Theological Glossary

Words used or referenced in the class I teach at Frisco Bible Church on Sunday mornings at 11:45 AM.

Anthropomorphism – Representation of God in the form of a human being in speech or writing. “Anthropomorphism,” derived from two Greek words, means literally “human form-ism.” It can refer both to a proper, biblical representation of God and to an improper, even corrupt, manner of representing deity.

Hermeneutics – Hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation. Exegesis consists of the actual interpretation of the Bible, the bringing out of its meaning, whereas hermeneutics establishes the principles by which exegesis is practiced.

Immutability – The doctrine that God is unchanging. In some Greek thought, this teaching became virtually a static view of God. Properly understood, however, it is simply an emphasis upon the unchanging character and dependability of God.

Omnipresence – A reference to the fact that God is everywhere present and has access to all portions of reality.

Pantheism – Pantheism means all (“pan”) is God (“theism”). It is the worldview held by most Hindus, many Buddhists, and other New Age religions. It is also the worldview of Christian Science, Unity, and Scientology. According to pantheism, God “is all in all.” God pervades all things, contains all things, subsumes all things, and is found within all things. Nothing exists apart from God, and all things are in some way identified with God. The world is God, and God is the world. But more precisely, in pantheism all is God, and God is all.

Panentheism – The view that the whole of the universe is included in God but does not exhaust God. The world is not distinct from God, as in theism, but neither is God identical with the world (pantheism). Panentheists sometimes think of the universe as the body of God, but they say God transcends his body in much the same way that a person transcends his or her material body. Panentheism is a common position in process theology.

Prevenient Grace – The grace God extends to all people that enables them to respond to either accept or reject the gospel. Usually associated with Arminianism and contrasted with irresistible grace, though irresistible grace is simply prevenient grace that is only extended to the elect and cannot be rejected.

Process Theology. – An approach to theology inspired by the philosophical thought of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, with Shubert Ogden as one of its main proponents. Process theology rejects the classical picture of God as immutable and transcendent in favor of a God who is partly evolving with and in relation to the created world. The problem of evil looks different in such a context. Since process theologians do not necessarily think of the natural order as created out of nothing, evil may be partly due to the recalcitrant nature of that order, in which God works persuasively along with his creatures for the good. Process theology should be distinguished from open theism, which questions the classical doctrine of divine foreknowledge, though there are points of similarity between the two theologies.

Soteriology – Literally, “the study of salvation.” This topic within the corpus of systematic theology deals with the work of the triune God in bringing creation, and especially humans, to enjoy the divine purpose for existence. More specifically, “objective” soteriology speaks of the life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ in relation to human salvation. In addition, “subjective” soteriology (the work of the Spirit in the application of Christ’s salvation) deals with the process whereby individuals are brought to God’s saving goals. Topics generally covered include election, calling, regeneration, faith, repentance, conversion, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

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