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Theological Dictionary

Calvinism - Divinity


      A system of Christian interpretation initiated by John Calvin. It emphasizes predestination and salvation. The five points of Calvinism were developed in response to the Arminian position (See Arminianism). Calvinism teaches: 1) Total depravity: that man is touched by sin in all parts of his being: body, soul, mind, and emotions, 2) Unmerited favor: that God's favor to Man is completely by God's free choice and has nothing to do with Man. It is completely undeserved by Man, 3) Limited atonement: that Christ did not bear the sins of every individual who ever lived, but instead only bore the sins of those who were elected into salvation (John 10:11,15), 4) Irresistible grace: that God's call to someone for salvation cannot be resisted, 5) Perseverance of the saints: that it is not possible to lose one's salvation.


      This is another word for scripture. The Canon consists of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New. The Canon is closed which means there is no more revelation to become Scripture.


      Christ is a title. It is the N.T. equivalent of the O.T. term "messiah" and means "anointed one." It is applied to Jesus as the anointed one who delivers from sin. Jesus alone is the Christ. As the Christ He has three offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. As Prophet He is the mouthpiece of God (Matthew 5:27-28) and represents God to man. As Priest He represents man to God and restores fellowship between them by offering Himself as the sacrifice that removed the sin of those saved. As King He rules over His kingdom. By virtue of Christ creating all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17), He has the right to rule.

      Christ has come to do the will of the Father (John 6:38), to save sinners (Luke 19:10), to fulfill the O.T. (Matthew 5:17), to destroy the works of Satan (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8), and to give life (John 10:10,28). Christ is holy (Luke 1;35), righteous (Isaiah 53:11), sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21), humble (Philippians 2:8), and forgiving (Luke 5:20: 7:40; 23:34).


      The word "Christian" comes from the Greek word Christians which comes from the word "Christ" which means "anointed one." A Christian, then, is someone who is a follower of Christ. The first use of the word "Christian" in the Bible is found in Acts 11:26, "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." It is found only twice more in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16.


      The study of Christ (Jesus) as revealed in the Bible. Some of the issues studied are: 1) His deity, 2) His incarnation, 3) His offices (See Christ), 4) His sacrifice, 5) His resurrection, 6) His teaching, 7) His relation to God and man, and 8) His return to earth.


      The word is used in two senses: the visible and the invisible church. The visible church consists of all the people that claim to be Christians and go to church. The invisible church is the actual body of Christians; those who are truly saved.

      The true church of God is not an organization on earth consisting of people and buildings, but is really a supernatural entity comprised of those who are saved by Jesus. It spans the entire time of man's existence on earth as well as all people who are called into it. We become members of the church (body of Christ) by faith (Acts 2:41). We are edified by the Word (Ephesians 4:15,16), disciplined by God (Matthew 18:15-17), unified in Christ (Galatians 3:28), and sanctified by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:26,27).


      An operation (note the shedding of blood) that entered one into the covenant in O.T. times. It was instituted by God (Genesis 17:10-14) and performed on the eighth day (Luke 1:59). It was a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 17:12; Romans 4:11). In the N.T. the physical operation is not practiced. Instead, a circumcision of the heart of the Christian is taught (Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11-12). This is the true circumcision (Romans 2:29).

Common Grace

      The grace of God given to the creation as a whole. God still allows the sun to shine upon the unsaved. He feeds them, allows them to work, and have joy. It is common grace that "restrains" the wrath of God until a later time. It is in special grace that salvation is given to the Christians.


      The Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 1:23-26). It is the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42,46) and a time to give thanks (Luke 22:17,19). It was originally instituted by Jesus (Matthew 26:26-29) on the night of the Passover meal which was an annual occurrence celebrating the "passing over" of the angel of death that claimed the firstborn of every house in Egypt (Exodus 12). The Lord's Supper, or communion, replaces the Passover meal with the "body and blood" (Mark 14:22-24) of Jesus. It is to be taken only by believers (1 Corinthians 11:23-28). (For further study see John 6:26-58 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-34).


      Declaring an evil doer to be guilty; the punishment inflicted. Without Jesus we stand condemned before God not only because of the sin of Adam (Romans 5:16-18) but also because of our own sin (Matthew 12:37). However, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death" (Romans 8:1-2). Christians have passed out of condemnation because they are forgiven in Christ.


      Turning from evil to God. God converts (Acts 21:19) the unsaved into the saved, from the unregenerate to the regenerate. It is produced through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and results in repentance (Acts 26:20) and a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The fruits of conversion are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.


