Thursday, November 18, 2010

Theological Words of the Day


[kuh-lawmâ] (Arabic, “speech”)

A version of the cosmological argument for the existence of God that argues from beginnings. In essence, the argument can be summed up this way: Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist has a cause. Premise 2: The universe began to exist. Conclusion: The universe has a cause. The argument is then moved to a justification of premise 2 based upon the impossibility of an infinite past series of successive moments. Since this is the case, the universe cannot go into the infinite past and therefore must have a beginning.


(Latin, liberum arbitrium) The belief that the human will is free from any necessitating constraint (necessitas coactio). This is often referred to as “the power of contrary choice.” In this, whatever decisions are made, its alternative decisions are viable options. The alternative to libertarianism is fatalism, divine determinism, or self-determinism. The reformers believed that the faculty of the will is free (vonutas), but this will is in bondage to its nature, as all wills are. The reformers rejected both libertarianism and fatalism, seeking a mediating position that allows the will to be free, but does not allow its liberty to act out of concert with its nature.


The epistemological position believing that many beliefs are properly basic or foundational to humanity without the need of an outside source of information. An example of a properly basic belief would be the law of non-contradiction (i.e., a belief cannot be true and false at the same time and in the same relationship.


Originally fundamentalism referred to the early 20th century movement that opposed liberalism and took a decisive stand for the essentials or “fundamentals” of the Christian faith (e.g. virgin birth, miracles, deity of Christ, etc.). Later the term “fundamentalism” became associated with Christian legalism and radical conservatism. In this sense, it has become a derogatory term with implications of anti-intellectualism. Also, in this later sense, it is to be distinguished from Evangelicalism.


[pan-en''-thee-iz-um] (Greek pan-, “all” + Greek en-, “in” + Greek theos, “God”) A view of God which combines pantheism with theism. The panentheist believes that all of creation is in God, but does not make up the sum total of what God is. Like cells in a body, the universe is part of God. Important panentheists include Charles Hartshorne and Alfred North Whitehead.

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