Welcome to The Lutheran Lexicon

The Lutheran Lexicon is a collection of definitions compiled by Ben Baker and Matt Richard to help you in your reading of the "PM Notes" blog and other Christian material. It is written from a Lutheran Perspective and has each definition source posted below the selected word. This is a great resource that will serve you in helping clarify some of those complex terms that you may have come across in your readings; terms that you may have been to afraid to ask others what they mean. My hope for The Lutheran Lexicon is to define words that have difficult definitions. In other words, have you ever looked up a term and after reading the definition said, "I am even more confused"?  Hopefully this lexicon will help with this problem. Oh, and in case you are wondering... a Lexicon is simply a Dictionary!

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  1. Accidens

    In Aristotelian thought, the accidens of an object refer to its outward qualities – that which you can see, touch, taste, smell or hear.

  2. Adiaphora

    Was a concept used in Stoic philosophy to indicate things which were outside of moral law – that is, actions which are neither morally mandated nor morally forbidden. Adiaphora in Christianity refer to matters not regarded as essential to faith, but nevertheless as permissible for Christians or allowed in church. What is specifically considered adiaphora depends on the specific theology in view.

    Source: Wikipedia.com

  3. Alien Righteousness

    Items of belief not essential to salvation. In Lutheran thought the adiaphora were defined as practices of the church that were neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture. In contemporary terms, adiaphora are those things not clearly addressed by Scripture that Christians may freely practice or believe with a clear conscience before God and that do not affect salvation.

  4. Anabaptist

    A general term referring to several varied movements coming out of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, often referred to as the Radical Reformation. Anabaptists rejected infant baptism as practiced in the Lutheran and Reformed churches. Furthermore, Anabaptists believed that these churches either had been corrupted or had not separated themselves fully from what the Anabaptists considered to be errors of the Roman Catholic Church. Anabaptists therefore urged their followers to be baptized as conscious disciples of Christ.

  5. Antinomianism

    From the Greek “anti” (against or in the place of) and “nomos” (law) – you could say it as “anti-lawism”. An ethical system that denies the binding nature of any supposedly absolute or external laws on individual behavior. Some antinomians argue that Christians need not preach or practice the laws of the OT because Christ’s merits have freed Christians from the law. Others, like the early Gnostics, teach that spiritual perfection comes about through the attainment of a special knowledge rather than by obedience to law. Generally, Christian theology has rejected antinomianism on the basis that although Christians are not saved through keeping the law, we still have a responsibility to live uprightly, that is, in obedience to God’s law of love in service to one another (Gal 5:13-14) as we walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16) who continually works to transform us into the image of Christ the Creator (Col 3:1, 7-10).

    (See Also: Lawlessness)

  6. Apologetics

    From the Latin word apologia meaning, “to make a defense”. Occasionally called eristics, apologetics is the formal defense of the Christian faith. Historically, Christian theologians have differed as to whether apologetics is appropriate to the presentation of the gospel, and if so, how it should be accomplished. Depending on how they have answered these questions, apologists have appealed to rational argumentation, empirical evidence, fulfilled prophecy, authorities of the church or mystical experience in defending such beliefs as the existence of God, the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ and the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection.

  7. Arianism

    An early heretical teaching about the identity of Jesus Christ. Arianism was founded primarily on the teachings of Arius (d. A.D. 335-336). The central characteristic of Arian thought was that because God is one, Jesus could not have also been truly God. In order to deal with the Scriptural testimony to the exalted status of Christ, Arius and his followers proposed that Jesus was the highest created being of God. Arius’ teaching was condemned as heretical at the First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea) in A.D. 325.

  8. Arius

    Founder of Arianism. Taught that Jesus was not God but rather the highest created being of God. Vigorously opposed by Athanasius who championed the divinity of Christ. Condemned as a heretic at Nicaea and the Nicene Creed was formulated as a response to his teachings. Notice the wording of the Nicene Creed when it speaks of Jesus being “begotten, not made” and “being of one substance with the Father” and “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God”. These were written to counter Arius’ heresy.

  9. Arminianism

    Arminianism is a theological system that emerged from Calvinism in the 17th century.  Jacob Arminius reacted against Calvinism's teaching of the sovereign will of God, especially with regard to 'double predestination.'  Arminius instead emphasized the universal grace of God and the freedom of the will.  

    Arminian teaching is summed up in a document called the Five Points of Arminianism:

    • God's knowledge of man's faith or unbelief as the condition for election.
    • Universality of God's grace and Christ's redemptive work.
    • Human resonsibility and freedom
    • The resistibility of divine grace
    • The possibility of total apostasy
    Arminianism is found in today's decision theology.  Church bodies that teach Arminianism include Methodists, Holiness bodies, and most Evangelical Churches.  Mennonites and some Baptists are also related to Arminianism.  Arminianism is the foundational theology for Revivalism.

  10. Asceticism

    The teaching that spirituality is attained through renunciation of physical pleasures and personal desires while concentrating on “spiritual” matters. Jesus Himself advocated certain practices such as fasting (Mt 9:15) or, for some perhaps, celibacy (Mt 19:12) for the sake of the kingdom; yet some Christians have overemphasized the role of ascetic practices. This prompted the Apostle Paul to assert that ascetic practice alone is insufficient as a means of escaping from sin (see Col 2:20-23). Unfortunately, asceticism often proceeds on the assumption that the physical body is evil and is ultimately the cause of sin – a wholly unbiblical concept.

  11. Athanasian Creed

    An ecumenical creed attributed to Athanasius and written against the Arians. Declares the full deity of Christ and, in accord with Chalcedon, affirms His full humanity as well.

  12. Athanasius (c. A.D. 296-373)

    An early church apologist, theologian and bishop of Alexandria (in Egypt). Athanasius’s greatest contribution to Christian theology was his uncompromising stance against the popular Arian teaching of his day.

