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Graduate Program inPastoral Ministries

Glossary of Theological Terms

A B C D E F G H I J KL M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Compiled by Dr. Terry E. Shoup, Dean of the School of Engineering and GPPM Students

Designed for GPPM students at Santa Clara University, September 2000

For optimal viewing, navigation and audio, use on a desktop, laptop or tablet.

agape (ἀγάπη)

One of three different Greek words for love, designating love that sacrifices one's own desires for the other. It is the one used to designate the love of God for us, our love for God, and our most profound love for one another. The word also is used to describe the common meal early Christians held in connection with the Eucharist.

 

agnosticism

The view that we do not know anything with certainty about God. The word comes from the Greek word agnoeō (ἀγνοέω) meaning not knowing.

 

anamnesis

Used liturgically to recognize the presence of the person or event commemorated in the Lord's Supper service. The word is Greek for recollection or remembrance.

 

anaphora

Greek for "offering" (ana [ἀνα] "up" or "back" + ferō [φέρω] carry, lift). The liturgical prayer of consecration of the elements used in the Eucharist.

 

anthropocentrism

The view that humans and their values are the central fact of the universe. The word comes from the Greek anthropos (ἄνθρωπος) meaning "human" and kentron (κέντρον) meaning "center."

 

antinomianism

The view that there is no need for the law of God in ethics or that the law is actually detrimental to an ethical life. The word comes from the Greek words anti (ἀντί) meaning "against" and nomos (νομός) meaning "law."

 

apocalyptic

The revelation of divine order, usually represented in literature through a heavenly journey/vision or a vision of the end of human time and its structures of presentation. From the Greek word apokaluptō (ἀποκαλύπτω) meaning "to uncover" or "to reveal."

 

apocrypha, apocryphal

The 14 books included in Catholic Bibles but considered non-canonical in the Septuagint and therefore Protestant Bibles. From the word apokryphos (ἀπόκρυφος) meaning "hidden."

 

apophatic

Apophatic theology explores the position that human categories are not capable of describing the mystery of God. The word comes from the Greek word apophasis (ἀπόφασις) meaning "denial" or "negation." Apophatic theology is often referred to as negative theology.

 

apostles

Derived from the Greek word apostolos (ἀπόστολος) meaning "one sent" or "messenger." Twelve men are named apostles in the New Testament, but the same twelve names are not always used. In addition four other men and one woman are referred to as apostles (Mathias, Paul, Barnabas, Andronicus, and Junia). Jesus himself is once referred to as an apostle (Heb 3:1).

 

apostolate of the laity

The concept that lay persons are called to serve in the Church's mission by virtue of their baptism in Christ. This concept was best detailed by the Second Vatican Council's Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem.

 

apostolic constitution

A papal document dealing with issues of faith, doctrine, or morals that are important for the universal church or a specific diocese.

 

Apostolicam Actuositatem

The Second Vatican Council's "Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People." It is a practical expression of the Church's mission, to which the laity are called by virtue of their baptism in Christ.

 

apostolicity

The study of apostolic succession during the time between the first coming of Christ and his return in glory.

 

Arianism

The teaching of the 4th-century theologian Arius that Jesus is the highest created being but does not share the same substance as God the Father. This teaching was condemned at Nicaea I in 325 CE.

 

atheism

The denial of God's existence. From the Greek alpha privative (an ἀ attached at the beginning a the word meaning "not") and theos (θεός) meaning "God."

 

Augustine of Hippo

One of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. He lived 354–430 in North Africa and Italy and was influential in the development of the church's understanding of matters such as sin, salvation, predestination, human freedom, God's grace and the church.

 

beatific vision

The supreme reward of the righteous consisting of the direct, joyful perception of God. The word comes from the Latin word beatificare meaning "to make happy."

 

beatitude

The literary form expressing "blessing" on someone for some virtue and including the reward they will be granted (see Deut 28:1-14, Matt 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23).

 

biblical inspiration

The notion that what is in the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is thus the Word of God.

 

blasphemy

Showing contempt for God and religious matters through one's thoughts, words, or actions. The word comes from the Greek word blasphemia (βλασφημία) meaning "profane speech," "defamation," "evil-speaking," or "slander."

 

Calvin, John

One of the Reformation's greatest theologians, who lived 1509–64. The Swiss reformer who founded the Reformed Church in Europe.

 

canon law

The authoritative church laws concerning procedures and discipline that are to be observed by Roman Catholics.

 

canon, canon of scripture, canonical

The biblical books constituting the Old and New Testaments and considered authoritative by a religious group. The lists differ among various Christian denominations. The word comes from the Greek word kanōn (κανών) meaning "straight rod," "bar," "ruler," and hence, "norm, rule or standard."

 

casuistry

The application of ethical rules or norms in judging particular cases or circumstances as one searches for God's will. The word comes from the Latin word casus meaning "case."

 

catechesis

Any formation or instruction meant to deepen Christian faith. The word comes from the Greek word katqchein (κατηχειν) meaning to resound or to teach orally.

 

catechumenate

The period of preparation for baptism, culminating in the scrutinies or prayers of healing on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent and the actual reception of baptism during the Easter Vigil.

 

catholic

The term used to designate the Christian church throughout the world. The word is written with a lower case "c" to differentiate it from Roman Catholic (with an upper case "C"). The word comes from the Greek word katholikos (καθόλικος) meaning general or universal.

 

Catholic Action

One of the principal doctrines of the Second Vatican Council referring to the Church's mission of evangelization and education.

 

catholic epistles

The New Testament epistles of James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, and sometimes 2 and 3 John and Jude, addressed to the entire church.

 

Catholic Social Doctrine

The encyclical Rerum Novarum (RN) published in 1891 is considered the first great social encyclical of modern times. In 1931 the encyclical Quadragessimo Anno was published, in 1971 Octogessima Adveniens was published, in 1981 Laborem Exercens and in 1991 Centessimus Annus was published. These letters of the Roman pontiffs form the foundation for Catholic Social Doctrine and are meant to awaken the consciences of Catholics to the fact that temporal affairs, whether politics, economics, science, art, labor, or international relations, have a moral dimension.

 

Centessimus Annus

An encyclical letter from Pope John Paul II published in May of 1991 on the 100th anniversary of the publication of Rerum Novarum. This encyclical further reinforces the importance of consideration of the dignity of the worker and conditions of the working class. It is divided into three sections: 1) Profit and People: An Integrated Approach; 2) Business, Government, and Society: Complementary Roles; and 3) A Theological Foundation.

 

charism, charisma

An extraordinary power given a Christian by the Holy Spirit for the good of the church and the world. This word is from the Greek word "charismata" (χαρίσματα) meaning "gifts" or "graces."

 

charity

One of the three theological virtues, along with faith and hope (1 Cor 13:13). The word is derived from the Latin caritas meaning love and is used to translate the Greek word agape (ἀγάπη), a form of love in which one sacrifices one's own desires.

 

chiastic structure, chiasmus

A sentence or literary structure in which one set of words or motifs is repeated in inverted form.

 

chiliasm

The theological doctrine of Christ's expected return to reign on earth for 1000 years, based on Revelation 20:2-3.

 

Christian community

The group of all people who believe in Christ and follow the teachings of Christ.

 

christology, christological

The branch of theology concerned with the study of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The word comes from the Greek words christos (χριστός) meaning "the anointed one" and logos (λόγος) meaning "word," "account," or "discourse."

 

christos (χριστός)

Greek for "the anointed one," used to translate the Hebrew "messiah" (משח).

 

chromosome

The structural carrier of hereditary characteristics, found in the nucleus of every cell of living organisms.

