questions asking for clarification of a theological term

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69
votes
12answers
19k 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 ...
36
votes
5answers
76k 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?
26
votes
3answers
4k views

Is Xmas a secular name for Christmas?

I heard that Xmas is a secular way of "taking Christ out of Christmas". When and why did this practice originate? Is there any truth to the claim that it has a secular or "un-Christian" origin?
24
votes
2answers
11k views

From a Fundamentalist standpoint, what does the phrase “Inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God” mean?

Many denominations teach that the Bible is the "inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God." Detractors of Christianity, and even some denominations within Christianity, disagree with all or some of ...
22
votes
3answers
19k 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 ...
22
votes
14answers
18k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
428 views

What are the main tenets and/or beliefs of the 'Emergent' Church?

'Emergent' is a word I see gets thrown around a lot. Is there any definition to what is and what isn't emergent? Is it a catch-all for certain points of view? Are there people out there that ...
19
votes
5answers
11k views

Why does Catholicism have priests but Protestantism does not?

The Catholic Church (and apparently Lutheran, Anglican and Episcopalian churches) have clergy with the title of "priest", as did Old Testament Judaism. Are Protestant "preachers", "reverends", "...
19
votes
5answers
7k views

What does “scripture” mean in NT writing?

This is slightly a take-off from: What does it mean that all scripture is God-Breathed? The Bible as we know it today wasn't canonized and compiled into a single volume until much later. In ...
19
votes
3answers
6k 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
2answers
16k 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?
18
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
83k 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

What is “faith?” [closed]

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 ...
17
votes
3answers
17k views

What is the biblical meaning of “sanctification”? [closed]

I understand that sanctification is used as a post-reformational theological term to refer to the ongoing process of Christian growth. But, biblically speaking, is this always what is meant? I know ...
17
votes
2answers
497 views

What caused the shift from “Faith Of Christ” to “Faith In Christ” in modern translations?

The phrase "Faith in Christ" can also be translated "Faith of Christ": In the older school of translations of the Bible into English (I'll call them the "King James school" of translations), almost ...
16
votes
5answers
155k 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.
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Where did the idiom “asking Jesus into your heart” come from?

Where did the idea of "asking Jesus into your heart" come from? That figure of speech is not explicitly from the bible or probably even early church history. Can anyone find its first use and maybe ...
16
votes
1answer
31k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
8k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
15
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 ...
15
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Heaven/Paradise/Sheol, Hell/Hades/The Lake of Fire [closed]

What is the difference between Heaven/Paradise/Sheol How about Hell/Hades/The Lake of Fire? Are they synonyms, are they different places?
15
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the Catholic concept of grace?

This question reminded me of a question I've had for a long time: What is the Catholic concept of grace? A look at the dictionary says: grace [greys] noun favor or goodwill. Synonyms: ...
15
votes
4answers
245 views

Is there a name for believing but not obeying?

Although it is a theoretical question, it is still very interesting for me. Is there a system of beliefs or at least a name for people who believe in the existence of God and that events described in ...
14
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
22k views

What does INRI stand for?

On the crucifix there is sometimes a plate above Jesus' head that has the letters INRI. What does INRI mean or stand for? Why is it there?
14
votes
4answers
20k 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 the ...
14
votes
3answers
982 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?
14
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
226 views

Can Christianity be objectively defined? [closed]

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
5answers
981 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
318 views

What basis is there for defining sin as “rebellion”?

Many popular Protestant gospel explanations and frameworks define the essence of sin as rebellion against God. Two Ways to Live: The sad truth is that, from the very beginning, men and women ...
13
votes
3answers
3k 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"?
13
votes
2answers
12k 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, ...
12
votes
2answers
5k 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?
12
votes
4answers
885 views

What does “predestination” mean? [closed]

What is the concept of predestination? Are there different denominations that believe in predestination but have differences in what they believe about it? If so, what are the differences?
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the theory that there is more than one “Satan” called, and what is its basis?

I'm remembering back to a conversation that I had with an individual who was adamant about the fact that Satan was a made up Angel. That instead of Satan being a singular object, satan was actually ...
11
votes
4answers
9k views

What do Christians mean by “holy”? [closed]

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, ...
11
votes
2answers
777 views

Is there a difference between Liberal, Progressive, and Emergent Christianity?

In many evangelical circles I hear people use the terms liberal, progressive and emergent quite a bit, especially recently. Do these all refer to the same categorization of groups or of thought? Or ...
11
votes
1answer
335 views

What do “Templar” and “Soldiers of Christ” mean?

I have been hearing a lot about Templars in movies such as Ironclad and games like Assassin's Creed. I did a quick look up on Google about "Templars" and still haven't got any clue on what is it about....
11
votes
3answers
2k 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) ...
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
3answers
317 views

What is fundamentalism?

John Piper provides a list of traits that he respects about fundamentalists, yet he does not consider himself one. In the context of Christianity (of course), what is a fundamentalist? And ...
10
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

What does the Good News refer to? [closed]

What is the Good News? Is there a different meaning when Jesus mentions it and when Paul does? Edit: I'll clarify my question. Jesus mentions the Good News (or "gospel" in some translations) in ...
10
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...