  13. Augustine (A.D. 354-430)

    One of the greatest theologians in the history of the church, Augustine was influential in the development of the Western church’s understanding of the doctrines of the Trinity, sin, predestination and the church. Augustine is known for his integration of the thought categories of Platonic philosophy with theology. He had a heavy influence on the thought and theology of both Martin Luther and John Calvin.

  14. Augustinianism

    System of theology developed by St. Augustine. Augustinianism as a system of thought essentially starts with the complete sinfulness of humankind (depravity), which leaves humans unable to respond in faith toward God. In keeping with this, Augustinianism asserts that God predestines those who are enabled to repent and believe.

  15. Bondage of the Will

    The Augustinian (and thus Lutheran and Calvinist) doctrine that man’s will – or desire – is in bondage to sin. Man still has the freedom to choose according to his greatest desire – the problem is that his desire is enslaved so that unregenerate man only desires sin. Man on his own does not desire God, but is rather set against God and hates God. This disposition can only be changed by the power of God changing the desire of man. This is what happens in regeneration – man’s desire is set free from sin and changed so that he desires God.

  16. Calvinism

    Calvinism is a theological system that has its roots in the teachings of John Calvin.  The center of Calvinist theology is God's sovereign will manifested for His Glory.

    The fundamental teachings of Calvinism are as follows:

    1. Total Depravity: Mankind is totally sinful.
    2. Unconditional Election: Salvation has no conditions from man.
    3. Limited Atonement: The death of CHrist was to save only the elect.
    4. Irresistible Grace: God's election cannot be resisted
    5. Perseverance of the Saints: Once saved, always saved.
    Calvinism differs from Lutheran teaching in that the center of Lutheran theology is not found in God's sovereign will but in the cross.  Nearly all the protestant denominations that are not Lutheran are a result of Calvin's teachings and are influenced in some way by Calvinism.  Take note of Arminianism.

  17. Christology

    The Greek word translated in English as “Christ” is the equivalent of the Hebrew term Messiah and means, “anointed one”. Although not intrinsic to its meaning, the NT use of the term Christ tends to point to the deity of Jesus. Christology is the theological study devoted to answering two main questions: Who is Jesus? (The question of his identity) and what is the nature and significance of what Jesus accomplished in the Incarnation? (The question of his work).

  18. Church Growth Movement

    The Church Growth Movement is an approach to the church which claims that if certain sociological, psychological and practical principles are followed, the church will grow.

    The Church Growth Movement grew out of the mission field in the last century and started being applied to congregations in southern California in the 1980's.

    Some of the teachings from the Church Growth Movement are good, in that they make sense.  Having and adequate size parking lot and good signage are good common sense things that the Church Growth Movement addressed.  However, the idea that we need to survey the wants and desires (i.e. felt needs) of the church and then attempt to meet the needs has lead to a culture of church consumerism.  

    Furthermore, the CGM has also been detrimental in that it many times its teachings deemphasize the importance and work of the Word and Sacraments as God's means of building and sustaining the church.  Good marketing and a common sense plan is good, however, it is the means of grace that builds and sustains the church.

  19. Common Grace

    A category of grace in Calvinist theology. Common grace refers to the grace of God given to all men regardless of whether they are saved or not. It is distinguished from special grace – the grace of regeneration that God only gives to His elect.

  20. Concupiscence

    Concupiscence is man's inclination to sin, which is brought about by the original sin that has been passed on from our first parents, Adam and Eve. 

    The Augsburg Confession defines concupiscence in its second article on Original Sin:

    "Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam, all who are naturally born are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence.  Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin.  It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit."

    Jesus teaches of concupiscence in Matthew 5:21-30.

    Source:  The Lutheran Wiktionary

  21. Conditional Election

    The doctrine of election formulated by James Arminius and held in Arminian theological thought. This doctrine teaches that God predestines or elects those to salvation whom He knows by His foreknowledge will freely choose Him. This is set against the Augustinian, Lutheran and Reformed doctrine of unconditional election. Portrays God’s foreknowledge as simply His omniscience (knowing everything that will happen) instead of His foreknowing as entering into special relationship with the one He foreknows.

  22. Consubstantiation

    This term is generally used to refer to the Lutheran understanding of the Lord’s Supper. Many Lutherans dislike this term because of its similarity to the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (similarity in the “substantiation” part). This teaching holds that the true body and blood of Christ are present in, with and under the bread and the wine. That is, although the substance of the bread and the wine do not change (as transubstantiation holds), Christ is truly present in His human nature (body and blood) along with the elements of bread and wine. In order for this to be the case, Luther argued for the communication of the divine attributes to the exalted human nature of Christ so that He could be present in His human nature at more than one place at one time.

  23. Coram Deo

    A Latin phrase that means “before the face of God”. The idea is that the life of the Christian is lived coram Deo – before the face of God. Thus we should examine what we do and say as we remember that God sees us all the time and that He is watching. It also points to our hope of heaven where we will fully live coram Deo. This term is also used to speak of our relationship with God as distinguished from our relationship with our fellow humans being (coram homnibus/coram mundo). We could also speak of coram Deo as the vertical dimension of relationship (us and God) and coram homnibus would be the horizontal dimension (us and those in the world around us).

  24. Council of Nicaea: 325 A.D.

    The First Ecumenical Council of the Church. Met to counter the teachings of Arius. Formulation of the Nicene Creed – which was later added to and formalized at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. The Council affirmed Jesus’ divinity and His co-equality with the Father. Also affirmed that Jesus was not created by God but has existed from all eternity with the Father.

  25. Covenant Baptism

    The view of baptism that John Calvin taught and that continues in the Presbyterian and Reformed (not to be confused with Reformed-Baptist denominations) churches that are formally committed to the teachings of Calvin. This stance on baptism permits the baptizing of infants of at least one believing parent. Adults are to be baptized after profession of faith but children of believers are to be baptized as infants. Follows the model of circumcision given in Genesis 17. Abraham was circumcised as an adult after profession of faith but his son Isaac was circumcised as an infant before profession of faith. Emphasizes the relationship between circumcision and baptism. Baptism marks the one baptized as a member of God’s covenant people. Does not teach baptismal regeneration.

