Arminianism: The extension of the views of late sixteenth-century
Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius (Arminius' views were somewhat
more Reformed than those of his successors). Arminianism generally
holds that man is not totally depraved, that God chooses men to
salvation on the basis of some foreseen faith or goodness in them,
that Christ died in order to save every man, that God's grace
and will can be resisted, and that Christians can forfeit their
salvation. These views were decisively refuted and condemned by
the Reformed churches at the Synod of Dort (1618-1619).
Antinomianism: Literally, "anti-law." Theologically, it
denotes those who oppose or dismiss God's law in the Bible. There
are two classifications of antinomians. Explicit antinomians are
the unconverted who display a flagrant disregard for the law of
God (Rom. 1, 2). Implicit antinomians are professed Christians
who hold that God's law is not relevant in the present era. They
often substitute subjective, arbitrary standards like the so-called
"leading of the Spirit" for God's written revelation.
Amillennialism: The view that the millennium of Revelation
20 is fulfilled in the present institutional church or in the
deceased saints reigning with Christ in heaven. It specifically
denies any global millennium.
Apologetics: A conscious, articulated defense of the claims
of the Christian Faith. The two main apologetic methods are classical
(evidential) and presuppositional.
Calvinism, Reformed: The form of doctrine and practice
set forth by such leading Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth
century as John Calvin, John Knox, and Theodore Beza. This also
includes the teaching of such confessions of faith as the Heidelberg
Catechism, the Canons and Decrees of the Synod of Dort, the Westminster
Confession of Faith, and the London Baptist Confession. In the
Chalcedon Report, Reformed and Calvinism are usually used interchangeably.
Christian Libertarianism: The view that supports maximum
individual liberty under God's law. Christ came, among other things,
to grant men liberty under God's authority (Jn. 8:36). The authority
of all human individuals and institutions (in family, church,
and state, for example) is strictly limited to what the Bible
authorizes. True liberty in the individual life, the family, the
church, and society, including the state, is possible only on
the grounds of the Bible and of Christianity. Secular libertarianism,
therefore, undermines true liberty and invites the tyranny of
Church: In the New Testament, the ekklesia. In the Bible,
this has no reference whatever to buildings or organizations but
to the called-out assembly, the covenant people of God. In the
overwhelming number of cases, the church or ekklesia of both the
Old and New Testaments is the visible covenant community in a
particular locale or region. Under the authority of elders (godly
heads of households), it unites on the first day of the week to
hear the preaching of the Word, to receive the sacraments, and
to preserve and perpetuate the Christian Faith. The church is
one aspect of the kingdom of God, but it is not the kingdom itself.
Council of Chalcedon: The ecumenical council of A. D.
451 that clarified the orthodox teaching concerning Jesus Christ.
Specifically, it concluded that divine and human natures are inextricably
united - but not confused or blended - in the Person of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ. This Council laid the foundation for
Western liberty by denying divinity to any human or human institution
- Jesus Christ alone is both human and divine. No one but Christ
and the Bible can speak a divine, infallible word. The authority
of legitimate human institutions like the family, church, and
state is a derivative authority, strictly limited by the Bible.
Covenant: A solemn, usually oath-bound, pledge between
two or more parties. The Bible teaches that God deals with man
by means of a covenant relationship. All the leading covenants
in the Bible between God and believing man are aspects of a single
covenant relationship: the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant,
the Davidic covenant, the New Covenant, and so forth. The Old
Covenant and the New Covenant are not descriptions of certain
"dispensations" or time periods. Rather, they are subjective states
of man's relation to God in both the Old and New Testaments -
Covenant Theology: The theological system developed by
Reformed theologians taking the covenant as its overarching theme.
Distinctives of covenant theology include: Christ's judicial (substitutionary)
atonement, the imputation of Adam's sin to all of his posterity,
salvation exclusively by grace through faith, the abiding authority
of the law, and infant baptism.
Dispensationalism: A method of interpreting the Bible
that divides history into distinct eras or "dispensations" in
which God deals with man in a distinctive way and, in some cases,
in which God's ethical standards change. A leading distinctive
of dispensationalism is the sharp division between ethnic Israel
and the church of Jesus Christ. Orthodox Christianity has traditionally
held that the church of Jesus Christ is the New Israel; dispensationalists
hold that ethnic Israel and the church of Jesus Christ are two
separate, distinct entities in God's program. All dispensationalists
are premillennial, but not all premillennialists are dispensationalists.
