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Guide to Language

Why include a guide to language?
Because, I confess that as a Lutheran Christian we have developed a language for our faith, our religious beliefs, and how that translates into our ‘secular’ lives. This language may or may not be known by those who are without a religious preference, non-Christian, or Christian (including Lutheran). Additionally the language may be familiar, yet our different understandings can cause confusion. This ‘guide’ is to assist one in navigating these challenging waters of language.

A
Absolution:
The forgiveness of your sin(s). You have already received this forgiveness from God.

Atonement:
The role Jesus (the Christ) played in restoring the God-Human relationship.

B

C
Church:
The community (of believers) who gather around the Word (scripture, sermon) and the Sacraments (baptism, Holy Communion); one might call this worship.

Confession (of Sin):
Our confession of inappropriate (often selfish) thoughts, words, and deeds.

Creed:
A creed is a (not-always) short statement of belief. The Lutheran tradition confesses three (similar) creeds:
(1) the Nicene Creed
(2) the Apostles’ Creed, and
(3) the Athanasian Creed.

D
Disciple:
An individual that chooses to follow and (attempts) to imitate their leader or teacher, in Christianity this teacher is Jesus the Christ; thus it is not limited to the twelve males in Jesus’ inner-circle.

E
Evangelism:
It is literally and simply the sharing of the Gospel message. It is often envisioned as efforts to bring people into the church (community of believers), which is ultimately the desired effect.

Evangelist:
If evangelism is the sharing of the Gospel message, than an evangelist is literally and simply an individual who shares the Gospel message with others. It, however, often brings to mind images of conservative (traveling) preachers at rivals or conservative/evangelical Christianity.

F
Faith:
It is the God-Human relationship, which is not (always) easy. It is based upon trust in the promised grace of God. We can firmly hold onto this promise because God (unlike us humans) cannot break a promise.

G
Gospel:
The “gospel” (lower case) are texts that provide a narrative for the life and teachings of Jesus the Christ, which may or may not be included in the Bible. The four gospels included in the (canonized or ‘traditional’) Bible are: Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. 

The “Gospel”  (upper case) is the promised, pure grace of God.

Grace:
It is the cornerstone of all things Lutheran, for it is the very foundation upon which the Lutheran teachings and tradition are built.
It is the pure gift of love and forgiveness that God freely gives to each of us, despite the undeniable fact that we are all undeserving sinners. 

H

I

J
Justification:
The divine declaration from God that the God-Human relationship has been made ‘right’ through the merit of Jesus the Christ.
It is the notion by which the Lutheran tradition stands or falls.

K

L
Law:
The demands of God. It has three uses:
(1) to maintain civil order by curbing our human desires (e.g. to prevent us from murdering one another).
(2) to condemn us as sinners, similar to a mirror forcing us to look upon ourselves
(3) to redirect us (sinners) towards our need for Jesus Christ and the promised grace

M

N

O

P

Q

R
Reconciliation:
God’s action through Jesus the Christ that restores our God-Human relationship and our relationship with others.

S
Sacrament:
An act that offers the grace of God through visible, tangible means. In addition, the Lutheran tradition consists of three requirements:
(1) It includes a physical element
(2) is connected to the Word of God, and
(3) commanded by Jesus the Christ.
Therefore, in the Lutheran tradition, there are two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, there are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Marriage or Vows into a Holy Order, Reconciliation (Confession and Absolution of Sin), and the Anointing of the Sick (Last Rite).  

Salvation:
God’s rescuing of sinners from the consequences/punishment of our sin(s), which restores the God-Human relationship. 

Sanctification:
The Holy Spirit’s continued effort that daily calls us into new life in Jesus the Christ. It is a daily renewal and strengthening of our God-Human relationship.

Sin:
It is self-centeredness. It is being curved in on and absorbed with the self. This distances our relationship with God and others.

T
Trinity:
A Christian doctrine that reflects the revelation of God in three ‘persons’:
(1) God the Father,
(2) Jesus the Christ, Son of God, and
(3) the Holy Spirit.

U

V

W
Word (of God):
The revelation of God to humanity through Jesus the Christ and the Bible. This revelation manifests in three modes:
(1) the Holy Scripture of the Bible
(2) the Incarnate Word, which is Jesus the Christ, and
(3) the preached Word, or sermon.

Worship:
The gathering of the church (i.e. community of believers) to acknowledge, praise, and thank God.  

X

Y

Z

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