about these days as the next 3 terms/positions. Those include Premillennial, Postmillennial, and Amillennial. I want to note that these 3 are not concerned with the end times as a whole as much as they are focused on a particular event – the millennial kingdom as mentioned in Revelation 20:2-7.

To make this very brief:

Premillennial – before the millennium – Christ’s return ushers in the millennial kingdom.

Postmillennial – after the millennium – a period of prosperity & Christ-likeness lead by Christians leading up to Christ’s return.

Amillennial – not a “real” millennium – there is no literal, physical millennial kingdom. The millennium refers instead to this present church age.

Each of these has varying potential to appear within each of the 4 before mentioned general overarching views of eschatology. As an example, most Futurists would also be described as Premillennial. However, there are also Historic Premillennialists which I believe John Piper would label himself as – though it be his own version (which you can find plenty “own versions” out there if you look at the various views held by church leaders over the years).

I would have to say that Premillennialism and Amillennialism are the most prevalent today with Pre being clearly the one with the most adherents as of this writing. Not that number of adherents is any proof of a view’s validity but it is good to be aware.

Those adhering to Dispensational Theology (ex. include First Baptist churches) are typically Premillennial whereas the Covenantal Theologians (ex. include Presbyterians & some Baptist) are more or less Amillennial.

As you can imagine just by the descriptions so far, there is much room for variance leading to a diversity of views on eschatology. Regardless of the view one ends up taking, I personally always advise people to remember to ground their view in Scripture. Sadly, there have been those who have taken an idea or another from a piece of Scripture, run with it, and have driven themselves to a point that they had to deny other parts of the Scriptures to continue holding to the view they established. This is the territory of heresy, and there is no need for it as there are much more biblically-based views already in existence and continue to stand because of their dependence on Scripture to justify the position. In short, when in doubt, always seek out the Scriptures first and read them in light of other parts of Scripture. Also, make use of your church leaders. They are an invaluable source of information, direction, and previous study.


Now, some may ask – what about Judaic eschatology or Islamic eschatology? Why didn’t you bring them up? My answer: while I recognize these other belief systems do have their own eschatology, they are not part of Christianity and this blog site is focused on Christianity. However, I could see the possibility of doing some kind of comparison with them down the road – stay tuned!

Theology – part 2

There are many subcategories or areas of study within theology – each with their own names. You will be seeing these as we progress through this series.

For now, I want to zero in on an issue that some quibble over on the topic and that is in regards to division.

Theological differences have created splits throughout redemptive history. In fact, they have been going on since before Christ came and God’s followers began to be called Christians. The question at the heart here – was this division bad/wrong?

There are those today who see arguments made in regards to theology, see the divisions or lines in the sand drawn, and then proceed to over-react and label anyone standing staunchly on a particular theological position as effectively in the wrong or the downfall of the faith.

Their concern isn’t completely unfounded, sadly, as there are those who like to “major on the minors” as we say and will break fellowship with other believers over the tiniest differences of position. We do need to be aware of our limited-ness as created finite beings; however, this does not mean that God made us incapable of understanding any of His truth.

In fact, there are those from within the ranks of Christ and from without that have a false notion that theology is therefore bad because of their experiences with individuals who did as I’ve described. They are right to be concerned and to point out that there is a problem but their conclusion misses the mark.

Division is NOT the enemy here. Confused?

Christ said of Himself that “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one can come to the Father except through me”. Jesus isn’t mincing words here. He makes it quite clear that there is only one right path that it is through Him. There are NO other ways. As such, a natural division forms – those who come to the Father through Christ and those who do not. In other words, there are two groups of people – those in the Lord, His followers, and those who believe they have a different way commonly referred to as unbelievers.

This is a very simple theology that is quite plain in the Scriptures and it is clear that God is making a division. What’s more, many of the divisions that have occurred within Christendom were the result of heresies – refusals to submit to God’s revealed truth as found in Scripture.

So does theology divide? You bet!

Is it supposed to divide? Again, absolutely!

The people who start shunning theology, as a result, are making a theological stance to avoid anything potentially divisive and the truly sad thing is they commonly take it to the point of denying Scripture or saying they cannot definitively know. Not much of a faith at that point as they can no longer truly stand on anything. Granted there are those who will try but their logic is self-defeating. Either they’ll inevitably drop their claimed position under God or they will come to see their error and begin standing on God’s truth. …or worse they’ll try to insist on falsehoods and call it God’s truth – heresy.

So in summation & to finish:

  1. We shouldn’t make the minor topics of Scripture into major points of contention such that we break fellowship with one another. (I do recognize that this can be difficult as some will argue over what is minor & major)
  2. We engage in theology (the study of God) as we learn more about Him. You are either doing this or you are not; you are either learning truth or falsehood.
  3. Christ Himself divides the world – division is an intent here. Don’t take my word for it. Check out the following: John 14:6, Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 10:34, Revelation 1:16…
  4. We should be patient with one another as we grow in our understanding of God and the faith. We are all of us on a journey before God. When in error we need to be willing to lovingly direct the one in error.
  5. There should be division where people or individuals insist on standing with any view that disregards God’s revealed Word to us found in Scripture.

 

(Click here to see part 3)


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Theology – part 1

Theology is commonly defined as the study of God.

From etymonline.com:

[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.] https://www.etymonline.com/word/theology

Why do we (particularly as Christians) study God?

  1. We study Him to approve ourselves to God (2 Timothy 2:15). This includes coming to know more about God. This action reflects a valuing of Him in our lives and is another way we bring God glory.
  2. We study God to stand for our faith. We cannot live our faith or even point others to it without first studying to understand Him and the basis of our faith more. We study to become more transformed into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ.
  3. We study for the ultimate reason – to point others to God. This is all the more clear when reading in the Gospels, the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) It is God’s intent to spread His truth to those who would follow Him.

Some writers of the faith may add more to this list, but to me, this is a good start as many of the things we will be looking at going forward (including the follow-up to this post) will effectively be looking at subcategories within the realm of theology.

(Click here to continue to part 2)


Note: this is the first in a series – “-ologies & Key Terms“. The first post was broken into two pieces – the first laying the groundwork and the next digging a little deeper into a key question regarding division.

In addition:  I covet your prayers as I continue forward with this blog and other ministry opportunities. Thank you!