TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u
presence everywhere or in many places especially simultaneously.
possessed of universal or complete knowledge.
having virtually unlimited authority or influence.
concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion b : a state of mystical awareness of God’s being.
god : God theism theocentric.
exemption from error : INFALLIBILITY *the question of biblical inerrancy.
: incapable of error : UNERRING an infallible memory
: not liable to mislead, deceive, or disappoint : CERTAIN an infallible remedy.
: incapable of error in defining doctrines touching faith or morals.
a religious movement especially among Roman Catholic clergy in Latin America that combines political philosophy usually of a Marxist orientation with a theology of salvation as liberation from injustice –liberation theologian noun.
the theological system of Calvin and his followers marked by strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of mankind, and the doctrine of predestination Cal£vin£ist \-v*-nist\ noun or adjective.
9.1. : a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe
9.2. : the worship of all gods of different creeds, cults, or peoples indifferently; also : toleration of worship of all gods (as at certain periods of the Roman empire) –pan£the£ist \-th*-ist\ noun.
belief in or worship of more than one god (plurality of gods) –poly£the£ist \-*th*-ist\ adjective or noun.
belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world –the£ist \-ist\ noun or adjective.
a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe –de£ist \*d*-ist, *d*-\ noun , often capitalized .
is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design and/or direction in nature. The word “teleological” is derived from the Greek word telos, meaning end or purpose. Teleology is the supposition that there is purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature.
is a metaphysical argument for the existence of God, or a first mover of the cosmos. It is traditionally known as an “argument from universal causation,” an “argument from first cause,” and also as an “uncaused cause” argument. Whichever term is used, there are three basic variants of this argument, each with subtle but important distinctions: the argument from causation in esse, the argument from causation in fieri, and the argument from contingency. The cosmological argument does not attempt to prove anything about the first cause or about God, except to argue that such a cause must exist. This cause is known in Latin as “causa sui.”
15. Black theology
is a Christian theology of liberation. Methodist James Cone is still considered its leading theologian, though now there are many scholars who have contributed a great deal to the field. One of its major concerns is with the perceived historic and present racism in “Western civilizations” (especially within Christendom) and the ways in which Jesus urged his disciples to seek freedom for all people.
As with all liberation theologies, black theology focuses on those who are perceived as oppressed and/or poor. Through its intentionally particular lens, black theology seeks to contribute to the liberation of black peoples. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Theology.
In Christianity, liberation theology is a school of theology that focuses on Jesus Christ as not only the Redeemer but also the Liberator of the oppressed. It emphasizes the Christian mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed, particularly through political activism. Some elements of certain liberation theologies have been rejected by the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_Theology
is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically-informed religious movements and moods within late 18th, 19th and 20th century Christianity. The word “liberal” in liberal Christianity does not refer to a leftist political agenda or set of beliefs, but rather to the freedom of thought and belief associated with the philosophical and religious paradigms developed during the Age of Enlightenment.
The theology of liberal Christianity was prominent in the biblical criticism of the 19th and 20th centuries. The style of scriptural hermeneutics within liberal theology is often characterized as non-propositional. This means that the Bible is not considered an inventory of factual statements but instead documents the human authors’ beliefs and feelings about God at the time of its writing—within an historic/cultural context. Thus, liberal Christian theologians do not discover truth propositions but rather create religious models and concepts that reflect the class, gender, social, and political contexts from which they emerge. Liberal Christianity looks upon the Bible as a collection of narratives that explain, epitomize, or symbolize the essence and significance of Christian understanding.
is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity. The Methodist movement traces its origin to the evangelistic teaching of John Wesley. It originated in 18th century Britain, and through vigorous missionary activity, spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond. Originally it appealed especially to workers, agricultural workers, and slaves. Theologically most Methodists are Arminian or sometimes moderately Calvinist, emphasizing that Christ accomplished salvation for every human being, and that humans must exercise an act of the will to be saved (as opposed to the traditional Calvinist doctrine of monergism); and low church in liturgy (although this varies greatly in individual chapels; the Wesleys themselves greatly valued the Anglican liturgy and tradition). There are also a number of Calvinistic Methodists in Wales. In 2006 Methodism claimed some seventy-five million members worldwide.
The Methodist revival originated in England, and began with a group of men, including John Wesley and his younger brother Charles, as a movement within the Church of England in the 18th century, focused on Bible study, and a methodical approach to scriptures and Christian living. The term “Methodist” was a pejorative term given to a small society of students at Oxford, who met together between 1729 and 1735 for the purpose of mutual improvement. They were accustomed to receiving communion every week, fasting regularly, and abstaining from most forms of amusement and luxury. They also frequently visited the sick and the poor, as well as prisoners.
John Wesley came under the influence of the Moravians and Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius, while Whitefield adopted Calvinistic views. Consequently, their followers separated, those of Whitefield becoming Calvinistic Methodists. Wesleyan Methodists have followed Arminian theology.
Traditionally, Methodism has believed in the Arminian view of free will, via God’s prevenient grace, as opposed to absolute predestination. This distinguishes it, historically, from Calvinist traditions such as Presbyterianism. However, in strongly Reformed areas such as Wales, Calvinistic Methodists remain, also called the Presbyterian Church of Wales. Also, more recent theological debates have cut across denominational lines, so that theologically liberal Methodist and Reformed churches have more in common with each other than with more conservative members of their own denominations.