 

chronicler

The name given to the writers of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah in the Hebrew Bible.

 

church

The community founded by Jesus Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit as the final sign of God's desire to save the whole human family.

 

civil religion

The blending of general religious values, practices, rites, and symbols with those of a particular nation or political entity.

 

civil rights

The recognition of the basic rights of persons in a free society.

 

cleric

A clergy person. The word comes from the Greek word klqros (κληρος) meaning "priest."

 

clericalism

Describing the power and influence exercised by clergy in government, in political arenas, or within the church including the support of such powers. This word comes from the Greek word klqros meaning priest.

 

College of Bishops

Successors of the Apostles; the Bishops of the Catholic Churches throughout the world form the College of Bishops. Individual bishops have charge of a particular diocese. Together as a group, the Bishops may exercise power over the Universal Church by coming together in an ecumenical council (such as Vatican II). However, even ecumenical councils must be recognized and agreed to by the Pope to be valid. To the extent that the College of Bishops is not united with its head, the Pope, it has no authority at all.

 

collegiality

A term used to represent a situation in which colleagues share equally in power and authority. In the Roman Catholic Church, the notion that an assembly of bishops is acting corporately as representatives of the entire church.

 

common good theory of Thomas Aquinas

An ethical principle developed by Thomas Aquinas that says that the benefit of the whole community is the proper object of a just law or principle.

 

communion

Latin for "communion" or "community." The word has recently seen considerable use to describe the communication aspect of community. For example the document Communio et Progressio is the pastoral instruction of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications.

 

conciliar

Relating to church councils such as Nicaea, Trent, and Vatican II. From the Latin word concilium, meaning council.

 

conciliar decree

A decree from a Church Council which is an occasional assembly of the bishops of the whole church who meet with and under the pope to teach and legislate.

 

conscience, freedom of

Freedom of conscience is the notion that people have the right and the obligation to follow their consciences. The Second Vatican Council says that "conscience is person's most secret core and their sanctuary."

 

consensus

A Latin word that means the same in English—an agreement particularly involving group solidarity in sentiment and belief. The word sometimes becomes a part of a longer Latin phrase such as consensus partum, meaning consensus of the fathers ,or consensus ecclesiae catholicae, meaning consensus of the church catholic.

 

consistent life ethic

The Catholic belief in mercy and justice toward all members of Christ's Body (the whole of the Divine Creation), in recent decades taking the form of the "seamless garment" ethic. The phrase "seamless garment," coined by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, alludes to the event during Christ's crucifixion, in which his garment was not torn. This term has come to mean act of solidarity with the sufferings of Creation. The seamless garment ethic, also known as a "consistent ethic of life," makes the same point as the Gospel story: the fabric of God's Creation is desecrated when we tear it, gamble over pieces of it, or in any sense lay claims of ownership to any part of it. This ethic involves an opposition to abortion, sexism, warfare, the death penalty, economic deprivation, and active killing of the sick and disabled. It calls us to create positive alternatives to these violent practices.

 

consultation

The process of developing documents using input and collaboration of religious education "experts," bishops, priests and lay leaders.

 

conversion

One's turning or response to God's call. It is the process of changing one's heart, mind, and will.

 

Council of Chalcedon

The fourth ecumenical council, held in 451 CE at a city in Turkey. The most significant outcome of this council was the teaching that Christ was both human and divine (one person, one hypostasis but two natures).

 

Council of Constantinople

This council held in 553 CE had as its most important teaching the dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary.

 

Council of Ephesus

This council held in 431 CE had as its most important teaching the declaration that Mary is the Mother of God.

 

Council of Nicea

This first ecumenical council in 325 CE was convoked by Emperor Constantine the Great and taught that Christ was the "only-begotten" Son of the Father. The second was convoked in 787 CE by the Byzantine Empress Irene and reaffirmed icon veneration and the belief in the intercession of the saints.

 

Council of Trent

The nineteenth ecumenical council convoked by Paul III to meet the grave need for reform. This counter-reformation council met in several sessions from 1545–1563 and clarified such things as the relationship between scripture and tradition, original sin, justification, and sacraments.

 

Counter-Reformation

During the period of 1520 to 1648 the revival and reaction of the Roman Catholic Church to the forces and tenets of the Protestant Reformation.

 

covenant

A formal agreement or treaty between two parties that establishes a relationship between these two. It details obligations and mutual responsibilities between the two parties involved.

 

covenant treaty

A formal, written covenant relationship that normally contains the following elements: 1) a description of the parties involved; 2) a historical prologue; 3) the stipulations and obligations of the relationship; 4) the document with a directive for preservation; 5) witnesses; 6) curses and blessings; and 7) a ratification ceremony.

 

creatio continua

The concept that creation is continually being re-created by God in time.

 

creatio ex nihilo

The Christian view that God created all things out of nothing and is thus the ultimate source of meaning for the whole of creation. The words are Latin for "creation from nothing." Augustine is credited with developing the view that God created the world without any pre-existing materials.

 

creation

The causing to exist of that which was previously not in existence. In the Christian view, God is the creator and thus the source of all things.

 

creed

A formal statement of belief. From the Latin word credo, meaning "I believe."

 

criticism

A term used to describe any method of interpreting texts that uses modern scientific insights in the nature of history, language, culture, and literature. Biblical criticism is an attempt to interpret the scriptures by discovering the original meaning of the text and by looking at the historical setting in which it was written.

 

cross, crucifix, crucifixion

The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. A crucifix is a cross with an image of Jesus upon it. Crucifixion, hanging on a cross, was in ancient times a method of capital punishment. When used by the Romans, it was reserved for slaves and for despised malefactors who had broken particular laws preserving the Roman peace.

 

culture, cultural studies

The description of all human endeavors and activities. From the Latin word colere meaning "to till" or "to cultivate." Cultural studies then is the study of culture in all of its complexities.

 

curia

The diocesan curia is the technical name for a diocesan chancery, which includes a bishop and all the officials who assist the bishop with the administration of the diocese. The Roman curia is the whole group of administrative and judicial persons through whom the Pope directs the operations of the Catholic Church.

 

Dead Sea Scrolls

Manuscripts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek between 300 BCE and 70 CE and discovered in 1947–1955 in caves near Qumran, eight miles south of Jericho and close to the Dead Sea. The manuscripts, also known as the Qumran Scrolls, seem to have belonged to a nearby Jewish community and include fragments from nearly all of the books of the Old Testament as well as other important ancient and sectarian works. They are of major importance because of their relevance to research into the Old Testament and the environment in which rabbinic Judaism and Christianity were born.

 

deism

A view that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries in England that knowledge of God comes through reason rather than revelation, and that after God created the world, God has had no further involvement in it. The word comes from the Latin word deus meaning "God."

 

demythologization

A term developed by the New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) that states that interpreters must ask what biblical myths and symbols point toward.

 

denominationalism

The various religious denominations that exist as self-governing and doctrinally autonomous entities.

 

deuteron-canonical

Books in the Greek translation of the Old Testament but not in the Hebrew canon. The term is used in Roman Catholicism to describe those Old Testament books which are not in the biblical canon used by Protestants. Protestants call these the Apocrypha.

 

Deuteronomistic

The style of writing of the authors of Deuteronomy through Kings—all believed to be written by the same group known as the Deuteronomistic historians (see Documentary Hypothesis). For more on the sections of the Pentateuch and wider Bible attributed to the Deuteronomist source and the themes of this material, see The Deuteronomist Source (Dr. Murphy’s SCTR 15 Texting God class).

