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Biblical and Logical Hermeneutic

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and Definitions of Key Words and Acronyms

A hermeneutic is an explanation of how something is interpreted, which in the present case refers particularly to God's Word contained in Scripture known as the Bible.  The purpose of a biblical hermeneutic per NT teaching (2TM 3:15, MT 15:10-20) is to support evangelism, witnessing or telling the good news about God's grace or gift of salvation because of the atonement of Messiah Jesus.  The NT claims to be the fullest revelation of God's Word to humanity (CL 1:25, 2:10, 2TM 4:17), but its adherents are weaker witnesses when they ignore rather than harmonize apparently dissonant doctrines, such as teachings that prayer is a blank check (JN 14:13f. & 15:7) versus verses indicating that prayer should agree with the will of God (MT 26:39&42).  [The former statements must assume the latter truth.]  Other examples of ignorance that vitiate a person's witness for Christ include stating uncertain things as proven facts and stating as unknowable things truths which are clearly taught in Scripture or else revealed via God-given logic.  Examples of the former include dogmatic definitions of divinely inspired Scripture that fail to be cognizant of the uncertain canonization process and claims of inerrant interpretation of Scripture that disregard the fallibility of human pride.  (As 2PT 3:16 notes, "ignorant people distort Scripture".)  An example of the latter is telling someone that we cannot understand why God allows suffering, when the clear teaching of Scripture (1PT 4:12&19) and common sense (mortals suffer) is that the divine purpose of suffering is to teach mortals their need of God's salvation to heaven.  Of course, there are some unknowns no one has been able to understand, including the following:

1. How a supernatural God (2CR 4:18) is manifested by or connected with the physical universe He created (RM 1:19-20).
2. How God is able to create morally independent souls, whose wills may choose to cooperate with or to contradict His will (DT 30:19, JSH 24:15, etc.).
3. How Jesus was able to be both human and the fullest theophany or manifestation of God in the human dimension of reality (1TM 2:5).
4. How immortal human bodies will function in heaven (1CR 15:35-54).
5. What God was doing before He created this universe.

            My hermeneutic begins with the instruction of Paul (in 1THS 5:21) to "Test everything; hold on to the good" [HD#1] and his definition (in 2TM 3:15-17)     of good as God's Word in Scripture, which is "able to make you wise for salvation" and which is "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." [HD#2]  (The key hermeneutical doctrines discussed in this lesson are numbered in brackets.) 
A truthseeker asks, "What is true, most true or closest to the truth?"  The method for discerning the whole truth is subjective logic that attempts to harmonize all truths, especially (regarding moral and ultimate truths) including those in the canons of ancient Scripture known as the Old and New Testaments.  (Other more recent scriptures are discussed in Lesson 12 on "Ecumenical Monotheism".)   Utilizing such systematic logic, I have come to appreciate three additional key elements in Paul's hermeneutic:  First [HD#3], "We all operate by faith rather than by sight (proof or infallible certainty) regarding ultimate truth" (2CR 5:7).  Thus, Christians should beware the pitfall of wanting to prove their faith by assuming some interpretation of the Bible to be inerrant or by seeking to walk from miracle to miracle.  Second [HD#4], faith should be in an all-loving God (MT 5:44-48), "who rewards those who earnestly seek Him" (HB 11:6, cf. MT 7:7-8).  Third [HD#5], humanity's understanding of God's revelation was transformed by Jesus, so that the OT was "set aside" and "made obsolete" by a "new" and "better covenant", the NT (HB 7:18, 8:13, 9:15), which will never be superseded until Christ comes again at the "judgment" (HB 9:27-28).


           This hermeneutic or logical method of harmonization is also known as "interpreting Scripture with Scripture".  Whenever a problematic statement is encountered, the effort is made to “triangulate" from clear truths to see how it may fit.  In addition to the five statements or "hermeneutical doctrines" by Paul already mentioned, I have found the following passages to be especially useful for this purpose. 

           

[HD#6].  1TM 2:3b-5, “God our Savior… wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” [God loves everyone (who has ever lived), including His enemies; there is one God, Jesus is a man, who as Messiah mediates between God and humanity.] 

 

[HD#7].  2THS 1:6, “God is just.” [Thus, He must judge individuals fairly, as indicated by the Parable of the Talents (MT 25:14-30), and we should beware of an interpretation that makes God seem to be unjust.] 

 

[HD#8].  MT 16:5-12, “ 5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”  8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  [Words may not be meant literally, in the OT, too.  Cf. GL 4:24.  Hence the need for interpretation.]
 

[HD#9].  MT 22:37-40, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord [Commander] your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor [including enemies] as yourself.’  40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  [When we want to KISS the Bible (regarding God's requirement for salvation), we may begin here.]
 

[HD#10].  JN 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” [Love is the sign of saving faith, not some "miracle" such as handling snakes, speaking in tongues, physical healing, etc.]  

[HD#11].  MT 4:4&7, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (...)  Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  [Note the problematic verse in between.  We should harmonize various Scriptures to arrive at the correct interpretation.]

[HD#12].  1CR 7:10,12 & 25, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband… To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her… Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.”  [Some words in the Bible are the opinions of godly men (rather than the dictated Word of God).]

