Theology-Speak Decoded

Why, oh, why all the bewildering language?! Words should not be in themselves barriers or intimidators to understanding truths about God. Here is a list of some of the more common bafflers.

This is an ever-evolving page, and I will add to the list periodically. You can follow the appropriate links where available for more thorough explanations of the terms.

So put on your decoder goggles and get busy!

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Conversion – The spiritual change that takes place in a person moving from a state of being against God to being right with God; it also has to do with the general change of attitude and lifestyle toward godly living. See Three Ways to Understand Conversion.

Exegesis – Refers to trying to understand what a writer meant when he originally wrote a text. It is the attempt to try to figure out the author’s original, intended meaning. Examining 1 John 1:5-10 is an example. We all do exegesis on some level whenever we try to figure out what the Bible meant to those original hearers.

Hermeneutics – In a broad scope it is what the entire study of interpretation is called. In a narrower scope it refers to trying to figure out what an ancient text means for us today, or how it applies to us today. We all do hermeneutics whenever we read the Bible and try to figure out how to apply it to our lives.

Propitiation – An offering that takes away wrath. Jesus is called “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2) because by his death he took away God’s wrath from coming on us.

Trinity – While not in the Bible, this word refers to the idea that God is three persons in one: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Active righteousness – Satisfying the law commands.

Aseity – Self-existence, that God derives his existence from himself, not something else

Atonement (Substitutionary Atonement)

Attributes – Things about someone or something that can change or be eliminated.

Christology – The study about Jesus Christ

Cosmogony – A view of the origin of the world

Cosmologic Dualism – There are two primary, eternal forms of being, one is God and the other is the World (God/matter, good/evil, light/darkness)

Cosmologic Monism – There is only one ultimate form of being: all things are in some way a part of this one being (matter, God (Pantheism)-God and the world are the same essence)

Cosmology - A view of the cosmos as a whole

Doctrine – Teaching, what is taught, the content of teaching. The scope is theology and ethics.

Dogma – An official pronouncement as formulated by an official church body

Essence – Things about someone or something that are unchanging.

Eternal – Unlimited with respect to time. God is eternal in his being and consciousness.

Eucharist –

Ex nihilo – “Out of nothing”, that God creates the world out of nothing.

Expiate – To remove or cover (sins). Expiation is the result of propitiation.

Foreknowledge – God’s before-the-fact knowledge of what will happen in the actual future, without his necessarily having determined to cause it. See Does God Know the Future.

General providence – God works indirectly through his permissive will only. He works through natural law and free-will choices.

General Revelation – True knowledge about God as perceived from nature. This knowledge is general in nature, non-verbal, limited in content, form and effectiveness. It is available to anyone.

Holiness – Separate, distinct. Ethical and ontological: separate from sin (communicable), and separate in his being (transcendence) (non-communicable).

Immanence: God’s presence within his creation. He is present, not absent.

Immensity: that God is unmeasurable in terms of his own creation

Imparted righteousness: God gives us the ability to do righteousness (sanctification)

Imputed righteousness: God credits his righteousness to our account as a gift (justification)

Inerrant: absence of error, not containing any errors

Infallible: incapable of error, not able to err

Inspiration: the supernatural influence by the Holy Spirit on individuals so they could communicate revealed knowledge from God without error or omission.

Justification: forgiveness; to be declared righteous as if having satisfied the law’s penalty.

Omnipotent: unlimited in regard to power

Omnipresent: unlimited with respect to space.

Omniscient: unlimited in regard to knowledge; all-knowing.

Open Theism – see Does God Know the Future.

Pantheism – The philosophy that God and the world are the same essence.

Passive righteousness: satisfying the law’s penalties.

Permissive will: God permits things to happen through natural law and free will. He may or may not want them to happen.

Plenary inspiration: everything in the Bible is inspired (history, etc)

Pneumatology: the study of the Holy Spirit

Preceptive will: things God wants to happen but doesn’t make happen (God’s precepts or commands)

Propitiation: turning away divine wrath by putting forth another object to be consumed

Providence: how God interacts with creation. His continuous activity in preserving and governing creation.

Purposive will: God causes some things to happen when his purposes call for it.

Reconciliation: resolving the differences between two disputing parties by the use of a third party mediator

Redeem: to set free by paying a price

Redemption: arranging for the release of a person or property from someone’s possession by paying that person the price he demands

Revelation: God revealing knowledge to his creation

Righteousness: conformity to the proper norm, law, or standard. God always acts in accordance with his perfect nature. He is true to his promises and warnings.

Sanctification.

Sovereignty: that God has absolute rule and nothing is over against him.

Special providence: God works directly upon natural law for his specific purposes (purposive will); does not violate natural law. He doe this to make things come about that would not have otherwise.

Special Revelation: specific in nature, content, and purpose. Can be non-verbal or verbal. God specifically revealing information through various means. Word revelation is a form of special revelation.

Theistic determinism: every detail of every event is totally dependent on God in every sense. (Calvinism). Everything is caused by God.

Theology Proper: the study of God specifically.

Theology: from theos and logos meaning God and reasoning/thinking; a study about God.

Theophany: a manifestation of God through a physical phenomena (angel, burning bush). Appearance of God in human or other form.

Theosis: the idea that man can become divine

Transcendence: God’s nature or essence is qualitatively different from his created beings; concerns his nature, not his location.

Verbal inspiration: the Holy Spirit guards and approves every word.