  26. Covenant Theology

    The system of theology that centers on God as a covenant-making God and sees in the history of creation two great covenants: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. Covenant theology asserts that prior to the Fall God made a covenant of works with Adam as the representative of all humankind. In response to Adam’s disobedience God established a new covenant through the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Those who place their faith in Christ come under the benefits of this new covenant of grace.

  27. Creatio ex Nihilo

    Latin phrase meaning “creation out of nothing”. Augustine is credited with developing the argument that God created the world without preexisting materials. This was in contrast to most Greek philosophers, who understood the creative act as God’s ordering of eternally existing materials into the present world or universe. The value of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is that it maintains a clear distinction between God and the created order and also maintains that God alone has eternal status.

  28. Credo-baptism

    “Adult Baptism”. The position on baptism that says that the only eligible candidates for baptism are adults who have made a profession of faith. It is generally held among credo-baptist advocates that the proper mode of baptism is by full immersion.

  29. Docetism

    In the early church, the teaching that Jesus was fully God but only appeared to be human (taken from the Greek word, dokeo, “to seem or to appear”). Docetist theologians emphasized the qualitative difference between God and humans and therefore downplayed the human elements in Jesus’ life in favor of those that pointed to His deity. The early church rejected Docetism as a heretical interpretation of the biblical teaching about Jesus.

  30. Ecclesiology

    The area of theological study concerned with the understanding of the church (derived from the Greek word ekklesia, “church”). Ecclesiology seeks to set forth the nature and function of the church. It also investigates issues such as the mission, ministry and structure o f the church, as well as its role in the overall plan of God.

  31. Eisegesis

    The opposite of exegesis.  The process of misinterpreting a text by imposing one's own idea over top of the text.  Reading a presupposed idea 'into' the text.  In eisegesis, rather than the text informing and shaping the reader, the reader incorrectly forms and shapes the text according to their own presuppositions.

  32. Emergent Church

    The Emergent Church is a loose affiliation of individuals, churches and organizations of many different theological outlooks.  The beginnings of this movement grew out of a desire to reach those who share a postmodern worldview, and who thus might be resistant to truth claimes such as those found in the Bible.  

    While their emphasis and focus of ministering to the post-modern culture is commendable, many within the group have down-played doctrine and have opened up doors to heresy and relativism.  There is also a strong thread of liberation theology (to learn more about liberation theology, please note its definition in the Lutheran Lexicon) present within their teachings.  Due to their unwillingness to take a doctrinal stand, the role of the pastor becomes more that of a conversation facilitator rather than a herald of Good news... the gospel.

  33. Enlightenment (Age of)

    Era and philosophical movement in the 1700's.  It was essentially a negative movement that was a crusade against religion.  It was based on the idea that human life is and has always been a blind, irrational business.  However, humans have the ability to be converted into something rational.  The goal of the Enlightenment was to have humans shed their backward, primitive and barbarious ideologies of religion and God.  Essentially the Enlightenment was a revolt against the power of institutional religion and the Chrstian meta-narrative.

    Source:  R.G. Collingwood (The Idea of History)

  34. Epistemology

    From the Greek word meaning, "knowledge."  Epistemology addresses the questions of:

    1. What do we know?
    2. How do we gather our information and knowledge?
    Epistemology is interested in the way in which one derives and understands knowlegdge.  While one's worldview is simply the lens in which they view the world around them, epistemology is the study of how that lens is formed and shaped.  
  35. Eschatology

    The study of last things (i.e. end times).  The word comes from the Greek word escatos, meaning last and logy, meaning the study of.

  36. Exegesis

    The opposite of eisegesis.  From a Greek word meaning "to Lead out."  It is a word used in Biblical interpretation.  One does proper 'exegesis' of the Bible when one draws out of the Bible, or the Bible leads out and gives its meaning to the reader.

  37. Existentialism


    Existentialism is a philosophy that thrived in the 1900's and still affects theology today. Basically it teaches that meaning in life comes from one's will.  "The individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely."   In other words, the human being – through their own mind and will – creates their own values and determines their own meaning to their life.  Human life is defined only insofar as one acts.

    It derives from Søren Kierkegaard, who is regarded as the father of existentialism.

    The main issue at hand is this... "who defines and gives meaning to life?" Does one's actions define and give meaning to himself or does he have meaning due to value being attributed to himself from something outside himself and before himself (i.e. God's definition of the meaning to life, God's value of the individual).


    Lutheran Wiktionary


  38. Expiation

    The removal of sin. Draws its imagery from Leviticus 16 and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Of the two goats offered in sacrifice one of them is sent into the wilderness after having the sins of the people of Israel transferred to it. This is the goat of expiation. It is paired with propitiation as the two parts of Christ’s atonement. Christ not only propitiates the wrath of the Father – He expiates our sin, that is, He removes them from us.

  39. Extra Nos

    Literally, “outside of ourselves”. The Latin term is often used in reference to the location or source of salvation as being completely external to the human being. In other words, to suggest that salvation is extra nos is to deny that salvation occurs on the basis of anything inherent in humans, whether a human act of the will or a human thought. Instead, salvation extra nos affirms that salvation is completely an act of God; that is, God freely and sovereignly bestows salvation upon a person.

  40. Foreknowledge

    A biblical term (from Greek prognosis) that literally means “to know in advance”. Some theologians view foreknowledge as referring to God’s selective choice of individuals or groups of people with whom to enter into a loving relationship. Foreknowledge understood in this sense is more than simply knowing events in advance of their happening (although this may be included) because the Scriptures seem to use the term in a more relational than chronological sense. Thus the foreknowledge of God involves God’s favorable disposition toward certain people, even before they existed.

  41. Fundamentalism

    A strict adherence to specific theological doctrines typically in reaction against the theology and movement of Modernism.  The orgin of fundamentalism dates back to the 1920's.  In the 20's there was conflict over the issues of theology and the role of the church in light of pressure from modernism.  

