questions asking for clarification of a theological term

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63
votes
12answers
13k views

When the Bible talks about wine does it mean alcoholic wine?

In discussions I have had in the past over the acceptability of a Christian drinking alcohol I have heard that some 'dry' believers say that the wine in the Bible was not wine as we know it commonly ...
32
votes
5answers
53k views

Why are Matthew, Mark, and Luke called the synoptic gospels?

The first three gospels are sometimes known as the "synoptic" gospels. What does this term mean, and how does it differentiate them from the gospel of John?
23
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the history of the concept of a “personal relationship with Jesus”?

It is common these days to hear questions like: Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Or... The most important thing is your personal relationship with Jesus. The Bible never ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between 'Biblical' and 'Systematic' theology?

Particularly among Protestant traditions, it is common to classify books and classes that cover broad looks at theological issues as either 'Biblical' or 'Systematic'. Sometimes this is even extended ...
18
votes
3answers
10k views

What is the difference between Evangelical and Protestant?

Just the other day, I heard somebody talking politics and contrasted the Roman Catholic church's political influence with "the Evangelical vote". In this sense, as is often done in US media, the word ...
18
votes
14answers
14k views

What exactly does it mean that Jesus Christ is the son of God?

What does it mean to a Christian that Christ is the son of God? On the one hand, obviously, the normal biological meaning of son does not apply. On the other hand, "we are all children of God", but ...
17
votes
2answers
9k views

Why is the word “Ark” used for Noah's boat and the Ark of the Covenant?

What exactly is the meaning of an "ark" that applies to a boat and that thing that melts off the Nazi's faces in the first Indiana Jones movie?
17
votes
4answers
704 views

What is “faith?”

The Bible and Christians talk about faith a lot. Matthew 12:32 talks about "faith as a mustard seed" for instance. I've heard many Christians say things like "I don't have enough faith," or "I want ...
15
votes
4answers
10k views

What is the difference between Reformed and Presbyterian

I feel like this is a dumb question, but maybe, just maybe, I'm not the only one confused by this. Maybe if I'm willing to stick my neck out and look stupid, the answer will be here for those poor ...
15
votes
2answers
54k views

When did “tithing” come to mean “giving 10% of your gross income to the Church”?

I know the word "tithe" has "tenth" built into it, and so some Christians assume that every usage of the word "tithe" in Scripture is referring to "giving 10% of your gross income to the church." But ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

What does it mean to “be saved” [closed]

It seems common in Christian communities (and in questions on this site) for people to say they have been saved. What does someone mean by this when they say it? How would I know that I have been ...
14
votes
5answers
119k views

What is the difference between a pastor, a priest, and a minister?

No, this is not the start of a joke about a bunch of people walking into a bar. Rather, I thought it would be helpful to clarify various titles that people give to leadership roles in churches.
14
votes
2answers
211 views

Can Christianity be objectively defined?

Orthodox Christianity is considered to be what comes from the Old and New Testament but many denominations/religions call themselves Christians without adhering strictly to the Bible as we know it ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the reasons for calling oneself a “follower of Jesus” rather than a Christian?

In the last several years, I've noticed a trend of people who reject the label "Christian," and instead prefer to use terms like "Christ follower" or "follower of Jesus." (Not to be confused with ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Do Jehovah's Witnesses use different language for theological reasons?

They don't have churches: they have Kingdom Halls (though it's not wrong to refer to a Kingdom Hall as a type of church). They don't have hymns: they have Kingdom Songs (though it's not wrong to ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the difference between “catholicism” and “catholic”?

In the Apostle's Creed, the term "catholic" is used in describing the reciter's belief: I believe ... in the holy catholic church This creed is used by a wide variety of denominations, and ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between justification and sanctification?

Christians use the terms justification and sanctification a lot, but it's not always clear where one concept leaves off and the other picks up. What do Protestants generally say is the difference ...
13
votes
3answers
737 views

What is an apostle?

Often the apostles are referred to as "the twelve apostles" - the twelve disciples called by name by Jesus. But Paul called himself and Barnabus apostles. Were Paul and Barnabus really apostles?
13
votes
5answers
4k views

What does it mean to be “weak in faith”?

There have been some questions and answers which discuss the strength of one's faith such as Why do OEC discount the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis? There is also a question which asks ...
12
votes
5answers
791 views

In what different ways is the word “cult” used as a label inside Christianity?

The word "cult" gets bandied about quite a bit, but is there an official definition or some kind of formula which can be used to consistently identify whether a group is a cult or not? Baring an ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

When talking about the Trinity, what does “persons” mean?

The triune God is defined as three persons equal in nature. What does "persons" mean in this statement? Can the word "persons" be replaced with "personalities" or "roles"?
12
votes
1answer
22k views

Why do Mormons use the term “elder” for their missionaries?

Most of the Mormon missionaries I've encountered are young men doing a couple year stint. They are typically identified as "elders", but my understanding is that this designation is only temporary ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Heaven/Paradise/Sheol, Hell/Hades/The Lake of Fire

What is the difference between Heaven/Paradise/Sheol How about Hell/Hades/The Lake of Fire? Are they synonyms, are they different places?
12
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the Protestant belief known as “faith alone”?

"Faith Alone"? If you have heard the term "Protestant" before, chances are you have also heard the saying "faith alone." The way Protestants speak of "faith alone" might almost give one the ...
11
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the difference between “infallible” and “inerrant”?

As with many others I know, I believe in both the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible. But what is the difference between these two important terms? If something has no errors (inerrant), then ...
11
votes
2answers
9k views

What is the difference between a covenant and a contract?

