Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Theology Thursday


A form of philosophy or theology that affirms certain basic presuppositions as the foundation to systems of knowledge and belief. Examples of assumed foundational principles would be the Law of Non-contradiction or the Law of the Excluded Middle. These assumed truths, according to foundationalists, give epistemic justification to other truths. Most people throughout history have held to some form of foundationalism.


A 16th century German sect of Anabaptists led by Nicholas Storch who believed that all knowledge, even knowledge of the alphabet, prevents people from a true knowledge of God. Abecedarians believed that God would provide all necessary understanding through divine means such as visions and ecstatic experiences. According to them, all theology and academic learning amounted to an idolatrous abandonment of the Christian faith. Their name, Abecedarians, comes from their denial of the ABCs.


Taken from the Greek root meaning “holy” (hagios), sanctification is the doctrine in Christian soteriology (salvation) that is normally used to describe the growth process of a believer. To be sanctified literally means to be “set apart unto God.” Theologically, the force of the doctrine is less an idea of separation from sin, but a closeness to God that necessarily separates from sin. In this sense, sanctification is both a position and a process. The Christian has been sanctified, or set apart unto God (1 Cor. 6:11), but there is also a sense in which he or she is being sanctified, or working toward a realization of this reality in their spiritual walk (Rom. 6:22Phil. 2:12).


Zeno’s paradox is a common name for a grouping of paradoxes that are believed to have been put forth by Zeno of Elea (ca. 490 BC – ca. 430 BC) in support of Parmenides’ belief in a certain type of philosophical monism (i.e. all is one). The paradox can be summed up this way. Motion is impossible. In order for anything in motion to get from point A to point B, it would first have to travel halfway. In order to get to the halfway point, it would have to travel halfway to the halfway. In order for it to get to this halfway, it would have to travel halfway to the halfway of the halfway, ad infinitum. Since it is impossible to traverse and infinite number of halfway points, motion does not really exist. It is an illusion. While mathematicians and engineers find this paradox solvable, philosophers are still puzzled about its ability to deny motion.


Hyper-Calvinism is a pejorative designation for those who are believed to go beyond historic Calvinism in their doctrine. Although there is no one way to designate a Calvinist as “hyper,” there are many extremes that might carry such a designation. Among these extremes: the belief that we do not need to evangelize, the belief that God is the author of evil and sin, the belief that God does not love the non-elect, the belief that God actively elected people to go to hell (the reprobate) before he created them (superlapsarianism), the belief in meticulous sovereignty (that God is the immediate cause of all things), and/or that true Christians will always be Calvinist. All of these are not defining characteristics of historic Calvinism.


(Greek theos, “God” + Greek tokos, “parturition, childbirth”)
Theotokos is a historic designation given to Mary in relation to her role as the mother of Christ. Theotokos means “God bearer.” This designation was approved by the third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431. Nestorius apposed the use of the term theotokos, preferring christotokos (“Christ-bearer), believing that Mary was the mother of the human nature of Christ, not the divine nature. Most, however, felt that this would divide Christ into two persons. Led by Cyril of Alexandria, the council chose theotokos to acknowledge a belief in the dual-nature of Christ. It is important to note that this designation was not meant to venerate Mary, but to make a theological statement about Christ. He must be fully God and fully man if man is to have redemption.


(Gk. ask?sis, “athlete”)
Describes the life of self-denial, primarily in the abstaining from life’s pleasures that might distract from a life of devotion to God. Vows of abstinence from sex, marriage, foods, alcohol, shelter, wealth, and many other “mundane” pleasures accompany the ascetic life. Monks and nuns are among those in the history of the Church who have vowed themselves to such lives. Many Christians, while advocating self-discipline and periods of abstinence, believe that the ascetic life is not only contrary to the will of God, but follows a dualistic worldview, believing the material pleasures of the world are evil. These Christians would say that all things are from God and can be enjoyed in their proper place and time so long as God is acknowledged and glorified (1 Cor. 10:31). Simeon Stylites (c. 390) was perhaps the most famous of the early Christian ascetics, living for 37 years on top of a pillar in the desert, abstaining from, among other things, the pleasure of any physical or visible contact with women. It is said that Simon would not even allow his own mother to come see him.

1 comment:

  1. I am a new follower from the blog party. I look forward to reading more! Hope you will come by for a visit :)