    Today, fundamentalism is commonly used as a pejorative term.  It commonly is a term that is used to belittle church bodies and organizations that have legalistic tendencies.

    Source:  Wikipedia.org

  42. Free Will

    The belief that human behavior is self-caused. The idea of free will assumes that there are external causes sufficient to explain why a person acts as he or she does. Actions, according to free-will theory, are ultimately chosen, even if the person choosing knows that the chosen action may bring about undesirable consequences. A fundamental assumption of the free-will theory is that it assumes that the commandments of God imply the ability of men and women to fulfill them.

  43. General Revelation

    A term used to declare that God reveals something about the divine nature through the created order. The self-revealing of God through creation is called general because it only gives “general” or “indirect” information about God, including the fact of God’s existence and that God is powerful. This is in contrast to special revelation, which is more “specific” and “direct” and includes the appearance of the living Word (Jesus Christ himself) and the written Word of God (the Scriptures), revealing a holy, loving and just God who graciously provides forgiveness of sin. General revelation is likewise “general” in that it is available to all humankind, in contrast to the divine self-disclosure that God revealed to certain persons.

  44. Gnosticism

    The heresy that there is a distinction between the material and spiritual world. It teaches that the material world is bad and only the spiritual world is good.

    Source:  Table Talk Buzzword

  45. Grace

    God's generous mercy toward undeserving people.  God's free and undeserved favor towards sinful humanity is demonstrated in Christ's work of redemption.  It is unearned and undeserved gift.

    Source:  The Lutheran Study Bible (Concordia Publishing)

  46. Hypostatic Union

    Set forth at the Council of Chalcedon. States that Jesus is fully God and fully man. The human and divine natures are perfectly united in the one person of Jesus Christ. The word hypostasis was used to refer to the members of the Trinity. God is one in essence and three in hypostases – we speak of it today as God being one in essence and three in persons. This idea was applied to Christ and it states that He is one person and has two natures that are hypostatically united in that one person. Just as the Trinity is one in essence and three in person, so Jesus is one person with two natures. Jesus was always divine. He never gave up His deity. At one specific moment in time the divine Logos took upon Himself a human nature. This is called the Incarnation. He united to His divine nature a human nature. How He did this is a mystery to us. Since the Incarnation He forever has both divine and human natures perfectly united within one person.

  47. Imparted Righteousness

    Imparted righteousness, in Methodist theology, is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification (and, in Wesleyan thought, Christian perfection). John Wesley believed that imparted righteousness worked in tandem with imputed righteousness

    Source:  Wikipedia.com

  48. Imputed Righteousness

    The righteousness of Jesus 'imputed' or credited to the Christians for Christ's sake.  Imputed righteousness is an alien righteousness.  Imputed righteousness is not located in the person but is based in God's activity.    

    Thus, it is on the basis of this 'alien' (i.e. outside righteousness) that God accepts humans.  Through faith, this alien or outside righteousness is subjectively credited to humans as if it was their own.

    Imputed Righteousness = God Declares Us Righteous

    Infused Righteousness = God Makes Us Righteous

  49. Incarnation

    Fundamentally, Incarnation is the theological assertion that in Jesus the eternal Word of God appeared in human form (Jn. 1). Many theologians picture the incarnation as the voluntary and humble act of the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, in taking upon himself full humanity and living a truly human life. The orthodox doctrine of the Incarnation asserts that in taking humanity upon himself, Christ did not experience a loss of his divine nature in any way but continued to be fully God.

  50. Inerrancy

    The idea that Scripture is completely free from error. It is generally agreed by all theologians who use the term that inerrancy at least refers to the trustworthy and authoritative nature of Scripture as God’s Word, which informs humankind of the need for and the way to salvation. Some theologians, however, affirm that the Bible is also completely accurate in whatever it teaches about other subjects, such as science and history.

  51. Infused Righteousness

    Righteousness comes to be infused and present with humans by which they are made acceptable to God.  Humans have a responsibility to cooperate with God in maintaining and strengthening the presence of this infused grace in their lives.  In other words, infused righteousness sees God infusing righteousness into a believer in such a way that it becomes a part of his or her person.

    Infused Righteousness = God Makes Us Righteous

    Imputed Righteousness = God Declares Us Righteous

  52. Invisible Church

    A designation, dating perhaps to Augustine, referring to the sum total of all genuine believers who have been united by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, whether living or dead. Unlike the visible church, which is an historical, localized gathering of people who profess faith in Christ whether or not they are truly in Christ, the invisible church cannot be observed outwardly because its members are known only by God, who sees their internal faith and not merely their outward profession of faith.

  53. Irresistible Grace

    The “I” in TULIP. A doctrine found in both Augustine’s and Calvin’s theology that teaches that God’s special (saving) grace cannot or will not be resisted once it is given. This special grace is only given to the elect (those whom God has chosen for salvation) whereas God’s common grace is given to all mankind. It is irresistible because God’s saving grace changes the disposition of the human will (desire) so that it is inclined toward God. Once this change is made, a person will not resist the Lord because he does not want to resist Him.

  54. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609)

    A Dutch theologian and the father of Arminianism. Broke with the Reformers over the issue of free will and predestination. He taught that God gives man prevenient grace and that this grace enables man to freely choose or reject God’s offer of salvation. He also taught that God predestines those whom He knows (by His foreknowledge) will freely choose Him.

