Navigating religious and philosophical terminology

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Prov 23:7)

In my opinion, Proverbs 23:7 is almost always taken out of context to serve our own self interests or perhaps to explain something about someone else that may or may not necessarily be true. If the statement is to be contextually understood, the latter portion of it must be included as there is no period after “he” but a colon. This simply means what follows the first part proves and explains it. In this case, the point is more about hypocrisy than destiny or character. Taken out of context, the meaning can travel to Jupiter and back.

My point? Getting an understanding of things is very important if we are to rightly divide the word of truth not only for the edification of each other but to an unbelieving world we are called to witness to. Notwithstanding the Spirit of God giving what to say “on the spot”, we should avail ourselves to further study. The false prophets of our day are smart and glib of tongue. That’s a potent factor in deception.

The power of words, the meaning of words

There’s a growing lexicon of terms related to understanding or explaining religious concepts out there. This can be attributed to in part to the conflict over truth. Some terms describe false concepts which are popping up in churches everywhere. Others describe biblical perspectives which are embedded essentials of our faith. Then too, some may help to explain some of the perspectives that are espoused on this blog from time to time by non-believers who object to our biblical conclusions about homosexual conduct.

I decided to make a post highlighting the most prominent of them. Most  have the “ism” and “ology” subtext. Hopefully, as you hear these terms being dropped here and there in your studies you will have a working man’s knowledge of what they mean and its applicability. While I believe etymology is important in most cases, we have to be careful that etymology doesn’t eclipse other factors associated with a particular word because there are many. Primarily, their placement in scripture (or their inference in scripture) along with the Holy Spirit’s “illumination” is important. But even that has a check and balance. No meaning claimed to be derived from the Holy Spirit’s leading can conflict with other scripture particularly when the meaning is clear. The Word of God is one complete and harmonious system of doctrine. Thus, etymology is not an end all, but rather an appropriate starting point.

I’ve also linked scripture references for your consideration. If you know of any additional ones, please drop it in the comment section (with a working man’s definition) and I’ll add it.

antinominanism – taken from Greek: anti nomos “against the law”. In this case it is against God’s laws regarding sexual conduct, the promotion of lawlessness in the church. A belief which manifests in several different forms but mainly exalts one’s personal experience or ” the spirit” over scripture. Psalms 19:7-9
Determinism – a philosophical doctrine which holds that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of a previous event or series of events. Philippians 2:13
heterodoxy – any doctrine at variance with an official or orthodox position. Not to be used as a weapon against credible revelation, but as a deterrent against false teachings which have no root in established biblical doctrines.
perfectionism – the idea that once one has been saved, it is impossible or inadmissable to commit sin or sins. 1 John 1:6-10
existentialism – A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness of individual human experience in hostile or indifferent environments. It regards human existence as unexplainable and thus allows for one to claim human sovreignty; the “little god” teaching.  Eccl 12:12-14
epistemology – the study of how we know what we know
justification – the legal act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his or her sins. Its not that the sinner is actually sinless, but that he is “declared” sinless. Justification is granted by God alone and only by faith. Romans 5:1
fallibilism – a philosophical doctrine that all claims of knowledge could, in principle, be mistaken. Colossians 2:2-3
fatalism – a philosophical doctrine holding that all events are predetermined in advance for all time and human beings are powerless to change them 2 Kings 20:1-6
Nihilism – a radical doctrine that advocates destruction of the social system for its own good; annihilate Psalms 24:1
probability – part philosophical, part theoretical teaching that a random sampling process will result in all outcomes equally likely to happen solely based on chance. Romans 8:28-30
solipsism– a philosophical teaching that the self is all that you know to exist  Jeremiah 17:7-9Colossians 2:8
apologetics – defense of the Christian faith or its biblical doctrines from external enemies 1 Peter 3:15
polemics – defense of the Christian faith or its biblical doctrines from internal enemies. 2 Cor 11:13-15; Jude 3
theology – the study of the nature of God
christology – the study of and proper understanding of Jesus Christ as revealed in scripture 2 Pet 3:18
monergism – the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in an individual’s “new birth”. Monergism (Gkmono ergon “the work of one”) holds that the human will possesses no desire to holiness until it is born again, thus there is no pre-existing cooperation in regeneration.”
fundamentalism – a belief that every word in the Bible should be interpreted as literal truth. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
monogenes – a belief which suggests derivation, creation, origination of Christ. Rev 1:8
diaprax – the belief that Christian unity should and can be achieved without doctrinal consensus. Amos 3:3-7; 1 John 5:7-8
orthodoxy – can be applied across the spectrum of beliefs. In terms of Christian faith, it is adherence to a right set of beliefs as outlined in scripture.
orthopraxy – places emphasis on right conduct, both ethical and spiritual but not necessarily in opposition to faith and grace.
eschatology – The study of end times. A doctrine concerning the ultimate or final destiny of humanity and the earth including Christ’s second advent and God’s final judgment. 2 Peter 3:7-10


