We have had requests for a glossary of terms for those visiting our site. We appreciate suggestions for how we may better communicate! Sometimes theological terms can be a bit confusing to those who are not familiar with them. As speakers and writers, we sometimes assume that our audience is totally Awith us@ in our terminology. In response to to your request, and suggestion, we are providing a glossary of, hopefully, most of the major terms that the articles on this site will use. If there are terms that are used that you would like included in the glossary, be sure to let us know_ We have listed these in (roughly) alphabetical order.
Amillennialism— The word amillennialism is a compound word Aa@ meaning no, and millennium, meaning 1000. Thus, the amillennial view is essentially a negative view that denies that there is no literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. The entire church age is defined as the Amillennium.@ The amillennial view of the Alast things@ is that Christ will come at the end of the current Christian Age, and put an end to human history. The earth will be burned up, or perhaps totally renovated (a minority view among amillennialists).
Apocalyptic Language— This is a term that is used to describe Ade-creation@ language. In other words, the words, taken literally, would demand that the very fabric of creation would be / will be destroyed. However, apocalyptic language is the hyperbolic (exaggerated) manner of expression by the prophets to describe God=s intervention into history, not to end history. The language is not intended to be taken literally. See Psalms 18 as a good example, where David describes what God had done in the past to save him. If the language were to be taken literally, then literal heaven and earth was destroyed when God saved David!
Constituent Elements— This term means AThe necessary elements that make up a whole, the various and different parts of the whole.@ Thus, the story of the Bible and the Scheme of Redemption contains many constituent elements, the birth of Christ, his passion, his resurrection, his coming, to name a few of the more prominent elements. All of these are constituent elements of the story.
Covenant Eschatology— This term refers to the idea that the Biblical story of eschatology has to do with the last days of the Old Covenant World of Israel that came to an end in A.D. 70, with the fall of Jerusalem. Most views of eschatology, those listed in this glossary, believe that Biblical eschatology is the end of human history as we know it. In other words, Historical Eschatology, the end of history. Covenant Eschatology on the other hand, believes that Biblical eschatology deals with the end of the Covenant History of Israel, i.e. Covenant Eschatology.
Dispensationalism— This is the broad word that encompasses what is known as premillennialism. For accuracy sake, it should be noted that not all premillennialists are dispensationalists. There are historical premillennialists as well as dispensational premillennialists. The dispensational view is that of the popular Left Behind book series. As a rule, millennialists hold that at some point in the (near) future, there will be a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth, from Jerusalem, as He sits on the literal throne of David. Dispensationalism, popularized by men such as Hal Lindsay, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, etc. holds that the nation of Israel remains the chosen people of God today, and that after the Rapture, Israel will be restored to her land, rebuild a literal temple, restore the priesthood, animal sacrifices, etc.. Central to dispensationalism is the belief that the church is replaced by Israel in the millennium.
Eschatology— This is a compound Greek word formed from eschatos, meaning Alast,@ and the suffix (ending), meaning Athe study of.@ Thus, eschatology is the study of the Alast things@ which normally includes the ASecond Coming@ of Christ, the Judgment and Resurrection. Many people think of Athe end of time@ or Athe end of human history as we know it@ when they think of the term Athe last days,@ or Athe time of the end.@ However, the Bible, (and the speakers on this seminar), defines Athe last days@ and Aeschatology@ as a reference to the last days of Old Covenant Israel, and eschatology as being a reference to the end of Israel=s Old Covenant Age. The time of the end was the first century generation, which was the end of Israel=s Covenant Age.
Exegesis— This is a word taken from the Greek language. It means Ato draw out.@ Applied to interpretation, it means that when we study the Bible text, we Adraw out@ from the text what is actually there. We are not supposed to read into the text (eisegesis), ideas that are not contained therein. So, proper Biblical interpretation exercises exegesis, the art of drawing out what is actually in the text and context. Eisegesis is the reading into the text things that are foreign to the actual text and context.
Hermeneutic— This is the word for the science of literary interpretation. The normal process of determining what a piece of literature means, no matter if it is the local newspaper, Shakespeare, the Odyssey, or the Bible. Proper interpretation demands that we ask the Who? What? When? Where? Why? questions of what we are seek
ing to interpret. Failure to use good hermeneutic invariably leads to wrong interpretation.
Parousia— The articles will often use the word parousia. This is the Greek word that is normally, but incorrectly, translated as Acoming.@ In reality, the word parousia means presence, instead of coming. It is a noun, not a verb. This word is a Atechnical@ word of the world of the first century, being used in religious practices to speak of the Amanifestation@ of the god or goddess through the sacrifices and services of their religion, or, the word is also used to speak of the visitation of royalty, either personally, or through his chosen representative.
Postmillennialism— This view of eschatology is popular especially in the Reformed community. It is the belief, like amillennialism, that the entire Christian Age is the millennium referred to in Revelation 20. The postmillennialists believe, contrary to the amillennialists, that due to world evangelism, the world will continually get better and better, until a Autopia@ of sorts, is created. Near the end of this indefinite, but extended period of time, the Jews, as a people, are converted, and then Christ returns to put an end to human history. Both the amillennial and postmillennial views share the belief that 1.) The current Christian Age is the millennium, and, 2.) Christ=s ASecond Coming@ occurs at the end of the Christian Age.
Preterist/ Preterism— This word is actually from the Latin word meaning past. The idea, when applied to eschatology, is that all prophecy has been fulfilled in the past. Thus, in opposition to the other views of eschatology that place the parousia and judgment in the future, preterism places it in the past, in the lifetime of Jesus= first century generation (Matthew 16:27-28).
Soteriological— This term has to do with the things related to salvation and redemption. Christ=s parousia, his presence, would be to bring salvation (Hebrews 9.28). Thus, the study of eschatology, is in many ways a study of soteriology. These topics go hand in hand.
Temple Cultus— This term, Acultus@ especially, refers to the rites, rituals and worship system of the Old Covenant Temple. The term Acultus@ refers to the order of things in a given system. In modern terms Acultus@ has taken on a derogatory meaning to many people, but that is only because they confuse it with the word Acult.@ These are different ideas, and should not be confused. Cultus refers to the worship system and order. A cult, in modern usage, has to do with an aberrant religious group that exercises mind control and engages in practices that cannot be justified in scripture.
The Eschaton— Related to the study of eschatology, or last things, the word eschaton, is the noun form, and is used to describe the last days period when God=s Scheme of Redemption was to be brought to its perfection.
AThe Law@— The articles will probably refer to Athe Law@ many times. It is very important to understand that they are using the term in its technical sense as used in the Bible. When ever the Bible uses the term Athe law@ without any kind of a qualifier, it is invariably a reference to the Old Covenant of Moses and Israel. The Hebrew term for the Law was Athe Torah.@ This is a word still used today.
The Scheme of Redemption– This is God=s plan to bring man back into a relationship with Him. Man was alienated through sin, and Adead@ i.e. separated from God because of that sin. From the very beginning, Jehovah had a plan to reconcile man to Himself.
These are just a few definitions of some of the terms that the articles will use. If there are other terms that you would like for us to add to this glossary, please drop us a line, and we will be happy to add additional words and terms. We want to make this as useful as possible.