[HD#13].  ACTS 17:16-17, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned [“disputed” in the KJV] in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.”  [Witnessing and understanding God's Word involves exercising our God-given reasoning or logical ability.]

[HD#14].  GL 3:8, “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”  Also RM 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  [The OT and "natural revelation" serve as a primitive proto-Gospel for those without the opportunity of learning the NT (ACTS 17:27&30, cf. HD#7).]

[HD#15].  2PT 3:8, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand [billion] years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  [GN 1 or other OT passages may be like the NT parables, which are meant to teach a spiritual truth rather than a physical (scientific) fact.]


            This NT-based hermeneutic stressing that God loves and wants to save everyone and that God is just is affirmed in the OT by scriptures such as PS 145:17, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”  This truth leads us to conclude that even the wrath of God is an expression of His love [HD#16].  HB 12:4-11 indicates that divine wrath is intended as discipline for the purpose of teaching people to repent of their hatefulness and faithlessness (cf. PR 3:12, IS 33:14-15, RV 3:19).  Unrighteous rage should not be attributed to God, but divine justice is experienced as judgment by those who rebel against Him (IS 13:13, RM 1:18, RV 19:11).  The fire that warms (purifies) also burns (punishes with a just consequence (JN 3:17-18). 

 

This hermeneutic affirms three phenomena discussed in theological works of a rather philosophical bent.  First, "accommodation", which seeks to explain  how the infinite, perfect and qualitatively superior God might be able to relate or communicate with finite, fallible and inferior human creatures.  It appears likely that God accommodated His revelation so that it corresponded with the evolutionary stages of human moral and intellectual development.  The ancients should not be condemned for not having the NT revelation.  Because of human imperfection and the necessity of accommodation, we must be content with sufficient rather than perfect or inerrant knowledge of God's revelation, even as we seek better understanding of His will and the plan of salvation.  We should not be unduly concerned when we find grains of sand or discrepancies and problematic passages amid the gold or truth. 

         The second phenomenon, "distanciation", notes that God designed reality so that His presence is less than compelling, so that we experience God as distant from us and "unknown" fully (ACTS 17:23).  Even Jesus (God the Son) on the cross cried out “My God [the Father], why have you forsaken [taken God the Spirit from] me?” (MT 27:46, PS 51:11)  We may feel distant from God even though He is close or immanent, "for in Him we live and move and have our being" (ACTS 17:28), because God’s normative means of conversion is persuasion rather than coercion (MT 12:39, 24:24, 1CR 1:22-23).  This is seen very clearly in Jesus’ lament over the obstinacy of Jerusalem (MT 23:37).  Apparently, undeniable miracles would be coercive or tantamount to demanding conversion and love at gunpoint, effectively nullifying human moral free will.  It may be that biblical miracles (even God's appearances to Moses in EX 3:2-6 and to Saul/Paul in ACTS 9:3-6) were not undeniably experienced.  Again, because I believe God exists and is not unloving, then the fact that God does not normatively provide proof/miracles must mean that He cannot do so without abrogating our humanity.   Someone may object that when we experience judgment after resurrection, all will walk by proof, but that new dispensation will merely confirm the saving faith of some and end the opportunity for repentance by others after justice has been accomplished.  It also might be added that perhaps God works (deniable)   miracles from time to time when He desires to "tweak" history, so that it will flow within the limits He deems proper, between banks that allow humans limited moral free will.  If miracles were not deniable, Paul would have written, "We walk by certainty, not by faith."  

         The third phenomenon affirmed by this hermeneutical method is "eclecticism" that is aptly illustrated by the transparent overlays of bodily systems found in some books on anatomy.  Perhaps natural revelation or science may be viewed as the skeletal system (body, physical truth), OT theism as the muscular system (heart, soul truth), and NT theism as the nervous system (brain, spiritual truth).  All three should function as one.  I want to include all true assertions in the picture of reality without making a “Procrustean Body” by cutting off or ignoring parts that do not seem to fit, because the correct understanding must be self-consistent or else God would be tricky.  Does this not seem right to you?  I think Hegel's affirmation of synthesis may be related to this method:  when considering two different understandings (thesis A versus antithesis B), the truth may not be either one or the other but rather the proper harmonization of the two (both A and B = synthesis C.)  The Bible teaches that God's Spirit is love and truth (1JN 4:8 & 5:6), which means all love (agape, RM 6:5-8) in all people is God's operation, and all truth in all cultures is God's revelation.  Thus, becoming a Christian theist does not mean rejecting what is good and true in one's pre-Christian experience or culture
The Bible also teaches (GN 1:3, JN 1:1-3) that both the world and inspired words are expressions of God’s Word/Logos, and thus scientific and spiritual truths must be compatible or else God would be tricky.  So, while I base my belief that God is love and Jesus is Lord upon the biblical revelation, I also accept knowledge gleaned by the natural sciences and common sense.  While my interpretation of reality is influenced by the Bible, already I have utilized logical thinking, especially where the Bible seems silent, hoping that I am guided by the Spirit of Truth (JN 14:17).


