Thursday, January 13, 2011

Theology Thursday


[puh-rik''-uh-pee] (Greek peri, “around” + Greek koptein, “a cutting out”)
A single unit of thought in the Scripture. This could comprise a sentence or verse (as in the Proverbs), a paragraph, or a series of paragraphs which makes up one argument or narrative. For example, the story of Abraham”s encounter with the angels and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is one pericope and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is one pericope. When teaching or preaching the Scriptures, it is considered best to teach one pericope at a time, not necessarily one verse or chapter at a time.


(Latin, “outside the church, no salvation”)
This phrase has a long theological history, being coined by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, in the third century, but its meaning today is debated among scholars. While it expresses the belief that the church is necessary for salvation, this does not speak to the issues raised by the multiple divisions within the church that followed through the Middle Ages and into the Reformation and what is meant, in light of such, by the word “church.” All traditions of Christianity – Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox – can claim this phrase as substantially correct, but all three traditions would define it with a particular nuance which would be rejected by the others. Protestants would define “church” as the universal or invisible body of Christ that is not necessarily represented by one visible expression, tradition, or denomination. Both Catholics and Orthodox would claim that their tradition is the true representation of the “church” today, outside of which there is no salvation. However, one might find themselves within this “church” without knowledge of his or her membership.


The study of the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Christian faith. This discipline has traditionally been seen more in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions as the veneration of Mary is more pronounced and creedal. While Protestants have traditionally rejected the Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church, most would believe that she was blessed of God and is worthy of great honor and respect as the mother of Christ.


The belief among Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox that Mary remained a virgin her entire life, never having sexual relations with Joseph after the birth of Christ. Most Protestants object to this doctrine believing that the Bible teaches that Mary had other children and that this doctrine arose out of a philosophical disdain for the act of sex adopted by the early church. Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli both accepted the doctrine believing it to be non-essential, while John Calvin rejected it. Despite its lack of biblical support, it does find substantial support throughout church history.


The belief among Roman Catholics that Mary was conceived without original sin. Though not taught in the Scripture, Roman Catholics believe that this doctrine is a theological necessity in order for Christ to be born without the stain of sin. Protestants reject this doctrine citing insufficient biblical support. As well, Protestants would argue that the theological reasoning is problematic since Mary’s mother would have to be born without sin to protect Mary, and this would continue all the way back to the first woman. This doctrine was dogmatized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1854 in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus by Pius IX.

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