  55. John Calvin (1509-1564)

    One of the principal Reformers of the 16th century. Father of the theological system of Calvinism and was a student of the thought of St. Augustine. Heavily influenced by Martin Luther, Calvin held to the bondage of the will and championed justification by faith alone, along with sola Scriptura and the other solas of the Reformation. He differed with Luther as to the nature of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Where Luther argued for infant baptism and infant faith, Calvin argued for infant baptism but not for infant faith. Calvin’s teaching on baptism is called Covenant Baptism. Where Luther held to the real presence of Christ – real meaning Christ’s true body and blood – in the Lord’s Supper, Calvin held to the real presence – real meaning that Christ was actually there – just not in His human nature (body and blood) – of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Calvin taught mainly in Geneva, Switzerland. The Presbyterian Church is the most direct descendant of Calvin’s theology as its founder, John Knox, was a student of Calvin in Geneva and brought Calvin’s theology back with him to Scotland and birthed the Presbyterian Church.

  56. John Wesley (1703-1791)

    An English theologian converted to Christ through the hearing of Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. He was somewhat of a radical as he began open-air preaching in England at a time when that was not allowed. He is the founder of Methodism, and the denominations that flow from his theology – such as the Methodist, Wesleyan, Holiness and Pentecostal churches. Wesley taught the doctrine of entire sanctification – that one could be completely free from conscious sins in this life. Emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. He contributed much to Christian education and to social reform. He was an Arminian and his followers tend to be Arminian as well. His brother, Charles Wesley, was also converted to Christianity through the reading of Martin Luther – Charles was converted from reading Luther’s commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians. Charles wrote 10,000 hymns in his lifetime.

  57. Justification

    God's act of declaring sinners righteous for Christ's sake.  

    See the following diagram for other Synonyms of Justifcation:  

    Gospel Synonyms 

  58. Law & Gospel

    All Scripture is either Law or Gospel.  That is, either it is God's Law speaking to us, telling us what to do and what not to do, or it is God's Gospel telling us what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

    The Law may be characterized as ALWAYS telling it listeners what TO DO and what NOT TO DO.  The Gospel may be characterized as always telling its listeners WHAT GOD HAS DONE for them in Jesus Christ.

    In summary:

    • Law Says Do
    • Gospel Says Done
    • Law Condemns
    • Gospel Forgives
    • Law Tells Us What To Do
    • Gospel Tells Us What God Has Done For Us

  59. Law: First Use

    The first use of the law is for non-believers and believers.  It regulates the horizontal realm.  It limits sin through threats of punishment and promises of favor.  The first use of the law coerces us or entices us into proper 'external' behavior.  The first use of the law prevents us from doing stupid things to ourselves and others in society.  The first use of the law makes life tolerable in a sinful world.  The first use of the Law cannot grant salvation.  

    Example:  Police use the coercive/curbing force of the Law to keep order in parts of society for which they are responsible.

    The first use of the Law is also known as: the Curb, Civil Law, Political Law.   

  60. Law: Second Use

    The second use of the Law reflects and mirrors our external and internal sinfulness back to us.  It shows us that we are sinners in our horizontal lives to our neighbor and our vertical lives towards God.  The second use of the Law is for non-believers and believers.  It reveals that we exist not only trapped in our own sin but also caught in the general evil around us.  

    Example: The second use of the Law is not be used as a club to coerce people to external good behavior; rather it is to function theologically (i.e. internally) as a fine-tipped arrow which pierces the heart and kills.  Thus preparing the way for the Gospel which heals, restores and impart life.

    The second use of the Law is also known as:  the Mirror, Theological Use of the Law, Negative Sense of the Law.

  61. Law: Third Use

    The third use of the Law shows and informs the believer of God's good and perfect will towards God and mankind.  Christians can consult with God's Law/will especially in an age that lacks moral clarity.  The mind of the believers needs God's will as educational wisdom to discern and understand the temptations of the world and the believer's own sinful inclinations in daily life.  The third use of the Law merely informs the believer of God's good will and desires; it does not change the believers heart, motivate their heart nor attribute to or take away from one's salvation.  The ability to live out God's will is credited to the Gospel of Grace.

    The third use of the Law is also known as:  the instructive use, God's will, positive sense of the Law for believers.

  62. Lawlessness

    In theology, is the idea that members of a particular religious group are under no obligation to obey the laws of ethics or morality, and that "Salvation" gives a license to sin. Lawlessness is the polar opposite of so-called "Legalism", the notion that obedience to a code of religious law earns "Salvation". (Also Known As: Antinomianism, Greasy Grace, License to Sin, Prodigalism)

    Source: Wikipedia.org

  63. Legalism

    In Christian theology, is a sometimes-pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on law or codes of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit. Legalism is alleged against any view that obedience to law, not faith in God's grace, is the pre-eminent principle of redemption. Its opposite error is “Lawlessness” which is alleged against a view that moral laws are no longer binding. (Also Known As: Bondage, Phariseeism, Egypt)

    Source: Wikipedia.org

  64. Legalist

    Inflexible and obstinate ceremonialists. Deaf rule keepers who are not willing to hear the truth of liberty. Having no faith, they stubbornly insist on their own ceremonies as a means to have a right relationship with God. Legalists must be resisted. In fact, even the opposite should be done, in bold and shocking ways, so that their ungodly views do not lead more people into error. In the presence of these people, one should feel free to eat meat, break fasts, and in the spirit of liberty given by faith, do things they consider to be the greatest of sins. (According to this principle, Paul would not circumcise Titus, in Galatians 2:3, when some of the leaders insisted that he should.)

    Source: Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian 

  65. Liberalism

    A movement in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Protestant circles that builds from the assumption that Christianity is reconcilable with the positive human aspirations, including the quest for autonomy. Liberalism desires to adapt religion to modern thought and culture. Consequently, it views divine love as realized primarily, if not totally, in love of one’s neighbor and the kingdom of God as a present reality found especially within an ethnically transformed society. One of the significant early liberal theologians was Albrecht Ritschl.

  66. Liberation Theology

    Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions.

    Source:  Wikipedia.org

  67. Limited Atonement

    The “L” in TULIP. Limited Atonement is sometimes called “particular redemption” or “definite atonement” and it is the view that Jesus’ death secured salvation for only a limited number of persons (the elect), in contrast to the idea that the work of the cross is intended for all humankind (as in “unlimited atonement”). This view resulted from the post-Reformation development of the doctrine of election in Calvinist circles. Proponents claim that because not everyone is saved, God could not have intended that Christ die for everyone.