John Wesley was not a systematic theologian, though Methodist ministerial students and trainee local preachers do study his sermons for his theology. The popular expression of Methodist theology is in the hymns of Charles Wesley. Since enthusiastic congregational singing was a part of the Evangelical movement, Wesleyan theology took root and spread through this channel.
is a school of soteriological thought in Protestant Christian theology founded by the Dutch theologian Jacob Hermann, who was best known by the Latin form of his name, Jacobus Arminius. Its acceptance stretches through much of mainstream Protestantism. Due to the influence of John Wesley, Arminianism is perhaps most prominent in the Methodist movement.
Arminianism holds to the following tenets:
· Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation
· Salvation is possible by grace alone
· Works of human effort cannot cause or contribute to salvation
· God’s election is conditional on faith in Jesus
· God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe
· Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith
Arminianism is most accurately used to define those who affirm the original beliefs of Jacobus Arminius himself, but the term can also be understood as an umbrella for a larger grouping of ideas including those of Hugo Grotius, John Wesley, Clark Pinnock, and others. There are two primary perspectives on how the system is applied in detail: Classical Arminianism, which sees Arminius as its figurehead, and Wesleyan Arminianism, which sees John Wesley as its figurehead. Wesleyan Arminianism is sometimes synonymous with Methodism. Additionally, Arminianism is understood by some of its critics to also include Pelagianism, though supporters from both primary perspectives deny this vehemently.
Within the broad scope of church history, Arminianism is closely related to Calvinism (or Reformed theology), and the two systems share both history and many doctrines in common. Nonetheless, they are often viewed as archrivals within Evangelicalism because of their disagreement over the doctrines of predestination and salvation.
is the study of Christian theology organized thematically (as opposed to historically, as in Historical Theology or Biblical Theology - according to some uses of the latter term).
Systematic theology is the attempt to formulate a coherent philosophy which is applicable to the component parts of a given faith’s system of belief. Inherent to a system of theological thought is that a method is developed, one which can be applied both broadly and particularly. While a systematic theology must take into account the sacred texts of its faith, it also looks to history, philosophy, science, and ethics to produce as full a view and as versatile a philosophical approach as possible.
is the a discipline of theology (in distinction from systematic theology, practical theology, apologetics, etc.) which studies the Bible as a whole to help interpret and understand individual portions of it. That is, Biblical Theology attempts to put individual texts in their historical context since what came before them is the foundation on which they are laid and what comes after is what they anticipate. ...
Biblical Theology is a discipline within Christian theology which studies the Bible from the perspective of understanding the progressive history of God revealing God’s self to humanity following the Fall and throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. It particularly focuses on the epochs of the Old Testament in order to understand how each part of it ultimately points forward to fulfillment in the life mission of Jesus Christ.
Biblical theology seeks to understand a certain passage in the Bible in light of all of the Biblical history leading up to it. It asks questions of the text such as:
· How much does this person or group know about the attributes of God?
· To what extent are God’s plans revealed, such as future plans of sending Jesus as the Messiah?
· How has Israel responded to God’s interactions with them up to this point?
Biblical Theology puts individual texts in their historical context since what came before them is the foundation on which they are laid and what comes after is what they anticipate. Biblical Theology is sometimes called the “History of Special Revelation” since it deals with the unfolding and expanding nature of revelation as history progresses through the Bible.
The motivation for this branch of theology comes from such passages as Luke 24.27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, (Jesus) explained to (the disciples) what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” The assumption of this text seems to be that the Old Testament anticipated the Messiah and that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. Thus, Biblical Theologians suggest that, in order to understand the intended meaning of a Biblical text, one must understand what the text points toward or back to. For instance, when reading about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament, Biblical Theologians follow the trajectory the Bible lays out for that system (namely, pointing to Jesus as the true sacrifice), and likewise, when a New Testament text refers back to the Old Testament (for example, Jesus being the son of David and heir of his covenant), they try to understand that text against its proper, specified background.
Biblical theology can be compared with and is complemented by systematic theology in that the former focuses on historical progression through out the Bible while the latter focuses on thematic progression. Systematic theology deals with a single topic in each place it is dealt with, whereas Biblical Theology seeks to follow the flow of “redemptive narrative” as it unfolds. In this way, Biblical Theology reflects the diversity of the Bible, while systematic theology reflects its unity.
22. Natural theology
is the attempt to find evidence of a God or intelligent designer without recourse to any special or supposedly supernatural revelation. The expression ‘natural theology’ (theologia naturalis) seems to have been first used by Augustine of Hippo with reference to the deepest theological insights of the classical philosophers. Natural theology (or natural religion) is theology based on reason and ordinary experience. Thus it is distinguished from revealed theology (or revealed religion) which is based on scripture and religious experiences of various kinds; and also from transcendental theology, theology from a priori reasoning (see Immanuel Kant et alia).
is a major branch of Protestant Christianity that identifies with the teachings of the sixteenth-century German reformer Martin Luther. Luther’s efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Church launched the Protestant Reformation and, though it was not his intention, left Western Christianity divided.