I believe this logic to be ecumenical or universally relevant.  Logic is the way every sane soul has access to the supreme Mind, Logos or Word of God (1CR 2:11-16).  Right logic is the glue that binds all individual truths together in one catholic or universal faith.  Right logic provides the rationale for believing that the history of humanity is not a farce (cf. the "propensity principle" in Lesson 1), thereby affirming the biblical hope of experiencing love and joy in a future heavenly existence (EPH 1:15&18, CL 1:4-5).  The beauty of this hermeneutic is the harmonization of whatever is good and true (other than its polar opposite, the hermeneutic of cosmaterialist atheism, which defines reality as consisting only of the three physical dimensions plus time, so that it is impossible for God to be perceived because He cannot be measured).  My concern is that—just as frequently happens when a person shares favorite musical or scenic beauty with someone else—it does not move your soul like mine (MT 11:16-17).

          Now I will apply this “logic of love” to various perspectives by way of showing how a truthseeker tries to draw a circle around—rather than lines between—people to the extent their beliefs are compatible or able to be harmonized:

 

I am a materialist, believing that reality includes the three physical dimensions plus time perceived by the five concrete senses.  The valid point of idealism is that physical reality may reflect or manifest supernatural truth.

I am a moralist, believing that reality also includes a 5th dimension perceived by a sixth sense and valuing the law of love (MT 22:39).  The valid point of nihilism is that if there is no God and heaven, then life is a farce (1CR 15:14).

I am a theist (DT 6:4), believing God's will is the only credible reason to be a moralist and that God's wrath is righteous or redemptive discipline (HB12:5-6) rather than demonic rage (MT 5:21-24).

            I am a messianic Jew (RM 2:29).  The purpose of Judaism or the OT sacrificial system instituted by Moses was to produce the Messiah and to foreshadow the Messianic Covenant that superseded it (HB 8:6&13).

            I am a Christian or believer that Jesus of Nazareth was God's Messiah (1TM 2:3-5, MT 16:16-17).  There certainly seems to be no other worthy possibility (1CR 15:14-17).

            I am a messianic muslim or servant of God (RM 134, MT 25:21, LK 16:13).  Mohammed apparently was unfamiliar with the NT gospel of Jesus' universal atonement (PHP 2:9-11) and misunderstood the Trinity doctrine.

            I am a catholic or member of the worldwide church of Christ (EPH 3:10, CL 1:18), which consists of all saints or saved sinners who serve God as believer priests/ministers, including post-Vatican II Roman Catholics, although I wonder why their leader permits himself to be called "father" or pope (vice MT 23:9).

            I am orthodox or a believer in God's truth regarding the requirement for salvation (JN 17:17, 2CR 4:2-5, GL 5:4-7).  I seek ecumenical unity with all truthseekers who share this creed:  Accept Messiah as revealed as Lord.

            I am a latter-day saint, since the dispensation after Christ's resurrection is the time before the end, but I am waiting for the Mormon Church to have its own "Vatican II".

I am a messianic buddhist, believing that reflection on reality using our God-given logical ability can lead us to understand the rationale for doing good works beyond an impersonal karma.
 

            I believe God wants everyone to tolerate differences as they peacefully communicate and try to persuade others to adopt their understanding of reality, so that Earthlings will become more compatible as they cohabit this planet.  Those who murder either people or truth will not enter heaven (JN 8:44, RV 21:8).  I hope my credo/logic assists your journey along the pilgrim path or maze we trod from birth toward enlightenment.  I conclude this lesson by appending my definitions of key terms that are used in this website. 




Definitions of Terms 

 

accommodation – the method by which the qualitatively superior God can communicate with inferior human beings by adjusting His message/revelation to progressive stages in the evolution of human understanding

 

agnosticism – the belief that finite and fallible human beings are capable of knowing reality (specifically, God) only subjectively and imperfectly, so that they must function based on believed evidence rather than on known proof
 
allegory - language that may convey spiritual truth by means of metaphorical parables (as Jesus often did, and perhaps also the writers of Genesis and Job)


anathema - being cursed/condemned, because of rejecting GW/Jesus as Lord (1CR 16:22)

angel - a theophany in human form, who conveys God's message to humanity (EX 3:2, MT 2:13)

anoint - sanctify or set apart by God for serving Him (PS 2:2, LK 4:18, 1JN 2:20&27)

antinomianism - the heretical doctrine that saving faith is unrelated to (does not motivate) good works (MT 7:21, JM 2:17)

apologetic - a rational/logical defense of God's justice, righteousness and Gospel (e.g., Lesson 2, cf. PHP 1:16)
 

apostasy – the decision of a genuine Christian to repudiate saving faith or to reject Jesus as Messiah/Lord (discussed in Lesson 4), whereupon he or she reverts to being unsaved, which may be the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, because a person who is so perverse will never again choose to repent (HB 6:4-6)

  

apostle - one of Jesus' orignal twelve disciples, less Judas and plus Paul. (ACTS 1:15-26 vs. GL 1:1, 2CR 12:11-12)