 

development of doctrine (or dogma)

Doctrine means "teaching" or "interpretation." The development of doctrine has been done heavily in the 20th-century. The truth of doctrine may be either formally revealed, a theological conclusion, or a part of a natural law. Dogma is doctrine taught by the Church to be believed by all the faithful as part of divine revelation. Its denial is condemned by the Church as heresy, and dogma is binding now and forever on the faithful.

 

diakonia (διακονία)

A term from the New Testament indicating that ministry and mission in the church is for the service of the community. This word is Greek for "service."

 

dialectical method

A method of reasoning in which a conclusion comes from the tension between two opposing positions.

 

diaspora

Initially used to describe Jews living outside of Palestine after the Babylonian exile (586 BCE). More recently the term has been generalized to mean the religion and culture of any group living outside its native land.

 

dignitatis humanae

The dignity of the human person.

 

discernment

The process of assessing and evaluating the will of God in one's life or in a life situation.

 

disciple

One who learns from another as a pupil. Old Testament prophets and sages had disciples. John the Baptist had disciples. Jesus had disciples.

 

discipline

The rules and practices of a religious order or a particular and regular spiritual practice.

 

dissent

A judgment that disagrees with an official church teaching or practice. Dissent may be by an individual or by groups.

 

docetism

The belief that Jesus only seemed or appeared to have a human body and a human persona but was actually entirely only divine. This word comes from the Greek word dokein (δοκειν) meaning "to seem" or "to appear," because docetists believed that Jesus only appeared to be human.

 

doctrine

That which is taught and believed to be true by a church. The official teachings of a church. This word is from the Latin doctrina meaning "to teach."

 

Documentary Hypothesis

The theory that four literary traditions or sources generated at different times in Israel's history were eventually combined to form the Torah/Pentateuch. These four sources are the Yahwist (J), Elohist (E), Deuteronomist (D) and Priestly (P) sources. In general, the Deuteronomist scribes are thought to have written the Book of Deuteronomy, the Priestly authors the Book of Leviticus, and Genesis, Exodus and Numbers showing signs of J, E and P. The German biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) is credited with the earliest complete articulation of the argument. There is a great deal of debate today about whether we can trace any sources to the pre-exilic period, as Wellhausen did for J, E and D.

 

dogma

A teaching or doctrine which has received official church status as being the truth. In the Roman Catholic Church it is a definitive teaching that is regarded as infallible. The word comes from the Greek word dogma (δόγμα) which means "an opinion" or "decree."

 

dogmatism

An expressed opinion that may be unwarranted or without foundation.

 

donation of Constantine

A document actually written in the 8th- or 9th-century but allegedly written by the 4th-century Emperor Constantine giving the Pope and the Church great possessions and political privilege. It was never considered by the popes as their source of civil or spiritual power.

 

double-effect, principle of

A principle that says it is morally permissible to perform an act that has at least two effects, one good and one bad. The principle details the circumstances under which the act may be performed.

 

doxology

Giving glory to God. St. Basil the Great (330–379) introduced the following coordinate doxology: "Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

 

Eastern churches and rites

Eastern churches are Christian churches whose members follow the Eastern rites as a body. These churches follow the ceremonies originally used by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Those groups not in communion with Rome are called the separated Eastern Churches.

 

ecclesial

Relating to the Christian church from the Greek word ekklesia (ἐκκλησία) meaning "those called out."

 

ecclesiology

The study of the church as a biblical and theological subject. From the Greek words ekklqsia (ἐκκλησία) meaning "those called out" and logos () meaning "work," "account" or "study."

 

economic development

Economic development is the growth and improvement of society that is engaged in the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The general theological opinion on economic development is mixed. To the extent that economic development contributes to the production of agricultural and industrial goods and services for the betterment of the human condition, it is good. To the extent that it may cause a focus on individual material wealth, that it may promote the marginalization of people, or that it may exclude justice and fairness, it is not good. Chapter III, Section 64-65 of Gaudium et spes of the Second Vatican Council addresses the issue of economic and social life.

 

economic justice

Economic justice is the study of economic inequalities that exist in the world. The Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et spes, Chapter III - Economic and Social Life Section 66 states: "To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are connected with individual and social discrimination."

 

economic Trinity

A definition of the Trinity developed by Hippolytus and Tertullian that described the functions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From the Greek oikonomia (οἰκονομία), meaning "household" or "family management."

 

ecumenism, ecumenical

The field that embraces the whole community of God and is concerned with the relationships among the various churches. It also includes the relationship of Christianity to other world faiths. The word comes from the Greek word oikoumene (οἰκουμένη) meaning "the inhabited world."

 

efficacy, efficacious

The accomplishment of purpose. This word is often used to describe the sacraments. The word comes from the Latin efficax meaning "effectual."

 

Elohist

The writer of one of the major sources of the Pentateuch, whose work refers to God is characteristically as Elohim (אלוהים) rather than Yahweh (יהוה; see Documentary Hypothesis). For more on the sections of the Pentateuch attributed to the Elohist source and the themes of this material, see The Elohist Source (Dr. Murphy’s SCTR 15 Texting God class).

 

encyclical

A general ecclesiastical letter circulated among churches. From the Greek words en (ἐν) meaning "in" and kyklos (κύκλος) meaning "circle."

 

Enlightenment

A period in 18th-century Europe that encouraged empirical methods in scientific research and proposed deciding issues through the use of reason, observation, and experimentation.

 

epistemology

A branch of philosophy that studies human knowledge, its nature, sources, and limits. From the Greek word episteme (ἐπιστήμη) meaning "knowledge" or "understanding."

 

eschatology, eschatological, eschaton

Study of the last things or the end of the world. From the Greek words eschatos (ἔσχατος) meaning last and logos (λόγος) meaning "word," "account" or "discourse."

 

establishment of the Church, i.e., state religion

Although the separation of church and state is a constitutional reality in the U.S. and is supported by Protestant and Catholic churches alike, there were times in world history when Christian churches have functioned as state religions. In such situations the church faces a potential "conflict of interest" when it is called upon to criticize the actions of a government that is undertaking an action that the teachings of Christ would regard as unjust. Gaudium et Spes asserts: "The role and competence of the church being what it is, she must in no way be confused with the political community, nor bound to any political system."

 

ethics, ethical

The study of human conduct focusing on attitudes and actions associated with right and wrong.

 

eucharist

The term used in the Christian tradition to refer to the central rite of the church associated with the commemoration of the last supper that Christ had with his disciples before his death. The term eucharist (or mass) has been used by Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions, while Protestant traditions generally speak of the celebration of the Lord's Supper, Communion, or the breaking of bread. The word eucharist comes from the Greek word eucharisto (ευχαριστω) meaning "I give thanks."

 

euchology

A formulary of prayers; the book of offices in the Greek Church, containing the liturgy, sacraments, and forms of prayers. From the Greek euchomai (εὔχομαι), "to pray," and logos (λόγος), "word," "account," "discourse."

 

eugenics

A term for "genetic engineering" in which, through breeding, certain characteristics or traits may be manipulated. This has been the source of much ethical debate.

 

euthanasia

The intentional causing of a painless death to a person suffering from an incurable or extremely painful disease. It has been the source of much moral debate.

 

evangelization of culture

A section of Evangelii Nuntiandi by Pope Paul VI was entitled "Evangelization of Cultures." This document, published in December of 1975, suggests that cultures be evangelized "in depth and right to their very roots." This challenge has been taken up, deepened and amplified by Pope John Paul II in his writings concerning the "culture of life" and the "new evangelization."