      The work of the Holy Spirit where a person is able to see himself as God sees him: guilty, defiled, and totally unable to save himself (John 16:8). Conviction of the Holy Spirit of an unbeliever reveals sinfulness and guilt and brings fear. Conviction of the Holy Spirit of the believer brings an awareness of sin and results in confession and cleansing. This conviction is produced by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), the Gospel (Acts 2:37), the conscience (Romans 2:15), and the Law (James 2:9). Conviction of our sins brings us to the cross. It shows us our need for forgiveness.


      An agreement between two parties. The agreement, according to Ancient Near East custom, consists of five parts: 1) Identification of parties, 2) Historical prologue where the deeds establishing the worthiness of the dominant party is established, 3) Conditions of the agreement, 4) Rewards and punishments in regard to keeping the conditions, and 5) Disposition of the documents where each party receives a copy of the agreement (e.g. the two tablets of stone of the 10 Commandments).

      Ultimately, the covenants God has made with man result in our benefit. We receive eternal blessings from the covenant of grace. (For further study see Genesis 2:16, 17; 9:1-17; 15:18; 26:3-5; Galatians 3:16-18; Luke 1:68-79; Hebrews 13:20).

Covenant Theology

      A system of theology that views God's dealings with man in respect of covenants rather than dispensations (periods of time). It represents the whole of scripture as two covenants: the covenant of works in the O.T. made between God and Adam, and the Covenant of Grace in the N.T. between the Father and the Son.


      Everything that exists except God himself. This includes material as well as immaterial things and time. God is the creator, (Hebrews 11:3) we are the creatures. The creator/creature distinction must be maintained to properly remain in humble relationship with God. We are not God, cannot create, nor can we help ourselves do good in order to be saved. Only God is God. Only He can create. And, only He has the ability to save man.      


      A religious group that follows a particular theological system. In the context of Christianity it is a group that uses the Bible but distorts the doctrines that affect salvation sufficiently to cause salvation to be unattainable. A few examples of cults are Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Christadelphians, Unity, Religious Science, The Way International, and the Moonies. (See also Cults at http://www.carm.org/cults.htm)

     [The rest of the information on cults is not from CARM.]  Obviously, every religious group follows a theological system.  Among theologians, the generally accepted concept of a cult is:

  1. a relatively small group
  2. whose theological beliefs are not widely accepted
  3. who follow the teachings of a specific leader or small group of leaders
  4. who claim new revelation from their god and
  5. that alleged revelation contradicts earlier generally-accepted revelation

     Yes, by this definition at one time Judaism, Christianity and Islam all qualified as cults.


      The word "death" is used in two main ways in the Bible. First, it is used to describe the cessation of life. Second, death is used in reference to the lost. This refers to their eternal separation from God as a result of sin (Isaiah 59:2), in a conscious state of damnation without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13; Revelation 20:10,14,15).

      Death to humans is unnatural. When God created Adam and Eve, death was not part of the created order. It was not until they sinned that death entered the scene (Romans 5:12; 6:23). Death will be destroyed when Christ returns and the believers receive their resurrected bodies.


      The belief that God exists but is not involved in the world. It maintains that God created all things and set the universe in motion and is no longer involved in its operation. (Compare to Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism.)


      A fallen angel that assists Satan in the opposition of God. Demons are evil (Luke 10:17,18), powerful (Luke 8:29), and under the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24-30). They recognized Christ (Mark. 1:23,24) and can possess non-christians (Matthew 8:29).


      The teaching that a human consists of two parts: body and soul. Sometimes the soul is also referred to as spirit. (See Trichotomy)


      A pupil or follower of a religion, a person, or a movement. As Christians we are to be disciples of Jesus (Luke 14:26,27). We follow in the teaching and example of what He said and did. A disciple is a convert but not all converts are disciples. As disciples we are to bear our cross daily (Matthew 16:24). This means to live and die for Him if necessary (Matthew 16:25).

Dispensation, dispensationalism

      In the Scofield Reference Bible a dispensation is "a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God" Dispensationalism says that God uses different means of administering His will and grace to His people. These different means coincide with different periods of time. Scofield says there are seven dispensations: of innocence, of conscience, of civil government, of promise, of law, of grace, and of the kingdom. Dispensationalists interpret the scriptures in light of these (or other perceived) dispensations. Compare to Covenant.


      The nature or quality of being God. It belongs to God alone. Jesus was divine in nature (Colossians 2:9) as well as being a man. (See Jesus' Two Natures.)

Theological Dictionary pages (c) 1997 by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div. (except as noted) at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (C.A.R.M.)

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