a posteriori

Latin phrase referring to thought or knowledge based on, or arising consequent to, experience.

a priori

Latin phrase referring to thought or knowledge which arises from a concept or principle, or which precedes empirical verification, or which occurs independently of experience.


relating to the teachings of Arius (c.250 c.336), who believed that Jesus Christ was not of one being with God, and whose views were condemned at the Council of Nicea (AD 325).


thought or theology which makes Jesus Christ central.


branch of theology concerned with the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ.


a theological system in which Jesus Christ is used as the overriding regulative principle.


study or comprehensive understanding of the cosmos or universe.


a process of interpreting traditional texts considered mythological (in the sense that they express their meaning in terms of outmoded or mythological worldviews), with the aim of showing that their continuing existential or practical relevance can be grasped despite their mythological expression. Rudolph Bultmann is the best-known advocate of this process.


split or division into two, e.g. mind and body; fact and value; sacred and secular.


the view that Jesus Christ was not a real man, but simply appeared so. This undermines not only the incarnation, but also the Atonement and Resurrection.


a coherent presentation of Christian faith through its doctrines.


a view of the world which holds that there are two ultimately distinct principles, or spheres, such as good and evil, or matter and spirit.


understanding or doctrine of the Church.

economic Trinity

Trinity in relation to creation, and the revealing of God through history.


an approach to knowledge based on what can be arrived at through sense experience.


the study of human knowing, regarding its bases, forms, and criteria.


understanding or doctrine of the eschaton, or ultimate destiny of the world.


detailed and methodical interpretation of a text.


a movement of thought, most influential in philosophy, theology, literature, and psychotherapy, which focuses on individual existence and subjectivity.


study of interpretation and meaning.

hypostatic union

definition of christology agreed at the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), which affirms the dynamic union of two natures, divine and human, in the one person or 'hypostasis' of Christ.


philosophical tradition originating in Plato, which understands the mind, ideas, or spirit as fundamental to reality.

immanent Trinity

Trinity understood in itself through the inter-relationship of its three Persons.


literally, becoming flesh; the event of God becoming a human being.


something having the same form as another.


being pronounced or made righteous; the act of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, bringing about reconciliation between God and human beings.


from the Greek word for a herald's message, a term used for the proclamation of the New Testament Church about Jesus.

liberation theology

theology originating in Latin America in the 1960s, in contexts of political and economic oppression, which seeks to apply the Christian faith from the standpoint of the needs of the poor and exploited.


Greek for 'word'; used more widely in Christology to refer to Jesus Christ as the Word of God, God's self-disclosure.


the teaching authority of the Church.


reflection on the systematic approach to a topic or field.


referring to the 2nd and 3rd century heresy of monarchianism, which stressed the unity of the Trinity at the expense of the distinction between its members, and which understood Jesus as divine in a secondary sense.


belief in only one God as ultimate reality.


the projection of human images into the infinite unknown; or, the expression of religious meaning through stories and symbols.

natural theology

theology attempting to know God, and God's relationship to the world, through nature and human reasoning without divine revelation.


referring to the mind or intellect, or to understanding gained through human rational processes.


an understanding of universal categories as class names which have no reality outside the individual particulars which make them up (in contrast with realism}


state of being detached from, and external to, whatever is being perceived or affirmed, often previously seen as aiding neutrality and therefore accuracy in judgement, but now seen as impossible or inappropriate in both science and theology.


referring to existing reality.


branch of philosophy concerned with the study of being, of reality in its most fundamental and comprehensive forms.


right belief in, and adherence to, the essential doctrines of a faith as officially defined; or, conventional or traditional belief.


right belief combined with right practice, with the emphasis being on the latter, a term specially used in Latin American liberation theology, often in contrast with an orthodoxy seen as insufficiently interested in the practical and political content of faith.


an understanding of all creation as existing in God, yet without negating the transcendence of God; often also holding that the world and God are mutually dependent upon one another for their fulfilment.


an understanding which identifies God and the world as one, either without qualification, or with the world as a divine emanation, body, development, appearance, or modality.


capability of undergoing suffering or pain, or of being changed by an external power.


Greek term for the mutual indwelling or co-inherence of the three Persons of the Trinity.


belief in many Gods.


branch of theology dealing with the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.


anticipating; holding forth in the present what is to be realised in the future.


a name for those Christians and churches which separated from the Roman Catholic Church at the Reformation, and for other churches and groups descended from them.


reputed; supposed.


that which is characterised by conformity with reason, adhering to qualities of thought such as intelligibility, coherence, consistency, order, logical structure, completeness, testability, and simplicity.


belief in three gods, often referring to doctrines of the Trinity in which the unity of God is seen as compromised.


an understanding and religious movement associated with the rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity, denying a differentiated understanding of the Godhead and the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit.


an understanding of the all-encompassing nature of salvation, including the belief that ultimately all will be saved.


relating to a state of being or an action which is undertaken on behalf of others, usually referring to the humanity or the death of Jesus Christ.


Reproduced with permission from the Handbook of Readings
Diploma in Theological Studies
XTHS 105, University of Otago,
New Zealand, 1991.

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