 

evil

An act or event that is contrary to the good and holy purposes of God.

 

exegesis, exegetical

The act of interpreting the scriptures. From the Greek word "exegesis" meaning interpretation or explanation.

 

faith

Intellectual belief and relational trust or commitment. In Christianity, the belief, trust, and obedience to God as revealed in Jesus Christ. One of the three theological virtues with hope and love (1 Cor 13:13).

 

faith and reason

Faith and reason are regarded as two means by which an understanding and knowledge of God may be gained and maintained. Sometimes these two are complementary; at other times they are in contradiction.

 

faith development

The growth in living and understanding of the Christian beliefs that follows the stages of human maturation.

 

(the) Fall

A Christian term for the act of Adam and Eve in which they disobeyed God and thus lost the relationship they originally had with God; popularized by St. Augustine.

 

feminist theology

The field of theological study that seeks to redress an understanding of God and humanity rendered exclusively in male categories by balancing these with the categories and points of view of women.

 

fideism

The view that faith rather than reason is the means by which Christian truths are known. From the Latin word fides meaning faith.

 

fides quaerens intellectum

The theological method stressed by Augustine and Anselm in which one begins one's beliefs based on faith and then moves on to further understand Christian truths. The term is Latin for "faith seeking understanding."

 

French feminist theology

The sector of feminist theology in France which revolves around the questions of human subjectivity and gendered identity. The two figures most often associated with French feminist thought are Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva.

 

fundamentalism

A 20th-century evangelical religious position in America that seeks to preserve conservative Protestant views and values. This position focuses on the inerrancy and literal interpretation of Scripture.

 

Gaudium et Spes

Also known as the "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," a significant document of Vatican II (December 7, 1965). It is the first document to speak about human beings coming to grips with the problems of their earthly lives.

 

genealogy of Jesus

The genealogy of Jesus is detailed in Matthew 1:1-17 and in Luke 3:23-38. There are striking differences in these accounts.

 

genetics

The biological study of heredity and the mechanisms of hereditary transmission of characteristics.

 

global solidarity

Unity with a group or class that produces a community of interest. Global solidarity means that we recognize human interdependence globally as both a necessary fact and a positive value in our lives. There are three social encyclicals that call for solidarity as an essential virtue in our lives. These are Laborem Exercens ("On Human Work"), Sollicitudo rei Socialis, and Centessimus Annus.

 

gnosticism

A movement during the early church period that focused on the quest for secret knowledge transmitted only to the "enlightened." Gnostics viewed matter as evil and denied the humanity of Jesus.

 

God

The supreme being who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. Christians believe that God is the Trinity consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

grace

Unmerited favor. God's grace is given freely to sinful humanity in manifold ways and ultimately for Christians in the salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

 

heaven

The place beyond the earth that is the living place of God. In Christianity, it is the future eternal home of those who receive salvation in Christ.

 

hell

In Christian belief, the place of the dead after death in which the wicked endure eternal punishment. It is a condition of total separation from God.

 

hermeneutical circle

A contemporary recognition in philosophy and biblical interpretation that the person who interprets inevitably is part of the interpretive process. This means that one's understanding of biblical texts cannot help but be affected by this person's own context.

 

hermeneutics

The study of the meanings of writings, speech, and therefore also of biblical texts. The study of the methodology of interpretation.

 

hesed (חסד)

A word often used in the Old Testament to characterize God. Hesed indicates God's loving-kindness in keeping covenant promises despite human failings. The word is Hebrew translates to loving-kindness, benevolence, mercy or charity.

 

heuristic theology

A theological approach that opens an issue for further questioning and analysis.

 

hierarchy

The organized and structured levels of power within church government.

 

historical consciousness

The perspective that ancient texts were shaped by the cultural context and thoughts of those who composed them.

 

holiness

To be holy is to be set apart. Christian holiness is the sanctified life of believers. It is often defined in terms of personal character or actions.

 

Holy Spirit

The third person of the Trinity.

 

hope

The active, positive expectation of something in the future. In Christianity, the active expectation of future blessings as the fulfillment of God's covenant faithfulness and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the three theological virtues with faith and love (1 Cor 13:13).

 

human rights

Those rights that humans have by virtue of their humanity and not by any merit of their own. In Christianity these rights emerge from the fact that God created humanity and loves humanity.

 

Humanae Vitae

The July 25, 1968 encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, subtitled "The Right Order to Be Followed in the Propagation of Human Offspring."

 

hypostasis, hypostatic

An individual, complete substance existing entirely in itself; the term used by the Church to identify the persons in the Trinity and the union of two natures in one divine person in Christ (Chalcedon 451 CE).

 

hypostatic union

The union of divinity and humanity in the one person of Jesus Christ, defined at the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE).

 

ideology

The body of ideas reflecting the needs and aspirations of a particular individual, group, class, or culture.

 

idolatry

The worship of false or nonexistent gods (idols).

 

Ignatius of Loyola

A Spanish churchman and founder of the Jesuits (1491–1556).

 

imago Dei

Literally, this means "image of God." In theology it is the term used to describe the uniqueness of humans as the creation of God (Gen 1:26-27).

 

immanent, immanence

The concept that God is present in, close to and involved with creation. In Christian theology this means that God is continuously involved in creation without becoming exhausted or ceasing to be divine. The word "immanence" comes from the Latin meaning "remaining in."

 

immanent Trinity

The term used to explore and explain the internal workings and relationships among the three persons of the Trinity. In many ways this relationship is an inexpressible mystery.

 

immutability

Freedom from change. In theology, God's changeless perfection and constancy.

 

inclusio

inclusio

The Latin word for "inclusion." In scripture and literature, the use of the same term or motif at the beginning and end of a literary unit (e.g. Matt 1:23 and 28:20).

 

inculturation

The assimilation of something into a specific culture through observation, experience, and teaching. In theology, this is the process by which the gospel message is assimilated into a specific cultural setting.

 

indifferentism

Living life without any influence from one's belief in God. The term can also mean that all the differences between various Christian groups or denominations have little genuine significance.

 

inerrancy

The concept that the Bible is written without error. For fundamentalist Christians, the concept is interpreted to mean that the Bible enjoys full historical and scientific accuracy on all matters. In contrast, the Catholic Church holds that "The Bible teaches firmly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation" (Dei Verbum par. 11). This means that the Bible need not, and is not be, historically or scientifically factual in every detail; what is reliable, inerrant and true are those matters necessary for human salvation.

 

infallibility

The characteristic of something said or written that it will not deceive or lead to error.

 

inspiration

The receiving by humans of divine or supernatural truths. It is often associated with the biblical writers in writing the Scripture. From the Latin word inspirare meaning "to breathe in."

 

Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus (120–203 CE) bishop of Lyons and leading Christian theologian of the 2nd-century. His work Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), written in about 180, was a refutation of Gnosticism. In the course of his writings Irenaeus advanced the development of an authoritative canon of Scriptures, the creed, and the authority of the episcopal office.

 

Jansenism

A seventeenth-century Roman Catholic theological and spiritual movement characterized by moral rigidity and pessimism about the human condition. It was named after Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585–1638). The movement was condemned by Pope Innocent X in 1653.

 

Johannine

The theological perspectives found in the New Testament writings attributed to John. These include the Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation.

 

Just War Theory of St. Augustine

A theory developed by Augustine that, despite its evils, war may be morally justified under certain conditions.

 

justice

Fairness and uprightness. Biblically this concept is usually associated with right relationships and persons receiving a fair share of the resources of the society.

 

justification

The saving gift of righteousness which comes through faith in Christ and makes human beings acceptable to God.