  68. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

    Prominent leader and initiator of the Protestant Reformation. Born in Eisleben, Germany in 1483. He became an Augustinian monk and later a professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg. He was converted through the reading of Romans chapter one and particularly verse 17. He was heavily influenced by the thought of St. Augustine. He posted his 95 theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg renouncing the selling of indulgences. His continued writings and teachings got him summoned to Worms to be tried before the Imperial Diet. There he refused to recant and the Reformation continued though Luther was excommunicated and condemned as a heretic. He lived until 1546 and his influence is still felt today most specifically within the Lutheran churches but also in Calvinist circles as well as much of Protestantism in general. He championed justification by faith alone and declared that it was “the article upon which the church stands or falls.”

  69. Means of Grace

    The tools or instruments that God uses to create or sustain faith in the believer.

    According to the Lutheran Confessions the means of grace are two: 

    1. The Word of God in its various forms of presentation- spoken, read, sung, pictured, etc...
    2. The Sacraments.  According to the Lutheran Confessions the sacraments are identified as Baptism, Absolution and Communion.
    The Sacraments are sometimes referred to as the 'visible means of grace' in that there is a visible element associated with them.

  70. Meta-Narrative

    The grand-narrative or story.  The grand story that is a comprehensive explanation of history, knowledge, experience, origin and purpose of mankind.  

  71. Missional Living

    "Missional living" is a Christian term that describes a missionary lifestyle; adopting the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message.

    Source:  Wikipedia.org

  72. Modernism

    Modernism is best described by its four main components or forces.

    1. Individualism:  is at the root of modernity.  Individualism proclaims, "I am self-sufficient."
    2. Pluralism: A multiple-choice lifestyle.  
    3. Relativism: "It's true for you.  Okay.  But it isn't true for me and it doesn't have to be."
    4. Privatization: This is simply the tendency for social reality to be split into two sectors: the public and the private.
    Source:  James W. Sire, Chris Chrisman Goes to College

    Note: Many see post-modernism as an extention of modernism.  To learn more about post-modernism refer to the Lutheran Lexicon.
  73. Monergism

    The term Monergism means to work alone, having no co-workers. So monergists are those who say that God works alone in salvation.  (i.e. Grace Alone, Faith Alone)

    Example:  God through the Word and Sacraments works to bring about the salvation of individuals without the cooperation from the individual or without the individuals works.

  74. Moralism

    “The basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior. Moralists can be categorized as both liberal and conservative. In each case, a specific set of moral concerns frames the moral expectation. As a generalization, it is often true that liberals focus on a set of moral expectations related to social ethics while conservatives tend to focus on personal ethics. The essence of moralism is apparent in both — the belief that we can achieve righteousness by means of proper behavior. In our own context, one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses.”  

    Source: www.albertmohler.com/2009/09/03/why-moralism-is-not-the-gospel-and-why-so-many-christians-think-it-is/

  75. Moral Relativism

    “Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person's individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what's right for you, and I'll decide what's right for me. Moral relativism says, "It's true for me, if I believe it.

    Source: www.moral-relativism.com/

  76. Natural Theology

    Maintains that humans can attain particular knowledge about God through human reason by observing the created order as one locus of divine revelation. This would go along with general revelation.

  77. Nihilism

    The basic idea of nihilism is that we cannot resolve basic questions because there simply is no right answer.  The denial of a basis of morality.  The idea that life does not have an objective meaning. 

    Source:  Heath White, Post-modernism 101

  78. Nominalism

    “A nominal Christian is one who says he/she is a Christian but hardly ever goes to church. Or, someone who selects "Christianity" as their religion for any official purpose (e.g. national census), but consider him/herself to be a non-practicing Christian. A nominal Christian may undertake religious activities (especially at Christmas/Easter), and proclaim fellowship with followers of Jesus (for example, through being a "member" of a church), but in their heart they will possess apathy or even unbelief toward the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.”

    Source: www.wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_nominal_Christian

  79. Omni benevolent

    An attribute of God that teaches that God is wholly good and all good things come from Him.

  80. Omnipotence

    The attribute that refers to God’s ability to do whatever is consistent with God’s own character and being in effecting the divine plan for creation. God’s omnipotence is primarily demonstrated in God’s overturning evil for good. This is especially evident in the death of Jesus, which although it was the act of malicious people, has become God’s means of human salvation. God’s omnipotent power cannot be resisted.

  81. Omnipresence

    The attribute that refers to God’s being present everywhere in creation at the same time. Perhaps omnipresence more correctly suggests that all things are present to God. As a result there is nowhere in the universe that lies beyond the cognition (and care) of God. This attribute is similar to ubiquity, which is the ability to be in more than one place at one time. God is a different type of being than us – so He is not bound by any physical barriers, nor is He present in the same way as physical things are present. When you sit on a chair, you are not “sitting” on God – He is there but in a different dimension and different relationship than you and the chair.

  82. Omniscience

    The attribute that denotes God’s knowing all things. Omniscience means that all events are present to the divine mind; that is, God has direct cognition of everything in creation.

  83. Original Sin

    Strictly speaking, original sin is the state of alienation from God into which all humans are born. Original righteousness (or original justice), in contrast, is the state of innocence in which Adam and Eve are thought to have existed before their fall into sin. Thus, because they had not yet disobeyed God, the first humans were righteous (without sin) in God’s sight. Historically, original sin was connected to the discussion about the manner in which Adam’s sin affects all humans, such as through the transmission of Adam’s fallen nature or through God’s imputation (crediting) of Adams sin.