Dualism: The idea that man and the universe are both composed
principally of two differing properties, body and spirit. Almost
all dualists see the body and material things as inferior to what
they consider "spirit." Dualism is an ancient pagan heresy that
deeply infected the church. Many ancient Greek philosophers were
dualistic. They found the body and human history distasteful,
and longed for death as an escape to the world of the ideal, i.e.,
the spirit. Thus, ancient dualists found the Biblical doctrine
of the resurrection laughable (Ac. 17:32). Today's "Christian"
dualists usually look only for escape from this life in the form
of some sort of "spiritual" monastic retreat, a "pre-tribulational
rapture," or death.
Evangelicalism: A massive, popular Christian movement
that grew out of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and
American revivals. Its chief distinctive is preoccupation with
the individual conversion experience. It often neglects or downplays
the objective authority of the entire Bible, the centrality of
doctrine and theology in the church, and God's law as an abiding
ethical standard for man. For most evangelicals, Christianity
is chiefly an experience and morality, not a doctrinal confession
Evidentialism: The apologetic method that attempts to
persuade unbelievers and skeptics by the appeal to evidence for
the Christian Faith. That evidence can include the traditional
five proofs for the existence of God, miracles, archeological
discoveries, and so forth. Evidentialists hold that this evidence
can be properly assessed apart from salvation or the acceptance
Kingdom of God (or Christ): God's righteous reign in the
earth, mediated by His Son, Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God begins
in the hearts of redeemed men (Col. 1:13) and moves outward wherever
men are subject to Christ's gospel and law. The kingdom of God
is not preeminently political, though it has implications for
politics. Wherever Christ's gospel breaks the stony heart of sinful
man, bringing him to his knees in submission to Jesus Christ,
there is the kingdom of God. As more and more men are converted
and reorient their lives to the Bible, the kingdom of God extends
throughout the earth in all spheres (vocation, technology, education,
economics, science, the arts, and so forth).
Orthodoxy: Literally, "right belief." Christianity, unlike
most false religions, is not fundamentally a moral code. It is
a doctrinal system that dictates and requires a particular ethical
code. The outlines of Christianity were hammered out in the early
ecumenical councils of the church in its first five centuries
of its existence. There can be no Christianity without this orthodoxy.
There are more specific orthodoxies. For example, Reformed orthodoxy
includes a broader range of Biblical belief. It includes such
doctrines emphasized at the time of the Reformation as the Bible
as our final authority and justification by faith alone. Reformed
orthodoxy is expressed preeminently in the great Reformed confessions
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Chalcedon supports
both early ecumenical orthodoxy and Reformed orthodoxy.
Pietism: The seventeenth-century reaction within Lutheranism
against what it considered the cold, abstract, argumentative nature
of Lutheran orthodoxy. Pietism stressed "the religion of the heart,"
an experiential, warm, affectional, and often sentimental, view
of the Faith. Pietism later spread to the Reformed churches and
it was a hallmark of Wesleyanism. Though the early pietists were
not against orthodoxy as such, their sentimental and man-centered
view of Christianity laid the groundwork for nineteenth-century
Protestant liberalism. More generally, pietism today refers to
a sentimental, privatized Christianity, which sees the Faith almost
exclusively in terms of an individualized, emotional experience.
Pietism denies the claims of the Word of God on all areas of life
Postmillennialism: The view that Christ's Second Advent
will occur after the earthly millennium of Revelation 20. Most
postmillennialists believe that the kingdom of God advances in
history slowly, almost imperceptibly, and that there will be a
Godly Golden Age as prophesized by the Old Testament prophets
before Christ returns. Postmillennialism is Chalcedon's position.
Premillennialism: The view that Christ's Second Advent
will occur before the earthly millennium of Revelation 20, and
will, in fact, institute that millennium. This is the idea that
Christ will reign on the earth physically for a long period, probably
a thousand years. Most, but not all, premillennialists are dispensationalists.
Presuppositionalism: An apologetic method which requires
that Christianity be assumed as true. There is no neutral starting
point from which Christianity can be judged. Christianity must
be presupposed in order to discover the meaning of anything whatsoever.
The chief presuppositionalist of this century has been the Reformed
apologist Cornelius Van Til. Chalcedon is presuppositional.
Theonomy: Literally, "God's law." A more precise term
is biblionomy, Biblical law. As a theological expression, it means
the abiding authority of all of the Bible's teachings, unless
the Bible itself asserts that those teachings have been fulfilled
or rescinded (for example, such distinctively Jewish practices
as the national feasts and festivals, circumcision, and the Passover).
The law in the Old Testament as the authority for the believer
and all of society has not been set aside.
A special thanks goes out to Chalcedon
for permission to reprint this article on our site.