 

kairos (καιρός)

A Greek term for "time" or "right time" meaning a special time when God's will and purposes are carried out. For Christian, Kairos denotes God's final dealings with humans through Christ in the fullness of time.

 

kataphatic

Positive statements about the perfections or characteristics ascribable to God. These statements are in contrast to negative or "apophatic" statements.

 

katholos, katholikos (καθόλου, καθολικός)

The Greek roots of the term catholic or universal come from kata meaning "according to" and holos meaning "the whole" or more colloquially, "universal."

 

kenosis (κενόσις)

A theological term referring to the self-emptying of Christ in the incarnation, as well as his conscious acceptance of obedience to the divine will that led him to death (Phil 2:3-11). The Greek word for "emptying," in the sense of becoming empty-handed or destitute.

 

kerygma, kerygmatic

The act of proclaiming. The term often refers to the New Testament message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the proclamation of this message.

 

Kierkegaard, Søren

Danish philosopher and religious writer (1813–1855) who was a precursor of 20th-century Existentialism and a major influence on modern Protestant theology. Kierkegaard described the various stages of existence as the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious; advancing through this existential dialectic, the individual becomes increasingly aware of his or her relationship to God.

 

koinonia (κοινωνία)

A term that refers to the community or fellowship of Christian believers participating together in the life of Christ. A Greek word meaning communion, fellowship, or common life.

 

laity, lay person

The faithful who have been fully incorporated into the body of Christ. The term usually refers to those who are non-ordained to distinguish them from ordained clergy from the Greek word for "people" (laos, λαὀς)

 

liberation

Release from captivity into freedom. Christian salvation is a theological image of being released from the captivity of sin into the freedom of life in Christ.

 

liberation theology

A largely Latin-American movement developed in the late 1960s which provides a prophetic call for justice to overcome poverty and oppression.

 

libertine

A term used disparagingly for a free thinker who is unrestrained by convention or traditional morality.

 

liceity

A term from Roman Catholic canon law for the status of a sacrament in relation to church law. The word comes from the Latin word licere meaning to be permitted. A licit sacrament is one performed in accordance with church law.

 

literary inclusion

The process whereby writers include themselves in the story or write a story in such a way that the reader is included. For example, Matthew puts himself in the tax collector's place in the gospel that he has written. John mentions a beloved unnamed disciple that allows the reader to identify with the character and be drawn into the gospel story that he has written.

 

liturgy

The service of God offered by the people of God in divine worship. From the Greek word leitourgia (λειτουργία) meaning "work of the people."

 

Logos Christology

Logos (λὀγος) is the Greek word for word, account, discourse or study. This type of Christology follows from John's Gospel prologue that says ῾the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.῾

 

love

A strong feeling of personal affection, care, and desire for the well-being of another. In Greek there are three words for love. These are agape (ἀγάπη) meaning self-sacrificial love, thus the love of God for people, the love of people for God and the unselfish love of people for others. This type of love is the primary characteristic of God's nature toward people. The second Greek word for love is philia (φιλία) which is friendship, a reciprocal form of love between equals. The third Greek word for love is eros (ἔρος) meaning a form of love that satisfies one's desires, such as erotic love.

 

Lumen Gentium

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council. The purpose of this document is twofold, first to explain the Church's nature as "a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all men," and second, to clarify the Church's universal mission as the sacrament of human salvation.

 

Luther, Martin

A key figure of the Protestant Reformation and founder of the Lutheran church who lived 1483–1546.

 

magisterium

The teaching office and authority of the church, teaching the gospel in the name of Christ. The word is Latin for "office of teacher."

 

Marcionism

The teaching of Marcion in the second-century. This teaching held that the God depicted in the Old Testament was a God of wrath and justice completely unrelated to the God of love as depicted in the New Testament. Dependent on neo-Platonic thought, Marcion taught that Jesus was the first direct revelation of the Supreme God, while the God of the Old Testament was merely the derivative Logos or demiurge of the Supreme God, itself an emanation of God that was responsible for expressing the ideal forms into matter. Marcionism rejected the Old Testament and much of the New Testament (whereever it quoted from or depended upon the Old Testament).

 

marginalization

The process of placing persons in positions of marginal importance, influence, or power.

 

Mary's Magnificat

The song of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the occasion of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:46-55), named after the first word in the Latin Vulgate passage.

 

mercy

God's kind and compassionate care for all creatures, especially human beings. It also refers to a positive characteristic of Christians.

 

messiah (משׁח)

The Hebrew word for "anointed one." In Greek christos (χριστός). The promised deliverer of Israel who would reestablish God's governance of one or all institutions of society. There are at least seven different types of messiah mentioned either in Jewish or Christian scriptures; see this chart.

 

metanoia

A term from the New Testament meaning repentance or "change of heart" that flows from sorrow for sin and includes a turning (conversion) from sinfulness to righteousness. This word is Greek for "change of mind."

 

metaphysics

A field of philosophy dealing with questions of ultimate reality. This branch of philosophy is close to religion and has had a strong impact on theology. The word in Greek means "beyond the physical."

 

methodology, method in theology

A particular systematic procedure, technique, or mode of inquiry used in the development of a theological position or theological understanding.

 

middle axiom

A concept for the application of inductive reasoning to the understanding of nature by Francis Bacon (1561–1626) proposed as the basis for scientific study. He proposed that true scientific thought progressed from observations that are particular, to lesser axioms, then to middle axioms, and finally to generalities.

 

ministry

Service to God rendered by the church and by individuals through the power of the Holy Spirit. All the faithful participate in ministry by virtue of their baptism.

 

monophysitism

Eastern churches and rites

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A Christological view of the early church which taught that Jesus Christ had only one nature rather than a divine and a human nature. From the Greek words monos (μόνος) meaning "one" and physis (φύσις) meaning "nature."

 

morality

Eastern churches and rites

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The rightness or wrongness of actions in relation to a particular standard or norm of conduct.

 

Mosaic law

Eastern churches and rites

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The laws given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai and summarized in the 10 commandments and the great commandment.

 

multiculturalism

Eastern churches and rites

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An attitude of respect for and engagement with many distinctly different cultures.

 

mystery

Eastern churches and rites

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In the secular world this means an obscure or inexplicable matter. In Christian theology it refers to any truth beyond human comprehension, for example God's loving plan for human salvation revealed through the incarnation of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

 

mystic, mystical

Eastern churches and rites

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One who experiences a deep union with the divine often with an overwhelming feeling of awe or blessedness.

 

mysticism

Eastern churches and rites

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The experience of the divine by means of a direct and personal encounter or union with God.

 

Nag Hammadi Library

Eastern churches and rites

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A collection of 53 ancient texts collated in 13 leather-bound books discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. These documents are primary texts of Gnosticism.

 

narrative theology

Eastern churches and rites

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A 20th-century theology that utilizes the concept of a story and a human storyteller to provide an opportunity for theological reflection.

 

natural law v. divine command ethics

Eastern churches and rites

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As distinct from revealed law (divine law), natural law is what God has produced in the world of creation. It is what all people know (or can know) of what God has created.

 

neophyte

Eastern churches and rites

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A term used in ancient liturgies to describe those who were newly baptize, from the Greek word neo (νεο) meaning "new" and phytos (φυτός) meaning planted.

 

Niebuhr, H. Richard

Eastern churches and rites

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A prominent American theologian of the mid-20th-century. Niebuhr emphasized "Christian realism" as an ethical posture in relating love and justice.

 

norms and principles

Eastern churches and rites

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In ethics, the rule, pattern, or model used as a standard of right action in human behavior.