The split between Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church arose mainly over the doctrine of justification before God. Specifically, Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification “by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone,” distinct from the Roman Catholic view. Lutheranism is also distinct from the Reformed Churches, another major church which arose during the Reformation. Unlike the Reformed Churches, Lutherans have retained many of the sacramental understandings and liturgical practices of the pre-Reformation Church. Lutheran theology differs considerably from Reformed theology in its understanding of divine grace and predestination to eternity after death.
Today nearly 70 million Christians belong to Lutheran churches worldwide; furthermore, the world’s 400 million Protestant Christians can trace their tradition, at least in part, back to Luther’s reforming work
is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life that emphasizes the rule of God over all things. Named after John Calvin, this variety of Protestant Christianity is sometimes called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology.
The Reformed tradition was advanced by theologians such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli and also influenced English reformers such as Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel. Yet due to John Calvin’s great influence and role in the confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the 17th century, the tradition generally became known as Calvinism. Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches, of which Calvin was an early leader, and the system is best known for its doctrines of predestination and total depravity.
Neo-Orthodoxy can also refer to a form of Orthodox Judaism following the philosophy of “Torah im Derech Eretz”, and can additionally refer to the ideas of late 20th century Eastern Orthodox theology, e.g. by Christos Giannaras
is an approach to theology that was developed in the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918). It is primarily associated with the Swiss Protestant Karl Barth (1886-1968) and theologian Emil Brunner (1899-1966). Some theologians believe that two brothers, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) and H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962), did more to introduce neo-orthodoxy to America than anyone else.
There is a strong emphasis on the revelation of God by God as the source of Christian doctrine. Natural theology states that knowledge of God can be gained through a combination of observation of nature and human reason. Barth totally rejected natural theology. Brunner believed that natural theology still had an important role and this led to a sharp disagreement between the two men.
There is a stress on the transcendence of God. Barth believed that the emphasis on the immanence of God had led human beings to imagine God to be ourselves writ large. He stressed the infinite qualitative distinction between the human and the divine.
The neo-orthodox theologians made use of existentialism and in particular Christian existentialism. Barth was strongly influenced by the writings of the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was a critic of the liberal Christian modernist effort to rationalise Christianity. Instead, under pseudonymous names such as Johannes Climacus, he maintained that Christianity is absurd (transcends human understanding) and presents the individual with paradoxical choices. The decision to become a Christian is not a rational decision but a leap of faith. This was the foundation of Barth’s theology of crisis.
Neo-orthodoxy is distinct from both liberal Protestantism and fundamentalism. This can be seen in Barth’s understanding of the Bible. He rejected the fundamentalist claim that the Christian scriptures are inerrant. He rejected the modernist liberal Christian claim of that time, that God could be known through human scholarship. He believed that the Bible was the key place where the Word of God can be revealed to human beings, and that an existential leap of faith is required by the individual to hear what God has to say.
is a movement, generally in the Western religious traditions (mostly Christianity and Judaism), to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting the male-dominated images of God, and including more female imagery among the myths and language of the faith.
Feminist theology is a movement, generally in Christianity and Judaism, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of their religion from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women’s place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion’s sacred texts.
Feminists have attempted to counter perceptions of women as morally or spiritually inferior to men; as a source of sexual temptation; as dedicated to childbearing, their homes, and husbands; and as having a lesser role in religious ritual or leadership because of such inferiority or dedication.
Feminist theology attempts to consider every aspect of religious practice and thought. Some of the questions feminist theologians ask are:
· How do we do theology? The basic question of how theologians may go about creating systems of thought is being reinterpreted by feminist theologians. Many feminist theologians assert that personal experience can be an important component of insight into the divine, along with the more traditional sources of holy books or received tradition. (The relevance of personal experience to the policies of groups of people is a familiar notion to veterans of the feminist movement.)
· Who is God? Feminist theologians have pioneered the use of non- or multi-gendered language for God, holding that language powerfully impacts belief about the behavior and essence of God.
· Where are women in religious history? Feminist historical theologians study the roles of women in periods throughout history that have impacted religion: the Biblical period, the early Christian era, medieval Europe, and any period of import to a particular religion. They study individual women who influenced their religion or whose religious faith led them to impact their culture. The work of these scholars has helped feminist theologians claim historical figures as their predecessors in feminist theology. For example, Sojourner Truth’s “Ar’n’t I a Woman?” speech pointed out, “Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him!” Elizabeth Cady Stanton produced the “Woman’s Bible,” excising the traditional Christian text of all references she thought contradicted the positions of women’s rights.
Covenant Theology is not to be confused with the Covenanters
For Covenantal Theology in the Roman Catholic perspective, see Covenantal Theology (Roman Catholic).
(also known as Covenantalism or Federal theology or Federalism) is a conceptual overview and interpretive framework for understanding the overall flow of the Bible. Covenantalism uses the theological concept of “Covenant” as an organizing principle for Christian theology.
Typically, Covenant Theology views the history of God’s dealings with mankind in all of history, from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Consummation, under the framework of three overarching theological covenants:
· the Covenant of Redemption (Latin: Pactum Salutis)
· the Covenant of Works (Latin: Foedus Operum)
· the Covenant of Grace (Latin: Foedus Gratiae)
These three covenants are called “theological covenants” because they are not explicitly presented as such in the Bible, but are thought to be theologically implicit, describing and summarizing the wealth of Scriptural data. Within historical Reformed Christian systems of thought, Covenant Theology is not merely treated as a locus of doctrine, neither is it treated as a central dogma. Rather, Covenant is viewed as the Architectonic Principle of Scripture: the structure by which the Biblical text organizes itself.