Arminianism - the belief that God provides all accountable souls moral free will or enables them to believe in Him and be saved. (1TM 2:3-4)


atonement – the doctrine (also called grace) which affirms that the death of Jesus/Messiah enables God to forgive sins committed by those who genuinely repent without abrogating justice, because the appropriate penalty was borne or paid (fulfilling the symbolic meaning of the OT sacrificial system)
 
ascension - signifies resurrection to heaven in terms of temporal movement, especially that of Jesus (ACTS 1:9, 2:32-34, EPH 4:10)


asceticism - going without something (such as food when fasting) for the purpose of learning to value God above all else (MT 6:24&33, PHP 4:12-13), which is not a divine requirement or NT commandment

atheism - belief that God does not exist, which is associated with the moral philosophy called humanism

atonement - expiation, propitiation or reconciliation with God achieved by Messiah's death, which was foreshadowed by the Mosaic sacrificial system (RM 3:25, 5:10-11, HB 9:11-28, 10:9-14) 
 
baptism – the moment a person first repents of Sin and decides to accept God/Jesus as Lord, when the Holy Spirit anoints and sanctifies that soul, uniting him/her with the spiritual body of Christ as a child of God, which event is symbolized by the rite of washing or immersing the person in water (cf. Lesson 5)
 
belief - faith due to debatable knowledge, by which everyone (including atheists) operates, given the current state of evidence (and so deciding whether or not to believe in God is due to desire, which motive is the basis of divine judgment, cf. 2CR 5:7, PR 16:12, HB 4:12) 


Bible - the canon of writings approved by early Church councils as apostolic or authorititative, although it cannot be identified word for word with the inspired scripture (spoken of in 2TM 3:16), and thus it should be interpreted with humility rather than treated idolatrously (EPH 4:11-16, 2PT 3:15-16)

Calvinism - the belief (adopting the doctrine of Augustine of Hippo and akin to determinism, which is the opposite of Arminianism and free will) that God does not provide some accountable souls the ability to believe in Him and be saved, but rather predestines some souls to hell, which means God does not love everyone (vice 1TM 2:3-4, JN 3:16) 

 

canon (biblical) - books accepted as meeting the criteria for God's Word stated by Paul (in 2TM 3:15-17): "able to make you wise for salvation... useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness... and equipped for every good work" 

carnal - sinful/worldly, especially referring to immature Christians (1CR 3:1-3)
 

catholic - means worldwide (1JN 2:2, 2CR 5:19), referring to all saints (RM 8:27), believer-priests (RV 1:6) or disciples of Christ (ACTS 11:26) in all local churches, who comprise one spiritual body of Christ (CL 1:18)


charisma - means "gift" (RM 5:15-17), specifically God's gift of His Holy Spirit to all believers (RM 8:9) at the moment of repentance or saving faith (EPH 1:13) and inviting Christ into their hearts (RV 3:20, 2CR 1:22), whereupon they are gifted in diverse ways (1CR 12:4-13) or may exercise their various abilities for edifying the body of Christ. (1PT 4:10)
 

Christian – a theist who accepts Jesus as God’s Messiah, Immanuel, Mediator and Lord in the human dimension [sometimes abbreviated with "X", the first letter Chi in Christ in Greek (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ) or with X and chi-rho (☧), the first two letters of Christ] (MT 16:16, JN 13:13, ACTS 11:26)


church – the spiritual body of Christ (1CR 12:13, EPH 1:22-23), composed of all saints (2CR 1:1) or those who accept  him as Lord (2CR 4:5), obeying his will for them to fellowship (JN 14:15 & 15:12) in local groups for the purposes of mutual support (HB 10:25), edification or learning God’s Word (EPH 4:11-13), and cooperative ministries (ACTS 4:34-35) or evangelism (MT 28:19-20)

 

communion – the rite (also called the Lord’s Supper) of eating bread and drinking wine with fellow Christians as a memorial of Christ’s crucifixion (1CR 11:23-26, LK 22:17-19)

 

conditional grace – the understanding that although God loves--and in Christ atoned for--all people/sinners including His enemies (2CR 5:14-19, MT 5:44), forgiveness of sins is conditional upon genuine repentance (MT 3:2, 4:17, ACTS 17:30), which is portrayed by the rite of water baptism (ACTS 2:38), so that justice is not abrogated by ignoring and enabling evil (EPH 5:1-5, 2CR 5:9-10)

 

cosmaterialism – the belief that reality consists of only the three physical/spatial dimensions plus time, which are perceived by the five concrete senses, thus disallowing the possibility of the existence of a supernatural and spiritual God (vs. ACTS 17:24-29, 1JN 4:12-13)

 

creationism - the belief that the material universe was brought into existence by the Spirit of God (GN 1:1, CL 1:15-16) and that humans are created by God, whether in accordance with a literal interpretation of Genesis or using evolutionary methods (called theistic evolution), which views Genesis as mainly allegorical (cf. GL 4:24-26 and the parables of Jesus)

 

creed - a formal statement of what a person or cult believes (cf. MT 16:16, CL 1:15-20)

 

deacon - a mature Christian, who serves in a local church as an assistant to the bishop in physical ministries (ACTS 6:1-4, 1TM 3:8-12)

 

deism – the belief that God created the world but does not interact with or judge humanity, so that for moral purposes God is dead or non-existent, which functions like pantheism or atheism (cf. ACTS 17:24-31)

 

determinism – the belief (akin to fatalism) that God causes human moral choices (cf. Calvinism), even though such causation abrogates or nullifies the essence of humanness/moral accountability, because some OT verses (e.g. EX 7:3, 10:1, 14:8) and NT phrasings (e.g. EPH 1:11) lend themselves to this problematic interpretation

 

devil - a spiritual being named Satan and symbolized as a serpent in the Bible (GN 3:1, JOB 1:6), who was the original rebel against God and who is viewed as leading or enslaving all who oppose God (JN 8:34&44) 