 

Nostra Aetate

Eastern churches and rites

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The declaration in the Second Vatican Council on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions.

 

Octagesima Adveniens

Eastern churches and rites

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An encyclical letter from Pope Paul VI published on May 14, 1971 on the 80th anniversary of Rerum Novarum. This encyclical was entitled "A Call to Action" and is considered one of the key writings on Catholic Social Doctrine.

 

ontology, ontological

Eastern churches and rites

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The branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature of being. One of the most comprehensive of all human disciplines. Ontology can also be called metaphysics, that which is beyond the physical, or the underlying and undergirding source of all reality.

 

orthodoxy

Eastern churches and rites

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The things that are considered correct and proper beliefs. This word comes from the Greek words orthos (ὀρθός) meaning "straight" or "right" and doxa (δόξα) meaning "praise."

 

Pacem in Terris

Eastern churches and rites

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The encyclical of Pope John XXIII on "Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty," promulgated April 11, 1963.

 

palpable, palpably

Eastern churches and rites

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Capable of being touched or felt.

 

pantheism, panentheism

Eastern churches and rites

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A term developed by John Toland (1670–1722) meaning everything God. This view is that God is everything and everything is God. Pantheism is different from panentheism which means God is in the universe but is greater than it.

 

parousia (παρουσία)

Eastern churches and rites

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A term used to describe the second coming of Christ.

 

parresia (παρρησία)

Eastern churches and rites

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The openness and fearlessness with which the apostles publicly proclaimed the message of the crucified and risen Christ in spite of the threat of imprisonment and punishment. (Acts 2:29, 4:29, 31).

 

paschal mystery

Eastern churches and rites

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The redemption provided by Christ through his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit.

 

pastoral epistles

Eastern churches and rites

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The New Testament letters to Timothy and Titus, ostensibly by Paul, offering advice to these second-generation shepherds/ministers (pastor is the Latin for shepherd).

 

pastoral theology

Eastern churches and rites

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The part of practical theology that deals with the relationships between the Word of God and the lives of God's people.

 

patristic

Eastern churches and rites

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Relating to the early church fathers. The patristic era began after the death of the apostles and ended at the start of the Middle Ages (100–750).

 

patristic literature

Eastern churches and rites

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Literature of the Fathers of the Church.

 

Paul of Tarsus

Eastern churches and rites

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The apostle Paul of the New Testament. Tarsus is a city on the south coast of Turkey.

 

peace

Eastern churches and rites

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Not only a lack of war, but also a time of full societal and personal well-being. In Hebrew, shalom (שׁלום).

 

pedagogy

Eastern churches and rites

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The art or science of teaching and the methods used to teach.

 

Pelagianism

Eastern churches and rites

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The heretical theological view of the British monk Pelagius (354–420 CE) who taught that humans can achieve salvation through their own sustained efforts.

 

Pentecost

Eastern churches and rites

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Fifty days after Passover, a major Jewish feast celebrating harvest and later celebrating the giving of the law to Moses in Sinai. In the Christian tradition, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Acts 2).

 

pneuma

Eastern churches and rites

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The Greek word for "spirit" or "breath."

 

pneumatology, pneumatological

Eastern churches and rites

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The theological doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The study of the divine Spirit of God.

 

polemic, polemical

Eastern churches and rites

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A confrontational argument that challenges a particular position. The word comes from the Greek word polemikos (πολεμικός) meaning "of or for war."

 

polity

Eastern churches and rites

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The provisions made by a particular denomination for government and discipline.

 

Populorum Progressio

Eastern churches and rites

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An encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI promulgated on March 26, 1967 entitled "On the Development of Peoples." The document manifests the Church's concern and interest in the progressive development of all people, especially those who are trying to escape the ravages of hunger, poverty, endemic disease, and ignorance.

 

practical theology

Eastern churches and rites

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The field that reflects on the church's life in both group and individual expressions. A curriculum in practical theology usually covering preaching, worship, pastoral care, church administration, and church polity.

 

praenotanda

Eastern churches and rites

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An introduction to liturgical books (Latin). These introductions provide details on how the liturgy is to be conducted.

 

praxis

Eastern churches and rites

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A term used to describe a self-critical activity which is not just satisfied with finding the truth, but also aims to verify this truth by transforming society. The term is widely used in liberation theology.

 

preferential option for the poor

Eastern churches and rites

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A term used in liberation theology to describe God's special concern for those subjected to poverty and oppression and their advantage in being able to know God.

 

pre-moral evil

Eastern churches and rites

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Pre-moral or ontic evil refers to the "inevitable ambiguity of human actions" (Gula, 269), where good is only imperfectly realized in human actions, even the most noble ones. But this is, as it were, a purely objective factum and not an intended state of affairs, hence, not strictly speaking a matter of "moral" evil. It does not come out of freedom, but from the finite conditions of human existence. There is a helpful discussion of this in Richard Gula, Reason Informed by Faith: Foundations of Catholic Morality (New York: Paulist, 1989).

 

Priestly author

Eastern churches and rites

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One of the four authors of the Hebrew Bible often represented as the "P" source. The other three authors are the Deutereonomistic "D" source, the Elohist "E" source, and the Yahwist "J" source. The "P" source reveals interest and concern in whatever pertains to worship, thus earning the name of the priestly source. Not only does "P" employ a distinctive Hebrew vocabulary but, influenced by a desire to categorize and systematize material, develops a precise, and at times a somewhat labored or pedantic, style. The "P" source was dated around the time of Ezra, or about 450 BCE (see Documentary Hypothesis). For more on the sections of the Pentateuch attributed to the Priestly source and the themes of this material, see The Priestly Source (Dr. Murphy's SCTR 15 Texting God class).

 

process theology

Eastern churches and rites

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The theological movement inspired by Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) whose philosophy stresses the importance of becoming over being.

 

proleptic, prolepsis

Eastern churches and rites

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That which anticipates a future event. An eschatological outlook that treats a future event or development as currently existing or already accomplished. Jesus' resurrection is a prolepsis of the general resurrection that will mark the end of the present age.

 

promotion of peace

Eastern churches and rites

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A phrase coined by Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, April 1963: "Peace is the fruit of justice and is dependent upon right order among humans and among nations. The arms race must cease and progressive disarmament must take place if the future is to be secure. In order to promote peace and the conditions of peace, and effective international authority is necessary."

 

prophecy

Eastern churches and rites

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A cross-cultural phenomenon; in the Hebrew Bible, speech on behalf of God or God's people to communicate God's will.

 

prophets

Eastern churches and rites

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A cross-cultural phenomenon; in the Hebrew Bible, those who speak on behalf of God to communicate God's will to God's people. They are often called to this task; see Isaiah 6.

 

proportionalism

Eastern churches and rites

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An ethical teaching that suggests a determination of the rightness or wrongness of an action may be done by weighing of the positive results of that action against the negative results.

 

prosopon

Eastern churches and rites

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The Greek word prosopon (πρόσωπον) means person. The concept of divine person and human person together describes the nature of Jesus Christ. The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part human, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly human while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true human. During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it (from The Catechism of the Catholic Church).

 

Protestant Reformation

Eastern churches and rites

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The 16th-century movement in Europe led by figures such as Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin that ultimately led to the development of Protestant theology and Protestant churches.

 

prudential certitude

Eastern churches and rites

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Assent based on sufficient evidence to justify a reasonable person acting in a particular way regarding one's own or someone else's welfare. It is founded on ordinary diligence and good will in the practical matters associated with daily life.