32.1. The Covenant of Redemption is the eternal agreement within the Godhead in which the Father appointed the Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to redeem the elect from the guilt and power of sin. God appointed Christ to live a life of perfect obedience to the law and to die a penal, substitutionary, sacrificial death as the covenantal representative for all who trust in him. Some covenant theologians have denied the intra-Trinitarian Covenant of Redemption, whether the notion of the Son’s works leading to the reward of gaining a people for God, or the covenantal nature of this arrangement. Those who have upheld this covenant point to passages such as Philippians 2:5-11 and Revelation 5:9-10 to support the principle of works leading to reward; and to passages like Psalm 110 in support that this is depicted in Scripture as a covenant.
32.2. The Covenant of Works was made in the Garden of Eden between God and Adam who ultimately represented all mankind in a covenantal sense. (Romans 5:12-21) It promised life for obedience and death for disobedience. Adam and all mankind in Adam failed to live as God intended and stood condemned. Adam disobeyed God and broke the covenant, and so the Covenant of Grace was made between God and all of mankind.
Though it is not explicitly called a covenant in the opening chapters of Genesis, the comparison of the representative headship of Christ and Adam, as well as passages like Hosea 6:7 have been interpreted to support the idea. It has also been noted that Jeremiah 33:20-26 (cf. 31:35-36) compares the covenant with David to God’s covenant with the day and the night and the statues of heaven and earth which God laid down at creation. This has led some to understand all of creation as covenantal: the decree establishing the natural laws governing heaven and earth. The Covenant of Works might then be seen as the moral law component of the broader creational covenant. Thus the Covenant of Works has also been called the Covenant of Creation indicating that it is not added, but constituitive of the human race; the Covenant of Nature in recognition of its consonance with the natural law in the human heart; and the Covenant of Life in regard to the promised reward.
32.3. The Covenant of Grace promises eternal blessing for all people who trust in the successive promises of God, ultimately accepting Christ as the substitutionary covenantal representative fulfilling the Covenant of Works on our behalf, in both the positive requirements of righteousness and its negative penal consequences (commonly described as his active and passive obedience). It is the historical expression of the eternal covenant of redemption. Genesis 3:15, with the promise of a “seed” of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, is usually identified as the historical inauguration for the covenant of grace.
The Covenant of Grace became the basis for all future covenants that God made with mankind such as with Noah (Gen 6, 9), with Abraham (Gen 12, 15, 17), with Moses (Ex 19-24), with David (2 Sam 7), and finally in the New Covenant fulfilled and founded in Christ. These individual covenants are called the “biblical covenants” because they are explicitly described in the Bible. Under the Covenantal overview of the Bible, submission to God’s rule and living in accordance with his moral law (expressed concisely in the Ten Commandments) is a response to grace - never something which can earn God’s acceptance (legalism). Even in his giving of the Ten Commandments, God introduces his law by reminding the Israelites that he is the one who brought them out of slavery in Egypt (grace).
As a framework for biblical interpretation, Covenant Theology stands in direct contrast to Dispensationalism in regard to the relationship between the Old Covenant with national Israel and the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. Regarding the theological status of modern day Jewish people Covenantalism is often referred to by its detractors as “Supersessionism” or “Replacement theology” due to the perception that it teaches that God has abandoned the promises made to the Jews and has replaced the Jews with Christians as His Chosen People in the earth. Defenders of Covenant Theology deny that God has abandoned his promises to Israel, but see the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel, not a separate replacement entity.
Covenant theology is a prominent feature in Protestant theology, especially in churches holding a reformed view of theology such as the Reformed churches and Presbyterian churches and, in different forms, some Methodist churches and in some Baptist churches.
32.4. Covenant Theology and the biblical covenants
Covenant theology first sees a Covenant of Works administered with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Upon Adam’s failure, God established the Covenant of Grace in the promised seed (Gen 3:15), and shows his redeeming care in clothing Adam and Eve in garments of skin—perhaps picturing the first instance of animal sacrifice. The specific covenants after the fall of Adam are seen as administered under the overarching theological Covenant of Grace and include:
· The New Covenant, which is most clearly predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus alludes to this prophecy, as well as to prophecies such as Isaiah 49:8, when he says that the cup of the Passover meal is “the New Covenant in [his] blood.” This use of the Old Testament prophecy is developed further in the Epistle to the Hebrews (see especially chs. 8-10). The term “New Testament” comes from the Latin translation of the Greek New Covenant and is most often used for the collection of books in the Bible, can also refer to the New Covenant as a theological concept.
32.5. Covenant Theology and the sacraments
Since Covenant Theology today is mainly Protestant and Reformed in its outlook, proponents view Baptism and The Lord’s Supper as the only two sacraments, which are called “church ordinances” by some to avoid some of the sacerdotal connotations of the word “sacrament.” The sacraments are a sign and a seal of the Covenant of Grace. Along with the preached word, they are identified as an ordinary Means of Grace for salvation. The benefits of these rites do not occur ex opere operato (working in and of themselves), but through the power of the Holy Spirit as they are received by faith.
