Definitions

Planning…in political rhetoric is the government’s suppression of other people’s plans by superimposing on them a collective plan, created by third parties, armed with the power of government and exempted from paying the costs the these collective plans impose on others.

Thomas Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2008), 31-32.


Metanarratives or Grand Narratives – “big stories, stories of mythic proportions – that claim to be able to account for, explain and subordinate all lesser, little, local, narratives.”

Jim Powell, Postmodernism for Beginners, 29.


Epistemology – ‘the branch of philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge and belief and related issues such as justification and truth.’

C. Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion, 39


A worldview is how one views or interprets reality. The German word is Weltanschauung, meaning a ‘world and life view,’ or ‘a paradigm.’ It is a framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life. A worldview makes a world of difference in one’s view of God, origins, evil, human nature, values, and destiny.

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, 785-786


A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our well being.

James W. Sire, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept, 122


Worldview – 1) The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world; 2) A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.

The American Heritage Dictionary


Logic – ‘The science of argument. Logic is centrally concerned with the form or structure of arguments themselves. Logic proper is not concerned with whether the premises in an argument are true, but rather, supposing the premises to be true, does the conclusion follow’.

Kelly James Clark, Richard Lints, and James K.A. Smith, 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology 48


Logic – ‘deals with the methods of valid thinking; it reveals how to draw proper conclusions from premises. It is a prerequisite of all thinking, including all theological thought. Logic is such an inescapable tool that even those who deny it cannot avoid using it, for it is built into the very fabric of the rational universe’.

Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1: Introduction/Bible, 81


Natural Law ‘a philosophical system of legal and moral principles purportedly deriving from a universalized conception of human nature or divine justice rather than from legislative or judicial action; moral law embodied in principles of right and wrong’.

Brian A. Garner, ed., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1049


Polemic – “1. A controversial argument, especially one refuting or attacking a specific opinion or doctrine. 2. A person engaged in or inclined to controversy, argument, or refutation.”

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., cf. polemic, 1357.


Polemics: The art of disputation or controversy (the defense of a thesis by formal logic). A polemic can also be the aggressive refutation of another position or principle. In theology polemics often refers to the attempt to show the superiority of Christian teaching over its rivals by means of a systematic, ordered delineation of the Christian belief system (systematic theology) that shows the internal consistency of Christian doctrine as well as its congruence with human knowledge as a whole.

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee NordlingPocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 92. (Apologetics315)


Political Science – “The study of the processes, principles, and structure of government and of political institutions,”

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), cf. political science, 1358.


Just so the reader knows how I understand this term, praxeology, or, “right” theology into “right” action. Word Faith theology, Liberation theology and Emergent theology distorts this interpretation. Here is a more in-depth definition:

PRAXIS AND ORTHOPRAXIS. `Praxis’ essentially means ‘action’. Traditionally, the concept refers to the application of theory or socially innovative human behaviour. Its long history begins with Aristotle but the concept achieved contemporary prominence through Marx, who used it in various ways but, most commonly, to mean revolutionary action through which the world Was changed. In theology it has gained currency through liberation theology.” Theology usually emphasizes orthodoxy, i.e., right belief or conceptual reflection on truth. Political theology balances this with an emphasis on action (praxis) and right action (orthopraxis). Gutierrez typically complains that ‘the church has for centuries devoted her attention to formulating truth and meanwhile did almost nothing to better the world’. It not only advocates action but questions whether knowledge can be detached; and it insists that truth can only be known through action. Knowing and doing are dialectically related, and right action becomes the criterion for truth. The danger is, as Miguez Bonino has observed, that theology is reduced to ethics, the vertical dimension equated with the horizontal and the concept built on Marxism. Positively, however, it can claim biblical roots. God communicates with his world, not through a conceptual frame of reference, but in creative activity; in John’s gospel knowing truth is contingent on doing it (Jn. 3:21).

Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, J.I. Packer, eds., New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1988), 527.


transmigration of the soul ~ the soul “…wanders through eternity, undergoing successive birth and rebirth, death and re-death, until it finally attains liberation. Birth and rebirth are not random happenings, however; everything is connected by the chains of karma.  Every action has a consequence, and some consequences are so far-reaching that they must be played out over several lifetimes.”