 

didache – truth that is of secondary importance and not the basis for discerning between orthodoxy and heresy, because it is not part of the kerygma (cf. Lesson 3)

distanciation – the belief that in order to actualize humanness/moral volition God must not prove His existence to humans via miracles, because undeniable certainty that judgment (specifically negative judgment or hell) existed would be coercive and prevent free or "cheerful" decisions to love/cooperate with Him (cf. MT 16:4, 2CR 9:7)

DOD - "duo of desirables", referring to eternal joy (heaven) and universal justice (also hell), which are discussed especially in Lessons 1 and 2


dogma – statements expressing tenets of one’s faith or philosophy or bias (subjective opinion)

 

ecumenicalism – the attempt to answer the prayer of Jesus for spiritual unity among his disciples (in JN 17: 20-23) by building bridges between religions, philosophies and belief systems, hoping that the tolerant exchange of ideas will result in conversion of all truthseekers to one harmonious fellowship (1JN 1:3)

 

elect - those whom God has chosen to save (1THS 1:4) or who satisfy God's requirement for salvation in Christ (EPH 1:4), also called saints (MT 24:24, 2PT 1:10, RM 8:27) or collectively called the church (CL 1:18) 

 

epistemology – the study of how humans learn or acquire knowledge of truth (discussed in Lesson 1), especially metaphysical truth rather than facts gleaned from natural science experiments (cf. 2PT 1:16-2:1)

 

eschaton - end of the world's history or "Judgment Day" (ML 4:5, 1CR 5:5, MT12:36, 1JN 4:17, etc.)


evangelism – the effort to teach everyone the gospel (good news) about Jesus as Messiah, so that truthseekers who are saved either on a pre-NT basis (accepting truths gleaned via meditation on experience and obedience to conscience or on the basis of accepting the OT God as Lord) can learn the whole truth and become one spiritual body or fellowship (cf. CL 1:23, RM 1:20, 10:17-18, GL 3:8) 

 

excommunication – treating someone who claims  to be a fellow Christian but refuses to confess ongoing or frequent sins as though he/she is a hypocrite or non-believer, which is commanded by Jesus (in MT 18:17)

 

exegesis - the attempt to determine what meaning was most likely intended by an author.  While such attempts are admirable, it should be noted that Jesus and Paul felt free to interpret the OT in light of the NT.

 

existentialism - the belief that certain types of knowledge come through subjective experience and thus cannot be validated empirically or scientifically

 

faith/belief - an understanding of unprovable reality in accordance with which a person behaves

 

fellowship -  the spiritual unity (koinonia) of those who share the Holy Spirit because of faith in Christ (EPH 2:14-20, 4:3-6, PHP 2:1-2, CL 3:12-15, 1JN 1:3, JN 17:20-23)

 

glory - a term used to refer to the indescribable awesomeness of God (cf. holy), which is symbolized as light (EX 24:16-17, PS 19:1, MT 25:31, RM 1:23, 2CR 3:18)

 

glossalalia - speaking in tongues, which in ACTS 2:4 meant earthly languages, but in Corinth had become unintelligible and thus indistinguishable from pagan practice (1CR 14:1-19)

 

gnosticism - the heretical belief that salvation results merely from obtaining knowledge about God apart from accepting God as Lord (cf. 1CR 1:19-29, 8:1-3, 13:2, 1TM 6:20-21)

 

God - the almighty Creator of the universe and the all-loving Judge of volitional souls (cf. Lesson 2), who is termed our heavenly Father (MT 6:6-9), although both male and female are in his image (GN 1:27)

 

good - God/God's Spirit and God's Word or spiritual truth (MT 19:17, 1JN 5:6), the opposite of which is evil or blasphemous talk (cf. 1TM 1:13, MT 12:31, EX 22:38) 

gospel - the good news that Jesus salvation to heaven is made possible by the atoning death of Messiah Jesus and may be appropriated by accepting Jesus as Lord or the ultimate theopany in the human dimension (cf. Lesson 3)  

 grace - the unmerited mercy or forgiveness of God, which may be either accepted or rejected (EPH 2:8-10, TIT 3:7, RM 3:22-25)

GRFS - God's requirement for salvation, also called the kerygma or essential Gospel
 

GW - God's Word, referring to the totality of divine moral truth in verbal or written form with the NT being the "mother lode" (described in 2TM 3:15-17)

 

harmonization – the method of logical triangulation, which seeks to harmonize a truth or thesis with another truth or antitheses by creating a wider truth or synthesis (cf. Hegel), which is comparable to a prior statement of Paul (in 1THS 5:21), “Test everything; hold on to the good.”)