32.6. The Lord’s Supper
The Eucharist or the “Lord’s Supper” was instituted by Jesus at a Passover meal, to which he gave a radical reinterpretation. The festival of Passover commemorates the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt - specifically, how the lamb’s blood which God commanded them to place on their door posts caused the Angel of Death to “pass over” their dwellings, so that their firstborn might be spared from the final plague. The New Testament writers understand this event typologically: as the lamb’s blood saved the Israelites from the plague, so Jesus’ substitutionary death saves God’s New Covenant people from being judged for their sins. Covenant Theology has generally viewed the Eucharist as a mysterious participation in the Real Presence of Christ mediated by the Holy Spirit (i.e. Real Spiritual Presence or Pneumatic Presence). This differs from Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism which believe in the Real Presence as an actual bodily presence of Christ, as well as from the generally Baptist position that the Supper is merely a memorial commemoration.
Paedobaptist Covenant theologians see the administration of all the biblical covenants, including the New Covenant, as including a principle of familial, corporate inclusion or “generational succession.” In The Acts of the Apostles 2:38-39, the promise is seen to extend to the children of believers as it was in the Old Covenant. The biblical covenants between God and man include signs and seals that visibly represent the realities behind the covenants. These visible signs and symbols of God’s covenant redemption are administered in a corporate manner (for instance, to households, cf. Acts 16:14-15; 16:31-34), not in an exclusively individualistic manner.
Baptism is considered to be the visible sign of entrance into the New Covenant and therefore may be administered individually to new believers making a public profession of faith. Paedobaptists further believe this extends corporately to the households of believers which typically would include children, or individually to children or infants of believing parents (see Infant baptism). In this view, baptism is thus seen as the functional replacement and sacramental equivalent of the Abrahamic rite of circumcision and symbolizes the internal cleansing from sin, among other things.
Credobaptist Covenant theologians (such as the Baptist John Gill) hold that baptism is only for those who can understand and profess their faith, and they argue that the regulative principle of worship, which many paedobaptists also advocate and which states that elements of worship (including baptism) must be based on explicit commands of Scripture, is violated by infant baptism. Furthermore, because the New Covenant is described in Jeremiah 31:31-34 as a time when all who were members of it would have the law written on their hearts and would know God, Baptist Covenant Theologians believe only those who are born again are members of the New Covenant
is a form of premillennialism which teaches biblical history as a number of successive “economies” or “administrations”, called “dispensations”, each of which emphasizes the discontinuity of the Old Testament covenants God made with His various peoples.
The inspiration of the Bible is of great importance, for all Christian doctrines are developed from the Bible and rest upon it for authority. The conviction that the eternal God has revealed Himself to man has always been central in the Christian faith. Since man could never have discovered God by himself, Christians have always held that God makes Himself known to man supernaturally. The books that form the canon of the Old and New Testaments as originally written are fully inspired and entirely free from error. These books constitute the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
To accept the inspiration of the Bible does not mean that every passage can be explained or understood. There are depths in God’s Book that the mind of man cannot fathom, but far from being indications of weakness or failure, they serve to prove the Bible’s divine origin. If the intelligence of man could master the Bible from beginning to end, it might be justifiable to question its divine origin. God has revealed a sufficient knowledge of His love and grace for believers to have both faith and hope in Him and to be assured that “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17). If Christians study the Bible, not with prejudice and criticism, but with faith in and love for its Author, they will understand its message.
There is a distinction between revelation and inspiration. Revelation is the record of God’s communication through men. Inspiration is God’s power enabling man to record correctly the truth revealed. The word inspiration, used only twice in the English Bible (Job 32:8; 2 Tim. 3:16), means the “inbreathing” of God into man, so that man spoke or wrote God’s revelation of truth with authority and accuracy (2 Pet. 1:21).
Not everything in the Bible has been directly revealed to men. The Bible contains history in the language of men, even of wicked men, but there is no part that is not inspired. The Spirit so directed and influenced the writers that they were kept from any error of fact or doctrine.
However, inspiration does not mean God has given His approval to every recorded statement. The Bible records the lies of Satan (for example, “Ye shall not surely die”) and the misdeeds of many wicked people, some of whom God used to communicate His message. For example, the book of Job contains the truths of Jehovah, the words of Satan, the speech of Elihu, and the arguments of Job and the three friends. Satan, Job, and his three friends did not speak by inspiration of God. They spoke their own opinions. Inspiration means that no one of them is misrepresented, but that each one spoke the words attributed to him in Scripture. The fact that misdeeds like Saul’s slaughter of the priests, David’s numbering of the people, and Herod’s massacre of the innocents are recorded in the Bible does not imply that God approved of them, but the divine record vouches for the accuracy of these facts.
While the fact of inspiration is recognized by most churches, all do not agree on the extent of inspiration. There are various theories of inspiration.
This theory identifies inspiration with a high order of human ability. It denies anything supernatural in the preparation of the Scriptures. It claims that the biblical writers were no more inspired than Milton, Shakespeare, or Mohammed.
However, when David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2), he meant something more than human skill. When Isaiah announced, “thus saith the Lord” (e.g., Isa. 43:1), he claimed something higher than a great poet’s eloquence. When Paul said to the Corinthians, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost
teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13), he used language for which no parallel can be found in mere human ability.
When one compares the literature of the great secular authors with that of the Bible, the difference between the two is not one simply of degree, but of kind. The Bible is not only a higher plane of literature, but an environment that is altogether different. If the qualifications of Bible writers were the same as those of great secular writers, there would be nothing to assure the readers that Moses, David, and Paul did not make human errors or teach human views of life. The theory of natural inspiration discredits rather than supports the Word of God.