6 thoughts on “Navigating religious and philosophical terminology

  1. Praise the LORD!

    Excellent subject.

    Pastor Foster, I would like to add….

    Cessationism: This is from Wikipedia.

    In Christian theology, cessationism is the view that the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history.

    Cessationists usually believe the miraculous gifts were given only for the foundation of the Church, during the time between the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, c. AD 33 (see Acts 2) and the fulfillment of God’s purposes in history, usually identified as either the completion of the last book of the New Testament or the death of the last Apostle. Its counterpart is continuationism…

    Pastor Foster,
    This is where I believe a lot of division, strife, envy, abuse, control, CONFUSION and LORD knows what else… I admit the late 20th century, and now 21st century apostolic, pentecostal, charismatic, word of faith, full gospel, prosperity, televangelists, gospel music, etc. etc. etc. sects have really made a complete mess and mockery of the Word of GOD and many have damaged precious souls, over what is Spirit-led, Spirit-filled ministries. How many people have been turned off to the LORD JESUS CHRIST because of this confusion and being out of order. BUT anyone that has been truly changed/converted and touched by the LORD…knows that GOD stil performs miracles! GOD still heals. GOD still baptizes with the HOLY GHOST. GOD has not changed. We have(Mankind). Cessationism is the one that baffles me, I don’t want to interject my personal bias, but those that ascribe to this one, I almost want to say……(OK Pastor, I’ll be nice!)

    I truly believe the problem lies in that many leaders want decency and order and many leaders want complete freedom. Balance is the key! Some want the love of GOD without the ….JUDGEMENT of GOD.

    Many, Many churches need to welcome the HOLY GHOST in! Amen. And many, many HOLY GHOST filled churches need DECENCY and ORDER! Amen! For GOD is not the author of confusion, but peace, as in ALL(****Do we see and hear that!…ALL****) churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14:33.

    I know that I know that I know that GOD still is a miracle worker with signs and wonders. The HOLY GHOST is still moving and working today. And GOD is still using apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. It will not be a foundationary work like with Peter, James, John, and Paul. But the gift offices are still building to the foundation. The LORD is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle. I just try with all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength to love and believe in the LORD JESUS CHRIST and HIS Word. And GOD has continually blessed me with HIS HOLY SPIRIT. When the HOLY GHOST is in charge…whether an individual believer or a church, GOD sets the House in order. GOD will do the cleansing, rebuffing, convicting, purging, and separating! Amen.

    And again, Happy Anniversary/Birthday!

  2. transdispensationalism-which is the teaching that says people can be saved through general revelation without even knowing the name of Jesus. Evan’s says that the criteria for this “salvation” are that those saved this way genuinely seek God and He will honor that.

  3. Thank you so much for the list-I saved it for study and future reference. This brings to mind the following passage of scripture:
    2 Timothy 2:15-16, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. V16) BUT SHUN PROFANE AND VAIN BABBLINGS, for they will increase umto more ungodliness.
    God’s Word never fails!
    Keep pressing the battle to the gate~

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