 

heaven - eternal life in fellowship with God after resurrection, which is termed "hope" because it is not yet seen (CL 1:5, 1PT 1:3-8, RM 8:24-25) and is described briefly (in RV 21:4), because it is an alternative reality that is unimaginable in detail (cf. 1CR 13:12, 15:40&50)

 

hedonism - a perversion of the virtue of godly joy (PHP 4:4) that should motivate people to accept God's Lordship into the worship of sensual pleasure (2TM 3:4) 

 

hell – the appropriate, logical and just consequence for rejecting God’s Word/will regarding salvation that is the opposite destiny of heaven (MT 23:33, RV 20:14), to which unregenerate/evil souls go until justice is achieved, after which they are eternally destroyed (JN 17:12, RM 9:22, 2THS 1:9)

 

heresy - a belief that contradicts the gospel or true doctrine of GRFS (cf. Lesson 3, GL 1:6-9)

 

hermeneutic – the principles and assumptions employed when interpreting scriptural statements (cf. 2TM 3:15-17), specifically in the first part of this lesson when attempting biblical exegesis

 

holy -  a term (like glory) used to refer to the indescribable otherness of God, but more especially to His righteousness (LV 11:44-45, JSH 24:19, PS 99:3-5, RV 4:8), which those associated with Him share (LV 6:16-18, 1PT 1:15-16, RV 21:2)

 

hope - a rational (because possible, given current evidence) belief regarding what one desires to be true or real, such as an all-loving God and heaven (ACTS 24:15, RM 8:24, CL 1:5, 1THS 4:13, 5:9; cf. the Propensity Principle in Lesson 1)

 

human - signifies those who are morally accountable to God (GN 2:17), whose souls are judged and reap the appropriate consequence (GN 3:16-19) and destiny of heaven or hell (2CR 5:10, GL 6:7-8)

 

humanism – the belief (equivalent to atheism, the denominations of which are discussed in Lesson 1) that people determine what is moral or the right way to believe and behave rather than God (cf. GN 3:4, PS 14:1/53:1, RM 1:18-21&25)

 

hypocrite – a person who claims or pretends to accept God as Lord, but who is really a pseudo-theist (MT 23:2-3&13) or servant of Satan (JN 8:44), disguised as an angel/messenger of light/truth (2CR 11:14)

 

idolatry - in its ancient form was the worship of material objects instead of the spiritual God, but in modern times is more frequently found as I-dolatry or the love of self more than God/GW or God-haters (RM 1:22-25&30, 2:8, 2THS 2:10) 

 

immanence - refers to the omnipresence of God (PS 139:7, ACTS 17:28)

 

immutable - refers to God's promise never to change His moral law (HB 6:17-18), love for sinners (PS 6:4) and requirement for salvation or gospel (RM 10:17-18, GL 3:8, CL 1:23)  

imputation - refers both to God viewing Messiah as identifying with the sins of humanity and atoning for all sins by his death, and to sinful but repentant humanity identifying with the righteousness of Christ via faith (RM 4:3-25)

incarnation - refers to God's Holy Spirit indwelling the body of Jesus, who is therefore the paradigm and ultimate theophany or image of God in the human dimension (cf. discussion of the Trinity in Lesson 2 and TOJ #1 in Lesson 7)   

inerrant - can refer either to the extant Bible containing no errors, which is neither true nor claimed by Scripture, or else to the teaching of the Bible (correctly interpreted) regarding GRFS being sufficiently true (because of the fallibility of its readers, if not of the inspired authors) for achieving the salvation of those who accept it, which IS claimed in the NT (MT 4:4, 16:16, ACTS 3:19, 16:31)

 

intercession - refers either to the role of Messiah as mediator between humanity and God (HB 7:25, RM 8:34) or to the role of the Holy Spirit of Christ/God within believers assisting their prayers (RM 8:9-27) or to praying for others than oneself (1TM 2:1, RM 15:30, 2CR 1:11)


ism - a personal belief system shared by several individuals for several years until it becomes identified and/or named (false isms are termed godless myths by Paul in 1TM 1:4, 4:7, 2TM 4:4, TIT 1:14) 

 

judgment - refers either to God's perfectly just evaluation of humanity regarding their ultimate destiny (MT 10:15, JN 12:31) or to fallible human discernment regarding the same (MT 7:1, 1CR 4:5, 11:31, cf. 2CR 13:5)

 

justice - the consequence for attitudes/actions that establishes a rationale for meaningful morality, which in the Bible is called the righteous wrath of God (PS 6:1, RM 1:18, EPH 2:3)

 

justification - refers to God's imputation of the righteousness of Christ to sinners who accept Jesus as Lord (RM 3:20-28, 4:24-25, 5:16-18) 

 

karmaism – the belief that reality includes a natural moral law, and that souls are reincarnated in accordance with the net good or evil done in the previous life, which is the rationale for morality found in Hinduism-Buddhism 

 

kerygma – the most important information in life, because it teaches God’s requirement for salvation (GRFS, discussed in Lesson 3) or that which is necessary to seek, know and accept as God’s Word or Lord in order to qualify for resurrection to heaven 


KOTH - King of the Hill, referring to the perpetual nihilism in which humanity is stuck, if there is no superhuman God to judge what is right/good and wrong/evil at the eschaton (cf. JDG 21:25)

 

law – may refer either to the will of God (PS 19:7) or to the writings of Moses (DT 1:5), specifically the moral commands and sacrificial system (MT 22:36, RM 2:12, HB 10:1)

 

legalism – the heretical belief that salvation may be earned by doing enough good works (IS 64:6, PS 14:2-3, RM 3:23, GL 2:16, EPH 2:8-9, TIT 3:5)
 

logic - the reason/motive why a person believes in and hopes for various unproven possibilities, associated with a person's heart in the Bible (DT 4:29, PS 19:14, MT 5:8, RM 2:29) 

 

