Category: Glossary

Sola scriptura

The phrase sola scriptura literally means from scripture alone.

Specifically, sola scriptura is a doctrine which holds that the Christian Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith and practice. This is a touch more specific than I got with my zeroth axiom (which just states that scripture can be used to establish doctrine).

Sola scriptura is a formal principle of many Protestant denominations. It has been assumed in almost all that I have encountered. Charismatic churches seem to preach some variation of it.

Sola scriptura sits very happily with doctrines that ascribe infallibility to scripture. It is not the same as prima scriptura – which is that the scriptures come first and above all else.

Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Reformation held by the Reformers. The reformers taught that authentication of Scripture is governed by the discernible excellence of the text as well as the personal witness of the Holy Spirit to the heart of each man.

Sola scriptura and the Axioms of Faith.

As far as the axioms that I have published so far go, both sola scriptura and prima scriptura are compatible with the axioms. Axiom Zero assumes that one of the two is true.

Criticisms of sola scriptura

I don’t intend to get into one right now but I thought I would list some of the objections to sola scriptura.

Please correct me if I get any of these wrong.

One argument is that if scripture is seen as the only source of infallible teaching, its interpretation is subject to fallible interpretation. Generally, these arguments go on to state the need for an infallible interpreter in order to reach a certainty of Christian belief.

Sola scriptura can be argued to be self-referentially incoherent. The Bible itself does not specifically seem to teach sola scriptura. Therefore, the belief that the Scriptures are the only source of Christian belief is self-contradicting because it cannot be supported without extra-scriptural doctrine. (I hope I’ve presented that clearly enough).

Sola scriptura is not so different to the teachings of the Sadducees that held only to the written law and not the oral traditions. I’m not sure what sort of objection that is but I thought I would mention it. You might want to look at Karaite Judaism if this interests you as Karaite Judaism holds the Tanakh alone as its supreme authority in Halakha (Jewish religious law) and theology. I don’t know enough to say if Karaite Judaism and the Sadducees are the similar (or not).

I read about a writer called Dave Armstrong. Armstrong apparently made the point that, since Jesus and the Apostles acknowledge authoritative Jewish oral tradition, Christians cannot dispute oral tradition’s legitimacy and authority. However, as found in Scripture, Jesus also challenges some Jewish oral tradition. Therefore, Christians can dispute some of that tradition’s authority since they hold that Jesus’ authority is greater. The conclusion of total infallibility is therefore brought into question.

How I intend to use the phrase “sola scriptura”.

I’ve not really thought about using it but I think I might write about the differences between sola scriptura and prima scriptura and try to come down one way or the other. It is a big can of worms, as evidenced by the arguments against it. I might leave that topic for a while.

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is the study and interpretation of scripture. Most of us just call it Bible Study.

  • It could be fair to call this website a hermeneutical website.
  • On the whole, you will find the word written with a prefix such as “Biblical hermeneutics”.
  • Most Christian debates surrounding theology stem from different hermeneutical approaches.

While reading up on hermeneutics, I learned that Jewish and Christian biblical hermeneutics overlap but have very different interpretive traditions. Which goes some way to explaining why Jewish and Christian readings of scripture vary so much.

My use of the word hermeneutics.

I am not one for big words when shorter ones will do. However, with the Axioms Of Faith, I will be dealing with hermeneutics. I might, if I am feeling verbose, use the word. If I do, you should now know what I mean.

 

Amyraldism

Amyraldism is a word I bumped into for the first time right at the end of October 2017. If I do a poor job of defining it, please forgive me.

Amyraldism is, as I understand it, a form of theology introduced by Moise Amyraut. With amyraldism, you get the Calvinist doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace and perseverance of the saints. Which, up to that point, is regular vanilla Calvanism.

With amyraldism however, only the elect are brought to faith and actually saved but salvation was available to everyone anyway (so going to hell is your fault). As I said, you get the teaching that Christ died to save all which (as I understand it) is at odds with regular Calvinism.

Moise Amyraut was alive between 1596 and 1664 which makes this doctrine less than 400 years old. Or, in other words, the Church taught something else for more than 75% of our history.

As doctrines go, amyraldism is one which does not fit terribly well with Romans 8:32 as well as pretty much any verses that talk about God saving all men.

Amyraldistic theology might explain Bob’s rather odd flavour of Calvinism. If it does then I disagree strongly with it.

According to one website I read (which gives a better definition), it is also known as “four-point Calvinism”.

How I plan to use the word “amyraldism”.

I have no plans to use this word. I just thought it was interesting and (once again) avoiding working on my book. I’m not sure I fully understand the term but figured I would define it as best I could because of topics I have covered previously.

Can you expand this definition?

If you have a better, clearer or deeper explanation of amyraldism, please speak up. If I was wrong about any point, say something.

Share your thoughts – if only to let me know that someone is reading this.