37. Mechanical Inspiration
This view ignores human instrumentality in the preparation of the Scriptures and claims that the writers were like robots, as insensible to what they were doing as are piano keys to a musician’s touch. But consider the stern Moses, the poetic David, the lovable John, and the scholarly Paul. Careful study of the Scriptures reveals that God used these writers’ individualities to reach all kinds of people.
The theory of partial inspiration is held by some who have a superficial knowledge of the Bible and who accept scientists’ theories as facts. In the face of apparent discrepancies between scientific theories and Scripture, they conclude that the Bible contains the Word of God, but that much of it is not the Word of God and therefore not necessarily accurate. They can thus accept the theory of evolution and reject as not inspired those portions of Scripture that refute it. If Jonah’s experiences seem incompatible with scientific findings, or statements about the total depravity of human nature and the eternal punishment of the wicked are unacceptable, this theory of partial inspiration provides a convenient escape. But who is to decide what is and what is not inspired? The theory of partial inspiration leaves people in great uncertainty.
This is the belief of the Christian church. Plenary, or complete, inspiration is the opposite of partial inspiration. It claims all Scripture to be equally inspired, basing its claim upon 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.”
Much has been said and written in answer to the question, does inspiration include the very words of the Bible? Were the words dictated by the Spirit, or were the writers left to choose their own words? If the entire content of the Bible is completely accurate, it can be seen at once that the words as well as the thoughts must be inspired. Some statements of Scripture are the identical words written or spoken by God Himself. The Ten Commandments were written with “the finger of God” (Exod. 31:18; cf. 32:16). The handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar’s palace was written with “fingers of a man’s hand” (Dan. 5:5). In the New Testament, the voice that was heard at the baptism and the transfiguration of the Lord spoke words that could not be mistaken.
Apart from the exact words, there could be no precision, particularly such precision as is demanded in the Scriptures. The declaration of the writers who were chosen of God to record the Scriptures confirms the fact that they were responsible for words rather than mere concepts.
The result of plenary inspiration is inerrancy.
Careful study will reveal several different ways God transmitted His Word to people.
In both the Old and New Testaments the exact words of God were reproduced in writing (Exod. 32:16; 1 Chron. 28:19; Dan. 5:5). The children of Israel were highly favored in being permitted to hear God’s voice, about which Moses said, “Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?” (Deut. 4:33). These divine utterances were later recorded on tables of stone by “the finger of God” (Exod. 31:18; Deut. 9:10) and carried in the ark of the covenant. In the New Testament God honored His Son by speaking from heaven at His baptism (Matt. 3:17), His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), and before His crucifixion (John 12:28). These divine utterances were carefully and correctly recorded by human writers.
God put into the mouths of certain men the very words they should speak and write (Exod. 4:10-15; 34:27; Isa. 8:1, 11-12; Jer. 1:7; 7:27; 13:12; 30:1-2; Ezek. 3:10-11; 24:2; Hab. 2:2). Peter says that when the prophets wrote about Christ, they actually had to study the predictions that they themselves wrote, and even then did not fully understand them (1 Pet. 1:10-12).
Even more significantly, Daniel speaks of God’s dictation to him: “I heard, but I understood not.” In reply to an inquiry for further explanation, God directed, “Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Dan. 12:9). Daniel was given power to record with infallible accuracy what he heard, although he did not understand it. Yet Daniel was the wise man who interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and deciphered the handwriting upon the wall. His recording of God’s dictation without understanding it is no inspiration of mere ideas, nor elevation of mind, nor increase of intellectual power. It is a direct and special revelation of truth from God.
A Scripture writer’s individuality and literary style in relating divine truth was not destroyed by divine inspiration. For instance, the four Gospel narrators differed in recording what Pilate wrote upon the cross; yet, by a careful comparison of their accounts (Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19-20), the exact wording, and what part of it God wished recorded, can be determined. The complete inscription evidently was, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” but the all-important fact recorded by all four writers was that Jesus was “the King of the Jews.” This was the statement that displeased the Jews, for they asked Pilate not to write it. The fact was, the Jews quoted accurately the words that applied to the argument and omitted the rest. That is just what the Gospel writers did under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit employed the attention, investigation, memory, personality, logic—in fact, all the faculties of all the writers—and worked through them.
The writers themselves claimed to write the Scriptures under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit.
One cannot read the Old Testament without being impressed with the repetition of such phrases as “Thus saith the Lord,” which occurs 1,900 times. While this occurs mostly in the prophets, even in the historical books God is shown to be in close touch with His people.
It is claimed that such expressions as “the Lord said,” “the Lord spoke,” “the word of the Lord came” are found 3,808 times in the Old Testament. These writers claiming to have had revelations of the will of God almost always began their messages with the words, “Thus saith the Lord.” Their claims are confirmed by the minuteness and detail of names, times, and places that characterize their messages, and the literal fulfillment of their predictions.
When Moses explained creation, he did not make a single reference to the theories of the origin of the universe believed in ancient Egypt or Babylon, with which no doubt he was familiar. This can only be understood by the fact that he was controlled by the Holy Spirit. In the brief chapter on creation (Gen. 1), he claims to transcribe the words of God no less than fourteen times. Elsewhere it is written again and again, “The Lord spake unto Moses,” “The Lord commanded Moses.”