  84. Paradox

    A paradox is an assertion consisting of two contradictory truths.  Paradox is prominent in the BIble and also Lutheran Theology.  For example:

    1. Christians are: 100% Sinners and 100% Saints
    2. Jesus is 100% Man and 100% God.
  85. Pelagianism

    The theology of Pelagianism comes from a fourth century British monk named Pelagius.  He taught that man is basically good and can move toward God by his own power, without the grace of the Holy Spirit. Man can convert himself to God, believe the Gospel, whole-heartedly obey God’s Law and thus merit forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  

    Source:  Tim Ysteboe, We Believe (Faith and Fellowship, 2010), 55-56.

  86. Penal-substitutionary Atonement

    The view of the atonement that speaks of sin as the breaking of God’s law, for which the penalty is death. Hence on the cross Christ suffered the death penalty in the sinner’s place and so appeased the wrath of God. This theory was prominent in Reformation thought and later became the most widely held view among Protestants, especially evangelicals, in Britain and the United States.

  87. Pietism

    Pietism is a theological movement that emphasizes subjectivism and individual piety.  In Pietism, the religion of the heart is placed in opposition to doctrine and theology, or a theology, or a religion of the head.  Because true religion is found in the heart in Pietism, personal devotion and a moral life are prized above the Sacraments.

    Pietism can be found in every major Christian denomination, but is most prevelent in Methodist and Neoevangelical congregations.  Pietism has, at various times, also been extrememly influential in the Lutheran Church.

    Pietism as a way of thinking... has the tendency to rest the assurance of one's relationship with God upon an experience of God, an experience arising out of one's own piety. (Prenter)

    Source: The Lutheran Wiktionary

  88. Pragmatism

    Pragmatism is an American philosophical tradition which began in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce.  Pragmatism embraces the idea that truth is just whatever helps us get around in life.  If it works and there are good results... then it must be true, good and right. 

  89. Predestination (Single)

    Single predestination is the teaching that God elects men to be saved from the foundation of time.  In Lutheran doctrine, single predestination must be distinguished from double predestination.  Single predestination is for the sake of the Gospel but does not hold to God electing some to damnation.  It is a doctrine of comfort; one that grants assurance to the believer.  

  90. Predestination (Double)

    The Calvinist teaching that God, by His sovereign will, has elected some to everlasting salvation (elect) and some to everlasting condemnation (the reprobate).  

    This is contrary to the Lutheran view of predestination, that God's eternal predestination is a gift given through the cross of Christ and that condemnation comes only as a result of rejecting this gift.

    Source:  The Lutheran Wiktionary

  91. Prevenient Grace

    Also known as prepartory grace.  The Holy Spirit working through the Gospel comes to an unconverted person, who is incapable of choosing salvation, and awakens them and enables them to make a choice under the operation of the Holy Spirit of whether or not to accept salvation.  Prevenient offers the will the restored capacity to respond to grace, thus making the person an active, willing participant in receiving the conditions for justification.

    Prevenient Grace is the official doctrine of the Church of the Nazarene and Methodism.  It is also found in the roots of pietism and puritan theology.  It is embraced primarily by Arminian Christians who are influenced by the theology of Jacob Arminius or John Wesley.

  92. Propitiation

    An offering that turns away (satisfies) the wrath of God directed against sin. According to the NT, God has provided the offering that removes the divine wrath, for in love the Father sent the Son to be the propitiation (or atoning sacrifice) for human sin (1 Jn. 4:10). This also takes its imagery from Leviticus 16. The propitiation was the goat that was sacrificed on the altar to satisfy God’s wrath.

  93. Postmodernism

    Postmodernism is the basic philosophy of western civilization in our current age.  It began to appear on the cultural scene roughly around the 1970's as modernism began to fade.

    In looking to our culture it is easy to see that discussion of 'spiritual things' is more allowable than it was a generation ago.  However, in terms of knowledge and truth, postmodernism is as relativistic, and maybe even more so than modernism.  Thus, any hope at having 'true' diaglogue over things of absolute truth is virtually impossible.  Postmodernism links the meaning of words to personal preference and experience rather than anchoring words to an outside objective approach.  The openness to the 'spiritual' in postmodernism has given rise to opportunities for dialog.  However, personal experience can color understanding and certainly makes communication difficult.  

    Source:  The Lutheran Wiktionary

  94. Reformed Theology

    Generally, all the churches that grew from the sixteenth-century revolt against the Roman church, can be called reformed. However, the term "Reformed" specifically designates that branch of the Reformation of the western church originally characterized by a distinctively non-Lutheran, Augustinian sacramental theology.  

    Source:  www.reformedtheology.org/SiteFiles/WhatIsRT.html

  95. Renaissance

    The Renaissance was a cultural movement from the 1300's to the 1600's AD.  It was a time of great art and a return back to the intellectual and classical works of the ancient period (i.e. Greeco-Roman Era).  It served as a bridge between the Middle Ages (400's to 1400's AD) and the Early Modern Age (1500's to 1800's).

    Source:  Wikipedia.com 

  96. Sanctification

    From the Latin "sanctus" (meaning holy). Being made holy. Sanctification, in the broad sense, is everything the Holy Spirit does to bring us into the Holy presence of God. Also in the narrow sense, the work of the holy spirit through the means of grace to increase in us good works

    Source:  Table Talk Buzzwords

  97. Semi-Pelagianism

    A less extreme theology of Pelagianism that teaches that man can make some movement toward God. God then will respond to the human initiative by reaching out and completing the work of salvation. (i.e. God helps those who help themselves, You do your best and God will do the rest.)

    Source:  Tim Ysteboe, We Beleive (Faith and Fellowship, 2010), 55-56.

  98. Simul Justus et Peccator

    Latin phrase used by Martin Luther to describe the nature of the Christian. It means, “Simultaneously just and sinner”. As Christians we are at the very same time just (declared righteous before God on account of Christ (justification)) and yet still sinners – sin will not be totally eradicated from our bodies and we will not shed our sinful nature until we are glorified.