Agnosis

Agnosis is the first of the seven principles I listed in an essay I wrote called, “Travellers along the path of The Way of Yeshua”.

It comes from the Greek, and means literally “lacking knowledge”. ἀ- (a-, “without”, “lacking”) + γνῶσις (gnôsis, “knowledge”).

In my essay I wrote:

Man is ignorant and the full truth is inherently unknowable to us. All that we think we know is faulty due to our own limitations. Our own best knowledge, doctrines, and understanding are forever flawed and full of error. We seek to embrace metanoia – a change in our thinking – freely confessing our ignorance and, in doing so, we allow our nature to be changed into the nature of Yeshua.

The concept of agnosis is that there is simply so much that we do not know about The Father and about even ourselves. It follows that as we are finite and God is infinite that we cannot possibly know as He knows.

Many of the other principles flow from this one. Along with love, and trust in Yeshua, you could easily work out the others.

Embracing our own agnosis requires humility. Appreciating our own agnosis keeps us from being proud about what we do know. Agnosis keeps us open to learning from others. Which is why I recommend it for the Church of tomorrow.

Agnosis from the axioms of faith.

The principle of agnosis can be reached from the axioms of faith. The zeroth axiom states that all scripture is good for establishing doctrine.

  • Luke 10:21 and Matthew 11:25 show us that there are things that The Father has hidden from us.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.”
  • Romans 3:23 tells us that all have erred (sinned) and therefore we are flawed.

Scripture never asks us to understand everything, only to trust Father, and walk humbly in righteousness.

How I intend to use the words agnosis and agnosia.

Sparingly. However, when I do use these words it is always as a reminder (to myself) of the limits of human understanding.

Metanoia

Metanoia, an Ancient Greek word (μετάνοια) meaning “changing one’s mind”.

Metanoia is translated as repent most of the time in English language Bibles. However, reform might be closer to the original meaning. “Reform, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). I think only Young’s Literal Translation renders metanoia this way (read it here).

Metanoia is a fundamental change in thinking and living rather than a confession of sins as repentance is often explained.

How I intend to use the word metanoia.

Sometimes I try to avoid words which bring colour or meaning that they should not have. For example, the word repentance is so heavily charged, so thoroughly defined that it might not be fit for use in a particular discussion of doctrine. Where I wish to specifically refer to the radical change of heart and mind implicit in the original Greek, there I may use this word.

Yeshua

Yeshua and other variants on the name of Jesus.

In the west, we use the name, Jesus. We do so with such consistency that it is often overlooked that Jesus was not His name back then. A direct rendering may have had us talking about Joshua Christ.

The Wikipedia does a surprisingly good job of explaining this:

Yeshua (ישוע, with vowel pointing יֵשׁוּעַ – yēšūă‘ in Hebrew) was a common alternative form of the name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (“Yehoshua” – Joshua) in later books of the Hebrew Bible and among Jews of the Second Temple period. The name corresponds to the Greek spelling Iesous, from which, through the Latin Iesus, comes the English spelling Jesus.

The variation in name pronunciation does not stop there.

In English, the name Yeshua is extensively used by followers of Messianic Judaism, whereas East Syrian Christian denominations use the name Isho in order to preserve the Aramaic or Syriac name of Jesus.

Regardless of if you know Him as Isho, Jesus, Yeshua, Iesous, Yehoshua, or even Joshua, this is the exact same messiah (anointed one) that we are talking about.

Eschatology

end of the world

Today’s topic is eschatology, and specifically what on earth the word means.

Theology is a funny old thing with a lot of big words that seem designed to make understand God an impossible task for the average human being. So while I am putting off writing anything remotely related to my book, I thought I would start a new category a glossary of words.

Eschatology is that part of theology concerned with death, judgement, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind. Or, in more common language “end times”. (Here’s how you pronounce eschatology).

The end of the world as we know it.

Scripture talks about aeons (or ages): The present age, the age to come, and so forth. Scripture also talks about aiṓnios which while basically being part of the same word family as aeon gets rendered as eternal quite a lot.

As a result, eschatology can also be a study of the end of things as we know them right now. This is particularly true when dealing with “the end of the age”.

Along with eschatology comes words like apocalypticism. The book of Revelation is apocalyptic, for example.

If we talk about eschatology we may be about to discuss matters such as:

  • The end of the world
  • The Second Coming of Jesus
  • Heaven and Hell
  • The Rapture
  • The Tribulation
  • Millennialism
  • Death and the afterlife
  • The resurrection of the dead
  • The Last Judgment
  • The New Heaven and New Earth in the world to come

How I plan to use the word “eschatology”.

I don’t.

Not that eschatology is not a fine word that says a great deal but I just do not feel familiar enough with the word to use it convincingly. Besides, the word means so much that I feel it might be better using more precise language.

If I do us use the word, however, at least you will know what it means.