In the historical books the Lord speaks to Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha, Ezra, Nehemiah, and many others. The New Testament writers not only confirmed statements in the Old Testament, but expressly stated that they were God’s utterances (e.g., Matt. 1:22-23; 2:15; Mark 12:36; Luke 1:70; Acts 1:16).
The New Testament contains more than 280 quotations from thirty of the thirty-nine Old Testament books, spread over eighteen of its twenty-seven books (e.g., Matt. 10:19; Mark 13:14). Paul, a scholarly Jew and a member of the Sanhedrin, in becoming a Christian, did not modify his absolute confidence in the inspiration of the Old Testament. It always remained the Holy Scriptures with the same divine authority in establishing Christian truth as his own writings, which he knew were inspired (1 Cor. 2:13; 14:37; 1 Thess. 2:13). Paul quotes Scripture from Luke in the same breath as from Deuteronomy (1 Tim. 5:18; cf. Deut. 25:4; Luke 10:7). Peter classes Paul’s writings with “the other Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:15-16). The discourses of Peter, Stephen, and Paul in Acts are composed almost entirely of Old Testament quotations.
It is evident from this and many other passages that the writers of the New Testament were conscious that those who were instrumental in producing the Old Testament, as well as themselves, received revelations from God and considered themselves inspired of God to complete the Scriptures. They felt while writing that they were giving expression to the infallible truth of God through the operation of the Holy Spirit. This explains the absence of contradiction that would be natural, especially with writers so far removed from each other in point of time and circumstance.
To “bear witness unto the truth” was one object of Christ’s coming into the world (John 18:37). But He did not speak from Himself; rather, His Father who sent Him gave Him a commandment regarding what He should say and what He should speak (John 12:49). In His farewell prayer Christ said, “I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me” (John 17:8). The following sections explain Christ’s attitude toward the Scriptures.
He regarded them as authentic in their entirety. He showed this by quoting from the Pentateuch, Prophets, and Psalms (Luke 24:27).
He applied the whole Scripture to Himself. He used Isaiah 61:1 in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). He also reproached the Jews because, though they searched the Scriptures, they did not find Him, for, said He, “they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
He quoted from all the Scriptures as of equal authority. One word of the Bible, to Christ and to His opponents also, was sufficient to end any disagreement. His quotations from Deuteronomy silenced Satan (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). “What is written in the law?” He asked His critics. With that clear, no further arguments were needed. When some complained about the children singing His praises (Matt. 21:16), He merely replied, “Have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (cf. Ps. 8:2).
He upheld the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. The Lord maintained strongly the inspiration of every word of the Scriptures: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18). The jot was the smallest Hebrew letter, while the tittle was a little projection distinguishing some letters. Not merely the words, but, according to the Lord, the very letters of the Bible were inspired.
He accepted the miracles of the Bible. Christ spoke of the Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:26-32) as people today might speak of the feats of the astronauts—as unquestioned facts. He alluded to the miraculous death of Lot’s wife as a well-known catastrophe. He accepted Jonah’s marvelous experiences (Matt. 12:40), as well as the book of Daniel with its miraculous happenings (Matt. 24:15).
The doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible is of tremendous importance, for all Christian doctrines are developed from the Bible and rest upon it for authority. The term inspiration is defined as “God’s power enabling man to accurately record the truth revealed.”
Several theories of inspiration have been advocated.
The theory of natural inspiration identifies inspiration with a high order of human ability. Proponents of this view say that Bible writers were no more inspired than were secular writers. Holding this view discredits the Word of God.
Another view is mechanical inspiration. This view ignores human instrumentality in the preparation of the Scriptures and claims that the writers were like robots whom God used to write what He dictated. This view does not recognize the varied styles found in the Bible.
A third view is partial inspiration, which concludes that the Bible contains God’s Word but that much of it is not God’s Word, especially when it disagrees with current ideas of scientists. The obvious problem is, who determines what is and what is not inspired? This view leaves one with great uncertainty.
The fourth view is that held by the Christian church—plenary inspiration. Using 2 Timothy 3:16 this view claims that all Scripture is inspired by God. God so directed the biblical writers that even the words they used were inspired and accurate, making the entire record inerrant.
When God transmitted His Word to the biblical writers He used several methods. Some parts of the Bible were given as divine utterances. These sections are the exact reproductions of God’s spoken words. Other sections are divine dictation. In these sections God put the very words into the Bible writers’ mouths. A third method of recording the Bible could be termed human expression. This means that inspiration did not destroy the Scripture writers’ individualities and literary styles. This accounts for the differences found in the Gospels. The Holy Spirit employed all the faculties of the biblical writers and worked through them.
The writers of both the Old and New Testaments claimed to be writing under direct guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ also affirmed the inspiration of the Scriptures and even expressed that the object of His coming was to “bear witness unto the truth.”
Christ’s attitude toward the Scriptures is shown by the fact that He regarded them as entirely authentic, He applied them to Himself, He quoted from all as of equal authority, He upheld their verbal inspiration, and He accepted the miracles recorded in the Bible.
· Matthew 5:18
· John 10:34-36
· Acts 1:16
· Galatians 3:16
· 2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
· 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
There are tyipcally four main views that are associated with the doctrine of Inspiration.