Diane Morgan, The Best Guide to Eastern Philosophy & Religion (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001), 35.


transmigration of the soul ~ Defined simply as the “rebirth as an animal, tree, or inanimate thing,”

H. Byron Earhart, Religious Traditions of the World (New York, NY: Harper San Francisco, 1993), 371.


Through the transmigration of the soul the Dalai Lama is said to be the fourteenth reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara:

Avalokiteshvara – “…(frequently pictured with eleven heads and multiple arms), who came out of Indian Mahayana as the ultimate embodiment of mercy and was adapted into various other schools of Mahayana.  In Tibetan Buddhism, under the name Chenresi, he is believed to be the incarnated by the Dali Lama.  In China, Avalokiteshvara became merged with the folk goddess of mercy, Guanyin, and thus appears in feminine form.  Finally, in Japan he/she is revered as the feminine Kannon.”

Winfred Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 229.


Paradigmcomes from the Greek paradeigma: evidence, example, pattern, model, archetype. In linguistics, a paradigm provides an example of a conjugation or a declension. In philosophy, its meanings include an archetype, a standard of measurement, a typical case or suggestive example, and a dominating scientific orientation. The term paradigm is frequently used in the social sciences. In popular understanding, paradigm often simply means a collection of ideas, a cluster of theories, models or actions representing a guiding idea, or a conceptual framework.

Antje JackelénEncyclopedia of Science and Religion. (Apologetics315)


FalsifiabilityIn opposition to the verification criterion of the logical positivists, Austrian-born philosopher Karl Popper (1902–1994) defended the idea of falsifiability. According to Popper’s falsification criterion scientists should develop theories that can be falsified by observation. They should then try to falsify them, and those that survive testing should then be tentatively accepted and regarded as corroborated, that is, as closer to the truth than theories that have been falsified. The criterion was intended to demarcate science from pseudo-science. In the mid-twentieth century these ideas and their consequences for religious beliefs were at the center of the science/religion debate, but because of doubts about whether science itself could satisfy Popper’s requirements, issues of falsifiability have had a less prominent place in the debate since the 1980s.

Mikael StenmarkEncyclopedia of Science and Religion. (Apologetics315)


The Big Bang Theory is based on the observation that all the stars and galaxies of the universe are in motion and not stationary. The American astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889–1953) discovered in 1929 that the light of all visible stars was redshifted. Hence the movement of the myriad of galaxies is not random but everything is moving further away. If all galaxies are now racing away from one another then at one point all matter must have been clustered together in an infinitely dense space and its present motion might best be explained by an original explosion of matter. Hence the term Big Bang. The 1965 discovery by Arno Penzias (b. 1933) and Robert Wilson (b. 1936) of the background radiation produced by the intense heat of this “explosion” served to further confirm the theory. The Big Bang Theory brought to an end the idea of a static universe and made respectable again discussions of the beginning and possible creation of the universe.

Mark Worthing, Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. (Apologetics315)


Subjectivism holds that moral statements convey information about the speaker of the moral statement. According to private subjectivism, “X is right” states the psychological fact that “I like X.” This differs from emotivism. Emotivism holds that moral statements merely express feelings. Private subjectivism, however, holds that moral statements do not express feelings but describe the psychological state of the speaker. An expression of feeling cannot be false. But if person A says “I dislike x,” then this can be false if A really likes x but does not want to admit it. Cultural relativism is the view that statements like “X is right” state the sociological fact that “We in our culture like x.”

William Lane Craig & J.P. MorelandPhilosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), p. 400. (Apologetics315)


Verification Theory of Meaning: Theory held by logical positivists, summarized in the slogan “the meaning of a proposition is its method of verification.” Logical positivism, popularized in English by A.J. Ayer, held that all propositions that have cognitive meaning (are either true or false) are either analytic (true or false solely because of the meaning of the terms) or else verifiable by sense experience. The heart of the view is the claim that all nonanalytic propositions are empirically verifiable. The positivists believed this would show that religious and metaphysical propositions were meaningless. Unfortunately for the positivists, it was soon noticed that the verification theory of meaning does not pass its own test for meaningfulness: it does not seem to be true by definition, and it is not empirically verifiable. It also was discovered that many propositions of science were not directly verifiable. But when the theory was weakened to allow such propositions meaning, it was easily shown that theological and metaphysical propositions were also meaningful on the weaker criterion.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 120-121. (Apologetics315)


Philosophical Theology: Philosophical inquiry into the key beliefs of theologians and concepts of theology. In addition to such topics as arguments for the existence of God, philosophical theologians attempt to analyze such divine attributes as omnipotence, omniscience and eternality and also (with respect to Christianity) to assess the coherence and plausibility of such theological doctrines as the Trinity, the atonement and the incarnation.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 91-92. (Apologetics315)