Specifically as used by the Reformed theological tradition, what is meant by the term "covenant"? How is this different than other forms of agreements under assorted names in English like contract, ...
10
votes
3answers
15k views

What does it mean to “Bless the LORD”?

Psalm 103:1-2 (KJV) Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits What does it mean to say "Bless ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it fair to say that Baptists have a liturgy?

One distinctive of Baptists and many other congregational churches is that they have no prescribed method of worship. Unlike, say, an Episcopalian or a Roman Catholic, there is no prayer book and no ...
10
votes
4answers
7k views

What do Christians mean by “holy”?

What is the meaning of the word holy from a Christian viewpoint? I observed that the term is used for the gods, especially the Holy God (Father) and Holy Ghost; persons, such as the holy apostles, ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between a dogma, a doctrine, an infallible statement, an ex cathedra statement, etc.?

There are a variety of terms used in the Catholic Church to refer to particular statements or beliefs. Here are a number of some such terms: Dogma Doctrine Infallible statement Infallible papal ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Who uses the term “God-talk”, and what do they mean?

I've seen many books and articles that use the word God-talk. This seems, often, to be used as a friendlier alternative to theology, which comes from the Greek θεός (theos) for God, and λόγος (logos) ...
9
votes
2answers
241 views

What's the basic premise behind “restorationist” movements?

To the untrained ear, the labels used in Christian circles for some groups of churches as either "reformational" or "restorationist" don't seem that different. If the label "reformed" is a direct ...
9
votes
4answers
894 views

What is the Biblical support for Hell as a singular concept?

One of the common tenets of Christian Universalism (as well as Annihilationism) is the non-existence of Hell as an eternal punishment for non-Christians, that everyone has been granted salvation ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between a Bible College and a Seminary?

I see some Christian education institutions refer to themselves as "Bible College" and some as "Seminary" and some as "Bible College and Seminary". What is the difference between those, if any?
9
votes
1answer
313 views

Is veneration worship?

I answered this question calling adoration and veneration honor given to God and the saints accordingly. If you look at the edits for my answer, I think I had some confusion as to the terminology ...
9
votes
2answers
468 views

What is the difference between 'Hell', 'Sheol', 'Hades' and 'Gehenna'?

In Western imagination, Hell is a place of everlasting torment and suffering for the wicked. Brunlesschi's painting in Florence's Duomo illustrates it well: The word 'Hell' itself, however, doesn't ...
8
votes
2answers
592 views

What does “amen” mean?

One of the most common responses that Christians make is to say the word "amen". Here's an example from a Mass: Priest: May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

What is meant by “God is Omnipotent”?

I'm questioning my own understanding of the term "Omnipotence" in response so a comment on one of my answers. In the comment, the poster included a definition of Omnipotence taken from the Wikipeda ...
8
votes
2answers
710 views

What is the “eschatological tension”

I was listening to a recorded sermon on my way to work today and the preacher mentioned the eschatological tension. Is there a good definition of what the eschatological tension is? If it makes a ...
8
votes
2answers
849 views

What is the biblical basis for the concept of being “slain in the spirit” and what exactly is it?

Among charismatic Christians, I have occasionally heard the phrase "to be slain in the spirit." I have not found any biblical reference to this phrase, so what is it to which this is referring and ...
8
votes
1answer
90 views

How widespread is panentheism within Protestant schools of thought?

I'm confused about what panentheism is. The Wikipedia article and the few mentions of it here on Stack Exchange both indicate that some Christians identify as panentheists and some don't. I'm guessing ...
8
votes
1answer
486 views

How are prayer and asking the saints to intercede distinguished?

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches encourage us to ask the dead saints to intercede for us. To quote from Software Monkey's answer to another question: First off, it's useful to understand ...
7
votes
4answers
15k views

What's the difference between the Gospel and the Bible?

The title almost says it all: What's the difference between the Gospel and the Bible? Does one contain the other or what? What does each one include? Where did each one come from (or who authored ...
7
votes
1answer
91 views

Do Catholics have an “Apocrypha” or just a “Bible”?

Pardon my ignorance here, but I am just wondering if the Apocrypha is labeled as such by Catholics? To clarify, a Protestant would refer to the 66 books of Protestant Scripture as "the Bible", and to ...
7
votes
4answers
306 views

What is “heresy”?

I have seen the word "heresy" used on this site a lot recently (and have used it myself a couple of times in jest) but I was wondering if someone could explain the meaning of this term as it is used ...
7
votes
1answer
104 views

What exactly is hermeneutics and exegesis?

Two terms that get thrown around on this site a lot are 'hermeneutics' and 'exegesis.' To the layman, what exactly do these terms mean?
7
votes
5answers
1k views

How does the New Testament define a Christian and a non-Christian, a brother in Christ and not a brother in Christ?

How does the New Testament define a brother in Christ? According to the New Testament, what makes a human a brother in Christ? And also, according to the New Testament, which people are definitely not ...
7
votes
2answers
230 views

Is there a generally accepted term for “Christians in Communion with the Bishop of Rome”?

Roman Catholic is a title given to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. By this definition, therefore, the term Roman Catholic explicitely excludes the Eastern Rites of the Church, even though ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Is lust sometimes not sinful? [closed]

In Webster's dictionary lust is defined as: a strong feeling of sexual desire OR a strong desire for something. Is this is the same as the Greek and Hebrew definitions? If so, is lust always sin ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the significance of the Bible to Christianity? [closed]

What exactly is the significance of the Bible to Christianity? Is Christianity defined by the Bible? If so, is belief in the Bible the most important (or foundational) belief in Christianity? Is ...