A common belief of neo-orthodoxy is its view of the utter transcendence of God. That is, God is so completely different and set apart from us that we cannot comprehend him apart from his revelation(s) to us. The issue appears when neo-orthodoxy is compared to Evangelicalism regarding the Word of God. Proponents of neo-orthodoxy claimed that the Bible is a witness to the word of God or that it in some sense contains the Word of God. Thus, the Bible contains people’s experiences of God, yet, because they are finite and can commit error their writings contained paradoxes or errors. Problems with this account are raised when one understands that Scripture is God’s Word (2 Tim 3:16) and that people were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20-21). They were not merely accounts of each person’s experience with God.
Although not popular, the dictation theory is prevelant within some conservative Christian circles. This view expresses the belief that God simply dictated what he wanted to be written down. Therefore, all the author did was write down as he was told from God and the end product is the Word of God. Although Scripture does portray this idea (Jer 26:2; Rev 2:1,8), this is not the way all of it was written. At other times authors expressed their own personalities (Gal 1:6, 3:1; Phil 1:3, 4, 8) and the Holy Spirit still insured that the writings reflected God’s desired outcome
This view proposes that Scripture is inspired, yet it is limited to certain aspects. It affirms that God guided the writers, yet also allowed them the freedom to express their own thoughts regarding history and experiences they had. This allows the Bible to contain historical errors, yet, it is claimed that the Holy Spirit protected writers against any doctrinal error. Thus, the Bible may contain historical errors but it remains a reliable source of doctrine. Problems with this view appear in its rejection of the historical trustworthiness of Scripture. Archaeology has proven many biblical accounts (and even removed earlier difficulties) correct, and although the Bible is divinely inspired it also remains a historical document that contains accurate details. This view appears to easily conclude that errors may be possible within difficult passages whereas this is not the case.
53. Plenary verbal inspiration
The word plenary means “full” or “complete”. Therefore, plenary verbal inspiration asserts that God inspired the complete text(s) of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and including both historical and doctrinal details. The word verbal affirms the idea that inspiration extends to the very words the writers chose. Some Christians that hold this view point to Acts 1:16, in which the Apostle Peter says “the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake” (KJV). The Holy Spirit guided the writers along with allowing them the freedom of their own personalities to produce the Bible we have today. This view recognizes both the human and divine element within Scripture. This understanding has sometimes been compared and contrasted to the understanding of the two natures of Jesus.
In order to insure the clarity of what inspiration is and is not, the following four points should be helpful:
1) The idea is not of mechanical dictation, or automatic writing, or any process which involved the suspending of the action of the human writer’s mind. Such concepts of inspiration are found in the Talmud, Philo, and the Fathers, but not in the Bible. The divine direction and control under which the biblical authors wrote was not a physical or psychological force, and it did not detract from but rather heightened the freedom, spontaneity, and creativeness of their writing.
2) The fact that in inspiration God did not obliterate the personality, style, outlook, and cultural conditioning of his penmen does not mean that his control of them was imperfect, or that they inevitably distorted the truth they had been given to convey in the process of writing it down. B.B. Warfield gently mocks the notion that, when God wanted Paul’s letters written,
He was reduced to the necessity of going down to earth and painfully scrutinizing the men He found there, seeking anxiously for the one who, on the whole, promised best for His purpose; and then violently forcing the material He wished expressed through him, against his natural bent, and with as little loss from his recalcitrant characteristics as possible. Of course, nothing of the sort took place. If God wished to give His people a series of letters like Paul’s, He prepared a Paul to write them, and the Paul He brought to the task was a Paul who spontaneously would write just such letters (The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible).
3) Inspiredness is not a quality attaching to corruptions that intrude in the course of the transmission of the text, but only to the text as originally produced by the inspired writers. The acknowledgement of biblical inspiration thus makes more urgent the task of meticulous textual criticism, in order to eliminate such corruptions and ascertain what the original text was.
4) The inspiredness of the biblical writing is not to be equated with the inspiredness of great literature, not even when (as is often true) the biblical writing is in fact great literature. The biblical idea of inspiration relates not to the literary quality of what is written, but to its character as divine revelation in writing.
The above four points are taken verabtim from J. I. Packer’s “The Origin of the Bible”, p. 35-36
55. Christology is a field of study within Christian theology which is concerned with the nature of Jesus the Christ, particularly with how the divine and human are related in his person. Christology is generally less concerned with the details of Jesus’ life than with how the human and divine co-exist in one person. Although this study of the inter-relationship of these two natures is the foundation of Christology, some essential sub-topics within the field of Christology include:
· the Incarnation,
· the resurrection,
· and the salvific work of Jesus (known as soteriology).
Christology is related to questions concerning the nature of God like the Trinity, Unitarianism or Binitarianism. However, from a Christian perspective, these questions are concerned with how the divine persons relate to one another, whereas Christology is concerned with the meeting of the human and divine in the person of Jesus.
Throughout the history of Christianity, Christological questions have been very important in the life of the church. Christology was a fundamental concern from the First Council of Nicaea (325) until the Third Council of Constantinople (680). In this time period, the Christological views of various groups within the broader Christian community led to accusations of heresy, and, infrequently, subsequent religious persecution. In some cases, a sect’s unique Christology is its chief distinctive feature; in these cases it is common for the sect to be known by the name given to its Christology.