Lord – refers to God in the OT (GN 2:4) and also to Jesus in the NT (MT 7:21, ACTS 2:34, RM 8:39)

 

love - concern about someone's eternal welfare and happiness, the supreme example of which is God's offer of Messiah to die for the sins of humanity (per RM 5:6-8)

 

marriage – means the uniting of one man and one woman for the duration of their earthly life (GN 2:24, MT 19:4-6)

 

maturity – manifesting God’s love in its myriad facets so much of the time that it is typical behavior, which witnesses positively for Christ’s/God’s goodness, which is the goal of genuine Christian faith (EPH 4:11-15, 1CR 2:6, PHP 3:15, HB 5:14)

 

Messiah – the man God ordained/anointed to atone for the sins of humanity, who is Jesus of Nazareth (ACTS 2:22-36, RM 3:21-26)

 

millennium – refers to the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth (mentioned in RV 20:2-7), which becomes problematic (making prior world history moot) if interpreted literally

 

miracle – an act or event that either suspends natural laws or involves unlikely coincidence (cf. Lesson 15)

 

moral attributes – descriptions of God as all-loving, truth and perfectly just or righteous (cf. Lesson 2)

 

moralism – the belief that in addition to the four physical/temporal dimensions affirmed by cosmaterialism, reality also includes a fifth metaphysical or ultimate dimension perceived by a sixth intuitive or spiritual sense (cf. Lesson 1)

 

Muslim – means “submitted to God”, so all godly Jews and Christians are also Muslims, just as Messianic Jews and Muslims are also Christians, and Spirit-indwelled Christians and Muslims are also spiritual Israel (cf. Lessons 3 & 12)


myth - refers to false claims regarding God's Word that contradict the NT gospel (1TM 1:4, 4:7, 2TM 4:3-4, TIT 1:14, cf. 2PT 1:16)

 

omni-attributes – descriptions of God as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omni-temporal or eternal (cf. Lesson 2)


orthodox -  right belief concerning GRFS or true interpretation of bibilical teaching regarding the same (cf. Lesson 3)

pagan - refers to belief in false gods or in the natural world as God (cf. pantheism), such as the Greek mythology encountered by Paul in Athens (ACTS 17:22-30)

parable - a story employing figurative or metaphorical speech to convey spiritual truth allegorically (PS 78:1-2, MT 13:10-18, cf. GL 4:24)

paradox - two truths that appear to be contradictory until they are understood correctly by being harmonized (e.g., divine love and wrath, cf. Lesson 2, also JN 12:25)


perseverance – the commitment to keep on learning and accepting God’s Word/Christ’s teachings forever, which enables growing toward spiritual maturity until the day we die physically (discussed in Lesson 4, cf. MT 24:13, GL 5:5 & 6:9, 2PT 3:17)


philosophy - the love of wisdom and study of truth, which is compatible with biblical teaching when God is not arbitrarily disallowed by atheists (cf. ACTS 17:18&21-30)


prayer – addressing one’s thoughts to God for reasons of confession, thanksgiving, praise, petition and intercession (discussed in Lesson 5, cf. MT 6:6, EPH 1:16-17)

 

predestination – the belief either that God is not all-loving but rather predetermined to condemn certain souls or that God loves everyone but predetermined to save only those who freely cooperate with His POS (signified by the phrase "in Christ" in EPH 1:4-12, cf. RM 8:29-30 and Lesson 4)
 
priest - minister, which per NT Christianity refers to all whose allegiance is to God (RV 1:6, 20:6, 1PT 2:5&9)

 

proof - evidence that is undeniable by sane adults or morally responsible souls (Lesson 1), although the question becomes:  who is qualified to judge sanity and morality? (cf. ACTS 17:31)

 

propensity principle (PP) – the proposal that it is more logical to believe God/heaven exist until/unless they are disproved rather than to believe they do not exist until they are proven, which is similar to Pascal’s wager but expressed in terms of comparison shopping than a blind bet (cf. Lesson 1)


prophesy - in the NT means either to preach God's Word (1CR 14:1-4) or to predict the future (1PT 1:10-12)

propitiation - refers to the atoning sacrifice/death of Christ (1JN 2:2, 4:10, RM 3:25)
 

rage - unrighteous human anger (PS 2:1, CL 3:8), the opposite of righteous divine wrath (EX 34:6, EPH 4:26)


reconcilication - refers to Christ's atonement by which we have peace with God (RM 5:10, 2CR 5:18-20, EPH 2:13-16, CL 1:19-22)

redemption -  refers to Christ's death ransoming and setting free sinners from death and condemnation (LK 21:28, RM 3:24, 8:23, EPH 1:7&14, HB 9:12-15)

