By Jay Rogers
Published April 26, 2008
There is a wisdom which is from above and a wisdom which is from below which is earthly, sensual and demonic (James 3:15,17).
A number of terms appear in The Champion which, although well-known to Christians of past centuries, may escape the understanding of 20th century evangelicals.
The following is a run down of the popular (yet false) doctrines of 20th century evangelicalism. We should emphasize that these beliefs have only become accepted in the last 150 years. These “ism’s” – or belief systems – have led to the theological escapism and cultural retreatism of the evangelical church. The demise of morality in American society in recent years can be directly attributed to these belief systems.
Antinomianism: Literally, “anti-law,” a position which states that since man is saved by faith alone, he no longer bound to obey the moral Law of God; a system in which the Law cannot apply to governing individuals or society. Antinomianism is the logical (yet false) conclusion to dispensationalism’s severe separation of the covenants of God.
Dispensationalism: The belief that God has worked in different ways throughout history through different economies or dispensations. A dispensationalist makes a major distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Dispensationalism is the direct opposite of covenantalism.
Experientialism: Learning through experience or subjective revelation, while ignoring empirical study, objective research, or the study of facts or theory. Experientialism leads to the practice of ignoring objective Truth found in Scripture when it appears to contradict subjective experience.
Mysticism: The experience of direct spiritual communion with God and belief that knowledge of God, spiritual truth or ultimate reality can be attained through ecstatic revelations, intuition, insight, or the “Inner Light” not discernible though the five senses. In one sense, all Christians are Mystic in that we “walk by faith and not by sight.” However, mysticism places direct spiritual revelation above the Word of God, or an emphasis on “extra-biblical” revelation.
Pietism: An emphasis on personal devotion in prayer and Bible study over formalism and intellectualism; the pietist emphasizes personal spiritual experience; and is often overly sentimental and emotional. Pietism is distinguished from true Piety which requires outward works in addition to inward faith.
LOGOS: True Wisdom
The following are some terms which frequently appear in this publication. Although these terms are not often used in popular modern Christian writings, they would have been well known to past generations of Americans. Some of these terms you may know, others you may find obscure, so we have included this glossary to eliminate any confusion.
These are a number of “- ology’s” – a suffix which comes from the Greek word, logos, or “reason.” These are studies of the principles of reason, which will become useful in helping the evangelical church to regain her theological moorings and obtain influence in American culture.
Theology: The study of the nature of God and Scriptural truth. An organized body of opinions concerning God and man’s relationship to God.
Christology: Theology related to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the second person of the Trinity.
Ecclesiology: Theology relating to the Church.
Epistemology: The study of human belief systems; the nature and limits of human knowledge; analyzing why we belief the way we do and whether truth is attainable through human reason and knowledge.
- Epistemologically self-conscious: to be aware of your belief system; to become more consistent in the implications of your beliefs; and to realize that your beliefs and ideas have consequences.
Soteriology: Theology of salvation.
Reformed Theology: The Protestantism of the Reformation period which includes the doctrines of Martin Luther and John Calvin. These doctrines include: the sovereignty of God, justification by faith alone, the authority of Scripture, and the universal priesthood of the believer; Calvin also emphasized predestination and election. Reformed theology represents the recovery and restoration of historic orthodoxy found in the New Testament and early the Catholic period systematized in St. Augustine’s City of God.
- Catholicity: Unity or literally, “universality.” The term “Catholic” with an upper-case “C” is used to denote the Roman Catholic Church, while “catholic” with a lower-case “c” is used in creeds and confessions to denote all Christians. All true believers in Jesus Christ are, in this sense, catholic, because they hold to the univeral faith. Any form of unity that does not necessitate the preservation of orthodoxy is a false movement.
- Orthodoxy: Literally, “right opinion,” the body of biblical doctrines systematized by the creeds of the early Church, such as the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. Orthodoxy is the basis for unity among Christians of widely different beliefs and practices. For instance, Calvinists and Arminians differ vehemently on soteriology, but each holds to creeds which orthodox.
Eschatology: Theology and doctrine relating to the “last things” or the end of human history and the Second Coming of Christ. The study of eschatology is divided into three major belief systems: premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism. The different views of eschatology do not determine biblical orthodoxy. All Christians believe in the literal, physical return of Christ.
- Premillennialism: Literally, “before the thousand years,” the belief that the actual, physical Second Coming of Christ must occur prior to the beginning of the millennium, or a literal thousand year period. Premillennialism places the Church in a position of an “evangelism-only” role in the end times and tends to view the end of history with wickedness on the increase and a remnant Church surviving or escaping tribulation.
- Amillennialism: Literally, “no thousand years,” the belief that the “thousand years” of Revelation chapter 20 are a metaphor for the Church age; an amillennialist believes that history will continue until the Second Coming of Christ with no major victories for either good or evil in society, but sees both upward and downward movements of righteousness and evil in the world throughout history.
- Postmillennialism: Literally, “after the thousand years,” the belief that Christ will physically return to the earth only after a non-literal millennium is completed. Christ’s reign over the earth from heaven increases during the millennium which is though to be “a very long period of time.” Postmillennialism places the Church in a role of transforming whole social structures before the Second Coming and endeavoring to bring about a “Golden Age” of peace and prosperity with great advances in education, the arts, sciences and medicine.
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