 

psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic theory

Eastern churches and rites

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A form of practical psychology whose aim is to diagnose, cure and prevent mental disorders. It often involves having a subject speak freely about himself or herself to the person providing treatment.

 

public theology

Eastern churches and rites

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The exercise of theological reflection in public affairs. Although many theologians agree that religion is best served if the church and the governing authority are two separate and distinct entities, there is nonetheless an important connection between the two when matters of public policy contain moral and ethical dimensions. The interplay of religion and public policy is the domain of public theology. It is an area that has seen renewed emphasis following Vatican II.

 

Q tradition

Eastern churches and rites

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Q is short for the German word Quelle, which means "source." It refers to one of two sources used by the authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (see Two-Source Hypothesis). Although this "lost" Gospel has not been found, its presence is manifest in material found in the Matthew and Luke but not in Mark (cf. Gospel of Thomas). It is believed that the Q Gospel is a collection of Jesus' sayings.

 

Rahner, Karl

Eastern churches and rites

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A German theologian (1904–1984) regarded by many as the leading Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th-century. Rahner entered the Jesuit order in 1922. His doctoral dissertation was on a new interpretation of the thought of Thomas Aquinas. Rahner's influence grew after his service as an official papal theological expert before and during the Second Vatican Council (1960–1965).

 

real presence

Eastern churches and rites

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The view that Jesus Christ is truly present in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Theologians and churches have differed on the exact way that this real presence is to be understood.

 

reasoning, deductive

Eastern churches and rites

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A form of logical reasoning in which one deduces that a conclusion must be true if the premises are true. This style of logic moves from the general to the specific case.

 

reasoning, inductive

Eastern churches and rites

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A form of logical reasoning in which the premises give grounds for the conclusion but do not necessitate it. This style of logic moves from the specific to the general.

 

redemption

Eastern churches and rites

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The concept that sinful humans are "bought back" from the bondage of sin into a renewed relationship with God through a human act or grace by a down payment such as Jesus' death. It is essentially a commercial metaphor applied to the economy of salvation.

 

reductionism

Eastern churches and rites

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Explaining complex ideas using terms and methods that are not appropriate to their complexity.

 

reification, reifying

Eastern churches and rites

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The fallacy in philosophy whereby one treats a psychological or mental entity as though it were an object or thing.

 

reign of God

Eastern churches and rites

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The kingdom of God. Jesus' central message about God's sovereign rule in the present and the future.

 

relativism

Eastern churches and rites

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The philosophical view that there are no absolutes but that truths and values are determined by cultures and societal practices.

 

religion (religare, relegere)

Eastern churches and rites

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Religion is the practice of piety toward God as the Creator of the universe. The Latin word religare means "to tie, fasten or bind" and the word relegere means "to gather up, treat with care."

 

religious freedom

Eastern churches and rites

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The freedom to practice one's form of religion according to the dictates of one's conscience without coercion or governmental interference.

 

Rerum Novarum

Eastern churches and rites

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An important encyclical letter from Pope Leo XII issued on May 15, 1891 titled "On the Condition of the Working Classes."

 

resurrection

Eastern churches and rites

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The resurrection of Christ is the central defining theme of the Christian faith. Not a mere return to earthly life by the resuscitation of the body, resurrection is a transformation both morally and spiritually with bodies adapted for eternal life with God.

 

revelation

Eastern churches and rites

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The process by which God discloses the divine nature and the mystery of the divine to human beings.

 

ritual theory

Eastern churches and rites

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A set or form of religious observances that performed and thereby help to shape a religious experience or set of beliefs.

 

rubrics, rubrical, rubricism

Eastern churches and rites

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The directions or rules for conducting church services including liturgical actions and gestures.

 

sacerdotal, sacerdotalism

Eastern churches and rites

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The view that ordination gives a person the ability to administer the sacraments and thus gives that person the ability to convey God's grace in a priestly way. It has also come to mean that the church has come to rely too much on the clergy. The word comes from the Latin word sacerdos meaning "priest."'

 

sacrament, sacraments

Eastern churches and rites

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An outward sign instituted by God to convey an inward or spiritual grace. Sacraments are a significant part of the liturgical practices of churches. Roman Catholicism recognizes seven sacraments, and Protestants recognize two.

 

sacramentalism

Eastern churches and rites

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The theological concept that God's grace is conveyed through religious rites designated as sacraments.

 

sacramentality

Eastern churches and rites

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Referring to the new understanding of grace elaborated at Vatican II in which all of creation participates in God's grace. Sacramentality refers to the presence of the divine in all things as in Rahner's "radical gracing of reality." It presupposes a creation-centered theology. God is good, life is good and all water becomes "holy."

 

sacramentals

Eastern churches and rites

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Intercessory prayers similar to sacraments which are considered to bestow benefits indirectly to those who practice them. Unlike the sacraments, these are not given to us by Christ. (e.g., distribution of ashes, blessing of one's children).

 

sacred and profane

Eastern churches and rites

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Sacred means holy or divine. It is that which pertains to God as distinguished from that which relates to human beings. The word comes from the Latin sacrare meaning "set apart." Profane means "not set apart," "secular," or "human." In a theological sense it does not always mean profanity, rather, it implies something that is set in contrast to the Creator who is holy. The word comes from the Latin profanes meaning "lying outside the temple," "ordinary," or "not holy."

 

sacrifice

Eastern churches and rites

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Something of value offered as an act of worship or devotion to God.

 

salvation

Eastern churches and rites

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God's activities that bring humans into a right relationship with God and with one another through Christ.

 

salvation history

Eastern churches and rites

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Biblical events narrated from the perspective of faith and showing God's redemptive purposes for the world.

 

sanctuary

Eastern churches and rites

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The area in a church where worship takes place.

 

schism

Eastern churches and rites

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A formal break or division within a religious group usually arising from a long-standing disagreement.

 

scholasticism

Eastern churches and rites

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The system and methods of learning for both philosophy and religion in European universities during the medieval period.

 

scripture, sacred scripture

Eastern churches and rites

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Writings regarded as sacred. In the Christian tradition, this consists of the Old and New Testaments as the self-revelation of God.

 

seamless garment

Eastern churches and rites

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See "consistent life ethic."

 

sect, sectarianism

Eastern churches and rites

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A sociological term for a group with voluntary members, exclusive in its membership, with a unique identity.

 

secularism

Eastern churches and rites

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A belief system that denies the reality of God and religion and instead identifies itself with the world and human viewpoints.

 

secularization

Eastern churches and rites

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The process of moving from a religious orientation toward one that is focused on the world.

 

sensus fidelium

Eastern churches and rites

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Literally "sense of the faithful," an ancient phrase which is commonly invoked as a defense against new heresies and as one of the traditional sources of the magisterium.

 

Septuagint

Eastern churches and rites

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The translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek completed approximately a century before the time of Christ. Tradition has it that this was the work of seventy or seventy-two persons (hence the name that is Latin for seventy).

 

signs of the times

Eastern churches and rites

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The signs predicted by Christ foretelling his second coming and the end of the world; also used in recent conciliar documents to refer to developments in the contemporary world that reflect God's ongoing presence with us.

 

sin

Eastern churches and rites

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The human condition of separation from God requiring forgiveness.

 

situational ethics

Eastern churches and rites

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The view that right and wrong must be judged in relation to the particular situation in which they occur.

 

social ethics

Eastern churches and rites

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Ethical reflection that focuses on social structures and communities of persons.

 

social teaching

syllogism

A principle used in logic whereby if the first two of a set of three propositions are true, then it is concluded that the third must also be true.

