Key Terms in Christianity
  • Apocalypse:  literally means, 'that which is revealed'; descripes certain forms of literature popular in Christianity and Judaism from the second century B.C.E. to the second century C.E.; often times written in a secret code and spoke about a dramatic end of the world.
  • Asceticism: practice of self-denial through various means for the attainment of spiritual and intellectual fulfillment.
  • Baptism: Christian initiatory ritual.
  • Catechsm:  a popular manual of Christian doctrine, usually in the form of question and answer, intended for religious instruction.
  • Catholic: an adjective which is used both to refer to the 'universality' of the church, and also to refer to Roman Catholicism.
  • Christology: the section of Christian theology dealing with the identity of Jesus Christ, specifically the question of the relation of his human and divine natures.
  • Covenant: refers to an agreement; in Christianity, the term 'new covenant' is used to refer to the relationship established with all humanity by God through Jesus Christ.  This 'new covenant' is seen as the fulfillment of the 'old covenant' established between God and the nation of Israel.
  • Deacon: literally means 'servant,' 'attendant,' or 'minister'; a functionary in Christian churches
  • Easter: the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
  • Ecclesiology:  the section of Christian theology dealing with the theory of the church.
  • Ecumenical Movement: Action among modern Christian groups to attempt to achieve unity across denominational, cultural, and religious differences.
  • Eschatology: teachings about the 'end times.'
  • Eucharist: literally means, 'thanksgiving'; Christian memorial meal of bread and wine that celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  • Fundamentalism: predominately a form of American Protestant Christianity wich lays especial emphasis on the authority of the inerrant Bible.
  • Gnostic: Family of early Christian heresies that were purported to contain the secrets of the universe.
  • Gospel: literally means, 'Good News'; the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation.  Also used to refer to the first four books of the Christian New Testament which tell the story of Jesus' earthly ministry.
  • Grace: refers to the free gift of God's salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • Incarnation: a term used to refer to the assumption of human nature by God, in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • Original Sin: the Christian teaching that all humans are sinful at birth or are born with a tendency to sin.
  • Orthodoxy: a term used in a number of senses, of which the following are the most important:  (1) Orthodoxy in the literal sense of 'right belief,' as opposed to heresy; (2) Orthodoxy in the sense of the forms of Christianity wich are dominant in the East.
  • Parable: short meaningful story that was one of Jesus' primary teaching devices.
  • Penance: Christian sacrament in which the Christian confesses sin and receives absolution.
  • Pentacost: Christian festival that comes 50 days after the Passover and celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church.
  • Pietism:  a Christian movement that emphasized personal and spiritual devotion over corporate worship and assent to doctrine.
  • Pope: title for the Bishop of Rome; leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Protestantism: a term used to refer to those who 'protested' against the practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Reformed: a term used to refer to a tradition of theology which draws its inspritation from teh writings of John Calvin (1510-1564) and his successors.
  • Sacraments: the signs of God's grace; rituals through which believers participate in the spiritual reality to which they point.  The Lord's Supper and baptism are the two sacraments recognized by all Christians.
  • Sanctification: the process through which a person is incorporated ever more fully into the spiritual reality of Christ, or being made more like Christ.
  • Second Coming: the expected return of Jesus Christ at the end of history to inaugurage the Kingdom of God on earth.
  • Soteriology: the section of Christian theology dealing with the doctrine of salvation.
  • Synoptic Gospels: New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; three gospels which share the same basic outline and chronology.
  • Trinity: the disitinctively Christian doctrine of God, which reflects the complexity of the Christian experience of God.  The doctrine is usually summarized in maxims such as "three persons, one God."
  • Vatican II: Council called by the Roman Catholic Church in 1962; it took broad steps to modernize the Catholic Church and mend relationships with Jews, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Protestants.
  • Vulgate: Latin translation of the Bible by St. Jerome