  99. Social Gospel

    The Social Gospel movement is a Christian intellectual movement that was most prominent in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The movement applied Christian ethics to social problems, especially poverty, inequality, liquor, crime, racial tensions, slums, bad hygiene, child labor, weak labor unions, poor schools, and the danger of war. Above all they opposed rampant individualism and called for a socially aware religion. Makes little or no reference to reconciliation with God through Christ and to the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. For many it is essentially a this-worldly gospel of works, not a Gospel of grace for this life and heaven. Theologically, the Social Gospel leaders were overwhelmingly post-millennialist. That is because they believed the Second Coming could not happen until humankind rid itself of social evils by human effort.

    Source: The Lutheran Wiktionary

  100. 5 Solas

    Gratia: Latin phrase used by Martin Luther to describe the nature of the Christian. It means, “Simultaneously just and sinner”. As Christians we are at the very same time just (declared righteous before God on account of Christ (justification)) and yet still sinners – sin will not be totally eradicated from our bodies and we will not shed our sinful nature until we are glorified.

    Fide: Latin for “Faith alone”. One of the 5 solas of the Reformation declaring that we are justified by faith in Christ alone.

    Scriptura: Latin for “Scripture alone”. One of the 5 solas of the Reformation. This was the formal cause of the Reformation. This phrase speaks to the issue of authority. The Catholic Church saw their authority in both the Scriptures and in church councils and traditions and the word of the popes. The Reformers responded to this and said that our authority for faith and life is found in the Scriptures alone for church councils and popes and traditions may err but Scripture alone cannot err.

    Solus Chritus: One of the 5 solas of the Reformation. Latin for “Christ alone”. Emphasized that it is by Christ’s work alone that we are justified. Justification by faith alone is theological shorthand for justification by Christ alone. Christ is the only one who has merit before God and it is only through the imputation of His righteousness to us that we may be justified.

    Soli Deo Gloria: One of the 5 solas of the Reformation. Latin for “to God alone be the glory”. Emphasizes that it is God who gets the glory for salvation and no one else.

  101. Soteriology

    Soteriology is a subset of theology that speaks of salvation.  The words come from two Greek words: soter, meaning savior and logs, meaning words.  Soteriology is literally words about salvation.

    Source:  The Lutheran Wiktionary

  102. Synergism

    God initiates and does his part of the saving relationship, but it is up to man to finish it and do his/her part, thus cooperating with God for salvation. Usually the cooperating work is faith; however, the Bible shows us that faith is not man’s work but also a gift. (Eph. 2:8)

    Source:  Tim Ysteboe, We Believe (Faith and Fellowship, 2010), 55-56.

  103. Theodicy

    From Greek, meaning "judgment of God." Theodicy is the question of how is God's justice and goodness manifest when bad things are happening. e.g. when the question is asked "How can bad things happen to good people."

    Source:  Table Talk Buzzwords

  104. Theophany

    A physical manifestation of God. Examples include the burning bush, the pillar of fire and cloud that led Israel through the wilderness, the figure that appeared to be a man that visited Abraham, the Angel of the Lord, the Commander of the Army of the Lord, the smoking pot and the blazing furnace that passed through the animal pieces when God covenanted with Himself when giving His promise to Abraham.

  105. Theology of Glory

    The theology that God reveals his favor to man through blessings or spiritual experiences rather than the hiddenness and lowliness of the cross and suffering (known as theology of the cross).

    Source:  Table Talk Buzzwords

  106. Trinity

    The Christian understanding of God as triune. Trinity means that the one divine nature is a unity of three persons and that God is revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The ultimate basis for the Christian doctrine of the Trinity lies in the divine self-disclosure in Jesus, who, as the Son, revealed the Father and poured out the Holy Spirit. Along with this we see from Scripture that God is one God. And yet the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each described in personal ways. They all have characteristics of being a person and yet all are God. Jesus is distinct from the Father yet He claimed equality with God. The Holy Spirit is described in distinct terms from the Father and the Son and yet He is also God and is inseparable from the Father and the Son.

  107. Typology

    Differing from a symbol or an allegory, a typology is a representation of an actual, historical reference. According to Christian exegesis, biblical typology deals with the parallels between actual, historical (usually OT) figures or events in salvation history and their later, analogous fulfillment. Often NT events and figures are typologically understood and interpreted according to an OT pattern (e.g., creation and the new creation, Adam and Christ, the exodus and NT concepts of salvation). On this basis typology became one of the four prevalent ways (together with the literal, the analogical, and the spiritual) of interpreting Scripture in the Middle Ages.

  108. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

    The leader of the Swiss Reformation, Zwingli is often numbered with Luther and Calvin as one of the most influential Protestant Reformers. A strict adherent to the biblical text, Zwingli rejected Luther’s position of consubstantiation in regard to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist (Communion), arguing instead for a memorial view. Zwingli inspired, but later broke with, the developing Anabaptist movement. Zwingli argued that if something was not in Scripture, it should not be permitted whereas, Luther argued that where Scripture is silent there is freedom.

  109. Vicarious (Atonement)

    Literally, “in the place of”. Hence in that Jesus died “for us”, that is, took on himself the consequences of human sin, theologians often speak of his sacrificial, substitutionary death as a vicarious atonement. This also means that, although we didn’t physically die with Christ and rise with Him, we still participate in His death and resurrection vicariously.

  110. Weaker Brother

    Simple-minded, ignorant and young Christians that are not able to grasp the meaning of the freedom given in faith—even if they wished to do so. These are the ones we must take care not to offend. We ought to defer to their weakness until they have had the opportunity to become more fully instructed in the faith. They act the way they do only because their faith is weak. Therefore, fasts and other ceremonies they might think are necessary should be observed in order to avoid upsetting them. In this way we follow the command of love, which seeks not to harm but to serve. After all, they are not to be blamed for their weakness. It is their pastors who have used tradition to take them captive. (According to this principle, Paul circumcised Timothy, in Acts 16:3.)

    Source: Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian

  111. Worldview

    The way that one views the world that we live in.  A particular philosophy or conception of the world.  The overall perspective in which one sees and interprets the world and their surroundings.

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