 

syncretism, syncretic

In ancient philosophy, this was a blending together of views from different philosophies or religions. It has since come to mean a collection of views without coherence.

 

synod, Synod of Bishops

A synod is a formal meeting of church leaders to deal with church matters. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Synod of Bishops is an assembly of bishops which represents all the episcopal conferences. This group meets every three years in Rome in the month of October.

 

synoptic, synoptic gospels

Synoptic means "seeing together" (Greek sun [συν] + opsis [οψις]). The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, which frequently parallel each other and provide a similar account of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, are referred to as the synoptic gospels.

 

synoptic problem

The challenge of accounting for the literary relationship of the synoptic gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. Since they share not only stories, but the vocabulary of those stories, often word-for-word, the simplest explanation is that one served as a base text that the other two later copied. But which was first? And how does one account for material that is shared only by Matthew and Luke (almost all of these sayings of Jesus), as well as the material only in Matthew and the material only in Mark? There are many solutions to the problem, with the consensus being the Two-Source Hypothesis.

 

synthesis

The mental act of combining simple ideas into more complex concepts. The word comes from the Greek synthesis (σύνθεσις) meaning "putting together."

 

systematic theology

The branch of theology that attempts to study, in a coherent fashion, the main doctrines of Christianity.

 

teleology, teleological argument

A branch of philosophy that deals with ends or final causes. The telelogical argument is one of the five arguments for the existence of God formulated by Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). It states that God must exist because of the purposeful order of the universe that points to the work of a "Master Architect" rather than the result of chance.

 

theocentrism

God-centered belief. From the Greek words theos (θεός) meaning "God" and kentron (κέντρον) meaning center.

 

theocracy (hierocracy)

A view of government in which God is acknowledged to be the supreme ruler. Many ancient nations believed their rulers were invested with divine authority and that the laws that governed their state were of divine origin.

 

theodicy

A philosophical term introduced by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1641–1716). The term refers to the belief that God is omnipotent, all-loving, and just in spite of the reality of evil in the world.

 

theology

The ordered, systematic study of God. The word comes from the Greek words theos (θεός) meaning "God" and logos (λόγος) meaning word, account, discourse.

 

theophany

An manifestation of God that is visible to human eyes. The word comes from the Greek words theos (θεός) meaning "God" and phainesthai (φαίνεσθαι) meaning "to appear."

 

Thomas Aquinas

Italian philosopher-theologian (1225–1274). Aquinas was perhaps the most influential of the medieval thinkers. He was able to combine Aristotelian and neo-Platonist elements of philosophy in a Christian context.

 

thomism

The philosophical and theological teaching of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274).

 

tradition

The transmission of received teachings or practice.

 

traditionalism

An appeal to past forms of a religion including its culture and patterns.

 

Tranquillitas Ordinis

The "tranquility of (the social) order." This concept was first described by Augustine in an attempt to describe the peace to be sought among nations and states.

 

transcendence

From the Latin word for "surpassing." The transcendence of God goes beyond the universe and surpasses it in every way.

 

transcendent

That which stands beyond all limits of human experience.

 

transcendental Thomism

A 20th-century Roman Catholic theological movement that joined the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) with that of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804).

 

treaty

See covenant treaty.

 

Tridentine

Referring to the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and to the theological thought and practice in the Roman Catholic Church that resulted from this Council.

 

trinitarian theology

That part of theology that attempts to understand the central Christian mystery of one God in three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sometimes described in terms of their actions: Creation, Incarnation, Sanctification.

 

trinity

God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Troeltsch, Ernst

German Protestant theologian and scholar (1865–1923), whose historical and sociological approach to the philosophy of religion became a major influence in 20th-century theology. His most important work is The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches (1912; trans. 1931), a historical and cultural analysis of Christian social ethics.

 

Twelve, the

The twelve disciples of Christ named (differently) in the Gospels and Acts.

 

Two-Source Hypothesis

The most widely held theory to explain the relationship of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke (see synoptic problem). The theory holds that Matthew and Luke had two sources in common when they composed their gospels—the Gospel of Mark and "Q," a list of sayings of Jesus that do not appear in Mark. Mark is thought to be the earliest gospel because of its rough grammar, poor Greek style, plotting anomalies and unusual portrait of Jesus, the disciples, and Jesus' family (at least unusual when compared to the direction the tradition goes). It is easier to explain that Matthew and Luke improved on Mark than that Mark took either Matthew or Luke and made them worse. Dependence on "Q" explains why over 50 times, Matthew and Luke share a passage not in Mark, and almost all of this material is sayings of Jesus. In addition to the two shared sources, Matthew and Luke each added their own unique material to their stories.

 

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

This body is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and are served by a staff of 315 lay people, priests, deacons and religious at their office in Washington, D.C. Together, the bishops exercise their pastoral office jointly in order to enhance the Church's beneficial influence on all people. Like other episcopal conferences throughout the world, the USCCB fulfills the Vatican Council's mandate that bishops "jointly exercise their pastoral office" (from the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church, #38). The USCCB operates through a number of committees made up exclusively of bishops.

 

uniate churches

A group of Eastern churches that are in union with the Roman Catholic Church, who acknowledge the Roman pope as supreme in matters of faith, but maintain their own liturgy, discipline, and rite.

 

utopian mentality of Karl Manheim

Karl Mannheim (1893–1947), Hungarian sociologist who settled in the U.K. in 1933. His book Ideology and Utopia, published in 1929, is a study of the myths by which society lives and evolves.

 

Vatican I

The First Vatican Council (1869–1870) was convoked by Pius IX and produced two constitutions: Dei Filius (Latin for "Son of God") on God the creator and Pastor Aeternus (Latin for "Eternal Shepherd") on papal primacy and infallibility.

 

Vatican II

The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) met for one session under Pope John XXIII and three sessions under Pope Paul VI. This Council aimed to update the church's life and doctrinal formulations.

 

vestibule

A small room or hallway between the outer doors of a church and the sanctuary.

 

vestigium Dei

The term used to describe the traces of God found in all creatures except humans.

 

voluntary poverty

A choice to live in a way that focuses not on personal possessions or material things, following Jesus' teaching to the rich young man, "Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me" (Mark 10:21). Francis and Clare of Assisi famously followed this teaching, as did the other mendicant orders. In our own time, Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, tells us that because Peter had chosen to be poor he had remained free; he had time to think. He lived a rich and abundant life because of that very poverty (Catholic Worker, February 1945). Peter understood that detachment from material things is the mysterious key to spiritual freedom, to joy and to the ability to possess things as God wishes us to possess them—on loan, as it were, for this life.

 

Vulgate

A name deriving from vulgata editio (Latin for "popular edition") and referring to the most widely used Latin translation of the Bible. This version was the basis for the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church from the 16th to the 20th-century, and the Nova Vulgata—a version of the Vulgate updated from Hebrew and Greek manuscript discoveries of the past 200 years—continues to serve as the basis of the lectionary.

 

work

In the Christian perspective, work means glorifying and serving God through service to others and to society.

 

Yahwist

The writer of the "Yahwist" (or J) source of traditions in the Pentateuch. These writings are distinguished by their use of the term "Yahweh" (יהוה) for God and are thought to derive from the united and then southern kingdom based in Jerusalem (see Documentary Hypothesis). For more on the sections of the Pentateuch attributed to the Yahwist source and the themes of this material, see The Yahwist Source (Dr. Murphy's SCTR 15 Texting God class).

 

Zechariah's song

Also known as the Benedictus (Dominus Deus), this is the song of praise delivered by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, when he first had his speech restored after the birth of his son (Luke 1:67-80). This song is often used liturgically.