Providence: The loving care and governance that God exercises over the created universe. The traditional picture of providence is one in which God, as an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being, has exhaustive knowledge of the past, present and future, and exercises his power so as to ensure that every event that occurs is part of his perfect plan. Some have recently questioned such a view of providence by arguing that it does not do justice to human freedom. According to a revised view, God knows all the possibilities and knows what responses he must make to ensure that his goals are achieved. The issues raised by providence are closely linked to the problems raised by predestination and the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human free will.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 97. (Apologetics315)


Mysticism: The view that it is possible to gain experiential knowledge of that which transcends the limits of human reason and sensory perception. When associated with a religious tradition (as is usually the case), the mystic holds that it is possible to gain an awareness of God or ultimate reality through certain kinds of experiences, which are often claimed to be ineffable. Theists interpret such experiences as making possible a special intimacy or oneness with God but deny the monistic claim that in such experiences the mystic becomes aware of an identity with God.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 78. (Apologetics315)


Miracle: An event brought about by a special act of God. There is much disagreement about the definition beyond this minimum. Some thinkers argue that a miracle must involve an exception to the laws of nature or (perhaps alternatively) involve some event that exceeds the natural powers or capacities of natural things. Others insist that a miracle is recognizable primarily by its revelatory power as a sign that shows something about God or God’s purposes and that such events do not have to be scientifically inexplicable. Since David Hume’s famous attack on miracles, the possibility of miracles and the kind of evidence needed for belief in miracles has been subject to debate. Traditional apologetics viewed miracles as important confirmation or certification that a prophet or apostle was genuinely sent by God.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 76. (Apologetics315)


Resurrection is the raising up of a dead man in the space-time universe to glory and immortality. Assumption is the taking of someone bodily out of this world into heaven. Revivification is the return of a dead man to the mortal life. 2 Kings 2:1-12 describes the assumption of Elijah into heaven. John 11:1-44 describes the revivification of Lazarus by Jesus. Note the differences between the two events and Jesus’ resurrection.

William Lane CraigOn Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook,  2010), p. 256. (Apologetics315)


Reductionism: An attempt to explain some domain or field by showing that it can be derived from or redescribed in the language of some more basic domain or field. A physicalist, for example, may attempt a reductionistic account of the mind by showing that such entities as thoughts and perception can be reduced to physiological states of the brain. In science a successful reduction requires one to show how the laws of one domain can be derived from the laws of some more fundamental domain. Reductionism often is linked to an attitude that seeks to view the explained or “reduced” field or objects as unreal.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 100. (Apologetics315)


Taoism: An ancient philosophical and religious worldview developed in China. The term derives from the Chinese word tao, meaning “the way.” Taoists believe that there is an underlying metaphysical and ethical structure to the cosmos and that humans who understand this can order their lives rightly. However, this structure, or tao, is ineffable, and thus our knowledge of it is not propositional in character. The most famous Taoist philosophers were Chuang-tzu and Lao-tzu.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 113. (Apologetics315)


Solipsism: The doctrine that a person has a direct awareness only of his or her own conscious state and is in some way cut off from the reality of other things. The extreme form of solipsism is ontological solipsism, which denies the reality of anything outside one’s own mind. The denials that a person can know the external world or other minds can be viewed as forms of epistemological solipsism.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 109. (Apologetics315)


Scientism: The conviction that scientific knowledge, particularly that derived from the natural sciences, is the highest or even only form of knowledge. Scientism thus depreciates the possibility that ultimate truth can be derived from such areas as moral, aesthetic and religious experience, and it typically rejects the idea that truth can be derived from special revelation.

C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 105. (Apologetics315)


Utilitarianism: The ethical theory, held by such thinkers as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, asserting that moral rightness is determined by what leads to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Traditional utilitarians identify the greatest good with happiness and define happiness in terms of pleasure and the absence of pain, while “ideal” utilitarians are willing to include other goods other than pleasure in their calculation of benefits. The traditional view is held by many animal rights advocates, who argue that the pleasures and pains of animals have great moral weight (equal to humans, in some cases). Act utilitarians hold that what is morally right is determined by the consequences of particular acts, while rule utilitarians hold that morality is a matter of conforming to rules or principles and that the right set of principles consists of those that would, if followed, lead to the greatest good for the greatest number.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 119. You may also be interested in Dr. John Lennox’s critique of Peter Singer’s Utilitarianism or Dinesh D’Souza’s debate with Peter Singer on morality. (Apologetics315)