 

relativism – the belief that all humans and their opinions are existentially equal, so that all isms are allowed, including nihilism and theism, resulting in a perpetual spiritual battle (KOTH, cf. ACTS 17:32-34, 18:6-7), until ended by divine judgment


regeneration - refers to being born again (JN 3:3-7, TIT 3:5a), renewed (RM 12:2, TIT 3:5b) or recreated spiritually (EPH 4:23-24) to be like Christ

reincarnation - the belief that when a soul dies it is reborn in a new physical body, which Christianity affirms happens only once at the resurrection to divine judgment (HB 9:27)

religion -  either a system of beliefs about the meaning of existence [which may or may not worship the NT deity, so atheism may be termed a godless religion (cf. ACTS 25:19, JM 1:26-27)] or a system of works in contrast to a loving relationship with God as one's heavenly Father

remission - release from payment, cancel the debt or forgive the guilt of sins, which God does on the basis of spiritual union by faith with Messiah, who atoned for humanity's sins (MT 26:28, MK 1:4, ACTS 2:38, RM 3:25, HB 9:22)

repentance - changing one's mind and attitude about God from rebellion to cooperation (MT 3:2, ACTS 2:38, RM 2:4, HB 6:1&6, 2PT 3:9)


reproving – rebuking sins in accordance with the method taught by Jesus (in MT 18:15-17) in the hope it will prompt believers to admit, confess and receive forgiveness for their offenses (cf. 1CR 5:1-13, 2CR 7:8-10)

 

resurrection - refers to God raising Messiah from the dead, which is evidence of the eschatological judgment (ACTS 2:32&36, 3:15&19, 17:31) and the only miracle along with creation logically requiring belief in order to satisfy GRFS (1CR 15:13-19)

 

righteousness - refers to moral rectitude or goodness and being just or judging fairly (cf. holy/holiness) 

 

saint - a saved sinner, who has been sanctified, set apart or chosen by God's Holy Spirit or included in the spiritual body of Christ. (cf. Lesson 5) for the purpose of developing Christlike moral character JN 17:17, RM 15:16, 1CR 1:2, 1THS 4:3-4, 2THS 2:13, 2TM 2:21, 1PT 1:2, EPH 2:10)

 

sacrifice - refers to an act denoting confession of sin and of the need for someone to atone for it, and thus the OT sacrificial system foreshadowed its culmination or fulfillment by the sacrifice of Messiah (HB 7:18-10:18)

 

Satan - the biblical name for the devil, symbolized as a serpent/snake (RV 12:9), whose minions are termed demons or ungodly humans (MT 16:23, LK 22:3, 1CR 10:20-21, 2CR 11:14, 1TM 1:9)

 

science - the study of God's physical creation or universe using empirical methods, which did not gain traction until the European Renaissance, although astronomy and mathematics began in ancient eastern cultures 

 

Scripture - refers to the biblical canon, the formation of which was a complicated process, but the parameters for which are given by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 as writings that are able to make one "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" and that are "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" 

 

sin/evil - attitudes and actions that are always morally wrong for everyone, such as those listed by Paul (in RM 1:29-31, 1CR 5:11, GL 5:19-21), also called transgressions (RM 4:15) or trespasses (RM 5:16&20) 

 

soul - an embodied mind/spirit, although resurrected bodies are different from earthly ones (1CR 15:35-50)

 

spirit - the Spirit of God (GN 1:2, JN 4:24) and the part of a person which communes with God's Spirit (1JN 4:1-6&12-13) 

 

stewardship -  is the essential responsibility of humans, who are to exercise their God-given talents for good purposes or edification (MT 25:14-30, LK 12:37-48, 1CR 3:5-10, 4:1-2, 2TM 2:15)

 

sufficiency – this term signifies that perfect knowledge is unattainable by finite humans (ECC 3:11&22, 6:12, 1CR 13:12), so we must be content with achieving sufficient understanding of God’s requirement or plan of salvation (cf. RM 2:14-16, PHP 3:12-16), which every mentally competent adolescent can do

 

supernatural - the dimension(s) of existence that is not limited by the physical four-dimensional universe of space and time, which is deemed to be the divine Creator and Judge of humanity (GN 1:1, RM 1:18-20, 14:10) 

 

theism – commonly refers to monotheism (DT 6:4, 1TM 2:5), the belief that an almighty (GN 17:1) and all-loving (JN 3:16) God exists, who created the world (GN 1:1) and will judge humanity (RV 20:12), and who seeks to establish a cooperative or saving relationship with all souls (1TM 2:3-4)

 

theodicy – the attempt to explain how various problematic statements or actions attributed to God, especially in biblical books, should be interpreted in a way that upholds  rather than contradicts God’s justice or righteousness (cf. Lesson 2)

 

theophany – something that manifests God to humanity via accommodation, the paradigm being Messiah Jesus (cf. Trinity)

 

Triunity or Trinity – a term signifying how the One God relates to humanity in three critical ways:  as the Creator/Judge over us, as the Son/Messiah with us, and as the Spirit/Love & Truth within us (cf. Lesson 2 and TOJ #1 in Lesson 7)

 

truth - refers to scientific laws, to morality or right versus wrong, and to ultimate spiritual reality or heaven, which seems to be what Jesus had in mind when he commanded that everyone should seek truth (in MT 7:7)

 

truthseeker – a person who is committed to learning the whole truth in all sources. (L.1)
 
UMI -  Universal Moral Imperative or GRFS, which is actualized by God's assignment of morally competent souls to opposite destinies in accordance with their cooperation with God/GW during their earthly experience. 


unavoidable beliefs – a priori or axiomatic truths that every rational adult is forced by the way reality is structured to believe at least implicitly by behavior (Lesson 1)

 

worship - refers to loving and serving God (MT 4:10, JN 4:23-24, RM 12:1)

wrath - the righteous anger of God intended as discipline (HB 12:4-11)