Tolerance: A trait regarded as one of the chief virtues by contemporary Western societies. Tolerance is often confused with a relativistic refusal to criticize another view or make any substantive value judgments. However, logically, tolerance is consistent with an attitude of strong disagreement and even disapproval. There are many views I may tolerate (in the sense that I think people should be allowed to hold them) that I think are mistaken or harmful. Tolerance is also sometimes confused with respect, but the two attitudes are distinct. I may respect a committed political rebel even though I do not tolerate his behavior. I may tolerate people whom I do not respect at all.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 63-116.  (Apologetics315)


Just War Theory: The ethical theory that Christians may legitimately fight in wars, but only when certain conditions are met. Those conditions include the following: the cause must be just; the war must be waged by a legitimate government; the means used must be moral; the war must be a last resort; and there must be a reasonable chance of achieving the goals of the war. The just war theory has been the dominant view about participating in war among Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed theologians.

C.Stephen EvansPocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 63-64. (Apologetics315)


Quest of the Historical Jesus: The nineteenth-century movement that sought to separate and distinguish the man Jesus of Nazareth from the Christ of faith as proclaimed by the church. The proponents of this quest concluded that the “historical” (non-supernatural) Jesus never made any messianic claim, never predicted his death or resurrection and never instituted the sacraments now followed by the church. Instead the biblical stories that assign these acts to Jesus are nonhistorical “myths” that, together with certain philosophical and theological claims set forth in the NT documents, were projected onto him by his disciples, the Gospel writers and the early church. The true historical Jesus, in contrast, preached a simple, largely ethical message as capsulized in the dictum of the “fatherhood of God” and the “brotherhood of humankind.”

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee NordlingPocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 98. (Apologetics315)


Postmodernism: A term used to designate a variety of intellectual and cultural developments in late-twentieth-century Western society. The postmodern ethos is characterized by a rejection of modernist values and a mistrust of the supposedly universal rational principles developed in the Enlightenment era. Postmoderns generally embrace pluralism and place value in the diversity of worldviews and religions that characterizes contemporary society.

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 93. (Apologetics315)


Panentheism: The belief that God’s being includes and permeates the entire universe so that everything exists in God. In contrast to pantheism, panentheists declare that God’s being is greater than and not exhausted by the universe. God is affected by each event in the universe, and thus God’s knowledge must change and grow. However, God simultaneously retains personal integrity and complete reality.

*Note: An easy rule of thumb is that pantheists see the universe as God, but panentheists see the universe almost like God’s body.

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee NordlingPocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 88. (Apologetics315)


Pantheism defined broadly means “that god is everywhere and, more important, in everyone.”

Sarah M. Pike, New Age and Neopagan Religions In America (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2004), 27.


Pantheism: Greek for “everything is God,” the belief that God and the universe are essentially identical. More specifically, pantheism is the designation for the understanding of the close connection between the world and the divine reality found in certain religions, including Hinduism. One variety of pantheism speaks of God as the “soul” of the universe, which is thought to be God’s “body.” Pantheistic religions often suggest that our experience of being disconnected from each other and from the divine is merely an illusion.

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee NordlingPocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 88. (Apologetics315)


Ethics: The area of philosophical and theological inquiry into what constitutes right and wrong, that is, morality, as well as what is the good and the good life. Ethics seeks to provide insight, principles or even a system of guidance in the quest of the good life or in acting rightly in either general or specific situations of life. Broadly speaking, ethical systems are either deontological (seeking to guide behavior through establishment or discovery of what is intrinsically right and wrong) or teleological (seeking to guide behavior through an understanding of the outcomes or ends that ethical decisions and behavior bring about.

Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee NordlingPocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 47. (Apologetics315)


Along with the idea of karma, Indian thinkers introduced the concept of samsara, literally “to wander across.” Indian religions believe that the life force of an individual does not die with the death of the body, but instead “wanders across.” The life force moves on to another time and body, where it continues to live. Many Western thinkers have proposed this idea as “reincarnation” or the “transmigration of souls.” Some see this process as a blessing; but in Indian thought, samsara may be thought of as a curse. One is bound to life in ignorance and pain, living over and over again through countless gen­erations. Indeed, the goal of most Indian religions is to break the cycle of karma and samsara and be free from the burden of life. This breaking free from life is called moksha. In the Upanishads, release from life comes when there is true knowledge of the illusion of life.

Lewis M. Hopfe and Mark R. Woodward, Religions of the World, 10th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006), 81 (emphasis added).


Caste System – “The system of cultural ranking and structuring of Hindu society,”

Larry A. Nichols, George A. Mather and Alvin J. Schmidt, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects, and World Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2006), cf. caste, 375.


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